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Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
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Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
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Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM

Americans Voting With Their Feet.
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Idea Majorities Matter.
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Twilight Zone Economics.
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The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
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From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
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Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
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Let Economic Freedom Reign.
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Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM

Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM

Right To Work States Rock.
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Social Security Reform Thursday.
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Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008

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Mar. 14, 2006

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Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
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« May 2007 | WILLisms.com | July 2007 »

Must Read: How The Surge Works

Must Reads only come along once or twice a year, so it is a high recommendation!

Via Michael J. Totten we find this analysis of the Surge strategy and how it is supposed to work.

It isn't a 'just kill the bad guys' strategy, to say the least.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 28 June 2007 09:16 AM · Comments (3902)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 110

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


Here is the actual caption:
Filmmaker Michael Moore speaks during a news conference about his new documentary on the American Healthcare system titled 'Sicko' in New York June 11, 2007.
Oh suuuuure, we're supposed to believe that caption? How about giving us a real one!

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

Last week's photo:

Winners from last week: 1. The Great Santini:

Elisabeth H. ain't a bag
Or a long-haul trucker in drag
Say, why is she smilin'
This lass, so beguilin'?
She's a bust up on Rosie the Hag!

2. Wyatt Earp:

When Rosie said she was going to eat me, I thought that she'd choke on my bones. Then Melissa Etheridge explained . . .

3. GOP and College:

Hey Rosie, at least I can see when my shoes are untied.

The right to keep and bear captions, shall not be infringed. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 27 June 2007 01:59 PM · Comments (2166)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 443 -- Journalists Are Left-Wing Activists.

Political Contributions Tell The Story-

Not that many members of the media contribute reportable money (200+ dollars, typically) to political campaigns and activist organizations. But among those who do contribute, the story is telling:


It ought to be okay for any private individual to support whatever cause they choose. But people need to stop pretending there isn't an overwhelming left-wing bias in the media establishment. And, again, anyone who yaps about a "right-wing media" is probably someone you just want to avoid interacting with, altogether, because-- at this point-- the evidence of a left-wing activist media is so overwhelming, shocking anecdotes and broader empirical data such as this have now achieved "dog-bites-man" levels of redundant.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Populism Rooted In Economic Cluelessness.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 June 2007 11:30 AM · Comments (6)

Quotational Therapy: Part 135 -- Steve Jobs, On Unions In Teaching.

We Need Competition & Choice In Our Schools-


An oldie-but-goodie:

I believe that what's wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way....

What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good? Not really great ones because if you're really smart you go, "I can't win"....

This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."

It's a brave thing for a public figure like Jobs to stand up to the unionized teaching establishment. Bravo to him for that.

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Biden On Gingrich.

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

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 June 2007 11:07 AM · Comments (196)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 109

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


Here is the actual caption:
Elisabeth Hasselbeck takes part in the Daytime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, Friday, June 15, 2007. Hasselbeck tells the syndicated TV show 'Access Hollywood' that she and Rosie O'Donnell aren't on the best of terms nearly one month after their on-air dustup on 'The View.' The interview is scheduled to air Tuesday, June 19, 2007.
Oh right, they expect us to believe that is the whole story? How about giving us a real caption!

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, June 26. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week: 1. onlineanalyst:

It is most important to shake out the solid waste in order to recycle this diaper economically.

2. Hoodlumman:

The American football tradition of spiking the football after scoring did not translate very well to the sport of sumo.

3. Elliot:

Too light, REJECT!!!

'Tis better to have captioned and lost than never to have captioned at all. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 20 June 2007 02:51 PM · Comments (26)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 442 -- Economic Cluelessness.

Soaking Economic Populism-

Bi-partisanship. Isn't it grand?

Bipartisan automatically means good, in the minds of many, especially in the media today.

Exhibit A: McCain/Feingold. Cleaning up politics is the way to go. It's bipartisan!

Exhibit B: Sarbanes/Oxley. Think about Enron. Plus, it's bipartisan!

Enter Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Montana Democrat Max Baucus, prepared to fix the terrible problem of private equity firms adjusting their behavior to avoid excessive taxes and penalties:

Under current federal law, these performance fees are treated as capital-gains income, since they represent asset appreciation rather than income flow. This tax treatment allows private-equity partnerships to be far more competitive internationally than if they were subject to the steeper corporate or personal income-tax rate of 35 percent (plus state income taxes of about 5 percent). This rate is well above the average world corporate tax rate of 27.1 percent and the European Union average rate of 25.8 percent, according to the latest survey by KPMG.

Current law allows partnerships with passive income to retain their tax treatment when they are publicly traded. Active income, such as management fees, is taxed at the corporate rate. This structure was created in 1987 as a way to allow partnerships sell public stock without being unduly burdened by higher taxes that peers outside of the public markets do not have to pay.

Baucus and Grassley are recklessly referring to this structure as a loophole, and have introduced legislation to specifically carve out private-equity firms.

This kind of post-Enron populist policy sentiment in the United States may very well hasten New York City's fall from the ranks of the great financial centers of the world. Money goes where it is treated well. Right now, it's migrating to places like London and Hong Kong.

And what even prompted Grassley and Baucus to become so concerned about this issue? As entrenched members of the Washington elite, they simply have taken it upon themselves to maximize government revenue, which, in turn, maximizes their power and prestige even further. It will be so much easier to pay for the entitlement tsunami later, if people just get used to higher taxes now. Think about all of those farm subsidies these guys are assuredly dreaming up right now, to be inserted into the next Farm Bill. Who is going to pay for all of that glorious pork? Literal pork. And corn.

That's something you notice very quickly when dealing with people who have been in government for ages. They constantly think in terms of "how much money are we going to lose" when it comes to tax relief. They're also looking for ways to increase revenues in a hurry, without upsetting the voters too much. What better way to boost government revenues than to soak the small percentage of rich at the top.

Who would even notice, anyway?

And while we're at it, why not extend that percentage out a bit. Maybe the top 20%. Or even top 40%. How about just any family making above, say, 75 thousand dollars a year? After all, that's where the bulk of revenue comes from already:


Unfortunately, the government seems more interested in maximizing revenue the easy way than in maximizing the conditions (prosperity) that simultaneously bring in plenty of revenue AND lead to the need for less government in the first place.

Many Americans today not only do not pay high taxes, they don't pay ANY taxes. And tens of millions more low income Americans actually pay negative taxes, via the earned income tax credit.

Last year on the campaign trail I talked to one of these folks, a registered voter not much younger than myself, at a relatively prestigious collegiate institution. He told me (and I am paraphrasing, here):

I don't get why anyone can be worried about taxes. I mean, like, my refund check this year was 600 dollars.

We talked about how much he paid in taxes before that. He had no idea.

We talked about the fact that different income brackets not only pay more, they pay more as a percentage of what they make. That was entirely new to him.

We talked about how his refund on what was likely a small amount withheld was fairly atypical. He just plain disagreed. Old people who know the system probably get way more than 600 dollars back, he asserted.

Then he said something I think about every now and then:

Why do rich people need so much money, anyway?

It was an illuminating moment.

Why indeed. Why is there ever any incentive for anyone to do anything better than mediocre?

He was no union socialist type, nor a beatnik intellectual fruitcake, just a normal upper-middle class college kid without a clue. There are kajillions of people out there just like him. At least half a kajillion of them are voters.

It is precisely this sort of democratic populism that led George Mason economist Bryan Caplan to write The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies and make this general claim:

...ordinary voters harbor irrational beliefs and personal biases that interfere with making sound economic policy choices. According to Caplan, the problems with democracy are, in a sense, due to too much democracy.

While Caplan probably goes too far in assailing regular folks for their misguided economic opinions, it is easy to see how he could be so frustrated. Even after such an tumultuous election in 2006, I still sense a substantial amount of frustration out there among hardcore activist types, once-every-4-year-voter types, and everyone in between, all over the ideological spectrum.

Unfortunately, I think this is because people are arguing like ships passing in the night. Nobody is even speaking the same language, and far too few have even a rudimentary understanding of the most basic economic principles that have made America so superior to most other nations.

But, hey, these days it's bipartisan.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Teachers Have Untenable Job Security.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 June 2007 11:39 AM · Comments (5)

Preparation H

At Salon.com Walter Shapiro gushes hagiographically about Hillary Clinton and how prepared she is:

Still, if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination (which is far from preordained), it will be as much because of the skills on display at Dartmouth Friday as any other factor. Clinton is relentless, never skimping on her homework, never taking her privileged position (by marriage) in the Democratic pantheon for granted. She may lack what the Bush family used to call "the vision thing," but she is the 2008 presidential candidate least likely to make a tactical error.

Well it is great to see that Hillary takes her run for president more seriously than reading the National Intelligence Estimate before the Iraq AUMF vote, and more seriously than studying for the District of Columbia bar exam, and more seriously than finding those darned missing Rose Hill Law Firm records.

Hillary lacks charisma, spontaneity, the 'vision thing', warmth, and accomplishments, and so her campaign and its fellow travelers have to retreat to second-tier virtues in order to have some kind of positive to point to. This 'preparation' meme didn't really help Al Gore in 2000 (it overhyped his debate skills, creating a need for a knockout punch against Bush that never came), and it won't help Hillary Clinton in the debates either, because she is a poor debater with a wooden performance and a scripted delivery.

Only overhyping Rudy, Mitt or Fred's debate abilities can help her now. This unglamorous 'Hillary is always prepared' meme sure won't.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 18 June 2007 09:40 PM · Comments (29)

The Gaza Coup And Magical Thinking

Hamas has effected a coup against Fatah in Gaza, effectively wiping out the 'democratic opposition' there. This is of course a grave development in the Middle East, and we all know who is at fault . . . Here is a bit of leftist magical thinking for you. President Bush is so awesomely powerful in the middle east, that he need have only brought Israel and the Palestinians together and 'worked hard' at hammering out a deal, and *poof* there would have been peace in the middle east!

That is the only conclusion I can draw from reading the unrealistic commentary on the Gaza Coup from the leftists. From FireDogLake:

Now another predictable trainwreck has occurred in Palestine, where the militant Hamas forces in Gaza overwhelmed forces loyal to the Palestinian President’s Fatah party, effectively splitting control of Palestine and threatening a wider civil war. It’s not clear whether either Israel or the US sought this outcome, but it does seem the inevitable result of a flawed policy that viewed Palestinian factions as either “moderates” (Fatah) who can be talked to or “terrorists” (Hamas) who can only be suppressed or killed.

You see? The violence in Gaza is not the fault of a terrorist party waging war on their brothers for power, no! It is Bush's fault, because he did not present Hamas and Fatah with the proper policy. If only Bush had forwarded that elusive, magical, never-before-seen policy that actually causes parties in the middle east to put down their weapons, this never would have happened. Here's more magical thinking, this time from Taylor Marsh, quoting from a WaPo editorial:

Well done, George. The rise of an Islamic state on Israel's border belongs at your feet. There's simply no other place to put it.

"After his reelection in 2004, Bush said he would use his "political capital" to help create a Palestinian state by the end of his second term. In his final 18 months as president, he faces the prospect of a shattered Palestinian Authority, a radical Islamic state on Israel's border and increasingly dwindling options to turn the tide against Hamas and create a functioning Palestinian state.

"The two-state vision is dead. It really is," said Edward G. Abington Jr., a former State Department official who was once an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. ... ..

Takeover by Hamas Illustrates Failure of Bush's Mideast Vision.

Thus, the violence in Gaza is due to a failure of Bush's vision. With the correct, proper magical vision, things would have worked out just fine, guaranteed. That must be one magical vision Bush has, because Clinton's failed 'vision' never seems to get this kind of negative attention - never mind that it helped launch the Second Intifada. Again we see the unrealistically high expectations liberals put on diplomacy. It presumes that there is some proper formula, some exact mix of elements, personalities, ideas and offers that can undo the bloody impulses of the Palestinian people just by the sheer power of its elegance. That chemistry is out there, and Bush is a failure for not finding it! Just like Clinton didn't find it, Bush 41 didn't find it, Reagan didn't find it, Carter didn't find it . . . you know, after a while, it makes one doubt whether that magical formula exists at all.

The all-important and critical part of the formula seems to be missing though: a genuine desire for peace from the Palestinians.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 15 June 2007 05:18 PM · Comments (20)

Syrian Dog-And-Pony Show

One of the alleged 'faults' of the Bush administration is a lack of dialogue with our enemies, in particular Syria. What Bush's detractors don't understand is how pointless and unproductive such diplomacy really is, as Damascus Nancy Pelosi found to her chagrin earlier this year.

Had Pelosi done her homework (as she clearly had not, she was in way over her head) she would have realized that for generations now, Syria under Hafez Assad, and now under his son Bahsar Assad, has offered nothing but the official Ba'ath party line. The Syrians are so rigid in this doctrine, that they cling to it even when properly gaming the situation to their benefit dictates another course of action. For example, Nancy Pelosi bumbled her way into Damascus in an effort to jump start negotiations that Bush had allegedly neglected. Had the Syrians properly rewarded Pelosi with some small gesture - even, say, releasing some political prisoners or agreeing on paper to beef up their border security with Iraq - the Syrians could have caused a split in American diplomatic authority and gravely embarassed Bush. But they passed, because the Syrians are woefully unimaginative on such matters, and their entire focus is on Lebanon and how many Syrian opponents they can blow up. They know no other way, and nuance is not their strong suit.

As Anton Efendi makes clear, in reference to Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema's recent meaningless diplomacy with Syria:

Let's see: The British Nigel Scheinwald went and got nothing, then the German FM Frank Walter Steinmeier went and got nothing. They were then followed by Sen. Bill Nelson who got absolutely nothing. Actually check that: he got, in his words, "the usual dog-and-pony show" and "the standard party line." Then the EU's Javier Solana was sent on behalf of the EU, and guess what? He got nothing. The Saudis got nothing and since the Riyadh summit (where they told Bashar what was expected of him in no uncertain terms) they have not had any contact with the Syrians. The Egyptians got nothing. The Arab League's Amr Moussa got nothing. And so on and so forth.

Some will say, we should just talk anyway. What can it hurt?

It makes a mockery of diplomacy. It marks diplomacy as an empty gesture, talking for talking's sake, a way to keep the Harvard intenational relations grads busy. Both sides have to want to achieve something via diplomacy, and both sides must make an effort to at least put forth an image of doing so in good faith. Syria is so contemptuous of diplomacy, they don't even know how to take advantage of it to their own benefit.

To talk to such people just trivializes diplomacy. If the Syrians really want something from us, they know where to find us.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 14 June 2007 09:54 PM · Comments (0)

Quote Of The Day

. . . from Victor Davis Hanson:

"An alien from Mars would almost instantly diagnose the problem of the Palestinians from simply listening to their inane apologists: The problem is not the acquisition of the final seven percent of the West Bank denied in the offer to them at Camp David, but the pathology of a victim culture, one that has learned, through playing the card of terror with simultaneous appeals to multicultural guilt, how to shake down Westerners for their money, attention, and pity."

Posted by Ken McCracken · 14 June 2007 12:52 AM · Comments (4)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 108

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


Here is the actual caption:
A sumo wrestler fools around doing tricks on stage with a young sumo wrestler before the Hawaii Grand Sumo Tournament in Honolulu, Sunday, June 10, 2007.
That can't be what's really going on here. Give us a better caption!

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, June 19. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week: 1. Bigfoot:

President Bush surprises everyone by revealing that he is, in fact, an operatic baritone.

2. Poole:

And now a word from the President of the United States:

"If you are a man and over forty, you should visit your doctor for a complete check-up to prevent prostate can-YOWWWW!"

3. Wyatt Earp:

And those bastard realtors sold me the photo of this house, not the house itself!

Captioning is as serious as a heart attack. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 13 June 2007 12:32 PM · Comments (23)

Fun False Quotes From The Liberals

In his new book The Assault On Reason, Al Gore claims this quote as coming from Lincoln:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

As Andrew Ferguson notes, the quote is a little 'too perfect', fitting as it does into the anti-capitalist notions of the left like a dovetail joint. The quote shows up nowhere in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln.

Another false favorite from the lefties is this, attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "dissent is the highest form of patriotism." Jim Lindgren at Volokh Conspiracy did some research, and found that this quote originated from Dorothy Hewitt Hutchinson, a pacifist so addled that she opposed participation in World War II. The connection with Jefferson apparently started with ACLU president Nadine Strossen in 1991, thus giving rise to a small liberal myth.

Here is a famous example of a false liberal quote, from Barbara Streisand, attributing it to William Shakespeare:

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."

This does not sound remotely like anything Shakespeare wrote, but nevermind, it sounded great to Babs, and suited her purposes.

I suppose this can teach us a few things about how liberals think. Truth and reality are not really that important you see, and if it sounds good, it must be true. We learned from Rathergate the importance of claims that are false, but accurate!, which is perfectly legitimate because, after all, Truth is relative.

The most important liberal 'truth' of all, however, is never admit you aren't as smart as you'd like to appear (especially true in Al Gore's case).

Posted by Ken McCracken · 10 June 2007 04:50 PM · Comments (50)

Betel Nut 'Beauty' In The Eye Of The Beholder


Instapundit tells us that China is blocking access to Flickr, and a good thing too! Can't have the people, you know, learning things on their own. Glenn Reynolds thinks the People's Republic of China probably fears the Betelnut Beauties of Taiwan, pictures of girls in glass booths wearing skimpy outfits preparing and selling betelnuts to passing motorists.

He must not be talking about this 'beauty' over here to the right, obviously addicted to betelnuts for many decades. Ironically I found this picture of a woman from northern Vietnam on Flickr.

This must be something new - I lived in Taiwan during the nineties and never saw this phenomenon. Betelnut chewing is one disgusting habit though. It ruins the teeth, and Taiwan is spattered all over the place with rust-colored patches of slobber everywhere you walk. Indeed, as Wikipedia so elegantly puts it, "trails of bright red sputum lining the sidewalks are a sure indication of the popularity of betel chewing in an area." Wiki P also tells us that betel nut is a mild euphoric due to arecoline, a compound similar in structure and effect to nicotine, and that *surprise!* betel nuts are a known carcinogen.

In Taiwan betel nut chewing is the exclusive province of men; because the women have far more sense than the men, the Betelnut Beauties are not likely to end up with blackened stubs for teeth.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 9 June 2007 09:42 PM · Comments (3)

Border Security Solves All Problems

One of the great mistakes of the Bush administration was not securing our southern border in the wake of 9/11. The President has clung to the baffling belief that immigration reform must come in a comprehensive package, and faith in this concept has done irreparable harm. Comprehensive immigration reform was exactly the wrong thing to do, and securing the border first would have ironically left the President in a far stronger position to complete reform later on, because without border security none of his plans have any credibility.

A secure border would have made amnesty, amnesty-lite or any guestworker program far less objectionable. The public is extremely wary of any kind of amnesty program, because in 1986 the Reagan administration definitively showed us not only that amnesty simply doesn't work, but that it provides an irresistible lure for millions more to sneak into the country. If we had a tight border, however, amnesty becomes palatable because it would actually be a final amnesty that would not induce even more people to enter the U.S. illegally.

Securing the border makes immigration enforcement far easier, because deportees will not be able to slink back into the country time and time again. Shutting down the revolving door means the feds only need to do their job once. This makes it possible to follow the Rule of Law as we should, rather than ignoring the immigration laws already on the books because it is such a hopeless task. It would bolster the image of the federal government as an institution that actually does what it is charged to do.

With a secure border the U.S. could, for once, finally know the exact identity of each and every person coming into this country. It is baffling that this has never been a high priority with the Bush administration - controlling and defending the borders has always been job one for nation-states throughout history, and while Bush has done a great job on national defense, he has done the poorest job possible in regard to regulating the borders. The concerns about al-Qaeda operatives sneaking over the border to come here and do mayhem are vastly overblown, but al-Qaeda is far from being the only security risk sneaking over the border. Gangs such as MS-13 inflict daily terrorism on victims throughout the country, and we simply need to control this influx. Without a secure border, national security in the homeland will always be incomplete and flawed.

Do I need to even address the concerns about increased welfare spending, educational spending, healthcare spending, balkanization etcetera and so on that would be solved by a secure southern border?

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, Mr. President, build up this wall!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 8 June 2007 01:43 AM · Comments (15)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 107

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


Here is the actual caption:
President Bush delivers remarks at Czermin Palace in Prague, June 5, 2007.
Oh, do you think that is all that is going on here? Give us a better caption, please!

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, June 12. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:


Winners from last week: 1. Elliot:

Him: Fast food again?
Her: Yeah, try to catch one.

2. Assistant Village Idiot:

C'mon, grow. GROW!

3. Poole:

The Associated Press and the New Times uncovered definitive prrof that there was a petting zoo at the Abu Ghraib prison. PETA is calling for an investigation while Rush Limbaugh is asking for 'original recipe'.

To err is human, but to caption is divine. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 6 June 2007 12:05 PM · Comments (18)


I don't know if it is for real or not, but this blog rocks!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 5 June 2007 12:53 PM · Comments (1)

Prostitution . . . Marriage . . . What's The Difference?

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's hard-line interior minister is encouraging temporary marriages as a way to avoid extramarital sex, a stance many in this conservative country fear would instead encourage prostitution. A temporary marriage, or "sigheh," refers to a Shiite Muslim tradition under which a man and a woman sign a contract that allows them to be "married" for any length of time, even a few hours. An exchange of money, as a sort of dowry, is often involved.

This does indeed sound like a workaround for the legalities and moralities of prostitution, but the sigheh, or nikah mut‘ah is actually an old tradition, even older than Islam itself. Sexual relations are not the only purpose behind the sigheh; sometimes cohabiting partners might use it to ease dress restrictions while living under the same roof. Though the practice began in Arabia, Sunni Islam forbids this practice, and it is mostly observed by Twelver Shia.

What I find remarkable is not that the sigheh is used to form 'marriages' lasting only hours, but that it is used for relationships sometimes lasting many years, with a expiration date set by the two parties (thus eliminating the need for a divorce).

Why not? The libertarian in me loves the idea of things being reduced to contracts, and if two parties consent, who else has a right to butt in?

Update: Er, I had forgotten that the girls' age of consent for marriage in Iran is now nine-years-old. The libertarian in me does not condone the marriage, temporary (especially) or otherwise, of people too young to know what they are consenting to.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 4 June 2007 05:30 AM · Comments (13)

Ruffini On The Democratic Debate

You can always count on keen insight from Patrick Ruffini:

The key moment in the debate came when Dennis Kucinich said he would take no action if there was actionable intelligence about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. It was meaningful not for what happened, but for what didn't happen. None of the candidates used this to tee up their Commander-in-Chief credentials in the same way that Ron Paul was drop-kicked in the GOP debate. When asked, Obama gave the right answer, but without passion. Inexplicably, Hillary went off on a vague non-sequitur about these being complicated situations and reminding us of her husband's failure to get bin Laden with cruise missiles. That's the moment where she lost the debate. If there was a question where even Democrats could show some bite and passion on national security, you'd think it's Afghanistan and the fight against al-Qaeda. Save for Joe Biden, I saw none of that this entire debate. Instead, what we got was milquetoast and lots of happy talk about diplomacy.

'Happy talk about diplomacy.' The Democratic answer for everything.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 3 June 2007 09:43 PM · Comments (3)

Global Warming Consensus? What Consensus?

Lawrence Solomon debunks the myth, largely propagated by Al Gore and his supporters, that there is a consensus among scientists about global warming:

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.

Scientists don't accept the IPCC position because, contrary to the myths about the IPCC, it is not a collection of 2,000 or so top scientists - it is a political grievance committee populated by many people who have no background in science at all. The IPCC is becoming a kind of new Flat Earth Society, with a preordained agenda that will cook the books to arrive at the results they want. They have not even released the names of the supposed scientists on the panel, and many of them have demanded to have their name removed from the list of participants.

Do you think the IPCC is unbiased? Here is part of their statement of purpose:

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

It appears that the IPCC considers 'human-induced climate change' to be a forgone conclusion. Now, all they have to do is cherrypick the reports they admire, claim they have a 'consensus' of 2,000 scientists (whom they don't reveal) and let their spokesman Al Gore claim that 'the debate is over'.

This is at odds with the actual scientific community, which is far from reaching a consensus on this issue. Again, from Solomon:

A great many scientists, without doubt, are four-square in their support of the IPCC. A great many others are not. A petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine between 1999 and 2001 claimed some 17,800 scientists in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. A more recent indicator comes from the U.S.-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an accrediting organization whose 12,000 environmental practitioners have standing with U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In a November, 2006, survey of its members, it found that only 59% think human activities are largely responsible for the warming that has occurred, and only 39% make their priority the curbing of carbon emissions. And 71% believe the increase in hurricanes is likely natural, not easily attributed to human activities.

Of course, none of this keeps the global warming dogmatists from getting great press they don't deserve.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 3 June 2007 04:00 PM · Comments (12)

The Ultimate Example of Wasteful Government Spending.

John "I know Chris Reeve and General Shinseki" Kerry is in some trouble for cheating the rules in the 2004 election:

U.S. Senator John Kerry will appeal the Federal Election Commission's finding that he broke the federal campaign spending cap by about $1.2 million in his 2004 presidential bid.

Because spending 74.6 million taxpayer dollars just wouldn't have been enough.

74.6 MILLION dollars in taxpayer money. Wasted on the name dropping, hair-obsessed Johns.

I had completely forgotten about that. Ugh.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 June 2007 06:18 PM · Comments (1)

Nothing 'Revolutionary' About Che

che washington.jpg
"I do think America is a great idea. I think the American revolution is the only one which has lasted, the only one left. It still has a dynamic. It is the only one capable of a universal application." - Christopher Hitchens

George Washington, not Che Guevara, is the proper face of real, progressive revolution. Whereas Washington forged a new age of democracy and liberty, Guevara was a throwback to feudal 'might makes right' and all of the excesses and abuses of absolute power - 'divine right of kings' without the divine. Guevara was an enemy of the Enlightenment, and he, Castro, Lenin, Stalin and Mao cast billions of people (or at least those they did not murder) into a new dark age.

I would say that their names should be stricken from the tablets, except that we should never forget Santayana's dictum that those who forget that past are condemned to repeat it.

So too condemned are those who never learned about the past, and are all too likely to repeat those very same mistakes.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 2 June 2007 12:50 AM · Comments (9)

Why Hillary Bugs Me

Mickey Kaus has obtained a copy of a page from an upcoming book about Hillary Clinton, and it includes this bombshell, that Hillary Clinton "listened to a secretly recorded audiotape of a phone conversation of Clinton critics plotting their next attack. The tape contained discussions of another woman who might surface with allegations about an affair with Bill. Bill's supporters monitored frequencies used by cell phones, and the tape was made during one of those monitoring sessions."

Oh, sweet irony!*

Haven't we been lectured time and time again about the threat to democracy and to the Republic itself by the NSA wiretapping program? Although there is not one iota of evidence that this program has ever been used to violate anyone's civil rights, we have been told that the program must be dismantled because it might be used against the President's political enemies. Well, if this story holds up, we have Hillary Clinton illegally using wiretaps against political enemies - the very type of conduct that the left tells us tramples on the Constitution and destroys our democracy.

When are the leftists going to begin asking Hillary why she hates democracy? Is it too much to ask for a little consistency here? Or will there be a defeaning silence on this issue that shows that the 'outrage' over the NSA program was, indeed, selective and manufactured?

What is it with the left and wiretaps, anyway? It was not that long ago that a federal court found Baghdad Jim McDermott liable for engaging in precisely this kind of conduct against Newt Gingrich and John Boehner. The most famous wiretapping case of all was Robert Kennedy's spying on Martin Luther King. If Hillary Clinton, she of travelgate/filegate fame, wins the White House, I leave it to you to decide whether her modus operandi is suddenly going to honestly abjure this emerging Democratic[sic] tradition.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 1 June 2007 11:03 PM · Comments (2)

Why The Left Embraces Hate

. . . because they admire brutal tyrants who think hate is a good thing:

"Hatred as a factor of the struggle, an intransigent hatred for the enemy, pushes man beyond his natural limitations and turns him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be like that; people without hatred cannot triumph over a brutal enemy.'' - Che Guevara

Only an ignorant, mush headed college student or a genuine Stalinist would wear a shirt with Guevara's image on it.

This quote comes from this article by Carlos Alberto Montaner, who also describes the life of Luis Posada, another piece of leftist filth once allied with Guevara, who at least redeemed himself a tiny bit by fighting against the Sandinistas with CIA support.

Castro and his flunkies now maintain that Posada is a terrorist, and that may well be. The CIA has a history of employing such people, and there has often been blowback from such arrangements. But considering the source of the accusations against Posada, I would more readily believe Posada when he says he was not involved in skyjackings than I would believe his leftist detractors either here or in Cuba.

If Posada is a murderer and a terrorist, just remember: he learned at the feet of the masters.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 1 June 2007 12:01 AM · Comments (12)