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Willisms

« September 2006 | WILLisms.com | November 2006 »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 365 -- Media Coverage This Fall.

Tilted Toward Democrats, Of Course-

The Center for Media and Public Affairs is decidedly non-partisan. It's respected by everyone. The CMPA is such a non-shill for either side that its findings even often end up in left-leaning academic papers. I love the Media Research Center (MRC) and think they do great, objective work, but unlike the MRC, the CMPA has credibility with the establishment media.

So when the CMPA issues the results of a study on the media, it's time to pay attention.

First, from a study released a couple of weeks ago, the intensity (frequency) of coverage from September 5 through October 3 quadrupled this year, relative to 2002 (.pdf):

Bigger Than the “Revolution”: The first four weeks of this year's midterm coverage has been more than three times as heavy as in 2002 and more than three of the last four off year elections combined. The nightly network newscasts have broadcast 83 campaign stories, over four times the 20 they ran during the same time period of 2002, and eight times greater than the midterms in President Clinton’s second presidency. (10 stories) The 2006 coverage is also 38 percent greater than that given the “Republican Revolution” midterm election in 1994. (60 stories)

So, the media are covering more stories this year. That might not be such a terrible thing if the stories are honest and objective, right?

Well...

Fixated on Foley: Since the scandal involving Rep. Mark Foley 's instant messenges broke, 85 percent of election stories (23 of 27) been about the investigation and how the scandal will affect the balance in Congress.

So, yeah, the Foley obsession. Sure, it's probably news, maybe even national news, but to shut down the entire campaign issue discussion in favor of one guy's misconduct is just not proportional. Nor does it follow precedent, when a Democrat did similar but worse things than Foley in 1994.

Beyond the Foley Follies: After taking the Foley scandal coverage into account, however, the 60 remaining stories still equal the 1994 total and exceed the combined totals of 2002, 1998, and 1990.

Think about that one. Why on earth would the number of mid-term stories on the same networks jump so dramatically? Could it have something to do with an agenda.

“Macaca” Mania: Most stories paint with broad strokes, covering the nation’s political climate and the parties' overall prospects. Among individual races, Virginia’s Senate race stands out with 5 in depth stories, due to a number of highly publicized verbal gaffes by Republican incumbent George Allen. The only other contests to attract in depth coverage are the Senate races in Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania – all with one story apiece.

I think the media, with an assist from George Allen, can safely say that they created a new English word this summer. And a taboo word, at that-- an actual racial slur from thin air. How often does that happen?

ABC Leads The Pack: ABC’s 32 stories accounted for 38 percent of the network election coverage in the four weeks after Labor Day. CBS devoted 26 stories (31 percent) to the midterms, while 25 stories were broadcast on NBC (30 percent).

So, in other words, there have been more stories, across the board. ABC is the most eager network, it would seem, to push a narrative.

What narrative might the collective "MSM" be pushing this year, anyway?

Now, look at how absurdly those stories have been slanted, from September 5 through October 22 (.pdf):

Weighing the Positives and Negatives: 3 out of every 4 (77 percent) on-air evaluations of Democratic candidates and members of Congress were positive during the first seven weeks of the campaign. By contrast, only 1 out of every 8 assessments (12 percent) were favorable toward their Republican counterparts.

Yikes. Here's the visual (.pdf):

positiveseptoct2006.gif

It's almost too lopsided to even be believable, but then again, this is the establishment media we're talking about here.

Mid-term Overkill? In the first seven weeks after Labor Day in 2002, network coverage of the mid-term elections totaled only 35 stories. 2006's coverage has been almost five times as heavy, with 167 stories.

What were the networks filling their airtime with back in 2002, anyway? Five times the number of stories means there was a concerted effort to push a narrative. I wonder what narrative that might be?

Three Dominant Storylines: Only three issues have received more than sporadic coverage: the Mark Foley scandal, the Iraq war, and terrorism. The Foley scandal produced nearly as much coverage as the other two combined -- 59 stories, compared to 33 on Iraq and 31 on terrorism/national security. No other issue was covered in more than six stories.

So, again with the Foley. What's so frustrating about the Foley situation is that the story broke just as President Bush and Republicans were gaining a bit of traction on the terrorism issue. No wonder Foley was such a disproportionately big deal.

Also, notice how there's been little or no coverage of the robust economy in relation to the 2006 elections. Gee, I wonder why not.

Local Candidates, National Spotlight: Due to the extensive coverage of the Mark Foley scandal, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert's campaign was featured in 42 stories. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) was featured in 10 stories, even though he's not seeking re-election this year. Hillary Clinton's possible presidential run in 2008 has been discussed in 9 stories. No other candidate was covered in more than five stories.

So, the media don't like Dennis Hastert and want him out, they do like Barack Obama, and they are going for ratings with the Hillary Clinton pieces. Not shocking.

The media are the Democrats' 12th, 13th, and 14th man, plus the crooked officiating crew. They are not just rooting for their team on the weekends, they are doing everything in their collective power to tip this election.

This sort of bias is just not healthy for our country.

That being said, how awesome will it be when Republicans maintain both chambers of Congress next week, in spite of all of this heavy-handed media assistance?


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Overall Ideological Impact Of Each State's Congressional Delegation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 31 October 2006 05:25 PM · Comments (0)

John Kerry (Inaccurately) Belittles Our Troops.

By now, you've seen John Kerry belittle our troops as uneducated:

Well, Senator Kerry is living in the Vietnam era.

Even if the facts supported his assertion, it's just tasteless to say that you have to do well in school, OR ELSE you'll end up in the military ("stuck in Iraq"). But the facts don't even support his assertion.

TRIVIA TIDBIT FLASHBACK TIME!

flashbacktonovember2005.gif

Two trivia tidbits from last November (#209; #213) outline some of the demographic reality in the military.

The truth: this is not merely some "poor man's war."

Posted by Will Franklin · 31 October 2006 04:12 PM · Comments (2)

I Voted.

Early voting today earned me this "I Voted" sticker:

ivotedsticker.gif

Sweet.

Turnout was probably medium for a Monday morning. Every single other individual there was at least 2 times my age. At least.

If you live in Texas, take advantage of early voting until November 3.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 October 2006 02:47 PM · Comments (5)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 364 -- States & Their Overall Ideological Impact.

Conservatism Minus Liberalism, & Vice Versa-

You've seen how much liberalism each state delegation to the House of Representatives contributes to our political process. You've seen how much each state contributes in conservatism. Now, after left/right member ideologies from the same state cancel each other out, let's look at what each state ends up sending, ideologically-speaking, to the House of Representatives. This is the overall ideological impact each state has upon the House, at present:

netideologyadded.gif

Again, this is based on Mr. Right's ideological formula, which blends the ADA, ACU, and National Journal rankings into one comprehensive ideology rating. Go check it out. There's plenty of data to explore.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Conservatism In Congress.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 October 2006 08:36 AM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Sixty-Four -- Contingencies & Solutions.

reformthursdayblue.gif

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

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

This week's topic:

Social Security Reform Solutions.

Some interesting graphs, courtesy of Social Security administrator James B. Lockhart III and the American Academy of Actuaries.

First, the meltdown target date, which could be as soon as 2030 or as far away as 2064. Likely, though, the date will be closer to 2041:

solvency2005andbeyond.gif

However, there's a solution. And it's not "raise taxes and raise the retirement age." The solution is a modernized Social Security system. The solution is protected personal retirement accounts:

modernizedprotectedaccounts.gif
The bottom (red) line of today's unchanged program is clearly negative and unsustainable. The two other alternatives are typical reform proposals. They both require about $500 billion (net present value) in general revenue transfers but produce strikingly different results in the long term.

A 1983-style reform of increasing payroll taxes 1 percent and increasing the retirement age over time to 70 (green line) would be less negative that today's system but still not sustainable. On the other hand, a package that indexed future benefit growth to inflation rather than wages and incorporated personal accounts (blue line) would be more negative at first but would then become positive and reach sustainable solvency.

So, intelligent reform of Social Security would yield better benefits, and bring the program into long-term solvency. It's a win-win.

The good news is that, as the National Association of Manufacturers blog points out, more than 160 candidates on both sides of the aisle are coming around to the necessity of reform and signing the non-partisan For Our Grandchildren pledge (which you can download here in .pdf format).

It's time for all 435 members of Congress, and all 100 Senators, to sign this pledge. It's time for vulnerable Republicans (electorally-speaking) to stop being so defensive/evasive about Social Security reform. It's time for Democrats to stop scaring old people and stymieing reform entirely. It's time for solutions, not kicking the can down the road.

It's time for reform.

The clock is still ticking:


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

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 26 October 2006 05:22 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 363 -- Ideology Added To Congress, By State.

Conservatism Added-

Yesterday, it was "liberalism added." Today, it is "conservatism added" to the United States House of Representatives (based on Mr. Right's research):

1. TX 2177
2. CA 1873
3. FL 1648
4. PA 1089
5. OH 1071
6. NY 866
7. GA 808
8. IL 800
9. MI 799
10. VA 722
11. NC 714
12. IN 661
13. AZ 634
14. AL 523
15. MO 519
16. LA 514
17. NJ 501
18. TN 497
19. KY 475
20. OK 424
21. CO 423
22. SC 409
23. MN 386
24. WI 369
25. IA 339
26. WA 332
27. KS 299
28. NE 259
29. MS 246
30. UT 222
31. MD 215
32. AR 196
33. NV 186
34. NM 166
35. ID 161
36. CT 149
37. NH 132
38. WV 129
39. OR 127
40. WY 87
41. MT 86
42. AK 81
43. MA 66
44. DE 50
45. HI 35
46. SD 32
47. RI 31
48. ND 27
49. ME 26
50. VT 6

And here's a graphical representation of the ideology added to the House by each state (click on graph for larger version):

ideologyaddedtohouse.gif

Again, go look at the data for yourself, at The Right Place blog.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Red & Blue Congress.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 October 2006 11:42 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 362 -- Our Congress, Red & Blue.

The Reddest Of The Red States, The Bluest Of The Blue States-

Ideology-wise, this is how the state Congressional delegations stack up, from conservative to liberal (with red and blue based on 2004 Bush/Kerry results):

1. Oklahoma
2. Wyoming
3. Idaho
4. Kentucky
5. Utah
6. Kansas
6. Alaska
8. Nebraska
9. Alabama
10. South Carolina
11. New Hampshire
12. Mississippi
13. Arizona
14. Louisiana
15. Texas
16. Indiana
17. Virginia
18. Georgia
19. Florida
20. Montana
21. Tennessee
22. Missouri
23. Iowa
24. Colorado
25. North Carolina
26. Ohio
27. Pennsylvania
28. Nevada
29. New Mexico
30. Michigan
31. Minnesota
32. South Dakota
33. Arkansas
34. Wisconsin
35. New Jersey
36. California
37. Illinois
38. Washington
39. West Virginia
40. Oregon
41. New York
42. Maine
43. Delaware
44. Connecticut
45. Maryland
46. North Dakota
47. Rhode Island
48. Hawaii
49. Vermont
50. Massachusetts

Those are the average scores for all members of the Senate and House, together.

Go read additional analysis (and a wealth of fantastically awesome numbers) from Mr. Right here.

But wait, there's more. We now have an answer to the age-old "Mommy, where do liberals come from?" question. Liberal ideology in Congress, at least. Not just averages, either. Big states obviously contribute more ideology to Congress than small states. In terms of "liberalism added," which states are truly responsible for liberal ideology in Congress? After crunching the numbers, here are the most liberal Senate delegations in America (with "liberalism added" scores included):.

SENATE
1. 191.5 NJ
2. 190 MA
3. 186 MD
4. 185 IL
5. 182 CA
5. 182 MI
7. 180 NY
8. 179 WI
9. 178 VT
9. 178 WA
11. 173 DE
11. 173 HI
13. 169 CT
13. 169 WV
15. 167 RI
16. 160 ND
17. 157 AR
18. 124 OR
19. 121 MN
20. 117 ME
21. 107 IA
22. 106 IN
23. 104 NM
24. 101 SD
25. 98 NV
26. 91 LA
26. 91 MT
28. 85 FL
29. 81 CO
30. 71 OH
31. 66 NE
32. 65 PA
33. 46 NH
34. 44 AK
35. 32 AZ
35. 32 MO
37. 31 SC
38. 30 ID
38. 30 VA
40. 29 TN
40. 29 TX
42. 25 KS
42. 25 WY
44. 23 NC
45. 20 UT
46. 19 AL
46. 19 MS
48. 16 GA
49. 15 KY
50. 13 OK

And here are the most liberal House delegations, with "liberalism added" scores included:

HOUSE
1. CA 3126
2. NY 2024
3. IL 1100
4. TX 1023
5. MA 934
6. FL 852
7. PA 811
8. NJ 799
9. OH 729
10. MI 701
11. NC 586
12. MD 585
13. WA 568
14. GA 492
15. WI 431
16. MN 414
17. MO 381
18. VA 378
19. OR 373
20. CT 351
21. TN 303
22. CO 275
23. AZ 266
24. IN 239
25. AR 204
26. SC 191
27. LA 186
28. AL 177
29. ME 174
30. WV 171
31. RI 169
32. HI 165
33. IA 161
34. MS 154
35. NM 134
36. KY 125
37. NV 114
38. KS 101
39. VT 94
40. ND 83
41. UT 78
42. OK 76
43. NH 68
43. SD 68
45. DE 50
46. NE 41
47. ID 39
48. AK 19
49. MT 14
50. WY 13

This is not necessarily which states are the most liberal, just which states contribute the most liberalism to the Congress. Larger states clearly contribute more than smaller states, for the most part. Even Texas is high on the chart, simply because it's so large.

However, some small states are disproportionately high on the chart, just based on their small number of very liberal members of Congress.


Tomorrow, we'll look at state-by-state "conservatism added."

And, by the way, for the House of Representatives, "conservatism added" is not just the opposite of "liberalism added," so you'll want to tune in and see which states contribute the most conservatism to the House. And in the meantime, go check out some of the numbers for yourself.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Throw The Bums Out: The Media Need To Be Fired.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 October 2006 11:09 PM · Comments (2)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 76

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

REALLYbigguy.jpg

Here is the actual caption:
Actress Miley Cyrus appears back stage with sumo wrestler Manny Yarbrough during MTV's 'Total Request Live' show at the MTV Times Square Studios, Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, in New York.

Clearly there is more going on here than AP is letting on . . . give us the real caption.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, October 31. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

Wushu.jpg

Winners from last week: 1. radio free fred:

When Metamucil Just Ain't Enough.
2. Hoodlumman:

Ming panics as he realized that the test was going to be given on a Scantron form that only took a No. 2000 pencil.

3. Rodney Dill:
Training for the position of Caber Toss Catcher was brutal.

Honorable Mention #1 Zsa Zsa:

A gong shortage in China spells bad luck for Wong.

Honorable Mention #2 elliot:
Must be election year in China too. Kim Jong's staff polling another voter.

Honorable Mention #3 Cowboy Blob:

No, use the eraser end!

Captioning means never having to say you are sorry. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 25 October 2006 12:18 PM · Comments (22)

Quote Of The Day

The prescient Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 70, on why Democrats insist on leaking sensitive intelligence data to the press:

"Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike. But if they have been consulted, and have happened to disapprove, opposition then becomes, in their estimation, an indispensable duty of self-love."

Culled from 'Self-Love Of The Democrats' at RealClearPolitics.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 25 October 2006 12:35 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 361 -- Our Partisan Media & Economic Coverage.

This Is Stunning, Yet Not Surprising-

All intellectually honest people will admit that our nation's establishment "big media" are decidedly liberal. If you meet someone who talks about the "rightwing media," you are dealing with a nut. At the same time, you'll meet otherwise smart people who honestly believe the "MSM" is doing a great job playing it right down the middle. They may even roll their eyes at the notion of a liberal media.

The empirical evidence against the big networks is piling up. We're now beyond the point of debate; there's no question that the mainstream media are neither mainstream in their politics, nor reliable sources of factual information.

Thank goodness for the Media Research Center's tireless work on this issue. Their latest study exposes the seething partisanship of major media coverage of the economy from August 1, 2005 to July 31, 2006. Here's what they found (.pdf):

mediacoverage20052006.gif
Reports Negatively Charged: More than twice as many stories and briefs focused on negative aspects of the economy (62 percent) compared to good news (31 percent). News broadcasts dwelled on one prospective cataclysm after another, yet each time the economy continued unfazed.

Negative Stories Given More Air Time: Bad news was emphasized on all three networks. Negative news appeared in full-length stories twice as often as it appeared in shorter, brief items. Good news was relegated to briefs. More good news appeared in brief form than as full-length stories.

Man-on-the-Street Interviews Spin Stories: Reporters used ordinary people to underscore negative stories by roughly a 3-to-1 ratio over positive. Since these are interviews chosen entirely by the reporter, this shows particular bias. NBC was especially bad at this, featuring negative accounts six times as often as positive ones.

Worst Network: More than 80 percent of the full-length stories on the “CBS Evening News” delivered a negative view of the economy – easily the worst of the three broadcast news programs. The network hid the good news of jobs or economic growth in short items. More than 56 percent of CBS’s brief stories were positive.

Best Network: ABC was hardly the “best” anything for its economic coverage. It simply wasn’t as negative as either NBC or CBS. More than 56 percent of ABC reports were negative compared to slightly more than 36 percent positive

There's no excuse for any of this, given the strength of the American economy of the past 40+ months. These so-called journalists might be able to get away with this sort of distortion if not for the sunshine pumping they did in the 1990s. From a previous MRC study:

bushclintoneconomy.gif

The American media are not objective. With 6.6 million new jobs over the past three years, a 4.6% unemployment rate, falling gas prices, historically low inflation, strong consumer confidence, and robust GDP growth, this tax-cut-fueled economy is fantastic. It's too bad the major "old media" organizations, which are struggling financially, can't see through their partisan glasses, or beyond their own dreary economic bubbles, and just report the news as it is (as it is = awesome).


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Bush Tax Cuts Versus Nuancy Pelosi-nomics.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 October 2006 01:48 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 108 -- Kinky Friedman & Texas Early Voting.

Seriously, Conservatives, Don't Vote For This Guy-

Early voting started today in Texas. That's how I've almost always voted. The lines are shorter, the parking is ample. You can do it anywhere in your county (click here if you live in Texas and want to find out where to vote early), not just in a designated polling booth. Most of all, your vote is in, so you don't have to worry about a last minute business trip or medical emergency or vehicle breakdown on election day.

There are certain disadvantages, from a grassroots political perspective, to early voting, too, but as long as we have it in place, we might as well use it to our advantage.

That being said, let's move on to Kinky Friedman. Yes, another Kinky post. To those Republicans who just don't like Rick Perry (who happens to be America's second best governor, fiscally-speaking) and are considering casting your vote for Kinky, just remember: a vote for Kinky Friedman is a vote for an 18 billion dollar per year socialized health care boondoggle.

kinkysocialist.gif

Yikes. KinkyCare. Kinky Friedman, the big government socialist. The Venturaite joke. How very un-Texan, all around.

Speaking of un-Texan, contrary to this Kinkyism....

"I love Texas," says Friedman. "I don't like what's happened to her. I don't like being last in all the good things and first in all the bad."

... Texas is on the rise as a great place to live, work, and play, which explains why Texas is absorbing so many folks from other states, why Texas' economy is outperforming the strong national economy, why Walker, Texas Ranger is such a good show, and so on.

To the extent that Texas lags in certain national indicators (like worst per capita this or worst per capita that), it is largely a function of demographics, namely Texas' substantial rural population plus recent immigrant population. Everyone who gets Texas, gets that. But that's for another post.

The fact of the matter is that Texans will re-elect Rick Perry on November 7, and Kinky may or may not make the next edition of Trivial Pursuit.

kinkywhythehell.gif

Despite having perhaps the best political marketing team in ages (for Texas, at least), Kinky Friedman is just a terrible candidate and would make an even worse Governor of Texas.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Racist Democrats

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 October 2006 11:17 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 360 -- Pelosi-nomics Versus Tax Cuts.

Nuancy Pelosi Cannot Become Speaker of the House-

Behold, charts, from Larry Kudlow (and he got them from Dan Clifton):

6.6 Million New Jobs:

employmentup.gif

Unemployment Rate Moves From 6.3% To 4.6%:

unemploymentwaytheheckdown.gif

GDP Growth Far More Robust:

gdppreandposttaxcut.gif

14.4 Trillion More Dollars In Household Net Worth:

americanshouseholdnetworth.gif


Add on the DOW breaking new records just about every day, and we've got ourselves an economy that no reasonable human being can pooh pooh (click for larger version):

dowjonesindustrialaverage.gif

Of course, back in May of 2003, Nancy Pelosi declared:

“None of these tax cuts is affordable. None of them creates jobs, and they are not fair. All of them do damage to our long-term economic growth and contribute to the national deficit.” -House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); May 09, 2003

Jobs have been created, long-term economic growth has been strong, and the national deficit is now coming down rapidly.

Lower taxes-- and all the benefits America gains from them-- are at stake in two weeks. Don't sit this one out.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Bush's Tax Cuts For The Rich Were Actually Progressive.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 October 2006 07:53 PM · Comments (3)

Quote Of The Day

Via Instapundit by way of Mickey Kaus, the *adorable* Nancy Pelosi:

"The gavel of the speaker of the House is in the hands of special interests, and now it will be in the hands of America's children."

Meaning, a vote for the Republicans is a vote to keep the gavel in the hands of the adults, apparently. Isn't that just what the Republicans have been saying all along?

Pelosi is saying here that the Democrats have given up the special interests - why didn't the New York Times put that on A1?

Runner up (also via Instapundit): "Gay Republicans are as bad as Nazi collaborators."

Hmm, I guess George W. Bush must have marched that six millionth gay person into the gas chambers recently to have earned this comparison.

Again, where is the New York Times on this?

Update: DANEgerus calls her 'Nuancy'. Brilliant!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 23 October 2006 01:05 PM · Comments (4)

Will There Be A Nutter Uprising If The Dems Lose?

Karl Rove, er, I mean The Corner, turned me on to this link, in which yet another completely unknown Huffington Post blogger waxes ignorantly about the state of the union, claiming to have had this conversation with Gore Vidal:

When I asked Gore Vidal at dinner why the White House seemed so serene and at ease about the vote, he replied that, this time around, the Bush-Cheney henchmen could simply call on martial law.
Lyn Davis Lear, whoever that is, goes on to say that "if for whatever reason we don't win back Congress in November the only real answer will be to take to the streets."

Take to the streets and do what, exactly? Protest? Or is this some kind of not-so-veiled threat by Lear that should November pass without the Democrats taking control of Congress, that democracy in this nation should be suspended and a violent uprising take place - and Democrats installed in Congress regardless of the election outcomes? I have enjoyed taunting leftists here and there in the blogosphere about their silly fears of a totalitarian takeover in this nation. If they really believed it, shouldn't they be taking up arms against the government to 'save' democracy? What, you guys aren't cowardly sheeple, are you? All talk and bluster, but in the end just signifying nothing? Isn't saving democracy from Bushco worth manning the barricades? Hmm, I guess you folks are all chickendoves after all. No guts.

I am highlighting this particular post because of its comments as well, which is a veritable catalog of the mental illnesses passing for political analysis among the left these days. Not nearly as plagued by profanity as a typical Kos entry, and a bit more literate than the first grade sentence fragments and smilies that pass for dialogue at the Democratic Underground, these comments are quite interesting in that they are coming from many people who, in real life, probably look and act much like normal folk. They might even have college degrees, work as accountants, or even manage retail outlets. And yet they believe this stuff - and when it doesn't happen, they are not deterred by any counterfactuals that mentally healthy people come to respect as milestones along the road of Reality. They are impervious, and they vote.

When the elections in November come and go, and Bush hasn't invoked martial law, suspended the Second Amendment, or had himself crowned king, what are the chances that Vidal and Lear, et al., will have their Emily Litella moment in public and admit they were less-than-correct? No one ever seems to call them on it - and when they do, the Vidals of the world have already lurched on to their next paranoid fixation or faux political outrage. They blog and they comment because this is a cry for help - they know deep inside that there is something wrong with their worldview, and this is why they will never take up arms to save the state from itself. There is still some small functioning part of their brain, that quietly tells them 'it is an odd fascism indeed that lets you blog, comment, own guns, assemble in peace and travel. Er, maybe it isn't fascism, after all?'

Posted by Ken McCracken · 21 October 2006 03:25 AM · Comments (16)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 359 -- Bush's Progressive Tax Cuts.

Tax Cuts For The Wha...?-

Bush tax relief = tax cuts for the rich?

Not!

Read 'em and weep, socialists:

progressivebushtaxes.gif
In 2000, tax returns with an adjusted gross income over $200,000 earned 26.7 percent of all income, and they paid 47.3 percent of all income taxes. That’s a tax-to-income share ratio of 1.79. Four years later in 2004, their share of income had fallen from 26.7 to 25.5 percent, but their share of taxes had risen to 50.0 percent. That brought the ratio up from 1.79 to 1.96 in 2004.

The biggest winners were in the $25,000-to-$30,000 range. If the Bush tax cuts are the determining factor, then the logical conclusion is that the new 10-percent bracket and the doubled child credit caused dramatic reductions in tax payment. As a result, the ratio of tax share to income share was cut in half.


Tax cuts for the S.T.F.U.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Libertarians & Social Conservatives Should Get Along.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 October 2006 05:42 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 107 -- Democrats & Their Racist Double Standards.

Michael Steele, Slavish-

Where are all the macaca-fretters now? Where are the weeks of persistent and breathless front page headlines in all the major national newspapers? When one of the top leaders of the Democratic caucus in Congress calls an African-American candidate a "token" and "slavish," and there is only marginal media attention about it, our media establishment is broken.

This week, at an event (attended by John Kerry) for Democrat Senate candidate Ben Cardin, Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland declared that Michael Steele has made a "career of slavishly supportingly the Republican Party."

Oh. Okay.

Hoyer, who is now Minority Whip, would be poised to become one of the most powerful men in America, perhaps Majority Leader or even Speaker, if Democrats miraculously win the House of Representatives next month. In the past, Hoyer has had other things to say about Michael Steele:

"The problem with token candidates like Mr. Steele is that the voters see them for what they are."

Sure, Michael Steele is not running against Steny Hoyer, but Hoyer's comments are especially ironic, given the electoral hegemony his party holds over the African-American community.

stenyhoyer.gif

What's more, Ben Cardin, whose poll numbers are profoundly weak in such an allegedly great environment for Democrats, attacked Michael Steele for being offended:

...he also said Steele was trying to change the subject. "He's looking for every excuse he can to avoid talking about the issues," Cardin said.

All of this, from the same party that brought us Simple Sambo and throwing Oreo cookies at Steele.

simplesambo.gif

This from the same Democratic Party whose high ranking members have called Michael Steele an "Uncle Tom" and worse.

This, added on to the folks at Chuck Schumer's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who fraudulently and illegally obtained Michael Steele's credit report.

Time and time again, Michael Steele has been subjected to vicious race-based attacks that would each absolutely be much bigger news if his name had a 'D' next to it. Imagine if wonderful, wonderful Barack Obama had been subject to some of this sort of stuff. We would never hear the end of it.

The message from Democrats, up and down the line, is that if you are black and you know what's good for you, you had better not wander over to the Party of Lincoln.

The fact of the matter is that Michael Steele is no token. He'll be an immediate star in the Senate. Fortunately, Michael Steele is performing fantastically well. He is a better human being, and a superior candidate, than Ben Cardin. Unfortunately, though, Michael Steele is running in a state where John Kerry beat President Bush by 13%, so he's got his work cut out for him.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Ben Bernanke

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 October 2006 05:09 PM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Sixty-Three -- Lost Time, Growing Shortfall.

reformthursdayblue.gif

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

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

This week's topic:

$600 Billion Additional Shortfall.

Over the next 75 years, the shortfall in Social Security will be 4.6 trillion dollars, up 600 billion dollars from last year. All this, according to the 2006 Trustees Report.

Just to visualize the shortfall in graph form, witness the following, adapted from the most recent Social Security Trustees Report (.pdf):

socialsecurityrollercoaster.gif


The total "ad infinitum" (not really infinity, just the very long term) shortfall, meanwhile, is now 13.4 trillion dollars, up from 10.5 trillion dollars in the 2003 report. Most of this increase is based entirely on lost time.

All of these figures are current dollar figures.

What this proves is that we desperately need to fix Social Security, before we waste any more time letting the problem fester. Social Security currently consumes 4.3% of America's GDP; in 2030, it will consume 6.2%. That's substantial, and this proves that failing to reform Social Security until the "last minute" is not an option without negative externalities. Secondly, we can-- at present-- fix Social Security without terrible economic pain; indeed, protected personal Social Security accounts in a modernized system would provide returns far greater than workers receive today, all while making the system self-sustaining and solvent.

It's time for reform.

The clock is still ticking:


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

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 19 October 2006 06:58 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 358 -- Religion & Civic Engagement.

The GOP Coalition: A Great Team-

In recent years, there's been quite a bit of discussion about the allegedly growing rift between libertarians and social conservatives within the Republican electoral coalition. Pundits and authors, often times libertarians themselves, argue that the two groups are incompatible. Indeed, Ryan Sager's The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians and the Battle to Control the Republican Party, which argues that libertarian (Western) flavored conservatives need to begin rejecting social (Southern) flavored conservativism, has received quite a bit of attention over the past few months.

That's nice and all, but where is all the discussion-- and where are all the books-- about the sloppily cobbled together Democratic Party electoral coalition, which is far more tenuous and incompatible?

The Republican electoral coalition is a great fit; libertarians and social conservatives can and do complement each other nicely. Ultimately, any discussion of religious conservative "fascist" Ayatollahism within the Republican Party is far overblown.

The fact of the matter is that religious Americans are walking the walk when it comes to the sort of civic engagement necessary for small government. Indeed, religious folks are more likely than secular folks to donate to charity (91% versus 66%), and more likely to volunteer (67% versus 44%):

religioncivicengagement.gif

Religious individuals are also more likely than secular individuals to perform informal charitable acts, give to poverty-relief organizations, and volunteer for social service.

Many social conservatives just want the government to leave them alone (which is why libertarians and social conservatives usually get along so nicely), and they are providing the prerequisites for chopping away at the size of government. Many social conservatives want the government to let them homeschool their kids, or send their kids to private school. Many social conservatives just want their hunting rifles left alone. Social conservatives, on dozens of individual issues, have more in common with "pure" libertarians than many religiophobic people are willing to admit. The result of the libertarian-social conservative marriage is that the two sides moderate the Republican Party away from unelectable dogmatism, in any direction.

Ultimately, though, I'd be willing to bet that there is a lot more overlap between the two categories than many people are willing to admit. Americans are pragmatic like that. I, for one, identify with both "factions" and don't see a whole lot of philosophical or ideological incoherence between the two allegedly feuding sides.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Debunking Economic Pessimism.


Posted by Will Franklin · 19 October 2006 06:25 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 357 -- The Underrated American Economy.

America Remains A Nation Of Upward Mobility-

Over the past ten or so years, our economy has experienced immense productivity gains. While some people fret about productivity increases leading to machines taking away human American jobs, the reality is that our productivity gains tend to boost our national standard of living. Indeed, productivity and compensation track remarkably closely together:

productivitycompensation.gif

Sometimes the positive consequences of productivity growth do not manifest themselves in the immediate short term, but give it a little time and compensation will catch up.

That's where we are now. The catch up phase. Productivity has exploded in recent years, and worker pay/benefits are now rising to match that growth.

This good news phenomenon is putting to bed one of the last remaining arguments the nay-sayers have been able to use to pooh pooh the American economy.

Even better, America's growing prosperity is benefiting everyone, not merely the wealthy. In fact, America's economic prosperity is changing the very definition of wealthy:

morewealthypeople.gif
Between 1979 and 2004, the proportion of American households with infla­tion-adjusted incomes below $75,000 fell by 10.1 percentage points, with the largest drop coming in the number of households earning less than $35,000. The proportion of those earning more than $75,000 rose by the same amount, with most of the gain coming from an increase in the propor­tion of households earning more than $100,000 per year. Far from benefiting only a fortunate few, America’s economic engine has raised standards of living for tens of millions of Americans.

In other words, the very concept of "the rich" is becoming obsolete, as more average, every day Americans now find themselves in that category.

For more great news about our underrated economy, complete with many more charts and graphs, see the research found here: "Shared Prosperity: Debunking Pessimistic Claims About Wages, Profits, and Wealth."


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: State Tax Revenues Are Up.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 October 2006 05:14 PM · Comments (1)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 75

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

Wushu.jpg

Here is the actual caption:
Participants perform during the second World Traditional Wushu Festival in Zhengzhou, central China's Henan province October 17, 2006. 1913 contenders from 66 countries and regions were to compete in four traditional Wushu events during the five-day festival starting on Octorber 14, local media reported.

Sounds innocent enough . . . but I think it's not the complete story. Give us the full caption.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, October 24. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

lil'kim.jpg

** Sorry about all the SPAM that showed up in last week's contest - I blame Kim Jong-Il and his regime. I will try to be more diligent in fighting the forces of evil in the future, dear entrants.

Winners from last week: 1. Rodney Dill:

The laugh track always went wild whenever Beloved Leader said Nucrear Proriferation.
2. DANEgerus:

Reporting for duty!

3. Sgt.Fluffy:
Great Leader Pokemon is a big hit with all the North Korean Kids.
Honorable Mention #1 Zsa Zsa:

Hello, Mr Bond. Enjoying your stay?...

Honorable Mention #2 Terry_Jim:
Word up, South Korea!
High five me, Seoul brothers!

Honorable Mention #3 elliot:

Ha Ha, I swear it wasn't a real bomb. You all have just been 'Punk'd'

Captioning is better than a stick in the eye. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 18 October 2006 01:26 PM · Comments (22)

Iran Puts Brakes On Female Racing Champ

Laleh_Seddigh.jpg

One hopes that the babe theory of political movements is still kicking, and that Laleh Seddigh will be in pole position when the revolution hits Iran.

Is she gorgeous or what?

She became Iran's car rally champ, but has now been barred from racing because the idea of a female actually being able to beat men at something as testosterone-driven as auto racing apparently endangers Iranian masculinity. Islam is not the problem here according to Seddigh, because a cleric issued a fatwa stating that there is nothing in Islam preventing a woman from racing against men if Islamic dress code is observed. Well, she looks very well covered up to me.

My advice? Come to America, baby! I don't think we can expect the same state of undress from her as Danica Patrick, but she sure could be a hit.

Thanks to Gateway Pundit, who has a talent for digging up these kinds of stories.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 17 October 2006 11:08 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 356 -- State Tax Revenues Are Up.

More Evidence Of Economic Strength-

State tax revenues are up again. The Rockefeller Institute, a few weeks ago, reported "broad strength" in tax revenue growth (.pdf):

*State tax revenue totaled $183.7 billion in the April-June 2006 quarter, up 9.9 percent from the same period in 2005.

* After adjusting for inflation and legislated tax changes, growth was 4.1 percent, the fastest real adjusted growth since the second quarter of 2005.

*Nominal revenue growth among the regions generally followed a familiar pattern: strongest in the Rocky Mountain states (21.9 percent) and Southwest (16.1 percent), and weakest in the Great Lakes (4.3 percent).

* National employment growth was 1.4 percent this quarter versus one
year ago, with the strongest growth continuing to be in the western regions and the weakest in the Great Lakes and New England states.

Taking the ten best and worst state tax climates, the revenue growth comparison looks like this:

1. Wyoming: 1.5%
2. South Dakota 8.1%
3. Alaska: 24%
4. Nevada 6.2%
5. Florida 2.2%
6. Texas 13.7%
7. New Hampshire 8.5%
8. Montana 43.9%
9. Delaware 9.7%
10. Oregon 21.2%

Average: 13.9% revenue growth, April-June 2005 to April-June 2006.

41. Minnesota 10%
42. Maine 15.4%
43. Iowa 7.5%
44. Nebraska 11.9%
45. California 14.1%
46. Vermont 14.1%
47. New York 11.6%
48. New Jersey 5.8%
49. Ohio -0.8%
50. Rhode Island 7.7%

Average: 8.99% revenue growth, April-June 2005 to April-June 2006.

Shouldn't the high tax states, the ones with income taxes and the rest, be destroying the low tax states (often without any income taxes whatsoever) in tax revenue growth during this period?

And what about employment growth?

1. Wyoming: 3.6%
2. South Dakota 2.4%
3. Alaska: 1.5%
4. Nevada 5.1%
5. Florida 3.2%
6. Texas 2.6%
7. New Hampshire 1.1%
8. Montana 2.1%
9. Delaware 1.6%
10. Oregon 3.6%

Average: 2.68% employment growth.

41. Minnesota 1.9%
42. Maine 0.2%
43. Iowa 1.7%
44. Nebraska 1.7%
45. California 1.5%
46. Vermont 0.6%
47. New York 0.8%
48. New Jersey 0.9%
49. Ohio 0.6%
50. Rhode Island 0.5%

Average: 1.04% employment growth.

Policies matter. High taxes harm economies, all without raising much additional revenue for governments. Low taxes benefit economies.

So here's what we can learn from this information:

A. The national economy is strong. Strong state tax revenue growth is yet another indicator of that strength.

B. Some state economies are stronger than others. States with lower taxes are adding more jobs, faster, than states with higher taxes.

C. States with higher taxes did not really see their government coffers fill any faster than states with lower taxes.

To break it down into even more basic terms, high taxes = bad; low taxes = good. The evidence, already overwhelming and obvious, continues to accumulate.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Tax Policy Matters.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 October 2006 07:34 PM · Comments (0)

Twilight Zone Economics.

twilightzone.gif

Forty-six years ago, almost to the day, an episode of The Twilight Zone, "The Man in the Bottle," aired on television. This past week, it aired again on the SciFi network and was captured by my TiVo.

The episode is a basic "genie in a bottle" premise, where an indebted pawnbroker-- out of pity-- buys a worthless wine bottle from a desperate old lady for a dollar, then discovers a wish-granting genie within. Somewhat predictably, the wishes make him worse rather than better off, and he ends up having to use his fourth and final wish to make it all go back to normal.

The second wish was a wish for a million dollars. Cash. On the floor of the shop.

Granted.

The pawnbroker then eagerly gives away nearly 60,000 dollars to individuals, one after another, including neighbors, a priest, friends, and such, before planning to travel extensively with his wife.

Suddenly, an IRS agent enters his shop, calculates the tax burden on the million dollars, and bursts the pawnbroker's gleeful bubble. The tax bill was somewhere around $910,000, plus 30 thousand more for state and local taxes.

The pawnbroker counts his remaining cash. Having already given away tens of thousands, the remaining money is barely enough to cover the $940K tax bill, with just five dollars left over.

This episode aired in early October of 1960, just under a month before John Fitzgerald Kennedy-- a Democrat, no less-- was elected.

Shortly after taking office, JFK cut the top marginal tax rate down from more than 90% to 70%. On cutting taxes, Kennedy noted:

Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits… In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.

Jack Kennedy cut taxes, and tax revenues did not fall. Oh, no. The economy flourished and tax revenues climbed 62% over the course of the following seven years, from $94 billion to $153 billion.

In a recent conversation with a politically confused 20-something, I brought up the fact that Ronald Reagan cut the top marginal income tax rate from 70% to around 50%. And that thanks to Republicans in more recent years, the top marginal rate is half of what it was when Reagan took office. If Democrats had their way, I asserted, we'd see rates for "the rich" up in that range in a hurry.

She was incredulous.

She just plain didn't believe that the top marginal income tax rate was ever 70%. So I told her that not only was there a 70% tax rate, there was actually a 90+ percent tax rate at one point in our nation's history. In our parents' lifetimes, even, not that long ago. She thought I was just exaggerating to prove a point.

Wrong.

It really happened. It was a nightmarish, Twilight Zone-worthy part of our economic history, but it definitely happened. And although it's somewhat cliche to say this, those who fail to understand the lessons of history-- even recent history, for Pete's sake-- are destined to repeat some of history's worst mistakes.

Listen up, folks.

Democrats can't win either chamber of Congress this year, because they would most certainly allow President Bush's remarkably successful tax cuts to expire. Bush simply can't veto an expiration of tax relief. If Democrats control the House and let tax relief expire, it expires. Period.

Meanwhile, if we forget or reject the wisdom of John F. Kennedy on taxes, we're missing out on an opportunity to enhance prosperity for all, improving standards of living across the board, boosting national security, and delaying for a bit some of the demographic timebombs (like Social Security) headed our way.

Make no mistake, if Democrats were to hypothetically wind up controlling the legislative and executive branches, they would drastically raise taxes. If Democrats somehow wind up with even one camera of our bicameral Congress, every single American-- especially the middle class-- can expect a higher tax burden.

Imagine that it's April of 2007. Just hypothetically. Look down at your tax statement. Do you really want it to be substantially higher-- maybe to the tune of thousands of dollars higher-- than it was in April of 2006?

Of course not. This election is about taxes and terrorism. On both issues, Democrats want to take us "into another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a not-so-wonderous land of imagination. Next stop, The Twilight Zone."

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 October 2006 12:30 AM · Comments (12)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 355 -- Best & Worst States For Taxes.

Policies Matter-

If there's one thing you should take from reading this blog, it's that ideas matter. In domestic public policy, the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans is found on the issue of taxes. Democrats almost unanimously want higher taxes. Republicans, by and large, want lower taxes. These are idea differences that manifest themselves in public policy, and these manifestations can then be observed at the state-by-state level.

Indeed, state tax policy is not arbitrary, and it's not created equal.

The ten best states in the Tax Foundation’s 2007 State Business Tax Climate Index are as follows:

1. Wyoming
2. South Dakota
3. Alaska
4. Nevada
5. Florida
6. Texas
7. New Hampshire
8. Montana
9. Delaware
10. Oregon

The ten worst states in the Tax Foundation’s 2007 State Business Tax Climate Index are:

41. Minnesota
42. Maine
43. Iowa
44. Nebraska
45. California
46. Vermont
47. New York
48. New Jersey
49. Ohio
50. Rhode Island

The red/blue dichotomy (based on 2004 Bush/Kerry) is pretty clear, without a lot of explanation. To quibble with the color system, New Hampshire and Iowa are more purple than anything (NH went for Bush in 2000; Iowa went for Gore in 2000), while Nebraska's legislature is non-partisan and unicameral. One could probably examine state legislatures and governorships to create a better red/blue/purple dynamic, but that's for another post.

Ultimately, though, it's the ideas and policies-- and the differences between and among the states-- that matter.

These differences have produced very real outcomes:

...between 2000 and 2005, income in the top 10 states in the 2007 Index grew 44 percent faster than in the bottom 10 states. Employment in the top 10 states grew 115 percent faster, output 52 percent faster and population 164 percent faster.

Think about that. States with lower taxes performed better than states with higher taxes. People and businesses wanted to move to low tax states from high tax states. More jobs-- and more higher paying ones-- were created in the low tax states than in the high tax states. How "duh" is all of that?

What we're seeing here is fifty economic laboratories competing against one another. Policies, not surprisingly for those of us who favor good policies, make a difference in economic outcomes.

Good polices = good outcomes. Poor policies = poor outcomes.

Tax competition is good. Low taxes are the way to "win" that competition. Why more states-- especially struggling ones-- don't already grasp this, given the growing profusion of empirical evidence, is increasingly mindboggling.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: School Choice Is Worth A Try.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 October 2006 03:53 PM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 106 -- The Fed Chair Wants Social Security Reform.

Bernanke, On Entitlement Reform-

bernankeinverse.gif

Ben Bernanke explains the urgent necessity of entitlement reform in this country:

...the coming demographic transition will have a major impact on the federal budget, beginning not so very far in the future and continuing for many decades. Although demographic change will affect many aspects of the government’s budget, the most dramatic effects will be seen in the Social Security and Medicare programs...

The fiscal consequences of these trends are large and unavoidable. As the population ages, the nation will have to choose among higher taxes, less non-entitlement spending, a reduction in outlays for entitlement programs, a sharply higher budget deficit, or some combination thereof.

Bernanke also noted that a failure to reform entitlements could very well lead to a diminishing standard of living for Americans in the future. The consequences of a lack of reform = serious harm to the economy. Fortunately, there are answers. We have the answers. The answer begins with Social Security reform.

Read Bernanke's entire October 4, 2006 speech here.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Harry Reid

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 October 2006 12:20 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 354 -- Give School Choice A Chance.

School Choice Increases Racial Integration-

African-Americans nearly unanimously oppose the the Party of Lincoln, the GOP. Simultaneously, by and large, African-Americans support school choice, an issue teacher-union-beholden Democrats deeply oppose. It's one of the few issues Republicans can use to chip away at the Democratic monopoly on the black community.

One reservation many black voters have about school choice vouchers is that they won't do anything to address diversity in schools. Indeed, some people worry that vouchers would amount to subsidized segregation. Well, no longer.

Some comparisons of vouchers versus no vouchers, from the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation (.pdf):

Public school classrooms were more likely than private school classrooms to be racially homogeneous (54 v. 41 percent); public school students were less likely than private school students to be in classrooms whose racial balance was close to that of the national student population (18 v. 37 percent).

And in studies in Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, DC confirm these findings.

Meanwhile, school choice vouchers are a bargain for taxpayers:

voucherversusexpenditure.gif

It's time to break up the union cartel on American education. It's time for school choice.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Budget Deficit Shrinkage.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 October 2006 07:17 PM · Comments (3)

Become A Terrorist, Earn A Diploma

Just think about what this says about Palestinian society:

Correspondent Haggai Huberman reports on a new phenomenon among the Arabs of Judea and Samaria: Youths carry knives or small bombs across checkpoints in order to get themselves arrested so that they can study for high school matriculation exams at the State of Israel's expense.

Sitting in jail for a number of weeks or months is a small price to pay, and the returns are significant: A high school diploma, and a high social standing as a "freed terrorist."

Huberman notes that earlier this week, IDF soldiers reported that they had thwarted an attack in the northern Shomron when they arrested two 19-year-old boys carrying two pipebombs of one kilogram (2.2 lbs.) each. However, the IDF later concluded that the boys were merely trying to get arrested for the purpose of matriculation exams, and that the pipebombs were not designed to cause significant damage.

The Palestinians' corrupt government is so incapable of educating their kids, that they must rely on the hated Israelis to do it for them?

At least one can assume that the Israelis are not educating them in Jihad, anyway.

(h/t Opinion Journal)

Posted by Ken McCracken · 13 October 2006 06:32 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 105 -- Harry Reid.

Harry Reid, Corrupt & Wrong-

hreid.gif

By now, you've probably heard a few vague references to Senator Harry Reid's suspicious land dealings. In a fair media environment (or if Harry Reid had an 'R' by his name), this would be big news. In the real world, however, it's sort of just a minor footnote to the big news of the day.

Harry Reid-- who in many ways already runs show in the Senate-- would become the full blown Senate Majority Leader in the event of a GOP meltdown in November.

Here are a couple of his ideas on the world:

1. On keeping Americans safe from terrorism: "We killed the Patriot Act."

2. On making English America's official language: "racist" and "divisive."

3. On Social Security and those far-left blogs: "The second thing that I said -- the president said it was his No. 1 issue, privatizing Social Security. Now, this is the day after the election, when he's at his height and we're at our low, and I said, "We're not gonna let you do that."

But I didn't have the pathway to stop that. I kind of got the idea that I needed help. That's why [for] my first retreat in January, the first time it ever happened, I invited Markos and the guy from MoveOn, Eli [Pariser]. They came and talked to all my senators. Senators had never heard of a blog. You know, they knew nothing about this. So we were able to defeat the privatization of Social Security, I believe, because of the blogs."

harryreidatkos.gif

Awesome. So he's a big left-wing blog hero these days. Fantastic.

On issue after important issue, Harry Reid has made Tom Daschle's obstructionism look like 2nd grade recess.

And he could be the next leader of the Senate, if disgruntled Republicans decide to stay home this November.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

He's Kinky. He Ain't My Governor.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 October 2006 10:39 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 353 -- Shrinkage In The Budget Deficit.

Policies Matter-

So, it's big news, right? The shrinking budget deficit.

Here are some of the numbers from the final Monthly Treasury Statement for Fiscal Year 2006 ( .pdf):

finalmtsfy06.gif

* Tax receipts grew 11.76% from FY05 to FY06.

* Government expenditures grew 7.37%.

* The budget deficit as a percentage of tax revenue experienced shrinkage, from 14.80% to 10.29%.

* In dollar terms, the budget deficit went from $318.7 billion to $247.7 billion.

* The $247.7 billion deficit is about 1.89% of America’s $13.1 trillion economy. This is below historical averages.

Again, entitlement spending increases made up the bulk of the increased outlays. Add in the brand new Katrina spending and increased spending on national defense, and that's almost entirely where those extra dollars were spent.

So, here we are, growing our way out of deficits, without tax hikes. Here we are, with only 4.6% unemployment. Here we are, the DOW flirting with new record highs daily. Here we are, without incessant gnashing over "record" gas prices. Here we are with an economy that has been performing fantastically for years now.

So, where do we go from here?

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Media Coverage Of Foley = Out Of Whack.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 October 2006 07:42 PM · Comments (6)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Sixty-Two -- Those Dismal Rates Of Return.

reformthursdayblue.gif

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

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

This week's topic:

Social Security's Diminishing Returns.

As the DOW now hits a new record high day after day, it becomes even more frustrating that middle class Americans waste approximately 1 out of every 8 dollars earned in such an unproductive boondoggle.

Simply put, Social Security is an increasingly terrible investment for Americans of all income levels. Let's take a look at the rates of return for middle income Americans:

mediumincomeratesofreturn.gif

Okay, sort of boring and dull. But you can see that the trends are down. Each passing year brings lower rates of return for American workers. Here's a more fancy version, using the numbers for a medium income two-earner couple:

historicalprogressss.gif

Progress!

It's time for reform.

The clock is still ticking:


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

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 12 October 2006 02:19 PM · Comments (4)

If There Was Real Justice In The World . . .

Watching television would make you feel smarter, not dumber.

Becoming a politician would make you poorer, not wealthier.

Baseball players would earn workingman's wages, and scientists would have agents and bidding wars.

Democracy throughout the world would be the rule, not the exception.

Kids would know more about history than computer games.

Calling someone a gangster would be an insult.

The idea of killing someone in the name of God would cause an instant aneurysm.

Vegetables would taste like candy, and candy would taste like vegetables.

Kids could go trick or treating without an armed escort.

Common sense really would be common.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 11 October 2006 11:12 PM · Comments (17)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 352 -- LOL, OMG, FOLEY'S DIRTY IMS ARE LIKE THE BIGGEST DEAL EV-AR!

The Networks = Mouthpiece For Democrats-

First, before we go any further, let's just all agree to agree that former Representative Foley is a strange dude, a complete fool on several levels, and it's a good thing he's no longer in any position of power.

That being said, the media coverage has been nothing short of a full blown gossip fest, rife with the sorts of factual errors and messily reported innuendoes that one usually only finds at the end of the "telephone game."

From the inability to distinguish between the concept of an email (which, while creepy-ish, were mostly harmless) and an instant message (which contained the explicit sex talk), to the incessant need to infer and imply that one creepy guy's internet chats from a few years ago with someone who is now 21 ought to have some major-- and broader-- ramifications on elections in places like Ohio and Minnesota and Connecticut, the media have really just sunk to a new low on this one.

Moreover, media coverage of this story deviates from precedent. Roughly 11-12 years ago, a member of Congress did something similar-- but oh so much worse-- with almost no meaningful network coverage:

foleyscandal.gif
Is this feeding frenzy what the networks would do for any scandal where a middle-aged Congressman is caught talking dirty to a teenager? No. Consider the case of Rep. Mel Reynolds (D-Illinois). In 1994, Reynolds was indicted over a consensual sexual relationship with a girl named Beverly Heard, beginning when she was 16. Heard testified that Reynolds gave her cash at each meeting and supplied her with his pager number and apartment keys.

In taped phone conversations, they even plotted group sex with a 15-year-old Catholic high school girl Heard had said wanted to have sex with him. Reynolds responded on tape: "Did I win the Lotto?" He asked Heard to take naked photos of the girl. He was indicted on August 21, 1994, and convicted on August 23, 1995 on 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of child pornography.

Yikes.

A veritable media blackout, compared with the gleeful media gigglefest we've seen (and are still seeing) this year.

To recap, Mark Foley now versus Mel Reynolds then:

foleyreynolds.gif

What Foley did was wrong. Okay. Everyone gets that. But one man's embarrassment should never have become the kind of prolonged, front-and-center, national news story that it was/is, and only in the most twistedly partisan of Democrats' minds should Foley's internet behavior have any bearing whatsoever on election contests in other parts of the country.

Unfortunately, the collective establishment media is made up almost exclusively of twistedly partisan Democrats; the coverage of this story once against demonstrates that.

Thank goodness for the Media Research Center, always there to call out media inaccuracies, double standards, hypocrisies, and biases.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Tax Cuts Led To 6.6 Million New Jobs.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 October 2006 06:08 PM · Comments (6)

America Is The Answer, Not The Problem

I entered the RedState.org contest on Why You Should Vote Republican In 2006.

I didn't even get the dishonorable mention I was shooting for! Anyway, I found this a very useful exercise, and you might too. It forces you to boil your beliefs down to their essence. Here is my entry:

The Republicans choose a strong military and vigilance over appeasment and weakness, and believe that democracy in the Middle East is our best defense. Republicans believe the Constitution is the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, not a 'living document' - and that the Second Amendment isn't an afterthought. They believe we have a duty to know who is coming over our borders. They know that tax cuts increase revenue while raising the standard of living, and that fewer limits on business and more limits on government means more and better jobs. Finally, Republicans believe America is the answer, not the problem.

Here is the entry that won, by Liz Mair:

1. I want a prosperous America, where the poorest can achieve wealth, if allowed to save instead of pay high taxes, while benefiting from low unemployment and limited regulation.

2. I want a freer America, where my rights-- to own a gun, to determine my own healthcare arrangements-- are not infringed in the pursuit of an abstract common good.

3. I want a strong America-- one that does not cower when threatened by its enemies, which defends its interests, and exists as a beacon of hope to all who wish to be free.

I even tried my hand at writing one for Democrats. Try as I might though, this is all I could come up with:

Hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil, hate Bush, Republicans are evil.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 11 October 2006 05:08 PM · Comments (15)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 74

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

lil'kim.jpg

Here is the actual caption:
South Koreans watch a television broadcasting North Korea's nuclear test, at a railway station in Seoul. US President George W. Bush pushed for new international sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear test and warned Pyongyang against giving atomic know-how to nations like Syria or Iran.

Okay Reuters, you guys are FIRED! At least for this week. However, I am not sure AFP got their caption correct, either . . . do us a solid and tells us what it should say.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, October 17. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

bushtree.jpg

Winners from last week: 1. Ray:

Hey Hugo!, Let me comb your hair!
2. DANEgerus:

Rendition? Yeeeaah... as far as you know.

3. Rodney Dill:
Laura just asked me to put manure on her strawberries... usually I prefer cream and sugar on mine.
Honorable Mention #1 RadioFreeFred:

Abramoff Sent Me A Treasure Map.

Honorable Mention #2 Sgt.Fluffy:
You think this is funny, you oughta see my Hoe...

Honorable Mention #3 TigerHawk:

Hey, we found Charlie Trie!

Captioning isn't everything, it's the only thing. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 11 October 2006 03:54 AM · Comments (34)

McCain Talks Tough On North Korea

Senator John McCain, guestblogging at Captain's Quarters, on the disastrous legacy of Bill Clinton's Agreed Framework with North Korea:

The worst thing we could do is accede to North Korea’s demand for bilateral talks. When has rewarding North Korea’s bad behavior ever gotten us anything more than worse behavior?

I would remind Senator Hillary Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush Administration policies that the framework agreement her husband’s administration negotiated was a failure. The Koreans received millions in energy assistance. They diverted millions in food assistance to their military. And what did they do? They secretly enriched uranium.

Prior to the agreement, every single time the Clinton Administration warned the Koreans not to do something -- not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor -- they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton Administration with further talks. We had a carrots and no sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior. When one carrot didn’t work, we offered another.

The Straight Talk Express pulls no punches here.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 10 October 2006 06:19 PM · Comments (8)

The Bubble Economy.

An informative graph from the author of The Bush Boom:

bubbleunderrated.gif

The stock market isn't "the economy," but it is a fairly decent indicator of where people think the economy is. During the bubble of the late 1990s, the roaring stock market also paralleled roaring job creation and roaring wage growth and so on. All without the fundamental, underlying support of actual profits/earnings.

Today, even as the DOW has reached new record highs, it may very well still be undervalued, given the underlying strength of today's American economy. 6.6 million new jobs in three years is a big deal. Shrinking deficits are a big deal. The robust GDP growth of the past few years is a big deal.

In other words, despite a complete lack of respect from the establishment media (probably in part because their own micro-economy is so terrible), the American economy is "kind of a big deal."

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 October 2006 05:30 PM · Comments (2)

Comment Policy...

I know it's been a while, and maybe some of you weren't around when I was last in blogging mode, but to refresh your memory: I am very intolerant-- and have a short fuse-- when it comes to comments. If you lie (and I have a pretty broad definition of the word "lie"), you will be deleted and banned. If you make a personal attack, you will be deleted and banned. And so on. There's no official or formal policy, with checks and balances and a bureaucratic review process, just what I arbitrarily decide.

I just don't like to let lies and personal attacks-- even ones that are ridiculous and embarrassing for the commenter-- stew in the comment section of this blog, where they are then googleable in the future. You are entitled to your opinion, however absurd it is, but keep the lies and personal attacks away. I also may delete your comments and ban your IP for any other reason at all, such as not giving a valid email address or using multiple aliases. If your comment even looks like spam, it's gone. If it contains profanity, it's 99.9% likely to be gone.

This isn't a message board. And it's certainly not a platform for socialist propaganda. So peddle that garbage on your own blog.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 October 2006 04:11 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 351 -- The Bush Jobs Boom.

A Big Upward Revision-

Quick quiz: How many net new jobs has the American economy created since the 2003 Bush tax cuts?

Answer: 6.6 million.

Indeed, the BLS recently revised (preliminarily) job growth over the past year WAY UPWARD, by 810,000 jobs. Some historical perspective on just how big this revision is (.pdf):

hugeupwardjobsrevision.gif

Given that the average revision of the past decade is plus or minus 0.2%, this is huge news.

tinyelvis.gif

The government is befuddled by the necessity of such a huuuge upward revision (.pdf):

BLS currently is researching possible sources for this larger-than-normal expected benchmark revision. On initial review, the difference between the CES sample-based estimates and the UI employment counts does not appear to be concentrated in any one industry or geographic region.

So what's the deal?

Easy.

There are two ways of measuring jobs and employment (and unemployment), the household survey and the payroll survey. The payroll survey measures an economy that existed long ago, while the household survey takes into account more of the dynamicism of our information-age economy.

Today, there are just more entrepreneurs, more small businesses, more independent contractors, and more self-employed folks than there were in the past. Unfortunately, we're still using the measures of the past to determine how many jobs the economy is creating.

But, you might be thinking, how do we know that the revision itself isn't the number that is wildly off target? Well, the revision is based on state unemployment insurance tax records. Drastically fewer people are collecting unemployment insurance, relative to last year.

Meanwhile, the household survey continues to indicate robust job growth (271,000 new jobs in September; 250,000 new jobs in August).

It's not rocket science. The 2003 tax cuts stimulated the small business engine of job creation. All of those millions of new jobs have driven down the unemployment rate to an historically low 4.6% (.pdf):

unemployment4point6.gif

Policies matter. Democrats want to drastically change public policy in the United States. Their #1 domestic priority: raising taxes.

Let's not let that happen next month.

And less importantly, let's fix the payroll survey, or start paying more attention to the household survey.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Media = Not Even Neutral In The War On Terror.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 October 2006 10:32 AM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 350 -- The Media Are Not On Our Side.

The Establishment Media Are Not Even Neutral In The War On Terror-

About a month ago, the Media Research Center issued a study of major media coverage of the war on terror. Here are some of the startling findings (.pdf):

* Most TV news stories about the Patriot Act (62%) highlighted complaints or fears that the law infringed on the civil liberties of innocent Americans. This theme emerged immediately after the law was first proposed in September 2001, less than a week after the 9/11 attacks. Only one report (on NBC) suggested the Patriot Act and other antiterrorism measures “may not be enough.”
patriotactflaws.gif
* ABC, CBS and NBC heavily favored critics of the Patriot Act. Of 23 soundbites from “experts” (such as law professors or ex-FBI agents), 61 percent faulted the law as a threat to privacy rights. Of 19 soundbites from ordinary citizens, every one condemned the Patriot Act, despite polls showing most Americans support the Patriot Act and believe it has prevented new acts of terrorism.
patriotactcritics.gif


* Most of the network coverage of Guantanamo Bay focused on charges that the captured al-Qaeda terrorists were due additional rights or privileges (100 stories) or allegations that detainees were being mistreated or abused (105 stories). Only 39 stories described the inmates as dangerous, and just six stories revealed that ex-detainees had committed new acts of terror after being released.

* Network reporters largely portrayed the Guantanamo inmates as victims, with about one in seven stories including the word “torture.” The networks aired a total of 46 soundbites from Guantanamo prisoners, their families or lawyers, most professing innocence or complaining about mistreatment. Not one report about the Guantanamo prisoners included a comment from 9/11 victims, their families or lawyers speaking on their behalf.

rejectedguantanamo.gif
* Most network stories (59%) cast the NSA’s post 9/11 terrorist surveillance program as either legally dubious or outright illegal. Exactly half of the news stories (64) framed it as a civil liberties problem, while 38 stories saw the President provoking a constitutional crisis with Congress and the courts. Only 21 stories (16%) focused on the program’s value as a weapon in the War on Terror.
spyingoneverybody.gif
* ABC, CBS, and NBC were five times more likely to showcase experts who criticized the NSA’s surveillance program. Of 75 total soundbites, 41 of them (55%) condemned the program, compared to just eight (11%) from experts who found it worth praising. The CBS Evening News has so far refused to show any pro-NSA experts.
toutingnsacritics.gif

The mainstream media: neither mainstream, nor in the middle. It's time to throw the media bums out.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Awful Sar-Box Is Just Awful.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 October 2006 03:47 PM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 104 -- Kinky Friedman.

kinkyfriedman.gif

Kinky Friedman has become a fashionable choice in the four-way Texas Gubernatorial race this year. He's also rapidly becoming little more than a bad joke, an embarrassing choice even for folks merely seeking to cast a protest vote against the two party system.

Kinky's mediocre performance in the one and only Gubernatorial debate last Friday reinforced that he is a woefully deficient statewide candidate at best, but moreover-- and sadly for him-- that he's an unfunny, not ready for primetime, D-list celebrity.

The relative popularity of Mr. Friedman, whose salsa is also disappointingly weak, is somewhat mindboggling, especially given that Kinky seems to derive much of his support from college students and hipsters and trendsetters and "progressives" in Texas.

A few weeks back, Kinky got only in a mild amount of trouble for this:

...the country singer and comedian was asked what to do with sexual predators.

"Throw them in prison and throw away the key and make them listen to a Negro talking to himself," Friedman said.

Hmm. Yeah.

Kinky says this sort of stuff all the time. It's just plain embarrassing. And if you think his proposed punishment for sex offenders is incoherent, don't even try to decipher any sort of Kinky Friedman ideology or policy agenda. That's even more nonsensical-- and all over the map.

Kinky Friedman, ultimately, is nothing more than a caricature of himself, a Willie Nelson wannabe with a clever graphics/marketing team. His bumper stickers and t-shirts, after all, are excellent. As a candidate for Governor, Kinky is becoming a terrible, self-imploding joke.

kinkyaintmygovernor.gif


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Democrat Jim Moran Is Primed To Earmark The Blank Out Of It

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 October 2006 01:21 PM · Comments (17)

North Korea Explodes First Nuke

. . . or so they claim. We will have to wait for the seismic and satellite data to see if this is real or not.

P.S. Could it be that Kim Jong-Il hates being overshadowed by the Foley scandal?

Update: A senior administration official has confirmed that it was indeed a nuclear test.

thetoast.jpg

P.P.S. Just remember how this all began: with the folly of the 1994 Agreed Framework that the Clinton administration put together.

Yet another black mark on the tattered Clinton 'legacy' of weakness, malfeasance and ineptitude in dealing with terrorists, such as Kim Jong-Il.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 October 2006 10:26 PM · Comments (5)

Theo Van Gogh's 'Submission'

This is part 1 of the movie that cost Theo Van Gogh his life - some might find the imagery and topics unpleasant, so you have been warned:

It is important to have this type of material out there available for viewing. Whether this is an accurate depiction of life for women under Islam is entirely beside the point - that is for viewers to decide, not for would-be censors to decide. However, is it not odd that YouTube allows this, an admittedly controversial movie that cost its creator his life, yet refuses to allow a video by Michelle Malkin? That seems most contradictory and inconsistent.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 October 2006 10:07 PM · Comments (6)

Sunday Night Heidi Weimaraner Update: 9 Months Old.

Little Heidi Franklin is growing up.

firstdayofschool.gif

We bought her this little red backpack to slow her down a tad bit, and to make her carry her own load somewhat when we go hiking and such.

It looks like she's on her way to her first day of school.

But wait, there's more....

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 8 October 2006 01:25 PM · Comments (7)

Why They Call Them Coffin Nails

As if smokers didn't feel bad enough . . .

smokersgrave.jpg

I came across this pic via Media Lies , which purports to be a new mural over a smoking area.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 October 2006 11:21 PM · Comments (3)

Is Castro Dying?

Time Magazine is reporting that Fidel Castro has terminal cancer, according to U.S. intelligence reports. Castro will be 80 years old this December 2nd, should he survive that long.

This link comes to us from Dean Esmay, who calls this Good News! It is good news, and I hope Fidel is sped along quickly into his grave, and then into hell where he belongs. It could be grim news too however, as his brother Raúl Castro is slated to take over control of the closed society of Cuba. We should expect a new round of repression, jailings and suffering when this evil of two lessers takes power. Who knows how long it will be before Cubans enjoy real liberty.

But Fidel has to die as the necessary first step toward freedom, and I will hoist a maduro in celebration.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 October 2006 09:56 PM · Comments (4)

Quote Of The Day

Denis Boyles at NRO, on why Le Monde has a political rather than a sexual take on the Foley scandal:

"It’s hard to talk plausibly about sex under a photograph of Dennis Hastert sitting on a bench in Illinois looking like a big, lost rubber ducky."

Too true.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 6 October 2006 11:39 PM · Comments (4)

You Should Read Bob Woodward With A Grain Of Salt

. . . because of stuff like this regarding Woodward's book Veil, from Hugh Hewitt's interview with Thomas Edsall:

HH: Have you read State of Denial yet?

TE: Not in its entirety. I've only read the excerpts.

HH: Okay. Do you believe everything Bob Woodward writes?

TE: No.

HH: Do you believe he saw Bill Casey at the hospital bed scene in [Veil]?

TE: I have real problems with that.

HH: What's the mean, real problems? You don't believe him?

TE: I know the doctor who was treating Bill Casey, and the doctor who is someone who I think is very credible told me that Bill Casey was dead by all standards, except burial. And for him to have said anything cognizant at that time just was incredible to him. And this doctor is a liberal Democrat.

HH: Have you ever published that?

TE: No.

Edsall is a self-professed Democrat who worked with Woodward for 25 years at the Washington Post, and knows of what he speaks. He pulls no punches when talking about his ol' poker buddy Woodward. He gave an amazing, candid interview to Hewitt, that I heartily recommend.

Michael Ledeen also questions Woodward's veracity in regard to the mysterious Bill Casey interview.

Brent Scowcroft, too, says that Woodward is not honest:

"I have spoken to Bob Woodward a number of times about a variety of subjects over the years, but I did not agree to be interviewed for his latest book. Further, there are statements in the book, directly or implicitly attributed to me, that did not and never could have come from me. I never discuss any personal conversations that I may have with President George H.W. Bush, and he never discusses with me any conversations that he has with President George W. Bush."

Woodward's book, State of Denial, along with the NIE leak, are not proving to be the bombshells the liberals hoped they would be. Once again, overhype just lets the wind out of the sails when the actual content is revealed. In Woodward's case, doubts about his technique and honesty simply undermine his entire thesis.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 October 2006 10:03 PM · Comments (6)

Liberal Hypocrisy: So What Else Is New?

Do you think the Democrats stand for civil rights, tolerance, and equality?

Seems to me these days that they stand for anti-semitism, homophobia, and racism of the bitterest sort:

yellowcake.jpg

Via Gateway Pundit we discover 'liberals' that think that some blacks are more equal than others - as long as they do the bidding of the DNC. Woe unto any African-American who does not become a good little soldier for the Democratic Party - for you too might end up being ridiculed in this humiliating racist fashion. It seems that the party of slavery, the Confederacy, and Jim Crow hasn't really changed the way we thought it had. After all, isn't it Jim Webb that said "I don't think that there's anyone who grew up around the South that hasn't had the [n-]word pass through their lips at one time in their life"? Isn't Robert Byrd, the Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, fawned over as the 'conscience of the Senate' by adoring Democrats?

As a follower of the party of Abraham Lincoln, the rank hypocrisy of it all is more than a little annoying.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 October 2006 08:46 PM · Comments (7)

Why The Foley Gambit Will Fail

The Foley scandal is aimed directly at the heart of the Republican base. The Democrats are still smarting over the anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives that did so much to bring the base out for the GOP in 2004. Foley is major payback for this 'Rovian homophobia' - now John Aravosis and the other gay pride hypocrites think they can make this homophobia work for them. They think that the Republican base (that is, narrow-minded religious bigots, in their minds) will recoil in horror at the entire Republican party for ever allowing a gay person to join it, and that these bigots will then stay home this November.

If this is their strategy, it is quite flawed. We are now living in an age where a protest against mainstreamed homosexuality such as Will And Grace seems ridiculously misplaced - the buffoon Fred Phelps, for example, is widely reviled by everyone who becomes familiar with his antics. The ballot initiatives against gay marriage were not, in fact, rooted in homophobia, but were rooted in the age-old understanding of what marriage is, and a desire to preserve the institution against a new interpretation that simply defies tradition and history. Moreover, arguments against gay marriage such as it erodes the family unit may in fact be specious, but that does not mean they are homophobic. Thus, this strategy will fail, because the Republican Party is no more a party of homophobes than is the Democratic party. Fred Phelps is a Democrat, by the way.

Just who are the hypocrites here, anyway? The only persecuters in this sorry tale are the gay rights activists who take upon themselves the right to politicize another human being's sexuality. In their view, if you are a closeted homosexual, you forfeit all rights to privacy. You must toe the ideological line and support each and every item in their agenda, or else. Isn't this the very kind of blackmail and intimidation that they accuse the homophobes of?

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 October 2006 03:18 PM · Comments (7)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 73

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

bushtree.jpg

Here is the actual caption:
U.S. President George W. Bush gestures with a shovel as he speaks to the press at a tree-planting ceremony on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington, October 2, 2006. The first couple planted an Jefferson Elm tree to replace the 140-year-old American Elm that was destroyed in a heavy storm in June.

Reuters gets it wrong again! Give us the real caption.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, October 10. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

Winners from last week: 1. Hoodlumman:

No WAR for TUXEDOS!
2. Rodney Dill:
DRUDGEBREAKING: Chile Willy can't stand the heat.

3. DANEgerus:
Upon reflection, the protesters' realized the march against Microsoft could have gone better...

Honorable Mention #1 Terry_Jim:

That cloud looks like a fish. That cloud looks like an iceburg, that one looks like another fish. There's another fish , a bigger fish, an iceburg.
Say, that cloud looks like a platoon of riot police!

Honorable Mention #2 Radio Free Fred:
Washington D.C. Police Enforce No Fly Zone.

Honorable Mention #3 Cox:

The Antarctic fish riots were brutally suppressed, leaving several dead and many injured...

Captioning makes the heart grow fonder. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 October 2006 08:38 AM · Comments (25)

The Jack Murtha Abscam Video

Here is a newly-released full video of Jack Murtha sitting down with an FBI agent in the Abscam scandal - until now only a 13-second portion of the tape had been available:

Here is what the American Spectator has to say about Murtha's Abscam involvement:

Murtha has repeatedly maintained his innocence in the Abscam sting operation, even as recently as this year. However, his November 20, 1980 testimony in the trial of Congressmen Frank Thompson (D-N.J.) and John Murphy (D-N.Y.) and the FBI's complete undercover video of his January 7, 1980 meeting with its agent and informant reveal a man showcasing his political influence and apparently tempted to take a $50,000 bribe. On the tape, Murtha appears eager to arrange his own, long-term deal with the supposed representatives of Arab sheiks, and to cut out Thompson and Murphy. His testimony reveals that after his January 7 meeting, he looked into helping the sheiks enter the country, rather than contacting the FBI or the Ethics Committee, of which he was a member. Through the years, Murtha has maintained that he only met with the FBI agents to discuss investments in his district. His testimony, the video, and the cases of other congressmen snared in Abscam suggest that "investments in the district" was a common Abscam defense for those accused of bribery.

I question the timing!

As in, why has Jack Murtha been protected from this for so long?

Update: much more about the "Boot Murtha" movement and Diana Irey's growing poll numbers from Gateway Pundit.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 3 October 2006 08:28 PM · Comments (2)

What Does A NoKo Nuclear Test Mean?

Most likely this is bluster:

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea triggered global alarm on Tuesday by saying it will conduct a nuclear test, a key step in the manufacture of atomic bombs that it views as a deterrent against any U.S. attack. But the North also said it was committed to nuclear disarmament, suggesting a willingness to negotiate.

There have been several false alarms about North Korean nuclear tests over the past two years, and at the moment there are none of the telltale signs that a test is imminent. U.S. satellites can very easily spot the test preparations necessary for a test, such as the excavation and filling of a test tunnel, with cables trailing out. Nuclear testing, even underground nuclear testing, is a very tricky situation for a country as small as North Korea. GlobalSecurity.org quotes analyst Satoshi Morimoto:

" ... carrying out nuclear tests inside North Korea would be an extremely sticky action. That is because this kind of nuclear testing could only be carried out underground. There is absolutely no way they could do in the air or above ground. Even with underground nuclear testing, you normally need a fifty to sixty kilometer square of desert for a nuclear test. In the U.S., this would be something like the Nevada desert. Unless you have the kind they have in India or Pakistan, you cannot do it. The reason for this is that the underground water system gets damaged. North Korea has a very abundant flow of underground water, and if you carry out an underground nuclear test in this kind of place, radioactive materials would get into the water supply for the whole of the Korean peninsula, and also flow out into the Sea of Japan. As a consequence, if there were any underground nuclear testing in the Korean peninsula, it would not be just the ecological system, but also the topography of the land that would be damaged. So, will they indeed carry out tests? I think they might somehow manage to borrow the Pakistani desert, or else carry out tests in another country.

Moreover, North Korea only has one shot at this: once they have actually tested a weapon, they have lost whatever diplomatic leverage the threat of a test poses, and it will shift the entire paradigm of negotiations into completely new and unpredictable ways.

North Korea risks alienating their all-important neighbor China, and could push Beijing even further towards strong relations with the West. Diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. have warmed of late, and China seems to be realizing that taking a harder line with Iran is earning them big points on the international stage. Taking a more proactive stance is giving them a certain respect they had not enjoyed before. A North Korean nuclear test right now would be quite stupid, especially considering the already shaky nature of the regime there, and the inevitable sanctions that would follow a test. Read this outstanding article if you want to more fully understand the absolutely dire straits Kim Jong-Il's regime faces right now.

The proper way for the North Koreans to game this is to threaten a test, win concessions by then pledging not to test, go on to further pledge to unbuild its nuclear weapons program and win more goodies, and then allow limited inspections. Then, kick out the inspectors, begin plutonium production again, and threaten another test. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 3 October 2006 07:42 PM · Comments (3)