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Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
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Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
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Americans Voting With Their Feet.
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Idea Majorities Matter.
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Twilight Zone Economics.
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The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
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From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
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Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
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Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
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Caption Contest: Enter Today!
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« November 2005 | WILLisms.com | January 2006 »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 246 -- Title IX & Collegiate Athletics.

Women's Athletics-

Have you ever wondered how profitable or unprofitable college sports programs are? And how Title IX impacts the profitability of collegiate sports programs?

We already know that many schools have eliminated certain traditional male sports programs, such as wrestling, in order to comply with Title IX. Essentially, Title IX requires a school to offer equal opportunities for female and male athletes. Women's sports teams are almost unanimously revenue losers for a school. And we're talking millions of negatory dollars, here. Thus, a school without a huge male cash cow (a football or basketball team, usually) opts to cut both female and male teams. No sports teams, in other words. No soup for you.

Here are the numbers from a few major schools, chosen somewhat at random:


Just a little factoid:
The University of Texas women's basketball program cost the school $1,325,330 last year (that's revenues minus expenses). That's a cost of 63,110 dollars per win.

And that's pretty remarkable, considering that each year, the Texas women's basketball program is one of the more financially successful programs in the nation.

U.S. Department of Education.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Media Bias On Iraq.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 December 2005 09:12 PM · Comments (7)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 36.


This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

Abdul Aziz Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), acknowledges the supporters after addressing the Kurdish parliament in Arbil, 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad December 28, 2005. Leaders of the Shi'ite and Kurdish blocs that emerged triumphant in this month's Iraqi election agreed on Tuesday to push ahead with efforts to bring Sunni and other parties into a grand coalition government. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 3. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week (actually, a couple of weeks ago):


Rodney Dill:

Even Harry's prayers were slanted to the left.



Harry Reid reacts to Howard Dean's plan to take back the Senate in 2006.



Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open up the doors and look at all the peop... Oh? Nobody here. Congress is on break. Everyone is home posturing.

Honorable Mention #1


Senator Harry Reid focuses his inner chi during a warm-up before his Death Match vs. Senator Frist.

Honorable Mention #2

charles austin:

"Excellent, Smithers."

Honorable Mention #3


Always ready to please an audience, Harry Reid prepares for the Triple Lindy.

Captioning is the fastest growing sport in America.

Enter today!


I almost forgot this hilarious Photoshop submission from Rob B.:


Now, that's funny.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 December 2005 11:42 AM · Comments (29)

Pundit Roundtable Open Mic

Merry Christmas! Welcome to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE. I am your holiday host, Ken McCracken.

First of all, as you know Will Franklin has been temporarily sucked out of the blogosphere and into that vortex known as real life, I'd like to wish him and his family holiday tidings and a happy new year!

That goes for you, too.

Since nearly everyone decided to respond to the topic questions in the comments rather than emailing me, I just decided to convert the Open Mic into the Roundtable itself - what follows below is the original post:

Are you a blogger who would like to vulture off a little traffic from WILLisms.com? Are you a commenter with attitude? Are you really bored this holiday weekend?

Every Sunday around noon or so we post an item here called Pundit Roundtable. Well, this week, we are inviting anyone who wants to participate to send me a response to these topic questions:

Topic 1: You are now EMPEROR OF THE WORLD, with unlimited dictatorial powers. What policies do you enact? Are you a benign, or malign ruler?

Topic 2: Make one bold prediction for 2006.

Respond to any or all topics and questions as you wish, be as short or verbose as you like, and being on-topic is not essential.

This is an experiment that might be cancelled this week if it is overcome by overweening apathy.

So go into the comments and see what folks had to say.

We do have one guest who emailed a response to me, from 'Dan, EOD Technician', an active serviceman who asked me to post his thoughts regarding Islam:

I am a member of the United States’ much maligned military. I spent seven years in the Army and the last five years in the Air Force Reserves. In the Army I was a Patriot missile man. Now in the Air Force I am an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician (Bomb Squad). All twelve years of my service I have been on active duty (thanks in part to 9-11). I have been I’ve spent most of my adult life, in one way or another, working in the Middle East (6 deployments). The reason I mention this is that I want my pedigree fully understood. I’m not some armchair quarterback, and my involvement with the Middle East is not shallow or purely academic. I have taken the time to study the Arab region and the Muslim culture. I even learned Arabic.

Now that I’ve established some background, let me say that which the PC crowd won’t say. Folks, the culture and religion in question is hostile. The individual’s are often sweet and well meaning people. Some would bring credit to any group or situation they could be placed in. The overall society however, is as poisonous as a pit viper and twice as touchy. I’ve sat back and watched as academics and media people have apologized over and over again for the Muslim culture. Saying repeatedly “Islam is peaceful” and constantly rehashing the “Jihad is spiritual struggle” meme. This is categorically false. The “Jihad of the spirit” many apologists refer to is a late Sufi tradition, extremely rare and often discredited among “mainstream” Islam. To put it in perspective, Sufis are as rare in Islam an 7th day Adventists are in Christianity. Probably more so.

Having stated all that, let me tell you about the Islam that I have witnessed. On my first deployment in 1994, while eating at a café in Riyadh, I saw a woman beaten and dragged away from her children on the street. What was her crime? After a very careful inquiry, my friends and I learned that she was selling souvenirs without her husband present. Her three small children were left to cower on the street in tears. We were nearby for almost an hour; we wanted to help, but were unable to. Both because we were advised against it, and for fear that the Mutawa (religious police) would take us in as well. The woman’s husband never showed. On another deployment in 1995, also in Riyadh, I saw a Saudi man beat a Pakistani nearly to death for the crime of being hit by the aforementioned Saudi’s Mercedes. I watched the accident and the subsequent beating. The Saudi was clearly at fault for the accident. When the aforementioned Mutawa showed, they hauled off the Pakistani to an unknown fate and sent the Saudi man on his way. In case you didn’t know, Pakistani’s and members of other poor Muslim countries are often recruited to work in Saudi Arabia as indentured servants / slaves. The conditions they live in and treatment they receive are appalling. I could go on, there were other incidents that I observed, both more and less disturbing. I have observed similarly jarring incidents in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. From conversations with other servicemen I can tell you such incidents were not unusual or even rare. Call them “cultural quirks” if you will, but I was raised to know right from wrong when I see it.

All of the “little” incidents I witnessed or heard about, pale into insignificance compared to what I observed and learned about during my time in Baghdad. On a visit to rid a small village of UXOs (Un-eXploded Ordnance), I had a conversation with a man who lost most of his family to one of Saddam’s Gas attacks. By most let me clarify by saying that only his sister and three cousins survived. By the time I met him, he’d already lost one of those cousins to a bomb set by Zarqawi’s group. Later, during one of my longest duty days (38 hours), I had to conduct a post blast analysis where an IED had gone off. The only victims were two Kindergarten aged girls. One of their little shoes (blood stained) was still at the scene when we arrived. I had to watch my friend’s stricken face when he realized that what he thought was a component of the device revealed itself to be a little girls’ tooth. Ansar Al Islam claimed responsibility for the bombing. It was not the only such incident. One of the other incidents I helped investigate was the grand opening of an elementary school. A device with approximately 10lbs of explosives was detonated during the opening ceremonies. The vast majority of the crowd consisted of children and Iraqi civilians. Thankfully the only injury was a scraped elbow received by a soldier knocked from his vehicle. I will not speak of the atrocities I heard about that were committed by the Taliban. They literally give me nightmares, and I do not wish to pass them on. As with the “minor” cultural incidents in the preceding paragraph, there is much more that I could mention. I hope my point is made. DO NOT fall under the spell of the apologists for Islam. The Islamic people need to be held accountable for their actions. Ideally, they should police themselves and purge the radical elements from their society. Personally, I believe that is unlikely to happen, except possibly in Iraq where they have suffered so much at the hands of the radicals. The long on the short of it is that there is a reason why most of the conflicts occurring around the world involve Islam in some fashion. I encourage anyone and everyone who has read my words to look into this for themselves. Read deep enough and you will see that I am at least partly correct. As I said, I am hardly neutral.

Right now, my colleagues throughout the military are fighting and dying to provide Iraqis with a chance to improve the Arab culture and bring democracy to a region that desperately needs it. I believe that democracy is the only thing that can “tame” the Islamic cultures of the world. What we’re doing now may be the only way to prevent all out war between Islam and EVERYONE else. I wish others could see the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in that context.

Anyway, now that my probably incoherent rant has come to a close, I can only say that I hope someone out there listens. With or without WMD’s, going into Iraq was the right thing to do. Facing down and destroying “Islamofascism” on our terms, is the only way to deal with it.

That's it! Thank you everyone for responding, and thank you Dan for your service to our country. Come back next week for the next installment of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Update: Oops! In my rush to get out the door and go watch the Bears thrash the hapless Packers, I forgot the Host's Last Word! I am now Emperor of the World - I hereby abolish my rule and replace it with Democracy! Purple fingers for everyone!

And Howard Dean will NOT make any outrageous or incendiary comments in 2006. Now that is one bold prediction!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 25 December 2005 04:05 PM · Comments (12)

Oh, The Insanity.

You know those movies where huge riots have broken out, people are killing each other, and the entire scene borders on unfathomable insanity? Nothing quite makes sense.

Then comes along a sane individual who is just stunned and bewildered at the madness? His mere entrance into the scene stops the fisticuffs and shenanigans, although he may have to yell, "snap out of it!" or "stop the madness!"

Think Lord of the Flies, when the soldier finds the children-- reduced to savages-- burning the jungle down and otherwise destroying civilization (and themselves). He then soberly asks the kids, who are snapping out of their frenzy, "What are you guys doing?"

Think West Side Story, when the adults, after trying their best to prevent the rival Sharks and Jets from literally killing each other, are reduced to throwing their hands in the air, shaking their heads, and muttering about society gone wrong.

There are countless examples from books and movies and other bits of pop culture where an outsider looks upon a chaotic, nonsensical, situation with fresh eyes and has that "what are you guys doing" moment.

Well, I feel a little like that archetypal outsider looking in at the ridiculous stream of news from the past week. Over the past few days, because of moving into a new home, with little or no internet access, no newspaper subscription, and no television, I have read, watched, and listened to marginal little bits of news, mostly while walking past newspaper stands. I am pretty sure that I am better off for it.

The little that I have followed has caused my jaw to drop in astonishment. What madness has taken over the news media in this country?

Basically, here's my outsider view of the past few days or so...

-Bush's poll numbers begin to rise again.

-Iraq has a huge, successful election.

-The New York Times runs a story (based on leaks from 3 Democrat Senators?) about domestic spying the following morning.

-Suddenly, this spying business captivates the nation's media (but not the nation), eclipsing any and all other stories.

-Everything is blown out of proportion. The media make it seem likely that the government is spying on you. Yes, you. Terrorists? What terrorists?

-Bush is put on the spot to "defend" wiretaps of suspected terrorists following 9/11? Really?

-Democrats declare that totalitarianism has overtaken our country and call for impeachment and Congressional investigations and so on?

What's going on here? What am I missing? I just don't get the furor and hubbub. I am guessing most Americans don't, either.

-Meanwhile, the New York transit workers are on strike. Smooth move, idiots. Way to win friends and influence people during the Christmas season. And they still have yet to be fired?

Regular blogging will resume sometime next week, but there will be spotty bursts in the meantime, if and when possible. In the meantime, if you feel caught up in the madness, just turn it off for a few days.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 December 2005 03:54 PM · Comments (18)

US Army Finds Huge Weapons Stash In Iraq

Great news from Iraq, the Army found a large buried cache of the types of shells used to make improvised roadside bombs, and has begun destroying them.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 20 December 2005 08:23 PM · Comments (7)

"The Constitution Is Not A Suicide Pact"

A great line that originated with the Supreme Court, Rush Limbaugh used it during his show today. Limbaugh should have mentioned this phrase's pedigree, it has a bit of an interesting history behind it.

This phrase should be food for thought for Democrats such as Senator Barbara Boxer who now think that defending our national security in perfectly legal ways is an impeachable offense.

Update: the Democrats' tin-ear campaign against Iraq and President Bush is once again making them look like Charlie Brown and the football.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 20 December 2005 04:41 PM · Comments (16)

Pundit Roundtable

Hi! Welcome back to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, of which we have an abbreviated version this week. This is your host, Ken McCracken.

Next Sunday will be an Open Mic edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE. On Friday evening I will post the topic questions, and anyone may email me a response. Unless it is way unclassy, you will have access to the mighty WILLisms.com soapbox to air your opinions. I hope you will join in!

Here is our sole topic for this week -

Iraqis this week turned out in droves to vote in their first parliamentary elections, without terrorist violence. How important was this vote, both for the Iraqis, and for President Bush?

And here is our sole guest, returning pundit Dan Morgan of NoSpeedBumps.com. Dan, what do you think?

The vote in Iraq was the most important milestone since the successful invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein. Now the Iraqis finally have the foundations for forming an entire government based on the democratic process. The fact that people turned out in such great numbers, and with the blessing of local religious leaders, points to a promising future. Indeed, this is a lesson in democracy for the entire Muslim Middle East. And if Iraqis can now refine their budding free market economy, leverage their oil wealth, and avoid the economic and political corruption typical in the Middle East - their future is very bright.

These elections prove that President Bush has been carefully following a plan in Iraq, although his Democratic doubters constantly complain that he has no plan. Democrats will continue to denounce Bush to score political points, but Bush will prevail in the end. As Iraqi security forces begin taking over patrols, American casualties will drop steadily. Once US troops are on bases and mostly out of harm's way, the entire controversy in Iraq will just fade away. And we will be left with a free, democratic, and prosperous Iraq that stands as a beacon of hope for reform and modernization to Muslims throughout the Middle East. Bush's Iraq undertaking, including nation building, will ultimately be judged a success by all except the most cynical observers.

The Host's Last Word: This is a big milestone, but not as critical as that first vote for an interim government taken last January. That was the big one, but this vote certainly builds upon that foundation. There is no turning back from democracy and eventual peace in Iraq now - the insurgency has been utterly defeated politically, thought not yet defeated militarily. The terrorists in Iraq have not one single victory of any kind to their credit, and now even the Sunni minority has rejected the terrorists en masse.

This is an important victory for Bush, but an even more important victory for Republicans running for office in '06. Just when the Democrats' retreat and defeat strategy becomes manifest, along comes an event that just destroys all the claims upon which that dubious strategy is based. President Bush can enjoy a slow slide up in the polls from here on in, not that he pays much attention to those sorts of things. But this will have coattails that will help a great many other Republicans up for office next year.

This latest vote in Iraq proves that our effort there is not a failure, is enjoying popularity with the Iraqi people, and that we are winning their hearts and minds (not difficult considering the actions of our adversaries). Woe unto those unwise Democrats who continue to see Iraq as nothing but another incarnation of Vietnam.

That's it! Thanks for coming by, and please do join in, or at least visit, next week's OPEN MIC PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 18 December 2005 02:29 PM · Comments (4)

WILLisms.com '05: Last Chance.

The Weblog Awards end Thursday night (at midnight, maybe?).


Vote. It's your last chance. Click here and take a moment to make a Christmas blog miracle come true.

Because, really, it will take a miracle for anyone to catch the angry lefty blogger Roger Ailes, not to mention the other angry lefty blogger Needlenose.

In the meantime, a very "moving" haiku:

Kolache breakfast.

Double checking the checklist.

Packing and moving.

Be back soon, y'all. Stay classy. No, seriously. Recently, I've received a barrage of angry, profanity-laced left-wing hate comments and hate mail and had to ban several IP addresses. Lots of supremely unclassy stuff. Very lame. So, I mean it when I say "keep it classy."

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 December 2005 08:37 AM · Comments (4)

Holiday Blogging.

Well, Christmas is upon us. What's more, the Mrs. and I are moving, so blogging will be practically non-existent for the next few/several days. The archives are rife with gloriousness, though. So be sure to check them out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 December 2005 09:40 PM · Comments (3)



Vote (here) or die. It takes moments. But the legacy you leave behind will last forever. Be "hot" like Paris Hilton and P. Diddy: vote today. Or else.

Tomorrow (thankfully) is the final day of the Weblog Awards 2005. It's a nice way to get to know other blogs, but 10 days of voting is a bit excessive, no?

Still, these campaign "ads" have been sort of fun to parody and produce.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 December 2005 05:27 PM · Comments (9)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 35.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, pictured July 2005. Democratic lawmakers accused President George W. Bush of glossing over problems in Iraq ahead of the war-torn country's elections.(AFP/File/Jim Watson)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, December 20. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:


Rodney Dill:

(Sign on Big Ernie's School of law.) Become a lawyer in your spare time. It's like Viagra for your whole body.


Buckley F. Williams:

Even though he went on to become arguably the most successful body builder of his era, Alfred E. Neumann was never able to completely distance himself from rampant allegations of steroid abuse.



"I'm happier than you!"


Honorable Mention #1

Pat Patterson:

"I don't think this fiber diet is working at all".

Honorable Mention #2


"...and for our silver medal winner is President Arroyo's deep-tissue massage and happy ending."

Honorable Mention #3

Rob B.:

It was the picture of sportsmanship at the 2005 Mrs. Butterworth's Asian Weightlifting and Spelling Bee Championships until Sahali realized that Michael's correct spelling of the word "daguerreotype" had ensured him victory and the coveted "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYmi" edition X-box 360.

Captioning is delicious and nutritious.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 December 2005 09:51 AM · Comments (20)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 245 -- Media Defeatism On Iraq.

Bad News Bears MAKING The News-

We all know the media are extraordinarily biased. Sometimes I wonder if the emergence of blogs and talk radio and other alternative forms of media have actually made the bias worse in some ways. The establishment types feel they are just balancing the "right wing propaganda" out there with increasingly ridiculous news coverage. Meanwhile, the big, lefty, establishment guys continue to lose market share.

Could it be that people are sick of the gloom and doom defeatism, the hand-wringing, and the second-guessing?

As we found earlier this year, few stories (just five in two months) featured stories of American soldiers’ heroism, while nearly four times as many (19) focused on allegations of U.S. wrongdoing, including the accidental killing of civilians and claims of prisoner mistreatment.

Interestingly, when the President's polls took a tumble, the media began covering the polls quite a bit more than before:

The networks devoted relatively heavy coverage (64 stories, or 20% of the total) to the debate over the war. That is a significant change in focus from the first nine months of 2005, when such stories only accounted for just seven percent of Iraq news.


And don't forget about the disconnect betweeen journalists and the American people:


Get with it, media. There is plenty of good news out there.

There is too much at stake for the media to consistently ignore any and all good news.

Media Research Center (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Affordable College.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 December 2005 09:33 AM · Comments (1)

It's Up To You.

The Weblog Awards go on until Thursday. Thus, the campaign goes on until Thursday:

SONG: WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms can, etc. Do you want a man for president who's seasoned through and through, But not so doggoned seasoned that he won't try something new? A man who's old enough to know, and young enough to do? Well, it's up to you, it's up to you, it's strictly up to you. Do you like a man who answers straight, a man who's always there? Well, measure him against the others and when you compare, You'll cast your vote for WILLisms and the change that's overdue. So it's up to you, it's up to you, it's strictly up to you. Yes, WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms, WILLisms can.

TAKE THE 10 SECONDS TO VOTE NOW (by clicking here).

In our category, there are 2 liberal blogs, 1 optical illusion blog, and about 12 conservative/libertarian/Republican-leaning blogs. The two liberal blogs are destroying the rest of us.

WILLisms is still in third place. While some on both sides of the partisan/ideological spectrum might be inclined to complain about the lack of inclusion of liberal blogs, we're in what might be called a "medium-sized blog" category. There aren't a lot of medium-sized liberal blogs, while there are a lot of medium-sized conservative blogs. More on this phenomenon some other tme.

In the meantime, more on the classic 1960 Kennedy campaign ad can be found here.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 December 2005 10:42 PM · Comments (4)

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

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."


Click to explore more WILLisms.com.

In no particular order, WILLisms.com presents (an expanded edition of) classiness from the blogosphere:




Rudy Rummel of Democratic Peace explains that tyrants are far more destructive and deadly than natural disasters:

Dictatorships are human made disasters many times more deadly than nature's. Dictatorships are not simply disasters, they are human catastrophes. Power kills, absolute power kills absolutely.

It should be a crime against humanity for any dictatorship to exist.

Spread the word and help freedom ring.



Keep On Rocking In The Free World-


Gateway Pundit tells the story of some female rockers in the Middle East:

Rock On, My Sisters!

Rock on indeed.


The Big Three-


Detour Blog has some interesting observations about making cars:

Compounding matters, Japanese profits per vehicle were significantly higher than GM, with q per car profit of $1,433 at Toyota , $1,250 at Honda , and $1,603 for Nissan. Ford had the highest figure among the Big Three, at $620, while GM lost $2,311 per vehicle in 2004.

GM lost 2,311 per vehicle last year! I know I dropped out of my economics PhD program without earning a degree, but I am relatively sure that this is not a sustainable long-run strategy to increase shareholder wealth.

Lots of very interesting data there. Definitely worth a read.


Wally World-


Daniel Drezner explains how Wal-Mart helps the poor (with a nice comment thread):

...the expansion of Wal-Mart over the 1985 to 2004 period can be associated with a cumulative decline of 9.1% in food-at-home prices, a 4.2% decline in commodities (goods) prices, and a 3.1% decline in overall consumer prices...

Some nice reading on Wal-Mart, which, unlike many of the big American automobile companies, has been very successful. Many on the left want Wal-Mart to run itself more like "Detroit." Not a great idea.


Racial Politics-


Wunderkraut tells the story of a bit of dysfunction in our politics:

Tonight, our town saw on camera proof that the black leaders in the town care nothing about the people they are supposed to represent. It was disgusting to see. The incumbent had developed a bad name for himself. People saw him as a race baiter who caused dissention on the Commission and who needed to go. The black candidates in the general election said the same thing. But when the run off came about and it was down to a white guy with good ideas on the future of the Ward, both white and black, and a black incumbent who had more than worn out his welcome, the leaders knee jerk reaction was to vote against the white guy.

It's truly amazing.




Speaking of dysfunctional race-based politics, The Anchoress notes a bit of double standard in the media:

...it’s disheartening to see that the president who has - more than any president before him - surrounded himself with exceptional people of every race, gender and creed, is being regarded as “racially oppressive” by those who choose to live in a state of willful misunderstanding, while Harvard’s rather late-to-the-party (decades after Barbara Jordan, they STILL hadn’t named a black woman to the post?) hiring is touted as something…remarkable.

Who are the racists, again? I keep getting confused.

I would like to see us move into a post-racial political period in our country, where race isn't such a petty partisan issue.


Political Will-


Bill Rice offers a two part (Part 1, Part 2) look at political will:

The current statements by the majority of Democrats betray the ideals of John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Bush Administration is focused on timetables for success in building a democracy while promising that US forces will remain until the job is accomplished. This is political will and will be the defining memory of the Bush presidency.

Precisely. There is a cancer in the Democratic Party today. It roots for and cheers on and-- if need be-- makes up American failure, because American failure is Republican failure. And Republican failure is-- politically, speaking-- Democratic success.

But history doesn't work that way. Thankfully.




The Officers' Club (via Michelle Malkin) offers a glimpse into the soul of the radical anti-war group "Code Pink":

I'm a troop and I don't need Code Pink telling me that patriotism "confuses me." Code Pink does not support the military or speak for the military. They are a reactionary anti-American organization, and should be treated as such.

The scary thing is that these groups comprise increasingly large proportions of the Democratic Party fundraising and electoral base. Moreover, these folks are not treated like the outcasts they are; they are part and parcel of the leadership of the party. Although they have fringe ideas, Code Pink is not a fringe group. Rather, they are the core-- the heart and soul-- of the DNC.


Holiday Shopping, Christmas Layoffs-


Ever notice that Christmas is being sanitized out of the media? Sure, it's a popular topic these days. Well, there's more. When layoffs are involved, "Christmas" is still included. BizzyBlog does a little research and finds some interesting results:

Shopping - “Holiday Shopping Season” (using quote marks)–8,730 hits. - “Christmas shopping season” (using quote marks)–1,170 hits.

- holidays layoffs (without quotes)–141 hits.
- holiday layoffs (without quotes)–687 hits.
- Christmas layoffs (without quotes)–417 hits.

Try it yourself. Why is this?


Bogus Polls-


Ankle Biting Pundits rips open another poll with bad underlying demographics:

Yes, the poll shows the President's ratings going up. But the baseline was faulty. And neither this, nor the other polls from the NYT (and most other MSM organizations) should be used to analyze "what this might mean" for the 2006 elections, as the respondent base appears to bear little resemblance to who will actually show up and vote.

Clearly, the poll is faulty. Age, income, religion, party ID, and so on, the whole sham leads to artificially deflated poll numbers for Bush. But the good news is that even with the same bogus demographics, Bush's numbers are still up, especially on the economy (which the Bush administration has finally started talking up in a concerted and sustained way).

But the bogus poll demographics have such serious consequences for public policy and for our Republic, that it is amazing more people don't speak out against them.


Driving Them Into The Sea-


Publius Pundit sets the record straight on wiping Israel off the face of the earth:

A week ago, the United Nations held a “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” at the UN headquarters in New York City, which was attended by a man of many fruitless condemnations, Kofi Annan himself. There’s a map behind Kofi Annan between the UN and PLO flags that depicts Israel and the Palestinian territories. Only problem? The words at the top of the map clearly refers to the land as Palestine, making no reference to the separation of territories, effectively wiping Israel off the map.

It certainly does put the recent series of comments from Iran's President about wiping Israel off the map and/or moving it to Europe in context.


Using Terri-


"Generation Why?" blog notes that Howard Dean and friends are making good on their promise to "use" Terri Schiavo in 2006:

Michael Schiavo has launched TerriPAC to exploit his wife's memory for the benefit of raising cash for Democrats.

A closer look at the domain registration for TerriPAC.com shows the site is registered to NovemberGroup.net, a group that bills itself as a "full-service progressive campaign management, political consulting and project coordination company." Translation, Democrat fundraising organization. It's run by Democrat campaign veteran, Derek Newton.

Howard Dean: keeping his promises, since 2005.


Weirdo Lefties-


Katrina survivor Kevin Boyd reports on a "Katrina rally" in downtown New Orleans:

I went to the rally and took some pictures that I doubt will be seen on CNN and the rest of the mainstream media. The photos are here and hopefully sometime next week I'll have some video of some the speeches given.

Crazy, crazy folks.
Grasping to be relevant.
Moonbats on parade.

[That was another haiku.]


Muslim Gang Rape-


IRIS Blog points to sweeping evidence from several countries of a serious gang rape problem:

Harassment of females has therefore exploded throughout the West, most shockingly demonstrated in the recent phenomenon of gang rape for sport. Listed below is the evidence.

Lots of evidence there.


Blurry Democrats-


Betsy's Page looks at the Democrats, who are planning to shake up their nomination process:

There is a political aphorism that states that candidates should run to the margins in the primaries and then move back to the center for the general campaign. In these days of mass and instant communication, every remark that a candidate makes to appeal to those caucus voters in 2008 will be recorded and filed away for the general campaign. And if the eventual nominee tries to shift to the middle in the Fall, the other party will be ready to launch a series of weather-vane type ads to show up the other person as someone who tacks with the wind. The ads will write themselves. And will such accusations be all that different from the 2004 campaign? Remember that GOP ad with John Kerry windsurfing and quotes used from his varying positions on issues? The Democratic Party is setting up the conditions for similar ads in 2008. Rearranging the nomination process isn't going to make any big difference in who ultimately wins the nomination.

Precisely. The Democrats need to shed their far-left base if they want to nominate folks who can win national elections.


Also, don't forget to check out all the old Trivia Tidbits Of the Day, the Reform Thursday series, the Quotational Therapy sessions, the most recent Mainstream Melee, the latest Pundit Roundtable, 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:

*December 6, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a classiness roundup as a bi-weekly feature, every other Tuesday, with 10 blog posts deemed classy. The criteria for submissions: incisive original analysis, quirky topics nobody else (especially the mainstream media) 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 every other Monday at 11:59 PM Central Time.


Posted by Will Franklin · 13 December 2005 10:28 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 244 -- Affordable College Education, Red States & Blue.

Red State, Blue State-

In the past, WILLisms has noted that taxes are generally lower in red states (ones that Bush won in 2004) than blue states (ones that Kerry won in 2004). This is not so surprising. What might have been slightly more surprising to you was that GDP growth, job creation, and a variety of other economic indicators were substantially stronger in red states than blue.

But, wait, there's more. And this shouldn't come as that much of a surprise, either, but public colleges and universities in blue states are becoming ridiculously expensive, while public schools in red states are relatively affordable. The data, thanks to Viking Pundit:

Most Expensive
1. Penn State, University Park: $11,508
2. Rutgers, New Brunswick, New Jersey: $11,051
3. University of Vermont, Burlington: $10,748
4. University of New Hampshire, Durham: $9,778
5. University of Massachusetts, Amherst: $9,278

Go check out the rest of the list, and more comments here.

Now, there could be a little of the "you get what you pay for" in these numbers. Indeed, the money floating around the more expensive public schools might somewhat arbitrarily (or legitimately) boost the rankings in those magazines high school seniors (and their parents) pay so much attention to.

But what's the deal, here? Consistently, everything costs so much more in the blue states. Houses, cars, food, electricity, college, taxes... just about everything. So although blue state median incomes are certainly higher, and blue state taxes are higher, the cost of living just eats away at that income.

Don't liberals tell us that affordable education requires higher taxes? So shouldn't higher taxes produce affordable public education, for more individuals? I hear all the time that all Texas needs to do is implement an income tax (we don't have one) and it could fully fund its public elementary, middle, and high schools. Easy as pie. There wouldn't be any budget crises, if Texas just got with the program, joined the civilized world, and added an income tax.

But, again, as noted before, states with income taxes have far more budget crises than states without them.

So, let's review:

Despite higher taxes, blue state colleges charge more from students.
Despite lower taxes, red state colleges charge less from students.

What am I missing here?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Katrina Killed Mostly Old People.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 December 2005 10:25 AM · Comments (3)

I LIKE WILLisms.com.

The Weblog Awards continue (for a few more days).

Like any good campaign, it seems like this thing has gone on for... forever. But it goes on. And WILLisms.com is still in third place, behind the two left-wing blogs in our category.

Go vote. And in the meantime, enjoy this Eisenhower flashback campaign ad, modified ever-so-slightly:


GROUP [singing]: Will for Weblog Award, Will for Weblog Award,
Will for Weblog Award, Will for Weblog Award.
You like Will, I like Will, Everybody likes Will—- for Weblog Award.
Bring out the banners, beat the drums,
We'll take Will to the Weblog Award.

We don't want Needlenose or Roger or the others.
Let's do that big job right.
Let's get in step with the guy that's hep.
Get in step with Will.
You like Will, I like Will, Everybody likes Will— for Weblog Award.
Bring out the banners, beat the drums,
We'll take Will to the Weblog Award.

We've got to get where we are going,
Travel day and night (voiceover "for president").
But Adlai goes the other way.
We all go with Will. You like Will, I like Will,
Everybody likes Will (voiceover: "for Weblog Award").
Bring out the banner, beat the drums,
We'll take Will to the Weblog Award 2005.
We'll take Will to the Weblog Award 2005.

GROUP [in background singing]: "Will for Weblog Award, Will for Weblog Award, Will for Weblog Award, Will for Weblog Award ..."

VOICEOVER: Now is the time for all good Americans to come to the aid of their country.

Vote for WILLisms.com today (right here)!

More on the classic 1952 "I Like Ike" campaign commercial here. Previous WILLisms.com campaign ads can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here. Endorsements are here.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 December 2005 08:26 PM · Comments (5)

Quotational Therapy: Part 66 -- President Bush, On Iraq.

Bush, On Iraq-

President Bush continues pounding back against his critics on the issue of Iraq, after letting the media and far-left Democrats dictate the agenda for at least a few months. Today's speech, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Not far from here where we gather today is a symbol of freedom familiar to all Americans -- the Liberty Bell. When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public, the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, and a witness said: "It rang as if it meant something." Today, the call of liberty is being heard in Baghdad and Basra, and other Iraqi cities, and its sound is echoing across the broader Middle East. From Damascus to Tehran, people hear it, and they know it means something. It means that the days of tyranny and terror are ending, and a new day of hope and freedom is dawning.

Read the entire speech here.

Keep reloading, Mr. President. And keep firing the rhetoric. History is on your side.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Jimmy V..

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 December 2005 06:40 PM · Comments (1)

Pop Culture Haiku #2.

Too much stuff to say.
Not enough time to say it.
Pop Culture Haiku.

The Mall

Careening about.
Throwing down cash and credit.
Christmas shopping time.

Less than two weeks 'til Christmas.

Murder Doesn't Pay

Hero of the left.
Author of a children's book.
Buddy of Snoop Dogg.

Says, "Don't join a gang."
Blames others, blames society.
"Free Tookie Williams!"

Convicted killer.
Death row, quarter century.
Appeals rejected.

The Terminator.
No pardon, no clemency.
Tookie dies tonight.

The anti-death penalty people really know how to pick their causes, don't they?

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 December 2005 06:03 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 243 -- Katrina Victims.

Disproportionate Numbers-

A myth-- one not backed by the numbers-- has become the common wisdom in America. There is a myth that the "lack of response" to Hurricane Katrina was somehow correlated with the ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the victims. Because it was primarily black people, the myth goes, the government neglected to respond. Thus, the victims who lost their lives were primarily black.

This is bunk on so many levels. But some fairly recent numbers drive the final dagger through the heart of that ridiculous race-baiting myth.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (via Gateway Pundit) breaks down the demographics of the Katrina victims:


The victims were disproportionately white, relative to their population in the New Orleans metro area. Those of us who have looked past the posturing and pandering already had a hunch, as the victims were more likely to be found in primarily white neighborhoods. But we didn't know for sure. Now we know.

Meanwhile, look at the 2004 age breakdown of New Orleans, from the U.S. Census:


Okay, now look at the age breakdown of the victims, from the Louisiana DHH (.pdf):


Mostly older folks. And if you look even closer, you'll note that many victims were not only above the age of 75, several were well above the age of 90.

Now, it also must be noted that some victims still have yet to be identified, and it is possible that those victims were younger. It's also possible that those victims were more likely to be African-American than caucasian. That there are still unidentified bodies is devastating, but those numbers would not alter the statistics above in a meaningful way. Furthermore, from the facts we do have, it is not accurate to claim that Hurricane Katrina, the response to it, or the chaotic aftermath, killed primarily poor African-Americans while sparing wealthier white people.

If we want to be outraged, focus that outrage on the negligent nursing homes and those who left their grandmothers and grandfathers to fend for themselves.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Taxes On Dividends & Capital Gains.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 December 2005 08:26 AM · Comments (11)



Think about it--when the decisions of one man can affect the future of your family for generations to come, what kind of a man do you want making those decisions?

Think about it--who is the one man who has the experience and the qualifications to lead America in these troubled, dangerous times?

WILLisms.com is the one.

This time, vote like your whole world depended on it.


Also, more on this classic 1968 Nixon campaign advert can be found here.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 December 2005 09:30 PM · Comments (0)

Pop Culture Haiku #1.

Haiku is useful.
It forces efficiency.
It makes you succinct.

With that, two haiku poems:


Portly choir gals chirp.
Tuxedoed gents sway and croon.
Christmas concerts rock.

Don't they, though?

The Ode Not To Reggie Bush

Best in the nation.
Deserved the Heisman Trophy.
Quarterback Vince Young.

Biggest landslide in the history of the Heisman ballot? Give me a break.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 December 2005 09:06 PM · Comments (2)

Pundit Roundtable

Hello! First, let me remind everyone that WILLisms.com needs your vote for the Weblog Awards. Will deserves to win - vote early, vote often, and have your kids and your pets vote too!

Back to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE. I am your host, Ken McCracken, and this week we have two critical topics to address:

Topic 1: The Indianapolis Colts (12-0) with four games left in the regular season. Today, they visit the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-3). Will the Colts have a undefeated season, and win the Super Bowl?

Topic 2: In honor of the weblog awards, what are your favorite blogs, and why? What makes a blog good (or bad?)

I welcome back Dean Esmay of Dean's World. Dean, what is your view?

Topic 1: No, yes.

Topic 2: I respect the guys at Wizbang and as such am reluctant to say it, but I don't much care for the Weblog Awards. I don't like how they conduct the voting, and I especially don't like the fact that people can vote daily. It too often becomes an exercise in cronyism and/or crass self-promotion. I wish I hadn't been nominated, and even as I say that I see how at first I wound up talking myself into asking for votes anyway. After a day or two of that I realized it was ludicrous, and I stopped.

What makes a weblog good is the unique voice of whoever writes the blog. If a blog consistently has new and interesting materials that challenge you, entertain you, and make you think, it's a good weblog. The weblog I miss most is A Small Victory. The weblog I still most enjoy reading is Daily Pundit.

Next is another return guest, Laurence Simon. Laurence, how do you see this?
Topic 1: I don't know, and to tell you the truth, I don't care. I really haven't followed football since Paul Tagliabue screwed over Walter Payton by awarding expansion franchises to everyone but his group. Rozelle has pretty much promised Payton he'd get one, Tagliabue and the other owners stabbed Walter in the back.

I've tried to get worked up over the Super Bowl, but the magic just isn't there. I really don't give a damn about anything in football besides watching David Carr suffer over and over and over.

Topic 2: Honor? Pfeh. The Wizbang Awards are garbage. Empty, shallow point-click contest. Punch the monkey! Punch the monkey! People really vote with their citations (citation is more meaningful than just blogrolling for the sake of reciprolls), and to a lesser extent feed subscriptions and reads.

I've posted my latest Ten And Only Ten, which forces me to choose which ten blogs I'd read if I could only read ten. I think that kind of exercise is more relevant that some corrupt anonymous clickathon crap.

Now we have on board a newcomer, Joust the Facts. What do you think?
Topic 1: Lots of people lose lots of money in Vegas trying to answer questions like this, so the first thing I'd say is, don't take this advice and bet on it.

The short answer is that while it's possible they'll go undefeated, I don't think it's likely. They have two very tough road games left on their schedule, today in Jacksonville (9-3), and two weeks from now at Seattle (10-2 currently). Both teams are very good, and will be bringing their best game for a matchup with an undefeated team at home.

I'm reminded of 1985, when everyone thought the Bears were finally going to go undefeated, equalling the Dolphins 'perfect season' of 1972. The game was played on the road, on a Monday night, and the Dan Marino was a young gun. The crowd was roaring and the Dolphins were fired up. Marino shot down the Bears that night, shredding the 46 defense of Buddy Ryan. Indy may just run into such an emotional buzzsaw in one of the two remaining road games, though the Dolphins did have one factor working for them that the Jags and Seahawks won't - they were protecting their own legacy.

I've worked closely with an NFL team in the past, while a Sports Medicine fellow in Philadelphia, and I can tell you that road games can be very difficult to win even when you're favored. The season I worked with the playoff-bound Eagles they lost two tough road games in a row, to Buffalo and Miami, and barely squeaked by in Phoenix on the final day of the season when the Cards had packed it in.

As for the Super Bowl I do think that Indy has a very good chance to win. They have a very balanced and strong offensive attack, with Peyton Manning throwing to Marvin Harrison among others. The running game has Edgerrin James second to Shaun Alexander in the league stats. That kind of balance is crucial. They haven't turned the ball over much. Defensively they're not the strongest, but they're very good, and they generate more turnovers than they give up. They're actually third in both overall offense and defense rankings.

And, most important, all their playoff games will be at home (until the Super Bowl).

Topic 2: WILLisms.com!!!

Seriously, though, I did a run through of some of my favorite blogs in looking at the candidates for Weblog Awards this year. WILLisms.com is a nominee, as is my abode, Joust The facts. (Insert shameless plug for votes here.)

I think that a blog is really good when the writer doesn't just spew opinion or invective. Anyone can do that. Instead the good writers do necessary research, draw together the facts that support their position, and usually consider the opposing arguments before drawing their conclusions. I try to take that approach particularly when I actually get the time to write a longer, more thoughtful, piece. People can disagree with your conclusions, but if you do your homework they can't argue the facts.

(Insert shameless boot-licking for host) Will Franklin does a great job of this, and his use of graphical representations makes it a lot easier on the eyes. Some of the others that I think are superbly written are James Taranto's Best of the Web on OpinionJournal.com, Stephen Green's Vodkapundit, Norm Geras' normblog, Rick Moran's Right Wing Nut House, Pat Santy's Dr. Sanity and Ed Morrissey's Captain's Quarters. Dean Barnett's Soxblog and Varifrank are also regular reads. And (insert shameless plug for host of Weblog Awards) Wizbang and (insert shameless plug for the other place I write) The Right Place.

Then there are some niche blogs that are very good, but check my post or the Weblog Award site to see those. Some other places are good just to pick up some interesting stories quickly. Ace of Spades does that very well. For my money Iowahawk David Burge writes the best satire on the net. It's not even close for second. For a combination of humor and thoughtful commentary Jeff Goldstein is a good read.

Like any industry the best survive, and over time the lousy or half-hearted weblogs disappear. You can't still buy a Yugo, can you?

Next, it is my pleasure to introduce Zsa Zsa the Superfan, to whom I am grateful to for being the best commenter at my former little blog. Zsa Zsa?
Topic 1: I have got to tell you I know little about either of these two teams. BUT what about those ASTROS? Is anyone else pleased that Roger is not going to drag the ASTROS through a little deja vu of the Beltran ordeal? Oh! one thing about the real subject. I really like the commercials during the Super Bowl. Topic 2: On to the next question!... Hmm...let me see! Who are my favorite blogs and why?

This is going to be a hard one. NOT!!!! Everyone who reads WILLisms.com has a slight clue that I am a super duper WILLisms fan! WILLisms.com is so well written and is so factual. I really like that Will gives us honest to goodness facts! The MSM is my least favorite place to get the news ! In the past I would tolerate it because there were no other choices. Today (Thank Goodness) we have the Blogsphere!!! YAY! ... One reason I am not fond of the MSM is that most every reporter feels the need to inject their own personal political beliefs! YIKES!!! AAAAAAaaaa! Sorry but personally I don't care what these individuals reporting the news think! AND I really don't want to hear how they feel about the news stories! In my opinion a great reporter is one who can report the news without revealing their political or personal feelings! On the other hand if we want their opinion I am sure someone will make them a Commentator! OR better yet maybe they should get their own blog so they can feel free to express whatever they are thinking and maybe give us some FACTS to back those feelings up! That is why I like WILLisms.com so much! He gives us the facts man...

Next I have another Blog that is very near and dear to my heart! ...It is FILE IT UNDER. . . If you haven't been there I would suggest visiting! Hoodlumman, Rob B, Darius, and Tom are all very interesting characters! Each of them are very different fom one another but somehow they blend to make one of the funniest, informative, most interesting (because you never know what you will find) blogs in Blogland!...I promise I am not just saying this because FILE IT UNDER had a Zsa Zsa Day in my honor!...Although that does sweeten the pot some! Really though! FILE IT UNDER has made me laugh so hard I have cried!...

Another blogger I am fond of is Bullwinkle!... I first saw his comments on WIZBANG and it was as if he took the words right out of my mouth! I didn't know that he was a regular at another blog until he commented at WILLisms.com! I was so happy to find him!! He is apart of the RANDOM NUMBERS blog... The only thing I am not real fond of is Bullwinkles weekly Friday scantily clad women posts! BUT nobody ever asks me! I am sure there are many who tune in on Friday just for this particular post! SO never mind me!... The rest of the week Bullwinkle is well worth visiting!...Thanks Bullwinkle! Sorry about that little critique! BUT finally someone asked me! YAY!...

When I grow up I really want to become BLOG COMMISH! Honest to goodness though! I like bullwinkle soooooooo much that I started painting moose! I even had one of the moose paintings sell at an auction to benefit Freddy Everett! A guitarist who was left paralyzed when he fell off the stage at one of his concerts! ...Very tragic situation!

Next I have another blogger who is very special! It is WUNDERKRAUT!... He is perhaps one of the sweetest most caring people around! He is going through an adoption that is very heartfelt and interesting!...WUNDERKRAUT is a good stop in blogland too! Of course we have MR. RIGHT!...at the RIGHT PLACE blog! another amazing blogger! Seriously funny is how I would sum MR. RIGHT up! He has a partner Anna who is very awesome too!... SHALL I GO ON?????

Blogland is a very interesting diverse group of individuals. There are so many important blogs out there!...WILLisms.com is one that I consider important! ...WILLisms.com has a weekly REFORM THURSDAY post that concentrates on Social Security Reform! ...I am not sure how many weeks it has been now BUT It is an issue that all of us need to consider IMPORTANT!!! Our future generations are going to be affected because of lazy politicians who consider Social Security Reform a pesky issue that is too much work and too harmful to their own personal political interests!... Social Security Reform is inevitable whether or not we want it or not! ...WILLisms.com had one of the best posts on it awhile back! I believe it was called DONKEYS ON PARADE... Michelle Malkin illustrated it! I absolutely love that illustration of that donkey!... MICHELLE MALKIN is another important blogger in Blogland!... If you haven't read her new book it is very interesting!...The name of her book is UNHINGED!... Believe me when I say go read it!...( AND I am not getting paid to say it ) I could go on BUT at the risk of being edited out !!! I had better sign off! Thanks for having me guys!... I have always been fond of the concept of the round table! It makes everyone even! No one person is more or less important while seated!

Conservative or Liberal... All of the blogs are important! Free speech is what it is about!...YAY BLOGLAND!...

Our final guest is blogger extraordinaire, Will Franklin. Will?
Topic 1: The Colts are not going to lose again until November of 2006.

Topic 2: I have a lot of favorites, but I love blogs that do a lot of original analysis and commentary rather than merely copying and pasting mainstream media stories. Blogs that offer unique and interesting content are obviously preferable to blogs that just link to countless other blogs and follow the herd. Basically, a blog needs a few things to be very good: 1. regular (usually daily, at the very least) updates; 2. some sort of expertise or skill; 3. a nice mix of big picture stuff, current affairs, history, politics, policy, opinion, and so on; 4. occasional humor and/or wit; 5. stuff that is not reported or underreported by the establishment media; and 6. credibility (meaning, do you trust their judgment, and is their information accurate?).

The Host's Last Word: Did I mention that WILLisms.com has been nominated for the Weblog Awards and needs your vote? Ahem.

The Colts are the strongest NFL team since my '85 Chicago Bears. They will go undefeated this year, a feat not achieved since the '73 Miami Dolphins swept the entire season, and the Colts will win the Super Bowl. But Will, their streak will end in October 2006, not November.

As for blogs, I am always attracted to really good writing, and so my two favorites are Captain's Quarters and VodkaPundit. Captain Ed builds a thorough case in every post like he was a prosecutor, and drives the point home. Stephen Green is a natural writer who also nails down a point very well. It is hard to argue with either of these guys once they have said their piece. Another daily stop for me is Dean's World - Dean covers just about any topic you can think of with attitude and insight, he has good contributors with him as well, and he has great commenters. Wizbang and Poliblog are two dailies for me as well.

That's it for this week, go forth and vote! Come back next Sunday for our next PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Update: Dean Esmay, and myself, are in mourning for the passing of a great commenter at Dean's site, Steven Malcolm Anderson. The place just won't be the same without him.

Update: the Colts beat the Jaguars 26-18. Oh, the power of positive punditry!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 11 December 2005 01:12 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 242 -- Dividends, Capital Gains, & Age.

The Demographics Of Stocks & Taxes: Tax Cuts For The Rich?-

...more than 80 percent of taxpayers who claim dividend income earn less than $100,000 and 76.4 percent of those who claim capital gains earn less than $100,000.

Tax cuts for the rich? Or tax cuts for the elderly?


Tax Foundation.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Electoral College.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 December 2005 06:50 AM · Comments (7)

Roger Ailes: Not Fit To Serve.


Roger Ailes (the angry liberal blogger, not the Fox News guy) has opposed virtually every defense system we developed.

He opposed new aircraft carriers.

He opposed anti-satellite weapons.

He opposed four missile systems, including the Pershing II missile deployment.

Ailes opposed the stealth bomber, a ground emergency warning system against nuclear testing.

He even criticized our rescue mission to Grenada and our strike on Libya. And now he wants to be our Weblog Award winner. America can't afford that risk.

Vote today for WILLisms.com in the 2005 Weblog Awards (vote here). Endorsements are here. Previous WILLisms.com campaign spots can be found here, here, and here.

I have noticed some people are really taking this whole Weblog Awards thing very seriously. While it would obviously be nice to win, the main point is to find new blogs to read and to reward people for putting forth decent content on a regular basis.

Also, more on the classic 1988 Bush campaign spot featuring a goofy Michael Dukakis riding around in a tank can be found here.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 December 2005 09:27 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 241 -- The Future Of The Electoral College.

Sun Belt & Snow Belt Population Changes-

Projecting anything 25 years into the future is difficult, but we can, with a reasonable level of confidence, examine population and demographic trends in the fifty states and forecast relative population levels for 2030. It is those relative population levels (who is up, who is down, and by how much) that matter most in politics, because they determine the apportionment of Congressional seats and Electoral College votes.

Indeed, over the past three decades or so, Republicans have benefited profoundly from growth in deeply Republican states (red states), gaining Electoral College votes in the process; meanwhile, blue states have lost people-- relative to the red states, at least-- losing Electoral College votes along the way.

If trend hold up, we'll continue to see rapid growth in the "Sun Belt," while growth in the "Snow Belt" will be truly anemic:


Some of this is foreign immigration. Some is domestic migration within the U.S. Some, meanwhile, is due to differences in birthrates.

Clearly, differences in population growth had economic and political consequences in the past. They will likely have consequences into the future:


After the 2030 Census, "Sun Belt" states are projected to gain a substantial number of Electoral College votes at the expense of the "Snow Belt."

But, wait, you might be thinking, there are red states in the Snow Belt and bluish (or at the least, purple) states in the "Sun Belt." So this doesn't necessarily benefit Republicans or hurt Democrats.

Well, yeah, but take note of these numbers:


"Snow Belt" red states will lose relative population and Electoral College votes, but "Snow Belt" blue states will take a much harder kick to the stomach. Meanwhile, "Sun Belt" red states will gain an enormous number of votes, while "Sun Belt" blue states will gain very little.

Some claim that these population changes could lead to a major realignment in American politics, favoring liberals and Democrats. The basis for this claim is that "blue state" people, with "blue state" values and political preferences, are moving to red states. Furthermore, Latino immigration may tip those marginally-Republican states to the Democrats.

These are valid concerns, but Latinos should not be taken for granted by either party. Republicans have made substantial gains with Latinos, especially in Texas and Florida, and especially among non-unionized Latinos. In short, Hispanic immigration is not a slam dunk for Democrats. Next, the "blue state voters moving into red states" theory doesn't hold water for a variety of reasons (many of which I've covered here in the past). Essentially, blue staters moving to red states typically do so for economic reasons. They often seek lower taxes, bigger houses, and a "red state" suburban family-friendly lifestyle. Increasingly, Americans are sequestering themselves into alcoves of politically like-minded people, away from those which which they disagree. Thus, the "Yankeefication" of, say, Texas is a remote possibility. Florida, on the other hand, may see an impact. Similarly, Arizona and states in the Mountain West may become a bit Californiacated.

What this means for America's political system remains to be seen, but it is (overall) bad news for Democrats.

Indeed, by 2030, look at the states projected to lose:

New York: -6
Ohio: -4
Pennsylvania: -4
Illinois: -3
Massachusetts: -2
Michigan: -2
Iowa: -1
Missouri: -1
Kentucky: -1
Louisiana: -1
Indiana: -1
Nebraska: -1
Alabama: -1
West Virginia: -1
Connecticut: -1
Rhode Island: -1
New Jersey: -1
Wisconsin: -1

Indeed, by 2030, look at the states projected to gain:

Florida: +9
Texas: +8
Arizona: +5
Nevada: +2
North Carolina: +2
California: +2
Georgia: +1
Utah: +1
Virginia: +1
Oregon: +1
Washington: +1

Brookings (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Eco-Idiots.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 December 2005 05:22 PM · Comments (1)

The Third Mainstream Melee.


It's a non-blog adventure.


Los Angeles Times: "Bush Still Popular on Campaign Trail"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Bush Country has not given up on Bush. Maybe those polls really are bunk (of course they are).

Super Succinct Snippet-

As Bush has demonstrated, his prowess as a fundraiser has not waned, even though his job-approval ratings hover around 40% in most polls.

[Minnesota Republican Mark] Kennedy clearly was pleased to have Bush speak in his behalf, and beamed as he stood beside the president while Bush lavished praise on him.

Bush flourishes in campaign-style stump speaking, especially on behalf of candidates. If Democrats think they are going to take back Congress in 2006, they are in for yet another devastating letdown.



The Economist: "Europe's farm follies"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Packed with statistics and insights, this article could have easily been the basis for a full-blown Trivia Tidbit. Basically, it examines European farm subsidies. The winners, the losers, the why, the where, and the who.

Super Succinct Snippet-

The Common Agricultural Policy costs European taxpayers over €40 billion ($47 billion) a year, or around 40% of the total EU budget. That is a huge sum, given that farming accounts for less than 2% of the EU's workforce.

Be sure to check the graphs showing which country is the primary beneficiary of these subsidies. If Europe wants to get serious about aiding poor countries, they may want to consider reforming its agricultural subsidies.



Foreign Affairs: "Who Will Control the Internet?"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Certain foreign elements, predictably, want control of the Internet transferred from the U.S. to an international institution. But we're not going to let that happen so easily, for good reason.

Super Succinct Snippet-

Brazil and South Africa have criticized the current arrangement, and China has called for the creation of a new international treaty organization. France wants an intergovernmental approach, but one fundamentally based on democratic values.{See Footnote 1} Cuba and Syria have taken advantage of the controversy to poke a finger in Washington's eye, and even Zimbabwe's tyrant, Robert Mugabe, has weighed in, calling the existing system of Internet governance a form of neocolonialism.

Ah, the usual suspects. Their complaints are all anyone really needs to know about what is the correct course of action here.



Ocala Star-Banner: "Purple finger of freedom"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

An op-ed examining the magnitude of the emergence of democracy in the Middle East, this piece also offers a suggestion for showing solidarity.

Super Succinct Snippet-

I was having dinner with some people I didn't know well, and I happened to mention that a good deal of my time in recent years has been spent working with Arabs and Muslims on questions relating to democracy.

A Brit sitting across the table leaned in, arched an eyebrow and almost spat at me: "Do they ever tell you to just bugger off?"

I replied, as evenly as I could, that that had not happened. The Arabs and Muslims I have had the opportunity to work with have not needed to be convinced that it's preferable to choose your own leaders. I did not have to sell them on the idea that speaking your mind and not ending up in a mass grave as a result is a good thing. And they decided on their own that they should have the right to worship as they choose.

Show that you care about the march of freedom around the world. Purple your finger next week.



The Wall Street Journal: "Kyoto's Dead Hand"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

A lot of countries are not living up to their spicy rhetoric, mostly aimed at the United States, on global warming.

Super Succinct Snippet-

Kyoto requires developed nations to bring their total greenhouse-gas emissions to 5% below their 1990 levels by 2012. Yet in 2003, emissions were above the 1990 baseline by more than 10% in Italy and Japan, more than 20% in Ireland and Canada, and more than 40% in Spain.

Do as I say, not as I do.


The previous Mainstream Melee.

WILLisms.com and many other blogs sometimes focus too much on our fellow bloggers, while excluding well-done professional journalism from our posts.

The Mainstream Melee is a quick survey of five non-blog sources, coming atchya at completely random intervals. The stories are either underreported, particularly well-written, interesting, or otherwise important to the big picture. But generally there will be a theme of some kind in the choices.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 December 2005 01:36 PM · Comments (1)

There's A Bear In The Woods.


There is a bear in the woods.

For some people the bear is easy to see.

Others don't see it at all.

Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it's vicious and dangerous.

Since no one can really be sure who's right, isn't it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear?

Vote for WILLisms.com today (click here). My endorsements are here, if you are interested. Right now, two lefty Kos-wannabes are walloping the rest of us to varying degrees. WILLisms is still in third place.

Also, more on the classic 1984 Reagan "Bear" campaign ad can be found here.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 December 2005 09:44 PM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 65 -- Jimmy V.

Jim Valvano's ESPY Award Speech, Arthur Ashe Courage Award-

Earlier this week, ESPN broadcast the Jimmy V. Basketball Classic from Madison Square Garden. St. Joe's beat Kansas, and Michigan State beat Boston College. It reminded me of a great speech that has had an impact on a lot of people over the past dozen years.

On March 4, 1993, North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, stricken with cancer, gave one of the truly great speeches of modern history. It was a truly compelling piece of rhetoric, and one can apply its flourishes and nuances and phrases to just about anything in life.

Here's a bit of it:

I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you're emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm," to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality....

I know, I gotta go, I gotta go, and I got one last thing and I said it before, and I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.

Jim Valvano died the next month. Read (or watch/listen to) the entire speech here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Milton Friedman.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 December 2005 12:56 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 240 -- Eco-Idiots.

Environmentalists & Reality-

An unfortunate and erroneous meme in left-wing and international politics today is that the United States is some sort of wreckless, soulless polluting monster, and that George W. Bush, American oil companies, and the Republican Party are all somehow to blame.

It's the Captain Planet world, where evil villains constantly plot to destroy the environment for corporate greed-- or sometimes just for the heck of it. If not for the Planeteers, harnessing the powers of earth, fire, wind, water, and heart, the entire planet would be a toxic sludge dump in a matter of days.

Indeed, many of the most ardently radical environmentalists view themselves as eco-warriors and eco-heroes. Like the Planeteers, even, protecting the environment and the planet from the machinations of the evil eco-villains.

And here is how radical environmentalists view those who deign to challenge the far-left enviro-orthodoxy:


Sly Sludge, for example, voiced by Martin Sheen (lots of celebs provided voices for the characters), is described this way by the Turner website:

Profile: A polluter and profiteer who deals in toxic wastes, his favorite ploy is to turn national forests or other remote areas into toxic waste dumps.

Then, of course, there's Looten Plunder:

Profile: He's suave, he's urbane, and he plunders the planet for profit. He rules his vast multinational empire with an iron fist, eliminating anyone or anything that stands in his way. Plunder considers ecologists to be fools with no understanding of the real world.

Plunder's favorite forms of ecological devastation include deforestation, species extinction, habitat destruction and misuse of technology.

So, if you challenge the assertions of ecologists with facts, you are just like the villainous Looten Plunder. Why not be more like Captain Planet instead?

Let's face it. It's easy to generalize one way or the other, but today we're all Planeteers. We're all environmentalists, even if we don't all buy the far-left environmental agenda hook, line, and sinker.

Who today is genuinely anti-environment the way the Captain Planet television show suggested-- and many in the "environmental movement" suggest today?

Everyone can appreciate cleaner air and water and land. But not all of us choose to get carried away with the anti-business, anti-Bush, anti-America, anti-progress rhetoric coming from much of the self-proclaimed environmentalist movement. Some of us are skeptical of "the sky is falling" claims. Some of us have noticed that the environment has actually improved-- substantially-- over the past few decades. Some of us have witnessed how a booming economy means innovation. Some of us have connected the dots between innovation and more energy-efficient vehicles and appliances. Some of choose not to develop a brain hernia thinking about whether trees are good or bad for the environment, what to do about flatulent cows, and whether the sun causes global warming. Some of us understand that incentives work better than mandates in reducing pollution. Some of us, meanwhile, have noticed that certain international environmental agreements (like Kyoto) leave out China and India and other emerging countries, and are thoroughly ineffectual at reducing pollution in industrialized nations.

Take a gander at some startlingly underreported eco-facts:

In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent. During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent. Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.

Had America and Australia ratified Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure that would be statistically undectectable within annual climate variation. In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower by $97 billion to $397 billion...

Mark Steyn.

If Captain Planet is ever revived as a television program, it needs three new Planeteers with a new powers: free enterprise, common sense, and a grasp on reality. It also needs a few new eco-villains: an ecoterrorist, a lying journalist, and an anti-capitalist who uses environmentalism to promote the destruction of civilization.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Tax Cuts Mean Business Do More Business.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 December 2005 09:46 AM · Comments (4)

Vote For WILLisms: All Of Your Wildest Dreams Will Come True.


Vote for WILLisms.com (here) in the 2005 Weblog Awards and all your wildest dreams will come true.

Flipping sweet.

Right now, Roger Ailes (not the Fox News guy), the angry liberal blogger, is winning by a substantial margin. Second place is another liberal blog, Needlenose. WILLisms.com is in third.

But everyone involved should keep in mind that thing is just for fun. And I have definitely learned about several blogs I knew little or nothing about before the finalists were unveiled. So, yeah, fun times. Also, see my endorsements. And feel free to make a suggestion if you think I mis-endorsed.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 December 2005 10:44 PM · Comments (3)

The Psychology Of Defeatism

The Democratic party has found the message they think they can ride to victory in 2006, and it seems to be 'defeat at any cost'.

John Murtha tells our troops and the american people that our forces fighting overseas are 'broken' and 'living hand-to-mouth', and that we must cut and run and abandon democracy in the middle east. Howard Dean declares that the war in Iraq is unwinnable. John Kerry informs us that our troops are 'terrorizing' women and children in Iraq. Dick Durbin equates our troops with the Khmer Rouge.

President Bush was chided for saying that the views of these abandonistas are sincere, and Bush's statement has been taken as merely a polite way of avoiding darker accusations. After all, these Democrats don't really want defeat in Iraq.

Or do they?

If you view the world through that odd misshapen prism called liberalism, withdrawal from Iraq is a sort of victory, if you believe that it is good for a thug nation like the United States to be shamed and humiliated for daring to protect its national interests, and that abandoning the sham democracy in Iraq, and atoning for our sins by letting our enemies (which we created) punish our arrogance is a truly important lesson for America to learn once again, as it did in Vietnam. Thus, they do have a sincere belief that defeat for the United States is not really a 'defeat' at all - in that a military defeat will humiliate Bush and return the Democrats to their rightful ruling place in government, thus ushering a new golden age of enlightened policies that will help everyone.

For the Michael Moore wing of the Democratic party the War on Terror is not the truly important war being fought in this age. The important war is the life-and-death struggle of liberal versus conservative values, a belief that we are really engaged in a type of civil war - a titanic, world-historical Manichean struggle of the forces of light against darkness.

This view is part and parcel of the of belief in the supremacy of internationalism and socialism over the Constitution and American exceptionalism. This explains their long sad history of aiding and abetting the enemies of this nation, from supporting Alger Hiss, denying the crimes of Stalin, apologizing for Castro, advocating disarmament before a nuclear Soviet Union, and actually believing the mythical tripe churned out by leading lights of the left such as Noam Chomsky. That these things were somehow supposed to be good for the U.S. is a series of interlocking falsehoods that are a necessity for liberal thought, necessary to prevent chronic cognitive dissonance, the clashing of fantasy and reality, and to maintain their esteem in the belief that their superior intelligence and insight provides them with a natural mandate to rule. This delusion continues today, manifesting itself as a belief that once Bush is defeated, the rational jihadists will retreat with the knowledge that the real enemy of all mankind has been vanquished. The Democratic party is starting to veer into alliance with the terrorists now, and share exactly the same goal: removing the U.S. from Iraq. Democratic diffidence on the war is a way to 'educate' the racist and homophobic autocracy that is the United States, while at the same time winning back political power at the ballot box in 2006 by riding what they presume to be is the widespread disgust with George W. Bush.

So, in a sense they are quite sincere. They think they are helping. With luck, this craven strategy of defeat will seat them alongside George McGovern on the ash heap of history once again.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 December 2005 09:01 PM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Forty-Three-- Demographic Wave.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event. So we're going to keep plugging along with the case for reform, even as the issue goes off the political radar screen.

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

This week's topic:

The Social Security Demographic Tsunami.

We're coming up on an unfortunate anniversary. A wasted year. Michael D. Tanner explains:

Here are two numbers to remember: $660 billion and 10 hours. Because of the failure to reform Social Security this year, the program's future unfunded obligations have increased by $660 billion. That amounts to a debt of more than $2,200 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. This comes on top of a previous unfunded obligation of $12.8 trillion. Yet this week, Senate Democrats used a parliamentary maneuver to prevent the Senate from scheduling just 10 hours of debate early next year on Social Security reform.


While impressive GDP growth could help mitigate the size of the Social Security crisis, it won't solve the crisis entirely.

Indeed, as the Calculated Risk blog shows us, there is no getting around the demographic wave that is coming directly for us [thanks to Political Calculations blog for the tip]:


To take a slower gander at the succession, piece by piece, graph by graph, see this link.

There is just very little we can do to change this demographic reality. But imagine if we could predict a real-world ocean tsunami several years in advance. We might do something about it, right? Prepare. Plan. We'd also probably get to work right away, rather than waiting until the tsunami is upon us, right?

I would hope.

Unfortunately, for all the plethora of good news about the short- and medium-term economic outlook in the United States, the longer-term news is not so rosy. These massive, unfunded entitlement program liabilities threaten to really sock it to the future American economy. It will mean much higher taxes. It will mean that projecting power and influence in the world will become cost-prohibitive. It will mean slower economic growth. It will mean a lower standard of living for everyone.

We have the power; we can identify the problems, and we know the solutions, but without a little political courage, without any long-term vision, there can be no reform. Social Security modernization, however, is not optional.

There is a demographic tsunami headed for us. We know that as a fact. Where is the leadership on this issue? And while it is vogue to rip on Republicans for their cowardice on Social Security, or on the Bush administration for its ineffectiveness in making the case, it really boils down to increasingly unreasonable, socialist, reactionary Democrats taking cover under fraudulent polling, distorted media coverage, and public apathy/confusion on the issue.

It's time for reform.

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).
-Week Thirty-Four (Longer Life Expectancies Straining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Five (Howard Dean & Salami).
-Week Thirty-Six (Growing Numbers of Beneficiaries Draining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Seven (The Crisis Is Now).
-Week Thirty-Eight (Disability Benefits).
-Week Thirty-Nine (Broken Benefit Calculation Formula).
-Week Forty (German Social Security Disaster).
-Week Forty-One (Crumbling Pyramid Scheme).
-Week Forty-Two (Overpromising, Globally).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 December 2005 12:46 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 239 -- Yay, Economy. Yay, Tax Relief.

Tax Relief & Increased Business Fixed Investment: Strongly Correlated-

Today, we have almost all the ingredients for a lasting (in the medium-term, at least) economic boom. Productivity growth is leaping upward. Hundreds of thousands of net new jobs are being created every month. The unemployment rate is falling. The federal budget deficit is declining dramatically (but remains too large). And businesses are investing for the future (.pdf):

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

Indeed, business activity is brisk, even in manufacturing. We hear so much about "outsourcing" and General Motors layoffs that the good news gets lost in the shuffle:


Tax cuts did exactly what they were supposed to do. American businesses responded to the incentives. The economy is roaring today because of it.

Indeed, the facts do not lie:

The 2003 tax cut is about as clear a policy success as has come out of Washington in many years:

• The stock market has risen by about $4 trillion in value, and an estimated 40% of that gain is directly attributable to increases in the after-tax return on equities, thanks to the tax cut. (If the tax cut expires, the market will instantly give back those gains.) Housing values have soared so rapidly that the fear is we now face a bubble. Household net wealth has climbed by $10 trillion.

• Business investment--which had sunk into the abyss during the recession, falling by 21% between 2000 and 2002--has roared back to life. Spending is up nearly 25% over the past 30 months.

• Dividend payments to shareholders have doubled in two years, according to data gathered by the American Shareholders Association. The cumulative impact of the tax cut and the higher dividend payments has put $100 billion into the pockets of America's burgeoning investor class.

• The macro-economic signs all point to a solid, sustainable expansion. Employment is up 4.4 million and real GDP growth has averaged 4%--or twice the OECD average--since 2003. Today's unemployment rate of 5% means there are now roughly one million more Americans working than were projected before the tax cut.

• Oh, and yes, there was a $120 billion reduction in the budget deficit in 2005. That's because tax receipts rose by more than in any previous year in U.S. history, even adjusting for inflation. Receipts were up by $55 billion above projections in 2004; $122 billion above projections in 2005; and are already running well ahead of projections so far in fiscal 2006 (which began in October).

• Finally, we wonder if any of the faux debt-hawks in Congress noticed that thanks to the sizzling economy, states and localities are now running hefty budget surpluses, reversing years of red ink and painful service cutbacks. Even New York City--which for years looked like the U.S. version of debt-plagued Argentina--is back in the black.

Fortunately, in a short span, Americans have become quite a bit more optimistic on the economy:

The poll showed that 56 percent now describe the national economy as good, up from 47 percent a month ago.

No doubt about it, this is directly correlated with President Bush and his administration going on a public relations blitz on the economy.

Clearly, though, too few people have heard the message about America's economic boom. Some may have heard the message, but the message is clouded by the pessimism of Lou Dobbs, Paul Krugman, and others asserting that the sky is still falling.


They will do what they do. The rest of us can forge a national consensus: the economy is kicking serious tail right now, by almost any standard. And it has been kicking tail for more than a couple of years now.

So, want to derail the boom times?

Here's what you do:

Raise taxes. Or, let tax relief expire. However you want to put it.

Astoundingly, a handful of "moderate" Congressional Republicans are not entirely sold on their own signature economic policy-- and apparently some have not noticed the profoundly positive results. Many in Congress (mostly Democrats) would let dividend, capital gains, income, and other taxes creep back upward.

It's no wonder only 14% and 16% of Americans have trust in Congressmen and Senators, respectively. When they do something right (2003 tax relief), many are still willing to turn their back on it when under a bit of mild pressure.

Let's hope that Congress gives us something to trust in today.

Incidentally, isn't it funny that the same people declaring gloom and doom in the American economy are also declaring "quagmire" in Iraq?


The GOP (for the most part) has backbone, after all. Way to go.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: A n Entire Jeopardy Category: "Chances".

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 December 2005 10:31 AM · Comments (2)

WILLisms.com '05: "Keep On Keepin' On."


Keep voting for WILLisms.com (click here). And the other blogs WILLisms.com is endorsing. It takes seconds.


Posted by Will Franklin · 7 December 2005 09:57 PM · Comments (0)

300,000 Visits.

The Ole Sitemeter clicker ticked past 300,000 visits today (since sometime in March 2005), with over 513 thousand pageviews.

If I just had a dollar for each of those visits. Hmm, yeah. That would be nice.

WILLisms.com hit 100,000 visits on June 26, 2005.

WILLisms.com hit 200,000 visits on September 12, 2005.

Thanks for making it possible, y'all.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 December 2005 05:03 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 238 -- "Chance."

What Are The Odds?-

Try your luck at this recent Jeopardy category, some fun facts and figures...

Chance, $200:
- The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Administration says the chance of this happening to you in a given year is 1 in 240,000.

Chance, $400:
- A random group must contain 23 people for there to be an over 50% chance that 2 of them will have the same one of these.

Chance, $600:
- In this 12-state lottery selling "Mega Jackpots Mega Fun", your chance at the top prize is 1 in 175,711,536.

Chance, $800:
- There's a 1 in 10,000 chance of being born with situs inversus with dextrocardia, dextrocardia meaning this.

Chance, $1,000:
- The 2 main types of object whose danger is gauged on the Torino Scale; a 3 means a 1% chance of destructive impact.


Jeopardy (with the help of TiVo).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Bush Economy.


Read More »

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 December 2005 03:41 PM · Comments (2)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 34.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

Serious flex : Michael Borenaga of Philippines (L) with Sahali bin abd Samad of Malaysia (R) perform during the bantam 65kg bodybuilding final at the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Manila. Borenaga won the gold medal with a perfect score of 10 with Samad taking the silver. (AFP/Joel Nito)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, December 13. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:



The Hordes of Ghengis Khan encountered little resistance upon conquering the regions of Outhousistan.


Mr. Right:

"Gee, Mr. President, when you said you had to 'go see a man about a horse' - you really weren't kidding around!"


Rodney Dill:

DRUDGEBREAKING: Scott McClellan provided the following report on President Bush's trip to Mongolia. "Montezuma's Revenge is nothing compared to the Wrath of Khan." Developing...

Honorable Mention #1

D. Carter:

The extent and dimensions of the Great Wall of China have been vastly exaggerated.

Honorable Mention #2

Tony B:

"They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads... razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Jengis Khan..."


Honorable Mention #3

the paperboy:

"I can read the writing on the wall now." "The graffiti on the Great Wall, sir? Communist China is going to fall?" "No, the dirty limericks in here. These Mongolians have a sick sense of humor."

Captioning makes you a more complete blog reader.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 December 2005 10:27 AM · Comments (25)

Hmm... I Suppose I Need A Sponsor/Patron For This Thing.


Consider this post the daily update on the Weblog Awards. Remember that you can vote (here) every 24 hours until December 15.

A few points:

1. WILLisms.com, funnily enough, is not a top 501-100 blog anymore. Following the changes made to the Ecosystem, we're still a Large Mammal, but we're up to number 393. Basically, "The Truth Laid Bear" made those link fest trackback party things not count toward your incoming link count anymore. Which is probably a good thing.

2. In the Best of the Top 501-100 Blogs category, as of right now, the two viciously left-wing blogs are killing the rest of us. I have no idea how, either. But I assume it has something to do with Kos-like patrons, "endorsing" these blogs on high traffic liberal blogs. Who knows. This whole thing is really just for fun. But it is annoying that (as of right now, at least) the two worst blogs in the category are in first and second place.

3. A lot of blogs are endorsing other blogs. WILLisms.com is not a huge blog, but it's not a tiny blog, either, so maybe I can swing a few races ever-so-slightly. I guess I will do that now. Endorsements are in bold.

Best Blog: The Corner, Instapundit, Captain's Quarters, Michelle Malkin, all indispensible. Sure, there are other good ones (Mudville Gazette, Powerline, Hugh Hewitt), but those first four are just awesome.

Best New Blog: I like a few of them (Decision '08, basil's blog, Atlas Shrugs), but my endorsement goes to Riding Sun.

Best Group Blog: Redstate is good. So is Winds of Change. So is Publius Pundit. But Soundpolitics and Brothers Judd are also pretty good.

Best Humor/Comics Blog: I like Protein Wisdom, Day By Day by Chris Muir, Iowahawk, and Cox & Forkum. But Scrappleface is just the best.

Best Liberal Blog: They are all terrible. Wonkette would get my vote if I were voting, though. Some people claim she's not liberal. If she won that award, that claim would be a little more difficult to make.

Best Conservative Blog: I like almost all of them. It's difficult to make an endorsement here, but try voting for one of these: Ace of Spades HQ, Ankle Biting Pundits. Also, try Say Anything (if you like underdogs). Right Wing News is also good. So is La Shawn Barber's Corner. Same with Polipundit, The Anchoress, Right Wing Nut House, Blogs For Bush, Just One Minute, and The Belgravia Dispatch.

Best Media/Journalist Blog: Michael Yon (who is running away with it). Big fan of Best of the Web, too. Donald L. Luskin has a good one, as well. Steyn Online isn't bad, either.

Best Technology Blog: No clue. I've only heard of Slashdot and Gizmodo. Find one you like.

Best Culture/Gossip Blog: Not really sure. Llama Butchers is the only one I really recognize. And it's a fun blog.

Best Sports Blog: Burnt Orange Nation.

Best Photo Blog: Zombie Time.

Best LGBT Blog: Gay Patriot.

Best Military Blog: Argghhh! But Blackfive is also very good.

Best Blog Design: The Shape of Days.

Best Podcast: No clue.

Best Video Blog: The Political Teen.

Best Religious Blog: Evangelical Outpost.

Best Parenting Blog: No clue.

Best Law Blog: I like Patterico's Pontifications, SCOTUSblog, The Volokh Conspiracy, Confirm Them, Stop The ACLU, Althouse, and TaxProf Blog. But the Becker-Posner Blog is awesome.

Best Business Blog: I like Freakonomics, Marginal Revolution, The Club For Growth, and Asymmetrical Information. BizzyBlog gets my endorsement, though.

Best Canadian Blog: PeakTalk.

Best UK Blog: Samizdata.

Best European Blog (non-UK): The Right Nation. Free Thoughts is also worth a vote.

Best Asian Blog: The Marmot's Hole.

Best Middle East or Africa Blog: Dang. Talk about a difficult choice. Sokwanele (a.k.a. This is Zimbabwe) is awesome. So is Iraq The Model. So is Regime Change Iran. Make up your own mind. I may spread my votes on this one.

Best Australia or New Zealand Blog: Tim Blair.

Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog: I like a few of them, but babalu blog is the best.

Best of the Top 250 Blogs: I like Indepundit, Belmont Club, Daniel Drezner, VodkaPundit, My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and Outside The Beltway. But for consistent original and interesting content, my endorsement goes to Dean's World.

Best of the Top 251-500 Blogs: Confederate Yankee, Austin Bay Blog, baldilocks, The American Mind, Sister Toldjah, and Betsy's Page are all good. I can't pick just one.

Best of the Top 501-1000 Blogs: WILLisms, baby. WILLisms.

Best of the Top 1001-1750 Blogs: Registan.net.

Best of the Top 1751-2500 Blogs: Not sure, but try Conservative Outpost.

Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs: Not really sure, but Byrd Droppings is good.

Best of the 3501-5000 Blogs: No question. File It Under!

Best of the Top 5001-6750 Blogs: I like NoSpeedBumps, but the endorsement goes to the doc: Joust The Facts.

Best of the Top 6751-8750 Blogs: The lonetreeontheprairie blog.

Best of the Rest (8751+): vulgar morality.

If you think I should endorse a blog in one of the undecided slots, let me know. If you think I overlooked your blog (which I may have), let me know. But these are my endorsements. Commence to voting.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 December 2005 08:06 PM · Comments (15)

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

We call it "Classiness, All Around Us."


Click to explore more WILLisms.com.

In no particular order, WILLisms.com presents (an expanded edition of) classiness from the blogosphere:


Happy/Merry _________-


Ed Driscoll has an innovative suggestion for online merchants:

Default to "Happy Holidays" and then allow each customer to choose if he or she wants to change it to "Merry Christmas", "Happy Hanukah", "Happy Kwanza", "Happy Eid", or heck, even "Happy Festivus". And then have a "Happy TYPE HOLIDAY OF YOUR CHOICE HERE" box for anyone who celibrates a day other than the previous listings to fill in.

Great idea. Instead of sterilizing the holiday season, eliminating or marginalizing Christmas out of concern that people might feel left out, let's instead keep Christmas AND let people express their beliefs. That's just plain American.


Christmas Economy-


Speaking of Christmas, Eidelblog notes yet another anecdotal bit of evidence about America's booming economy, and of the unprecedented wealth to which more Americans than ever have access:

Isn't it a wonderful country that not just the wealthy, but even some of the middle class, are wealthy enough, and have jobs of such economic value, that they can hire people to decorate their homes?

That is pretty amazing, and it's something I have definitely noticed in suburban Houston over the past years. Landscaping companies (and independent contractors) who might otherwise conduct less business during winter months can make bundles of money applying their expertise and talent. It's also a good sign for the overall economy when folks are able to afford something that just a few years ago might have been considered an unreasonable extravagance.


Dumb Political Strategy-


Club For Growth blog explains what I have been saying for quite some time, that the National Republican Senatorial Committee's decision to attack a true conservative in favor of a very liberal Republican incumbent was a disaster:



That the NRSC is the only major Republican group lagging in fundraising is not surprising. It's not brain surgery, people.




The new Cato Unbound blog offers three proposals for Constitutional amendments:

The twentieth century experienced a manifold increase in the size of government, at all levels, but concentrated in the United States at the federal level. The political decision structure accelerated this growth. Congress found itself able to advance popular spending programs separately from the imposition of taxes needed to finance them. Further, the spending process itself was effectively decentralized through the delegation of authority to committees, members of which were necessarily responsive to interest groups. Sporadic efforts to reform the budgetary decision structure have been unsuccessful.

Out-of-control growth of government, unfortunately, is not a personnel issue. It's a systematic issue. We've got to consider changing the way politics happens in Washington, or we'll continue down a truly unsustainable path.


Saddam Hussein Trial-


The Nose On Your Face blog offers a hilarious satirical look at Saddam Hussein's complaints about prison:

2. The rape rooms in this prison are way different, and far less enjoyable, than the ones I used to run.

1. I haven't heard from those two ingrate sons of mine in years.

Go read them all. Funny stuff as always.


Fact Check-


Adam Gurri offers a thorough look at the world (and whether humans are better or worse off), and reviews one of my favorite non-fiction books:

...all the evidence suggests that human beings are, for the most part, better off than they ever have been; they are living longer and their quality of life is at a historical high.

Reasons for optimism and hope abound the world over. Sometimes the constant "everything is terrible" droning of the media can cloud that reality.


A Century-


Suldog-O-Rama offers a nice look at his grandmother's 100th birthday:

One of the more interesting stories about my Grandma was how she finagled dancing lessons for herself when she was a young woman. She couldn't afford to just take them and pay for them, so what did she do? She started her own dancing school.

These past 100 years have been among the more momentous and world-changing in the history of the world. Technology, medicine, geopolitics, communications, transportation... it has all changed so much since 1905. If you know someone who is 100 years old, glean whatever wisdom from them while you can.




Verifrank takes a look at propaganda:

Do we need propaganda to win the war?, hell yes we do, and from the looks of it we need a lot more! Does the left really REALLY want to say that this snot covered drivel they call reporting is NOT propaganda? Lets go over “the devils resume of Western Journalism in Iraq” shall we?

A nice litany of left-wing propaganda in the press in recent times. Definitely worth a read.


Loving Totalitarians-


The neo-neocon blog explains how the left lost its way:

It's wonderful to be part of a coherent movement, a whole that makes sense, joined with others working for the same goal and sharing the same beliefs. But there's a price to pay when something challenges the tenets of that movement. When that happens, there are two kinds of people: those who change their ideas to fit the new facts, even if it means leaving the fold, and those who distort and twist the facts and logic to maintain the circle dance.

A nice post, and a nice comment thread, as well. I will never forget hearing the chant (from the same folks who opposed the "illegal war" in Afghanistan after 9/11) of "hey hey, ho ho, Saddam Hussein shouldn't go" on campus after President Bush had offered his ultimatum for Saddam to leave the country or face serious consequences.


Conservatives Who Don't Realize How Strong They Are-


PoliPundit, in twin posts (Part 2 is here), notes that Republicans need to believe in their own ideas, and their own electoral success:

So Michigan is turning into a Democratic state? Really?

Let’s look at the results in Presidential elections. Below are the percentages for the Republican Presidential candidate:

1992: 36%
1996: 38%
2000: 46%
2004: 48%

Too often, we talk about the country "moving apart," with blue states getting bluer, and red states getting redder. But most blue states have actually gotten less, not more, firmly entrenched in the clutches of the Democratic Party than before. When Republicans offer voters a difference, voters will respond.


Office Party Antics-


Samantha Burns spots a funny factoid:

According to Canon photocopier repairmen, 32% of their Christmas season calls have been to fix the glass plates after people attempted to photocopy various body parts.

Who knew?


Tony Blair-


By Dawn's Early Light blog takes a look at Tony Blair's big challenge:

The developed world is worried about the spread of AIDS, radical Islam, avian bird flu, and a host of other troubles in the developing world. However without radical farm subsidy reform, starting in Europe (as proposed by the United States) and followed by Japan, the Doha round will accomplish little.

Indeed. European farm subsidies make ours look like chump change. What's worse, they hurt the ability of third world countries to compete in the world market.


Death Wishes-


Michelle Malkin notes that a recovering soldier received a vicious bit of hate mail:

...a US Army soldier named Joshua Sparling received the death wish while recovering from a gunshot wound he received in Ramadi, Iraq. It's the only Christmas card he received. Fox & Friends is urging you to counter the hate by sending your thanks and good wishes to Sparling:

Joshua Sparling
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

Do it today.

I know I will. Our heroes, our palladins, our soldiers-- they deserve better than "death wish" mail.


Howard Dean-


Protein Wisdom offers some fun thoughts on the defeatist Democrats, particularly DNC Chairman:

...the national Democrats either 1) are completely incapable of defending a country and sustaining a necessarily muscular foreign policy; or else, 2) Teddy Kennedy, while scrounging around in the family vault for a swig of vintage Absinthe, inadvertantly stumbled upon a Genie bottle, and—after wishing for more Absinthe and a pair of Hooter’s waitresses who “really dig the belly fat”—he used his last wish to ensure that world peace is triggered the moment the US pulls its troops out of Iraq.

Major Democrats, beholden to the radical anti-war base they cottled and cultivated, now are doing their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.




Resurrection Song blog wonders if we're being too soft on the European Union:

What exactly can the United States do with European allies who are not particularly friendly to our goals and often openly unfriendly to this administration? Courting them won’t bring them back in line and challenging them will just broaden the anti-American sentiment.

I suggest that America is doing precisely what it needs to do: trying to establish more friendly bonds with emerging democracies in the region like Poland. France and Germany are treated like the countries that they are: diminishing in power abroad and less than vital to America’s new policy needs.

In Europe, as in Iraq, the American response should be “Stay the course.”

Indeed. Whatever we do, we should not try to "repair" the alliances with Europe. But we shouldn't go out of our way to damage those alliances, either.


Also, don't forget to check out all the old Trivia Tidbits Of the Day, the Reform Thursday series, the Quotational Therapy sessions, the most recent Mainstream Melee, the latest Pundit Roundtable, 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:

*November 29, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a classiness roundup as a bi-weekly feature, every other Tuesday, with 10 blog posts deemed classy. The criteria for submissions: incisive original analysis, quirky topics nobody else (especially the mainstream media) 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 every other Monday at 11:59 PM Central Time.


Posted by Will Franklin · 6 December 2005 05:56 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 237 -- The Bush Economy.

The Bush Boom-

Critics of the booming American economy (and of the Bush administration's record on the American economy) like to ignore the past 30 months or so and instead linger on the first several months of George W. Bush's administration, back in 2001.

It's no wonder, given that the most strident critics are more concerned with talking down the economy than the truth. Allowing Bush to take credit for boom times the way President Clinton did in the 1990s is unthinkable.

Indeed, those months in 2001 were not all that great, economically. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, in a head-scratching career move, left the GOP. There wasn't enough support in Congress for meaningful tax relief. President Bush had inherited a lagging economy, but somehow it was all his fault.

And then 9/11 happened.

The events of September 11, 2001 hurt the American economy, there's no doubt about that. Business investment was down. Spending was down. Attitudes were down.

But since the time President Bush's tax cuts took effect, in May of 2003, the economy has recovered nicely.

Jerry Bowyer explains:

Why do we begin counting 10 quarters ago? Because while Bush’s overall GDP average remains tempered by the anemic economy he inherited, it has grown by leaps and bounds since he signed his full tax cut (the so-called “tax cut for the rich”) into law. It’s admittedly easier to judge a president by everything that happens after he’s sworn in, but no president is an island, and no president gets to enact his policies the day he takes the oath of office. Since President Bush got the tax cut he wanted, Americans have gotten the economy they’ve earned.

GDP growth during the Clinton era: 3.6%
GDP growth over the past 20 years: 3.1%

GDP growth since the Bush tax cuts: 4.1%
GDP growth today: 4.3%

Meanwhile, GDP growth in the European Union this year: 1.6%

Yay economy!
Boo politically-motivated pessimists!

Meanwhile, since the enactment of those Bush tax cuts, the jobs picture just keeps getting better:


Ideas and policies have consequences. The correlation between tax relief and a growing economy is certainly a powerful reminder of that.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Cigarette Smoking In The Movies.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 December 2005 10:56 AM · Comments (0)

Commence To Voting.

The voting is finally open. Commence. Commence.


Some strong blogs in the mix. It looks like the strongest competition may indeed come from the blogs I admire most, which is a good thing.

Commence. You can vote once every 24 hours until December 15.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 December 2005 10:00 PM · Comments (11)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 236 -- Smoking In American Cinema.

Movies & Cigs-

In an earlier post, I noted that smoking has declined somewhat dramatically in the United States over the past few decades, but among young males over the past several years, the rate has actually risen slightly. A couple of emailers suggested that it might be the movies. All the smoking in the movies is making young people-- especially young white men-- smoke.

Well, maybe. Maybe not. I am not so sure the explanation is particularly robust, after reading this:

Smoking prevalence is the same in contemporary American movies and in the general US population (23.3% vs 24.8%, respectively).

Broken down into groups:

R versus PG-13 versus PG:


Not surprisingly, R-rated films have more smokers, while more family-friendly films have less of them.

PG: 8.1% of characters smoke.
PG-13: 16.2% of characters smoke.
R: 37.3% of characters smoke.

Good Guys versus Bad Guys:


Villains smoke far more than the good guys, 35.7% to 20.6%. Interesting.

Men versus Women:


Men smoke slightly more than women in the movies (25.5% to 20.5%). This is roughly in line with the real world.

Poor versus Middle versus Rich:


Lower socioeconomic status: 48.2% smoked.
Middle socioeconomic status: 22.9% smoked.
Upper socioeconomic status: 10.5% smoked.

So, poor people smoked a lot more than rich people in American films? Hmm...

Interestingly, 46.2% of independent film characters smoked, while only 18.2% of major studio characters smoked. This tends to negate the notion that big tobacco is systematically pushing its products via the corporate movie studios.

If anything, there is a clear anti-smoking message in modern American cinema. If you smoke, according to the movies, you are poor (likely white) trash, AND you are bad or evil or otherwise objectionable.

It would be an understatement to say that I am anti-smoking and anti-cigarette (it's really stupid to smoke, people), but I don't think you can pin blame on the big tobacco companies (or Hollywood) for the modest rise in smoking rates among certain impressionable demographic groups in recent years. Nor is it a good idea to bowdlerize films (and other popular culture), past, present, and future, eliminating all traces of smoking in the process. That sort of revisionism of life is more than a little bit creepy.

Chest Medical Journal, American College of Chest Physicians.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Leprosy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 December 2005 10:39 AM · Comments (4)

Quotational Therapy: Part 64 -- Milton Friedman, On Free Lunch.

Milton Friedman: There Is Such Thing As A Free Lunch-

The wisdom of Milton Friedman:

I have sometimes been associated with the aphorism "There's no such thing as a free lunch," which I did not invent. I wish more attention were paid to one that I did invent, and that I think is particularly appropriate in this city, "Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own." But all aphorisms are half-truths. One of our favorite family pursuits on long drives is to try to find the opposite of aphorisms. For example, "History never repeats itself," but "There's nothing new under the sun." Or "look before you leap," but "He who hesitates is lost." The opposite of "There's no such thing as a free lunch" is clearly "The best things in life are free."

And in the real economic world, there is a free lunch, an extraordinary free lunch, and that free lunch is free markets and private property. Why is it that on one side of an arbitrary line there was East Germany and on the other side there was West Germany with such a different level of prosperity? It was because West Germany had a system of largely free, private markets - a free lunch. The same free lunch explains the difference between Hong Kong and mainland China, and the prosperity of the United States and Great Britain. These free lunches have been the product of a set of invisible institutions that, as F. A. Hayek emphasized, are a product of human action but not of human intention.

At the moment, we in the United States have available to us, if we will take it, something that is about as close to a free lunch as you can have. After the fall of communism, everybody in the world agreed that socialism was a failure. Everybody in the world, more or less, agreed that capitalism was a success. The funny thing is that every capitalist country in the world apparently concluded that therefore what the West needed was more socialism. That's obviously absurd, so let's look at the opportunity we now have to get a nearly free lunch. President Clinton has said that what we need is widespread sacrifice and concentrated benefits. What we need is exactly the opposite. What we need and what we can have - what is the nearest thing to a free lunch - is widespread benefits and concentrated sacrifice. It's not a wholly free lunch, but it's close.

Read the entire May 6, 1993 speech here.

Incidentally, nominations are open for the 2006 Milton Friedman Prize For Advancing Liberty:


That's neat. And it's worth half a million bucks.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Bush, On Iraq.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 December 2005 07:07 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 235 -- Leprosy.

Leper Colonies-

As some of you may know, my beautiful wife lives and works in Angola three weeks on, three weeks off. She's safe there, but I still worry about her. A lion could eat her. She could end up fighting on the wrong side of a spontaneous and bloody civil war, then be captured, then tried in The Hague for war crimes. Or she could get leprosy.

Yes, leprosy.

Did you know that leprosy still exists? And leper colonies?

It does. And they do. In Angola, even.

But there is good news:

...since the introduction of multidrug therapy a generation ago, a complete cure became possible within six to 12 months. As a consequence, the number of those with leprosy has plummeted from 10 million globally in 1985 to slightly more than 400,000 last year. Early detection and drug treatment, which since the year 2000 has been donated by the pharmaceutical company Novartis AG, have allowed many to reintegrate into society with no telltale marks.

In five years, say leprosy specialists, the number of new cases treated globally may be reduced to 50,000 annually.

Hey, honey! Stay away from Funda, 30 miles East of Luanda!

Actually, the likelihood of contracting leprosy is amazingly slim:

The leprosy bacilli pass mainly through nasal mucus, not through skin contact, and infection of another person usually occurs only after prolonged close contact.


The Boston Globe: "In Angola, leprosy colony inches toward society"


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Wal-Mart.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 December 2005 09:19 PM · Comments (4)

An Honor Just To Be Nominated.


WILLisms.com has been named as a finalist in the 2005 Weblog Awards. Sure, it's not the most glamorous category (Top 501-1000 Blogs), but it's nice to get a little recognition.

Voting begins on December 5 and ends on the 15th, and apparently you can vote once every 24 hours.

The 2005 Weblog Awards website can be found here. Go check it out.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 December 2005 03:06 PM · Comments (14)

Pundit Roundtable

Hello hello, welcome back to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, our weekly gathering of perspicacious pundits. I am your host, Ken McCracken.

Our topics this week are these:

Topic 1: If you could go back in time to September 10, 2001, knowing everything you know today, how would you have prevented the hijackings that day? Who would you have told? How would you have warned the appropriate people without seeming like some sort of crackpot alarmist? Would your warnings have mattered, or would they have been drowned out in a vast sea of chatter?

Topic 2: We have not had a terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. Has this been due to luck, or is it due to improved countermeasures? Are we missing warning signs? Are our strategies and tactics solid?

Our first guest is new to the Roundtable, Paul from Wizbang! Paul, what do you think?

Topic 1 - That's simple. I'd call in bomb threats to each of the airline departure terminals and I'd tell them my name was Mohamed Atta al-Sayed. Then I'd get to Logan about 6am and personally put 9 rounds into the real Mohamed Atta. I'd spend about 30 days as a guest of the Feds while they sorted it all out, but I'd do it. A month in federal custody would be a small price to pay.

Topic 2 - While it is hard to argue with success, in reality, most all of our anti-terrorism countermeasures stateside are feel good excercises to make the ignorant masses think we are "doing something."

In reality, we have more soft targets than we could ever hope to secure. I think we should put more emphasis on citizen responsibility and less reliance on government. (We saw how well depending on goverment worked for the people in Superdome during Katrina.) But asking a politician to give up power is like asking the sun not to shine.

Our next guest is also a newcomer, Eric Lindholm, the Viking Pundit. Eric, what do you have to say?
Topic 2 - After years of insouciance at Mideast terrorism, the 9/11 attacks finally awakened Americans to the concept that we're in a war and we must be alert at all times. The Marines barracks in Beirut, the first World Trade Center attack, Khobar Towers, etc., were all abstract and foreign for many in the U.S. 9/11 changed that. I'm not so sure it's government action that has kept us safe rather than the fact that millions of Americans are keeping a sharp eye out for threats. There's simply no way that an attack, even an armed one, could succeed on an airplane when the passengers know the potential, dreadful outcome at hand. I'd like to believe we're a nation of "Flight 93 passengers" now and this is largely what has kept us free from terrorist attacks for the past four years.

Our next panelist is co-host Will Franklin. Will, what do you have to say?
Topic 1 - September 11 was such a surprising and unprecedented series of events, with such unparalleled consequences, that it would be hard to go back in time and convey just how serious and urgent the situation truly was. Even if you could go back and convince people that planes might be hijacked, how many would have believed that 4 could be not only hijacked simultaneously but also piloted effectively into high profile targets. With little or no warning. And relatively little support from nation-states. When was the last American plane hijacking? [crickets chirping]

It would also be difficult to convey that this is not your father's hijacking. There is no hostage situation with a SWAT team storming in and killing the terrorists at an airport somewhere. There is no "demand" to be met by a certain hour.

Another problem with going back in time and warning the authorities is that there were indeed vague warning signs. People did understand more generally that Islamic fundamentalism, spearheaded by al-Qaeda, was a threat to the United States. But planes have metal detectors. How can you hijack a plane without a firearm or bomb? It was just such an outlandish, far-fetched plot. If you could go back to September 10 and show people actual news footage of the epic disaster, who would have believed such a thing was even possible?

Topic 2 - As 9/11 recedes further into history with each passing day, we seem destined to let our guard down. The terrible memories begin to fade. We forget the lessons of 9/11. We fail to see that the war in Iraq is a crucial front in the War On Terror. We scream and moan and gnash and writhe about the Patriot Act stealing our liberties. We ease our security rules. We turn to other issues deemed more significant. We return to normal. Normal is good. I want us to fully return to normal.

I just hope our success in preventing another terrorist attack is less about luck than about President Bush's assertive geopolitical response abroad and balanced domestic response at home. In terms of missing warning signs, we're clearly not doing EVERYTHING right, but we are doing most things right. We're taking the fight to the terrorists. We're finally shifting out of a Cold War posture.

But we are neglecting the borders. It's a long border, both South and North, so it's not an easy thing to solve. We're not using our own energy resources the way we ought to be doing (drilling in Alaska, investing in the newest generation nuclear technology, and so on). We're still vulnerable when folks get together in stadiums and other dense facilities, not to mention buses and trains and other crowded modes of transportation. Patting down everyone entering the Rose Bowl next month just isn't really feasible, though, nor is scanning every bag before folks are allowed on the subway in NYC. That's where citizen vigilance comes in. That's where our superior technology and innovation come in.

Preventing another terrorist attack is a daunting task, and not an enviable one. President Bush does not get nearly enough credit for the lack of another major attack on American soil, but you know he would get most of the blame if the terrorists do succeed again.

The Host's Last Word: I am with Paul on this one - the 9mm is the only way to be sure.

Maybe if I plugged Atta full of holes at Logan airport on the morning of 9/11, I would have brought with me a boxful of newspaper clippings from the future to prove my righteous intent . . . Or even take back videos of the attacks. Not so sure they would be believed though - one of the striking things about the video of the planes hitting the Twin Towers was how Hollywood it looked. It didn't even look real, it honestly looked like 3D effects to me, it was so dramatic and unexpected.

Even if I were not vindicated for killing Atta, I would be content knowing that I had, in fact, prevented a catastrophe.

As for for the fact that we have not had a terrorist attack here since 9/11, I think the phrase "fortune favors the prepared" is appropriate.

It is probably just sheer luck that we have not had another attack in the U.S., in that al-Qaeda probably spent all of its resources and willing personnel on one big, dramatic roll of the dice that paid off for them on 9/11. Most likely, there is no major al-Qaeda presence left in the United States. This leads me to a BOLD PUNDIT PREDICTION: There will not be another terrorist attack until George W. Bush is out of office. More out of good fortune than planning.

Even though luck is the major factor, the federal government, and we the people, deserve credit for making a second attack more difficult. First and foremost, our aggressive military and foreign policy initiatives have achieved the most important security task of all: destroying the foreign lairs in Afghanistan and Iraq where the enemy trained, prepared and obtained resources.

The TSA has done an excellent job of screening for flights. As much as they get criticized, airline security is far better now than it was pre-9/11, forcing al-Qaeda to come up with a different sort of attack.

And I think the American people are much more aware of the warning signs of terrorist activity, and have caught on to the fact that they are valuable eyes and ears in preventing attacks, much as Israeli citizens, almost by second nature, are attuned to such warning signs. So give yourself a pat on the back.

Now if we could just secure the borders . . . especially the porous one with Canada that actual terrorists seem to prefer over Mexico.

Thanks for coming by! Thank you esteemed pundits,and come back next Sunday for another edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Update: Hoodlumman of File It Under comes in huffing and puffing to his Pundit chair, with his point of view:

Topic 1 - This is an interesting hypothetical. Knowing everything that we know now, I think it'd be pointless to try to prevent it from a FBI/CIA/top-level government attempt. I think the only way you could cause disruption in the 9/11 plan would be to phone in (anonymous?) tips to airport security with all of the hijackers' names and descriptions and their weapons.

I think any attempt to warn the White House, Pentagon, FBI, WTC, etc would bring unwanted attention to yourself, and extreme "detention" if the gov't ignored your warnings and the attacks still happened. You'd appear to have some mighty prescient information.

Topic 2 - I'm not sure why we haven't had another attack. It's probably due to legitimate counter-measures and diligence by local government and everyday citizens. It's possible that terrorists have been unable to manage anything on a large scale due to their diminished capacity post 9/11. They may also just not have anything in the makings - a wait and see approach. There's definitely easy ways to get into the country and small minor attacks could be done at anytime but I sincerely think that there's no substantial network or system in the U.S. these days, even amongst radical muslims in the U.S. that don't care much for us or our foreign policy. However, I think the American dream is the best deterrent for any Muslim citizens that might otherwise become militant here. For the opposite of this, see France.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 December 2005 12:17 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 234 -- Wal-Mart.


I am not exactly a fan of Wal-Mart for a variety of reasons I won't go into now, but it's clear that Wal-Mart, a true success story of capitalism, has has been beneficial to the American economy.

Wal-Mart has helped to keep inflation in check through its lower prices; if Wal-Mart carries a product, that product probably costs less today in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did a decade ago. Wal-Mart has revolutionized transportation/distribution networks, boosting U.S. productivity along the way.

Still, Wal-Mart has plenty of critics, some reasonable, but many more (like these people, these people, these people, these people, and these people, many of whom overlap quite a bit) driven by less-than-pure or tenuous motives.

It's becoming more and more obvious that the "campaign" against Wal-Mart is mostly disingenuous left-wing mumbo-jumbo.

Indeed, Wal-Mart has been successful for a reason:

Wal-Mart employs about 1.3 million people, about 1% of the American work force. Its sales, at around $300 billion a year, are equal to 2.5% of U.S. gross domestic product. It is not, however, an especially profitable company. Its net profit margins, at about 3.5% of revenue, are broadly in line with the rest of the retail industry. In fiscal 2004, Microsoft made more money than Wal-Mart on just one-eighth of the sales....

...Wal-Mart's average starting wage is already nearly double the national minimum of $5.15 an hour....

...70% of Wal-Mart's executives have worked their way up from the company's front lines.

A good read on Wal-Mart.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Booming Economy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 December 2005 07:52 PM · Comments (4)

Good News GOP

Nearly half of all Americans now believe we are winning the war in Iraq, up from 39% just a month ago, according to Rasmussen Reports.

The price of gas has dropped precipitously since September, as you can see:


Consumer confidence is lifting, according to the latest CCI figures for November published by The Conference Board.

Will has already written about the phalanx of good economic news for the thriving U.S. economy.

I am just thinkin', this kinda stuff just can't be good for the Dems in '06 . . .

Posted by Ken McCracken · 2 December 2005 08:52 PM · Comments (2)

Quotational Therapy: Part 63 -- Bush On Victory In Iraq.

Victory In Iraq-

In choosing today's Quotational Therapy topic, it was difficult, as there was a glut of important comments this week. Joe Lieberman wrote an important op-ed, after a recent visit to Iraq, declaring that cutting and running from Iraq would be a foolish idea. Lieberman also spoke out quite a bit (although the media ignored it for the most part), noting real, measurable, tangible progress on the ground. As a Democrat who has been to Iraq multiple times, those comments carry quite a bit of credibility.

But President Bush's Iraq speech is truly worth a read. Here's are some excerpts---


The strategy:

Our strategy in Iraq has three elements. On the political side, we know that free societies are peaceful societies, so we're helping the Iraqis build a free society with inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis. We're working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq -- and to marginalize those who never will. On the security side, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offensive against the enemy, cleaning out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives.

As we fight the terrorists, we're working to build capable and effective Iraqi security forces, so they can take the lead in the fight -- and eventually take responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens without major foreign assistance.

And on the economic side, we're helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq.

The rejection of a timetable or an immediate withdrawal:

As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists. These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders -- not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington.

Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. Many advocating an artificial timetable for withdrawing our troops are sincere -- but I believe they're sincerely wrong. Pulling our troops out before they've achieved their purpose is not a plan for victory. As Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would "discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists, it will confuse the Iraqi people."

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies -- that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder -- and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief.

The reiteration of why promoting freedom is so important:

Today in the Middle East freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom, and as democracy spreads in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace.

Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq. Freedom's victory in that country will inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, and spread hope across a troubled region, and lift a terrible threat from the lives of our citizens. By strengthening Iraqi democracy, we will gain a partner in the cause of peace and moderation in the Muslim world, and an ally in the worldwide struggle against -- against the terrorists. Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation -- and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans. We will meet the challenge of our time. We will answer history's call with confidence -- because we know that freedom is the destiny of every man, woman and child on this earth.

Read the entire speech here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Newt Gingrich, On Medicaid.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 December 2005 07:20 PM · Comments (0)

On American "Propaganda" In Iraq.

I've been meaning to comment on the story of American troops "planting" stories in Iraqi media outlets, but I just haven't been able to muster the stamina. I just get weary sometimes when I see that the entire media groupthink establishment, plus nearly the entire political corps in Washington, all just don't get it.

But Rob B. of File It Under gets it. He says what you are all thinking:


Go for the toon, stay for the deliciously awesome rant.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 December 2005 12:24 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 233 -- America's Booming Economy.

The United States Economy Is Thriving-

Today's November jobs report is out, and the news is very encouraging:


215 thousand new jobs created in November. And remember, that's a net figure, so it means that 215,000 more jobs were created than lost. One disingenuous (or just ignorant) thing we often see from the economic pessimism brigades is that, "well, those jobs may have been created, but a lot more were probably lost."

Ugh. No. That's not how these numbers work.

But the positive jobs report was not the only economic indicator to celebrate in recent days.

Earlier this week, Third Quarter GDP Growth was revised upward from 3.8% to 4.3%:


The economy is churning out positive economic indicators so fast it's nearly impossible to keep up:

The recovery narrative is not new, but hardly a day passes without the arrival of more positive economic data.

Real GDP has grown at 3 percent or better for ten straight quarters, averaging 4.1 percent at an annual rate for the best performance since the middle 1980s. Wall Street expects the good times to continue, with a consensus of economists predicting 4 percent growth for this year’s fourth quarter.

Business profits have increased at a double-digit pace for nine straight quarters, only the third time this has happened in 55 years. At 8 percent of GDP, after-tax earnings are at a record high. Ditto for household net worth and total U.S. employment. In fact, average monthly job creation over the past two years is running at 179,000, more than five times the GM layoff total.

The source of this good fortune is clear: American businesses, the backbone of our economy, have responded to tax incentives that sharply reduced the cost of capital. Capital spending expanded at 13 percent last year, the best performance in two decades. This year’s tally should be even larger, meaning more jobs and higher incomes.

But no matter how fast the economy grows, no matter how hot the housing market is, and no matter how many jobs are created, many Americans still tell pollsters they believe we're in a recession. Meanwhile, based on real world economic indicators, people continue behaving like we're in boom times. Americans also tell pollsters that the overall economy is in terrible shape, but their own personal finances are swell and looking to improve.


And it's now been this way for well over a year. There is a true disconnect, driven by anecdotal, exceptional events (hurricanes and major layoff announcements), by a biased media (Lou Dobbs, Paul Krugman, and so on), and by those currently out of power (Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, etc.).

The Wall Street Journal explains:

During the 2004 presidential campaign, when attacks on the economy were in full force, 36% of Americans thought we were in recession. One year later, even though unemployment has fallen from 5.5% to 5%, and real GDP has expanded by 3.7%, the number who think a recession is underway has climbed to 43%.


BizzyBlog adds:

* After 10 quarters of 3%-plus GDP growth with low inflation and 5% unemployment, “A total of 35% of Americans rate the national economy as excellent, very good, or good and 63% rate it as bad, very bad, or terrible.”

* In the near-total absence of data that would indicate that there is trouble ahead, “A total of 13% of Americans say that the national economy is getting better, 36% say it is staying the same, and 50% say the national economy is getting worse.”

* This one’s more judgmental, but with no compelling evidence of economic storms on the one-year horizon, “A total of 17% of Americans say they believe the national economy will be better a year from now, 20% say it will be the same, 61% say it will be worse, and 2% are undecided.”

This is truly astonishing for those of us who have been following the economic data. The flawed perception many Americans have of the economy is driving President Bush's poll numbers lower and hurting his ability to accomplish reforms that will keep the boom times rolling for much longer.

President Bush and his administration must go on a full court press on the economy, touting the success of tax cuts. They must consistently and doggedly point out how how remarkable this economic boom truly is. They have the facts on their side.

One 2-minute speech here and there is not going to cut it, either.

It ain't bragging if it's true.

Brag away, Bush administration. Brag away.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Oil Prices & Profits.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 December 2005 10:52 AM · Comments (4)

The Second Mainstream Melee.


It's a non-blog adventure.


The Weekly Standard: "Conventional Wisdom"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Fred Barnes points out that the mainstream media still rule.

Super Succinct Snippet-

I don't mean to diminish the alternative media. It's simply that the mainstream media is far bigger and much, much stronger--and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Talk radio, websites and bloggers don't report. They can only react to the reporting of the mainstream media.

Well, sort of. I like to believe that I report. I use primary sources. I crunch figures myself. But in the end, he's right. Ultimately, people may agree that the establishment media are biased (to the left), but they still want "hard news," and the establishment media still have a near-monopoly on providing "hard news."



The Washington Times: "Now, there's proof: Men, women different"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

New brain research shows that men and women are very different indeed.

Super Succinct Snippet-

...men have more than six times the amount of gray matter -- which controls information processing -- in their brains as women do. But females have 10 times the amount of white matter, which controls networking abilities.

Mind over matter.



National Review: "Hamiltonian W."

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Mackubin Thomas Owens believes George W. Bush's speech earlier this week was worthy of gushing praise.

Super Succinct Snippet-

I don’t know if President Bush has ever read The Federalist Papers, but the steps he is to taking to explain the policy and strategy of the United States in Iraq means that he has at long last recognized Hamilton’s principle. His speech today at the Naval Academy is as fine an example of republican rhetoric as I have heard since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

Unfortunately, the media focused way too much on the weak and predictable Democrat responses, and not enough on just how great this speech really was. But Bush never gets credit for his oratorical abilities. Many seem to prefer the caricature of a bumbling idiot who can't complete a single sentence.



MSNBC: "Iraq suicide blasts at lowest level in 7 months"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Could it be... that Joe Lieberman is right? Could tangible progress in Iraq be a reality?

Super Succinct Snippet-

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told reporters that suicide bombings fell to 23 in November, which he attributed to successful U.S.-Iraqi military operations against insurgent strongholds in the Euphrates River valley west of the capital.

"Staying the course" is not just standing still, taking punishment, turning the other cheek until the bad guys exhaust themselves. The U.S. is fighting for a win-- and winning.



The Houston Chronicle: "Houston homicides already past '04"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Hmm. Many predictions were made about a rising crime rate after the flood of Katrina evacuees moved into Houston. Could it be that those predictions were right?

Super Succinct Snippet-

As of midnight Sunday, Houston recorded 285 homicides for the year; last year, Houston recorded 274 such deaths. Both are far fewer than the record 701 people slain in 1981....

...an analysis of the last 90 days determined that 50 percent of the slayings occurred in apartments or apartment parking lots.


Even before the 14 deaths over the four-day holiday, police had begun to see signs of an increase of violence in certain patrol districts, [Police Chief Harold] Hurtt said.

It should be stressed that the crime rate remains much lower than it was in the late 1970s (and the overall crime rate is still down this year from already-low levels last year), but the upward jolt of violent crime here at the end of 2005 is more than a bit troubling.


The previous Mainstream Melee.

WILLisms.com and many other blogs sometimes focus too much on our fellow bloggers, while excluding well-done professional journalism from our posts.

The Mainstream Melee is a quick survey of five non-blog sources, coming atchya at completely random intervals. The stories are either underreported, particularly well-written, or otherwise important to the big picture. But generally there will be a theme of some kind in the choices.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 December 2005 09:13 AM · Comments (3)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Forty-Two -- Overpromising, The World Over.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event. So we're going to keep plugging along with the case for reform, even as the issue goes off the political radar screen.

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

This week's topic:

Unkeepable Promises, Around The World.

The American Social Security crisis (or "looming crisis," or "ordeal," or "problem," or "coming trainwreck," whichever you prefer) is nothing unique to the United States. Around the world, governments face demographic realities and fiscal shortfallls that clamp down on the excessive promises made by politicians throughout the 20th century.

Great Britain is one such country. The Economist magazine notes that finding solutions for the nation's retirement pension crunch is easier said than done:

Britain’s Turner Commission has recommended raising the retirement age to 68 and introducing a new type of savings scheme.


Under the Turner plan, everyone would feel the pinch of putting Britain’s faltering retirement system right. The commission recommended slowly raising the state pension age, preferably to 68, by 2050. This would not be popular with pensioners. It would also be hard for the government to defend, given that it recently cut a deal to let those already working in the public sector retire at 60.

The report also endorses a new voluntary savings scheme, into which workers would put at least 4% of their wages, with employers contributing 3% more and a further 1% coming from the government in the form of tax relief. While the system would be voluntary, the commission suggests making it “opt out” rather than “opt in”, meaning that workers would be automatically enrolled, but could choose not to contribute if they wished.

While the problems are practically undeniable, politics have a way of clouding things up. Moreover, while the evidence for a problem is overwhelming, the solutions are often controversial, if only because people find it easier to demagoguge and distort the issue than change the status quo.

And it's not just the United States and the United Kingdom, either:

Continental Europe’s lavish government benefits guard the old against poverty, but are threatening to bankrupt the states that offer them; the French finance minister told parliament this week that the government was looking at an unfunded pensions liability of €900 billion ($1.1 trillion) on top of already record levels of public debt.

Indeed, as this United Nations map indicates, it is primarily Europe that faces an aged population today (.pdf):


Extended life expectancies are becoming a truly worldwide miracle, but they will also present worldwide problems (.pdf):


There are so many countries facing the same dilemma, the same falling birthrates, the same extensions of longevity, and the same overpromises first made so many decades ago. In the middle of this century, the percentage of old folks (I will be one of them) will strain the pensions systems of nearly every country on earth (.pdf):


In some ways, the U.S. is lucky. We can almost see into our future. The dysfunctional pension systems and sluggish growth in Europe should and can be warning signs. We should act now to avoid derailing our own economy (which is kicking much rear end right now, if you hadn't noticed).

The A Stitch in Haste blog asserts:

The retirement component of Social Security is known as "Old Age Insurance." Fine -- then let's start by limiting it to bona fide "old age."

The fashioners of the Social Security systems in the United States, Great Britain, and most everywhere else all have one thing in common: none of them will be around when the pension systems they designed go bust.

Interestingly, my wife's spunky 93-year-old grandmother, now an American citizen but born and raised in Germany, spoke glowingly of Germany's old age pension system at Thanksgiving, raving about how wonderful it was-- when they set it up, at least. Maybe they messed it up somewhere along the way, she asserted, but in the 1930s it was a thing of brilliance. Unfortunately, she's both way off and totally on at the same time.

Part of her admiration for the disastrous German Social Security system could be that she still collects *plump* checks from the German government, although she hasn't lived there in well over 50 years. But part of the admiration is that, all over the world, when the plans were first announced, everyone bought into the pension schemes whole-heartedly. Apparently nobody thought twice about the tenuous pyramid scheme methods of funding. After all, there will always be more and more workers.

But surely someone thought ahead about expanding life expectancies?

When most pensions were first implemented, benefits went to the average recipient for a year or two at the most. People just rarely lived past about 65. The planners did not expect so many 93-year-olds running around collecting checks for decade upon decade.

And they certainly didn't expect that 100 year life expectancies could become the norm, not the exception by the middle of the 21st century. That's right. It may sound wild, but it's where we're headed. Even today, we constantly underestimate the awesome power of medicine, technology, and science to extend our lives, and because of that underestimation, we plan inadequately for the future.

The United States still has time to prevent a full-blown crisis in Social Security, but we're rapidly running out of time. Each day we fail to reform the system, we're letting the ticking time bomb take on more explosive punch. But more importantly, we're robbing younger people of the power of long-term compound interest. If Democrats were truly the progressive world-changers they claim to be, they would: a) stop pretending there is no crisis; b) offer creative solutions; and c) share those solutions with every country on earth.

The United States of America is rarely behind the curve on anything. We're pretty much the world's trendsetters. But on the Social Security issue, we're sure deferring to others to take the first step. This is unfortunate, because as we compete increasingly with emerging powers in Asia and elsewhere, we need to be clicking on all cylinders, using our resources as efficiently and productively as possible. We need to bring our 'A' Game, because staying on top forever is not a given.

It's time for reform.

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).
-Week Thirty-Four (Longer Life Expectancies Straining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Five (Howard Dean & Salami).
-Week Thirty-Six (Growing Numbers of Beneficiaries Draining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Seven (The Crisis Is Now).
-Week Thirty-Eight (Disability Benefits).
-Week Thirty-Nine (Broken Benefit Calculation Formula).
-Week Forty (German Social Security Disaster).
-Week Forty-One (Crumbling Pyramid Scheme).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 December 2005 10:08 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 232 -- Oil Company Profits.

The Oil Industry Is Cyclical-

Still thinking a windfall profits tax on energy companies is a great idea? Think again:

Over the last five years, the American Petroleum Institute points out, the oil and natural gas industry netted 5.7 cents on every dollar of sales, compared to 5.5 cents for all U.S. companies.
Measured by its return on investment capital, report Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute in Washington, "the oil and gas sector has been less profitable than the rest of the U.S. economy over the past 33 years."

The New Editor blog.

Up, down... meanwhile, the world continues to function:


Dramatic increases in energy prices = #1 news story of the year.
Dramatic drops in energy prices = not newsworthy?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Voting With Your Feet.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 December 2005 03:23 PM · Comments (0)