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« February 2006 | WILLisms.com | April 2006 »

Quotational Therapy: Part 86 -- Lincoln, On Public Opinion.

Applicable To All Those Fraudulent Media Polls & All That Biased Reporting-


Honest Abe Lincoln, on public opinion:

With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.

That's from Lincoln's first debate with Stephen Douglas.

And it's absolutely true. While blogs and other sources of information outside of the left-wing media establishment are rapidly gaining in popularity, it's the big media giants that still set the agenda. Whether it is those intentionally skewed or misrepresented polls, which become self-fulfilling prophesies over time, or the relentless drumbeat of hyperbole and tabloidism and trumped up scandal, our out-of-touch media giants are failing our Republic.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Grover Cleveland, Democrat, Surplus-Giver-Backer.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 31 March 2006 09:20 AM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Fifty-Two -- Socialist Security.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. Just because the status quo'ers got their way in 2005 does not mean the problem has gone away. Indeed, it's getting worse with each passing day. Thus, Reform Thursday continues.

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

This week's topic:

Social Security Is Socialist Security.

By now, it ought to be well-established that Social Security is on an unsustainable track. For myriad reasons, reform is absolutely crucial. For example, just as a refresher, note that the worker to beneficiary ratio is not where it was in the beginning of the program:


It's a demographic time bomb we know full well is coming, yet nearly every elected Democrat and a few elected Republicans have chosen to ignore-- to table-- the problem.

But did you know just how socialist Social Security really is?

It's more than just a socialist pyramid scheme in theory. It was, fittingly, thought up by a socialist.

Yes, the "Father of Social Security," Edwin Witte, a bitter rival of free market economist Milton Friedman, was a avowed socialist (.pdf):


Yeah, that's him on the left, there.

Posing for the University of Wisconsin's Socialist Club yearbook photo.

The Father of Socialist Security. And what a brilliant mind-- what wonderful foresight (that's sarcasm)-- he had (.pdf):

As they were drafting the original bill, Witte and his actuaries calculated the program’s revenues and expenses for forty-five years, until 1980. They predicted, with relative accuracy, the lengthening of the American life span and the growth of the elderly segment of the population, from 5.4 percent (or around 7 million) in 1935 to 11.3 percent (or more than 20 million) in 1980.

But they failed to predict the effect of the post-World War II baby boom — or, more importantly, the baby bust that followed. Because of the drop in fertility rates that began in the late 1950s, young workers make up a smaller portion of the population than they once did, and retired people make up a larger and larger portion. In 1945, just before the baby boom began, there were nearly 42 workers paying into Social Security for each retiree taking benefits out. In 2005, this ratio had dropped to 3.3 to 1, and by 2030, it will fall to 2.2 to 1. This deficit of workers is what threatens Social Security’s — and the economy’s — future.

We can grow our way out of a lot of fiscal problems, but we can't grow our way out of the looming crisis in Social Security. And it is a crisis.

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).
-Week Forty-Three (Demographic Wave).
-Week Forty-Four (The Jerk Store).
-Week Forty-Five (Defined Benefit Plans).
-Week Forty-Six (Even The Empty Promises Are A Bad Deal).
-Week Forty-Seven (Our Aging Population).
-Week Forty-Eight (The Tax Increases Required To Cover Social Security's Costs).
-Week Forty-Nine (Much Longer To Get Your Money Back From Social Security).
-Week Fifty (A Vote, At Last).
-Week Fifty-One (We Can Do Better).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 March 2006 09:53 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 312 -- Texas Tax Reform

Property Tax Relief-

As noted before, Texas is one of several states that has a favorable tax scheme relative to other states. But property taxes in Texas have gone sky-high in recent years (.pdf):


Governor Rick Perry's Texas Tax Reform Commission issued its report and plan this week to fix the problem.

Essentially, the plan is to substantially raise the tax on tobacco (by a buck to $1.41 per pack), broaden the franchise tax base (while lowering the franchise tax rate from 4.5% to 1%), and use the budget surpluses to "buy down" property taxes.

Lower property taxes and funding public education are essentially the only two issues that voting Texans even care about. There's urgency, therefore, to get something done this election year.

While this proposal technically raises taxes here and lowers them there, most people will see tax relief:

Overall, the net savings would average slightly more than 2 percent for non- smokers, after consumers paid potentially higher costs of goods and services associated with a new business tax.

However, cutting property taxes by a third (and by 6 billion dollars) makes the plan a winner. We'll see how this goes, though. Those of us who have read other reports by other commissions [ahem, the President's Social Security and tax reform panels, ahem] know well the perils of legislative maneuvering. It's easy to find flaws in any plan to change the status quo, but when the status quo is broken, a few flaws are more than tolerable.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Environmentalism.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 March 2006 09:05 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 311 -- The Environment.

Flaws of Kyoto-

Another strong, fact-filled monthly op-ed from Pete Du Pont in this week's WSJ:

Masquerading as a global environmental policy, Kyoto exempts half of the world's population and nine of the top 20 emitters of carbon dioxide--including China and India--from its emissions reduction requirements. It is in fact an effort to replace the world's markets with an internationally regulated (think U.N.) global economy, perhaps better described as a predatory trade strategy to level the world's economic playing field by penalizing the economic growth of energy efficient nations and rewarding those emitting much greater quantities of noxious gasses. Which explains why in 1997 the U.S. Senate voted 95-0 to oppose the signing of any international protocol that would commit Western nations to reduce emissions unless developing countries had to do so as well.

As The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, almost none of the nations that signed on are meeting Kyoto's requirements. Thirteen of the original 15 European signatories will likely miss the 2010 emission reduction targets. Spain will miss its target by 33 percentage points and Denmark by 25 points. Targets aside, Greece and Canada have seen their emissions rise by 23% and 24%, respectively, since 1990. As for America, our emissions have increased 16%, so we are doing better than many of the Kyoto nations.

The reporting on global warming and the environment has gotten to the point where there is no reporting other than the left-wing anti-progress enviro-orthodoxy. It's nice to see someone offer a bit of truth to the mix.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Our Spending Fate Sealed Generations Ago.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 March 2006 11:59 PM · Comments (0)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 49.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) (L) hugs Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams as he arrives for their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington March 16, 2006. REUTERS/Jim Young

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, April 4. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:


Rodney Dill:

"Hmmm.. my second term could use more Cow Bell."



President Bush briefly poses for the cameras next to The Donald Rumsfeld White House Dinner Bell.


Rodney Dill:


Honorable Mention #1


George Bush spent weeks practicing for the day when the NYSE would let him ring the closing bell.

Honorable Mention #2

Mr Michael:

Once rung, the Bell of Binalatongan cannot be Unrung... and according to Legend, if I ring this Bell, the Powers of Mangatarem will assemble to help smite all of my enemies!

...so I'm looking at you, Mr. Smart-Ass Reuters guy... you want me to Ring this Bell?

Honorable Mention #3

radio free fred:

"This Is The City Los Angeles California, My Name Is Friday."

Honorable Mention #4

GOP and College:

"Moo Bi$%^, get out the way get out the way..."

But, really, you're all winners in my book.

Captioning is too sexy to be president.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 March 2006 10:23 AM · Comments (27)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 310 -- Mandatory Spending.

Spending Set In Stone (Without Reform)-

Mandatory spending (non-discretionary, non-defense) is up in this country over the long-term, and with the demographic iceberg approaching (Baby Boomers retiring), it's only going to get worse.

As a share of the national economy, mandatory spending has been consistently greater than discretionary spending since the end of the Cold War (.pdf):


Even with relatively strong economic growth, we can expect a significant rise in the next few decades without major reform.

Meanwhile, as a percentage of the federal budget itself, mandatory spending is consuming increasingly more of outlays (.pdf):


We're approaching a point where we could eliminate most discretionary spending and still fail to balance the budget. Meanwhile, the representative nature of our Republic suffers as we cannot choose our priorities. Those were chosen years ago.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Democrats Hate The World.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 March 2006 07:21 PM · Comments (0)

Free Associating John Kerry's List

I found John Kerry's requirements list that is making the rounds to be screamingly funny - and I am really not sure why. I mean, it isn't all that effete, is it? I just had to fire up Photoshop and add my own snark. These things must be done.

There is actually a far funnier list of items at Ace's place.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 27 March 2006 10:29 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 309 -- Faking Dissatisfaction.

Republicans Way More Satisfied Than Democrats-

Looming over the country right now is a vague sense of dissatisfaction. Nobody seems happy with much of anything. Democrats, who are dissatisfied with their own leadership almost as much as the President himself, are gloomy for obvious reasons. Many Republicans, meanwhile, are also dissatisfied. Some conservatives are wondering why many GOP Senators in particular are acting like liberals. Where is the Social Security reform? And major tax reform? Others are wondering why abortion is still legal, why Terri Schiavo was dehydrated to death, why the entertainment industrial-complex is still run by radical left-wingers, why the borders still have not been sealed off with a giant wall, and so on.

There's this weird angst out there, occasionally cutting across and between partisan lines, about Iraq and outsourcing (offshoring, really) and China and globalization and oil prices and housing bubbles and bird flu and terrorism and and record budget deficits and AIDS and poverty and foreign management of port operations and racism and tsunamis and hurricanes and global warming and health care and SUVs and Wal-Mart and religion and attacks on religion and corruption and corporate scandals and Iran and everything else out there that's frightening and new about the world.

That being said, there's plenty to be satisfied about. Moreso than usual, even. And certainly moreso than in most of the rest of the world. Meanwhile, most of the concerns listed above are easily dismissed or explained with a little research and a lot of perspective. For the most part, whether it's the economy or the environment, things are almost unanimously better than they've ever been.

The economy, usually the root of all polling satisfaction or lack thereof, is steaming ahead.

Lots of new jobs (.pdf):


Continuous GDP growth (.pdf):


Inflation, amazingly, has remained low. Existing and new home sales continue to boom, as ever more Americans own their own homes. There's just a lot of good economic news out there. And there has been a lot of good economic news for quite a while now.

Yet, people remain relatively dissatisfied with the economy.

More than that, for the first time in the George W. Bush presidency, satisfaction has dipped below 30%. Put into context, this has happened in every single presidency since the 1970s, but it often rebounds:


But if we look closer, we discover that this dip is different from previous dips. This dip is driven by a truly record low of Democrats who express satisfaction, even as a solid majority of Republicans express satisfaction. The chasm between partisans is truly chasmic:


In other words, Democrats are essentially as dissatisfied as they have ever been. Ever. Clearly, Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus. In prior sub-30 satisfaction situations, it's been bi-partisan. This one, not so much.

It makes one wonder whether some folks on the other side of the aisle might be responding to these polls a bit differently than in the past. Because polls have usurped front-and-center on the political stage, people are beginning to understand that how one answers certain poll questions has consequences. So, if the question can reflect negatively on Bush, go for it, even if it's not true.

Incidentally, the Pew Research Center blames President Clinton's sub-30 satisfaction level on the economy. "The Clinton administration inherited that bad economy," they claim.

How many times does this claim need to be refuted, anyway? As Clinton assumed office, the recession had ended many months before. It was this president, George W. Bush, that inherited a weak economy, not President Clinton in 1992. However, it was President Clinton, not this president, who received a boost in poll ratings from a booming economy.

Will President George W. Bush ever receive a poll rating boost that reflects the strength of the American economy today? There's still nearly 3 years left in his term, so I wouldn't rule anything out.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Marriage.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 March 2006 04:22 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 85 -- Grover Cleveland, Democrat.

What To Do With Surpluses-

When more of the people's substance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of the Government and the expense of its economical administration, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of a free government.

-Grover Cleveland, December 6, 1886.

Can you imagine a Democrat today making that sort of comment? Of course not. Today's Democrats don't believe that government budget surpluses should be returned to the people via tax relief; Democrats today almost unanimously believe surpluses are more of a budget windfall that ought to be used for bigger, better, and more projects and programs.

When surpluses come around once more (very likely in the next few years), which party controls Washington will matter.

In the meantime, there are budget surpluses in state capitals all around the country. How states use those surpluses will directly affect how competitive those states are, demographically and economically, compared to one another. A lower tax burden will give a state a leg up in attracting and retaining individuals and commerce. States that devote the surpluses to social engineering and other government boondoggles will create higher relative tax burdens, which will spur people to move elsewhere.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Woodrow Wilson.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 March 2006 08:51 AM · Comments (0)

Guillermo Fariñas: Death Before Censorship

"I will be a martyr for the free information in the world."

Cuban journalist Guillermo Fariñas Hernández has not had food or water since January 31st, and is now in critical condition. Why? He is on a hunger strike against Fidel Castro's red fascist regime, and has vowed death if Cuban journalists are not allowed internet access.

Guillermo Fariñas Hernández

Fariñas is editor of the Cubanacán Press independent news agency. Reporters Without Borders has been championing his cause, and you can read more about him here.

What can you do? You can link to this post to keep this issue swarming.

You can sign a petition for his release.

This is a kind of watershed moment - internet access has become a life-and-death issue, both for the oppressed, and the oppressor . . .

Thanks to Dean Esmay for bringing this to our attention.

Abajo Fidel, indeed!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 27 March 2006 08:25 AM · Comments (5)

Sunday Night Heidi Weimaraner Puppy Update: 11½ Weeks Old.

Heidi is still growing like crazy. Here's your Sunday update:



Last week's update.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 March 2006 09:16 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 308 -- The Disintegrating Family.

What The Welfare State Hath Wrought-

The Washington Post offers a provokative piece today titled "Marriage Is for White People."

Some excerpts:

The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States. In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry. In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent.

When the state usurps the basic human functions and responsibilities families ought to perform, families disintegrate.


In 1960, 67 percent of black families were headed by a husband and wife, compared to 90.9 percent for whites. By 2000, the figure for white families had dropped to 79.8 percent. Births to unwed white mothers were 22.5 percent in 2001, compared to 2.3 percent in 1960.

Some interesting and not-all-that-great data.

So I checked some Census data myself, and found this chart to be rather interesting (.pdf) (click for a larger table):


In terms of marriage endurance, there are very real differences between and among racial groups. But the expansion of the welfare state clearly has had a deleterious effect on all marriages and families, not just those of African-Americans.

And the deterioration of the family is not just a moral or ethical or Biblical issue. It's a poverty issue. One of the more consistently proven contributing factors to poverty is having children out of wedlock. It's not just correlation there, it's empirically-proven causation.

Meanwhile, married people are happier than unwed folks.

Marriage is worth protecting, promoting, and preserving, in other words, and it's unfortunate that so many people seem so uninterested in marriage these days:


Of course, unlike some, I am not willing to declare that we're in any sort of crisis mode. I just hope we never trend down the European path, where marriage is marginalized behind a wall of state-run bureaucracy.

But, if we are to avoid becoming a state>family society, the trend isn't all that great:


Makes Charles Murray's plan to replace the welfare state all that more intriguing (although serious discussion of it could never go anywhere in this political climate).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Some Sanity (& Uncommon Wisdom) On Deficits.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 March 2006 08:02 PM · Comments (3)

Pundit Roundtable - Hometown Edition

Hi folks! If you were expecting more scintillating analysis of world and national events, tough cookies! Yes, this is where PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE jumps the shark, goes completely pointless, and succumbs to the laziness of its creator. Actually, I have been trying to think of a good topic since last Thursday, and came up with nada. But what do you expect? It's hard to follow an act like Jim Hoft these days.

And Giacomo, I still want to invite you back, when I can think of an actual topic or two.

So I thought I might just show the world some of the luminaries from my hometown, Downers Grove, Illinois (it has its own Wikipedia entry!). Randy Savage and Denise Richards both graduated from Downers Grove North High School, my alma mater. Emo Phillips? Dunno, but he can still be seen tottering around downtown Downers Grove.

Randy Savage
Denise Richards
emophillips.jpg Emo Phillips

They pretty much run the gamut, I'd say.

Can anyone out there top this?

P.S. We are always looking for new pundits to join in, please email me if you want to discuss serious topics. Someday.

Update: This post at Say Anything reminded me that Baghdad Jim McDermott also graduated from Downers Grove North High School.


Posted by Ken McCracken · 26 March 2006 02:48 PM · Comments (17)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 307 -- When Deficit Reductions Are Duplicitous.

Criticizing Lower Than Expected Deficits-

This is a remarkable (and telling) series of sentences from the Associated Press:

The administration in recent years has consistently put forth deficit estimates in February that have turned out to be too pessimistic when the books are tallied in October. Last year, for example, the White House initially predicted a 2005 deficit of $427 billion; the year-end result was $318 billion.

And in 2004, when Bush promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term, the White House projected a whopping $521 billion deficit. Even though the actual deficit for that year came in at $413 billion, Bush has used the higher figure as the benchmark for keeping his promise.

What? First of all, that last part is just not true; the insinuation that Bush is cooking the books to keep his deficit-cutting promise is absurd. Seven trivia tidbits ago, this should have been clear. Both the projected deficits and the real deficits were included in the White House OMB chart. Either way, the deficits are smaller and smaller.

Secondly, President Bush is right on track to keep his promise (and then some) of cutting the deficit in half, whether the benchmark is 521 or 413 billion dollars.

Third, any deficit number is meaningless without context. As a number by itself, it doesn't mean much. As a percentage of GDP, deficit numbers do mean something. But either way, in raw dollars or in the context of the size of America's economy, the deficit is actually shrinking at this point.

Fourth, since when is beating expectations (that everyone in the media seemed to agree upon) a bad thing? The AP story makes it sound so sinister (using the word "pessimistic," for example). It's not sinister. It's just that the rapidly growing economy contributed to record tax revenues. That's reflects well on the President's economic leadership.

Fifth, while it is politically smart to lower expectations, I like to deal in facts. The facts indicate that we'll have surpluses in a couple more years if the trends hold up. That's not guaranteed, but it is likely.

The Skeptical Optimist has a great post on this, with this great chart:


And this great turn of phrase:

I keep thinking maybe it will whack us in the back of the head “next month.” But I’ve been thinking that for twelve months now, with no luck. The deficit just keeps trending downward and downward. In any case, one of two things will have to change soon: either the deficit will start increasing, or the rhetoric about growing deficits will have to start decreasing.

Even with out-of-control spending increases, we'll end up with surpluses in the short-term, unless economic policies change for the worse (tax hikes, trade isolationism, etc.), slowing down the economy. I'm not convinced we can grow our way, however, out of the longer-term entitlement crisis our nation faces, without major reform.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Congressional Ideology Spectrum.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 March 2006 10:27 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 306 -- Ideological Spectrum.


This is a neat way to view members of Congress:


Click on it to go see it.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: People Like To Say "Salsa".

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 March 2006 09:35 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 84 -- A World Safe For Democracy.

Woodrow Wilson-

President Bush is often called "Wilsonian" in his zeal for democracy. Here's why:

"We are now about to accept gage of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretence about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty."

- Woodrow Wilson, April 2, 1917


Thanks to Mick Wright of Fishkite for sending this quote my way.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Bush Does Not Fear The Future.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 March 2006 07:05 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 305 -- People Like To Say "Salsa."

Hispanic Businesses-

Did you know that tortillas now outsell Wonder Bread in the U.S.? And salsa outsells ketchup?

Apparently so.

But wait, there's more.

The number of Hispanic-owned businesses grew 31 percent between 1997 and 2002 — three times the national average for all businesses — according to a new report, Survey of Business Owners: Hispanic-Owned Firms: 2002 (.pdf), released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The nearly 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses generated nearly $222 billion in revenue, up 19 percent from 1997.

And more tidbits:

* In 2002, nearly 3-in-10 Hispanic-owned firms operated in construction and other services, such as personal services, and repair and maintenance.
* In 2002, firms owned by people of Mexican origin accounted for more than 44 percent of all Hispanic-owned firms.
* Retail and wholesale trade accounted for 36 percent of Hispanic-owned business revenue.
* There were 29,184 Hispanic-owned firms with receipts of $1 million or more.
* There were 1,510 Hispanic-owned firms with 100 employees or more, generating more than $42 billion in gross receipts.
* States with the fastest rates of growth for Hispanic-owned firms between 1997 and 2002 included New York (57 percent), Rhode Island and Georgia (56 percent each),
Nevada and South Carolina (48 percent each).
* Counties with the highest number of Hispanic-owned firms were Los Angeles County, Calif. (188,472); Miami-Dade County, Fla. (163,188); Harris County, Texas (61,934); and Bronx County, N.Y. (38,325).

Here's the industries:


Tyler Cowen asks:

Have I mentioned that both the U.S. and Europe are, unwittingly, building new civilizations? Which one would you bet on?

Jonathan Last explains why our immigrants are better than Europe's:

So here's the good news: Having an immigration problem is a marker of being a successful, vibrant society. And if you have to have an immigration problem, ours is the one to have.

Just about half of our recent legal immigrants and about 80 percent of our illegals are from Mexico and the Southern Americas. Which means that they come from cultures that share the roots of Western liberalism: monogamy, pluralism, respect for women's legal rights, religious tolerance. The biggest obstacle to cultural acclimation is the language barrier.

That's not nothing, but, still, it could be much, much worse. Demographers note what are called channels of migrations, meaning that particular groups of people tend to migrate to particular destinations for an array of logistical, cultural and social reasons. America gets Hispanics. Europe gets Arab and African Muslims. According to Robert Leiken, the director of the Immigration and National Security Program at the Nixon Center, Muslims comprise "the bulk of immigrants in countries such as Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain." The numbers are comparable across the rest of Western Europe, too.

And unlike America's Hispanic immigrants, many Muslim immigrants in Europe have conflicted feelings about the underpinnings of Western liberalism. In France, there are car burnings and clashes about laïcité; in Holland, Islamist immigrants have been making death threats against politicians and public figures; in Denmark, Muslims are unhappy with the idea of a free press; in Sweden, where T-shirts proclaiming "2030--then we take over" have become popular with Muslim youths, authorities are struggling to deal with the rise of honor killings.

In America, we have fights over bilingual education.

While that's a bit of an oversimplification of America's very legitimate immigration problems, and while I am certainly not an "open borders" or "amnesty" kind of guy, the Latinotization of parts of America is far superior to and desireable than the Islamicization of much of Europe.

Part of it is the character of the immigrants. Part of it is the match between the immigrants and host cultures. Part of it is that the United States still, despite our growing entitlement/welfare state, has a superior system (political, economic, etc.). Our system encourages entrepreneurship. Our system encourages assimilation and integration. Our system encourages coexistence. Our system is superior to Europe's. And that's part of why our immigrants flourish here.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Record Tax Refunds.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 March 2006 09:51 PM · Comments (5)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Fifty-One -- We Can Do Better.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. Just because the status quo'ers got their way in 2005 does not mean the problem has gone away. Indeed, it's getting worse with each passing day. Thus, Reform Thursday continues.

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

This week's topic:

Social Security Is A Terrible Deal.

Social Security is an awful deal:


Taking the historical averages and applying them to an average individual, a dual-income family, and a low-income individual, Social Security is a bad deal any which way you look at it:


We can do better.

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).
-Week Forty-Three (Demographic Wave).
-Week Forty-Four (The Jerk Store).
-Week Forty-Five (Defined Benefit Plans).
-Week Forty-Six (Even The Empty Promises Are A Bad Deal).
-Week Forty-Seven (Our Aging Population).
-Week Forty-Eight (The Tax Increases Required To Cover Social Security's Costs).
-Week Forty-Nine (Much Longer To Get Your Money Back From Social Security).
-Week Fifty (A Vote, At Last).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 March 2006 02:58 PM · Comments (1)

The Eighth Mainstream Melee -- Challenging Orthodoxy.


It's a non-blog adventure.


The Times of London: "Très chic? Mais non! Contrary to popular belief, French women are not paragons of style"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

French women do not have it going on, it turns out.

Super Succinct Snippet-

This is the nation that invented style — or the nation with the good sense to bother claiming to have invented style. The English language hasn’t even got a word for chic. So the greatest marvel of all is why the nation as a whole exhibits so little of either.

The French love irony, but might not be amused by this instance because style, along with smoking and feeling pity for Americans, is at the core of their identity.

Every now and then, a fun French-bashing article is in order. The weirdness of French politics and economics is well-known, but striking at the heart of French pride (fashion) can be fun, too.



The Economist: "De Villepin blinks"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Dominique De Villepin, France's Prime Minister, is caving to ridiculous demands from ridiculous people.

Super Succinct Snippet-

The students’ principal grievance is the contrat première embauche, or first job contract, devised by Mr de Villepin for those under 26. It would let employers shed workers without formal justification, though with notice and some compensation, during their first two years on the job. After that, employees would be protected under the same terms as standard permanent job contracts. But it appears that Mr de Villepin is now willing to cut the trial period to just one year. If so, it remains to be seen whether the protesters will be assuaged, or indeed whether the reform is then worth pursuing at all.

Although the aim is to encourage job creation in a country with 9.6% unemployment, resistance has been intense. Polls suggest that most French voters are against the new contract. One published last week showed 68% of those asked opposed it, with only 27% in favour. For the left, it has become a potent way to mobilise anti-government feeling.

France is reaping what it has sowed over many years of state-sanctioned hostility to free enterprise. As demonstrated many times on WILLisms.com, the harder it is to fire someone, the less likely a company will hire someone. Meanwhile, productivity falls, average wages decline, overall standard of living declines, and GDP growth declines, when labor unions dictate employment laws.



The Washington Post: "Steele Might Sue Over Report"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Not a frivolous lawsuit at all, African-American Republican and Maryland Senate Candidate Michael Steele may sue to find out just how vast the Democratic Party conspiracy to invade his privacy was. This is one bigtime scandal the collective establishment media don't seem to be all that interested in. I wonder why (actually, I don't).

Super Succinct Snippet-

An attorney for Michael S. Steele said yesterday that the lieutenant governor and Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate might file a lawsuit to learn more about an episode in which a Democratic researcher accessed his credit report.

Michael Steele, of course, is a rising star in the GOP. He has a very real shot at winning a seat now occupied by a left-wing Democrat. He also has a chance to lead a new generation of African-American Republicans to victory around the country.

For those reasons, as far as Democrats are concerned, he must be destroyed.



ABC NEWS: "Iraq Archive Document Describes Bin Laden Meeting"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

If you declare that you believe there may have been a connection between Iraq and 9/11, however small, elites will treat you like a crazy right-wing ignoramus. The media/academic orthodoxy declaring no connection between Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden is actually what is absurd.

Super Succinct Snippet-

A newly released pre-war Iraqi document indicates that an official representative of Saddam Hussein's government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995 after approval by Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested "carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia.

No connection, eh? Oh, okay.



WSJ's OpinionJournal.com: "Bush's Yard Sale: From PERC: It's time to get rid of National Forest junk land."

Super Succinct Synopsis-

The environmentalist orthodoxy will hate this, but it's the right thing to do.

Super Succinct Snippet-

The Bush administration proposed a novel idea recently: Sell off a tiny fraction of National Forest land to save money and raise funds for rural schools. Far from a revival of the Homestead Act signed up President Lincoln in 1862 and which distributed some 80 million federal acres over the following century, the idea is closer to holding a federal yard sale to clear out some of the junk that has accumulated over the years.

The National Forest Service controls some 192 million of the federal government's 600 million acres. What the president proposed in his budget this year was to sell off about one-tenth of one percent of that land--some300,000 acres that provides little benefit to the taxpayer but who nonetheless pays for its upkeep and maintenance.

It's one of those ideas that makes so much sense there's almost no way it'll happen.


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 · 23 March 2006 11:57 AM · Comments (0)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 48.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

U.S. President George W. Bush grabs a bell that was rung to mark his arrival in Cleveland, Ohio, March 20, 2006. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 28. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:



*To get Bush's latest poll numbers, press 3* *To schedule a floor time for demogoguery, press 4* *To attempt a vote for censure, please hang up and dial 9-1-1*



Sen. Russell Feingold accepts a congratulatory phone call from the President shortly after announcing the introduction of a Senate resolution to censure the President.


John Roper (via email):

Look mom, I'm telling you, I'm making a killing on AMWAY. All you have to do is sign up a couple of friends and you're in!

Honorable Mention #1

DAVE (via email):

"Ah yeah, could you excuse me just one second Mr. Bin Laden? Hey George, get off the line I'm talking with a friend."

Honorable Mention #2

Zsa Zsa:

Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now...?

Honorable Mention #3

Rodney Dill:

"I've won a free hunting trip with the Vice President? No I... Uh, is this you Mr. President?"

Captioning is America's pastime.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 March 2006 11:52 AM · Comments (25)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 304 -- Record Tax Refunds.


Americans are getting more tax refunds than ever:


I blame Bush:

The child tax credit, which rose from $500 to $1,000 per child in 2001, is the biggest reason for a jump in excessive withholding. More than 25 million tax returns claim this credit, worth $55 billion in 2005.

Tax credits are available for a dozen purposes, including college education, adoption assistance and child care expenses. The portion of returns claiming at least one credit rose from 13% in 1995 to 31% in 2003. Credits reduce the tax owed dollar for dollar.

It's all those tax cuts for the rich:

Overwithholding has grown fastest among families earning $50,000 or less a year because they benefit most from tax credits.

Incidentally, if folks withheld a little less, they could put those dollars to much better use over the course of a year (in retirement, in a Health Savings Account, or even in a simple bond). However, many people use their tax refunds as "magic money" to help cover this, that, or the other.

Actually, if anything is to blame, it's the lack of a flatter, simpler, lower tax code.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: OJ Trial > Saddam Trial.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 March 2006 08:22 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 303 -- The Saddam Trial.

The Trial Of The Century-

Priorities and biases. We all have them. Bloggers have them. WILLisms.com covered (and still covers) the Social Security issue more than most. This blog addresses substantially less of the gossipy rumor-mongering in which average blogs engage. The establishment media journalists and producers, obviously, have their own priorities and biases.

Take coverage of the two "Trials of the Century."

OJ Simpson.
Saddam Hussein.

Both are entertaining, engaging trials, with well-known defendants.

The comparison seems to end there, however, as far as the big TV networks are concerned. The OJ Simpson trial garnered far more coverage (over a 6-month period) than the Saddam Hussein trial has garnered (over a 5-month period). Far, far, far more (.pdf):


And even when the Saddam trial has received coverage from ABC, CBS, and NBC, the focus has been in the wrong place (.pdf):


Our television media outlets have become tabloid trash. If it isn't OJ, it's Scott Peterson or Natalie Holloway or Robert Blake.

And if they finally reach into the real news bag and show something about a tyrant like Saddam Hussein, it's usually just an out-of-context look at some trivial detail completely irrelevant to the big picture.

MRC (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Midterm Elections Bad For Sitting Presidents.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 March 2006 09:44 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 302 -- Congressional Republicans Distancing Themselves From Party Base.

Asserting Independence, But From Whom?-

Historically, even popular, successful U.S. Presidents have lost substantial numbers of Congressional allies during midterm elections:


And members of Congress understand this. So they try to distance themselves from sitting Presidents, even popular ones.

It makes sense as a strategy, if your primary goal is to get reelected.

Meanwhile, some in Congress are actively, if unofficially, campaigning for the presidency.

So, this being the midterm year of President Bush's second and final term, you have various members of the GOP asserting their independence on all sorts of issues in an attempt to cover their behinds at the polls this November.

But many of these folks are entirely oblivious to the fact that, in the process of distancing themselves from President Bush, they are really just distancing themselves from the Republican base.

And they are also forgetting recent history and ignoring overriding trends. In 2002, Republicans added 8 seats in the House; in 2004, Republicans added 3 more. Shifts today are small, because the number of competitive districts is small.

At the same time, with the power of incumbency as great as it as ever been, just 24 House members have announced plans to step aside (the smallest number since 1966). 24 open seats means the turnover in Congress will be slim this year.

And Bush is still popular where Bush was popular to begin with (in Bush Country). Anecdotally, pro-Bush Democrat Henry Cuellar beat back far-left Ciro Rodriguez in the Texas District 28 primary race just last week. District 28, a heavily Latino district, is a safe seat for Congressional Democrats. But it also went for Bush in 2004. Cuellar's closeness with President Bush was not a liability with primary voters in District 28, as Cuellar extended his victory from the last go-around.

Had Cuellar lost, it would have been heralded as a harbinger of November's looming Bush-backlash. Since he won, not a peep from the national media.

Unfortunately, in trying to beat the "6 Year Itch," some history-conscious Congressional Republicans are alienating not President Bush but Republican voters themselves.

It's almost as if some GOP members of Congress are doing their best, unknowingly, to produce the exact results they are trying their level best to prevent, knowingly.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: A Conservative Future.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 March 2006 11:15 AM · Comments (2)

Quotational Therapy: Part 83 -- President Bush, On Not FearingThe Future.

Low Approval Rating, Low Aschmoval Rating: Bush Is Awesome-

I remember clearly in 2003 when a Democrat leader attacked our economic growth plan and said of the tax relief, it is "reckless and irresponsible," it's a "reckless and irresponsible tax plan that will undermine opportunity in our country." Today, the United States economy is strong and it's getting stronger. We grew last year at 3.5 percent, faster than any major industrialized nation. We added 243,000 jobs in February, almost 5 million jobs in the last two-and-a-half years. The unemployment rate across the United States is 4.8 percent -- that's lower than the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s. Real after-tax income is up for working people.

Productivity is high in America. Home ownership are at all-time levels; more minorities own a home today in America than ever before in our nation's history. The economic recovery plan that we passed works.

Today, many Democrats want the tax relief we passed to expire in a few years. Some even want to repeal it now. If the tax relief is not made permanent, the American people will get a mighty tax increase they do not want and they do not deserve. In order to make sure this economy of ours remains strong, we need to make the tax relief permanent.


We believe we should not fear the future, but we should shape the future. We believe we ought to put policies in place to make sure that America remains the economic leader of the world. And one way to do that is to make sure we have an economy which is flexible, where regulations are low, as are taxes. And one way to make sure this economy of ours remains strong and vibrant is to continue to work for meaningful, real tort reform.


We don't fear the future, we welcome it.

Read the entire speech here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Arlen Specter.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 March 2006 10:52 AM · Comments (0)

Big Frickin' Engines!

Well, if the federal government is going to spend billions on a project, at least make it frickin' big:


Via Wikipedia, regarding this image, Werner von Braun Standing by Five F-1 Engines:

This is a featured picture, which means that community consensus has identified it as one of the finest images on Wikipedia, adding significantly to its accompanying article."

Heh, this reminds me of the Tom Lehrer song:
"Once zey go up, who cares where zey come down?
  Zat's not my department!" says Werner von Braun.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 20 March 2006 02:01 AM · Comments (6)

Sunday Night Heidi Franklin Weimaraner Puppy Update - 10½ Weeks Old.


Heidi was particularly perturbed by this week's negatory vote on Senator DeMint's Social Security reform resolution. She was so upset, she even cried about it.

Try explaining your nay votes, Senators, to that face.


I dare you.


Last week's update.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 March 2006 08:49 PM · Comments (2)

Pundit Roundtable

Good afternoon all! Welcome back to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, our weekly gathering of bright lights, here to inform you and entertain you. I am your host, Ken McCracken. Here are our topics for this week:

Topic 1: Yesterday was the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Is the U.S. on the right trajectory for success in Iraq, or not? Are we witnessing a civil war unfolding in Iraq? Should the troops come home yet?

Topic 2: Give us the name of one movie our readers should watch.

I'd like to welcome back returning guest Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit. Let's hear what you have to say Jim . . .

Yes, Iraq is on the right trajectory... not according to the Left but in historical terms Iraq is on the right path. This next month will be crucial as Iraq looks at forming a government. But, it looks like Iraq made it through a very difficult time since the tragic bombing of the Golden Mosque. Anyway, you got me thinking of these last three years and I put togehter a list of a few of their failed predictions from the Left during this difficult period, including:

*German politicians predicted: "Millions of people in Baghdad will be victims of bombs and rockets."
What happened: The antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.

*Ted Kennedy predicted:"A war on Saddam might also cause an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with an estimated 900,000 refugees, a pandemic and an environmental disaster as Saddam lit the oilfields on fire."
Actual Result: The oil fields were not set ablaze, no pandemic.

* Ted Kennedy also predicted: "The U.S. could run through "battalions a day at a time" and that the fighting would look like "the last fifteen minutes of 'Private Ryan.'"

Actual Results: Although each hero lost in this war is tragic, this is still one of America's most successful military campaigns ever.

* Medact Global Health: "A more contained conflict could cause half a million deaths and have a devastating impact on the lives, health and environment of the combatants, Iraqi civilians, and people in neighbouring countries and beyond."
Actual Results: Antiwar Iraqi Body Count says that 35-37 thousand deaths including bank robbers.

* Hans Blix argued: The Iraqis were better off before the war.


The harsh truth: Before the War in Iraq, Saddam was filling his mass graves and keeping state hired rapists on his payroll. In those 20 years about 5% of the people of Iraq were killed or mysteriously disappeared. The red area in the graph above shows the estimated average deaths in Iraq under Saddam Hussein from 36 average deaths per day from mass grave discoveries, to 137 deaths per day from a different source. The yellow area shows estimated total fatalities since the beginning of the War in Iraq from Iraq Body Count, an antiwar website.

* The UN predicted... It is also likely that in the early stages there will be a large segment of the population requiring treatment for traumatic injuries, either directly conflict-induced or from the resulting devastation. Given the population outlined earlier, as many as 500,000 could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injuries.
What happened: Again, the antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.
* John Kerry insisted... "There are no-go zones in Iraq today (September 2004). You can't hold an election in a no-go zone."
Results: Iraq held a very successful democratic election in January 2005.

* Jimmy Carter predicted... "The Carter Center did, our 52nd election. All of our elections have been in troubled countries where the outcome was doubtful. But in every case there has to be a central government that can set up the constitution and bylaws and rules so that an election can be held peacefully. I don't see that happening as long as the terrible violence continues in Iraq."
About those election results: Former President Jimmy Carter, who predicted that elections in Iraq would fail and in the past year described the Bush administration's policy there as a quagmire, this week ended 10 days of silence to declare the historic Iraqi vote "a very successful effort." (February 11, 2005)

* Madeleine Albright observed... "It has long been obvious that the Bush administration lacks a viable plan for success in Iraq. The hardest political job — drafting a constitution acceptable to all factions — has not even begun..."
Results: Iraqi Constitution drafted and accepted by 78% of the voters.

* Madeleine Albright accused... The "coalition," never robust, is shrinking.
Reality: The Iraqi Allied Coalition consists of 30 nations. The Afghanistan Coalition consists of 35 nations.
Bulgaria announced that it will be sending troops back to Iraq. (February 24, 2006)

* John Murtha exaggerated... "Many say that the Army is broken. (Murtha did later, actually!) Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards."
Reality: The Army Guard is surpassing its goals and growing in strength despite Rep. Murtha's campaign against military recruitment.

You could certainly add much more to this list, but it shows is how difficult it has been to fight a war in Iraq and one back here against the savage Left. The Administration has certainly had its hands full! There is certainly not a Civil War going on in Iraq today. And, let's hope we can start bringing home some of the troops soon. We are all for that.

As we remember the start of this war I just want to add, God bless our troops in harm's way today. God bless our country, our leaders, and the people of Iraq.

Oh, ... Walk the Line was good."

Man, I love link-intensive responses, and Jim as usual certainly did his homework. His response is also posted as Three Years of Dragging Democrats Through Their Iraqi Quagmire at his blog.

Our next guest is returning pundit Eric Lindholm, alias the VikingPundit, with his take. Welcome back Eric, what do you think?

"Topic 1: I object to the idea that Iraq is heading towards – or is already engaged in – civil war. The Shiites don’t want it because as the majority faction in Iraq they can wield power through democracy in the Shia-dominant government. By the same coin, the Sunnis shouldn’t invite sectarian violence because the Shiites could overrun them. And the Kurds just want to be left alone.

The difficulty for the U.S. position is that Americans are getting increasingly impatient with the pace of transition. My feeling is that it’s time to throw this baby out of the nest and see if it will fly. The United States has now sacrificed over 2,000 troops and billions of dollars trying to set up a democratic state in the heart of the Middle East. It’s time we know the answer to the question of whether freedom and moderation can take root or whether Islam is incompatible with democracy.

Topic 2: There’s only one movie that accurately represents the everyday drudgery for millions of Americans: 'Office Space'."

Next we have second-time guest Mark Coffey of Decision '08 (Because It's Never Too Early!). Mark, whaddya say?

"The troops should not come home yet; it is not only undesirable, but impossible. There may be room for a limited drawdown (politically, it would be nice to have something to announce before the November elections), but General Abizaid needs to make that determination, with the success of the mission and the safety of the troops the paramount concerns. However, we simply cannot afford a pullout at this time; the stakes are as high as ever, and the signs are more encouraging than they have been in a while.

That may sound paradoxical, given the spate of bad news lately, and indeed, even a diehard supporter of the war such as I finds myself more and more frequently depressed and disheartened. The signs of hope are tangible, however: (1) We are succeeding in the ‘Iraqification’ of the armed forces. More and more Iraqi troops are capable of fighting at a competent level. This not only lowers the ‘American occupation’ profile, but it sets the stage for the day when real, substantive withdrawals can occur.

(2) The Sunnis are drawing a clear distinction between ‘rejectionists’ and terrorists, and making the latter more and more unwelcome. There is always hope for bringing in former Baathists and other disillusioned Sunni parties into the emerging political system; there is no hope for anything constructive with the terrorists. They must be rooted out and eliminated, and the Sunnis are increasingly taking on that task themselves.

(3) The prospects of a civil war have actually decreased since the bombing of the shrine. The Iraqi people went to the brink, peered into the abyss, and said that’s a place they don’t want to go. What we are seeing is a power struggle, to be sure, and oil wealth complicates it, but there are ways to clamp down on the violence and move forward constructively.

First, reconstruction is woefully inadequate, too much money is wasted, and too little benefit is seen. I’ve advocated elsewhere for a ‘reconstruction czar’ of considerable stature to be appointed to gain control of the spending and introduce accountability for the results.

Second, the battle at home is actually more precarious than the battle in the field. The court of public opinion has a better chance of killing our success than anything on the battlefield. We have the ablity to stay in Iraq for years and wear down the enemy, but we don’t have the political support we need. The Bush administration has faced numerous challenges in staying on message, but they must do better. A staff shakeup in the White House would be helpful, and a full-court press on selling the war must be unending.

Third, we must deal with Iran and Syria harshly and cut out the foreign support for the chaos. It’s high past time that we deliver ultimatums to these two countries, up to and including air strikes, if they don’t cease and desist their financial support, their refuge for terrorists, and their provision of weapons. We can’t let Iran’s considerable oil production hold us hostage when our troops’ lives are on the lines.

The most likely outcome for Iraq is that it will be considered a partial victory and a partial failure. Certainly, we removed the tyrant Saddam, an unequivocal plus, and we killed his maniacal sons, perhaps an even bigger plus. We shook up the status quo, and brought the wind of liberalization into political institutions throughout the Middle East. We failed to bring to bear the force, harsh policies, and sheer willpower to crush the insurgency early, and as a result, we allowed it to grow in numbers and tenacity. We failed to deliver infrastructure improvements at an acceptable rate, despite the expenditure of countless billions.

I still feel the opportunity is there to lay the foundation for a stable, democratic Iraq - but I can’t say with any certainty that we’ll have the political will to stay there long enough to achieve it.

The second question was far simpler:

Topic 2: Hmmmm…regular readers know I’m a bit of a movie buff, to be sure…I could pick a personal favorite (Memento, say, or The Usual Suspects), or an old classic that everyone should see (such as The Philadelphia Story).

Let me get obscure, instead, though, and suggest a movie that you may have to search for (I found a copy on E-Bay). Louis Malle’s Au Revoir, Les Enfants is the story of a boarding school in Vichy France that is in the business of sheltering Jewish children from the Nazi occupiers. Though the film is entirely in French with English subtitles, the story is so absorbing that you soon forget to notice. It is at once a moving portrait of childhood, a study of the barbarity of war, and a stirring defense of the human spirit (during one scene, the children are allowed to view a Charlie Chaplin movie, one of the ‘Little Tramp’ series. The Chaplin character is an immigrant coming to America, and when the boat he’s on comes in view of the Statue of Liberty, the look of longing, awe, and respect on the face of Chaplin, the monks who run the school, and the children watching him on the screen, is an image I’ve never forgotten, one that says more about the American dream than a thousand novels ever could)."

Mark also posted his response at Decision '08 as Iraq: Three Years On (Plus A Movie Pick!)

Next up is our own classy Will Franklin, owner of this blog. Will?

"Absolutely, the U.S. is on the right trajectory in Iraq. The policy for success (a series of democratic elections; building a functional infrastructure; training Iraqi security forces to take over) isn't that complicated, but it takes time to implement.

The "civil war" notion, meanwhile, has been around since the very beginning, coming and going occasionally. It's been wrong each time. It seems that the latest civil war prophesies were merely another example of wishful thinking on the part of naysayers. Sporadic sectarian violence a civil war does not make.

And the troops have come home already. They come home all the time, often returning enthusiastically. In terms of troop levels, we can probably begin drawing down troop levels as Iraqi security forces gain the necessary experience and competence. We should never succumb to the temptation to cut and run, however. A dramatic and abrupt exit, a la Saigon, would undermine the war on terror as nothing else could.

Topic 2:

Waiting For Guffman or Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie or The Jerk if you want a comedy.
Friday Night Lights if you want a red state movie.
City of God if you want a foreign movie.
The Incredibles if you want an animated family type of flick."

The Host's Last Word: We have been told so many times that Iraq is 'deteriorating' that by now the entire country should have dissolved and drained away into the Persian Gulf. Naturally, the press fails to acknowledge that every single setback that was supposed to end our mission in Iraq never materialized or has been overcome: the very worst scandals, such as at Abu Ghraib, did not cause the Arab street to erupt as predicted by the MSM. If this jailhouse frat party is the worst the U.S. has to offer, we look damned civilized compared to Saddam Hussein, and the Iraqi people know this. The Allies have also had success after success in Iraq: shrinking the operating range of the terrorists, closing border infiltrations from Syria, establishment of a competent civilian government, peaceful transfer of power to a newly-elected government, adoption of a Constitution, rebuilding of infrastructure and new construction of schools, hospitals and roads, quelling of a nascent civil war, and now with Operation Swarmer we see effective operations by Iraqi military units themselves, taking the lead. It is a comprehensive policy that has worked.

By contrast, what successes can the terrorists point to in Iraq? None - their only successes have been propaganda coups within the U.S. All they have to do is mouth opposition to the U.S., and that is enough for the leftist press in this country to take up their cause and champion it as their own. The only truly effective weapon that might bring victory to the terrorists is the Tokyo Rose Press here in our own country.

Iva Toguri D'Aquino, aka Tokyo Rose, axis propagandist during World War II. Oddly enough, born on the Fourth of July, 1916 in Los Angeles, California.

The press seems bound and determined to make sure that Iraq is replayed as Vietnam - where 'journalists' arrogated to themselves the power to bring us an avoidable and undeserved humiliation and defeat.

Speaking of World War II and Vietnam, I want to mention again The Fog Of War, a wonderful interview/documentary of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, a man who was at the center of it all, who explains in his own words the vagaries of war planning.

In three very short years, Iraq has gone from a genocidal thugocracy, to a vibrant democracy full of optimism. How very grateful we are as a nation to those Iraqis, Americans and Allies who made the ultimate sacrifice for this noble and truly revolutionary venture. We also express gratitude to everyone still making the difficult sacrifices of continued service in Iraq and Afghanistan. We salute you.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 19 March 2006 11:34 AM · Comments (10)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 301 -- Declining & Concentrating Birthrates.

Fewer Women Producing More Children-

A smaller proportion of individuals are producing a larger proportion of our population. This trend holds in much of the advanced world:

In the United States... the percentage of women born in the late 1930s who remained childless was near 10 percent. By comparison, nearly 20 percent of women born in the late 1950s are reaching the end of their reproductive lives without having had children. The greatly expanded childless segment of contemporary society, whose members are drawn disproportionately from the feminist and countercultural movements of the 1960s and 70s, will leave no genetic legacy....

The 17.4 percent of baby boomer women who had only one child account for a mere 7.8 percent of children born in the next generation. By contrast, nearly a quarter of the children of baby boomers descend from the mere 11 percent of baby boomer women who had four or more children. These circumstances are leading to the emergence of a new society whose members will disproportionately be descended from parents who rejected the social tendencies that once made childlessness and small families the norm....

Among states that voted for President George W. Bush in 2004, fertility rates are 12 percent higher than in states that voted for Sen. John Kerry.

And in France:

Among French women born in the early 1960s, less than a third have three or more children. But this distinct minority of French women (most of them presumably practicing Catholics and Muslims) produced more than 50 percent of all children born to their generation, in large measure because so many of their contemporaries had one child or none at all.

Foreign Policy: "The Return of Patriarchy."

A highly recommended read. The thesis of the article is essentially that the world's liberal/progressive societies will eventually cycle back into conservative/traditional societies, by virtue of liberals having fewer babies and conservatives having more.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Bush On Track To Cut Deficit In Half, & Then Some.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 March 2006 07:12 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 300 -- Cutting The Deficit In Half.

Deficits Smaller Than Forecast-

A couple years ago, President Bush pledged to cut the federal budget deficit in half by the time he leaves office. So how's that going?

Ahead of schedule, if you can believe it (.pdf):


At the time, many conservatives chortled at the prospect of the deficit being cut in half without major spending cuts; many in the media and on the left scoffed that there could be no way to cut the deficit in half without tax increases.

Well, the President's tax relief jump-started the ailing American economy inherited from the previous administration in January 2001, boosting tax receipts to record levels.

Over the near term, if stronger-than-forecast economic growth continues, it is entirely possible that we could see surpluses before the President leaves office. Yes, even with massive spending increases.

Over the longer term, of course, the picture isn't so easy and carefree. We won't be able to simply grow our way out of long-term entitlement-driven budget problems.

OMB (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Decline Of The Media.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 March 2006 10:14 AM · Comments (6)

Quotational Therapy: Part 82 -- When Ridiculous Increases In Spending Still Aren't Enough.

Arlen Specter, Proud Part Of The Problem-


The Arlen Specter wing of the GOP has won in the United States Senate. Specter, declaring victory:

"The Republican Party is now principally moderate, if not liberal!" exulted Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), after the Senate -- including a majority of Republicans -- approved his budget-busting amendment to spend an extra $7 billion on domestic programs.

Just a week ago, GOP leaders gathered in Memphis and proclaimed the party's commitment to fiscal restraint; yesterday, the restraints came off. "All the talk in Memphis doesn't comport with reality," said Specter, savoring his victory in a leather armchair in the Senate press gallery. "I don't have any apologies to make for this 7 billion. I'm still not satisfied."

Still not satisfied. Hmm.

What a sham.

Washington has become "Spend City."

More from Larry Kudlow:

Specter’s blatant disregard for any sort of budget discipline was summed up with his smug remark, “It’s not sort of a gimmick; it is a gimmick.” It is precisely this attitude which is likely to haunt the GOP come November, as the small government conservative base of the party stays home.

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Dick Cheney.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 March 2006 04:38 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 299 -- Media Implosion.

Establishment Media Weakness-

For a panoply of reasons, America's traditional establishment media sources are struggling.

Newspaper circulation is relatively flat since 1970, even as the number of American households has essentially doubled:


In recent years, it looks even worse for newspapers, as readership has declined in a meaningful way:


Meanwhile, network television news viewership has also suffered:


The reasons for the decline are many. The elitist, out-of-touch, left-wing bias in the establishment media, sometimes imagined, usually real, is a big part of the decline. The major establishment media tend to be more left-wing, more hostile toward religion, more pro-Democrat (and anti-Republican), more skeptical of American values and power and exceptionalism, more blue state oriented (more likely to appreciate gay cowboy movies and college protests than real cowboy movies and college football), and more socialist than most American media consumers.

Meanwhile, alternative media sources, such as talk radio, cable news, and blogs have taken a bite out of the collective establishment media's share of the news market. Americans are increasingly empowered to get their news and information from sources that are more ideologically similar to themselves.

It's fascinating that the folks charged with reporting trends and events and other news in our world could be so oblivious to (and often in denial about) the reasons for their own decline.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Irony Of Blue States.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 March 2006 12:21 PM · Comments (3)

Spam Your Way To Riches The Nigerian Way

Sign up today for the 3rd Annual Nigerian Email Conference!

Planned events include panels that will answer such important questions as:

"Are 10 million emails a day too many?"

"Is email now Nigeria's top export?"

Registration seems easy enough: "Send your bank's name, account number, your name, address, telephone number, and fax numbers. Please note again that this transaction is strictly confidential and as such should be kept secret. Be rest assured that this transaction is 100% risk free."

Posted by Ken McCracken · 17 March 2006 09:54 AM · Comments (3)

Democrats: Religion Is Anathema?

Poor Amy Sullivan is guest blogging at Kevin Drum's site, and is taking a lot of grief from her 'progressive' audience, trying to convince them that perhaps their attitude towards religion needs adjusting.

It is amazing how unreflective so many Democrats are, and how uninterested they are in mending their losing ways - and alienating the religious vote is one of their key problems. They do not merely disagree with religion, they are often completely hostile to it, and are more afraid of the ludicrous possibility of a theocracy emerging in the U.S. than the reality of an extremist theocracy in Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

Again, Bush is the true enemy, not those who actually engage in the practices the left fears.

The segment of the Democratic Party that is openly hostile to religion is no doubt a small minority - but it is a vociferous minority that colors the entire party in a garish and ugly light, making it all too easy to believe that the party as a whole is an unwelcome place for anyone practicing a religion.

But then, the extremists in that party control the microphone on so many issues, that this should surprise no one.

Via The Corner.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 17 March 2006 08:13 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 298 -- The Irony Of Blue States.

Blue States Taxing The Heck Out Of Themselves-

One of the more awkward ironies in politics today is the propensity for voters in non-Bush states to support candidates who love taxes on "the rich."

What's so odd about this is that the cost of living varies wildly from region to region. Blue states are generally high cost of living states. Red states tend to be lower cost of living states. In order to maintain the same standard of living, someone earning a $50,000 salary in Midland, Texas would need to earn $119,679.33 in New York City.

Similarly, someone earning $100,000 a year in Seattle would only need $80,581.45 in Wichita, Kansas to maintain the same standard of living. So, corporations, small businesses, and government agencies usually pay accordingly.

Thus, whether or not one is a member of "the rich" is usually just a matter of geography. Yet, federal tax policy makes no such geographic distinction.

Some states, then, become donor states, sending more tax revenue to Washington than they get back in benefits. Other states send relatively little in taxes to the federal government but get back quite a bit. Notice how most of the top 10 donor states are blue states, while most of the top 10 recipient states are red states (.pdf):

Click map for larger version.

This sort of state-to-state wealth redistribution scheme is just one reason to cut down on earmarks (pork) in Congress. It's also reminds us why federal taxes should be much, much lower: so states, with their varied tax levels, can serve as economic laboratories. Some states will prosper, some will not. Eventually, "what works" (low taxes) will be emulated by the tax-loving states, if only out of competitive necessity.

Federal taxes shouldn't be about wealth confiscation/redistribution. Those funds should should be limited to basic Constitutionally-mandated federal responsibilities (like national defense).

If blue states want to tax the heck out of themselves to fund lavish socialist paradises, let's let them. In the meantime, the rest of us can pay a reasonable rate of taxes and suffer the cruel prosperity of free enterprise.

The great irony of the erroneous "tax cuts for the rich" schpiel is that, if we suspend reality for a moment and conclude that Bush gave tax cuts only to rich people, it would mean that the President gave more tax cuts to those who hate/loathe/dislike him than support him.

The Tax Foundation.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Limits Of Fox News.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 March 2006 09:20 PM · Comments (5)

53 Senators Vote To Raid Social Security.

Senator DeMint's basic Social Security reform measure failed.

53 Senators voted against it.
46 voted for it.
1 didn't vote.

Most Republicans voted to stop the raid. Zero Democrats voted to do so. The fake Independent Jim Jeffords, of course, voted nay.

The Republican nays:

Burns (R-MT)
Chafee (R-RI)
Collins (R-ME)
Domenici (R-NM)
Lugar (R-IN)
Smith (R-OR)
Snowe (R-ME)
Talent (R-MO)

George Voinovich (R-OH) failed to cast a vote either way.

How pathetic.

Not a single one of these Republican nay voters deserves reelection.

Here is the roll call vote.

How infuriating.

From the Democrats, you expect this kind of head-in-the-sand idiocy. Increasingly, and unfortunately, we can also expect this kind of intransigence from Senate Republicans.

~15% of the Senate Republican caucus voted to raid Social Security. That's just unacceptable. Why should conservative voters even bother voting Republican majorities into office? What is the point?

Something's got to change, here.

GOP, heal thyself.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 March 2006 05:46 PM · Comments (2)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Fifty -- A Vote, At Last.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. Just because the status quo'ers got their way in 2005 does not mean the problem has gone away. Indeed, it's getting worse with each passing day. Thus, Reform Thursday continues.

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

This week's topic:

Social Security Reform Lives: Today, A Senate Vote On Reform.

For the next several years, and prior to The Big Bonk, Social Security will take in more money from payroll taxes than it pays out in benefits. It's too bad Congress spends those dollars each year on all sorts of projects and programs that have nothing to do with retirement security.

Indeed, somewhere around 2017, The Big Bonk will end the good ole days of Social Security surpluses, which, incidentally, have masked the true magnitude of annual federal budget deficits:

Click image for larger version.

And that's where legislation to stop the raid on the Social Security fund comes in. If Congress were to vote to stop the raid, the surpluses over the next several years would be available for optional personal accounts, controlled by actual individual Americans. Such legislation was close to being a reality just before Hurricane Katrina hit, but, unfortunately, it was put off indefinitely after the storm.

Until today.

Yes, it looks like there will be an actual vote on Social Security reform today, Reform Thursday, of all days.

An email from South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint landed in my inbox yesterday:

Stop the Raid on Social Security Update:

Today, Senator DeMint introduced an amendment to the Budget Resolution that will force Senators to take the first substantive vote on Social Security in years. The amendment (attached) would allow Congress to stop spending Social Security surpluses on other government programs. Senator DeMint believes it is time to have a vote on Social Security to see who supports raiding the program and who will fight to stop it.

Specifically, the DeMint Amendment creates a reserve fund in the budget resolution that would allow (but not force) Congress to pass legislation protecting all or part of the Social Security surpluses. The DeMint Amendment stipulates 3 requirements for any legislation considered under the budget:

* Social Security surpluses must be used to pay for future Social Security benefits;
* No changes can be made to Social Security benefits for those born before Jan. 1, 1950; and
* A voluntary option must be created to allow legal ownership of a portion of benefits.

If legislation were considered under this amendment, Congress would have to create savings in other areas of the federal budget to protect Social Security surpluses. In effect, the amendment would force Congress to make tough choices today to make Social Security more secure tomorrow.

The DeMint Amendment promotes:

* Social Security sustainability
* Personal ownership
* Honest budgeting
* Fiscal discipline

Congress has been raiding the Social Security surplus for over twenty years. Including interest, Congress has now spent $1.7 trillion of Social Security money on other government programs. According to the Social Security Administration, Social Security will continue to run surpluses until 2017 at which time benefits will exceed revenues. The DeMint Amendment would help Congress pass legislation to protect these surpluses for the next 5 years (FY 2007-2011), which will total $423 billion.

The vote on the DeMint Amendment will likely occur sometime Thursday night
and it will answer an important question – whether or not the Senate wants to stop spending the Social Security surplus on other government programs.

If you want to read the entire 3-page text of the reform measure (in .pdf) form, click here to download the file. And more from Senator DeMint here.

While this measure wouldn't mean we reformers have won, it would provide the framework for future reform. And if a Senator votes against this measure, it's really a vote against stopping the raid on the Social Security surplus, a practice that is highly upsetting to many Americans. More on this issue at National Review.

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).
-Week Forty-Three (Demographic Wave).
-Week Forty-Four (The Jerk Store).
-Week Forty-Five (Defined Benefit Plans).
-Week Forty-Six (Even The Empty Promises Are A Bad Deal).
-Week Forty-Seven (Our Aging Population).
-Week Forty-Eight (The Tax Increases Required To Cover Social Security's Costs).
-Week Forty-Nine (Much Longer To Get Your Money Back From Social Security).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 March 2006 11:13 AM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 297 -- Cable News Wars.

Fox News-

CNN and Fox News both claim to be the King of Cable News. We have more viewers. We are highest rated. Our programming is more talked-about. Our growth is more rapid than yours. When big events happen, people tune to our station, not yours.

And so on.

So what's the truth?

The short answer is that CNN has more unique viewers over the course of a month, but many of those viewers only stay tuned for a short time. Meanwhile, Fox News has more "junkies" who stay tuned for hours on end.

CNN's website also has far greater viewership than the Fox News website:


So Fox News needs to get with it if it cares about winning the internet cable news wars.

Meanwhile, CNN can correctly claim that it has more individuals watching it during any given month (although their lead is shrinking):


A lot of this can be attributed to CNN's jump start in hotel rooms, airports, places of business, and so on, not to mention the fact that Fox News was (and still is) not included in as many cable lineups as CNN is.

But Fox News is growing much faster. And it already has better ratings:


So Fox News has more loyal viwers who watch consistently and enduringly. CNN has more individual casual viewers who watch for a few minutes to get the jist of what's happening in the world.

Fox News may be the king of cable news, but it still needs to grow into its role. Furthermore, for all the liberal crowing about Fox News being a right-wing network, most reputable studies indicate Fox's staple news show, "Special Report with Brit Hume" is ideologically somewhere between Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

Moderate, in other words.

Also, when liberals squawk about the "conservative media," it's difficult not to burst out laughing, given that a) Fox News is not all that conservative, just unabashedly rah rah about America (which might be why liberals hate it so much); b) Fox News is easily counteracted, ratings-wise, by the combination of CNN and CNN Headline News. Throw in ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, MTV News, BET News, and the rest, and suddenly Fox News is a tiny snowboarder consumed by an avalanche of left-wing ideology.

Fox News also falls victim to the same sort of sensationalist, tabloidy, rumor-mongering, and "gotcha" tendencies as the others, especially in the heat of the moment. Fox News also follows the media herd on most of those initial reports that turn out to be entirely erroneous.

Who could forget Fox News' wall-to-wall coverage of Natalie Holloway, while important policy debates on Social Security, Iraq, and the judiciary went practically unreported? And speaking of Social Security, it's hard to forget their very un-conservative coverage of the Social Security reform debate. It's also hard to forget the lack of coverage of the budding freedom protest movement in places like Lebanon. And who could forget Fox News' Shep Smith and Geraldo losing their composure and embarrassing themselves during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

Fox News is also more populist than conservative. Its reporting on the UAE port deal was severely flawed and demagogic until it was too late.

Often I wish Fox News would embrace its conservative/Republican reputation a bit more, rather than going out of its way (and often overcompensating) to disprove it. So many times, over the past few years, I've been watching Fox News and just been disgusted by that same liberal bias found all over the rest of the establishment media.

No doubt, Fox News has shaken up the cable news industry, but, as always, let's put it in perspective. It's got a long way to go before it can claim an undisputed title in the cable news wars. It may never surpass the Big 3 networks (ABC, CBS, NBC). And even if it does get to that point, would Fox News domination of the industry really be that great for free markets, free people, and other bedrock conservative values, principles, issues, and ideas?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Entitlement Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 March 2006 05:54 PM · Comments (2)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 47.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wisc., takes a call on Capitol Hil in Washington, D.C.,l Monday, March 13, 2006, shortly after announcing that he would introduce a resolution to censure President Bush over domestic spying. Feingold, a potential presidential candidate, said on the Senate floor, 'The president has violated the law and Congress must respond.' (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 21. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:



Sean Penn accepts his "I'm #1" button while still in character from Sam I Am.


Buckley F. Williams:

"Dad let's me drive slow on the driveway every Saturday. 'Course the seats were originally brown leather now they're a pitiful red."


Rodney Dill:

"Very good Justice Roberts, Most usually pass out during this part, not many can handle the Ginsberg Ceremonial Mooning."

Honorable Mention #1

Jim Rose:

"Ow! Okay, okay! Roe stays as is!"

Honorable Mention #2


"...but it was hot out -sob- and I got a Ice Cream, and it was yummy -sob- but then it melted, and it got on my jacket -sob- and it wouldn't wipe off -sob- and I came and got you..."

Honorable Mention #3

Rodney Dill:

"Dread Roberts, indeed... (tsk tsk)"

Honorable Mention #4

Mr. Right:

Chief Justice John Roberts can hardly contain his excitement about meeting the special guest at Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement gala, "Two minutes to Wapner... Two minutes to Wapner..."

Honorable Mention #5

Laurence Simon:

"Oh, we stopped issuing the cyanide-filled false tooth after Potter Stewart had that incident with the Fiddle Faddle, God rest his soul."

Captioning is way better than burning yourself.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 March 2006 12:00 AM · Comments (18)

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:


Planeteers Of The World, Unite-


Pierre Legrand has some funny screenshots of an eco-computer game:

The entire game must have been written by Rod Dreher since there is effectively no way to drill for oil, build football stadiums, build malls, take long showers or any of the other fun things that we used to be able to do before Crunchy Cons took over the Nanny State.

Sounds a lot like Captain Planet.


Censure Russ Feingold-


Blogs for Bush gets some serious classiness credit for the graphic and reasoned thought piece:

It is way past time that we started holding Democrats accountable for their actions. For too long they have been able to slander President Bush, the Bush Administration, the American military and our allies in the War on Terrorism with no consequences for their destructive actions.

Russ Feingold is trying to wrap up the Daily Kos/Moveon.org Primary early on. And, oh yes, he intends to run for President in 2008. He is Dennis Kucinich, without Kucinich's Gilbert Gottfried thing. He'll make a dent in 2008, just you wait. For Republicans, though, Feingold seems to have fallen for the classic Democrat overreach that has become the bungling GOP's saving grace.


French Socialism-


Captain's Quarters blog explains why the French will likely never reform their economy:

This reaction shows exactly why France will not reform its socialist economy -- too many people have invested themselves into the notion that government force should dictate terms of employment. Under these conditions, foreign investment will be more difficult to procure, as corporations will not want to subject themselves to funding a nanny state where workers cannot be terminated regardless of their work habits. The students who protest against high unemployment have kneecapped themselves and all but guaranteed that their problems will only worsen.

A sad but true moment. France may be past the point of no return.


Deutschland, Represent-


Davids Medienkritik blog explains how Germany's media is failing to even remotely give Bush or the U.S. a fair shake:

Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have become little more than populist baseball bats with which leftists media and political elites repeatedly bludgeon the United States and George W. Bush. Why? Because Bush and fellow conservatives represent a massive ideological threat to everything they stand for.

Germans would hate even David Hasselhoff himself the same way they hate President Bush if the media treated the two as they treat Bush.


More Trade & Fewer Taxes-


The Adam Smith blog takes note of a great coin from yore:

Here's an interesting old coin I came across recently. It's a halfpenny token of 1794, from Norfolk. It shows a square-looking bottle, but I was particularly struck by the motto, "More Trade and Fewer Taxes".

On the other side is a figure of Hope. Ah well; as I reflect on the state of EU trade barriers and the fact that we in the UK now pay higher taxes than the benighted citizens of Germany, all I can say is that Hope springs eternal.

The symbols and phrases on our currency are meaningful. They last long after they are taken out of circulation. Take a look at what American currency says sometime.


Nature Zen-


Quid Nimis offers a bit of nature zen:

Today is Cedar Waxwing day. Right now there are hundreds in the trees around my house, They are transient: we won't see them again until next year, like the robins that came last month en masse. But for the present, they are gorging on yaupon and possumhaw berries that are eschewed by the year-round population of scrub jays and cardinals and mockingbirds.

I know much of the country still has some winter left, but Spring is definitely here in Texas. And the Monarch butterflies seem to be trickling through ever-so-quietly from Mexico. Interestingly, our live oak trees are just now losing their leaves to make room for their Spring leaves. They don't lose their leaves in Fall or Winter. Their leaves just turn olive for the winter. Then, within a couple of weeks around this time of year, they shed and regrow anew. Spring is nice like that.


Media Bias-


Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom blog delivers some to-the-point comments on the media:

Western liberalism, under the stewardship of its media elites (and some of its quasi-socialist host states) seems determined to undermine itself—and I’ve been tempted of late to conclude that they’re doing it just to see if they really can.

I also tend to agree with the first commenter in the thread about lefty self-loathing being one of the reasons the establishment media seem so eager to undermine our own values.


The Electoral College-


John Hawkins offers a defense of the U.S. Constitution's Electoral College provision:

...is any change really necessary given how seldom we've seen a President win the popular vote, but lose the electoral vote? The last time that happened before 2000 was back in 1888 and it's entirely possible that the next time it'll occur will be another century hence. Given that and the fact that changing over to a popular vote system would just lead to a different, and perhaps worse, set of problems, it's better to just leave the system be -- rather than pursue a harebrained, likely unconstitutional, scheme that would surely lead to massive controversy and confusion.

The Electoral College is the worst way to elect a President... except just about all the other ways.




Asymmetrical Information blog has some interesting thoughts on Dubai's rapid development:

Dubai is booming. The city has been growing for years now, but I have never seen as many skyscrapers being constructed than in my trip there last month. There are entirely new sections of towns being built, blocks and blocks of appartments, office towers, hotels and houses.

What's most remarkable about much of this new investment is the show-offy outlandishness of it. After Palm I and Palm II (palm tree shaped artificial islands in the Arabian Gulf, with houses on them), Dubai is building "the world" -- an archipeligo of individual islands shaped in a map of the world. The major draw is that you can buy, say, France, and have your address be "France, The World, Dubai, UAE". Dubai has also built the world's largest artificial ski slope, is building the world's tallest building, is constructing the world's first underwater hotel, which will kick into high gear just as soon as the world's largest submarine making factory pumps out the world's largest fleet of submarines to ferry guests to and from the hotel.

It's all a little mad.

Madly awesome, that is.


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 13, 2005.

WILLisms.com offers a classiness roundup as an occasional feature, with 8 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.


Posted by Will Franklin · 14 March 2006 11:35 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 296 -- Seriously, People, The Big Entitlements Need Reform ASAP.

Even With Strong Economic Growth, We Won't Be Able To Afford Entitlement Promises-

Let's pretend for a second that we could balance the federal budget without reforming the three major entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security). If we also don't want to raise taxes (or add to existing and already-projected deficits), we can just cut all other programs and balance the budget, right?

Well, let's try:

Eliminating spending on homeland security, justice, veterans benefits, highways, unemployment bene­fits, the environment, social services, community development, energy, international aid, science research, and farm subsidies would immediately bal­ance the budget.

Even less likely (and FAR LESS desirable) than reforming entitlements. Not gonna happpen.

But let's pretend. Let's act like we've designated those big three entitlement programs as our "franchise players" which cannot be touched. Every other program is expendable. As entitlement spending creeps inexhaustibly upward, we just shed other programs, bit by bit:

From there, making room for the “big three entitlements” would require eliminating education spending by 2018, health research by 2020, federal employee retirement benefits by 2021, other anti-poverty spending by 2026, and defense spending by 2045. By that point, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid would consume the entire federal budget except for relatively small interest payments on pre-2006 debt.

And here's what it would look like:


And this forecast actually predicts relatively strong economic growth (4.3% annually, after 2015). If GDP growth falters and government revenues falter accordingly, the picture looks even worse.

The lesson: cutting back or slowing the growth of government spending means absolutely nothing if it fails to include the three major entitlement programs. Eliminating earmarks and pork might very well run off a good number of the lobbyists from Washington, but it won't make a dent in federal spending, especially over the long haul.

Entitlements, entitlements, entitlements. Discretionary spending is up substantially during the Bush administration:

Education is up 62 percent, or 10 percent annually; International affairs is up 74 percent, or 12 percent annually; Health research and regulation is up 57 percent, or 9 percent annually; Veterans’ benefits are up 46 percent, or 8 percent annually; Science and basic research is up 40 percent, or 7 percent annually.

But all of those programs (many of which Bush gets lambasted for "gutting") combined are essentially nothing compared to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Keep it in perspective.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Immigration.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 March 2006 12:04 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 295 -- Immigration.

Immigration, One Of The Hotter Issues Of 2006 and 2008-

First, some facts about the Mexican middle class:

1. The ranks of the middle class -- defined as $7,200 to $50,000 a year -- have risen to about ten million families.

2. That is almost 40 percent of all Mexican households.

3. The country is in the middle of a housing boom. 560,000 new homes were built last year -- a record -- and 750,000 are expected for 2006.

4. Annual inflation is down to about three percent and over the last two years interest rates on 20-year mortgages have fallen from 18 to 8 percent.

5. Sales of home appliances have tripled in the last ten years.

Good news for Mexico. And potentially good news for less illegal immigration into the United States.

And now some facts on immigration (.pdf):


America remains a migration destination for folks all around the world, not just Latin America.

And some more facts on immigration (.pdf):


Overall migration (legal and illegal) has dropped off somewhat since September 11, 2001, but those numbers are back on the rise.

And yet more facts on immigration (.pdf):


Note that the final bar on the right is a projection out to 2010. Also note that immigration in the 1800s was far more consequential in changing the demographics of the country than immigration in the 1900s (in terms of new immigrants as a proportion of the overall population), but we're now approaching 19th century levels once again.

And, finally, more facts on Mexican immigration (.pdf):


Makes sense. Some come to cause trouble or mooch. But most people come, generally, looking for jobs.

Just some stuff to keep in mind during the immigration debates this election year. Incidentally, I guarantee that the 2008 GOP Primary and Caucus voters will weigh each candidate's record and position on immigration a little more carefully than most other issues.

The country is just in that sort of mood.

CBO (.pdf) & Pew Hispanic Center (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: If You Lower Taxes, People Might Just Want To Live In Your State.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 March 2006 08:53 PM · Comments (2)

Feingold Hands GOP A Gift

Russ Feingold has called for a censure of President Bush, over the NSA wiretap program of foreign terror suspects.

His motion for censure is doomed to fail, but Republicans could take advantage of Feingold's quixotic move to embarass Democrats by forcing a vote.

Why not? President Bush has gone on record as a stout defender of the program, and it has wide popularity among Americans. The proper way to handle this is to use it as a platform to nationalize the 2006 elections on national security issues. It is a sure winner, and it will further marginalize the goofy left wing of the Democratic Party.

Don't drop the ball on this one, Republicans.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 13 March 2006 07:15 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 81 -- Dick Cheney.

Cheney, On Freedom In The Middle East-

While establishment journalists such as NBC's David Gregory openly display disdain for Vice-President Dick Cheney, declaring almost unanimously that Cheney has some sort of dark, cynical, pessimistic view of Islam and of the world, the truth is that Cheney, like his boss, is a believer in the power of freedom to ultimately change the Middle East.

Dick Cheney is an optimist and a far more upbeat guy than anyone seems to give him credit for. Having been around him in person, I can testify that he rarely snarls and frowns, although nearly every photo in the media shows him doing so. He has a great sense of humor, and although it's clear that he has quite a lot weighing on his mind at any given moment, he has a penchant for spontaneous jolliness and wit.

If there's one thing the Veep is cynical and pessimistic and negative about, it's the establishment media. Thus, David Gregory and company are merely projecting their own negative vibes onto the rest of the world. Newsflash for the news people: Cheney doesn't hate the rest of the world, just you.

Unfortunately, our media has failed to get us the straight skinny on Dick Cheney. So here's an excerpt from speech from March 7, 2006:

It is not hard to see why the terrorists oppose and rage against the rise of democracy in Iraq. They know that as liberty advances, as men and women are given a say in the affairs of their country, they turn their creative gifts to the pursuits of peace. People who live in freedom are able to choose their own destiny, and this gives them real hope for material progress in their own lives, and a better future for their children. As democracy advances, ideologies that stir anger and hostility lose their appeal, and terrorists lose recruits, safe havens, and sources of funding.

For that reason, our strategy for victory in the war on terror has a fifth and crucial element: Across the broader Middle East, we will work to replace hatred and resentment with democracy and hope. (Applause.)

Supporting political freedom and peaceful change in a troubled part of the world is a long-term commitment. And we already know that the work will be difficult. Yet there is no alternative. On 9/11, the United States learned that problems boiling in a far-off region of the world could lead directly to a sudden and murderous attack right here on our own soil. For decades in the Middle East, millions of people have known nothing but dictatorship and heavy-handed rule -- resulting in misery, bitterness, and the ideologies of violence. If we simply accept the status quo, that region will be a source of conflict and mounting violence for this generation and beyond.

If the peoples of that region are given the rights of free men and women, and live under elected, accountable governments, and have a chance to work and succeed in hopeful societies, then the flow of radicalism and hate will one day come to an end.

In this way, as the President has said, America's ideals and interests are one and the same: The survival of liberty in our own land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands; the best hope for peace in the world is the expansion of freedom throughout the world. (Applause.)

As Americans, we have faith in democracy, but no illusions. We know that it takes time and effort and patience for democratic values and free institutions to take hold, and the greater Middle East has a long way to go. The promise of democracy rests ultimately on free elections and the ability of free peoples to hold accountable those who govern them -- but that is only the beginning.

A functioning democracy requires institutions that endure beyond a single vote. Democracy requires the protection of minority rights, religious liberty, equality before the law, freedom of expression, and an inclusive society in which every person belongs. And those who win elections have a duty to nurture institutions and laws that serve the peaceful aspirations of their people.

Read the entire speech here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Abajo Fidel.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 March 2006 11:05 AM · Comments (2)

Sunday Night Heidi Franklin Weimaraner Puppy Update - 9½ Weeks Old.

Heidi, the Weim pup, is officially 9½ weeks old.

A couple of pictures from this week:

Click images for larger versions.

She has been pretty rambunctious this week (taken on March 6):


But a good walk always settles her down (taken tonight):


Notice how much she has grown just over the past 6 days or so.

Previous Updates:
February 12, 2006.
February 16, 2006.
February 28, 2006.
March 5, 2006.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 March 2006 08:01 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 294 -- Tweaking Policy To Attract & Retain Old Folks.

Ideas & Policies Have Consequences-

We all know the difficulties an aging population presents for a nation, especially a nation with a lavish system of entitlements. But for American states, attracting and retaining those 65 and older is a priority. When you take out the costs of Medicare and Social Security (programs for which the Feds pick up the tab), mature Americans benefit state economies (and state government coffers) far more than they take away from them.

For example, take Florida:

In 2000, mature Floridians brought in more revenue than they cost the state in services, according to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Their per-capita income was 25 percent higher than that of adults 18 to 49. In the same year, older Floridians spent $135 billion — $12.5 billion more than younger adults.

Not only that, but older Americans tend to have more accumulated wealth. They can often afford bigger, better homes, on which they will pay more in property taxes. They are good citizens. They don't burden a state's educational system with any of those pesky kids. They travel locally, as tourists in their own communities.

From a state's point of view, when it comes to people over 65 years of age, the more, the merrier. Small towns across the country, many of which have lost substantial proportions of population (especially youthful population) over the past few decades, are hoping that an influx of aging Baby Boomers might breathe new life into their communities.

Thus, while there are certainly downsides to an aging population that we all know by heart, some states are using tax policy to attract and retain older Americans and their cash bonanza:


Interesting that these policies seem to have very real consequences:


Based on trends of the recent and not-so-recent past, we can project that some states will add more elderly folks to their ranks than others. Some states, many (but not all) with wonderfully warm weather, also have policies in place that attract and retain retirees.

And while tax breaks designed to attract retirees, and tax breaks in general, are often criticized by left-wing organizations like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (.pdf) for "costing" (actually, they go so far as to use the word "spend") states this number or that number, all these breaks really seem to do is bring in more retirees and their money, boosting tax revenues.

Liberals never seem to grasp that. A healthy and robust economy with active commerce is the best way to raise tax revenues. The best way to have a healthy and robust economy with active commerce is to get the heck out of the way and let individuals and businesses do what they do. Tax relief should never, ever, be considered a cost the government pays, especially when that tax relief actually boosts tax collections.

Ideally, though, a state should offer low taxes across the board to attract young and old alike, rather than raising taxes on retirees to make things "fair" and get back all that money the state is "spending" on tax breaks.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Give Bush Some Danged Credit, Already, On Limiting Burdensome Regulations.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 March 2006 05:01 PM · Comments (1)

Pundit Roundtable

Booyah! Welcome back everyone to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, your weekly dose of intelligent discourse on the issues. I am your host, Ken McCracken.

Our topic this week is this:

Now that the Dubai ports deal has fallen through, and with all the rancor these days over pork, immigration, policy failures such as Social Security reform, and a backlash over the Iraq War, is the Republican party cracking up as some have suggested?

What does Karl Rove need to do?

Our first guest is returning pundit extraordinaire, Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse. Rick?

The ports deal will be seen in retrospect as an hysterical interlude and not much more. The ineptness demonstrated by the White House in handling first, the vetting of the transaction and then the backlash against it was troubling but hardly a reason to think that it had any broad implications for the Republican party.

That said, the party's problems are systemic and will not go away. This is the result of modern conservatism, an ideology born in minority opposition, making a poor transition to majority status. Part of that is the tension engendered by conservatism having to adjust to being a governing philosophy while its primary tenets rest on an anti-government foundation. This tension has resulted in a split between ideologues and pragmatists.

The pragmatists - call them National Conservatives - recognize that in order to govern a 21st century industrialized democracy, some compromises are necessary with the welfare state. They are also the most concerned with maintaining Republicans as a majority party and are unabashed at using the federal spigot to "earmark" their way to re-election. They maintain a conservative outlook on social issues like abortion and they support tax cuts and a robust foreign policy. Watch over the next 6 months as some of the more politically vulnerable among them abandon the President on Iraq.

The ideologues - call them True Blue Conservatives - are found mostly in the netroots and the hinterlands of red state America. Their numbers in Congress are relatively small and only recently have they begun to seriously rebel against the National Conservatives' control of Congress. The contest for Majority Leader surprised the TB Conservatives as they may not have realized how influential they could be. The recent budget proposal coming from the House Republican Study Committee reflects a newfound confidence by the TB conservatives to at the very least have more of a say in Congressional budget matters.

There is little chance that these two camps will suffer some irrevocable split any time soon. The glue that holds the two parts together - tax cuts, social issues, and to a large extent the War in Iraq and a general agreement on the nature of the War on Terror - guarantee that at least through the 2008 elections, the Republican party will be united. This is not to say that other fissures that exist between libertarians and social conservatives as well as isolationists and neo-cons are going to go away. In fact, in the long run the conservative crack-up is more likely to occur as a result of these internecine battles rather than any fight between the National and True Blue Conservatives. That is because at bottom, it's about maintaining power. And in that regard, even the TB Conservatives can force themselves to be pragmatic enough to maintain the status quo.

As for what Rove can do about it, I daresay the Evil One is less engaged on matters of Republican unity these days except as it relates to legacy building by the President. In that, I fully expect Rove to work dutifully to help get out the vote in '06 and perhaps even try and swing the '08 Republican nomination to someone who would build upon Bush's legacy. I have no idea who that would be but I'm pretty sure it won't be anyone named McCain.

Rick crossposted his response at his site, a practice we encourage here at Pundit Roundtable, in that it fosters even more discussion.

I am pleased to introduce our next guest, Roundtable newcomer Dennis The Peasant. What do you say, Dennis?

Your questions presume the Republican Party I joined in 1982 still exists.

When I look at John McCain, Bill Frist, Tom DeLay and Duncan Hunter, I see the doppelgangers of an enervated and corrupt Democratic Party leadership that I abandoned 24 years ago. I look at these men, then look at those who preceded them – Jim Wright, Tony Coelho, Dan Rostenkowski, Ted Kennedy – and see a distinction without a difference.

This Republican Party has become exactly what it set out to destroy. Republicans marched into Washington with a Contract with America in 1994, and in less than a decade and a half have descended to depths of corruption, careerism and moral cowardice I could not have imagined from either party.

Where Ronald Reagan alive today, he would no doubt be working tirelessly to destroy these men and what they have wrought. And I would be with him in that task. Today’s Republican Party epitomizes the very things Reagan worked his whole life to defeat.

The Republican Party is not cracking up: It has ceased to exist.

Is that a hard-hitting answer or what? Dennis also crossposted his response, thanks.

The Host's Last Word : Clearly, the Republican Party has some big troubles right now. I am tempted to mention that the Democratic Party's woes are far greater (oops, I guess I just did mention it), but that should not be the focus here, because the Republicans need to put their own house in order. A good offense should not rely on the shoddy defenses of its opponent.

There have always been deep fissures within the Republican Party - events of late have not created these fissures, but merely brought them to the surface. That is not necessarily an unhealthy thing, the GOP remains a big tent, and many divergent - and even conflicting - opinions are allowed and even encouraged. The Dubai deal was an example of this, although the Dubai ports deal went down the wrong way in my opinion. The cleverer approach toward national security would have been to approve the deal, in that the long-term political victory of bolstering the UAE as an ally would outweigh the increased security risk of having an Arab firm operate the ports. Yet, the will of the people was served. Right or wrong, the American people overwhelmingly disapproved of the deal, and in the end they prevailed. Congress was responsive, and the Republicans did not let unblinking loyalty to the President get in the way of doing what their constituencies demanded of them. The President too stood firm, and was prepared to fight for this deal in the face of strong opposition. The entire debate showed strength in the Republican Party, not weakness.

But I think Dennis is right to a large degree. In my heart, I know that much of what he said is true. The Republicans set out to conquer Washington, which they did, only in turn to be conquered by Washington and its toxic culture. A culture of complacency. A culture of mere lip service to Republican ideals. A culture largely removed from the sentiments of the people. The insidious inside-the-beltway culture of comfort and, dare I say, corruption even.

The answer for Karl Rove is simple: return to the core values of the party. The Republican Party needs to become a party of reform, in order to reform itself. We have the power, we hold the reins, we lack only the will to get it done. Let us wake up and realize that we are turning into . . . Democrats.

What more incentive do we need, than that?

Thanks again for coming by, and see you next Sunday for our next edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 12 March 2006 04:00 PM · Comments (2)

The Seventh Mainstream Melee -- You Mean The Initial Reports Were Incorrect?


It's a non-blog adventure.


Chicago Tribune: "Plame's identity, if truly a secret, was thinly veiled"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

So, Valerie Plame wasn't covert? Her identity might have been not only common knowledge inside the beltway, but public knowledge to anyone with internet access? Oh, okay.

Super Succinct Snippet-

The question of whether Valerie Plame's employment by the Central Intelligence Agency was a secret is the key issue in the two-year investigation to determine if someone broke the law by leaking her CIA affiliation to the news media.

Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald contends that Plame's friends "had no idea she had another life." But Plame's secret life could be easily penetrated with the right computer sleuthing and an understanding of how the CIA's covert employees work.

The CIA needs to revamp its methods to keep up with the information age. This is ridiculous.



The Washington Post: "Army Guard Refilling Its Ranks"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

So, there won't be a draft? Iraq veterans aren't just like the Kerry-esque Vietnam veterans of 3+ decades ago?

Super Succinct Snippet-

The Army Guard said Friday that it signed up more than 26,000 soldiers in the first five months of fiscal 2006, exceeding its target by 7 percent in its best performance in 13 years. At this pace, Guard leaders say they are confident they will reach their goal of boosting manpower from the current 336,000 to the congressionally authorized level of 350,000 by the end of the year.

Without the Kerry campaign and the media establishment constantly running down National Guard service, creating a self-fulfilling left-wing prophesy, and with Iraq veterans returning and telling their friends, neighbors, colleagues, and families about what is actually happening in Iraq, the Guard no longer has to overcome such mighty recruitment hurdles.



Houston Chronicle: "Arrest of former Bush aide surprises friends, colleagues"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

You mean Claude Allen didn't abruptly resign to protest Katrina, or because he thought Bush was not conservative enough for him? Or because he was gay? Or because he became fed up with the GOP? You mean that any number of other anti-Bush theories out there on Allen's resignation were all just plain wrong?

Super Succinct Snippet-

The police accused Allen of going to stores on more than 25 occasions and buying items, taking them to his car and then returning to the store with his receipt.

He would then pick up duplicates of the items he had just bought and return them for a refund, the police said.

So he was basically just one of those messed-up-in-the-head wealthy housewife types who shoplifts lotion and greeting cards and other petty merchandise for the thrill of it. Not a scandal. Not anything. Just (if convicted) a weird dude with some mental instabilities.



Khaleej Times (UAE): "The ports deal paradox: Give the UAE a break!"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

You mean that cancelling the Dubai port deal might have negative consequences for America's image and American interests in the Middle East? Let's hear it from the source, from a Dubai-based investment banker.

Super Succinct Snippet-

Dubai is home to DP World and 160 nationalities, it is the Arabian Monaco, Geneva and Hong Kong (pre-97 to be sure), a symbol of laissez faire capitalism steeped in its historical affection for Britain and America, an emirate unlike any other on earth. Yet, it is the same Dubai and the UAE that is now being slammed by wolf packs of powerful Arab bashers and assorted Islamophobes all piously wrapped up in the Stars and Stripes, howling Armageddon in the American media and Congress....

If America torpedoes the DP World deal, it will be worse than a crime. It will be a blunder of historic dimensions. It will strip bare our illusion that an Arab, a Muslim, can ever be a friend of America again. That illusion is priceless but, ultimately, valuable to America, not the UAE.

Failing to see the big picture here truly was a blunder of historical proportions. This was not just some minor business deal, it was vital to American national security and progress in the Middle East.



Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Jack Kelly: All bad news, all the time"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

You mean there may not be a civil war in Iraq? And U.S. military personel aren't deserting in droves?

Super Succinct Snippet-

The data show desertions have plunged since 9/11, and are much lower than during the Vietnam war.

The Army, Navy and Air Force reported 7,978 desertions in the 2001 fiscal year, but only 3,456 in 2005, Mr. Nichols noted. In 1971, the Army reported 33,094 desertions, 3.4 percent of its total force. In 2005, desertions represented just 0.24 percent of 1.4 million of active service members....

Exaggeration and misinformation are hallmarks of chaotic situations, and it is hard for journalists who do most of their reporting from the safety of their hotels to sort fact from fiction....

There is no civil war in Iraq, but al-Qaida would dearly love to provoke one. Knowledge of that fact should make journalists more careful about separating rumor from fact. But many apparently have chosen instead to act as the propaganda arm of our enemies.

It's interesting that nearly every attack by terrorists and insurgents in Iraq happens within a small radius of establishment media journalists. The rest of the country is relatively safe and secure.


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 · 12 March 2006 12:27 PM · Comments (0)

The Sixth Mainstream Melee.


It's a non-blog adventure.


MSNBC (AP): "Federal lawsuit alleges mob infiltration at ports: U.S. attorney’s office charges organized crime along East Coast waterfront"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Yep. There were several reasons the entire port controversy started with the unions.

Super Succinct Snippet-

In a civil suit filed in July, prosecutors accused the International Longshoremen’s Association, the 65,000-member union that supplies labor to ports from Florida to Maine, of being a “vehicle for organized crime” on the waterfront.

The UAE deal threatened the nice little setup the unions/mafia have going at our nation's ports. Again, the collapse of this deal makes us less, not more, safe. It empowers and emboldens the protectionist union establishment. It's bad for our economy. It's bad for national security. Thank you, once again, Congress.



The Weekly Standard: "Cantankerous Conservatism"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

The old angry man thing is not a recipe for Republican electoral success, nor is it good policy.

Super Succinct Snippet-

The paleocon message is not an electoral winner--unless you believe voters are eager to hear ideas that are gloomy, negative, defeatist, isolationist, nativist, and protectionist....

On the Dubai ports deal, paleocons were leading voices of opposition. On Iraq and the campaign for democracy, they reject Bush's optimism about rolling back the dictatorships of the Middle East. Instead, they take the pessimistic view that the Middle East is unchangeable, Arab culture being what it is.

The paleocons are trying to prime the GOP, and the country, for a Buchananite type of candidate in 2008, by attacking at any perceived vulnerability.



Foreign Policy: "The Politics of Sexual Frustration"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

The lack of females (Babe Theory, anyone?) is not so good for Asia.

Super Succinct Snippet-

Nearly everywhere else, women outnumber men, in Europe by 7 percent, and in North America by 3.4 percent. Concern now is shifting to the boys for whom these missing females might have provided mates as they reach the age that Shakespeare described as nothing but stealing and fighting and “getting of wenches with child.”

Now there are too few wenches. Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine, Mother Nature’s usual preference for about 105 males to 100 females has grown to around 120 male births for every 100 female births in China. The imbalance is even higher in some locales—136 males to 100 females on the island of Hainan, an increasingly prosperous tourist resort, and 135 males to 100 females in central China’s Hubei Province. Similar patterns can be found in Taiwan, with 119 boys to 100 girls; Singapore, 118 boys to 100 girls; South Korea, 112 boys to 100 girls; and parts of India, 120 boys to 100 girls.

Pretty much the opposite of American colleges these days.



Reason: "Absolution in Your Cup: The real meaning of Fair Trade coffee"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Fair Trade coffee has more to do with consumers feeling good about themselves than about lifting anyone out of poverty.

Super Succinct Snippet-

Fair Trade certification, intended to raise the living standards of coffee farmers in Nicaragua and elsewhere, has grown into a complex bureaucracy and an industry in itself. Starbucks, the longtime Enemy No. 1 of the Fair Trade crusaders, agreed to purchase a limited amount of Fair Trade certified coffee days before a planned protest in 2000. The company bought 10 million pounds in 2005. In 2003 Dunkin’ Donuts agreed to make all of its espresso drinks certified. Nestle, one of the biggest coffee companies on Earth, launched a Fair Trade line in October 2005; the same month, McDonald’s agreed to test Fair Trade in 658 outlets. High-end specialty coffees are the fastest growing sector of the industry, and Fair Trade is the fastest growing specialty coffee; demand for it has ballooned by around 70 percent annually for the last five years.

Ever wonder why coffee prices have skyrocketed so much in recent years? Fair trade beans are a huge part of it.



The American Enterprise: "Back to the ’60s Barricades"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Victor Davis Hanson explains why liberals today have no chance at winning majorities.

Super Succinct Snippet-

On matters of national security, Democrats are back on their 1960s barricades. For them, the chief dangers to the United States lie not abroad but at home, within our own government—specifically unaccountable law enforcement, military, and national security establishments. This near paranoia was clear as Democratic senators grilled Samuel Alito during his confirmation hearings about wiretaps and the supposed evaporation of American freedom.

And the liberal mentality that can't get past the 1960s will allow Congressional Republicans to blunder their way through life and get away with it... for a while, at least.


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 · 11 March 2006 08:07 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 293 -- New Regulation.

A Little Credit Where Credit Is Due-

From the OMB (.pdf):

Between 1981 and 2000, new regulations issued by the federal government imposed an average of $5.5 billion in additional costs to businesses, consumers, and state and local governments every year. Since 2001, however, that growth rate has declined significantly. The annual increase of regulatory costs has fallen to $1.7 billion annually, a 68 percent decrease in the growth rate of the previous 20 years.

Similarly, the average annual net benefit of major regulations issued by the Bush Administration between 2001 and 2004 is over double the average for the previous eight years.

But if the OMB is too pro-administration or pro-Bush for you, try The New York Times on for size:


This is just another thing for which grumpy conservative commentators fail to credit President Bush:

The overall regulatory record shows that the Bush administration has heeded the interests of business and industry. Like the Reagan administration, which made regulatory reform a priority, officials under Mr. Bush have introduced new rules to ease or dismantle existing regulations they see as cumbersome. Some analysts argue that the Bush administration has introduced rules favoring industry with a dedication unmatched in modern times.

For The New York Times, of course, this is a bad thing. That's why they have no qualms about reporting on it. For the rest of us, it's great news. It means, generally, more innovation, higher productivity, and greater actualization of the free enterprise system.

While some of us would prefer zero new regulations, or even a repeal of certain old regulations, the Bush administration seems to take the cost/benefit ratio of those few new regulations seriously (.pdf):

...this Administration issued regulations with net benefits over its first 44 months at a yearly average rate that is more than double the rate of net benefits produced by the regulations issued during the previous Administration.

Can conservatives today get past their Reagan nostalgia for a moment and agree that this President has been great on limiting taxes, great on free trade, great on limiting cumbersome regulations on business, great at tackling frivolous lawsuits, and great (actually, better than Reagan) on a variety of other fiscal policy issues?

People who claim that President Bush is not a real conservative, frankly, just need to get over themselves. That schtick is so late-2003.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Killing The Dubai/UAE Port Terminal Management Deal Hurts Everyone But The Labor Unions.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 March 2006 12:43 PM · Comments (7)

Totten In Iraq

Here is a quote from Michael J. Totten's lastest piece, taken completely out of context to pique your interest:

“How do you feel about the U.S. bombing this mosque?” I said.

“I don’t know,” he said, as if he had never even pondered the question. “It’s okay, I suppose. I am grateful. If they had not done it this place would still be a toilet.”

Read the rest here.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 11 March 2006 02:11 AM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 80 -- Abajo Fidel.

Down With Fidel Castro At The World Baseball Classic-


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- While Cuba played the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, a spectator in the stands raised a sign saying: "Down with Fidel," sparking an international incident that escalated Friday with the velocity of a major league fastball.

The image of the man holding the sign behind home plate was beamed live Thursday night to millions of TV viewers -- including those in Cuba. The top Cuban official at the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan rushed to confront the man.

Puerto Rican police quickly intervened and took the Cuban official -- Angel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports -- to a nearby police station where they lectured him about free speech.

"We explained to him that here the constitutional right to free expression exists and that it is not a crime," police Col. Adalberto Mercado was quoted as saying in El Nuevo Dia, a San Juan daily.

Abajo Fidel, you thug.

Sports Illustrated.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

D.L. Hughley.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 March 2006 07:43 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 292 -- Unions Win As Dubai Port Deal Blocked.

Struggling Unions Finally Get A Win-

Overall, union membership in the United States is down from its 1953 peak of 32.5% to 12.5% in 2004. Union membership in the private sector in this country is WAY down over the past few decades, while simultaneously WAY up in the public sector (via The Club For Growth blog):


Way to win a Pyrrhic victory on this UAE port deal, Congressional Republicans.

You fools were played like a fiddle by left-wing interest groups, particularly labor unions, who started this whole controversy. The ramifications of blocking this deal will include:

1. American labor unions get a rare win and get to prevent innovation in order to protect their high-paying longshoreman dock jobs.

Yay for them. Isn't that what you wanted, GOP Congress? To boost union fortunes?

Other ramifications:

2. Resentment and mistrust between the U.S. and a genuinely modernizing, moderate ally in the Middle East. UAE helped us take down A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. UAE has helped us track and freeze terrorist finances. UAE has allowed us to dock many thousands of American military ships and aircraft and soldiers at UAE ports. Do we really want to reward the loyalty and good-faith efforts of the United Arab Emirates in the War On Terror with this slap in the face? Do we really want to send a message to moderating Islamic nations that cooperating with the U.S. will lead to nothing but embarrassment and rejection?

Apparently, yes.

3. When the UAE decides to buy several billion dollars worth of airplanes, do you think they'll buy American (Boeing)? Airbus must be licking its chops right now. And it's not just airplanes.

Way to "protect" America's interests, Congress!

4. Weaker national security. Yes, blocking this deal almost certainly makes our ports less safe. The deal would have strengthened, not hurt, port security.


5. Democrats can now claim victory over President Bush on a national security issue, although this deal would have had zero negative consequences for national security.

Way to go.

6. Our leverage against Iran takes a blow. One of the worst-kept secrets in Dubai: UAE worked behind the scenes, helping us substantially in the 1991 and 2003 invasions of Iraq. If and when military action is required against Iran, we may not be able to count on that sort of no-strings-attached cooperation.

Thanks for that, Congress.

7. Globalization takes a hit. The company vying to take over port operations, DP World, manages operations some of the world's busiest ports. Incidentally, those ports ship quite a bit of cargo to American ports. The point of departure is a far more meaningful security zone than the point of arrival. It is fascinating that DP World is planning on buying port management rights in the U.K., and not a single politician raised the slightest fuss over it. The reason: the British have more experience with globalization than we. America's isolationist past is haunting us here. And we're going to hurt for it:


Way to be, Congress.

8. Dubai's quest to diversify its economy away from oil-only takes a hit. Just days before the port deal hubbub erupted, I was speaking with a neighbor who lived in Dubai for several years in the 1990s. We reached the conclusion that it is in America's best interests for Dubai (and the rest of the Middle East) to diversify its economy. Banking, transportation, high-tech, tourism, and so on and so forth. It's good that Dubai is engaging in the global economy. It's good that Dubai is becoming a beacon of modernity and progress and moderation and commerce (other than just oil) in the heart of the Middle East. Blocking this deal is bad for the Middle East.


9. A win for knee-jerkism and ignorance. While some people had legitimate concerns with the Dubai port deal and operated from sincere and honest positions, much of the opposition came from people like Lou Dobbs and Michael Savage stoking the fires of econo-nationalism and xenophobia. Once the hysteria had taken over, all the facts in the world couldn't turn back the tide. We can't afford this sort of willful ignorance from our leaders.

10. A win for hypocrisy and inconsistency. We have many ports that have been managed by foreign companies for many years. We have airports that allow foreign airlines to fly in and out, with foreign employees and all. We, meanwhile, demand access for American companies everywhere abroad. When denied, we (rightly) expect our leaders to throw a collective fit to make it right. Now, where is the room for protest?

That's right, there isn't room.

So, to recap. The blocking of the port deal is a lose, lose, lose, lose for everyone, except the labor unions. AWESOME!


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Overpopulation In The World.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 March 2006 11:24 AM · Comments (7)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Forty-Nine -- Taking Longer To Get Our Money Back.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. Just because the status quo'ers got their way in 2005 does not mean the problem has gone away. Indeed, it's getting worse with each passing day. Thus, Reform Thursday continues.

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

This week's topic:

Taking Longer To Recoup Social Security Payments.

Long ago, it took only a few years of retirement, if that, to recoup all those dollars paid into Social Security over a lifetime. Increasingly, it takes longer for Americans to get their money back from the Social Security system:


The chart indicates how long it takes or will take for an individual retiring in a particular year to earn back the money paid into Social Security. For those retiring later, it will take ever-longer to recoup the money paid into the system.

We deserve a better deal than that, even if we are living longer.

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).
-Week Forty-Three (Demographic Wave).
-Week Forty-Four (The Jerk Store).
-Week Forty-Five (Defined Benefit Plans).
-Week Forty-Six (Even The Empty Promises Are A Bad Deal).
-Week Forty-Seven (Our Aging Population).
-Week Forty-Eight (The Tax Increases Required To Cover Social Security's Costs).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 March 2006 08:06 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 291 -- Overpopulation.


Every now and again I get drawn into a "debate" with a liberal (or, sometimes, a conservative or "other") on the subject of global population. Often the discussion stems from an awareness that more than 42 million abortions have been performed in the United States since Roe v. Wade. Often it stems from a discussion of some tragic event in the developing world.

Whatever the reason for discussion, it often turns to how many individuals the world can support. Liberals tend to express to me that we're either fast approaching the limit, or that we've already passed it.

Mother Earth is stressed and strained by humans plundering her resources. Once that limit is crossed (soon), there will not be enough food. Or land. Or fresh air. Or water. Or energy. Or anything. Thus, circling back to the 42 million abortions tidbit, abortion is a good thing.

What strikes me as the most interesting thing about this line of thinking has little or nothing to do with abortion or population. Instead, I am struck by the parallel between how liberals view the economy and how they view the world's resources.

In both cases, liberals tend to express a certain zero sum sensibility about the world. Tax cuts don't grow the economy, thus boosting tax revenues. Tax cuts just take money away from the government.

The parallel, to me, is informative.

I tend to view the world a little differently. I don't believe a growing population will cause the world to run out of food or other resources. And if it does, we'll just innovate our way out of problem, something we've done as a species for millenia. But I also disagree with the premise-- that the world's population is growing with no end in sight.

Take a look at the growth in the developed world compared to the developing world over the past few decades.

1960 (.pdf):


2003 (.pdf):


The population growth in the world in recent years has been concentrated outside the developed world. There's something about wealth and modernity that makes people have less children. As those developing countries become developed countries, we will see the world's population stabilize, then almost certainly retract.

In the meantime, we'll find ways to feed, clothe, and shelter those extra billions of people. Because that's what humans do.

Ken adds: Paul Ehrlich scared the pants off an entire generation with his dire malthusian predictions of overpopulation in his 1968 book 'The Population Bomb'. Among his predictions was that by the 1980's, the world would begin running out of scarce resources. Needless to say, he has been proven ineffably wrong, as have most such predictions.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Again, The Concentrated "Big Money" In Politics Belongs To The Democrats.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 March 2006 07:36 PM · Comments (4)

Flashpoint: Iran


President: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


CIA World Fact Book - Iran -- Freedom House Country Report - Iran

Timeline of Iranian Missile Development

Timeline of Iranian Nuclear Development

GlobalSecurity.org - President Ahmadeinejad's Website

Nuclear Weapons - The intelligence on this issue shows that Iran is probably years away from building a bomb. Iran is just now assembling the centrifuge arrays, called 'cascades', that are necessary for the large-scale enrichment of uranium required to make a nuclear bomb. Iran probably only has tens or at most hundreds of operating centrifuges right now - Iran will need thousands of centrifuges to complete the long, slow process of enrichment. Centrifuges enrich uranium hexaflouride gas (UF6) by separating the rare fissible uranium isotope U-235 from the more common inert uranium 238. Iran operates as many as 10 of its own uranium mines.

The main strategic foci in Iran are the nuclear facilities at Natanz and Bushehr.

Delivery Systems - the most potent missile system for possible delivery of nuclear warheads is the Shahab-3 (Shooting Star) Missile, derived from the North Korean No-Dong missile design, with a range of up to 1,500km. Iran has road-mobile missile launchers to carry these weapons. Iran has also developed the Shahab-4 with a range of 3,000km, which Iran claims is an orbital launcher with no military application.

Diplomatic Options - The issue of Iran's violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has been referred to the UN Security Council, which now must decide how to handle this situation. The Security Council has a wide array of options to deal with transgressions. Here is what the UN Charter says:

Charter of the United Nations, Chapter VII, Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression.

Article 39 - The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Article 41 - The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

Article 42 - Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.

Russia has gone on record stating that it opposes sanctions against Iran.

Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nuts? - Some say no, and Victor Davis Hansen says he is really crazy like a fox. By his own words though, Ahmadinejad thinks the Holocaust is a hoax, wants to see Israel wiped off the map, believes that he was surrounded by a halo during his speech to the UN, and has threatened the West with dire consequences. He also believes in the impending return of the Twelfth Imam. We report, you decide.

Opposition Groups - There is a wide variety of Iranian opposition groups and movements, including democratic movements such as Hakha, royalists such as Mihan (in Farsi) and Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi , the Marxist Tudeh Party, and the cult-like MEK (in Farsi). There are far more groups than this, too numerous to list.

Update: Kim Priestap at Wizbang tells us that John Bolton is requesting a vigorous response to Iran in regard to its treaty violations.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 9 March 2006 05:56 PM · Comments (14)

Cindy Sheehan: Busy Mom

Via SayAnything we learn that Cindy Sheehan has yet to buy a headstone for Casey.

She has been too busy grieving, I suppose.

P.S. SA commenter Bat One says, "I'm not at all surprised. It would take the intelligence of a prune to think that any of this Saint Cindy Roadshow had anything at all to do with Casey."

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 March 2006 05:48 PM · Comments (16)

The Dems Have A Plan(?)

Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News starts his latest opinion piece with the famous observation by Will Rogers:
"I don't belong to any organized party. I'm a Democrat."
And true to their roots, so they remain today, drifting aimlessly without a plan or purpose. But the Democrats are working hard to correct this. They have come to the realization that political parties should actually, you know, stand for something and have some ideas.

The Dems are even working on a motto, which thus far is "Together, America Can Do Better." If this sounds hauntingly familiar, it is essentially John Kerry's slogan from his failed 2004 election. Bodes well for the Democrats, don't you think?

In addition, the Democrats have also put together a new logo:

Perhaps the coyote (Overconfidentii Vulgaris) needs to replace the donkey as the symbol for the Democratic Party. I think they could count on the Acme Corporation to be a major donor.

Update!!! Apparently the logo decision is not final, and this design is still in the running.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 March 2006 04:50 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 290 -- Top Political Cash Machines.

Cash Money Bling-

There is an odd idea floating around today in the media that Republicans, but not Democrats, are riding the political money train and becoming corrupt because of it. Or that a few conservative organizations and/or individuals are pumping so much money into the system that the entire left-wing political money apparatus can't possibly keep up.

What's so odd about this idea is that, as demonstrated time and time again, the big campaign money is actually on the Democratic side of the aisle. Republicans are more likely to get their political money from lots and lots of relatively smaller donations.

Another manifestation of this phenomenon is the zip code test. Those residing within a small number of top zip codes donate ridiculous amounts of money to both parties, but mostly to Democrats:


Is it really any wonder, then, that the Democrats are so out of touch with the rest of the country? With so much concentrated left-wing cash just sitting there ready to be had, obtaining the pin code to the political ATM often requires saying and doing things that most of us find objectionable.



Previous Trivia Tidbit: Awesome American Productivity Growth.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 March 2006 02:29 PM · Comments (7)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 46.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, reacts as National Association of Women Judges President Judge Vanessa Ruiz, right, pins the association's pin on Chief Justce Roberts' coat, during a reception honoring retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Monday, March 6, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 14. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:



Justice Scalia, performing "O Solo Mio" on American Idol. Later, Scalia was heard calling Simon Cowell an "idiot" for believing in a "living Constitution" and for having voted to kick off Mikalah Gordon.


John (bonus for Animal House reference):

"Fooood fiiiight!"



Now I will show you my Jazz Hands!...

Honorable Mention #1


Embracing the role of the Left's boogeyman, Scalia demonstrates for AEI how he plans on emerging from Helen Thomas's closet later that evening.

Honorable Mention #2

Zsa Zsa:

Oh my gosh! Anna Nichole is going to be here! I am such a big fan of Anna Nichole! Oh gosh! Does my hair look ok??? ...

Honorable Mention #3

radio free fred:

"Scalia is my name not a skin condition!"

Honorable Mention #4

Rodney Dill:

"... but I live in a van ... down by the river!"

Honorable Mention #5


(To Howard Dean after the DNC chairman drops his Cloak of the Sith to reveal that Dean is in fact the sinister Darth Shmuckious

"You want force lightning? Here's some Force Lightning, Bee-Yotch!"

Honorable Mention #6

Rob B.:

The people at Artists Electrical Inhibitor were flattered that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia would consider using their product to help attorneys know when their time was up and to stop excess run ons in their arguments. However, they realized that they had left the setting on "Stop an Oscar Acceptance speech" one second too late.

Honorable Mention #7

Rodney Dill:

"... And usually when Ginsberg falls asleep I sneak up on her, like this, and go BOOGA BOOOGA BOOOGA!!

Honorable Mention #8

Buckley F. Williams:

(U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was turned to stone during a recent press conference after ignoring security's advice and making brief eye contact with Helen Thomas.

Honorable Mention #9


"Slowly I turned....and step by step.....I crept away till ..... I was out of VP's line of fire."

Honorable Mention #10

GOP and College:

Justice Scalia does his impression of a fetus during a partial birth abortion.

Captioning is compassionate and conservative.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 March 2006 12:00 AM · Comments (18)

My Odd India Trek

I saw today that there were three explosions in Varanasi, India (formerly known as Benares), killing 15 people. This jumped out at me, because one of the oddest experiences of my life happened in Varanasi. In 1991 I traveled there by bus on a 24-hour bus ride from Kathmandu, Nepal, with a fat man from Kanpur slouched next to me, drooling on my shoulder.

I arrived in Varanasi with a travelling companion I met named Nicholas, a French guy with a prosthetic rubber arm. He had fallen out of a tree and broke his arm when he was a kid, and the doctor committed grievous malpractice on him, resulting in amputation. "You should have sued", I told him. "What an American thing to say," he retorted. Nicholas knew America well - he and I had a lot to talk about, because he lived and worked in Chicago for two years, loved America, and was dying to go back. He particularly wanted to live in Chicago again.

Nicholas and I arrive in Varanasi during the height of Hindu-Muslim riots, which started when Hindus decided to reclaim the temple to Rama at Ayodhya. This was said to be Rama's birthplace, and hundreds of years before conquering Muslims had built the Babri mosque on the site. Eventually the mosque was pulled down, but when we showed up the issue had not yet been settled. Hundreds of Muslims and Hindus died in the ensuing riots, and many died in Varanasi. Muslims lured a Hindu milk seller to a shop, for example, and then murdered him. We heard reports like this every day.

Nicholas and I made our way to the ghats, and found a driver on a pedicycle to take us there. We got caught in a wave of humanity fleeing a riot, but it was a false alarm and things calmed down. We pressed into an area locked down by martial law. There was no one around except Indian army soldiers, cows, and western backpackers. Our intrepid cyclist pushed on, only to get beaten hard with a rattan stick by a soldier who spotted him violating the curfew. The soldier didn't even look at Nicholas and I, we got off the cycle, felt bad because our driver fled and we couldn't pay him, and we just walked to the ghats.

We walked through the oddly empty streets, strewn with paving bricks that had been heaved during the riots. People whistled and yelled at us from behind shuttered windows.

The big attraction in Varanasi are the burning ghats. These are holy places of cremation, where dead from all over India are brought to be burned and tossed by untouchables into the Ganges river. Hindus believe that dying within a short radius of Varanasi grants entrance to heaven, so many fatally ill people are taken there to die. During cremation, after about four hours, the skull pops and breaks, and it is said this is the moment when the soul leaves the body. When the cremation is over, all that is left is a large chunk of heart muscle, which is then picked up by a stick and heaved into the Ganges.

One extremely odd feature of the burning ghats is that, during the cremation, there is no odor at all. None. That pungent burning protein smell you expect just does not happen.

We spent a couple days in a guest house we found right near the ghats, and we visited the ghats every day. It is forbidden to take pictures there, but some of the westerners snuck photos from boats they chartered just down the river. The cremations continued unabated, even as the riots got more serious day by day. Nicholas and I were approached at the ghats, one of the very holiest sites in India, by two very young prostitute girls, about maybe eight years old, giving us the universal sign for oral sex. Horrified, Nicholas and I looked around, expecting police with rattan sticks to descend on us and take us to jail. We had heard of such things happening. We got out of there posthaste. That, and seeing a couple of naked kids fighting with dogs on top of a pile of garbage for scaps of food in downtown Calcutta, were the two most shocking things I may have ever seen in my life.

I also visited the Deer Park in Sarnath right nearby, where Gautama Buddha set the Wheel of Dharma into motion.

We left Varanasi and went to Agra, to see the Taj Mahal. It was glorious. Nicholas and I met a couple of American girls, and they were taken by him. Nicholas is a very affable guy, and he turned his rubber arm into a conversation piece of sorts. We and the girls then went to New Delhi, where I got a horrid case of Delhi Belly, and was bedridden for days with a fever. Nicholas and I parted ways, and he later sent me postcards from France.

I went on to visit Kashmir, which was as violent then as it is now. I stayed on a houseboat on Lake Dal, the only tourist in town. Six Israelis had been kidnapped and released a week or two before, and this kinda put a damper on Kashmiri tourism. At nine o'clock every night on the dot, grenade and rocket attacks began in downtown Srinagar, maybe only half a mile away. I huddled under the blankets in my plush houseboat.

I then went on to Leh, Ladakh, an area of dwindling Tibetan majority, nearly froze to death, and saw Shia Muslims scourging themselves until their backs bled.

I then flew back to New Delhi, caught a last-minute flight to Dakka, Bangladesh, and that was the end of my only tour of India.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 March 2006 11:08 AM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 289 -- U.S. Productivity Gains.


After rising 3.4% in 2004, productivity rose 2.9% in 2005, according to the BLS (.pdf). The headline on this seems to be that 4th quarter productivity fell 0.5%.

So let's talk about productivity, shall we?

Productivity in America, unlike in many other countries, is up at an astounding clip over the past quarter century (.pdf):


Notice those stars. Notice how productivity growth accelerates after those stars. What could have happened in 1994 and 2000 to speed up productivity growth?

Well, the GOP takeover of Congress and President Bush beating Al Gore could be the answer. Or, the implementation of NAFTA and the proliferation of broadband internet and cell phones (and other technologies) could be another answer.

While it would be absurd to credit the Republican Party or President Bush for productivity gains in the American economy, it's probably fair to claim that productivity growth is harmed by policies the Democratic Party espouses. When taxes are too high, when there is a spirit of trade protectionism, when unions run the show, when government does jobs individuals or corporations or small businesses ought to be doing, when racial or gender quotas are used to choose who gets into college or who gets a job, when women are incentivized to have more babies out of wedlock to collect more welfare dollars, when price controls trump the market, and when litigation swamps innovation, the economy cannot move forward. Productivity is stifled.

Although it has been severely underreported, the rate of productivity growth under President Bush has been nothing short of amazing. Ultimately, productivity gains improve our average income, improve our standard of living, improve our profitability, and improve our nation's competitiveness in the world.

So let's celebrate a decade of rapid productivity growth, which contrasts significantly with Europe, Canada, and Japan (.pdf):


And let's not get our panties in a wad over a small retreat in Q4 productivity.

The Dallas Fed (.pdf) & Eurostat (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Government-Mandated Job Security Becomes Job Insecurity.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 March 2006 09:14 AM · Comments (2)

Cartoon Fun


Heh, this took a lot more work than it looks, I don't know if I will do another one!

My apologies to Yaacov Smirnov.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 March 2006 01:59 AM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 79 -- D.L. Hughley.

Hating Every Facet Of Bush-

I nearly picked George Clooney's little self-righteous Oscar acceptance philippic for today's quotational therapy session, but instead, how about D.L. Hughley.


So, with that, comedian and actor Hughley, on Bush:

“If I hear one more person tell me how this man is a man of faith, I think I'll lose my mother-f*ck*ng mind [audience applause]. Let me tell you why. I'll tell you why. He left his ranch in Crawford to see about one woman, Terry Schiavo, he left his ranch early. But when thousands and thousands of people were being, dying in New Orleans, this son of a b*tch didn't do sh*t, and that's very un-Christlike to me.”

-D.L. Hughley, Hollywood actor.

Some undeveloped thoughts on Katrina:

African-Americans are becoming fed up with the Democratic Party, but Katrina allowed the left-wing establishment media and black community leaders like Al Sharpton to blame things that never happened, or that were inevitable, on Bush and Republicans. It allowed a retrenchment, a resolidification of the African-American vote, to occur.

While Hughley would clearly not make a very formidable debate opponent, his anti-Bush utterances do represent the consensus/mainstream of African-American thought today.

Which is sad.

Had Katrina not been framed the way it was by the media, there very well could have been an important breakthrough this very election year with African-American voters.

After all, there will be more high-profile African-American Republicans on the ballot than ever before, in races scattered across the country. And Bush has the facts on his side when it comes to improving the lives of African-Americans (unemployment rate is historically very low for blacks, the home ownership rate is at an all-time high, and so on). Bush is more in tune with African-American evangelism than Pelosi/Reid/Dean/Kerry/Hillary/etc. could ever imagine to be. The GOP has a great sales pitch for African-Americans who are tired of placing their hopes and dreams with the Democratic Party, or with the government, or with white liberals. An ownership society espoused by Republicans is a powerful force for good, and it's only a matter of getting that message out through the filters.

If the two parties were able to compete legitimately, openly, and honestly, African-Americans might very well abandon the Democratic Party in droves, sooner rather than later.

But the bizarre and immediate revisionism of the events of Hurricane Katrina renders all that moot.

Another sad part of this whole enduring "Bush was responsible for Katrina" thing is that-- and I hate to even believe or accept this-- it is reigniting certain latent racist feelings in older white people, and also making younger white people, who grew up post-Civil Rights movement, angry and resentful.

As an under-30 white guy, I never lived through segregation or systematic discrimination against African-Americans. I never saw Martin Luther King, Jr. in person or live on television. Lynchings, not really part of my lifetime. Back of the bus type stuff, might as well be ancient history. Color-barriers being broken (sports, politics, etc.) mostly happened before my time. I never lived through any of that. It's all distant history to my generation.

We have, however, lived through affirmative action, the L.A. riots, the O.J. trial, the n-word becoming a commonly-used term by African-Americans, and a host of other awkward race-based antagonisms. On the bright side, though, my generation has been able to idolize and admire Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. My generation is tired of all the "America is racist" stuff, because we've moved entirely beyond it. The cognitive dissonance between the guilt we are supposed to feel and the situation we can plainly see is chasmic.

I hate to say it, but race is a powerful and often deleterious force in American politics, and Republican candidates do not even need to exploit it the way Democrats do. It's just there. It's the elephant in the room.

White voters, who happen to overwhelmingly vote Republican, are tired of being made to feel guilty for the plight of African-Americans. I hate that the entire Katrina situation has caused many white folks to cross over from subtle eye-rolling to all-out resentful teeth gritting, when it comes to being lectured on race.

And I hear this sort of resentment from white people, even white liberals, all the time.

A little after the Katrina evacuees flooded into Houston, a Latino tow truck driver was taking me and my car to the shop. He captured some of that unfortunate racial resentment in a succinct line: "we don't need any more of their kind here." I was stunned and even a little confused, but I realized that his comments-- unfortunately-- represented what much of Houston, even the Latino community, was feeling at that moment.

I am disappointed that, as part of the "Bush caused Katrina" backlash, so many white people are now sick and tired (to the point of anger) of being blamed for things they never did. Maybe even for things their parents never did.

It's just too bad that race, such a divisive issue for so much of the 20th century, continues to be a divisive issue, maybe now more than ever (in my lifetime). Just before Katrina hit, I was preparing a lengthy post on how the near future looks great for the GOP, in terms of persuading significant numbers of African-American voters to cross the aisle. The prognosis was genuinely looking good.

Now, not so much.

A highly interesting interview on race and politics can be found here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 March 2006 11:38 PM · Comments (14)

One Ridiculous Bush Enemy

George Bush is still fighting his ongoing crusade against the English language, but by comparison to many of his enemies he shines as a sterling example of clarity and intellectual vigor.

To wit: Babs Streisand.

Via Drudge we learn that this toothless puppy nipping at Bush's heels is nearly illiterate as judged by her spelling errors, including four gaffes in one sentence. This of course does not even get into the putative substance of her message.

My favorite Babsism was the fax she sent out complaining about Democrats "with their fingers in the dyke."

I'll just let that one sit there for a while.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 6 March 2006 06:22 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 288 -- Job Security & Income.

The Paradox Of Job Security-

Generally, countries that mandate lengthy severance packages for laid off workers have lower incomes. The correlation is strong for GDP, standard of living, and a host of other economic indicators. And the causation makes absolute sense. If a company must pay a fired employee a year's worth of wages, the company is going to either not be able to hire an additional employee for a year-- or pay all employees less to compensate for the loss. Or just remain less productive. Or stop doing business, entirely.

With the exception of a handful of Eastern European countries that are transitioning-- and growing rapidly-- the trend line is remarkable:


The ironic part of all of this is that many American companies offer generous severance packages to employees, without any governmental intrusion on the matter. Usually these companies need to do so to attract or retain the best talent.

You could almost apply this trend line domestically, as well, by industry. The industries with heavy unionization, and mandated, guaranteed, easy-to-earn severance packages (like the auto, steel, and textile industries) have lower wages and higher unemployment. These companies also perform poorly within the American economy. Their GCP, Gross Company Product, would fall on the left side of a figure like the one above, if each American economic sector represented its own nation:

Protectionist measures rarely save jobs. A generation ago, American angst focused on foreign competition’s impact on manufacturing employment, particularly in automobiles, steel and textiles. We passed laws to restrict imports. Despite trade restraints and domestic-content laws, manufacturing jobs continued to decline even as overall employment rose. Most significant, some of the biggest job losses have come in autos, steel and textiles.

Saving existing jobs exacts a price. Countries that impose laws aimed at easing the burdens of job loss tend to have lower per capita incomes. World Bank data indicate that many countries impose huge burdens on employers who lay off workers—the equivalent of 165 weeks of pay in Brazil, 112 in Turkey, 90 in China, 79 in India. All are poor countries. High firing costs rob economies of their vitality by discouraging companies from hiring new employees in the first place. While generous severance is helpful to the displaced workers, it makes societies poorer by slowing job creation and dragging down labor productivity.

By contrast, countries with lower burdens on firing are usually richer. The United States, for example, mandates no severance at all, allowing companies to determine their own policies. Giving companies a freer hand in staffing decisions allows firms to pare payrolls quickly in response to changing market conditions, and it reduces the risk of hiring and forming new businesses. This labor market flexibility encourages efficiency, productivity and economic growth—all of which contribute to higher incomes.

It's paradoxical to a lot of folks, but not to economists. Rules that make it harder to fire employees drive up unemployment. If it's harder to fire, there's less reason to hire.

The Dallas Fed (.pdf).


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Canada's Crime Rate Is Higher Than America's.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 March 2006 09:39 AM · Comments (2)

WILLisms.com Happy Health Hint

Wash your hands, or die!

There, our happy health hint.

Seriously, washing your hands is probably the single best thing you can do for your health, and in this frightening age of impending avian flu pandemic, it might end up being the single best thing you can do for everyone else's health as well.

Via WABC Radio 870-AM I heard a Johns Hopkins University-sponsored PSA stating that the proper length of time to wash and scrub your hands should be as long as one recitation of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.'

Do yourself, and the rest of us, a favor and keep those hands clean!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 5 March 2006 11:47 PM · Comments (3)

Sunday Night Heidi Franklin. Weimaraner Puppy Update.

And now for your Sunday night puppy update.

Click on images for larger versions.

She will probably be able to outrun me in another month. She's already fast. And she loves to run:


She also likes the car, probably because we almost always go somewhere fun:


She's also a little bit bratty from time to time. Her personality always draws people in, because she can be pretty hilarious:


I think her favorite thing to do is just run around the soccer fields:


All of this in a 12 pound package.

Who doesn't like a puppy?

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 March 2006 10:25 PM · Comments (7)

Pundit Roundtable

Welcome back everyone to PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE! I am your host, Ken McCracken.

This week the entire world waits with bated breath as our pundits tackle these questions:

Topic 1: What are the greatest problems facing humanity today? Is there a cure?

Topic 2: Tells us one of your worst guilty pleasures. We promise not to snicker.

First we have grizzled Roundtable veteran Rob Port from his kinetic blog SayAnything. Rob?

Topic 1: I think it is socialism. Not the "red revolution," "neo-Bolsheviks overrunning D.C." kind, but rather the creeping kind. With every new tax-dollar-hogging entitlement our politicians pass we Americans sell a little more of our independence down the river. The rest of the world is in much worse shape, America is still the leader in individualism, yet even here we are constantly making ourselves more and more beholden to the government.

Look at the tax code, for instance. What responsible American makes a major life choice without first calculating the tax consequences? Want a new house? What are the tax implications? Did your rich uncle die and leave you a windfall? What are the tax implications? And our politicians use those consequences, which are present in nearly every facet of day-to-day living, to manipulate our lives. They give tax breaks on certain types of behavior while using taxes to discourage other types of behavior. Taxes were supposed to be a way to fund the necessary functions of the government, not manipulate the lives of free citizens.

Look at entitlements, too. How many kids in this country can afford to pay their own way through college any more? Not many. Most have to apply for government grants and subsidized loans, which creates a vicious cycle wherein colleges keep raising the price of tuition while politicians make more and more tax dollars available to pay it. Eventually we're going to reach the point where the only way to get a higher education in this country is to be fantastically rich, smart enough (or athletic enough) to get a scholarship or to apply for federal money. The "I'm working my way through college" kids are going to become "the government paid my way" kids. Which isn't to say that accepting federal education money makes you a bad person, but what a shift in mentality! From an individual earning their own education to an individual beholden to the government to grant them an education. Is this the mentality we want our next generation of leaders to have?

I don't want to live in a country where the government feels the need to take care of me. I am an individual, and only want the freedom to earn my own way in life and care for my family. Which is what I think the solution to "creeping socialism" is: A shift in the philosophy of government in this country. We need to recognize that the government's only primary functions are 1) to defend our country from enemies foreign and domestic and 2) create an economic and social environment where individuals are as free as possible to take care of themselves.

I'll grant that a certain amount of government involvement in our day-to-day lives is necessary. I'm not talking about privatizing the highway system or anything here, but rather just a return to the idea that free people making free choices in a free social and economic environment is the best way to run a country.

Topic 2: I watched every single episode of /Dawson's Creek/ at my girlfriend's behest...and I /liked/ it.

I like /Desperate Housewives/ and most chick-flicks too. I can't help it. I had four older sisters growing up.

Next, I am pleased to introduce two feline perspectives on these questions, from those cool cats Piper and Frisky. Fan mail can be sent to them c/o Laurence Simon.

Topic 1: Look at the countries that make up the United Nations. Sort them out by enlightened free societies, dictatorships, and religious fanatics.,What you're left with is a menagerie of barbarian chiefs and savages who end up in Manhattan wearing anything but rags only because Western Civilization provided clothes, food, medicine, and global transportation.

Guess what? The General Assembly considers them all *equals*. And they get to pat themselves on the back, go out at night raping hookers and schoolgirls with relative impunity, and then head back home when they absolutely have to with their pockets full of cash and weapons.

Saying that a society that is little more than savagery and barbarism at its foundation is the moral and functional equivalent of a liberal Western democratic free society is madness. Even within the Security Council, savages and brutal dictators are rotated in on a regular schedule to frustrate the few free societies as the council's keepers.

Founding a Human Rights Council parallel to the Security Council in a manner than elevates the worst offenders to guardian status is the most disgusting and bizarre amplification of "Foxes guarding the henhouse" I can possibly imagine. It is not a genius product of hard effort and achievement by man's best intentions and desires for greatness, but the unchecked cancerous growth of all of mankind's social ills for such a thing to happen, the rise of the most putrid infection into a disgusting, pulsating head.

This batshit-crazy hypocrisy on a global scale will be the death of us all.

Topic 2: I like to buy things on the Internet that I have absolutely no use for.

See this collection of overpriced Elvis coffee? I've tried all four, and they taste awful. I should have given them away as a gift to an Elvis fan I know who suffers from lousy coffee on a daily basis. But you can't regift this stuff, especially when it's been opened.

My mind said no, but my heart said buy buy buy. And I fell for the hype and just had to have the Elvis coffee.

Even if I'd have left it all sealed as a collector's item, it would still be worthless.

Oh well. Thank goodness for catnip.

Next, I am happy to introduce our newest Roundtable guest, MacStansbury. Welcome, what do you say?

Topic 1: My first question, and you've given me a softball. You're losing it, McCracken! [this implies I once had it. - ed.]


Being a conservative, I'm partial to pointing out the plague of complacency. I was listening to a song where they mixed up John F. Kennedy's speech so that is sounded like, “Ask not what you can do for your country; ask what your country can do for you." Oddly enough, that describes one of the biggest problems for the world.

Complacency. Doing enough to get by. Shooting for the minimum.

It's the culture in academia right now, with the passing score being the only goal. Achievement, while not yet frowned upon, is less important than learning to be accepting of other cultures, and being indoctrinated into a culture that says to become as much like everybody else as you can.

Sure, the overt message it seems to say is, "be individual!" To become an individual, you should use the shampoo everybody else does, wear the jeans everybody else does, and listen to the same music. Only then can you become an individual. But, don't think I'm bashing a consumerism, I'm not; I'm bashing complacency.

It's just easier to go with the flow. To buy the products they sell on television. To listen to the biggest radio station in town. There's a reason it got to be the biggest radio station in town: they go for mass appeal. But, even then, they are working hard to hit the soft middle, the place where they'll get the most for the least work.

I don't know where it started, but I like the 80/20 rule: 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I can believe it. It's the achievers, the thinkers, the doers...they are the cure to the itch. Even though I'm not a doer/thinker/achiever, I do see how it's the work of those few that make it better for the masses.

It also produces large targets for those who don't want to work. Their meme is that the rich got there by stealing and plundering the common man, the worker. I just wonder if the reason it looks like the rich man seems to be profiting off the back of the common man because it's the common man's job? I'm sure that the rich man, at one point, had to work a little. He probably has to work a lot even now, to stay rich.

When Michael Jordan was still playing basketball, he was widely acknowledged as the hardest working man in sports. Strangely enough, he was also called the most talented. Jerry Rice played 20 seasons as the greatest Wide Receiver in the history of football, and had the hardest off-, pre-, post-, whatever-season workout schedule. It seems to me that really hard work looks a whole lot like talent, and vice-versa.

They are greats, not only because of their gifts, but for the endless inner-drive to achieve.

Topic 2: Making fun of the battle tactics in 24.

No, seriously. I constantly stare at the screen and wonder who thought that up.

An example: as Jack Bauer, noted anti-terrorism expert, is trying to clear out a mall, filled with a deadly nerve gas, not only does he take his mask off to save a girl, he puts the mask on the girl.

1. You've just exposed yourself to nerve gas, and you could die now 2. Putting the mask on the girl does nothing, since THE AIR INSIDE THE MASK HAS NERVE GAS IN IT!

They didn't even have to open the canister, just had to pull the fire alarm. Kobayashi Maru after Kobayashi Maru is entertaining television, though.

Next we have the hardest-working man in the blogosphere, Will Franklin, back again to share his thoughts. Will?

Topic 1: Radical Islam, as well as sympathy for / ignorance of it. The cure may take decades, or a century, to implement.

Topic 2: Walker, Texas Ranger . I have been watching this show for years, and now suddenly Chuck Norris is a big internet icon. It's so bad, but it's so good. And did you know that the cure of cancer is found in Chuck Norris' tears? Too bad he never cries. Other interesting Chuck Norris facts can be found here.

Incidentally, it's not one of my guilty pleasures, but a blog called PostSecret puts anonymous homemade postcards people send in about their deepest, darkest secrets, up for all to see. Some of them are funny. Others are sad. Or creepy. It's pretty amazing stuff, though.

The Host's Last Word: The greatest problems facing humanity today are anti-democractic regimes. Whether it be despots masquerading as kings and princes as in Saudi Arabia, inherited communist totalitarian dictatorships as in North Korea, or crazy theocracies such as in Iran, far too many good folks in the world have their basic human yearnings for economic and political freedom destroyed by the egos of mediocrities. Mediocrities like Robert Mugabe, who has singlehandedly destroyed the once-promising economy of Zimbabwe. Mediocrities like Fidel Castro, who would rather have his entire nation suffer miserably than modify one iota of his failed Marxist philosophy.

The cure? Chuck Norris.

But on to happier things. I have to also admit, like Rob, that chick flicks are one of my BIG guilty pleasures. Sleepless in Seattle, Fried Green Tomatoes, When Harry Met Sally . . . it's all good. I kinda *get* the whole girly thing. Plus I just like a good story, so I found these films quite entertaining. Frankly, I like them much more than NASCAR. Can they kick me out of the Republican party for saying that?

But my real guilty pleasure is the SPICE GIRLS.

Oh yeah, fatmouthed right-wing blogger likes pop fluff. Ha! They are just so irresistable . . .

Posted by Ken McCracken · 5 March 2006 03:05 PM · Comments (10)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 287 -- Canadian Crime Wave.

Crime In Canada & The United States-

Some facts about crime trends in the U.S. and Canada over the past decade:


America's crime problem has dramatically improved, while Canada's is becoming seriously worse. Toronto's 78 homicides in 2005 represents a 28% increase over the 61 homicides recorded in Toronto in 1995. Meanwhile, U.S. cities achieved dramatic decreases over the past decade: Chicago down 46% from 823, Washington down 46% from 365, Baltimore down 17% from 322.

More broadly: Canada's overall crime rate is now 50% higher than the crime rate in the United States. Read that again slowly--it seems incredible, but it's true. It's true too that you are now more likely to be mugged in Toronto than in New York City.

Interesting. Who knew?


America's crime problem is becoming concentrated in ever fewer places, while Canada's is spreading out to ever more places.

The United States is a huge country, and it will always be possible to find a jurisdiction with shocking crime numbers. The overwhelming majority of Americans, however, live in places that are becoming steadily safer. Since the early 1990s, crime rates have dropped in 48 of the 50 states and 80% of American cities. Over that same period, crime rates have risen in six of the 10 Canadian provinces and in seven of Canada's 10 biggest cities.

Again, interesting.


While American cities and states are adopting anti-crime policies proved to work, Canadian cities and provinces are adopting policies proved to fail.

Over a decade of successful crime-fighting in the U.S., criminologists and police departments have learned some important lessons.

Bluntly: prison works. Criminals do not commit crimes while they are held in prison. Yet a Canadian criminal is 80% less likely to go to jail than his American counterpart.

Putting police on the streets works. Yet Canada employs 25% fewer police officers per capita than the United States.

Very interesting. Crime, incidentally, is also up in Europe in recent years.


Policies matter. Europe and Canada, with their left-wing attitudes toward crime, have allowed crime to flourish. In the U.S., crime is down everywhere police and prosecutors and courts are tough on crime. Where there is a functional criminal justice system, crime falls. It's what gives me hope that Houston will be able to put out the post-Katrina crime fire over the next year or two.

David Frum: "Reaping What We Sow."


Previous Trivia Tidbit: When Spending Cuts Are Spending Increases.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 March 2006 10:46 AM · Comments (3)

eCommerce, Home Depot, Texas, & Sales Taxes.

A few weeks ago, we bought a Rubbermaid Big Max Jr. shed for our new home, so our garage could be clutter-free. Overall, a very nice shed that I would recommmend:


From what I gather, these sheds are available only at Home Depot. So that's where we got ours. Unfortunately, no Home Depot in the area had the accessory kit, so I had to go online to buy it.

No problem. I buy things online all the time.

But this time was different. And not good.

I was charged SALES TAX. On the internet.

Sales tax.

On the internet.

For only the second time ever (the first on iTunes).

Not good.

Usually the lack of sales tax offsets or mitigates the shipping and handling costs, if there are any. But paying shipping and handling, PLUS sales tax?

A 20-something dollar item suddenly becomes a 30-something dollar item.

Irritating. And potentially damaging to the fledgling eCommerce industry. Online shopping is only so convenient (in some ways, it is less convenient), relative to brick-and-mortar shopping. For most consumers, is that convenience worth so many added fees and taxes?

Clearly, it won't be worth it to a lot of consumers.

Take the act of buying books, for example. If amazon.com begins charging sales taxes on its books, voluntarily or due to the actions of lawmakers, amazon.com loses quite a bit of its competitive advantage over Barnes & Noble or Borders or other large bookstores.

Currently on amazon.com, for most book purchases over 25 dollars, you can choose a free "Super Saver" shipping option. It just takes an extra day or five to receive your books than it might with a faster shipping method.

So, let's say that a couple of books at Barnes & Noble total 35 dollars. Throw in sales tax, and you add in a couple more dollars to the total. You are looking at 37 or 38 dollars. Meanwhile, if amazon.com can charge 33 dollars for the same two books, offers free shipping, and has no sales tax, you are saving 5 bucks.

But you have to wait a few days.

The wait, though, is worth it, usually.

Now, let's say that you have to pay 2 or 3 bucks in sales tax on amazon.com. Suddenly the smaller difference in price between Barnes & Noble and amazon.com may not make the 5 day wait worth it.

And yet, it may not be worth it to drive over to the Barnes & Noble to buy the book. Or it may just go to the backburner of things to do.

Book forgotten after a week. "I didn't need that book, anyway."

So the internet sales tax could stifle eCommerce. Instead of a book being purchased on the internet, no book is purchased at all.

But that's just books. As eCommerce matures and people begin buying more televisions, furniture, cars, and other high-end products online, 5 dollar differences suddenly become 500 or 5000 dollar differences.

Enough to make someone think twice about purchasing an item on the internet.

This internet sales tax scheme is just not good. Not good at all.

Government can and should learn to live with less if living with less means not stifling a growing sector of our economy.

And speaking of growth, currently, Apple's iTunes is exceeding expectations. People are actually paying to download music. Who would have guessed it? Over a billion songs have been downloaded at this point.

But the sales taxes iTunes charges are almost irritating enough to drive the average music downloader toward a music download website without sales tax surcharges. Maybe even a questionable offshore website, such as allofmp3.com, based in Russia. Not only are there no sales taxes on allofmp3.com, you can get an entire album for less than two iTunes songs. Is it legal to download songs from allofmp3.com? Who knows. It's definitely not illegal yet.

Having received an iTunes gift card for Christmas (25 dollars, maybe?), it was exceedingly annoying not being able to just buy twenty-five songs (at 99 cents each), or two full albums (at $9.99 each) plus five songs. Sales tax got in the way. Those dollars in sales taxes directly impacted the number of songs I bought.


For each dollar I paid in sales taxes on iTunes, I was unable to redeem my gift card for a song. That's got to add up, with all the millions of dollars of gift cards out there.

Why give people that extra incentive to opt for the suspect Russian website over the established American one?

Clearly this offshoring phenomenon will not be limited to music downloads. In the near future, companies based in other countries will sell all sorts of software, digital products (downloadable movie rentals, for example) and services, and easy-to-ship items (digital photo prints, for example) through the internet to American consumers, competing directly with American companies. And likely doing it cheaper, AND without any sales tax surcharge.

The internet sales tax is a terrible idea for American consumers, for American businesses, and for the American economy.

Local and state governments, however, love internet sales taxes, because they may help to recuperate some of the "lost" revenues suffered on paper:


But at what cost will the government recuperate those "costs," anyway?

I nearly chose not to buy that accessory kit for my shed when I saw the sales tax charge on my online bill. Just out of principle.

I could rig something up, after all. Or just go without. But I reluctantly went along, having quickly weighed the costs and benefits. In the future, though, as international shipping rates continue to plummet, I may just be able to buy the same accessory kit from an enterprising company based in Myanmar or Mongolia or Malaysia. If it's less expensive than the one from Home Depot online, why wouldn't I?

If we want to promote eCommerce in this country, let's drop the internet sales tax.


Posted by Will Franklin · 4 March 2006 09:10 PM · Comments (6)

Bow Before My Awesomeness

Okay okay, so it is just another one of those online tests, but I'll take a little ego gratification where I can.
Geography Genius
You scored 100% knowledge, and 0% confusion
Excellent! This is the highest score. You are very knowledgeable about the world. You didn't answer any (or many) of the questions with seriously incorrect answers. Great work. You are now ready to write your own Geography Knowledge test. Don't forget to vote on this test!
Take the test here: The World Geography Knowledge Test

(h/t Neo-Neocon)

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 March 2006 10:34 AM · Comments (33)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 286 -- The Media Definition Of Budget Cuts.

The Difference Between Cuts & Not Cuts-

From the irritating but true files:

It will be hard to genuinely cut down the size of government as long as the collective establishment media still has the kind of power and influence that it (still) has today.

For the media, any slowdown in the rate of growth is a cut. For the media, any pullback from even a ridiculously large promised future increase is a cut.

Isn't it amazing that Bush can simultaneously manage to cut (or, gut) every single program, particularly the ones Americans like, yet still oversee huge increases in government spending?

Well, there are a couple things to consider here:

1. The media want Americans to believe that tax relief, not higher government spending, is primarily responsible for deficits.

2. The collective establishment media don't want Bush to get credit for increasing spending on programs Americans like, such as education.

3. The media, when complaining about deficits and Bush's spending habits, ignore that most government spending increases during his administration are due to pre-ordained increases in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

So basically all the rampant government spending is Bush's fault, but all the cuts (which are actually increases) to popular programs are Bush's fault.

It's so contradictory, but they do it anyway. And mostly get away with it.

For example, note that education spending is up profoundly, to unprecedented levels, under the Bush administration. Higher education spending, even, is way the heck up:


And the President's 2007 budget also includes increases in education spending.

Yet, in recent weeks, the Bush adminstration has been accused of cutting higher education:

Federal spending on higher education has ballooned from $9.6 billion in 2001 to $39.8 billion in 2006. Yet, because of “savings” in a budget-reduction bill signed by President George W. Bush, the media have accused Bush and Republicans of giving higher education the “deepest cuts,” going “after student loans” and even jeopardizing students’ futures.

But spending will still rise from where it is today. And it has risen substantially in recent years.

It's only a cut when people like the program and a Republican is involved.

We won't see necessary changes in government spending until the media establishment is smashed into irrelevance. There are other prerequisites, to be sure, but a media that distorts the picture so terribly and so consistently, precludes progress.

Free Market Project.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: India.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 March 2006 08:29 AM · Comments (2)

Quotational Therapy: Part 78 -- Mark Sanford.


Creating textiles in a factory does not require much education or expertise. Textiles can be packed away and shipped safely and rapidly to nearly anywhere in the world, from nearly anywhere in the world. Thus, why would a textile company pay someone in South Carolina many times what someone in Taiwan would make?

Mark Sanford is the Governor of South Carolina, a textile state disproportionately hard-hit (in the short run) by globalization. He is also a libertarian-style Republican, a 1994 GOP Congressional takeover revolutionary (who practiced what he preached on term limits), and a fan of the free market.

It's good to see Mark Sanford not taking the easy way out on globalization, pointing at the foreign bogeyman for stealing all those factory jobs away from America.

But he still has to deal with the topic in a way that shows he is in tune with the concerns of the folks in his state. In his recent State of the State Address, Mark Sanford tackled the issue of globalization head on, not evading his principles, but proudly sticking to them:

The State of our State is that we are a state in transition. Thomas Friedman wrote the book, The World is Flat, and his premise is that the world has changed in ways unimaginable to my father, and even to me or you, over the last few years. In this new found “flat world,” for the first time in world history a kid in Hampton County is directly competing with a kid in Shanghai, New Delhi or Dublin.

I want you to think about that - it used to be that if you were born in a country like Burma, for all intents and purposes, you were just flat out of luck. You may well have had one of the brightest minds in the world but unless you got a ticket out of the place, there was no way to capitalize on your intellect. Now, with globalization and the Internet, you can stay right there and export whatever your brain has to offer to the rest of the world. As a consequence, the level of competition in our connected world is at levels never before seen - there are now 6.5 billion people on earth, there are 700 million more folks on earth than there were 10 years ago, and there are projected to be another 800 million over the next 10 years. These numbers dwarf the 4 million people who make our state great, and in essence, they mean another 200 South Carolinas will be added to earth over the next ten years, or looked at yearly there will be another 20 new South Carolinas each year to compete with - in addition to the 6.5 billion people already here.

Although we have been blessed by God in our geography, and we are at the front end of a wave of graying in America that will have profoundly positive implications for this state, things have to change for us to compete successfully in this new world. The question of a State of the State is where do we want to go as a people and have we begun the process of getting there?


The answer to his own question:

We have been hit hard as textile jobs have moved to China, India and other places around the world. We have been hit hard by Thomas Friedman’s flat world. The good news is that Commerce is now replacing those jobs at record numbers, and at a pay rate 30% above many of the old jobs....

Think about it, if you really believe Thomas Friedman is right - that we live in one of the most transformative times in world history. Then wouldn’t you want to maximize the part of your economy that will change the fastest? This is not about some crusade that says government is bad and only the private sector is good; it is about speeding the rate of change and recognition of the fact that the private sector can change faster than the public sector.


Republicans running in manufacturing states should follow Mark Sanford's lead on this issue. If we live in a rapidly changing world (and we do), then it only makes sense to have an economy ready to change at an according level of rapidity. Government is notoriously bulky and lethargic and slow. Retreating behind the curtain of government nurturing (isolationism, protectionism) may seem nice for a little while, but that can't last forever.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:


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

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 March 2006 01:41 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 285 -- India.

Indians & Americans Have Common Interests-

The United States, the world's oldest democracy, needs India, the world's largest democracy, and they need us right back. India, while certainly a work in progress, is a beacon of freedom in an otherwise hostile region of the world:


Indeed, a strong ally in India is imperative as a hegemonic China rises onto the world stage. An economically and politically stable India is also necessary for ultimately winning the war on terror and reshaping the Middle East.

The U.S.-India relationship is hardly an arranged, forced political marriage. There's genuine love going at least one direction:


And despite the relatively insignificant protests (which were blown WAY out of proportion by the U.S. media) that greeted Bush on his trip there, Indians love President George W. Bush:


They love his straightforwardness, they love the way he speaks about freedom in the world, and they love it that he has never fallen into the politically expedient India-bashing that some U.S. politicians have taken to in recent years ("grumble, they are taking our jobs, grumble, grumble").

While American efforts to build schools, sewage systems, power grids, hospitals, roads, and other infrastructure in other countries often yields zero (or negative) credit, Indians understand that American foreign policy is not entirely selfish:


India, even with so many Muslims living there, is one of the few countries whose citizens understand that removing Saddam Hussein was a positive thing for the world:


Indians love Bush, America, and Americans:

Indians also have a strongly positive impression of the American people - 71% have a favorable opinion of Americans, up from 58% in 2002. Moreover, Indians tend to associate Americans with positive character traits, and generally do not associate Americans with negative characteristics. Eight-in-ten (81%) Indians consider Americans hardworking, and 86% - the highest percentage of any country surveyed, including the U.S. itself - say Americans are inventive. Fewer (58%) regard Americans as honest, but even among U.S. respondents, Americans receive mediocre marks for truthfulness (63%). Meanwhile, Indians are among the least likely to associate Americans with negative traits such as greed, violence, rudeness, and immorality.

And yet, despite all of this, this is what we see on the U.S. news:


Images of protests, such as Bush, burning in effigy. And reporters saying things like:

David Gregory: "Mr. Bush has already been met by large anti-U.S., anti-war protests as he tries to strengthen ties to a growing power in a vital part of the world."


Jim Axelrod: “After his secret side trip, this is what awaited Mr. Bush upon his highly-publicized arrival in India: Tens of thousands turned out to protest America's presence in the Islamic world, while Mr. Bush was welcomed to New Delhi. Peaceful so far, police expect larger protests tomorrow.”

Tens of thousands of people at a protest in a country of many hundreds of millions, most of whom disagree with the protests, is not newsworthy.

It's. Just. Not. Newsworthy.

What is newsworthy is that President Bush scored a diplomatic victory in India:

Far from undermining U.S. interests, the deal will likely bring important benefits. The priorities of the United States and India overlap in many areas, from trade (U.S. exports to India grew by over 30 percent in 2004, while Indian exports to the U.S. rose by roughly 15 percent), to the struggle against Islamic terrorism, to concern over the rise of Chinese power — which could be checked, if China ever bared its teeth, through a strategic partnership between Washington and New Delhi. And with India’s economy growing at 8 percent per year, it will have a powerful thirst for energy. It’s consistent with our desire to keep oil prices low — and favorable to our national security — for India to slake that thirst without cozying up to Middle Eastern oil producers, and particularly Iran, with which it has traditionally had warm relations.

If you've been reading WILLisms.com regularly over the past year or so, you know that I have often advocated closer ties between the United States and India. This is exactly what I meant.

We need India to be with us now that we've crossed that bridge to the 21st century. We should also eschew the impulse to throw up protectionist barriers against India. Concerns over white collar jobs going to India are not without some merit, but a growing Indian economy is great for the United States.

India's middle class is already as large as our entire population. Those folks already consume American culture, brands, commodities, and so on. As more Indians enter the middle class, and as the Indian middle class becomes more like a middle class found in Europe or the United States, America's economy will benefit profoundly.

While some Americans would prefer to close the door on India, because they don't like talking to an Indian guy on the help line, or because they see Indians as responsible for job outsourcing, you cannot blame India for being an attractive place for U.S. businesses to locate (.pdf):


India wants to be part of the global economy, and their efforts to engage are paying off (.pdf):


Companies and individuals from around the world are investing in India not just because they have relatively cheap labor, but because most of those relatively cheap laborers have taken it upon themselves to attain skills and knowledge, including learning English or other languages, if necessary. Investment is also flowing into India because of that map above. India is a stable democracy. Stable democracies do not suddenly and arbitrarily confiscate factories or office buildings or other assets. Stable democracies do not break out into armed revolution every few years. Stable democracies like India are simply great places to invest.

Indians are intelligent and fair-minded people, with a fascinating history, and a bright future. They deserve our respect and admiration. And the deserve to be portrayed accurately by the American media, rather than shown as a mere heathen swath of rowdy anti-American yahoos.

And, speaking of admiration, for my money, it doesn't get any better than when Indian bhangra/pop star Daler Mehndi sings Tunak Tunak Tun.

Tunak Tun, India.

Tunak Tun.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Independence Day.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 March 2006 09:28 AM · Comments (15)

New Ten Spot Debuts Today

The Federal Reserve began shipping the new $10 bill -

I am still used to the sturdy green color of U.S. currency, the new currency color schemes seem a little wild to me. But, it is still a good-looking bill in my opinion, and the color is necessary as an anti-counterfeit measure, and counterfeiting U.S. currency has been on the rise in recent years (thank you, Kim Jong-Il).

"I'm so ronery."

Posted by Ken McCracken · 2 March 2006 06:30 PM · Comments (38)

CBS Sleaze Machine Rolls On?

While CBS is in complete disrepute (can I say that without having someone say I look like an ass for not proving it first?) it appears that one of its former political operatives - strike that - producers, is once again masquerading as a journalist, this time over at Associated Press, doing another hit piece on George W. Bush.

And I just commended AP for doing a good job!

Argh. Guys, you make me look bad.

Kevin Aylward at Wizbang has uncovered the fact that former 60 Minutes II producer Margaret Ebrahim just happens to share the same name with the author of this discreditable piece.


Hey Kevin, how does it feel to uncover Rathergate II?

Posted by Ken McCracken · 2 March 2006 03:38 PM · Comments (21)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Forty-Eight -- Necessary Tax Increases.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. Just because the status quo'ers got their way in 2005 does not mean the problem has gone away. Indeed, it's getting worse with each passing day. Thus, Reform Thursday continues.

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

This week's topic:

Projected Tax Increases Without Reform.

The demographic iceberg continues to churn and chug and creak along right at us, and we still haven't done a thing about it. It's so big, and so obvious, that some fail to recognize it, or to even admit that it's coming straight for us.

But it's coming (.pdf):


Sans reform, just to keep up, the tax increases may very well end up looking something like this (.pdf):


But it doesn't have to be that way.

With surprisingly simple pro-growth reforms in the near term, we can avoid tough solutions such as major tax increases in the long term.

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).
-Week Forty-Three (Demographic Wave).
-Week Forty-Four (The Jerk Store).
-Week Forty-Five (Defined Benefit Plans).
-Week Forty-Six (Even The Empty Promises Are A Bad Deal).
-Week Forty-Seven (Our Aging Population).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 March 2006 01:25 PM · Comments (1)

Associated Press: Bush Does Something Right

President Bush's trip to India has thus far been quite successful - which of course has driven the Marxist atavists of that country bonkers.

The United States and India have reached an historic agreement to share nuclear technology, which the AP uncharacterstically headlines as Nuclear Deal With India A Victory For Bush.

Kudos to the AP for getting it right this time.

Much is made in this article about how giving favorable treatment to India on nuclear issues sets a bad example to Pakistan, North Korea, Iran, and other nations with nuclear ambitions. Not at all - India deserves such treatment because it is a responsible and democratic nation, unlike the foregoing nations mentioned.

In fact, it deserves a permanent seat on the UN Security Council far more than chronic human-rights abuser China.

Update: The Chicago Tribune editorial board views this deal with India favorably, and informs us that the United States has a 71% favorability rating in India, and that President Bush is popular there. I have no doubt that much of this is due to our strong stand against extremist Muslim violence, of which India has suffered more than its share. Via RealClearPolitics.

Update!! David Gregory is having a great time in New Delhi, calling in to the Imus show completely drunk.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 2 March 2006 12:14 PM · Comments (33)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 284 -- Texas Independence Day.

Texas Exports-

Today is Texas Independence Day. On this day in 1836, Texans declared that they had had enough Mexican rule:

When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.

When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the everready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants.

When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued, and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons, and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.

When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements. In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable rights of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases, enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.

Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

The Mexican government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.

In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.

It has sacrificed our welfare to the state of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue, and this too, notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general Congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.

It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution, and the establishment of a state government.

It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty, and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.

It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science, that unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.

It has suffered the military commandants, stationed among us, to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyrrany, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizens, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.

It has dissolved, by force of arms, the state Congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.

It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the Interior for trial, in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution.

It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce, by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels, and convey the property of our citizens to far distant ports for confiscation.

It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interest of its human functionaries, rather than the glory of the true and living God.

It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential to our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.

It has invaded our country both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.

It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping knife, to massacre the inhabitants of our defenseless frontiers.

It hath been, during the whole time of our connection with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrranical government.

These, and other grievances, were patiently borne by the people of Texas, untill they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. We then took up arms in defence of the national constitution. We appealed to our Mexican brethren for assistance. Our appeal has been made in vain. Though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the Interior.

We are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion, that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therfor of a military government; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self government.

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.

Many Texas still celebrate Texas Independence Day. It's a reminder that Texas was indeed its own independent nation for about a decade; it's one of those "Texas things" Texans just do to exalt their state.

It's also ought to be a reminder that Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was a brutal, if inept, dictator, and the struggle for Texas Independence was glorious, positive, and entirely justified. It was also no lily white Anglo power grab, either. Tejanos fought and died in every major battle, including at the Alamo, on behalf of a free and independent Texas. A Tejano, Lorenzo de Zavala, was even the first VP of the Republic of Texas.

At a certain March 2 Celebration at The University of Texas some years back, members of MEChA (The Moviemento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan) took some of the celebratory cake, ate it, then immediately vomited it all over the place to spoil the fun-- and send a message.

MEChA is a radical (and occasionally violent) Marxist organization with hundreds of chapters on college campuses mostly across the Southwest. Its message: 1) the liberation of Texas from Mexican tyranny was racist; 2) Texas and other American lands must return to Mexican rule; 3) no Mexican immigrant is ever "illegal."

And so on.

MEChA, unfortunately, has been mainstreamed by much of the establishment media. Antonio Villaraigosa, a proud Mechista at UCLA, never denounced the organization, but still wound up as Mayor of Los Angeles, for example.

In Houston, the Major League Soccer (MLS) club, Houston 1836, is changing its name after mild outcry from certain Hispanic groups.


Texas Independence Day was not about white versus brown. It was a fight for life, liberty, and property. For everyone. And history has vindicated the Texas Independence movement. Texas, with no income tax, is now one of the fastest growing economies in the country, with legal and illegal immigrants from outside the United States flowing in to get a piece of the pie. But Texas is also gaining substantial population via domestic migration from all over the United States. It's just the place to be.

If Texas were part of Mexico today, it's hard to imagine the labor standards being as high as they are today, it's hard to imagine the environment being as clean as it is today, it's hard to imagine the educational opportunities being as elite and as accessible as they are today, it's hard to imagine the political system being as transparent and as free of corruption as it is today, and it's hard to imagine business and commerce flourishing the way they are today.

It's difficult to imagine the kind of upward mobility or social services or justice system or women's rights in "Aztlan" (MEChA's dream world) that now exist in Texas. And this difficulty has very little to do with race or nationality and everything to do with ideas, principles, and policies.

America is superior to Mexico not because we control this river or that natural resource, nor because we have more white people here, but because we have superior founding principles, a superior Constitution, and superior policies. Plenty of countries have plenty of resources. It's only the ones that value liberty, economically, politically, and socially, that ultimately succeed. A rich and powerful Texas was not inevitable under any governmental system-- just this one.

Indeed, on this Texas Independence Day, let's remember that this day ought to be a day for all Texans (and all Americans), including (and in many ways, especially) the now-plurality of Latinos, to celebrate what a great place Texas (and the U.S.) is to live, work, and play. And to celebrate the not at all arbitrary reason it's such a great place.

And on this Texas Independence Day, chest-beat a little bit now that Texas has surpassed California in both college football and foreign exports:

Texas and California are the United States’ export powerhouses, generating more than a quarter of the nation’s overseas sales. In third quarter 2005, 14.5 percent of U.S. exports originated in Texas. Just under 13 percent originated in California. The next largest exporting state is New York, at 5.5 percent.

Long live Texas.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Economic Downtime.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 March 2006 08:45 AM · Comments (6)

What Are You Reading These Days?

I have my hands on this book:


I am about a third of the way through it. Michelangelo Buonarroti has been taken under the patronage of Il Magnifico, Lorenzo the Magnificent, who thus far comes across as a most impressive figure in this biographical novel.

Any suggestions on what I should read next?

Posted by Ken McCracken · 1 March 2006 10:11 PM · Comments (8)

The Impeachment Bubble

The left is making a big deal out of the fraudulent CBS poll showing that Bush's purported approval rating is now down to 34%.

Yeah, that's right, its the CBS of Dan Rather/Mary Mapes fame that conducted this 'poll', and that alone should settle the matter.

Via the Hotline I read that many of the 'bloggers' over at HuffPo are clucking that the time has come for impeachment. I did not venture over to there to verify this myself, in that I value the ongoing health of my brain cells, and they have not yet forgiven me for my misguided forays over there last year. Utterly predictable, I know with certainty that the Hotline report is correct.

How very telling this is. The left as ever is adept at misleading themselves, and no doubt right now a great many of them think that this poll shows that most Americans have come over to their point of view. They also no doubt think this bodes very well for their chances at recapturing the House this fall, and with it a chance at impeachment.

Their constant wishful thinking will draw them to commit the usual overreach that has repeatedly dashed their hopes, such as with Plamegate, the Downing Street Memo, Cindy Sheehan, Abu Ghraib. The schadenfreude that comes from watching lefty disappointment is frankly one of the things that keeps me going in life. It is precious.

The left, so blinded by the thick walls of their bubble, do not realize what the causes of Bush's poll weakness really are. We are in a long war in Iraq that is fraught with enough problems to try the souls of even the most stalwart supporters. This hardly means however that America supports a 'cut and run' policy. We rehired Bush in 2004 to deal with security issues chiefly; but lack of progress on immigration, and the UAE ports deal have caused even many Republicans to question the wisdom of his positions. Dick Cheney has become, unfairly, a laughingstock.

The problem for Arianna and her ilk is that, for all the problems that the President faces, no one seriously thinks that the left is the cure.

So, let the delusion continue, sit back, and enjoy.

P.S. Via Drudge it appears that chief Downing Street Memo quack Rep. John Conyers is quite ethically-challenged.

Update: I forgot to mention another rather questionable poll by Zogby regarding attitudes of soldiers towards the Iraq War. I think Hewitt had it right during his radio show about Zogby - he seems to find his conclusions first, then polls to arrive at them.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 1 March 2006 07:08 PM · Comments (45)

(S)he'll Kick Your Ass

Thailand is famous for muay thai boxing, which is a pretty brutal sport.

And now transsexual muay thai 'beautiful boxer' Nong Tum has returned after a 3-year absence and a sex-change operation to win her first fight.

Think you could take her on? View the video at the link, it should disabuse you of any such notion.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 1 March 2006 06:12 PM · Comments (4)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 45.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia speaks at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washingto, February 21, 2006. Scalia gave the keynote address about outsourcing American law. The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday it will decide whether a ban on some abortion procedures is unconstitutional, a case that could show if the reshaped court will restrict a woman's right to an abortion. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 7. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week:


Rob B.:

" ... then I asked Pelosi if she ever used "UPDog" on her computer. And then she totally says "What's UpDog?" And like, everyone is laughing and Howard Dean shoots Coke out of his nose. It was awesome..."



"... And I said 'Boehner?' Dang near killed her..."



Capping off his victory, House Majority Leader John Boehner comes through on his promise to deliver "butterfly kisses" to the necks of the entire Republican leadership.

Honorable Mention #1

Rodney Dill:

"Boehner, right here behind ya."

Honorable Mention #2


"Ok McConnell, I'll push down on the count of 3, and you tell if it pops back into the socket. But promise you'll quit watching Lethal Weapon before a closed session, because this is getting old."

Honorable Mention #3

radio free fred:

"I hate it when your ear hairs poke me in the eye."

Captioning is high in antioxidants.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 March 2006 09:48 AM · Comments (33)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 283 -- Economic Downtime.

America's Got It Good-

One of the criticisms of America, with its relatively free markets, is that sure, the U.S. has a large economy that grows more rapidly than most other first world countries, but painful economic instability is the result. Cowboy capitalism, we're told, reigns in the United States. The good times are offset by the bad. Socialism, although you get slower economic growth, smooths out those ups and downs, we're told.

Well, since 1983, the United States has had fewer recessions and less economic downtime than every other major post-industrial country (.pdf):


Most Democrats and a few Lincoln Chafee type Republicans want to make the United States more like Old Europe, economically. Higher taxes, heavier labor laws, larger government scope. All the basic Marxist orthodoxy about fairness and justice.

The rest of us want America to become more American and do what has made us the greatest economic force the world has ever seen. America's engines of commerce are powerful. We should let them be powerful, and leave the "economic justice" to those in Old Europe who desire mediocrity and recession.

The U.S. economy is the strongest, most stable economy, relative to the others listed above, because it is the most free, relative to the others listed above. We're great because of, not in spite of, our relative economic liberty. Let's not mess that up. Please.

The Dallas Fed (.pdf).


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Posted by Will Franklin · 1 March 2006 09:30 AM · Comments (0)