The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM
Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM
Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM
Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM
Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM
Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM
Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM
The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM
From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM
Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM
Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM
Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM
Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM
Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM
Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008
Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008
The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006
Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008
Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007
Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006
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July 14, 2006
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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 254 -- Better, Cheaper Cable, Phone, & Internet.
While gas prices get inordinate levels of media attention these days, I am bothered a lot more by rising costs in other areas. Cable bills, for example.
With oil, you have a global market. You have burgeoning demand in China, India, and other emerging economies. You also have regimes around the world with varying degrees of psychoses manipulating, as best they can, the supply of oil in the global marketplace. Oil companies themselves are also at the mercy of these enormous geopolitical forces. They don't-- they can't-- sit around in some smoke-filled room, fixing the price of a barrel of oil or gallon of gas.
Television services (cable, etc.), meanwhile, while certainly not essential, are entirely necessary for those of us who follow politics and sports.
And cable bills are completely outrageous these days. Most people pay for dozens or hundreds of channels they don't want. Then there's the local, state, and federal taxes. Worst of all, there's no market competition. If you aren't satisfied with your cable company, your options are limited (.pdf):
The FCC reports that only three percent of the cable communities nationwide were competitive in January 2004.17 This means that cable firms have in effect a monopoly position in roughly 97 percent of local markets nationwide.
It's even worse in Texas.
ZERO zip codes had more than one service provider (.pdf):
Sure, there's satellite. But clearly, fairly or unfairly to DirecTV and Dish Network and so on, most consumers do not consider satellite television to be a reasonable substitute for cable.
These monopolies on cable service are not even organic. They're, in part at least, due to outdated governmental regulation.
Fortunately, for Texans at least, there is help on the way. The Tax Foundation notes that the recently passed 2005 Competition Act will help to break up the monopoly power of cable companies in Texas:
With the recent passage of an Act Relating to Furthering Competition in the Communications Industry, the Texas legislature has made great strides in telecommunications deregulation.
While the results will not necessarily be immediate, they might very well be, and over the next few years we should fully expect and demand competition to give consumers more and better choices, for relatively less money. As High Definition television and other new technologies take off, it is exciting that Texas' legislators have empowered consumers in the coming years with market-based choices.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Perceptions On The Economy.
Principles Trump PoliticsSamuel Alito was confirmed by the Senate today, on a vote of 58-42. All but four democratic Senators voted against Alito, including Her Majesty Hillary Clinton (so much for the new, improved 'moderate' Hillary).
Compare this to the 96-3 vote in favor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There, Republicans overwhelmingly voted for Ginsburg, even though she was clearly an agenda-driven radical leftist, recently counsel to the ACLU.
Unlike Democrats, for whom politics is the be-all and end-all of existence, Republicans believe in principles. One of these cherished principles, sanctified by history and tradition, is that the President is entitled to fill Supreme Court vacancies with whomever he sees fit, barring ineptitude or corruption on the part of the nominee. So in 1993 the Republicans bit their tongues and voted for the person President Clinton wanted on the Supreme Court bench. Yeah, the Republicans who supposedly 'hated' Clinton and everything he stood for nonetheless voted for Ginsburg.
The Republicans did not seek to block this very divisive nomination by threatening obstruction or filibuster, they did not gin up the base and spend tens of millions of dollars whining and moaning about Ginsburg, and they most certainly did not act like Grand McCarthyite Inquisitors at the hearings.
The Alito hearings illustrate clearly the gulf in quality between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans believe in the Constitution and adhering to its meaning - Democrats believe the Constitution is some amorphous 'living document' with an ever-elastic meaning that can be stretched as the political winds dictate.
Republicans believe in giving the President's nominee his or her due -the Democrats see it as a chance to fling mud and gain partisan advantage.
It would be tempting, politically, to give the Dems a little payback when (if?) the Democrats elect a president who desires to appoint a Supreme Court justice. The Republicans would be well within their rights to utilize the new precedents set by the Democrats, and oppose tooth claw and nail a nominee for no reason other than the fact that it is politically expedient to do so. After all, the new Democratic precedents are that: being qualified doesn't matter, being sqeaky clean in your personal life doesn't matter, being experienced doesn't matter, and having a great judicial temperament doesn't matter (Alito obviously has the patience of a saint).
The only thing that matters to Democrats is politics, and the Alito hearings showcased this for all of America to see.
Update: This is brilliant, from Deborah Orin:
Republicans loved 2004 loser Kerry's flop of a filibuster against Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito because it had Democrats tearing each other's eyes out — over a fight they couldn't win. ... Worse yet, plenty of Democrats who did vote for the filibuster — like New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer — left little doubt that they were livid at Kerry's stunt, since it turned into a dream come true for Bush political guru Rove. ... But then Kerry, hobnobbing with hotshots in posh Davos, Switzerland, got his marching orders from The New York Times and the left-wing blog Daily Kos (which can be hard to tell apart these days). Presto: Insta-filibuster, like it or not.Live by the sword, die by the sword John Kerry. Continue to take you orders from Kos, and there will be much, much more suffering for you ahead.
Update II: And now we have John Kerry consoling the vast horde of losers he and Kos control in one of his regular spammings, making the astonishing statement that "we made sure America heard how a right wing ideological coup sandbagged Harriet Miers' nomination and replaced her with Judge Alito."
It was ideological to oppose Miers because many on the right doubted her qualifications? How can it be ideological when Miers views were a mystery, considering she had never written judicial opinions? Is John Kerry some kind of mind reader? Or does he simply reject anything that comes from the White House without even investigating its merit perhaps? Why, that would be playing politics, something I am sure John Kerry rises above at all times. That settles it then - John Kerry is a mind reader.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 253 -- Seeing The Economy Through A Partisan Prism.
Reality vs. Perception-
There's something sour going on right now. Some of our fellow Americans are not being reasonable.
Look at the past decade and a half of economic ratings. Notice the partisan differences:
As has been the case through much of Bush's presidency and in stark contrast to the Clinton years public views of the economy are deeply split along political lines. Republicans generally see an economy that is thriving; 56% judge it as excellent or good. Democrats and independents see it much more negatively; just 28% of independents and 23% of Democrats say the economy is doing well.
And this troubling partisan prism is far more of a factor than "class." The party differences cut across income levels, as well:
This is disturbing.
It's one thing to expect partisan differences on whether Cindy Sheehan is a deranged nutjob or a grieving mother speaking truth to power, whether Fahrenheit 9/11, Syriana, and Brokeback Mountain are important film masterpieces or preachy garbage, whether America's troops are jackbooted scumbags or worthy heroes, and whether late-term abortion is the taking of human life or merely the removal of a clump of cells.
But divergent views on the economy? On this economy? Even controlling for income?
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Blame Bush For Everything.
Quotational Therapy: Part 69 -- President Bush's 2003 State Of The Union Address.
Bush & Freedom, Not After The Fact-
We often hear critics of President Bush comment that "this whole freedom thing" is but an after-the-fact justification of the Iraq war, after warehouses full of weapons of mass destruction were not uncovered there. President Bush has been committed to the advance of freedom, however sloppy, however uncertain, however challenging, all along.
As the President prepares to address Congress regarding The State of the Union on Tuesday night, let's look back on the still-relevant 2003 SOTUA (emphasis mine):
Different threats require different strategies. In Iran, we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction, and supports terror. We also see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy. Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny -- and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom.
And as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies -- and freedom.
Americans are a resolute people who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world and to ourselves. America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.
It was a truly remarkable speech, yet the only time it is ever mentioned in the news today is to dispute this line:
The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
That's a line the British are still standing by as the truth. It's also the line that led CIA Agent Valerie Plame to send her husband, the ever-pompous partisan Democrat Joe Wilson, to Niger on a mission of "let's undermine and discredit the administration." Wilson, not alone, went to Africa, drank some tea, came home, wrote a misleading op-ed that contradicted the findings of those on his trip that did the actual legwork, and the rest is history.
Previous Quotational Therapy Session:
Let The Silliness Begin!
Many on the right predicted this sort of argument in the wake of the latest bin Laden tape.
Sorry, you do not get a Blogging Bronze Star for predicting this, it was utterly inevitable.
I agree with one point though, we need to find out what terms Osama is offering. Why? All the better to find him and kill him, that's why.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 252 -- Mining Accidents & Blaming Bush.
So Predictably Absurd-
Back during my blogging hiatus, right around the turn of 2006, I was decidedly tuned out, news-wise. I first learned of the "Sago Mine Tragedy" from ABC Sports, watching West Virginia's football coach Rich Rodriguez make a brief statement about how his team's thoughts and prayers were with the coal miners and their families.
My first thought (and I am paraphrasing, here): "That's sad."
My second thought: "I bet they are already blaming Bush for this somehow."
My third thought: "I bet the unions are going to exploit this tragedy to whip their members into a frenzy."
My fourth thought: "That's sad."
My fifth thought (still paraphrasing): "Maybe I am just being cynical. They won't blame and exploit."
Well, sure enough, my first, cynical thoughts were right. How lame is that? I hate having to be cynical. I prefer to think of myself as an optimist, for the most part. But, when our irresponsible media giants that still dictate what is or is not news are so predictably absurd, it's hard not to be a little bit cynical.
On January 5, I received an email from "peoplepower@AFLCIO.org" sent out to union members and media, blaming President Bush and Congressional Republicans for "cuts" to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Cuts. Left-wing code for "slowing the growth of."
And it included all sorts of links, including to this heavily-quoted (in the email) NYT op-ed:
Just as Hurricane Katrina forced Americans to look at the face of lingering poverty and racism, the mining tragedy should focus us all on another forgotten corner of society....
And don't forget this classy (not) and often contradictory press release from Democratic Representative George Miller of California:
...the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has been downsized by 170 positions since 2001. Congress has cut MSHA’s funding by $4.9 million, in inflation-adjusted terms, for the 2006 fiscal year, compared with 2005. Moreover, Miller said, the Bush Administration has appointed numerous officials to the agency who have close ties to the mining industry. These officials, in the last five years, have rolled back a number of regulations aimed at improving mine worker safety, Miller said.
As if to say, "Blood on your hands, Bush!"
It's the Katrina blueprint. And you can expect it following any disaster or tragedy whatsoever for the next couple of years. A concerted effort, spearheaded by establishment media outlets, left-wing members of Congress, and the pertinent left-wing organization (environmental, race-based, labor union, and so on) to pin whatever it was that happened on President Bush.
Also in the AFL-CIO email was a link to the "workingforchange" blog, with this bit of hatred:
The tragic news about the death of 12 mine workers this week has brought up all sorts of questions about the Bush administration's record protecting mine workers. Back in 2002, I was working for the House Appropriations Committee. At the time, you may recall there was a big mining accident in Western Pennsylvania. President Bush held a big photo-op to pretend like he cared - but he never responded to the fact sheet that House Democrats put out questioning why he had made so many cuts to mine safety programs. You can view this fact sheet in Microsoft Word right here (I still have it from my time at the Appropriations Committee) It was released to the media and the administration on August 5, 2002 - the same day Bush did his big photo-op.
Talk about cynical. This-- the Marxist union movement-- is the heart and soul of today's Democratic Party. They not only disagree with Republican policies and ideas, they impugn our motives, as well. As if we are evil, heartless villains.
Grumble grumble, Bush and his pretend photo-ops, grumble grumble. Bunch of fatcat capitalist cronies. Grumble.
Go form your own Soviet Union somewhere, already.
But it wasn't just these fringe groups that increasingly for the core of the Democratic Party.
Enter the media.
The Media Research Center documented, in detail, how the establishment media was quick to blame business leaders and the Bush administration:
When tragedy strikes, the media make errors. Following the hasty and, unfortunately, inaccurate reporting on the Sago mine rescue efforts, the media didn’t slow down to wait for the facts. Instead, they quickly looked for someone to take responsibility for the accident that killed 12 miners. The investigation into the Sago mine explosion has barely begun and the cause is far from known, but journalists have already jumped ahead to blaming mine owners and inspectors.
It is unfortunate that the Sago Mine Tragedy became a partisan issue. But fortunate for the good guys, the facts are on our side, no matter how effective the emotional and knee-jerkedly anti-Bush rhetoric from the unions and media was/is. Here are some of the facts (.pdf):
Production up. Fatalities down.
Also down: injury rate, fatal injuries, and the fatal injury rate.
All down. As in, improving. Often by quite a bit.
BizzyBlog has a lot more on this subject here.
The sad part about all this is that Katrina taught us that we cannot sit idly by while grotesque accusations and insinuations are made, even if the facts are on our side. There is no such thing as remaining above the fray, or "not dignifying that rubbish with a response." We have to respond. Otherwise, it could derail the entire pro-growth, pro-market, pro-America conservative agenda indefinitely.
So, sure, this isn't hot off the presses type stuff, but it still needs to be said, especially when the facts are so overwhelming.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Japan's Economy.
Pundit Roundtable Open Mic
Welcome back to Pundit Roundtable! I am your host, Ken McCracken, and this week we are opening up the Roundtable to any and all comers.
You must answer these topic questions in any way you see fit, staying on topic is encouraged but not necessary.
Topic 1: Do you have any secret, odd or uncanny talents?
Topic 2: What do you think of today's crop of elder statesman? Consider folks such as the living ex-presidents, Senators Kennedy, Byrd, Ted Stevens and such. Who do you like? Or not?
Please just add a comment below if you want to join in!
If you have any interesting links, ideas, suggestions for our readers, post those too or send them to me and I can put them in the post here itself.
Also, if you want to be on our list of pundits for the Roundtable in the future, let me know.
That is all!
ShrinkWrapped steps up with this assessment, especially in regards to a certain ex-president, and note in particular the possible future Roundtable question:
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 251 -- Japan's Economy.
Miracle, Malaise, Miracle-
Japan's economy has been in the news a bit this month. The Nikkei took a substantial tumble, then made an even more substantial rally. Overall, the Nikkei is up meaningfully over the past year:
And there's finally reason for optimism about Japan's economy, after a slump that just wouldn't go away for more than a decade.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is serious about privatization of Japan's economy, now heavily tilted toward the public sector. Think America's government is a leviathan? Try Japan:
Koizumi came to power in 2001, and his reformist policies - including the privatisation of Japan's 3.5 trillion dollar postal service - have been credited with bringing life back into the stagnant economy.
And it's a good thing Japan is embarking on this project now, rather than waiting. Japan is a demographic bomb just waiting to detonate:
By 2025, 28% of Japan's population is expected to be over 65 compared to 12% in the United States.
While "privatization" of Social Security in the U.S. was railroaded largely by a dedicated socialist media campaign, Koizumi (who really should be one of your favorite world leaders) took his plan straight to the people, and won, bigtime:
Privatization of Japan's massive postal savings system, which holds savings and insurance assets valued at $3 trillion for 85% of Japan's population, is set to take place over the next 12 years. The proposal, overwhelmingly endorsed by voters in a September special election, will shift a mountain of assets from government control to private markets.
But those of us who follow Japan's economic recovery have other reasons for optimism. Compare some key indicators from 1995 to 2003:
Notice that Japan actually got worse in the "Flexibility in Hiring and Firing" department. This is a cultural thing in many ways. Japanese people, especially men, take unemployment very hard:
From 1953 to 2003, each 1 percentage point increase in the cyclical component of the male unemployment rate led to a 5.39 percentage point increase in the cyclical component of the male suicide rate. This effect is 38 times larger for Japan than for the United States. The link holds for women in Japan, although it is much weaker, at 1.38 percentage point. There is no significant relationship between female suicide and unemployment rates in the United States.
Thus, cumbersome restrictions on firing remain in place. Great, right?
Wrong. When it is hard to fire someone, it's much harder to hire anyone. Why take the risk of hiring someone, paying their health insurance and salary, matching their retirement plan and Social Security contributions, training them, and so on, if there's little chance of being able to fire them if it doesn't work out?
Japan still has a long way to go to fully rejuvenate its economy. A thriving Japanese economy, once the bane of America's economic existence (from the late 1970s to the early 1990s), now is imperative for the United States. A strong Japan means a strong ally in a rapidly changing Asia. Let's root for reform's success in Japan. Maybe our worthless media and our do-nothing Democrats will even learn something from the Japanese economic resurgence before it's too late.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Generosity Index.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 250 -- Generosity Index.
Having & Giving-
You might have seen some blog posts here and there a month or so back on the Catalogue For Philanthropy's Generosity Index of 2005 (based on 2003 tax return data).
If there were headlines to be had in that index, it was that, overall, "red state" people are more generous with their charitable contributions than "blue state" people.
Not only that, but the fact that "blue state" incomes are generally higher than "red state" incomes, makes the red state generosity even more extraordinary.
Of course, this highlights the disparity between blue and red states with regard to income levels. But a $200,000 Mississippi home transplanted into Connecticut might very well become a $2,000,000 home. Or more. Easily. Meanwhile, a New Jersey home transplanted into Montana might or might not be worth something.
Interestingly, I first came across this information from a liberal emailer. Something along the lines of, "hey, look how poor you reTHUGligans are..."
I never responded, but that email was a clarifying moment. It demonstrated the kind of elitism that is killing the Democratic Party today. Which brings up an interesting parallel.
As a Texas Longhorn fan, I occasionally venture over to TexAgs.com. That's the main message board for Texas A&M Aggies (and I know I have some great Aggie readers, so bear with me). Well, recently, there was a thread (now vanished, for whatever reason) about how average Joes in Texas are now wearing burnt orange Longhorn gear, whereas 10 years ago, they all wore Aggie gear.
Which came first, success, or support?
Likewise, are average Joes merely bandwagon Republicans? Do they support the GOP because of the GOP's success? Or did their support lead to the success? The parallels are not perfect, but that thread on TexAgs.com, which grew into an increasingly condescending "we don't need those idiots, anyway" consensus, was astoundingly similar to the email I received from that lefty troll regarding the Generosity Index.
Here's the bottom line: You aren't better than anyone if you aren't winning, in sports, as well as politics. So the elitism from Aggies and Democrats, all in a similar span of time, cracked me up.
Some additional Generosity Index data you may have missed (underlining emphasis mine):
1) Itemized Charitable Deductions are thought by independent research to capture about 80% of all charitable giving dollars (not volunteering, not large numbers of small gifts).
This last finding was surprising to some degree. And I don't quite know what to make of it. But I would take a few things from it:
1. It proves that President Bush's Armies of Compassion are not some catch phrase. They exist. They give of their time, money, and other resources.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Agricultural Subsidies.
Quotational Therapy: Part 68 -- Reagan's Revolutionary Inaugural Address.
The Reagan Revolution-
The Reagan Revolution seized power 25 years ago this month, as Ronald Wilson Reagan replaced an ineffectual weakling of a leader, thereby restoring America's confidence in its own greatness.
A snippet from President Reagan's First Inaugural Address:
We are a nation that has a government--not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.
Previous Quotational Therapy Session:
Facts Are Stubborn Things
Hugh Hewitt has been a one-man wrecking crew the last few weeks -
Don't argue with a guy that has forgotten more constitutional law than you'll ever know.
All that and Lileks too! Heh, it's great radio.
Ballot Boxes And Bullets
Reuters is reporting this morning that gunfire has broken out between Hamas and Fatah in the wake of Hamas' electoral landslide in the Palestinian Authority elections.
Abu Mazen may regret not cracking down on the competition when he had the chance.
Taxes In 1969.
It's already nearing the end of January once again, which, of course, means that tax day is just around the corner. Income taxes and property taxes are bad enough as it is, but in recent weeks I have been paying closer attention to the little, constant taxes found in just about any sort of monthly bill. Cable television, for example.
The taxes on my bundled cable, internet, and digital phone total thirty-seven dollars and ninety-seven cents. $37.97. For the various local , state, and federal (mostly federal) taxes on that stuff. Every single month. PLUS another $1.19 for a "Municipal Telecommunications Surcharge." On the digital phone. That's the one that goes through the internet.
These are the sorts of fees that have been around forever, but too many people have begun to mentally incorporate them into some sort of monolithic cost concept of the good or service. We should be mad, each and every time we see "oh, and by the way, we need 37 dollars and 97 cents extra in taxes, thanks a bunch" on a cable bill. That shouldn't be normal.
Regardless of what Americans tell pollsters their most significant/pressing issue is (sometimes it is terrorism, or Iraq, or health care, or whatever else is dominating the headlines that week), taxes will always be there. People feel, intuitively, that they are overtaxed, no matter the tax bracket.
This is why it always baffles and delights me when liberals try to force the issue on taxes. It's sort of like that hilariously ill-advised Reggie Bush lateral/fumble in the 2006 Rose Bowl. It just makes you scratch your head and go, "what on earth could that guy be thinking?"
But press the issue they do. Often.
Unlike Reggie Bush, however, Democrats are not very good at winning elections. There's a reason for that. No matter how socially liberal some guy may be, no matter how outraged he is by all the trumped-up non-scandals in Washington, DC, how could anyone bring himself to vote for a candidate demanding substantially higher taxes? That's the one campaign promise a politician will keep 100% of the time.
But Democrats do just that-- call for higher taxes-- nearly every single election. Some cloak it in the language of rolling back "irresponsible" tax cuts, as if there is some Constitutionally-mandated tax level from the days or yore, higher than where we are now. Liberals today genuinely act as if we're woefully undertaxed today.
The sales pitch for higher taxes also usually involves something about "tax cuts for the rich." Americans almost unanimously believe they are middle class (a perception that isn't really all that off), so the occasional voter might fall for that lefty class warfare garbage.
But most of us have the basic cognitive capacity to reason thusly:
A: I am not rich.
Most Americans are more than capable of connecting the dots. Credibility is heck to earn and a breeze to burn.
The real question is: how much more credibility do these guys have left to burn?
That's a rhetorical question, but one answer is that they will have as much credibility as the left-dominated media grant them. We must demolish the left-wing media establishment. We must dismantle the Democrat-run death grip on information. We must expose the socialist tendencies of America's journalists. That's why we blog.
On taxes, for example.
One unfortunate side effect of America's prevailing pecuniary practice of paycheck withholding is that many of us receive a check or direct deposit FROM the IRS for hundreds or thousands of dollars about this time of year. When receiving gobs of money, it is easy to forget that they took way too much from us in the first place.
Everybody isn't working for the weekend. We're working for Uncle Sam. And Uncle Connecticut. And Uncle New York. And Uncle New Jersey. And Uncle Massachusetts. And all the other Uncles we didn't even know we had until we got rich enough to receive one of Bush's tax cuts.
Once upon a time, there was no Tax Freedom Day, but there was this nifty bit of nostalgia (.pdf):
Some things never change.
As long as taxes are an issue in an election, tax-slashing Republicans will benefit over tax-loving Democrats. From here to 2069, and beyond.
Here's a wake-up call: The 2006 elections will be here in a flash. Let's quit the dilly-dallying. Let's quite worrying over this or that or the other. In committee, let's quit pretending Democrats have anything worthwhile (or even remotely truthful) to say on taxes.
[I am appealing to you, Congressional Republicans.]
In the public square, however, use their narrowly-crafted, base-rallying comments and votes against them. Hoist them by their own collective petard, not just on their national security weakness, not just on their seething hypocrisy on the "corruption" issue, but on their tax-loving socialism, as well. The truth is a powerful force. Let's use it.
Can you BE any more thin-skinned?
American Prophets of Total WarIf you are an uninformed Leftist (redundant?) who thinks President Bush is America's most bloodthirsty warmonger, man, you have a lot of catching up to do.
Bush is a kindergarten teacher compared to some of the patriots who have defended this nation in the past.
Take Curtis LeMay, for example.
As an Air Force general during World War II, he directed B-29's to bomb Tokyo, a city built of wood and paper, with incendiary devices - basically, napalm. The ensuing firestorm killed 100,000 civilians, roughly equivalent to the casualties suffered during the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Many other Japanese cities were bombed in a similar way under LeMay's command, resulting in as many as 500,000 civilian deaths.
What did LeMay have to say about this? "There are no innocent civilians, so it doesn't bother me so much to be killing innocent bystanders." He also understood the horror he had wrought, stating that if America lost the war he fully expected to be tried as a war criminal.
He is also reputed to have recommended bombing the Vietnamese "back into the stone age".
If LeMay seems like am evil warmonger, please remember that he acted under the direction of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S Truman, who between them interred Japanese-Americans in concentration camps, firebombed Dresden and Hamburg resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. LeMay did not operate in a vacuum.
During the Civil War, Phil Sheridan recommened a scorched earth policy against the Shenandoah Valley, blackening the earth of the south's breadbasket such that "If a crow wants to fly down the Shenandoah, he must carry his provisions with him."
William Tecumseh Sherman was the original prophet of total war - the concept that the enemy's population, infrastructure, and industry are all fair game as military targets. He put the total war concept into practice in his famous March to the Sea, cutting a swath of destruction one hundred miles wide through Georgia, ending in the levelling of Savannah, and the burning of Columbia, South Carolina (it is questionable whether this city was intentionally burned or not, but if it was accidental I doubt Sherman lost much sleep over it).
It is an ancient principle of war, that wars should be as short and decisive as possible. Sun Zi advocated this, for example, saying "there is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare." Long wars are ruinous and murderous, often as damaging to the victor as it is to the vanquished. Thus, while on the surface the total war concept sounds barbarous and manifestly evil, in fact it is neither: barbarians seek to destroy civilization, the civilized total warrior actually seeks to preserve it. Nor is total war evil: it is in fact humane, as it spares humanity from the far greater inhumane conditions of protracted, indecisive conflict.
P.S. Commenter Thomas mentioned The Fog of War, a documentary about Robert Strange McNamara, who goes into great depth about the total war calculus. It is must see t.v., go get a DVD and watch it if you can, it is fascinating.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 40.
The actual caption:
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is seen speaking at a luncheon in New York January 19, 2006. REUTERS/Chip East
Surely there's a better caption for this photograph. What, precisely, was the Vice President talking about?
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 31. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.
Winners from last week:
"Ree Majors, eat your heart out."
After reading the innoculation directions to inject the dosage into the buttocks, Junichiro proved once again that he had the worst aim ever.
After defeating his political opponents with one arm tied behind his back, Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi takes the opportunity to get reacquainted with the appendage.
Junichiro still maintained his innocence during the Senate hearings on steroids in baseball even after damning pictures surfaced.
See, no hair on my arm. Wax on, wax off.
"The hourly injections of Polyjuice Potion were a hassle, but soon his plans would all come together..."
His frequent words of encouragement for his limb became known as Koizumi's controversial "arms talks."
The Japanese body shot!*** Proof that size desn't matter*****
Prime Minister Koizumi balances world's smallest sake cup on his forearm for no particular reason
While his Psoriasis was mostly under control, Lo Pan could never get his hair to stop parting where that damn Jack Burton had thrown that knife.
" . . . But We Support The Troops!"
Joel Stein's column today "Warriors And Wusses" has created something of a controversy, in that he is a Leftist who has basically admitted that he does not support our troops.
Hugh Hewitt had an interview with Stein today on his show, and the transcript is available from RadioBlogger.com.
The upshot of the interview is that Stein was never in the military, does not really know anyone who served, and is stunningly ignorant of military matters in general.
I gotta say, it is refreshing to hear someone from the Left actually fess up to this, and I give Stein points for his honesty and a desire to shed himself of hypocrisy.
Because it is, indeed, hypocritical to claim that you 'support the troops, but not the mission.' As Dennis Praeger points out:
Honest people on the Left need to understand that the two positions are not reconcilable. A German citizen during World War II could not have argued: "The Nazi regime's army is engaged in an evil war of aggression and is slaughtering millions of innocent people, and I therefore completely oppose this war, but I sure do support the Nazi troops."
Maybe this will start some kind of trend among the Left, allowing them to finally show themselves for who they are.
P.S. I should give credit to Rob Port, guestblogging at Wizbang, for tipping me off to this little firestorm. By the way, I am the reader who spotted Rob's two quotes in the dead tree edition of the Chicago Tribune yesterday. Rob is a Pundit Roundtable regular, and we have added Say Anything to the WILLisms.com blogroll of awesome pundits!
My Allergy Skin Test.
So, I know some of you are wondering where I have been lately. What the heck is going on. And so on.
Well, it's been a combination of things. I just moved, my new internet setup was not functioning for a while, I am career transitioning, AND cedar has been destroying me. Yes, cedar. The tree. It's been absolutely vicious. And I am not alone. It's been thoroughly kicking the butts of a lot of people in Texas in recent weeks. We're talking many hours straight of runny nose, then bloody nose, then congestion, plus headache, plus constant, painful sneezing, and so on. Then it leads to viral infections. Not to mention fatigue.
So today, I finally went to an allergy specialist and received the skin test. They tested for 70+ allergens by poking me with tiny amounts of those allergens and seeing whether a hive formed in the vicinity of the poke.
First, they asked me more questions than I have ever been asked at the doctor's office. Ever. I had to go through my entire life history, including where I have lived, what my family members were like, what my roommates were like, what pets I had, what allergic symptoms I have had through the years, what jobs I have had, what activities I have done at different times in life, and so on.
Then they made me blow as hard as I could into a tube to measure my breathing capabilities, then breathe inward the same way. I was at 89%. I should have been at about 104%, from an "eyeball" of my fitness level (100% would have matched my height and weight precisely). So I was underachieving on the blow test. Allergies. Grr. I could have been the next Lance Armstrong if not for the whole breathing thing. Who knows.
Then came the skin test. The test was in two phases. Part one was on my back. The nurse brought out a gown thing for me to wear if I preferred, or I could just take off my shirt. I opted to just take off my shirt. Ha.
Anyway, she swabbed most of my back with alcohol, let it dry, then wrote the numbers 1 through 71 in regular blue ink pen. Then she brought in a tray of little blue hors d'oeuvres style toothpick things dipped in allergens and commenced to break the skin 71 times. Fun times.
Actually, it went pretty quickly, and it didn't really hurt much, but I had to fight the urge to scratch them. I read a book about birds for 15 minutes while the allergens stewed within. The nurse returned to find 3 positive results.
I am highly allergic to two trees: mountain cedar and red cedar. Also, to one weed: marsh elder.
For the other 68 that showed negative or inconclusive results, we had to repeat the process of the back, but instead on the arms. And with actual syringes. As in, 68 shots in the arm. With needles. And blood.
So, with the less superficial test, more allergies showed up.
Here is the full list (positive results bolded):
19. Bahia - Nope.
That's right, no grass allergies. Nice.
26. False Ragweed - Nope.
44. Cat - No.
Surprisingly, not allergic to ANY of the available molds.
70. Negative Control - No. Which is good. That would be weird to be allergic to nothing.
So, yeah, lots of pen marks on my body (which I don't like very much as it is), and lots of pokes. 140+ of them. But now I know. And knowing is half the battle.
Incidentally, mountain cedar has been off the charts here in Central Texas. Literally, off the charts.
For tree pollen, here are the ratings:
0 - 14 Low
In the past few weeks, we've seen cedar pollen up past 4,000 on a pretty regular basis. So, roughly 3 times as bad as the lower limit of "very high."
The good news is that cedar is finally waning:
So, with things settling down vis-a-vis moving (and everything associated with that), with this knowledge, and with a new allergy treatment regimen beginning today, hopefully I will be able to get back in the blogging groove soon. Muchas gracias to Ken for his great posts in recent weeks.
Challenge To Our Readers: Jack Abramoff
I have avoided following the whole Jack Abramoff imbroglio thus far, because the entire topic just bores me. Okay, Washington can be a very corrupt place - this is news?
If you think I have avoided this issue because I am a shill for George Bush and the Republicans (I am) and that I can't face a Republican scandal, well, in the words of the great philosopher Curtis Sliwa, you could not be more hopelessly wrong! I found the Plame Affair endlessly fascinating, for example, because that story had real intrigue.
The Abramoff thing just makes my eyes glaze over.
It doesn't seem to be getting a lot of traction in the press or among the public at large either, and my theory as to why is exactly that: political corruption is par for the course. Moreover, only hardcore political junkies (and Democrats slobbering to take back a house of Congress) would take the time to inform themselves on the intricacies of this issue. Thus, the vast bulk of the voting american public simply yawns and asks for the remote.
Here is my challenge: explain to me, in one succinct sentence, or short paragraph at most, what Abramoff and his cohorts did that was wrong.
You have my thanks in advance.
Hi! Welcome back to Pundit Roundtable, I am your host, Ken McCracken.
My mind is a bit fried on politics lately, so I went a bit more speculative with the topics this week, which are these:
Topic 1: You have the power to mind meld with any person from the present or past, and you can interface with their thoughts,
memories and emotions. Who do you choose and why?
Topic 2: Does God want New Orleans to be a chocolate city?
Topic 2: Does God want New Orleans to be a chocolate city?
I welcome back Rob Port of Say Anything - Rob, what do you think?
I would mind-meld with Teddy Roosevelt. The man was a brilliant politician and statesman, an energetic sportsman and explorer and led one of the most interesting lives I have ever had the pleasure of learning about.And now I welcome Will Franklin, proprietor of this very blog. Will?
Abraham Lincoln. He made some extraordinarily controversial and difficult decisions throughout his life, and lived through an extraordinary period in history.
The Host's Last Word: if I could mind meld with anyone, it would have to be Thomas Jefferson I think. It would be thrilling to access that genius, peer into the full life he had, and experience the founding the United States from inside the mind of one of its most important prime movers. Plus I suppose I would get all the inside dirt on all the other less-than-elevating things that went on in his life . . . but hey, no one's perfect!
Great minds think alike, and I too considered both Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln as victims in this thought experiment as well. Teddy Roosevelt was my hero growing up, I wanted to be someone with his energy and sense of adventure. I actually think Abraham Lincoln is an even greater man than Jefferson . . . but, Lincoln went through travails that made Job look like a pampered prince. I am not sure I would want access to the dark pits of doom he had to contend with as President.
As for New Orleans . . . it has been rather fascinating to watch the plummeting political fortunes of Ray Nagin. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Nagin was briefly given minor hero status for his candor at press conferences, and the press lauded him for being the right man at the right time. And then the wheels came off - it became apparent that Nagin was part of the problem, not the solution, and now he is reduced to this: an odd parody of Pat Robertson.
Should New Orleans be a 'chocolate city'? Well, why not? If New Orleans has historically been a majority black city, there is no reason why it should not continue to be so. Bending government policy to try to engineer such an outcome is of course loathsome, but there is no need for it. New Orleans will continue to be black, and so God's wishes will be fulfilled.
According to the Prophet Nagin, anyway.
That's it! Thanks for coming by to our brief installment of Pundit Roundtable, we will be back next Sunday as usual!
Random Musings On The bin Laden Video
Here is a clue, Democrats: when Osama bin Laden's recent video sounds like it was issued from Nancy Pelosi's office, you are on the wrong side of history. While reading the transcript of bin Laden's video, I had to remind myself that I was not reading a Kos diary. The similarities between bin Laden's views and those of the Left have virtually become one and the same.
In fact, the Democrats sound even more strident and incensed than bin Laden. Compare and contrast:
Here is a great quote:
" . . . the argument that he avoided, which is the substance of the results of opinion polls on withdrawing the troops, is that it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land and for them not to fight us on our land." - Osama bin Laden
Osama is a poll watcher!
Bin Laden can't put together focus groups and conduct national polling from the Hindu Kush, but he doesn't need to - he has the Democratic National Committee doing that for him.
To all you Leftist anti-war types out there, this is your moment of truth, your moment of satori sudden enlightenment - your message is fuelling evil, the very evils you claim to hate: homophobia, fourth-class citizen status for women, complete stifling of free expression, medieval theocracy.
Look who you are now allied with.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 39.
The actual caption:
Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tries out a painless injection needle during his inspection tour of small enterprises in Tokyo on Wednesday January 18, 2006. The Japanese leader took time out from his busy schedule to visit two small enterprises, including one that manufactures an injection needle with a diameter of 0.2 mm, believed to the world's finest. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 24. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.
Winners from last week:
Simon sez, make an 'O' with your arms. Too slow Barnes, go stand with the insurgents.
Marines demonstrate practical application of Semper Pi, useful for determining the circumference and opening area of a fox hole.
And as a last resort, there's always the "French Manuever."
In keeping with the "Kinder, Gentler" military of the 21st Century, US troops begin teaching the basics of ballet. The goal is to put on an all-Iraqi production of Swan Lake by June.
U.S. troops must rehearse the new "surrender drill" on a weekly basis, just in case the Democrats ever take over the reins of power again!
♫ "I'm a little teapot, short and stout..." ♫
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 249 -- Agricultural Subsidies & Tariffs.
Free Trade = Good For Poor Farming Countries-
Hey, hippies, listen up. We need you over here. You've got something very wrong. Your anti-WTO, anti-trade, anti-markets type stuff just isn't cutting it anymore.
Want to help the poor, downtrodden, pre-industrial people of the world? Get rid of agricultural subsidies. Get rid of them in the United States. More importantly, get rid of them in the European Union (where the subsidies are MUCH more outrageous than in the United States).
Meanwhile, free up other barriers to agricultural trade, and you will see third world countries fending for themselves.
The likely total annual economic benefit to the world in 2015 from efficiency gains and investment growth that would result from full agricultural liberalization from 2005 through 2010 is in the range of roughly $50 billion to $185 billion (measured in 2001 dollars), or 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent of the value of world output of all goods and services. Expanding the analysis to include the effects of liberalization on the rate of productivity growth can raise the estimates by amounts ranging from 50 percent to more than 100 percent, depending on the study.
The best international economic aid program is the end of farm subsidies in Europe and America. And free trade.
More on the elimination of barriers, such a no-brainer:
The World Bank estimates that free agricultural trade would provide benefits of an additional $248bn: $106 billion would accrue to the rich world, $142 bn to the poorer world. Of that $142bn, $31bn would come from wealthy countries’ barrier removal (internal subsidy support and quota limit system removal) and a staggering $111bn from poor countries removing barriers between their own countries--and that is partly because barriers are far higher between poor countries than with the West. Poor countries also trade a great deal with each other. In other words the largest trade gains are with barrier removal and between the poorer countries of the world.
TRADE, NOT AID.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Meanest Cities To Homeless People.
Quotational Therapy: Part 67-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hope your MLK day was harmonious. Here's an excerpt of an MLK speech that could fit right into one of President Bush's speeches on the spread of liberty in the world.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.
Read the entire "I Have A Dream" speech here.
Incidentally, check out what these white people did on their MLK day:
The anti-war group in San Antonio, numbering perhaps two dozen, chanted "Shame" while two Air Force T-1A Jayhawk training jets flew overhead, a first in the event's 20-year history. Later protesters released a pair of white doves.
Yeah, that's a healthy political coalition (white weirdo liberals and African-Americans) with staying power. Not.
Previous Quotational Therapy Session:
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 248-- Meanest Cities To Homeless.
Worst. List. Ever.-
You may have seen this list of the meanest cities to homeless people:
1. Sarasota, Florida
You may have even read some or all of the 161-page report by the National Coalition for the Homeless (.pdf), detailing how and why the above cities are so darned mean.
But did you know that this list is perhaps the weakest piece of garbage in the history of lists?
Take Austin, Texas, for example, the 15th meanest city to homeless people. Where, I wonder, would Austin have been had it not built this multi-multi-million dollar homeless resort and spa (and architectural marvel) on a prime piece of real estate in touristy downtown:
Believe me, Austin is far from the 15th meanest city to the homeless. It, on the contrary, could easily compete in a "coddles the homeless too much" contest. This is a city with homeless people industrious and organized enough to produce a regular newspaper, the Austin Advocate. This is a city that made this monstrosity...
... a celebrated Austin icon and a "respectable member of the community." Leslie Cochran even ran for Austin Mayor more than once, garnering enough of the vote to appear on the local news election night ticker.
This is a city with local judges who declare reasonable anti-panhandling ordinances unconstitutional.
This is a city with a main "drag" (Guadalupe Street) next to The University of Texas campus that is polluted and overrun by foul-smelling, junkie "drag rats" (or "worms"). These aggressive panhandlers, many of which are young, hackey-sack-playing hipsters from middle class families who gravitate to Austin from all over the country because of its reputation for being cool and laid back, are just part of Austin's unique charm, according to many locals.
In short, this list is absolutely bogus. Austin, Texas is about as far from mean to homeless people as a city can be. And what's with San Francisco being on this list? Isn't this the city that is known for heaping lavish government benefits upon its homeless population?
Let's get real, here. There are people who are legitimately homeless due to circumstances beyond their control. They aren't junkies. They might be disabled or elderly or the victims of catastrophic life events. They deserve our help. But when a society coddles the homeless, creating an environment where homelessness is celebrated as "charming," where artistic suburban kids dressed up as hobos feel part of some sort of privileged class (and can rake in hundreds of dollars a day), we're doing a disservice to everyone, particularly people with real problems.
Whereas some homeless people with severe mental illnesses would have once been confined to some sort of mental health treatment facility, thanks to Ken Kesey (and other crusaders like him), we now view those places as dangerous, dehumanizing looney bins. Thus, instead of mentally-ill folks being taken care of in institutional settings, they are roaming the urban centers of America on their own, more helpless and vulnerable than ever.
And let's also stop pretending that being "mean" to homeless people is causing or perpetuating homelessness. Far from it. And, media, do a little legwork and expose these sorts of lists as bogus, will ya? Please? For once?
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Offshoring & Outsourcing.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 247 -- Offshoring & Outsourcing.
Outsourcing. It was a buzz word during the 2004 campaign. It's still the focus of inordinate levels of media coverage. It is the root of (and symptom of) all economic problems in this country, according to some.
Outsourcing (or, to be more precise, "offshoring") is an easy issue to demagogue. After all, what politician is against Americans working? Who could possibly be for Indian or Chinese or Korean or Russian or Taiwanese people taking American jobs?
Well, economies are not zero sum. There are not a fixed number of jobs available in the world. Sometimes you need to shed some old jobs and industries to pave the way for newer, more productive ones. It's easy to see why protectionists can manipulate the public on this issue. It's difficult to explain in a 7-second soundbyte that creative destruction is a good thing-- and not just in the long run.
Outsourcing (again, it should really be called "offshoring") can be painful in the short term for those living in manufacturing/textile communities, but ultimately those jobs can and will be replaced with better, more modern ones.
And in the meantime, the net effect of outsourcing is positive for America-- and most Americans:
...overall net U.S. income rises by about 12-14 cents for every dollar of outsourcing (that is, gross income rises by $1.12-1.14).
But outsourcing isn't even as pervasive as many in the media insinuate:
Out-of-country relocations, whether within a company or to a different company account for only 1.6 percent of job separations in mass layoffs over the six quarters for which data are available (First Quarter 2004 to 2nd Quarter 2005).
Not a huge trend, really.
But it still dominated the news, especially near election day 2004. How convenient.
But wait, there's more (underlining mine):
Media reports in 2003 and 2004 paid a good deal of attention to private sector estimates that a large number of jobs had already been transferred overseas and that many more would be leaving in the years ahead. Probably the most widely-cited such figure was from Forrester Research, which estimated that a cumulative total of 830,000 U.S. jobs would be moved offshore by the end of 2005, and that a total of 3.4 million additional U.S. jobs would move overseas in the decade through the end of 2015 (these numbers are from Forrester’s May 2004 update of a November 2002 report). Other forecasts of the number of jobs lost to date to other countries were of roughly the same magnitude as Forrester’s estimate of nearly 30,000 jobs per month to be offshored in the future. Goldman Sachs, for example, calculated that about 10,000 jobs per month had been moved overseas in the three years before 2004, and that between 15,000 and 30,000 jobs would be offshored going forward....
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Title IX & Collegiate Athletics.
We had a really big response this week, which will probably make for one of the longest posts ever here at WILLisms.com, so sit back and take it all in.
And . . . Bear Down, Chicago Bears! Rick Moran, you're a pundit among pundits, but you are WRONG this time! (God I hope).
Our topics this week are these:
Topic 1: What do you think will be the next big development, for good or ill, in the Middle East?
Topic 2: If you could bring back any single TV series for one more season, which would it be and why?
Topic 2: If you could bring back any single TV series for one more season, which would it be and why?
Our first guest is Jay Tea from Wizbang! Welcome back Jay Tea, whaddya say?
I'm no scholar of the region, but I see three major developments on the horizon, and all will have a huge affect on the region and the world. The first is a confrontation with Iran about its nuclear ambitions. I'm sad to say I don't see this ending in anything short of violence. The only question is how violent and how final it will be.Our next guest is a newcomer to the Roundtable, Barbara Moeller of Quid Nimis. What are your thoughts, Barbara?
The current situation in the Middle East is dominated by the imminent acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran. The press and the American public have been very late to wake up to the danger posed by Iran, but bloggers like Regime Change Iran have been carefully and thoroughly documenting the inexorable progress that this regime has been making toward its stated goal of obliterating Israel.Our next guest is WILLisms.com guest pundit and Roundtable regular, Hoodlumman of File It Under. What's up?
Unfortunately, I think the next big development in the ME involves Iran. It looks like sanctions will be first but I doubt that will be successful in stopping Iran's nuclear goals. I don't know that anything will stop Iran now. They have oil, so they have a great bargaining chip to get materials and knowledge from countries that don't have oil.Our next guest is a return visitor to the Rountable, Giacomo of Joust the Facts. How do you see things Giacomo?
The Middle East is obviously going to be the epicenter of world politics for the foreseeable future. It's hard to make a living predicting what will happen there. I think the two most prominent recent developments have been the stroke suffered by Ariel Sharon, and the nuclear desires of Iran. The next big development will be that these two nearly simultaneous events will head toward resolution. I'm not that optimistic that the resolution will be pleasant.And now we have Will Franklin, founder of WILLisms.com. Will, what's the word?
Whenever I think about the situation in Iran, I get sick to my stomach. Especially thinking about my experience(s) investigating the Iranian "elections" in Houston several months ago. These people are fanatical, and they have goals bigger than Iran and nuclear weapons. They seek the elimination of not only the state of Israel, but of Jews. They seek the destruction of the United States. They seek global Islamic revolution not entirely unlike the way the Soviets sought global Communist revolution. Our national strategy in Iran has been to hope the demographic iceberg of people born after 1979 collides with the regime. But that may not be good enough. I tend to believe that Iran is closer to "going nuclear" than we realize. And there's no simple airstrike solution, as many of the facilities are underground and spread out deep within the country. I am an optimist, but without a miracle, I have trouble seeing any kind of clean, simple, positive outcome in Iran. In a generation or two, the greater Middle East will be a dramatically different place-- for the better. But the path from here to there will be occasionally very painful.The Host's Last Word: Call me a hopeless optimist, but the big development in the Middle East over the next year, five years, ten years and beyond is going to be democracy.
Iranians are decent people at heart, as are all people everywhere, and they will not tolerate the indecent regime that rules there forever, now that President Ahmedinejad is being exposed for the dangerous psychopath he really is. Iranians with any real pride in their culture, history and mainstream Islam will reject this dangerous freak.
Hamas is great at bellowing anti-semitic hate, but can they get the garbage picked up? Can they root out corruption? Can they hold hearings to let the people air their grievances? Democracy will either slap Hamas upside the head with the cold, wet fish of reality, or expose them for the brainless, useless haters that they are.
Bashar 'Fredo' Assad had better watch his rear end, democracy is out to bite him as well.
Democratic ideals are inexorable. They may not conquer overnight, but they are in the air, lingering over Cairo, Riyadh, Tehran, Damascus . . . and day by day it becomes clearer to the average guy on the arab street that Israel and the U.S. are not the problem, to the contrary, they point the way to a better way of life.
As for TV, I wish that there could be one more season of what I think is the best TV show ever made: Monty Python!
Come back next week for another power-packed presentation of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!
Gaming Zawahiri's 'Death'
The Pentagon believes it may have ended Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri's wretched life by bombing an al-Qaeda safehouse in Damadola, Pakistan, near the Afghan border. Tissue samples have supposedly been sent to the U.S. for forensic examination.
Al-Qaeda will denounce any positive results as 'wishful thinking', but will al-Qaeda offer any proof that Zawahiri was, in fact, untouched by this attack? Say, by issuing a new videotape from the good doctor with timely evidence that the video was produced after his supposed death?
Zawahiri produces videos on a fairly regular basis, so he apparently has little fear that new videos might lead to his detection. In Zawahiri's last video from January 6, 2006 he even took up one of Howard Dean's DNC talking points and ran with it, saying "Bush, you must admit that you have been defeated in Iraq."
So come on al-Qaeda, if the reports of Zawahiri's death are premature, you'll give us proof, right?
Or can you?
Can You Hear Me Now, Osama?
Federal authorities have been investigating recent large-scale purchases of disposable cell phones, which can be purchased without identification and are untraceable.
One such purchase was made in Midland, Texas, by members of a group "linked to suspected terrorist cells stationed within the Metroplex."
Just asking - could the New York Times revelations of NSA wiretaps have anything to do with this?
"Have You No Sense Of Decency?"
There is debate at the Volokh Conspiracy as to whether Ted Kennedy's technique of guilt-by-association against Samuel Alito evokes a valid analogy to Joseph McCarthy's disgrace at the Army-McCarthy hearings.
Here is Joseph Welch's famous rebuke to Joseph McCarthy at those hearings on June 9, 1954:
What was Ted Kennedy attempting to do today, other than to assassinate Sam Alito's character by charging him with responsibility for every statement made by Concerned Alumni of Princeton? Todd Zywicki's analogy is chillingly apt: Kennedy's clumsy accusation was entirely within the spirit of inquisition McCarthy was attempting to use against Fred Fisher, for having once been a member of the Lawyer's Guild.
Many Leftists are no doubt clucking tonight that this represents some kind of victory for them, not realizing that they have become the new John Birchers of the age.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 38.
The actual caption:
A team of US and Philippine Marines warm up during joint US-Philippine war games, 2003. US forces will hold two-week-long military exercises in the Philippines despite a controversy over four US Marines accused of raping a Filipina after the last such exercises, officials said(AFP/File/Romeo Gacad)
Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 17. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.
Winners from last week:
Evidence continued to accumulate that South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk's stem cell clones came from questionable sources.
With Bush allowing the NSA to intercept all manner of communication, in desperation the sentries for the lost city of Atlantis switched to the more secure conch.
A WTO protester accidentally sets his head on fire with a Molotov conchtail.
During the second season Lost jumps the shark.
Charlie the Tuna took Starkist's rejection letters pretty hard.
After that horrible rendition of Salmon Chanted Evening I can only conclude that you can tune a piano, but you can't tuna fish.
Alito Nomination Smackdown
Well, it isn't Alito getting smacked down. All he had to do was show up, answer questions in a straightforward fashion, and sit back and watch the Democrats get mired in their own ineptness.
Cap'n Ed shows how Charles Schumer commits a classic trial advocacy blunder by asking one question too many.
Diane Feinstein fails to grasp the meaning of the word 'hypothetical', asking Alito IF congressional findings in the Rybar case would have caused him to change his dissent, and then saying her question was not a hypothetical.
Ted Kennedy is apparently advocating blanket immunity from search warrants for children.
And Joe Biden was so true to character, that Hugh Hewitt felt the need to make him feel better and sent him flowers.
Biden is indeed a national treasure, as one of Hugh's callers stated.
"Lord, make my enemies ridiculous" - Voltaire.
Our topics this week are both very serious:
Topic 1: The New York Times has been blowing the lid off secret intelligence operations such as NSA wiretapping and flights throughout Europe and elsewhere of suspected al-Qaeda agents. Is it time to rein in the press and institute some kind of wartime censorship controls? Or are these revelations good for our democratic
system? What are your thoughts on this whole issue?
Topic 2: Do you wear boxers, or briefs? And if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Topic 2: Do you wear boxers, or briefs? And if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?
Our first guest is a return visitor to the Roundtable, Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse. Rick?
Okay...so. Wartime censorship? Interesting concept but probably unworkable in the present political climate.Our next guest is also a returning visitor, Wunderkraut. What do you say, Wunderkraut?
Topic 1: Press censorship is a tough call. I know we are at war and that we need to take extra precautions, but is going back to WWII like restrictions the way to go?Next we have Will Franklin, proprietor of this very blog. Will, what do you say?
Topic 1: I started WILLisms.com in part because I was fed up with the establishment media. Overall. In entertainment. In sports. Especially in politics. They are just wrong so much, and far more powerful and influential than many give them credit for. Blogs certainly have the capability to become a challenge to the left-wing establishment media, but that day is still somewhere on the distant horizon. This latest few weeks has been astounding to observe. Many of usual suspects in the media have gone from biased partisans to full-blown advocates for the bad guys. They have become advocates for al-Qaeda. They seem to be rooting for American failure, economically, militarily, diplomatically, and so on.The Host's Last Word: It is shameful and distressing that, in this time of war, we have to contend not only with al-Qaeda around the world, and an insurgency in Iraq, but with the New York Times and other fifth columnists in the MSM who think that humiliating George Bush is more important than protecting this nation.
Keep it up guys, and it could be a couple generations before anyone lets your precious Democrats anywhere near the levers of power in this nation.
And depriving Democrats of power because of these abuses is by far the best and most poignant revenge possible. So there.
Censorship doesn't work, and that just isn't the way we do things here in America. We can handle the truth, and we can work around the internal sabotage we are now facing. We are stronger than the all the damage the traitors and al-Qaeda hope to inflict.
The idea that, somehow, the New York Times is actually 'helping' by laying open our national security apparatus for all to see, and that this type of dissent is somehow a principled form of patriotism, is of course complete rot. What was that about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel? Well, here it actually applies. Publishing the revelations about NSA wiretaps was about as 'patriotic' as handing the Nazis troopship schedules for D-Day.
But even MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT . . . why, boxers of course!
My boys gotta BREATHE.
And as for trees, why, I would be an ENT. In fact, I bear a remarkable resemblance to Treebeard:
I was really impressed by Will's tree answer. I threw out a stupid, silly question, and he came back with a thoughtful, touching response.
Well done, Will.
Come back next week, for our next episode of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!
Great Aphorists: Friederich Nietzsche
I love aphorisms.
First of all, throwing around the word aphorism makes you sound like an intellectual heavyweight!
Aphorisms are the philosophical equivalent of Chicken McNuggets: tasty little morsels that aren't often confused with real food.
But, they are great for what they are, easily remembered, and can be quite entertaining. And Friederich Nietzsche was the superheavyweight aphorist champ of all time. I generally avoid reading anything longer than aphorisms by Nietzsche because, well, it hurts my flyweight brain. The aphorisms, however, I can usually comprehend, so I stick to those.
Here are just a few from his oeuvre:
Out of life's school of war: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.
And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory is too good.
Only sick music makes money today.
People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights.
There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.
What really raises one's indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering.
And finally, true to his aphoristic impulses, quoth Nietzsche:
It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.
I did not include Nietzsche's most famous quote - "God is dead" - because it is not really an aphorism, but comes from a longer passage in The Gay Science. There is also an entire Wikipedia article about that particular concept.
Woe Unto You, Pat Robertson
The surest sign that someone is a religious nutjob is when they ascribe the Will of God to perfectly ordinary occurences.
Ariel Sharon suffering a stroke is, unfortunately, the product of the natural process of aging and deterioration of health that will happen to us all. Now if Sharon had suddenly been enveloped in a pillar of flames while delivering a speech to his new Kadima party, that would have been awe-inspiring in an Old Testament sort of way.
Yet Pat Robertson (and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad too, no doubt) believes that, no, in fact, this particular stroke must have been God's specific ire directed at Sharon. When it happens to your old Uncle Wilmer it is bad health, but when it happens to Ariel Sharon it is divine retribution cleverly disguised as bad health.
If there is a just God out there somewhere, hopefully he will reproach Robertson (and Ahmadinejad) on Judgement Day for committing the ultimate hubris: speaking for God. It takes a lot of nerve you must admit, to state that you know for certain what is on God's mind. I could imagine God being a little miffed by this - "as if, puny human, you could even begin to comprehend what is on my mind. Now go help Sisyphus roll that boulder for eternity."
We can only hope.
VY > RB
Awesome. The media blew it again.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 37.
The actual caption:
An activist from environmental group WWF, dressed up as a fish, blows a shell during a protest in front of the European Council building in Brussels December 20, 2005, at the start of an EU agriculture and fisheries ministers meeting where 2006 fishing quotas were being discussed. WWF was demonstrating about the lack of measures taken by the EU against increasing fishing pressure on deep-sea fish populations due to over-exploitation of coastal stocks. REUTERS/Thierry Roge
Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 10. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.
Winners from last week:
"DJ Abdul in the house! Where my Shi'ites at? We raisin' da roof on this mosque! Holla"
The Shiite's punt returner signals fair catch in their match against the Sunnis in the 2005 Iraq Bowl.
Well..................... You know you make me want to SHOUT Kick my heels up and SHOUT Throw my hands up and SHOUT Throw my head back and SHOUT Come on now SHOUT
The Supreme Council's Touchdown Allah just never caught on like Notre Dame's Touchdown Jesus
"Yo! Kobe, over here! I'm open!"
"Confident! Confident! Dry and Secure!"
France's Channel 5 introduces its latest character for "5, Rue Sesame": Abdul the Grouch. Instead of a fuzzy green muppet, Abdul is an ironic, edgy, cigarette smoking Imam/Bohemian with yellow teeth, coffee breath, and an underage mistress.
Abdul Aziz Hakim caught red handed dimpling and hanging the chads on the ballot boxes!...
Where is he now? Baghdad HS class of 1970 Most Likely to Concede
With the gavel missing Abdul Hakim opens the newest session of the Iraqi Parliament with "the wave".
It's fun to stay at the Y...
Iran: To Bomb, Or Not To Bomb?
Is this news? It would only be news if the U.S. didn't have such a plan. There are probably warfighting plans for taking on Bhutan somewhere in the Pentagon - so it should come as no surprise that there is a gameplan for taking on Iran.
The question is: should such an attack take place? Should we attack Iran's nuclear facilities before the mullahs get the bomb?
Well . . . Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not exactly reassured the world that he is a rational or peace-seeking leader. He has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, declared that the holocaust is a hoax, and suggested that the Israelis should be relocated to Europe.
He also believes he needs to aid the imminent return of the Mahdi, the 12th Imam messiah that will bring justice to the earth.
Ahmadinejad has explicitly rejected the policy of detente forwarded by Iran's previous two administrations, which he said has reduced Iran's standing in the Islamic world, and appeases Europe.
Iran resumed uranium enrichment in August, leading the International Atomic Energy Agency to declare the Iran has violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran has signed. Iran has stated to the IAEA that it will resume enrichment once again on January 9.
Iran is quickly developing the means of delivering a nuclear payload. The Shahab-3 missile is believed to have a range of 1,550-1,620km, which is the range of the North Korean Nodong B missile it is based upon. Iran has also developed solid-fuel boosters which could allow ranges greater than 2,000 km, enough range to threaten Europe as well as the entire Middle East.
The terrible legacy of the 20th century has taught us that fanatical leaders espousing hatred and destruction all too often mean what they say. Adolph Hitler was a fanatic who was not shy about his intentions - when he said he intended to solve the 'jewish problem' this was taken by many to be mere posturing. When Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong stated that 'class enemies' must be liquidated, such 'liquidation' was not a euphemism for sending them on their merry way out of the country. They intended to slaughter humans en masse, stated so beforehand, and then achieved it.
There is precious little evidence that Ahmadinejad is anything but another mass-murderer in waiting, a holocaust denier who avowedly hates Jews and Americans, and wants to see Israel destroyed.
Thus, President Bush faces a most risky calculation. War might be avoided by waiting for economic and diplomatic sanctions to work. Iran could be feigning its nuclear ambitions, seeking to increase its stature in the Islamic world by claiming it has joined the nuclear club along with the other advanced nations of the world. Iran could merely be seeking political leverage.
Or . . . Ahmadinejad might just be telegraphing his real intentions. Do we then wait until Iran has successfully tested a nuclear weapon to act? [ed. - come to think of it, the U.S. military did not even bother testing the U-235 Little Boy device before sending it over Hiroshima, because the design was considered to be so fool-proof. Something to consider.]
The threat of Iran developing nuclear weapons echoes Iraq's earlier nuclear ambitions, which were shattered when Israel's Defense Forces bombed the Ossirak nuclear facility in 1981. The question is whether such an operation could succeed again, and whether it would be Israel, NATO, the U.S., or some combination thereof that takes on the mission. Israel has developed a plan to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities.
Destroying Iraq's single nuclear facility was a far easier task than taking on Iran's facilities, which are numerous and spread throughout the country. The main focus is the nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz, which is buried under 75 feet of earth, with a reinforced concrete roof.
It is possible that the GBU-28 'bunker buster' bomb may be able to penetrate and destroy Iran's buried facilities. Israel has purchased these weapons from the U.S., and has the F-15 aircraft necessary to deliver them.
The risks of such an attack would be retaliatory missile strikes upon Israel (whether Israel participated in the air strikes or not), missile strikes against U.S. facilities and ships in the region, and military activity by Iran's sole allies in the world, Hezboallah in southern Lebanon, and Syria. Thus, the chances of air strikes igniting World War III are exactly nil.
I am not advocating strikes against Iran, nor am I advocating a wait-and-see approach - but what I am advocating is that we all take a moment to reflect on the terrible decisions our Commander-In-Chief has to make. I think we are fortunate to have the right man in office to sift through the various options, and to take bold action if that is what is required.
More Links: Via Drudge, The UK Guardian warns secret services say Iran is trying to assemble a nuclear missile.
Filed under This Sh*t is Getting Serious.