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Willisms

« April 2006 | WILLisms.com | June 2006 »

German Jihadi Tries To Blow Up Her Own Child

I can scarcely believe this is true:
SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that German intelligence agencies have prevented three German women from travelling to Iraq in recent weeks. The women, who have close contacts to the Islamist scene in Germany and at least one whom has converted to Islam, came to the attention of intelligence agencies after one of them had announced on an Internet site that she intended to blow herself and her child up in Iraq.
I kinda hope this turns out to be yet another bogus MSM story. Unfortunately I think it will be proven true. And then there is this:
The Berlin woman's child was taken away from her and she has been put in a psychiatric clinic.

Heh, now what could have prompted the authorities to do that, do you think?


 
"Have a nice day, infidels!"
 

P.S. Der Spiegel also interviewed Mahmoud AhMADinejad about his holocaust denial. Bet that went over real well in Germany. Too bad he didn't give the interview in Austria - he could share a cozy cell with David Irving. I bet they would have lots to talk about.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 31 May 2006 01:32 AM · Comments (95)

Um, Did You Know There Are Widespread Riots In Iran?

It seems only Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit has been reporting the stories of ongoing riots and demonstrations in Iran. He has some great posts:

This Time Protesters Riot in Iran Over a Cockroach Cartoon!
Iranian University Students Protest Against the Mullacracy
Tehran Universities Erupt in Violence Overnight!
Ethnic Rage Swells in Iran, Revolts Break Out, Deaths Reported
Iran: U.S. Will Fail to Provoke Ethnic Strife... Oh, Really?!!
Regime Commandos & Hezbollah Thugs Pound Iranian Protesters

There does indeed seem to be a media blackout on these very serious threats to the mullahs power in Iran - I regularly scour Google News and Reuters and other news agencies, and have yet to find a single story about this. Not saying they aren't there, it just seems that this is not getting nearly the prominence it deserves.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 30 May 2006 09:13 PM · Comments (44)

Henry M. Paulson, Jr. To Be New Treasury Secretary

 
Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
 

President Bush has selected Henry M. Paulson to head up the Treasury Department.

"The selection of Mr. Paulson, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, is a significant departure from Mr. Bush's initial reluctance to bring prominent Wall Street executives into his administration. And it was a rare break from Mr. Bush's tendency to select his most senior aides from within an inner circle of trusted advisers."

Paulson replaces John W. Snow, who had been criticized for not trumpeting the Bush economy sufficiently, and for not pressing China to revalue its currency.

Press Secretary Tony Snow refused to confirm speculation that John Snow had been forced out, as part of Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten's ongoing personnel shakeups.

Joshua Bolten, like Paulson, had worked for Goldman Sachs.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 30 May 2006 07:10 PM · Comments (0)

Burqa Beach Babe

burqa.jpg

Woah. Maybe I had this burqa thing all wrong. Maybe there is something to leaving a bit to the imagination.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 27 May 2006 08:35 PM · Comments (47)

Lies, Damned Lies, And Al Gore

 

Wow, hurricanes are caused by pollution!

That's right, hurricanes are not some natural phenomenon that have regularly occured year in and year out for eons - no, they are strictly a creation of American capitalism. And if we all pay ten dollars to hear Al Gore's message, we can rid the world of hurricanes!

That right there is a damnable piece of liberal propaganda, advocating the dubious proposition that we turn our society and economy upside down in order to try and defy mother nature - a losing proposition if there ever was one. Sadly, enough people have been, and will be, taken in by this speciousness that we have to take the time and resources to fend it off. These are the new flat-earthers of the age.

Will anyone ask Al Gore the direct question - are hurricanes caused by man? Only a liberal interviewer could ask such a question, because no one else could blurt it out with a straight face.

Some might retort that this poster merely implies that some hurricanes are caused by pollution.

Oh? Which ones did you have in mind?

Andrew? Katrina? Hugo?

Please tell us by which criteria you seperate the natural hurricanes from the artificial ones. Do the artificial ones come with a Made In USA signature somewhere?

This is not science, it is self-loathing. It is simply another chapter in that long novel called America: The Source Of All Evil. Even if it is false that man can create hurricanes or global warming, that is not the point. We all know pollution is bad, and any alarmist exaggeration that overstates the damage is justified. Al Gore has already said as much. The real agenda is to rein in rapacious capitalism, in order to construct a world in which good-hearted commisars will order us all to ride bicycles.

Or at least make sure that our economy is so reduced to an ecologically-friendly shambles that bicycles are the only alternative anyway.

 
Maybe the real spokesman for this nonsense should be Tyler Durden - "In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway."

P.S. Tyler Durden is wrong by the way - Chicago neither has kudzu nor car pool lanes. Just had to get that off my chest.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 27 May 2006 07:04 AM · Comments (48)

Da Jihadi Code

There is a little internet thriller developing at Little Green Footballs.

A Muslim extremist named Inayat Bunglawala posts an article at the Guardian Unlimited, which allows comments, about the Da Vinci Code.

An LGF commenter debunks it, leaving a comment.

Someone follows the link back to LGF, then emails Charles Johnson this pleasant little message:

I look forward to the day when you pigs get your throats cut....

Charles then traces this email:

This particular death threat is a bit different from the run of the mill hate mail we get around here, because an IP lookup on the sender reveals that he/she/it was using an account at none other than Reuters News: RIPE Whois Database: 192.165.213.18.

Well, isn't that special. Reuters is employing a jihadist.

What is odder is that the emailer seems to be from Sweden. Yet get this, a reply comment from Bunglawala himself -

Nick223: No, neither applied nor implemented. I am a little worried about your reference to the LGF website though. Many on that site seem to be to be clearly anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. As for ‘jetting to and forth between London and Stockholm’ - no, it is an illusion created by the way the CiF site tracks the posters. When I post from work it comes up as Sweden for some reason, when I do so from home, it correctly lists London. I have never been to Sweden unfortunately.

How interesting, the whereis lookup for the hate emailer's location comes up as . . . London.

Could it be Inayat Bunglawala himself?

Well, in the past Bunglawala has claimed that the British press is 'zionist controlled', he called the blind Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman "courageous" just after the bombing of the World Trade Center, and that Rahman had probably only been arrested because he was "calling on Muslims to fulfil their duty to Allah and to fight against oppression and oppressors everywhere", and he called Osama bin Laden a 'freedom fighter', among other things.

Bunglawala is the media secretary for the Muslim Council of Britain, "one of seven 'conveners' for a Home Office task force with responsibilities for tackling extremism among young Muslims."

Kinda like having a fox in charge of the hen house.

P.S. As an aside, the odious George Galloway has said that the assassination of Tony Blair would be justified.

Update: Charles Johnson informs us, at an update at the first link above, that a Reuters employee - we don't know who - has been suspended over this.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 25 May 2006 08:51 PM · Comments (22)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 337 -- GDP Growth 5.3%.

Way Awesome-

Thanks to tax relief, the economy is booming (.pdf):

5point3gdpgrowth.gif
-click for larger version-

Policies matter. Elections matter. Majorities matter.

For more raw data, visit the BEA's website.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Woman: Woah, Man.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 May 2006 10:34 AM · Comments (3)

Read...

...This.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 May 2006 05:48 PM · Comments (3)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 57.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

hmmisrael.gif

The actual caption:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, left, looks at President Bush as he speaks to the media during a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House, Tuesday, May 23, 2006 in Washington. The White House urged the visiting prime minister to reach out to the moderate Palestinian president, a step the new Israeli leader has been reluctant to take. (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, May 30. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

fidelbillionairealmost.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Eric:

Guess who I am... Wrong! It was Earl Hindman. My turn again!


2.

Rodney Dill:

Obviously the Numero Uno way to know you've made it is to be in Forbe's Who's Who of Kings, Queens, and Dictators, but what are the other nine ways.

10. You've Slept with Paris Hilton at the Paris Hilton
9. You really do have more money than even Forbes thinks you have.
8. Other Dictators avoid wearing Military Khaki's so they won't appear with the same clothing as you.
7. Whenever you say "OIL" the world price per barrel jumps
6. Your country has universal health care, (and the people have no freedom to complain about the service)
5. Whenever you say the word 'NUCLEAR' the world gets the hiccups
4. You have your picture in your Wallet, (On your currency)
3. You put a price on the head of your detractors (and you mean it, and can make good on it)
2. Donald Trump calls you up for advice


3.

KipEsquire:

Look, everyone, I'm going to be a contestant on "Survivor: Despot"!


Honorable Mention #1

bullwinkle:

Fidel auditions for the part of Wilson in the recently announced Home Improvement: The Movie so he can add even more money to his offshore bank accounts.


Honorable Mention #2

SgtFluffy:

How could I be wealthy? Have you seen my country lately?


Honorable Mention #3

Rob B.:

I know that the magazine is muffling your audio feeds, but seriouly I just had a anchovy pizza with onions and a load of garlic. Ok?... By the way, steer clear of the "little Dictators room" too. I had asparagus last night.


Captioning is the nectar of life.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 May 2006 01:12 PM · Comments (18)

All My Favorite Villains

I know this type of thing has been done elsewhere, but I thought I might do my own take on it. Pretty much in order of awesomeness here:

=

Hans Gruber - Die Hard

Playing a convincing, interesting villain is perhaps the most difficult acting task there is. Hans Gruber has no supernatural powers or extradordinary talents - just grasping greed, natural malevolence and charisma.

 

 

Darth Vader - Star Wars

Self-explanatory.

 

Saruman - Lord of the Rings

They actually paid someone to cast this part? Putting Christopher Lee into this role was a stroke of obviousness.

 

Hannibal Lecter - Silence of the Lambs

Two words: "Hello, Clarice . . . "

This guy is so good, you are almost rooting for him at the end.

 

 

Tyler Durden - Fight Club

This guy is a nightmare. Literally, in a way.

 

Riff Raff - Rocky Horror Picture Show

It helps to really look the part.

 

Antonio Salieri - Amadeus

I just love Machiavellian intrigue in my villains. This guy was better at that than composing symphonies. In all fairness, the real Antonio Salieri actually supported Mozart, and had The Magic Flute extended after its first short run.

 

Vizzini - The Princess Bride

An evil genius, mostly in his own mind. He gets off some great quips, which more than makes up for his ineffectiveness as a villain.

 

 

Dathan - The Ten Commandments

Okay okay, so technically this guy was more of a 'schmuck' than a 'villain' - I put him here for another bit of levity, and to point out what was perhaps the all-time greatest unintentional stroke of casting genius.

 

Amon Göth - Schindler's List

The scariest villain of all, because the guy actually did all that stuff in real life, and worse.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 24 May 2006 11:23 AM · Comments (39)

Abdurrahman Wahid: 'Liberal' Muslim

In an opinion piece published in yesterday's WaPo, Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid debunks a few myths (held by both many Muslims and many westerners) about Islamic law, such as that it proscribes death as a penalty for conversion away from Islam, and that 'infidels' are forbidden to enter Mecca and Medina. (Via RealClearPolitics)

He is a humanitarian Muslim:

People of goodwill of every faith and nation must unite to ensure the triumph of religious freedom and of the "right" understanding of Islam, to avert global catastrophe and spare millions of others the fate of Sudan's great religious and political leader, Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, who was executed on a false charge of apostasy. The millions of victims of "jihadist" violence in Sudan -- whose numbers continue to rise every day -- would have been spared if Taha's vision of Islam had triumphed instead of that of the extremists.

The greatest challenge facing the contemporary Muslim world is to bring our limited, human understanding of Islamic law into harmony with its divine spirit -- in order to reflect God's mercy and compassion, and to bring the blessings of peace, justice and tolerance to a suffering world.

gusdur.jpg  
Abdurrahman Wahid
 

'Gus Dur' as he is affectionately known, is quite an interesting character. Former president of Indonesia, he was a nemesis of Suharto, and is an apostle of liberal Islam.

That's right, an apostle of liberal Islam. Gus Dur is an advisor to the LibForAll Foundation, an organization that promotes a pop "musical fatwa" against Jihadism, among other things. It also promotes Sufism, which are often some of the most peaceloving and mystical sects to be found among any religion anywhere. This should come as no surprise - Indonesia is generally known for its very liberal and tolerant interpretations of Islam, and there is a lot of activism against the inroads of Wahabism going on there.

The more you investigate Islam, the more it surprises you in a great many ways.

Update: Publius Pundit knows him, and backs up the claim that he is a great guy.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 24 May 2006 05:58 AM · Comments (0)

Newsflash: Left Lies About Iraq

The left and Iraq Veterans Against The War have been pimping a video of "U.S. Army Ranger" Jessie MacBeth, in which he says the Rangers were told that the rules of war don't apply in Iraq, and to kill as many Iraqis as possible in order to intimidate them.

Predictably, it is all a lie, and MacBeth is clearly not a Ranger, and there is doubt that he is was even a member of the U.S. military at all.

Yet again, the left is caught lying while attempting to smear our military. We are learning the lesson that every single negative statement about the war in Iraq and our vets should be presumed false, scrutinized thoroughly, and proven true beyond a shadow of a doubt before you should even begin to believe it.

Lying about our veterans and the War on Terror has become a full-blown industry among the left, Democrats and the media. There should be a huge political price to pay for garbage like this.

Update: Oh man, you just gotta go here. An instant classic.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 22 May 2006 11:18 PM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 100 -- Social Security Benefits For Illegals.

Pat Leahy, On Social Security Benefits For Illegal Aliens

patleahysenator.gif
"We should not steal their funds or empty their Social Security accounts," he said. "That is not fair. It does not reward their hard work or their financial contributions. It violates the trust that underlies the Social Security Trust Fund."

Social Security accounts, Pat? The ones 90+% of your party's elected officials oppose?

Every time Pat Leahy opens his mouth, it becomes crystal clear why our Vice President said what he said to the Senator.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

George Washington, On Immigration

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 May 2006 10:49 AM · Comments (3)

No Wonder Nagin Won

Drudge is reporting that Howard Dean and the DNC sent operatives to torpedo Ray Nagin's campaign for reelection as mayor of New Orleans.

If the race were closer, sending Kos would have certainly put Nagin over the top.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 22 May 2006 01:19 AM · Comments (0)

Sunday Night Heidi Weimaraner Puppy Update: 19½ Weeks Old.

Neat clouds this week:

anglesofheidi.gif

For more pictures of Heidi, click the "Read More »" extended entry button below.


--------------------------------------------------
Last week's update.
--------------------------------------------------

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 21 May 2006 11:09 PM · Comments (0)

Tony Snow v. Helen Thomas, Part II

snow.jpg

Please oh please feel free to copy this!

My previous comic here.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 21 May 2006 07:33 PM · Comments (47)

Pundit Roundtable

Welcome! Thanks for coming back to the PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE. I am your host, Ken McCracken. Here are our topics for this week:

Topic 1: What is your pet political topic, and why? What issue gets you most excited or vexed?

Topic 2: Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I am pleased to introduce a newcomer to the Roundtable, Andrew Olmsted of his eponymous blog. Andrew?

"My pet political topic is the systems of government and politics that provide most of the unfortunate results we see coming out of Congress. As frustrated as I often get with the poor performance of the American government, I like to delve into the underlying causes of that performance, and that generally leads me into the structure and systems we use that render poor results the norm rather than the exception. For example, while I have great respect for NZ Bear, Glenn Reynolds, and the other bloggers behind the Porkbusters project, I have not bothered to join that crusade because it is almost certain to fail. Pork has been an integral part of our political system for decades, and the voters have endorsed it in the only place it counts: the ballot box. Because we've built a tax system that makes the money government takes automatic, only the very rich and the self-employed really feel the bite of taxes. For the average worker, his paycheck is what he brings home every week and the taxes are routine; annoying at first, but they quickly slip into the background noise of the paystub. Pork projects, therefore, appear like free money to the vast majority of citizens, and they reward politicians who bring them in by sending them back to Congress for more. Porkbusters has brought a lot of sunlight into that process, and in the short term it will probably trim pork expenditures a little. But the only way it can be successful in the long term is if the Congressmen who continue to ladle pork into spending bills pay for those actions at the ballot box, and that's extremely unlikely. Once a few porkhounds like Byrd and Stevens win reelection, that will be the signal to the rest of Congress that they can return to their old habits with no worries about retribution. Porkbusters will slow things down for a little while, but it's just not possible for it to do more than that because the American people have been sending Congress their approval of the pork process for years. It's unfortunate, but the inertia in the system makes it incredibly difficult to change.

If there's one thing that will set me off more quickly than anything else, it's the assumption made by so many people that people on the opposite side of an argument are not only wrong, but willfully wrong. On both sides of the aisle there seems to be a belief that everyone knows what the right answers are, and so those people who are espousing something other than what that speaker believes is not doing so out of an honest belief that the facts point in a particular direction, but because they have some kind of evil ulterior motives. Therefore we hear Democrats screaming about how Republicans are all racists who use code words to slip their racist message past an insipid press while Republicans counter with claims that Democrats are anti-American terrorist sympathizers who are secretly rooting for the enemies of the United States. It's next to impossible to have a rational discussion with someone who assumes that your disagreement connotes not just an error in judgement, but a moral failing of some kind. While I'm not naive enough to believe that this phenomon is new, I do believe that it has gotten worse over the past decades, and I believe the two reasons for that are the growth of the federal government, making so many issues into national problems and therefore raising the stakes on all sides, and the urbanization of America, which has made it so much more difficult to avoid the intrusions of government. When most issues were left at the lowest possible level, at least if you lost the argument you didn't have to go far to find someplace more amenable to your point of view, and up until about 100 years ago, you could still light out for places where government really didn't get involved in anything at all. Today that's just not possible.

Topic 2: I was about five feet away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once in the Salt Lake City airport, but I didn't introduce myself, so I don't think that really counts. Therefore the answer has to be Virginia Postrel, author of The Future and Its Enemies and The Substance of Style. A few years ago I had to go to Fort Polk to support the 116th Brigade Combat Team's JRTC rotation prior to their Iraq deployment. The trip would require me and a friend to drive from Fort Bliss, Texas to Fort Polk, and the shortest route took us through Dallas, Postrel's home. Because Postrel was the first big blogger to take note of my work and because I'm a big fan of her work, the chance to actually meet her in the flesh was too good to pass up. So I sent her an email asking if I could possibly meet her for coffee, time permitting. She went one step further and agreed to have dinner with me, even though her mother was visiting at the time. So I got to spend an evening with Virginia, her husband, and her mother, three very intelligent people who were incredibly gracious and pleasant. It was a great experience, marred only by my failure to pick up the check, a failure which embarasses me to this day. Ah, well.

Now I'd like to introduce the tag team of Eric and Dave from Greensickle. First up is Eric, what do you say?

"I'd have to say almost anything dealing with military strategy, or issues directly effecting our military. I love when liberals try to school me on what our men and women in uniform are thinking and how they behave. Now, I'm no military strategist or psychologist. I do know, however, how things in our military are supposed to work and the general consensus of what our men and women are thinking (in most cases). Besides, I still have a lot of sources to give me their perspectives and dirt on current military events.

Topic 2: I met Joe Montana in Sacramento once. I can't remember for what, as it happened years ago. Nothing spectacular comes to mind beyond that.

And now we have Dave from Greensickle. Dave what do you think?

"1. My pet political issue is currently the middle east and relations between the US and Arab, Persian, and Jewish states there. It's infuriating to meet people who have strong opinions but at the same time do not bother to crack a single book or even read the paper to find out what's really going on there.

Topic 2: The most famous person I have ever met is Francis Cardinal Arinze.

Cardinal Arinze, recently on the short list to become next pope! Cool. I thought Arinze would have been the wisest choice, all things considered, but I am a lapsed Unitarian so what do I know?


The Host's Last Word: my pet topic is anti-leftism. The twentieth century proved that the radical ideas of socialism, communism and other leftist pathologies not only do not work and ruin economies, but devolve quickly into genocidal mania. It is sheer madness. And yet, many folks who refuse to learn the lessons of the past insist on putting forth leftist ideas as a viable path. It just boggles the mind that such discredited concepts refuse to die, but there it is, and we must continue to fight them. The War on Terror has not diminished their threat, as many on the left are now in open allegiance with the terrorists. They never fail to pick the wrong side, do they.

I got to meet Eddie Van Halen in a bar in Aspen, Colorado. It was like an episode of Cheers - Eddie came sauntering into the bar by himself, and everyone went "Eddie!" I stood around with my brother and a friend from college, watching him play pool. I finally got the nerve to approach him, and asked him for a cigarette. He saw the cigar in my shirt pocket and said "hey man, you already got a smoke." I said, "but I want one of yours . . . " He declined to give me one of his last Merit Ultralights.

My brush with greatness.

Actually, I had more in-depth encounters with Abbie Hoffman, whom I debated at Boston University, as well as Samuel Huntington and Walt Rostow. I also had a little flap with, ugh, Noam Chomsky. Howard Zinn was my student advisor at BU, but Howard however is a great guy, really a lot of fun.

I also had a little tour of Vietnam with this guy:

hopper.jpg

page.jpg  
Tim Page

No, not Dennis Hopper (or his lifelike action figure), but Tim Page, the guy that Hopper's character in Apocalypse Now was based upon. He isn't all that well-known I suppose, but he has his own Wikipedia article, and made a much larger impression on me than anyone else noted above. He really did walk around with two cameras around his neck. Page told me about getting 200 shrapnel injuries when his boat was attacked by friendly American air power. He talked about having his entire head reconstructed, and how it started to fall apart when he was in Rome, and had to have more surgeries. He talked a lot about the Tet Offensive, and he showed us where the Marines were set up when they finished off the Viet Cong in the Citadel at Hue.

That's all for now! Come back next week, for more adventures in punditry with PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 21 May 2006 01:59 PM · Comments (49)

No Badges For Jews After All?

Chris Wattie, the writer of the original National Post story highlighting a supposed new law requiring Jews to wear badges in Iran, is backpedaling from the story.

And Iranian officials deny the story:

Hormoz Ghahremani, a spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, said in an e-mail to the Post yesterday that, “We wish to categorically reject the news item.

“These kinds of slanderous accusations are part of a smear campaign against Iran by vested interests, which needs to be denounced at every step.”

With all due respect, this story was disturbingly easy to believe.

AllahPundit has an extensive rundown of the unravelling of this story, and the debate over whether it is untrue.

Very interesting, in my opinion. I think it is a credit to the new media that if this story is wrong, it can be corrected pretty much in real time. The complete damage to the Iranian reputation cannot be undone here (har har), but unlike the old days, we don't need to wait for days and days and several news cycles to happen before the corrections come.

In fact, the corrections and the errors surrounding this story becomes a topic unto itself, and that is a healthy thing.

Update: this story blew up big when Drudge posted it as a headline. Now . . . it has been removed and there is no mention anywhere of the story, a correction or retraction. Hmm, doesn't do much for the ol' credibility of the DrudgeReport in my opinion.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 19 May 2006 08:46 PM · Comments (530)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 336 -- Woman.

Woah, Man-

Myth & Reality, about women in Europe and the United States:

According to a paper published by the International Labor Organization this past June, women account for 45 percent of high-level decision makers in America, including legislators, senior officials and managers across all types of businesses. In the U.K., women hold 33 percent of those jobs. In Sweden—supposedly the very model of global gender equality—they hold 29 percent.

Germany comes in at just under 27 percent, and Italian women hold a pathetic 18 percent of power jobs. These sad statistics say as much about Europe's labor markets, lingering welfare-state policies and corporate leadership as they do about its attitudes toward women. It's not that European women are stuck in the house. (After all, 57 percent of women in the EU 15 work, less than the U.S. rate of 65 percent, but not dramatically so.) The real problem is that Europe has been consistently unable to tap the highest potential of its female workers, who represent half of college graduates in most countries. Women, it seems, can have a job—but not a high-powered career.

Typical Europe.

Meanwhile, some encouraging news here in the U.S. about women and the glass ceiling:

A 2001 survey of business owners with M.B.A.s conducted by the Rochester Institute of Technology found that money was the primary motivator for only 29% of women, versus 76% of men. Women prioritized flexibility, fulfillment, autonomy and safety.

....

...what happens when women make the same lucrative decisions typically made by men? The good news--for women, at least: Women actually earn more. For example, when a male and a female civil engineer both stay with their respective companies for ten years, travel and relocate equally and take the same career risks, the woman ends up making more. And among workers who have never been married and never had children, women earn 117% of what men do.

Cool.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Immigration.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 May 2006 10:58 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 335 -- Immigration.

Immigration-

Here's your Thursday Trivia Tidbit, belated:

In 2005, illegal migrants accounted for about 5% of the civilian labor force, or 7.2 million workers out of a labor force of 148 million. Approximately 19% of illegal workers were employed in construction jobs, 15% in production, installation and repair, and 4% in farming. The Pew report also shows that illegal immigrants comprise 24% of all workers in farming, 17% in cleaning, 14% in construction and 12% in food preparation. Within those categories, unauthorized migrants tend to be concentrated in specific jobs: They represent 36% of all insulation workers, 29% of all roofers and drywall installers, and 27% of all butchers and other food-processing workers.

Source: Knowledge@Wharton: "The Immigration Debate: Its Impact on Workers, Wages and Employers."

An interesting read for those interested in toning down the immigration discussion a bit.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Immigration.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 May 2006 09:51 AM · Comments (1)

Iran: Badges For Jews

No, this is not Nazi-inspired:

Chris Wattie, National Post, Published: Friday, May 19, 2006 - Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."

. . . because the Nazis got the idea for badging Jews and other groups from Muslims. Funny (or not) how these ugly ideas get passed around and recycled like this. According to David Frum:

The first world leader to require Jews to wear distinctive badges (a yellow belt and a yellow conical "dunce" cap) was Haroun al-Rashid, the Abbasid caliph, who ruled in Baghdad in the era of Charlemagne, the late 700s and early 800s.

Haroun's idea was later copied by the popes, but long after it vanished from the Christian world it endured in Islamic countries. Even in our own time, one of the final acts of the Taliban in Afghanistan was to attempt to enforce a distinctive badge on that country's Hindu minority.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he wants to "wipe Israel off the map", rants and babbles like Hitler, denies the Holocaust, and now this?

How big does the writing on the wall have to be, folks?

Posted by Ken McCracken · 19 May 2006 05:37 AM · Comments (2)

Pic Of The Day

Now, we all know that leftist protestors are a bit creepy and weird, but this takes the cake:

Saddam_proCindy_antiBush.jpg

Wait a minute, my astute Sarcasm Detector is going off . . .

Thanks to FreeRepublicans.com via SayAnything.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 19 May 2006 02:35 AM · Comments (2)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Fifty-Seven -- Personal Accounts Are Awesome.

reformthursdayblue.gif

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:

Of All The Solutions, Personal Accounts Are The Only Win-Win-Win Scenario.

Reading Don Luskin's blog, I came across this graphic from The New York Times:

millionsincompoundinterest.gif

Behold, compound interest. Working. Over time. Just like Social Security personal accounts would work.

The Times' story explains how a provision allowing Americans, in 2010, to roll over their traditional tax-deferred retirement accounts into Roth IRAs, where investment gains can be withdrawn regularly, tax-free, will "cost" billions to the government.

WRONG.

It will save billions from government misuse. It will prevent billions from falling into the hands of pork-and-entitlement-loving fools. It will keep billions in the free enterprise system, in the hands of actual American human beings.

And, ultimately, a portion of all that wonderful wealth generated by the tax relief would find its way back into government coffers. A 10 trillion dollar economy with a generic 10% tax rate produces more tax revenue than a 7 trillion dollar economy with a generic 14% tax rate.

Tax cuts, the more I examine the historical evidence, do indeed pay for themselves-- and then some.

But that's not the point.

The point is that personal retirement accounts via Social Security would be remarkably similar to the account shown in the graph above. Hundreds of millions of Americans, of all income levels, could be busy accumulating many trillions of dollars of wealth, with minimal effort and LESS expense than under the current Social Security regime.

Personal accounts are the best solution to Social Security's woes. They are clearly better than cosmetic, temporary fixes, such as raising the retirement age, raising the tax rate and/or cap, cutting benefits, delaying benefits, and so on.

Herman Cain explains what needs to happen:

If members of Congress are serious about preserving the Social Security program without needlessly increasing payroll taxes or reducing benefits, they must immediately take the following three steps.

First, members of Congress must stop denying Social Security faces a solvency crisis. To deny the solvency crisis is literally akin to denying that the sun rises in the east.

Second, all members of Congress must end the raid on the surplus and pass the DeMint amendment.

Third, Congress must pass HR 1776, “The Ryan-Sununu Social Security Personal Savings Guarantee and Prosperity Act.” HR 1776 would allow workers to divert a portion of their forced payroll tax contributions to a personal retirement account they own and control. In 75 years the entire system would be solvent, without having to reduce benefits or raise taxes.

Want to give "the base" a reason or two to show up this November?
Want to grow the Republican party, especially among young people?
Want to fundamentally fix the single largest current government expenditure?
Want to boost the national savings rate above what is effectively zero?
Want to pare down the national debt?
Want to boost the fuel injector of our free enterprise system, a.k.a. the stock market?
Want to make American workers more competitive in the global economy?
Want to make the United States less socialist?
Want an enduring "legacy making" accomplishment?

Then reform Social Security. Do it now. There are trillions of good reasons for reform. Let's get on it.

The clock is still 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).
-Week Fifty-Two (Socialist Security).
-Week Fifty-Three (China Has The Same Problem, Only Worse).
-Week Fifty-Four (Potential Crisis Size).
-Week Fifty-Five (The Crisis Moves Closer).
-Week Fifty-Six (Big Brother Social Security).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 May 2006 08:44 AM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 334 -- Immigration.

The Mexican Economy & Inmigración-

Courtesy of The Heritage Foundation, we have this chart showing the national origin of America's illegal immigrants:

whereillegalscomefrom.gif

Indeed, Mexico is responsible for a large proportion of illegal immigration to the United States:

One-third of all foreign-born persons in the U.S. are Mexican. Overall, the number of Mexicans in the U.S. has increased from 760,000 in 1970 to 10.6 million in 2004. Nine percent of all Mexicans now reside in the U.S. Over half of all Mexicans in the U.S. are illegal immigrants, and in the last decade 80 to 85 percent of the inflow of Mexicans into the U.S. has been illegal.

If the Mexican economy had been booming over the past few decades, how many of those 5.9 million illegal aliens from Mexico would have stayed in Mexico? What about the illegals from elsewhere?

We'd likely still have some illegals in America, but it's hard to imagine so many. Mexico certainly has the resources for the kind of economic growth that would keep people content enough not to sneak into the United States.

How is the Mexican economy doing these days, anyway?

Not great by American standards, but it's getting better:

...from 2000 to 2005:

* Mexico’s annual inflation declined by two-thirds;
* The public deficit dropped to zero;
* Foreign investment grew 74 percent.
* Mexico’s non-oil exports increased 60 percent over the last decade;
* Tourism is up 40 percent;
* Investment in roads and highways has grown 144 percent since the last administration;
* Six million scholarships now help keep poor children in class through high school;
* Real wages rose 7 percent;
* Nearly 577,000 new jobs were created [annually]; and
* The number of Mexicans living under one poverty index dropped 23 percent.

Still, nearly a million youths enter the Mexican labor force each year. A half million new jobs per year are simply not enough. Mexico’s minimum wage is US$4.50 per day, far below the minimum US$5.15 per hour stateside. While more Mexican children are attending school, the system is still heavily centralized under an inefficient national ministry and subject to nationwide strikes. Rural facilities and attendance are poor.

So, it's hit or miss. A lot of hits, though.

Unfortunately, socialists are gaining momentum in all of Latin America, even Mexico. What Mexican Marxism would mean for immigration, who really knows. But I doubt it could be much of a good thing.

Interestingly, one of the arguments against illegal (and sometimes legal) immigration is that poor immigrants come to America and go on welfare, drain educational resources, waste prison space, and so on. So here are the numbers on welfare use:

welfareuseimmigrants.gif

Interesting. There is a very real need for immigration reform in this country. The President's plan may be our last, best opportunity for substantive reform, including serious border security, before it's too late.

And isn't this post what an immigration debate should look like? [As opposed to this.]


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Internets.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 May 2006 04:12 PM · Comments (3)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 56.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

fidelbillionairealmost.gif

The actual caption:

Cuban President Fidel Castro displays a copy of Forbes magazine which had ranked him as the seventh wealthiest ruler in the world, during a live television broadcast in Havana, May 15, 2006. Castro furiously denied on Monday the story in Forbes magazine that he was worth $900 million and said he would step down if the magazine could prove the assertion. REUTERS/Ismael Francisco-Prensa Latina

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

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

Last week's photo:

strikethepose.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Rodney Dill:

Buddharazzi


2.

Giacomo:

Hey, Wang! What's with the pictures?

It's a parking lot! Come on.


3.

jody:

Inspired by Canon's invasion and assimilation of Tibet, China is currently exploring new options for irritating Richard Gere beyond coating gerbils with tabasco sauce.


Honorable Mention #1

SgtFluffy:

Meanwhile, at the Democratic fundraiser, The Buddhist delegation attempted to photograph the elusive Manbearpig.....


Honorable Mention #2

Hoodlumman:

There was nothing in their vows of abstinence that said the monks couldn't fill their walls with pictures of Scarlett Johannson.


Honorable Mention #3

Rob B.:

Thailand's "Girls Gone Wild" crew claim that Buddhist girls are just as crazy when you get them sauced and yell "Free the spheres of life!"


Captioning is for winners. Are you a winner?

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 May 2006 12:08 AM · Comments (18)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 333 -- Google, YouTube, & The Internets.

Googly McGoogleton-

Google is winning the internet search engine wars:

googlewinning.gif

Or are they?

In some ways, Google may already be too big for its britches.

Indeed, there was that whole censoring themselves for China thing. Also, that whole digitized book fiasco.

...just to name a couple of the more high profile google controversies.

Google's peripheral products are hit or miss. Gmail is awesome, for example. Google News was good for a while, before it allowed so many weirdo blog sites to appear in its lineup (incidentally, they've rejected WILLisms.com two or three times, even while including some very questionable sites).

Google Video, meanwhile, is just dreadfully terrible.

Last summer, when investigating the Iranian presidential election taking place on American soil, I uploaded the video to Google Video. It took weeks for the video to appear, ready to show. I guess it had to pass through the Google censors. And then, even though it was far too late to use the video, there was no way to embed the video within a blog post.

Irritating.

More recently, I tried uploading this video, showing Democrats applauding their own ridiculousness on Social Security at the 2006 State of the Union (as seen in this post) to the Google video service.

After several days of limbo, it was finally rejected, presumably because of the Fox News logo in the corner of the video.

Now, I understand copyright concerns, but the clip clearly falls under fair use rules. It is a short clip from a lengthy public event carried by several networks. The purpose of the clip is political speech, including criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research (all fair use purposes). Moreover, the brief clip does no harm to Fox News. If anything, it promotes the watching of Fox News.

Anyway, after the belated rejection from Google Video, I turned to YouTube.com instead.

YouTube.com is so much better, it's not even funny.

And its awesomeness has helped it eclipse the vile Google Video, in terms of traffic, in an extremely short period of time. YouTube.com, after just a few months of existence, now has more than 4 times the traffic that Google Video has. And while Alexa doesn't allow you to filter out video.google.com from the main google.com regime, let's use the master of blog traffic, Instapundit.com and some other well-known websites as vehicles for comparison:

YouTube is a perfect example of why competition is so important. Google is great for a lot of things, but it doesn't own the internet. Nor should it.

Indeed, using YouTube.com, it took me 14 seconds to find this video of the Walker, Texas Ranger theme song and embed it into this post:

And that right there is what makes America-- and the internet-- great.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Inflation Is Awesomely Awesome.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 May 2006 05:05 PM · Comments (13)

Tony Snow Takes The Gloves Off

Tony Snow squares off against Helen Thomas in his first press briefing.

The decision?

Snow wins via a TKO in the first round.

Helen Thomas let down her guard pretty badly, stating that "millions of Americans have been wiretapped" according to the recent USA Today story about phone data collection by the NSA.

The story said no such thing.

Now, is Helen Thomas, *acclaimed journalist*, incapable of reading a news story? Or does she not comprehend what she reads?

Or is she a dishonest hack who willingly lies about events in the news to serve her partisan purposes?

I hope American was watching, because the chronic dishonesty of the media was in its glory today, and got punctured immediately by that old smoothie Tony Snow. I hope this is a portent of more things to come.

In the video linked above, Snow also gets pucker-face when asked indirectly about his cancer. Man, it must take, um, nerve to stand up in front of the world like that and start tearing up.

Clearly he is the man for the job.

(h/t to Dean Esmay for the link, and for the boxing analogies.)

Also: It's Tuesday, where is that Rove indictment, anyway? You don't think maybe the press lied yet again do you?

Update: Verizon is stating that it didn't provide data to the feds and wasn't even asked to. BellSouth Corp. said the same thing. (h/t Rob Port.)

Another fabricated story, designed to embarass George W. Bush, just simply made up out of whole cloth?

Impossible!

rather.jpg

Or maybe . . . not so impossible.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 16 May 2006 03:33 PM · Comments (6)

Quotational Therapy: Part 99 -- President George W., On Immigration.

Our First President

georgewashingtonfarewell.gif

Immigration + assimilation:

Citizens by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has the right to concentrate your affections. The name of AMERICAN, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.

-Read George Washington's Farewell Address in its entirety here.


Incidentally, I thought President Bush's immigration speech tonight was excellent.

But, then again, I 1) still like Bush and 2) am not all hot and bothered my immigration, so what do I know?


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Howard Dean, Confused & Confusing On Gay Rights.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 May 2006 09:02 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 332 -- Inflation Out Of Control.

If These Are "Record" Energy Prices, How Is It That Inflation Is So Low?-

The average annual inflation rate from 2001 to 2005 was 2.56%. Indeed, despite "record" energy prices, inflation remains tame:

inflationtame.gif

Compare the recent numbers to the average annual rate of inflation from 1993 to 2000: 2.6125%.

Or 1977-1980: 9.725%.

Even with "record" energy prices, a housing boom, and GDP growth well above modern historical averages (let's go back 35 years), inflation is just plain under control:

annualinflationrate.gif

Now, of all the economic indicators out there, inflation is one of the harder ones to tie to an administration's economic policies. Nevertheless, inflation (along with job creation and the stock market) is one of the primary shortcuts Americans use to judge the health of the economy.

Although inflation is low today, the overwhelming media hype about gas prices has likely contributed to a false sense that we once again have 1970s-style runaway inflation.

Thus, even though inflation is low, and American presidents usually (and, usually unfairly) get credit or blame for inflation, President Bush is likely getting credit/blame for high inflation.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Tax Cuts Worked, Majorities Matter.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 May 2006 02:03 PM · Comments (2)

The Ninth Mainstream Melee -- The Tax Cut Boom.

mainstreammelee.gif

It's a non-blog adventure.

I.

The Wall Street Journal: "The Tax Cut Record"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Tax cuts produced the economic boom we have today.

Super Succinct Snippet-

If ever there was a market test of economic policy, the last three years have been it. The stock market has recovered from its implosion in Bill Clinton's last year in office, unemployment is down to 4.7%, and growth has averaged 3.9% in the three years since those tax cuts passed--well above the post-World War II average and more than twice the growth rate in Euroland.

....

Over the past 40 years, the U.S. has had three great experiments in tax-cutting, and each one has worked even better than advertised: The Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s, the Reagan cuts of 1981, and now the Bush tax cuts of 2003. The political tragedy is that the first of those two were bipartisan, while the Bush tax cuts have had little Democratic support.

During the Cold War, Democrats often went out of their way to avoid looking like socialists. Today, all but a few Democrats have shed all pretense of support for free enterprise. They're here, they're Marxists, get used to it.


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

II.

National Review: "How the Boom Began"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Bush deserves a little (a lot) of credit for the economic boom.

Super Succinct Snippet-

If you find a turtle on top of a fence post, Bill Clinton used to say, it means someone put it there. It was his folksy way to explain why anything good that happened was no accident, and he should get credit.

It's hard to get credit, when the media hype gas prices more than 30:1 over brief mentions of good economic news.


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

III.

Forbes: "Are Women Earning More Than Men? "

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Women who prioritize family usually make less than men. Women who prioritize career often make more than men.

Super Succinct Snippet-

...women entrepreneurs earn 50% less than their male counterparts.

....

...money was the primary motivator for only 29% of women, versus 76% of men. Women prioritized flexibility, fulfillment, autonomy and safety.

....

...among workers who have never been married and never had children, women earn 117% of what men do.

....

I want my daughters to know that working 44 versus 34 hours per week leads to more than twice the pay.

Knowledge is power.


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

IV.

The Washington Times: "How gas price controls sparked '70s shortages"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

Want to make a tiny problem a huge one? Go socialist on the problem.

Super Succinct Snippet-

The public -- as it does today -- wanted low prices. But the artificially depressed pump prices imposed during the oil crisis of 1973 -- which stayed in place in various iterations through 1980 -- brought about lines at gas stations and an artificial shortage of gas....

Increased production around the world drove down the price of oil and caused the tax to generate less revenue than expected. By the time it expired in 1988, the tax had generated $40 billion in revenue instead of the $175 billion estimated by the Treasury. After oil prices collapsed in 1986, the tax produced no revenue at all.

And yet, if Democrats take back Congress, this is precisely the kind of thing they would rush to pass.


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

V.

Bloomberg: "Texas Economy Surges on Gains From Katrina Rebuilding, Energy"

Super Succinct Synopsis-

The Texas economy is roaring.

Super Succinct Snippet-

Texas, the second-largest U.S. state by population, added 274,000 jobs in the year ended March 31, according to the state Workforce Commission. The pace was the fastest since 2000. The state estimated that its budget surplus will almost double to $8.2 billion, second only to California's, for the two years ending in August 2007.

....

Texas recovered more slowly than the rest of the country after the U.S. economy cooled in 2001-02. Sales-tax collections slumped in 2003, and state lawmakers cut spending by $10 billion to balance a two-year budget at $117 billion.

Now, the 9.9 million-person workforce in the state is expanding at about 3.1 percent a year, more than twice as fast as the rest of the U.S.

....

Production of goods and services in 2004 totaled $881 billion, the third-most of any state and more than neighboring Mexico, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Last year, single-family housing starts jumped 15 percent to 205,462, Fed data show.

Texas's economic growth may outpace the nation's for a second year. Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn this month raised her growth forecasts to 4.9 percent in 2006 and to 4.7 percent for 2007.

This year's estimate exceeds the 3.4 percent median for U.S. growth in a Bloomberg survey of economists, done April 28 to May 8. The Texas economy expanded 5.2 percent last year, when the U.S. grew 3.5 percent.

....

State taxes on oil and gas production are forecast to jump $2.5 billion, or 77.5 percent, in the current two-year budget, according to Strayhorn. Those taxes now account for about 2.4 percent of state tax revenue.

Imagine how much greater (and more widespread) these already great numbers would be if we hadn't been discouraging domestic energy exploration and production for all of these years.


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

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 · 15 May 2006 11:17 AM · Comments (4)

Sunday Night Heidi Weimaraner Puppy Update: 18½ Weeks Old.

Heidi has been basking in her fame all week long:

thinkingaboutherself.gif

Good grief.


For more pictures of Heidi, click the "Read More »" extended entry button below.


--------------------------------------------------
Last week's update.
--------------------------------------------------

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 14 May 2006 06:09 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 331 -- Majorities Matter.

Or, Why The GOP Should Learn To Start Worrying & Stop Loving Lincoln Chafee-

When former Republican Jim Jeffords switched parties shortly after President Bush took office in 2001, effectively handing control of the Senate to Tom Daschle and the Democrats, many in the GOP were furious.

"How dare he?!"

"Where is the loyalty!?"

And so on.

And indeed, although moderate tax relief packages wound up making their way to the President's desk in his first two years in office, "THE BUSH TAX CUTS" were not possible until after Republicans took a majority in the Senate in November of 2002. Indeed, it was not until 2003 that the American people finally got their big, important tax relief.

And what a relief it's been:

majoritiesmatter.gif

In some ways, the departure of Jim Jeffords from the GOP was a blessing for the Republican Party. Over the short-term, however, from 2001 to 2002, the Jeffords defection meant that major tax relief had to be delayed, denied, and deferred, until Republicans could once again win a majority in the Senate.

Shedding such dead weight (Jeffords) allowed the Republican coalition to better stand for something. No longer having to constantly compromise for the sake of Jim Jeffords, the party's legislative agenda was injected with focus and purpose. Without Jeffords, it was much easier to energize "the base" we hear so much about. Grassroots money flooded in. The 2002 and 2004 elections were stunningly successful in their own unique ways. Giving up one RINO (Republican In Name Only) in exchange for several true conservatives was-- ultimately-- great for the Republican legislative agenda.

But, Jim Jeffords was not the only problematic member of the GOP coalition. Several remain. Several are uniquely infuriating, and distinctly terrible. One among those several stands out, however.

It's Lincoln Chafee. He's awful. Even worse than the others who shall remain nameless in this post.

Chafee, for example, joined a couple of Republicans and nearly all Democrats in voting against tax relief this week. If you glance through his interest group ratings, you'll notice that voting for higher taxes fit his modus operandi perfectly.

And yet, the NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) prominently supported liberal Chafee against a conservative primary opponent.

Is it any wonder that the NRSC is the only one of the major Republican organizations lagging in the fundraising department:

nrsclagging.gif

Let's get real, here. The slide in support for Congressional Republicans from "the base" is all about folks like Lincoln Chafee. Conservatives are not rejecting conservatism. They (we) are rejecting Republicans who are insufficiently conservative.

For all intents and purposes, Chafee has defected from the GOP just as much as Jim Jeffords defected in 2001. Chafee has declared war on the Republican legislative agenda. If Democrats so much as sniff a majority, Chafee's as good as gone. Unfortunately, some GOP higher-ups have misinterpreted (mangled?) the concept of having a "big tent" party. So, instead of telling Chafee to take a hike, or letting Chafee take a hike on his own, the leadership has accomodated him, coddled him, protected him, and otherwise supported him.

What the Republican Party needs most of all right now-- and is likely least of all willing to do right now due to low poll numbers-- is shed some dead weight.

Congressional Republicans ought to understand, believe in, and defend graphs (and accompanying commentary) like this (.pdf):

percentilespaidtaxes.gif
...it is important to note that up to 40 percent of federal income tax filers cannot receive further tax relief because these taxpayers do not in effect pay federal income taxes. Millions of families, many in the bottom fifth, have either zero tax liability or receive a net transfer from the government due to the refundable portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and/or the Child Tax Credit (CTC).

....

...the average tax liability for returns reporting income under $20,000 was negative for tax year 2003. While reliance on averages alone can be misleading, the data suggest that tens of millions of tax returns actually reported either zero or negative federal income tax liability.

Chafee might understand it. He does not believe in it. And he'd never be caught dead defending it.

Or, take this Donald Luskin piece on the post-tax cut economy versus the pre-tax cut economy (with dazzling graphs added for elucidation!):

In the 17 months from November 2001 (NBER’s official recession end-date) to April 2003 (my proposed recession end-date), real GDP grew 3.2 percent. But in the 36 months from April 2003 to now, real GDP has grown much more: 11.3 percent.
realgdpdiffs.gif


From November 2001 to April 2003 the unemployment rate actually went up — from 5.5 percent to 6 percent. And 1 million payroll jobs were destroyed. Talk about a jobless recovery! But from April 2003 to now, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7 percent and 5.1 million payroll jobs have been created.

employmentjobcreationdiffs.gif


From November 2001 to April 2003 the S&P 500 fell 18 percent. Some bull market! But from April 2003 to now, it is up 51 percent. Now that’s a bull market.

sandp500diffs.gif


From November 2001 to April 2003 corporate earnings grew a paltry 7 percent. But from April 2003 to present they’ve grown a stunning 56 percent, and are now at all-time highs.

corporateearningsdiffs.gif


From November 2001 to April 2003 manufacturers’ new orders fell 5 percent and private sector non-residential fixed investment fell 1 percent. Not exactly a big vote of confidence in growth. But from April 2003 to now, new orders have swelled 38 percent and fixed investment has surged 35 percent.

newordersdiffs.gif
&
psnrfidiffs.gif


From November 2001 to April 2003 federal income tax receipts fell 11 percent, contributing to record government budget deficits. But from April 2003 to present, tax receipts have exploded by 26 percent, and now stand at all-time highs. In fact, it was reported this week that tax money is pouring into the Treasury at such a torrid pace that our government now holds a record $94 billion in excess cash.

taxreceiptsdiffs.gif

Clearly, tax cuts were good for something. It's not the man in the Oval Office that matters. It's the policies the man in the Oval Office is able to enact. Congress is the key. The 2002 elections were crucial to the economic success we enjoy today.

However, Chafee joins several Senate Republicans in not believing that tax relief has grown the economy. That's his right. But it's our right to throw the bum(s) out of office. Chafee is simply tainting the Republican brand, making it more difficult for Republicans in those "red states" and "red districts" to draw distinctions between the party of low tax prosperity (the Republicans) and the party of Karl Marx (the Democrats).

Majorities matter, but not just majorities of Rs or Ds. True majorities. Majorities of ideas.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Zimbabwe Needs Freedom.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 May 2006 06:15 PM · Comments (9)

Data Collection Demagoguery

What do the liberals, Democrats and leftists fear about the NSA collecting information about domestic phone calls?

Clearly, it isn't a fear about the legality of the program. Whereas there is a colorable claim that the NSA wiretap program runs afoul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the Supreme Court case of Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979), tells us that the installation of a pen register on a private phone to record numbers dialed did not constitute a 'search', and that there is no expectation of privacy in the numbers you dial, or the information gathered by phone companies. Thus the program of collecting information about numbers dialed, as outlined by USA Today, is unquestionably legal.

Nor do they fear that the program will enable the Bush administration to listen in on the calls of its political opponents - this program collects information about calls, it does not record the conversations themselves, and so the utility of this program as a 'COINTELPRO' operation is nil.

So why are the Democrats so 'concerned' with furrowed brows now? It think Senator Diane Feinstein says it all in this quote:

I believe we are on our way to a major constitutional confrontation on Fourth Amendment guarantees of unreasonable search and seizure," Feinstein said. "I think this is also going to present a growing impediment to the confirmation of General Hayden. And that is very regretted.

Regretted? Feinstein is counting on it. She needs this confrontation to whip up the base into a frenzy for the coming elections this fall. Opposing, or even better, defeating the confirmation of Lt. Gen. Michael Hayden to be CIA chief is manna from heaven. It allows the Democrats to play the fear card among their goofiest-yet-wealthiest supporters, who will now open their checkbooks to fight the growing fascist Bush police state.

Senator Leahy of Vermont just comes out and says what is really going on:

Shame on us for being so far behind, and being so willing to rubber-stamp anything this administration does," Leahy said. "The Republican-controlled Congress refuses to ask questions, and so we have to pick up the paper to find out what is going on.

The mind just reels with the inane nature of this statement. It would require a Fisking-within-a-Fisking to fully parse its stupidity. What Leahy is saying here is that somehow the Senate is supposed to have a say over the President's implementation of completely legal intelligence gathering programs, thus violating the separation of powers doctrine, that "rubber-stamping" anything the Bush administration does is wrong (I guess daily obstruction of each and every thing the President tries to do is the proper Senatorial response, according to Leahy), and that such programs should be leaked to the press so the Senate can get its bearings. Notice how protecting the nation from terrorism fails to rear its ugly head in Leahy's analysis.

Does this demagoguery cause damage? Check out this response to CNN from one of the hoi polloi -

[Should the government monitor phone records?] Absolutely not. They should have to uphold the Constitution. Who is Bush to be above the law? He and the NSA should get a court order. There is no privacy with him in office. Shame on the Congress and Senate.Peggy Haworth, New Jersey

Peggy Haworth is a victim of fear based on ignorance, fed by Democratic demagogues who are indifferent to (or afraid of) the truth, building an unwitting fifth column for al-Qaeda right here at home.

Simply outrageous.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 12 May 2006 02:01 PM · Comments (13)

Quotational Therapy: Part 98 -- Howard Dean, On Gay Marriage.

One Man, One Woman, Eh?

This one's for the single-issue voters. I know you're out there. And you know who you are. I know you are as right-wing as right-wing comes, but you claim to be "liberal" because of this one issue. You even now vote for socialist Democrats just to stick it to the anti-gay GOP.

Again, this one is for you.

woahdean.gif

Howard Dean, pandering to values voters:

"The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says."

Oh, really, Howard? Because that's not what you've said in the recent past. Nor is it what the 2004 DNC platform said:

"We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."

So the plan was/is to discretely slip support for gay marriage into the platform (that nobody reads), hope gays would take the bait, then have candidates go out and say what the overwhelming majority of Americans want to hear (marriage = 1 man + 1 woman)?

Nice.

The GOP certainly has its flaws, but the Democratic Party is a hopelessly contradictory coalition of divergent interest groups (that usually don't even like each other). It constantly astounds me how the Democratic Party's mutually exclusive groups can put aside such stark differences and come together at election time.

And for what?

To be sold down the river when the going gets rough (and make no mistake, the polls are rough right now for both parties).

[Hat tip: A Stitch in Haste]


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Reagan Is Awesome

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 May 2006 11:14 AM · Comments (4)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Fifty-Six -- Shocking New Social Security Development.

reformthursdayblue.gif

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:

Big Brother Government.

This week, a lot of ink-- and pixels-- have been spilled discussing the NSA's database of American phone calls. This is news? And somehow outrageous?

Rich Noyes of NewsBusters put it well:

...the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty.

Let's talk Big Brother.

According to the Social Security Administration, during the past year, an estimated 159 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.

One hundred fifty-nine million Americans had 1 out of every 8 dollar they earned mandatorily confiscated by Big Brother and set aside for decades-- ostensibly for retirement. That money then earns an increasingly lousy rate of return:

rateofreturnfalling.gif

And that's only what it'll be if Social Security magically remains solvent over the next few decades.

It looks even worse if we admit that, without major reform, Social Security will not be able to pay what is currently promised.

Think about what Social Security is. It's a government-run pyramid scheme.

In order to calculate your retirement benefits, Big Brother tracks your earnings (and where you work) throughout your entire working life.

Sure, this is hardly a bombshell revelation. But neither is the NSA's phone call database. Imagine if our media hyped the need for entitlement reform the way they currently push the Big Brother angle on the NSA terrorist surveillance program.


The clock is still 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).
-Week Fifty-Two (Socialist Security).
-Week Fifty-Three (China Has The Same Problem, Only Worse).
-Week Fifty-Four (Potential Crisis Size).
-Week Fifty-Five (The Crisis Moves Closer).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 May 2006 09:06 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 330 -- The Disaster That Is Zimbabwe.

When property is outlawed, only outlaws will have property-

Take note of Zimbabwe's economic fortunes over the past quarter century:

zimbabwegdp.gif

Now, look at the Freedom House ratings of Zimbabwe over that same period (.pdf):

freedomslopeinzimbabwe.gif

Coincidence?

Freedom matters. That includes economic freedom, as well as political freedom.

Indeed, Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, with its falling levels of freedom, is a perfect example of how not to run a country.

Consider Zimbabwe--a state which, since 2000, has been in an economic tailspin. Today, it is shrinking faster than any other country on earth that is not at war. Zimbabwe’s currency is nearly worthless from hyperinflation; its financial institutions are in disarray; its world-class farms sit idle; and its manufacturing, mining, and export sectors are declining steeply. The informal exchange rate for the Zimbabwe dollar is Z$150,000 to US$1; six years ago, it was Z$55 to US$1.

When "reducing inequality" becomes the primary goal and function of a government, economic disaster is on its way. Guaranteed.

The best, fastest way to achieve equality is to destroy wealth. Ultimately, that's all populist Marxist regimes do. Destroy wealth, as well as the fonts of wealth creation. In Zimbabwe, "land reforms" were Mugabe's way of destroying wealth:

Economic growth from 1980 to 1989 averaged a robust 5.2 percent in real terms, and while it slowed from 1990 to 1999 due to questionable macroeconomic policies, it still averaged 4.3 percent during this period. A major reason for the country’s prosperity was its sophisticated commercial farming sector. Vast tracts of large-scale farms produced thousands of acres of tobacco, cotton, and other cash crops. About 4,500 white families owned these farms. In contrast, 840,000 black farmers eked out a living on small and relatively infertile plots in the communal lands, producing maize, groundnuts, and other staples.

By the late 1990s, a broad consensus had taken shape--including the Mugabe government, the IMF, the United Nations, the British government (the original colonial power in Zimbabwe), Africa scholars, and even many of Zimbabwe’s white commercial farmers--that land reforms were needed. The purpose of these reforms would be to improve agricultural productivity and, simultaneously, increase wealth for the black majority. The sensitive issue was how to redistribute the land, since the commercial farming sector provided much of the country’s foreign exchange, created thousands of jobs, and produced the essential staple of maize.

While the IMF and the British advocated that landowners be given adequate compensation, as dictated by Zimbabwe’s own laws, the Mugabe government argued that these lands had been “stolen” from the country’s black inhabitants and thus could simply be taken back. This claim ignored the fact that more than 80 percent of white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe had been purchased through the commercial real estate market since Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980, and less than 5 percent of the farmers could trace their ancestry back to the original British colonialists who arrived in the 1890s.

In comes "land reform," which was really just code for the confiscation of productive property. What happened in Zimbabwe after farms were ransacked? Well, inflation shot up, foreign investment skedaddled out of the country, and wealth growth went negative. The destruction of productive private agricultural enterprise rippled into every sector of the economy:

The loss of Zimbabwe’s 4,000 farms has impacted every aspect of the country’s economy. Each of these farming companies employed 100 or more people, paid various taxes to the government, and generated incomes for others that also yielded taxes. In addition, the farms provided housing, clinics, and schools; more than a million Zimbabwean children, in fact, received an education from farm schools. Communal farmers also benefited from the farming companies, sourcing their demands for seed, fertilizer, chemicals, and expertise to them.

....

Although agriculture was only directly responsible for 18 percent of the Zimbabwean economy, 60 percent of the country’s non-farm enterprises directly or indirectly depended on commercial agriculture inputs. As a result, 700 non-farming companies had shut their doors by late 2001. In addition, the agricultural sector of the economy employed 60 percent of the entire population, which meant that millions of unemployed workers now had far less disposable income to purchase the nation’s goods and services.

Zimbabwe is a perfect example of the sort of economic and political disaster that could destroy any country that pursues populist Marxism to such an extreme.

Meanwhile, a great example of a country overcoming populist Marxism and introducing property rights with great success is Nicaragua:

nicaraguagdpgrowth.gif

And wouldn't you know, political rights and civil liberties tracked right along with economic liberties (.pdf):

freedominnicaragua.gif

Ideas matter. Policies matter. Freedom matters.

Thus, in this country, when one hears from The New York Times about how not raising taxes will "cost" Americans tens of billions of dollars, it's difficult to contain the guffaws, sighs, and chortles of irritated, depleted bemusement.

There are economic lessons from history, including contemporary history, that left-wingers-- almost unanimously-- do not seem to grasp. Or even care to attempt to grasp. Tax relief, property rights, GDP growth, and economic freedom mean nothing to these socialists, if the menace of "inequality" persists.

America is the greatest nation on the planet because we have been one of the freest countries (politically, culturally, spiritually, economically) on the planet for such a consistent and enduring time.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Surpluses On Their Way.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 May 2006 11:27 AM · Comments (2)

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Profile
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年齢:34歳
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Profile
名前:みさき      
年齢:23歳
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Posted by Will Franklin · 11 May 2006 09:15 AM · Comments (7)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 329 -- Surging Economy Dumping Money Into Federal Government Coffers.

Strong Tax Revenue Growth-

According to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement (.pdf), in the month of April, the Federal Government ran a surplus of 118,851,000,000 dollars. That's nearly 119 billion dollars of surplus. In one month.

On the year, the Federal Government is still running a deficit of 184 billion dollars, but, folks, deficits are shrinking as tax revenues flood into the federal government. We will have surpluses in short order if these trends hold.

Indeed, revenue growth is nearly doubling spending growth so far this year (.pdf):

apr2006mts.gif

Remember that this is also on top of the same phenomenon last year, when revenues were up 14.6% and spending was up 7.9%.

When we have surpluses again (and we WILL have surpluses within a couple of years), do we want a tax-cutting party in office, or a party that loves Karl Marx? I'd prefer a flawed GOP over a socialist Democratic Party any day, especially the day we have surpluses again.

Of course, people are going to note that we'd already have surpluses if Bush had kept spending under control. That's true. We would. However, last year's spending growth of nearly 8 percent was fueled primarily by the major entitlement programs, Social Security in particular. The largest federal spending growth increases in recent years have been on national defense (to snap ourselves out of the false peace dividend of the post-Cold War 1990s), but mostly on locked-in entitlements from the 1930s and 1960s that have a mind of their own.

Here are the five areas with the largest increases in spending so far this fiscal year, relative to last fiscal year at a comparable point:

$25.573 billion - "Community & Regional Development" (Hurricane Katrina)

$22.482 billion - Net Interest on the debt

$17.224 billion - Social Security

$16.373 billion - National Defense

$13.420 billion - Medicare

Not all parts of the government are growing, though. Indeed, one encouraging sign is the drop in spending on "Income Security" thus far in FY-06. That would indicate that people really are finding work.

Bottom line: a booming economy is producing surging tax revenues for the federal government. When the American economy sees relief from high taxes, the American economy grows. When the American economy grows, the federal government collects more in taxes.

It's not rocket science.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: State Government Revenues Up.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 May 2006 04:02 PM · Comments (9)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 55.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

strikethepose.gif

The actual caption:

Monks take photographs during gathering to mark the Buddhist ceremony of World Vesak Day iin Thailand's Nakhon Pathom province on the outskirts of Bangkok May 10, 2006. Almost 20,000 monks and devotees from 46 countries gathered to mark the coming Vesak Day which falls on Friday. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

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

Last week's photo:

babycrying.gif

Winners from last week:

1.

Bart Harmon:

Michael Jackson, tired of being a skinny white guy, has reportingly spent millions on plastic surgery to become a fat Chinese guy. Unfortunately, these changes had no effect whatsoever on his romantic interests.


2.

bullwinkle:

Shortly after giving birth to her first son, Rosie O'Donnell holds him aloft for the world to see.


3.

John:

Following in the footsteps of Al Gore, former Secretary of State Colin Powell has put on a few pounds and has adopted a more "casual" dress style after leaving government service to spend more time with his grandchildren.


Honorable Mention #1

Cox:

"Listen, just because we both wear big cloth diapers doensn't mean you can generalize..."


Honorable Mention #2

John in IL:

"Betcha can't eat just one"


Honorable Mention #3

Rodney Dill:

"Why stick to just dwarf tossing, when you can throw babies so much farther."


Honorable Mention #4

GOP and College:

GET IN MAH BELLAY!


Honorable Mention #5

DANEgerus:

Oliver Willis claims to have given birth to Michelle Malkin's love child...


Honorable Mention #6

Emily:

"Like kryptonite to diapers..."


Captioning is super serial.

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 May 2006 09:49 AM · Comments (19)

Why Darfur?

It is extremely difficult to reconcile the left's views on who to save from mass murder. Darfur is an excellent example, as David Frum points out:

An enlightened liberal internationalist wants to send troops to the Sudanese region of Darfur to protect a majority Muslim population against murderous Islamic extremist militias.

On the other hand, he or she must oppose keeping troops in Iraq to protect a majority Muslim population against murderous Islamic extremist militias.

The enlightened liberal internationalist wants to use U.S. airpower to stop Osama bin Laden's allies in Khartoum from committing terrorist atrocities.

On the other hand, he or she must condemn the use of U.S. airpower to stop Osama bin Laden's allies in Iraq from committing terrorist atrocities.

What explains the disparity in these views? The drive to do something about Darfur is the same philosophy that drove the United States into war over the former Yugoslavia: it is an area of the world completely devoid of any national security interests for the United States, where we can flex our muscle without wringing our hands about 'imperialism'. Nowadays, the only legitimate reason to intervene anywhere is when we can do so with 'cleans hands', free of the white guilt that Shelby Steele speaks of. God forbid that the United States should use its military to actually protect the United States.

Should we intervene in Darfur? If we do (most unlikely) it will be most interesting to see the contortions the left puts itself through to suddenly praise and laud the military for the great things it does. Will leftists enlist in droves to go fight the Janjaweed? We'll see if the liberal chickenhawks come home to roost.

The suggestion has been made (I came across is somewhere, can't find it again) that the libs who want to do something about Darfur should just go ahead and form their own militia and go fight.

Seriously, not a bad idea.

Put your money where your mouth is, pick up a gun and go fight a good fight. I don't think anyone doubts it is a just cause, and they could form a latter-day Abraham Lincoln Brigade and go down in history as righteous warriors. I'd be tempted to join them.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 9 May 2006 08:53 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 328 -- Surging Economy Dumping Money Into State Government Coffers.

Surpluses, Surpluses, & More Surpluses-

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports yet more good news about the economy:

...fiscal offices in 42 states report that they expect to end FY '06 with a collective $28.9 billion year-end balance. Of the 41 states that have revised their revenue forecasts since the start of the fiscal year, collections are exceeding expectations in 18, on target in another 18, and below forecasted levels in only one.

The economy is rocking. As in, 1980s Hair Band Rock. Loud and proud. This economy is so masculine, it's feminine. It's so angry and arbitrary, it's gleeful and contrived. The economy is rocking like Poison, Def Leppard, and White Tiger, combined.

Interestingly, the NCSL charges 35 dollars for full access to the data (nearly a dollar per page). Not going to pay for data I will surely be able to find elsewhere later for free, but I would just bet that there are certain patterns in the data that may seem counterintuitive to most folks. I've blogged on these very patterns here in the past. They are worth a second look.

If you aren't willing to click and look, here's a hint: states with higher local/state tax burdens typically have more problems paying the bills than states with lower local/state tax burdens. For those of us who study economics and believe in free enterprise, this is not much of a surprise. For folks in the media, it makes so little sense-- it is so mind-boggling-- they aren't even going to report it.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Sticking It To Corporations.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 May 2006 06:14 PM · Comments (3)

America's Drastic Demographic Changes: November 2004 & May 2006.

Since 2004, the demographics of the American electorate have changed more dramatically than in any point in our nation's history.

Yes, over the course of 18 months, we've seen the following changes (.pdf):

1. There are 13% more Democrats and 4% more Republicans today than in 2004.

Because, after all, Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi are such great sales(wo)men for their party. And we know that the Democratic Party's ratings have not fallen at all in recent months.


2. There are 9% more atheists/agnostics than in 2004.

Dang. Score one for the secular humanists. I don't know how those guys did it, but they successfully turned off 25-30 million Americans from religion in just 18 months. And here I thought God was alive and well in America. Stupid me.


3. Shockingly, there was a previously-unnoticed baby boom that happened between 18-34 years ago.

Apparently, young people today are more excited about voting than they have ever been, ever. Way to be engaged in the civic process, young people! Rad!

Additionally, in 2004, 24% of voters were 60 and older. Today, 14% are 65 and older. I guess the lack of medical advancements and rising death rate took the lives of a lot more grandparents than anyone realized over the past year and a half.

Sad.


4. 17% of Americans now make under $20,000 dollars per year, as opposed to 8% in 2004.

Darn, that economy, bringing everyone down. If only more people had jobs, and were earning more, than they did in November 2004. Oh well, maybe someday the economy won't be so awful.


5. 6% less Americans live in rural areas today than did in November of 2004.

Because, as we know, over the past 18 months, there has been a mass exodus of folks, ~15 million souls, from the podunk boondocks to the glorious, vibrant cities, such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles!


6. Since November of 2004, 8% fewer Americans are now white, 5% more Americans are now Latino.

Who knew that so many white folks were moving to other countries, dying at abnormally high rates, and not having any kids at all between 18 and 19.5 years ago, to the tune of 20-25 million lost white people, in just 18 months?

Meanwhile, who knew that we now have ~15 million more American citizens of Hispanic origin than we did in November 2004?


7. Apparently-- and completely unbeknownst to anyone-- the divorce rate spiked over the past 18 months. In November of 2004, 26% more American voters were married than not married. Today, the gap is only 19%.

Not only are ~9 million more Americans not married, ~12 million additional Americans who were married just 18 months ago are now not married.

Bummer for marriage fans.


8. On election day in 2004, 100% of voters were registered to vote. Today, it's 82%. And we know how all those unregistered voters during primary seasons get registered and flock to the polls to vote in mid-term Congressional elections.


9. Over the course of just 18 months, 3% more Americans are high school dropouts and 6% less Americans graduated from college.

Major bummer. I guess education has gone down the tubes in the past 18 months, as well.


This is all shocking stuff, people.

And, if you believe all of that, or even just some of it, that the American electorate really has changed so drastically in just a year and a half, I have some oceanfront property in North Dakota and a 33% presidential approval rating I want to sell you.

After all, we know that:

1. The Democratic Party's ratings are nearly as terrible as the GOP's ratings, even under demographically-challenged polls. While the Democrats' kamikaze-style politics have worked in harming the GOP, their own ratings have-- not surprisingly-- also plummeted.


2. Next, we know that religion is doing just fine in America. If tens of millions of Americans were suddenly disillusioned by religion, I think we'd know about it.


3. Moreover, where is the evidence of young people being engaged in politics at truly unprecedented levels? If anything, 2004 was a blip in the overall trend toward apathy and nonparticipation, and even then, young voters still only made up 17% of the electorate. Eighteen months ago, unfounded fears of an impending military draft drove up youth voter turnout. Today, not so much. If the Democrats/media are counting on a youth tsunami at the polls in 2006, they are in for major disappointment.

While the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit is controversial, and indeed reviled by many conservatives, elderly Americans (who are living longer than ever) seem to like it just fine. Why would elderly folks, who vote religiously (usually for Republicans), not vote this time around? It makes no sense.


4. The economy is rocking, more people do have jobs than in November 2004 and people are earning more money at those jobs. The Associated Press wants us to believe that the percentage of Americans making under 15K per year has gone up from 8% to 12% over the past 18 months, while those making 50-75K has gone down from 23% to 15%, those making 75K to 100K has gone down from 14% to 9%, and those making 100K or more has gone down from 18% to 13%.

Give me a break.


5. We also know that rural/urban/suburban migration is relatively stable, yet, if anything, Americans are moving out of the cities.


6. We know that white people didn't suddenly begin dying, moving away to Canada, or not having kids 18-19.5 years ago, over the past eighteen months. We may very well have more Latinos than we did 18 months ago, but we didn't add almost 1 million per month in that time. Those that we did add are typically not voters.


7. Marriage is doing just fine. The divorce rate did not spike. Sure, young people are waiting longer to get married, but that was already happening eighteen months ago. Over the course of a year and a half, the numbers should not have changed more than a fraction of a percentage point.


8. Sure, some people who are not registered to vote in May do get their act together and register before November. Some states even have same-day registration. But when almost 1/5 of the respondents in a survey are not registered voters, that means the numbers could very well be off by nearly 20%. For the most part, if you aren't registered by now, you won't be registered in the fall. Even if you are registered to vote by election day, the odds of of you voting in a mid-term election are slim, at best.


9. In the course of 18 months, it is nearly impossible for nearly 10 million more Americans to drop out. It's also unfathomable for nearly 20 million college graduates to die or move away over the course of a year and a half.

Bottom line, there have not been any drastic demographic shifts in the American electorate over the past 18 months, thus drastic shifts in survey respondent demographics delegitimize polls. They are just plain bunk. Bunk.

In short, these polls, no matter how much they reflect the genuine discontent in the country (and such discontent does indeed exist), are complete and utter rubbish. Start adjusting the demographics to their proper levels, and you'll start seeing President Bush's approval ratings within striking distance-- still below, but in striking distance-- of where they were in November of 2004.

Much more on this phenomenon at Ankle Biting Pundits blog.

UPDATE: More on the latest rigged poll.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 May 2006 01:23 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 327 -- Taxes.

Corporate Tax Collections = Smaller Deficits-

The Tax Foundation has some more good news about the economy:

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Corporate tax collections totaled $278 billion, up from $195 billion in 2004 and $139 billion in 2003 (all in real 2005 dollars). That represents a real rate of growth of over 100 percent over two years. A new study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows this trend has continued into 2006. As of April 2006, corporate income tax receipts are up nearly 30 percent over receipts during the same period in 2005.

The recent surge in corporate income tax collections has substantially increased corporate tax collections as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 1.2 percent of GDP in FY 2003 to 1.6 percent in FY 2004 and, most recently, 2.3 percent in 2005. By this measure, corporate tax collections in 2005 were higher than in any year since 1980.

Additionally, as a percentage of Total Federal Receipts, corporate taxes in 2005 were at their highest level (12.9%) since 1979 (14.2%).

What this means is that projected deficits are shrinking. We could easily see federal budget surpluses in the next couple of years, in spite of surging spending levels and because of lower taxes.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Economy Is Absolutely Smoking, But For Political Reasons, Some Won't Admit It.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 May 2006 09:46 PM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 97 -- Ronald Reagan, Moscow State University.

Speaking Truth To Marxists

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Reagan, being his usual awesome self:

The explorers of the modern era are the entrepreneurs, men with vision, with the courage to take risks and faith enough to brave the unknown. These entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States. They are the prime movers of the technological revolution. In fact, one of the largest personal computer firms in the United States was started by two college students, no older than you, in the garage behind their home.

Some people, even in my own country, look at the riot of experiment that is the free market and see only waste. What of all the entrepreneurs that fail? Well, many do, particularly the successful ones. Often several times. And if you ask them the secret of their success, they'll tell you it's all that they learned in their struggles along the way — yes, it's what they learned from failing. Like an athlete in competition, or a scholar in pursuit of the truth, experience is the greatest teacher.

We are seeing the power of economic freedom spreading around the world — places such as the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan have vaulted into the technological era, barely pausing in the industrial age along the way. Low-tax agricultural policies in the sub-continent mean that in some years India is now a net exporter of food. Perhaps most exciting are the winds of change that are blowing over the People's republic of China, where one-quarter of the world's population is now getting its first taste of economic freedom.

At the same time, the growth of democracy has become one of the most powerful political movements of our age. In Latin America in the 1970's, only a third of the population lived under democratic government. Today over 90 percent does. In the Philippines, in the Republic of Korea, free, contested, democratic elections are the order of the day. Throughout the world, free markets are the model for growth. Democracy is the standard by which governments are measured.

....

Democracy is less a system of government than it is a system to keep government limited, unintrusive: A system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.

Read the entire May 31, 1988 speech here.

In some ways, this speech could still be given by today's free enterprise-loving conservatives, but the audience might be a bit different. Think about all the folks in today's ostensibly free world-- and in the United States, specifically-- who could benefit from hearing a speech like that.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Howard Dean, On Jews In America.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 May 2006 04:56 PM · Comments (1)

Sunday Night Heidi Weimaraner Puppy Update: 17½ Weeks Old.

Heidi is right around 30 pounds.

12 weeks ago, she was just under 5 pounds.

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Apparently she's been reading WILLisms.com this week.

For more pictures of Heidi, click the "Read More »" extended entry button below.


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Last week's update.
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Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 7 May 2006 09:31 PM · Comments (3)

Lt. General Michael Hayden: New CIA Chief?

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Lt. General Michael Hayden

A likely successor to Porter Goss as Director of the CIA is Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Hayden, former head of the National Security Agency. Government Executive magazine tells us that Porter Goss was going to name Hayden as deputy director to the CIA last Tuesday, and that if appointed director of the CIA, Hayden is likely to "bring the same aggressive management style to the beleaguered agency" that he brought to the NSA. GovExec.com also has an article here about the shakeups Hayden brought to the NSA.

There is a good deal of concern in Congress over a military officer taking control of the CIA: "you can't have the military control most of the major aspects of intelligence," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

This concern is unwarranted. Just find the best person for the job, and get him confirmed. I think after 200+ years of successful civilian control of the military and related apparatus that we can trust our military officers to know their place and do the right thing vis-a-vis the Constitution. The idea too that a military guy is going to fight harder for budgets or influence than a civilian is just belied by history. Relax, this guy might be a great appointment.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 May 2006 06:03 PM · Comments (14)

Pundit Roundtable

Hi folks! Welcome back to the PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE, our rousing roundup of repartee. I am your host and loyal aide-de-camp, Ken McCracken. Here are our topics for this week:

Topic 1: What do you think are the biggest failings of the Bush administration? Is there time enough to correct them before President Bush leaves office?

Topic 2: Porter Goss, Andrew Card and Scott McClellan are gone, and Karl Rove has been demoted. Are recent personnel changes going to reinvigorate the Bush administration, or is this merely a rearrangement of the deck chairs?

Topic 3: Who is the most overrated artist, thinker or personality of all time?

I would like to introduce a new guest to the Roundtable, Curt of Flopping Aces. What do you think, Curt?

"In my opinion his biggest failings would be immigration and spending as I'm sure most Republicans will agree. I knew full well going into the Bush Presidency that he was not a Reagan Republican but I could never had pulled the lever for Gore, not in a million years. I was not sold on Bush from the beginning, but that all changed after 9/11.

He has increased his spending over 130% since his first term began but now appears to finally be tightening the belt. We shall see how far that goes.

As far as immigration goes, what can I say. I don't agree with him. I think a physical wall needs to be built FIRST then we go after the illegals. I do agree that it is not possible to round up 12 million illegals and send them home, but we can go after the business that employ's them. Stop the jobs and they go home.

I am the first to tell people that we will never find the perfect President. The man who we agree with on all issues. It will not happen. So based on this fact the good greatly outweighs the bad here. Yes, his immigration and fiscal policies could be better but his nominations for the court, his steadfast support for the war on terror, and the way he carried out that war far outweighs the negatives. Most importantly to me tho is the way he will not bend/change his belief's just to push his poll numbers up...the anti-Clinton. Natan Sharansky put it so well recently:

There are two distinct marks of a dissident. First, dissidents are fired by ideas and stay true to them no matter the consequences. Second, they generally believe that betraying those ideas would constitute the greatest of moral failures. Give up, they say to themselves, and evil will triumph. Stand firm, and they can give hope to others and help change the world.

Political leaders make the rarest of dissidents. In a democracy, a leader's lifeline is the electorate's pulse. Failure to be in tune with public sentiment can cripple any administration and undermine any political agenda. Moreover, democratic leaders, for whom compromise is critical to effective governance, hardly ever see any issue in Manichaean terms. In their world, nearly everything is colored in shades of gray.

That is why President George W. Bush is such an exception. He is a man fired by a deep belief in the universal appeal of freedom, its transformative power, and its critical connection to international peace and stability. Even the fiercest critics of these ideas would surely admit that Mr. Bush has championed them both before and after his re-election, both when he was riding high in the polls and now that his popularity has plummeted, when criticism has come from longstanding opponents and from erstwhile supporters.

Does he have time to turn this around, definately. I would not underestimate Bush.

Topic 2: These changes will definately reinvigorate the administration, and the choices he is making to replace those leaving couldn't be better. One major mistake made by this administration is being slow to recognize political problems on the horizon and then once recognized, battling it head on. It appears he has realized there is a problem and is taken the steps necessary to turn this around.

Topic 3: Um wow....how in the hell can I narrow this one down? I will have to go with artist this time around and choose Bob Dylan. His voice sucked, his harmonica sucked, but he was a decent writer. Just never understood the homage paid to him....just my opinion, no hate mail. Well ok, send the hate mail, they always make me smile.

Next we have frequent WILLisms.com commenter and author of Ski-Blog.com, Justin B. Welcome Justin, what do you say?

"Public Relations is the single biggest failing. We could point to the WOT, handling of pre-9-11 Intel, failing to reform Social Security, etc., but ultimately, the economy today is absolutely soaring. And the administration cannot get the message out. The WOT is winnable and we are winning, yet no one knows it. They have allowed the Democrats to consistently tell us how bad the world hates us, despite leadership changes in Germany, Canada, the reelection of Tony Blair, and the near ouster of Chirac. The Dems have downplayed the economy, despite every indicator pointing to this economy possibly being better than Clinton’s last couple of years. It is a massive PR Failure of every sense.

The second half is yes, but it does not matter if he corrects them by November 2008. What matters is if the administration’s new hire of Tony Snow can correct them by November 2006. And I believe the answer is yes to both of them. Can we fix everything that has gone wrong in Iraq? No. Can we fix Social Security. Probably not. But we can fix the misperception that lower taxes, less government, and an aggressive foreign policy and WOT strategy work. And that is the goal. Bush is a lame duck, but this is now a referendum on the Republican Ideals of values, smaller government, economic freedom, capitalism, and lower taxes. Bush’s lack of PR expertise, if not corrected, could sink all of these ideas and their supporters.

Yes. Absolutely. Americans are tired of the same old faces. And this administration has allowed their reliance on “loyalty” and Bush’s belief in some folks that are not doing their jobs to influence his decisions. I like Card and McClellan, but given the poll numbers on the economy, despite the reality of GDP Growth, Unemployment, Wage Growth, etc., the message has not been getting out. So you fire your PR firm. You have to. Perhaps Rummy needs to go too, but honestly, he has done a pretty good job and you don’t fire your General in mid-battle. That is conceding defeat. But things need to change and again, it starts with PR. Marx. No doubt. Considering the range of influence that his ideas have had and that so many have been proven wrong and caused so many problems throughout the world. His ideas led to the slaughter of close to 100M people in China, Russia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, South and Central America, the dividing of Germany, and the economic and political imprisonment of half the world’s population under tyranny. Now, that does not mean he is wrong about everything. Conflict theory and some of the other pieces of things such as religion’s influence are relevant and need to be explored and understood, but given his range of influence and how wrong several of his ideas were that caused massive conflicts worldwide, I am thinking Marx.

I will add a simple tidbit on personalities and other overrated people—Tom Cruise. How the hell did this guy go from Risky Business to being the world’s preeminent expert on Mental Disorders and Psychiatric treatment simply by joining a cult and reading some science fiction? Put on your sunglasses, slide across the wood floor in your socks, and shut the hell up. MI-3 should have been about the Impossible Mission of him coming out of the closet and fathering a child. I believe that about as much as Michael Jackson and Debbie Roe.

I am also pleased to announce another newcomer to the Roundtable, Scott Chaffin, The Fat Guy. Tell us what's on your mind, Scott.

"Failing is a harsh word. In general, I would say that pronouncements of failure are best left to history. But by far my biggest disappointment with the Bush administration is with the expansion of the federal government. It would be unfair to say that we didn't see it coming, since Bush never ran as a small government guy, and I had personal experience under his governorship of Texas. I did, however, expect a lower rate of expansion than we've seen, but it's almost certainly slower than I would have expected under a Democrat. External events, specifically 9/11 and the resulting global war on terror, have to be a part of the calculus, though, and the return on investment, as it were, is still out there a ways. Is there enough time to correct that? I doubt it, as there is no external, voter-driven push to shrink the federal footprint. Americans seem to want the federal security blanket, and our elected leaders seem quite happy to give it to them, thus ensuring their continuing to be our elected leaders. My personal, somewhat irrational view is that there are almost no frontiers left for Americans to escape to, and the innate drive for independence from the government is muffled.

Topic 2: Porter Goss, Andrew Card and Scott McClellan are gone, and Karl Rove has been demoted. Are recent personnel changes going to reinvigorate the Bush administration, or is this merely a rearrangement of the deck chairs?

Do you mean reinvigorate the administration, or reinvigorate the polls about the administration? Personally, I could care less about the administration's invigoration, and even less about the polls. I want my president to have his head down doing the job of leading the country. Obviously, though, polls tie into that, as does administrative invigoration. I don't think there's ever anything bad about fresh ideas, but I don't believe those are going to come from the press secretary or the chief of staff. Ultimately, though, I believe the polity is too divided by the question of whether we are at war with terrorists or not (and how we handle that) for the administration to have much of an effect on American vigor, which is what truly matters.

Topic 3: Who is the most overrated artist, thinker or personality of all time?

Whoo. Of all time??? I'll stick to what I've personally experienced, thanks. For my money, it's the Beatles. Talk about 'right place at the right time.' If I never have to listen to one more hippie deliver an uber-serious, self-important monologue about the overwhelming genius of John, Paul, George and Ringo, it'll be too soon. Give me the Rolling Stones (and someone please tell those guys to hang it up right now and quit screwing up their legacy; that's the one thing the Beatles did right - quit.)

And now we have returning pundit John Stansbury of The Blorg to tell us the score. What do you say?

"Not to go all 11th Commandment or anything, but George W. Bush's biggest problem was that he was a Conservative Christian, and he's never been able to recover from that. That, and he doesn't take the time to slam his enemies in public. Plus, if he has a problem with somebody, he takes it up with them in private, and doesn't make a public spectacle of it.

Bush is a pathological classy guy. From this, he can never recover.

Topic 2: Not to go all 11th Commandment or anything...uh, okay, actually I will go and break Reagan's Law. The Bush administration was always originally built as the massive team-building exercise. As hokey as "I'm a uniter, not a divider" sounds, that's what it was built to do. If Bush had any idea just how partisan and militarily important his tenure would be, I'm sure the makeup would be different.

That said, I think there's little to the changes being made. 8 years is a long time to be doing anything, especially in a wartime administration.

Topic 3: That guy who said that socialism was a good idea. Sadly, I would have to explain, over and over again, who that guy is. It fails every time it's tried, yet...over and over again...there's always some "brilliant thinker"...

Finally we have Will Franklin of this very blog with his thoughts. Will?

"This is a difficult question to answer. So many failings (in terms of results) could have ended up even worse under different courses of action. It's too easy to Monday Morning Quarterback things. However, in terms of ongoing failings, there needs to be a far more aggressive campaign to "sell" the economy.

Topic 2: It's way too early to write off this administration. There are still roughly 1000 days remaining. If anything, the GOP Congressional leadership is what needs reinvigoration.

Topic 3: Muhammad Ali.

The Host's Last Word: The biggest failing of the Bush administration was falling prey to boondoggles like No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescriptions bill, and yet not tackling the really important issue of Social Security reform. I give Bush huge credit for touching the third rail of American politics, but then when the fight started getting tough Bush left the gloves on. The PR campaign (what there was of it) just sputtered, and Bush left the field to the fear mongering demagogues of the nanny-state Left.

Folks, this was not a failure for Bush, it was a failure for America because this problem is not going away and is simply multiplying. No doubt some future Democratic administration will blame Bush for the problem, when it was Democratic stonewalling that bankrupted the federal government.

As for the second topic, I am particularly interested in who will replace Porter Goss. The CIA is an absolutely critical agency in this day and age, and yet sections of it are in near-revolt against the Bush administration. The CIA is in the unenviable position of never being able to trumpet its successes, yet its failures (911, Iraq WMDs, leaks, etc.) make glaring front-page news. The volume of reportage on the CIA indeed makes it look like a completely broken organization.

What we need is a new CIA director that will keep the CIA out of the news. No news is good news when it comes to intelligence.

dylan.jpg marx.jpg

Curt absolutely nails it on Bob Dylan - easily the most overrated artist of all time. Curt says that he is at least a good writer - I don't even give him credit for that, I always found his lyrics and poetry to be incoherent at best.

As for Marx, calling him 'overrated' seems almost like a compliment of sorts when juxtaposed with the mass murders committed in his name, and all the lives, resources and opportunites squandered in the service of his destructive philosophy, which even continues today in places such as that gulag known as Cuba. To paraphrase William F. Buckley, the time spent studying Marx's writings and those of his followers was the greatest waste of man-hours in the history of civilization.

That's all! Come back next week for the next edition of PUNDIT ROUNDTABLE!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 May 2006 01:05 PM · Comments (13)

Will Franklin, Kingmaker

The shy and modest Will Franklin has not mentioned that he, along with Rob Port and other friends of WILLisms.com, was selected to be on a panel choosing the top blogs over at the Hotline's BloggersChoice poll.

The leftist blogosphere is a dark and irrational place that is best left alone, and so the National Journal's Hotline provides an invaluable service: they muck into the fever swamp so we don't have to.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 5 May 2006 04:41 PM · Comments (5)

Quotational Therapy: Part 96 -- Howard Dean Strikes Again.

This Man Runs The Democratic Party

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"I was recently asked about the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties," Dean said. "When it comes right down to it, the essential difference is that the Democrats fundamentally believe it is important to make sure that American Jews feel comfortable being American Jews."

-Howard Dean, DNC Chairman.

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer.


Hmm, yeah, okay.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Bush, On Health Policy

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 May 2006 02:18 PM · Comments (7)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 326 -- The Media & Democrats Aren't Acknowledging Our Rocking Economy.

32 Straight Months Of Job Growth-

Yet more good economic news. On the heels of yesterday's strong Q1 productivity growth numbers, the monthly job report (for April) came out this morning.

Again, things are getting better, folks (.pdf):

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Accordingly, the unemployment rate stands at 4.7%, which is lower than the average rates of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s (.pdf):

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Hourly compensation was up at an annual rate of 5.7% in the First Quarter, and 0.5% alone in the month of April. All of those jobs are depleting the available talent pool, which means that employers are paying more to attract and retain workers.

More jobs is always good news. Unfortunately, even after three years of uninterrupted job growth, the news is not sinking in with enough Americans.

Indeed, in a recent Fox News survey (.pdf), more people said the state of the economy was "poor" (30%) than "good" and "excellent" combined (22 + 6 = 28%). Moreover, Americans, especially Democrats, failed to demonstrate any basic factual knowledge of the economy (.pdf):

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43% of Democrats describe the economy as "poor."
12% of Republicans describe the economy as "poor."

50% of Republicans describe the economy as "excellent" or "good."
13% of Democrats describe the economy as "excellent" or "good."

That's disgusting partisanship. Such stark partisan differences are also unprecedented in this current era of ubiquitous polling. Over the past few decades, partisan ratings of the economy generally ebbed and flowed, up and down, in sync, together. Sure, sometimes Republicans rated the economy higher than Democrats, and vice-versa. But, like clockwork, if members of one party viewed the economy better, the ratings from the other party also went up.

Now, not so much. American ratings on the economy fell starkly at the turn of the century. While the recovery of Republican ratings has followed closely the recovery of the economy, Democrat ratings have never recovered.

I tend to believe that many of those Democrats are responding disingenuously, knowing their responses have an impact on both policy and President Bush's political fortunes. Nonetheless, the numbers are too low, across the board. They just do not match up with the facts in front of us.

To understand why attitudes toward the economy could be so negative in the midst of economic boom times, look no further than the establishment media:

To measure the media hype, MRC analysts reviewed ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows from April 12 through May 2. During those 21 days, the networks collectively aired 183 stories about rising oil and gas prices — 125 full reports or interview segments, plus another 58 brief anchor-read items.

NBC pushed its “Pain at the Pump” theme the hardest, with 48 stories on Today and another 31 on the NBC Nightly News. ABC’s Good Morning America aired 30 stories on gas prices, plus another 29 on World News Tonight. CBS’s Early Show had 28 stories, while the CBS Evening News aired 17.

In contrast, only four network stories during this period mentioned the low unemployment rate, 4.7 percent. And after the government reported strong economic growth on April 28, ABC and NBC each aired one story, while the CBS Evening News has yet to mention that good news.

In other words, although an overwhelming body of evidence pointing to a thriving economy is accumulating by the day, the ratio of "pain at the pump" stories to "the economy is rocking" stories is roughly 30.5 to 1.

A visual of that ratio:

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Indeed, in that same Fox News poll (.pdf) noted above, 17% said they had generally been seeing more good news about the economy in the media, 54% said they had been seeing more bad news, and 16% said news coverage on the economy had been balanced.

Historians and political scientists are going to have a heck of a time figuring these numbers out over the next few decades. They'll probably mostly take the easy way out and blame Iraq (and Katrina), rather than hyperbiased reporting from a hyperpartisan media.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Smog.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 May 2006 01:32 PM · Comments (3)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Fifty-Five -- Insolvency One Year Earlier Than Anticipated.

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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:

The 2006 Social Security Trustees Report.

Earlier this week, the Social Security Trustees released their annual report. A few of the highlights (lowlights):

* The projected point at which tax revenues will fall below program costs comes in 2017 -- the same as the estimate in last year’s report.

* The projected point at which the Trust Funds will be exhausted comes in 2040 -- one year earlier than the projection in last year’s report.

* The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 2.02 percent of taxable payroll -- up .09 percent from last year’s report.

* Over the 75-year period, the Trust Funds require additional revenue equivalent to $4.6 trillion in today’s dollars to pay all scheduled benefits. This unfunded obligation is $600 billion higher than the amount estimated last year.

In the first few Reform Thursday installments, only 15 months ago, the crisis was not expected to slam into us until 2042. Now, it's 2040. That's sooner, not later, for the our non-math-genius, head-in-the-sand, anti-reform readers.

The case for Social Security reform not only did not vanish after a year of inaction, it became more pressing. Doing nothing over the past year just cost us, as anticipated, 600 billion dollars, a number that was widely ridiculed by the status-quo-loving left last year.

Well, there you go. It happened.

The report also had many new graphs, including this one (.pdf):

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Yeah. Irritating.

In President Bush's 2006 State of the Union address, there was a telling moment:

Democrats applauded their successful obstruction of needed reform. Here is the transcript:

We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60, including two of my Dad's favorite people -- me and President Clinton. (Laughter.) This milestone is more than a personal crisis -- (laughter) -- it is a national challenge. The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60 percent of the entire federal budget. And that will present future Congresses with impossible choices -- staggering tax increases, immense deficits, or deep cuts in every category of spending.

Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security -- (applause) -- yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away. (Applause.) And every year we fail to act, the situation gets worse.

Let's zoom in on the most relevant parts:

"Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security --"

(DEMOCRATS applaud wildly)

"-- yet the rising cost of entitlements is a problem that is not going away."

(REPUBLICANS Applaud.)

This should be in national campaign commercials, along with other, similar moments from Democrats. It could be entitled, "If Children Were In Charge."

The clock is still ticking:


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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).
-Week Fifty-Two (Socialist Security).
-Week Fifty-Three (China Has The Same Problem, Only Worse).
-Week Fifty-Four (Potential Crisis Size).

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 May 2006 03:14 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 325 -- Smog.

It's Getting Better All The Time-

Not only is the American economy rocking, the environment isn't doing so shabby, either:

ozonestandards.gif
Ozone smog levels have plummeted during the last three years. Between 2003 and 2005, the fraction of the nation's ozone monitors violating the federal 8-hour ozone standard plunged from 43 percent down to a record-low 18 percent. The last three years were the three lowest-ozone years on record.

Awesome news. Which means you may never see much of anything about it in the establishment media. An evolving, vibrant economy no longer means more pollution, as it did in the 19th century. Indeed, as established economies expand, appliances and vehicles and other machines associated with progress become cleaner, safer, and more energy-efficient.

Meanwhile, these and other numbers on the environment are accumulating in a broad body of evidence, proving that the President's market-based environmental solutions haven't "opened the doors for big polluters" or any other such alarmist nonsense.

Things are getting better, folks. They're getting better all the time.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Personal Income Up.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 May 2006 12:57 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 324 -- Personal Income Up.

The Rich (a.k.a. Americans) Get Richer-

This morning, more encouraging news about the economy:

America's service sector expanded with gusto and the country's factories saw orders shoot up by the largest amount in nearly a year, fresh evidence the economy was pushing ahead at a good clip into the spring.

Before that, on Monday morning, another important report on the economy. Yes, the Commerce Department released personal income numbers for the month of March:

Personal income increased $88.8 billion, or 0.8 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $78.4 billion, or 0.8 percent, in March, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $51.8 billion, or 0.6 percent.

Lagging personal income growth, of course, is one of the few remaining indicators liberals have been able to point to over the past three years in their quest to talk down the Bush-tax-cut-induced economic boom.

No more. Predictably, those 5+ million recently-created jobs have driven unemployment down. The historically low unemployment rate has placed competitive pressures on employers' ability to attract and retain talent, which has led to higher wages.

In just one month (March), Americans earned an additional 88.8 billion dollars. If those additional income dollars from March were an economy of their own, it would rank ~59th in GDP among individual nations.

Using CIA World Factbook numbers, you could fit the annual economies of North Korea, Cuba, plus Brunei and Greenland within that single month of American personal income growth. With room to spare.

Or, you could add the entire annual economies of each of the following:

personalincomegrowthmarch20.gif

Iceland, Zambia, Niger, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Togo, Tajikistan, Benin, Gabon, and Somalia... with room to spare.

Think about that. One month. An increase of 88.8 billion personal income dollars, on top of America's already high income levels.

The consequences of economic growth are profound. Let's keep it going. Let's resist the urge to derail economic growth with weird economic isolationism, Kyoto-like regulations, and higher taxes.

Let's also spread the word about this robust economy. I'd hate to see the negative attitudes of Americans about the economy become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Moreover, if President Bush received a smidgeon of the credit for the economy President Clinton received during the late 1990s, there's little doubt that Bush's overall poll numbers would be far higher than they are today.

And if the President's poll numbers were a little higher, maybe some of those recalcitrant Congressional Republicans wouldn't be so busy proving how "independent" (idiotic) they are.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Voter Turnout.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 May 2006 01:15 PM · Comments (2)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 54.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

babycrying.gif

The actual caption:

Sae Sumiyoshi cries in the arms of an amateur sumo wrestler during a baby-crying contest at Sensoji temple in Tokyo April 29, 2006. Seventy-four babies born in 2005 took part in the event, which is held to pray for the babies' health and growth. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, May 9. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

gore.gif

Winners from last week:

[I was disappointed there was no "manbearpig"-related comment. Oh well.]

1.

Rodney Dill:

AP BREAKING: In other news a well known painting by Norwegian Artist, Edvard Munch, has been recovered.


2.

DaveD:

Madame Tussaud's opens its first exhibit in the new "Hall of Losers" wing.


3.

Rodney Dill:

New this Summer:

Mission Impossible IV:

Al Gore 2008


Honorable Mention #1

Rodney Dill:

The relentless beat-beat-beat of the liberal 'blame-Bush' mantra was eventually to become known as the Algorithm.


Honorable Mention #2

Counter Trey:

Finally! Proof that Al Gore really does blow smoke out his ass.


Honorable Mention #3

Maggie:

Newly-hired consultants advised Algore to smile more for the cameras, unaware how twisted his facial features become when he says: "Cheese."


Honorable Mention #4

Bob:

You want the truth? OK, here it is: Bill killed Ron Brown and I did not invent the Internet, but Madeline really can leg-press 400 pounds.


Honorable Mention #5

Zsa Zsa:

As his Kingdom of Mordor smolders through the window behind him, Sauron adopts a new, media friendly "eco" persona complete with suit and tie and Al Gore mask.


Honorable Mention #6

Bart Harmon:

Yet again, Jim's computer froze and another "fatal error" message appeared on the screen after he tried to download "ALGORE 5.0" onto his hard drive.


Just do it. Captioning

Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 May 2006 12:00 AM · Comments (28)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 323 -- Voter Turnout.

Voting With Their... Hands-

Reading through newspapers and magazines these days, there are a lot of bold predictions from both the right and left asserting that Republicans will lose control of one or both chambers of Congress.

Well, maybe. Likely not, though. Ultimately, the power of incumbency, the "all politics is local" truism (combined with the fact that people overwhelmingly like their local members of Congress), and the circumstances of the particular races up for grabs are all far more important than low national poll numbers (which are pretty darn low for Democrats, as well).

The only way Democrats are going to pull off enough local upsets to tip the national balance this November is if disgruntled Republican voters stay home. Again, while people are upset about immigration, gas prices, high spending, and a variety of other national issues, Americans generally believe their own Representatives and Senators are doing a good job. Moreover, it's still six months away from election day, and there's plenty of opportunity for world and national events, good or bad, to wash away the common wisdom of today. For example, with the economy continuing to charge forward at full-steam, eventually it has to sink in that we're not in or near a recession.

Thus, while so many elite media folks seem to be so certain that a major GOP defeat in November is both inevitable and desireable, everyone ought to just hold their horses a bit.

The prognosticators have been very off the past few cycles, especially about this time of year. In April/May 2004, Kerry was riding high-- in the media and in the polls-- on the wave of his recent nomination, and the conventional wisdom left Bush for dead. In April/May 2002, conventional wisdom held that midterm elections are always bad for the President's party, the weak economy would be bad for Republicans, and Democrats were still angry and ready to avenge the "stolen" 2000 election. In April/May 2000, the economy was too awesome, Bill Clinton was too popular, George W. Bush carried too much of his father's "read my lips" baggage among Republicans, and Al Gore was too great a debater and campaigner, for Bush to win.

Well, media predictions of hundreds of local elections, using a few faulty national polls, are the epitome of wishful thinking. Even issues that are hurting Republicans nationally right now, namely immigration and gas prices, are issues that could end up helping individual Republican members of Congress in November.

At any rate, passion about the immigration issue, fears about Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel, et al. running the show, concerns about higher taxes, and any number of other issues could get Republicans to the polls in November.

It is my belief that high turnout in November will be a good sign for Republicans, rather than a sign of an angry electorate rising up against the establishment. Low turnout, meanwhile, will likely (but not necessarily) mean bad news for the GOP.

But what is "high turnout" or "low turnout," anyway?

Courtesy of professor Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball, let's explore some historical trends in turnout:

voterturnout.gif
On average, the turnout declines 15 percentage points from a presidential election to the succeeding congressional midterm election. This relationship is remarkably stable. For the years shown in the graph, the greatest decline was 18 percent (from 1972 to 1974) and the smallest decline was 12 percent (from 2000 to 2002). Given the strong and consistent historical pattern, turnout in the 2006 midterm elections should be in the range of 46 percent of the voting age population. But wait...this would mark a massive turnaround from the average 37 percent turnout in the last eight midterm congressional elections.

So, yeah, the "high" turnout in 2004 may have been manufactured by Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, but who is to say that it's too late to cook something up in 2006, as well?

Indeed, looking at the past few decades, high and low turnout runs in cycles. If presidential turnout is higher, midterm turnout is higher. If presidential turnout is lower, midterm turnout is lower:

2006prediction.gif

My guess is that turnout will be slightly above 40%, in the 40-42% range, lower than the presidential turnout would predict, but higher than the recent midterm averages. Regardless, Republicans in Washington are on the clock. They need to find a few issues that will unite and excite the party faithful. Bonus points for an issue that simultaneously divides and embarrasses Democrats.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Americans Are Fleeing Liberal Areas For Conservative Ones.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 May 2006 04:45 PM · Comments (3)

That Other May Day Protest

The greatest weapon we have against the insane mullahs of Iran are the Iranian people themselves:

iranprotest1.jpg

iranprotest2.jpg

iranprotest3.jpg

The New York Sun reports that these demonstrations were originally organized by the Iranian government itself to show public support for its unnecessary nuclear program.

It quickly deteriorated into a demonstration against the privations caused by the theocratic regime.

More at Regime Change Iran.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 2 May 2006 01:42 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 95 -- Bush, On Healthcare.

Rejecting Socialism's Temptation

bushhealthcarespeech.gif
To make our health care system work for all Americans, we have to choose between two philosophies: one that trusts government to make the best decisions for the people's health care, or one that trusts the people and their doctor to make the best decisions for their health care. (Applause.)

We know from experience which of these systems works best. Other nations that have adopted for bigger government and more centralized control now have long waits for treatment for the people. The quality of care is lower. There's less technological innovation. In America, as you know, we follow a different path. We lead the world in health care because we believe in a system of private medicine that encourages innovation and change.

Read the entire May 1, 2006 speech here.

For all the talk of our terrible health care system, how many countries in the world not named "The United States of America" have people from all over the world coming for major medical procedures?

When my father-in-law had major open heart surgery in Houston, the waiting room was full of people from other countries.

Houston and many other American cities are meccas for sick people from all over the world, as there is little or no affordable, effective, innovative, and available open heart surgery in most countries. The same thing goes for other high-difficulty procedures.

The U.S. is the pioneer, because we're one of the few major economies without socialized medicine. The same goes for prescription drugs. The United States produces the innovations, and most of Europe (and Canada, etc.) is the ultimate economic "free rider," thereafter.

If anyone ought to be rooting against socialized medicine in the United States, it's people in other countries, with socialized medicine. If we nationalize our health care system, America's wonderful innovations won't trickle down elsewhere, and foreign folks in real need of medical attention won't be able to seek it in the United States after being rejected or wait-listed ad infinitum in their own countries. Meanwhile, all those wonderful subsidies on prescription drugs the Canadians and others enjoy will become less and less meaningful as fewer new drugs are brought to market in one of the only remaining medical markets-- the United States.

There's certainly a need for health policy reform in the United States, including reducing the lotto-litigation cycle and addressing the rapidly approaching demographic changes, but Marxism, espoused by so many Democrats, is not the answer.

Keep the guaranteed bureaucratic stagnation out of American medicine.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Teddy Roosevelt, On Immigration & Assimilation

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 May 2006 11:00 AM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 322 -- Republican Counties Attracting More Americans.

Voting With Their Feet-

When it comes to domestic migration (Americans moving from one part of America to another), not all states are created equal. On April 20, the United States Census Bureau released its latest current population report (which has lots of neat maps, if you are interested), detailing which states gained population at the expense of others, and vice-versa (.pdf):

netdomesticmigration.gif

Generally, people are leaving states that John Kerry won in 2004 in favor of states that George W. Bush won in 2004. Again, this isn't immigration from other countries, or even birthrate-based population changes. This is strictly a measure of Americans moving from blue states to red states, from blue counties to red counties, from blue cities to red cities.

Policies matter.

Pro-growth policies, not surprisingly, produce growth.

Indeed, the counties with the most outmigration from 2000-2004 tended to be left-leaning counties (.pdf):

blueoutmigration.gif

It's clear that people are leaving Democrat-dominated areas to escape tyranny (of taxes, of weird rules and regulations, of higher crime rates, of the higher cost of living, of failing schools, etc.), to find opportunity elsewhere.

Meanwhile, counties with lots of inmigration from 2000-2004 tended to be GOP-leaning counties (.pdf):

redinmigration.gif

The growth is driven by entrepreneurs and large corporations, alike, taking advantage of policies and conditions that are conducive to growth. Americans are migrating to places that maximize freedom, economically, and otherwise.

THIS is why conservatives ought to support a smaller, relatively-decentralized federal government. Let states become laboratories for policies. Let the pudding (economic and population growth-- or stagnation) of those policies be the proof.

Let the proof inspire better policy, elsewhere. Everywhere.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, "Domestic Net Migration in the United States: 2000 to 2004" (.pdf) & Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: The American Economy Is So Large, It Just Added The Total Annual Economies Of Entire Major Countries In Just Three Months.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 May 2006 09:16 AM · Comments (9)