The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM
Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM
Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM
Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM
Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM
Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM
Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM
The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM
From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM
Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM
Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM
Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM
Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM
Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM
Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008
Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008
The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006
Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008
Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007
Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006
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July 14, 2006
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Quotational Therapy: Part 138 -- Chris Dodd, On Social Security.
At Least He's Being Honest-
Presidential candidate, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd:
"Certainly, we have no ideas, and I would be totally opposed to the privatization of Social Security."
When it comes to members of Congress, no ideas can sometimes be a good thing. But in this case, no ideas really just means "1930s-era status quo or bust."
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
The Defeat Agenda Is A Trap For DemocratsThe Brookings Institution, not known for its conservative leanings, had several of its players hit the ball out the park yesterday in two articles: 'Political Cover For Whom?' by Peter W. Rodman and 'A War We Just Might Win' by Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack.
Rodman first tells us that because things have vastly improved in Iraq, it makes it much harder for the anti-war types to end the war in a way that does not make the Democrats own the inevitable defeat that follows:
The huge strategic stakes in the Middle East argue for resisting calls for any U.S. withdrawal not warranted by conditions in Iraq. The irony is that whoever is elected president next year -- from whichever party -- will come to understand this better than anyone.
Well, is a withdrawal warranted by conditions in Iraq? Not according to fellow Brookings wonks O'Hanlon and Pollack. Breaking out of their previous deep pessimisms regarding Mesopotamia, the two see real changes for the better and greatly improved morale for our troops due to the effectiveness of our efforts.
None of this is good news for the Democrats who profit politically from the Iraq 'quagmire'. Bush, savaged by the left for invading Iraq, is not letting them saddle a defeat on him as well. If the Democrats want defeat, they have to ante up - which they have wisely refused to do. Much better to drag out the 'quagmire' while it hurts Bush politically than to actually, you know, end the war. Bush is, after all, the true enemy.
Hillary Clinton & Karl Marx.
Mitt Romney recently equated Hillary Clinton to Karl Marx. A completely fair comparison, ideologically-speaking.
Hillary was also called "Bush-Cheney Lite" by Obama. A completely absurd and off-the-mark comparison, at least in the way B. H. Obama, Jr. intended it.
So, which assertion was tacitly accepted by the Hillary campaign, and which assertion warranted its own email to the nearly 1 million email addresses on the Hillary campaign list?
Well, I received the Hillary email and noticed something very interesting:
The full email is in the extended entry of this post.
The line that really bothered me:
"Can you imagine?? Hillary like George Bush??!! Or Dick Cheney!!"
Shouldn't there be some sort of reference to Marx in that line? About how Hillary has stood up for free enterprise, or how she wants American business to succeed, or how during her husband's tenure, x many jobs were created and the stock market went up x %. Something. Anything. Even if it's not true, even if it is a stretch, shouldn't the campaign have at least attempted to refute that line, since they brought it up?
Or else, maybe remove the reference entirely from the very first line of the email?
Nowhere in the email is there any reference to how the Hillary=Marx comparison is absurd or baseless or desperate or anything.
Meanwhile, however, Patti Solis Doyle (Hillary's campaign manager) practically throws a hissy fit over the bizarre, nonsensical comparison betweeen Senator Clinton and President Bush.
Two years ago, I made a post regarding Hillary Clinton's chances at winning a nationwide election. I still believe she has no chance at actually winning the general election in 2008, but the Marxist impulses of the entire Democratic field are genuinely frightening for this country. We who love freedom had better be prepared to immediately get behind our nominee 110%, because the left in this country-- feeling confident-- is trying to move us precisely to the sort of socialism that Europe is now trying to eschew.
If you want to examine the email for yourself, click here:
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Fred Needs To Blog MoreFred Thompson has some interesting things to say in two companion pieces on federalism and the rights of states to be free of onerous federal control, and a case in Pennsylvania that stripped the state of the right to enforce its own illegal immigration enforcement measures (due to the preemption doctrine in federal law).
Fred is pretty good at this blogging thing. Could Fred dominate as a blogger? The recent YouTube debacle/debate makes me think the old media way of doing things is dead. Sure, YouTube is 'new media' - but sorry, we could have gotten questions just as vacuous from the old media. This was not an improvement. Fred's blog posts, on the other hand, are more in-depth than a quick debate answer, more carefully thought out and far more informative. His posts are not dry position papers either - without condescension he informs and explains. Too bad he just doesn't blog often enough. Down with insipid, empty debates, and up with information.
As for the Republican YouTube debates - Republicans should join in. What is there to be afraid of? If, as feared, the YouTube debate is cartoonishly biased against the Republican candidates, isn't the viewing public smart enough to see that? The candidates should try to be deft enough to deflect any partisan nonsense. The Democrats are the ones who cringe in fear when the media turns on them - Republicans, by now, should be used to it and expect it (and deal with it).
One thing people (especially Mrs. WILLisms.com) always ask me is "why don't you have one of those little logo things on your website, the ones that show up in browser tabs?" For 30 months on this website, it was just a blank logo.
Well, now WILLisms.com is officially in the big leagues:
If you don't have a flavicon on your site, it's actually a lot easier than you might imagine to get one. And it's way less nerdy than this post probably makes it seem.
With the new flavicon now in place, I look forward to reaching Instapundit levels of traffic by the end of summer.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 450 -- America Could Suddenly Become A High Tax State.
Global Capital Likes To Be Treated Well-
Quoth Will Ferrell, as Harry Caray:
Hey! What about this: if you had to choose between being the top scientist in your field or getting mad cow disease, what would it be?
The Tax Foundation notes that if the Bush tax cuts expire, the United States will have one of the highest tax burdens of any nation:
The 2001 tax cuts that lowered U.S. individual income tax rates were part of the broader tax-cutting trends in the OECD from 2000 to 2006, and they succeeded in dropping the U.S. from 15th to 21st in the OECD rankings on marginal income tax rates. If lawmakers in Congress impose a surcharge as part of AMT reform and allow the 2001 tax cuts to expire, the U.S. will jump to 9th in the rankings. This will not only reverse the positive economic benefits from the 2001 tax rate reductions but will also harm the international competitiveness of our individual income tax system.
So, it seems like we face a Harry Caray-esque choice, here. We can either lower our tax burden (the equivalent of being the top scientist in our field), or we can let our economy tank (mad cow disease).
It's not a tough choice.
The only possible explanation for accepting a poorer economy and higher taxes might be the funding requirements of an ever-burgeoning network of big government programs aimed at achieving left-wing "social justice." But higher taxes don't always mean more government revenue.
Indeed, we could probably glean more tax revenue from a lower corporate tax rate, anyway. In fact, based on the Laffer Curve, the optimal tax rate (from a tax revenue maximization standpoint) is probably around ten percent lower than it is today:
There's a trend here. At least 25 developed nations have adopted Reaganite corporate income tax rate cuts since 2001. The U.S. is conspicuously not one of them.
Not to mention that we might be able to glean precisely the same proportion of revenue with a rate 20-30 percent lower than it is today. Ireland, for example, with its 12.5% corporate tax rate, collects a higher rate of government income from businesses than the United States, with our rate of nearly 40%.
So, just to reiterate, we're already now right at the top, in terms of having the highest corporate tax rate in the world. If we're not careful, we could suddenly have the highest total tax burden, period, in the world.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Falling Budget Deficits.
Quotational Therapy: Part 138 -- Qadhafi, On Cola.
From The Crazy World Leader Files-
For whatever reason, this really made me laugh. Mu'ammar Qadhafi, on the economics of cola:
Have you heard of Pepsi Cola? I am sure you have. Have you heard of Coca Cola? Whenever I ask about Pepsi Cola or Coca Cola, people immediately say it's an American and European drink. This is not true. The cola is African. They have taken the cheap raw material from us... They produced it, they made it into a drink, and they sell it to us for a high price. Why are Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola expensive? Because they have taken our cola, produced it, and sold it back to us. We should produce it ourselves and sell it to them.
Apologies for all the cheesy Photoshops lately, but maybe Gaddafi (Khaddafi, Qadafi, etc.) is actually on to something here:
Who wouldn't drink that beverage?
And who could argue with such impeccable logic?
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Seventy-Three -- America, Slightly Better Than France.
Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.
That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday or so, pertinent to Social Security reform.
This week's topic:
In The Long Run, We're All Debt.
What a coincidence that the decline in America's projected bond rating would begin just as Social Security begins paying out more than it takes in.
Hey, but at least we're slightly less awful than France.
On a more positive note, the solution (for Social Security, at least) is pretty straightforward.
We don't have to become junk status, if we are smart and reform Social Security before it's too late. Unfortunately, because 100% of Democrats and 15% of Republicans are apparently hoping for some fiscal excitement in the coming decades, we're left to rely on strong economic growth to bail us out of this mess.
I tend to be quite the optimist with regards to the economy, but with the automatic expiration of the Bush tax relief just a few years away, and the socialists currently in charge in Washington, that optimism has faded substantially in recent years.
Can we grow ourselves out of the Social Security crisis? Sure, but not if this sort of nonsense manages to become law, and not if we start hiking personal/corporate income taxes in the middle of a global tax-reduction trend.
We have time, but each day without Social Security reform is a day that the government commits theft of all of that glorious potential compound interest we could be earning.
Read More »
Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:
-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
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Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 114
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Pedestrians pass a wax figure of Lindsay Lohan that is on display at Madame Tussauds New York Wax Museum Tuesday, July 24, 2007 in New York.I can't believe they are trying to pass this off as a real caption. Give us a real one, please!
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, July 31. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Zsa Zsa:
Caption it, or lose it! Enter today!
The Biggest Moment In Health Care In Four Decades.
From a MoveOn.org email in the WILLisms.com mailbox:
In the wake of Sicko's box office success, Congress is debating the largest expansion of guaranteed health care coverage in over 40 years. This is our chance to make progress on health care.
MoveOn.org is wrong about just about everything, always, but they "get" this. This is not some obscure acronym. This is not just some symbolic piece of pork barrel spending. This is the most momentous health care entitlement expansion in decades, just as we approach an existing health care entitlement spending tsunami.
What this SCHIP expansion would really mean is a major step toward socialized health care.
It IS a slippery slope. In the mid-1980s, ~17% of American kids were covered by government health care. Today, it's roughly half. If Democrats get their way on this expansion, nearly three-quarters of American kids today would be subject to this state-run health care plan.
We're no longer talking about poor kids exclusively, here. We're looking at expanding socialist health care to kids who are solidly middle class. Some families making 83 grand a year will have their kids in this system. Once you extend something like that to such a wide swath of people, there is no pulling back.
Meanwhile, knowing that this plan will require tens of billions of dollars in new revenue, members of Congress are contemplating some fairly substantial tobacco-related legislation:
To pay for an expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), a Finance Committee draft bill would increase cigarette taxes to $1 per pack, raising an estimated $35.7 billion in new revenue.
Not to mention a proposed $10 per cigar tax.
On the one hand, the government wants us to stop smoking. Who could be against that, anyway? Smoking is terrible.
On the other hand, the Democrats are depending on 22 million new smokers to pay for this SCHIP expansion.
So, the taxes and other new regulations might discourage smoking. Great. But an entire new program depends on smoking. Not so great. Meanwhile, fewer people smoking might reduce health problems. Great. But fewer health problems will not cancel out all of that missing revenue from all of those missing smokers. Which means.... [drum roll, please] ....
HIGHER TAXES FOR EVERYONE.
That is, unless the government can somehow find 22 million additional smokers in an era of declining smoking rates. If anything, we'll have millions fewer smokers, not millions more:
Oh, what a tangled web they weave, when Democrats misconceive.
Maybe to avoid raising taxes on everyone, we'll soon see this sort of thing on buses and billboards:
Or maybe this one:
It's difficult, politically-speaking, to vote against anything for the children. But fiscally-speaking, a vote against SCHIP expansion is an absolute no-brainer.
Is There Humor In Islam?
See-Dubya at HotAir points us to this BBC broadcast debate between Hugh Pankuck of The Nose On Your Face and Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR regarding the now-infamous 'Islamic Rage Boy'. Hooper naturally is completely humorless about this, and is 'outraged' that bigoted, hate-filled Muslims would be mocked in this way. Pankuck gets off a great line: he is painting Islam with the brush they handed him.
Pankuck admits that he doesn't know much about Islam and has not read the Koran, and is merely reacting to what he knows about Islam through the press. Moderate Muslims should take heed - the average person does not have the time to investigate and study Islam in all of its aspects, so their views of Islam are only going to be what is presented to them in the news. No wonder the international opinion of Islam is swirling down the drainpipe. Islam is its own worst enemy.
See-Dubya also links to Christopher Orlet of the American Spectator, who has this to say about humor and Islam:
When I first saw the T-shirts and bumper stickers featuring Islamic Rage Boy and the caption "My child beheaded your honor student," I got a chuckle out of it. Muslims, however, are unable to see the absurdity in it. Not only do they not find it funny, they cannot understand how it can be funny, simply because they do not understand the concept of absurdist, satiric or ironic humor. Satire and irony are largely Western concepts dating back to Ancient Greece. Aristophanes employed political satire to criticize certain prominent Greeks while Socrates was celebrated for his sense of irony (hence the term Socratic irony). Absurdism is a more recent phenomenon originating with early 20th century Dadaism, and later the surrealists and the Theatre of the Absurd. These were philosophical and artistic forms that highlighted the essential precariousness and meaninglessness of human life, again concepts foreign to Islam.
It is not true that there is no humor nor satire in Islam. I highly recommend reading the tales of Nasrudin by Idries Shah. I was quite surprised when reading them how genuinely funny and clever many of the stories are, and mostly surprised at how modern the humor and the sentiments are. Nasrudin's satirical and ironic tales are used as teaching devices by Sufis much the same way that zen koans are used by Japanese Buddhists. They are often profound. They are so good they are even treasured by many non-Muslims. They also disprove Orlet's argument.
Daily SchadenfreudeHere's something to brighten your day: Markos Moulitsas crowing about how Bill O'Reilly was unable to keep JetBlue from sponsoring YearlyKos - "Psst, Bill? JetBlue ain't going nowhere." Kos even brags "but go to the YearlyKos convention website, and you'll note the JetBlue logo is still there, on the home page. And I've confirmed that yes, indeed, JetBlue isn't going anywhere. They don't plan on caving to pressure from the neanderthals at Fox News."
Do go to the YearlyKos convention website, and do try to locate the elusive JetBlue logo among the People For The American Way, MoveOn.org and HuffPo logos. I'll save you some time: it's no longer there. JetBlue has pulled its sponsorship. So much for Kos springing out of the leftwing ghetto he has created for himself. As if corporate America and Kos had any interests in common to begin with, this debacle for Kos should ensure he never gets financial backing from anyone but the nuttiest of leftwing organizations.
As it should be.
Handgun Ownership Is A Privacy RightVia Glenn Reynolds we find Mike O'Shea commenting on the possibility of the Supreme Court overturning the District of Columbia's handgun ban, if it grants certiorari in the case of Parker v. D.C. He points to what happens when leftist judicial activists worship some parts of the Constitution and competely ignore others:
"So the Constitution says Roe, but it doesn't say I have the right to keep a gun to defend my home, huh?"
Precisely. The Supreme Court called on the famous 'penumbras and emanations' of the Bill of Rights in order to craft a right to privacy in Griswold v. Connecticut, a case that laid the essential foundation for Roe v. Wade. Griswold concerned a Connecticut ban on the sale of condoms. The Court objected to this ban, saying essentially that reproductive rights are a 'life decision' that the state cannot infringe upon.
If the crux of privacy is the right of the individual to make important life decisions, then this reasoning must apply with equal force to self-defense. Self-defense is the ultimate 'life decision', concerning the most important among all inalienable rights, the right to self-defense.
Moreover, arms actually are mentioned by name in the Constitution, and given special status and protection by the Second Amendment. Combine this with the 'penumbras and emanations' of the Third and Fourth amendments - which confer special status upon the home and belongings of the individual - and a strong case can be made that gun ownership for protection of self, family and possessions is also an inalienable right guaranteed by the Constitution, and a much stronger right than privacy. After all, arms, persons, homes, papers and effects are all specifically mentioned by name as having some kind of special constitutional protection, whereas condoms, reproductive rights and privacy are mentioned nowhere in the Constitution, the Federalist papers or other essential founding documents of the Republic.
It is ludicrous to believe that the Founding Fathers only envisioned gun ownership as a 'collective right'. That certainly wasn't how the founders lived their lives - Thomas Jefferson, for example, said that the best possible form of exercise is to walk with a brace of pistols. And the idea that the founders thought that all guns should be turned in to an armory until needed for collective use in a militia is equally laughable. That theory has absolutely no support in any of the views or writings of the men who wrote and approved of the Second Amendment. Only to leftist ACLU lawyers - who argue for the broadest possible interpretation of the First Amendment while hypocritically arguing the narrowest possible interpretation for the Second - does this view make any sense.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 113
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Jerry Yang of Temecula, California poses after winning the World Series of Poker main event at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada July 18, 2007.Can you believe that lame caption? Give us a real one, please!
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, July 24. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at email@example.com.
2. Wyatt Earp:
3. Rodney Dill:
A caption a day keeps the doctor away. Enter today!
Say Goodbye To Jadegold
For crimes against intelligence, common sense, and for aggravated tediousness, Jadegold is hereby banned forthwith from WILLisms.com!
Although our favorite visitor from Planet Moonbat holds a place dear in our hearts, really this is for his own good. I am deeply flattered that he recognized WILLisms.com as the target most worthy of his tireless efforts - bordering on the obsessive - in his one-man campaign against all things Republican.
Of all the sites out there, he picked us, and that says a lot.
But allowing him to stay here would only hasten his descent into madness. He is no doubt old, lonely and friendless, and WILLisms.com unfortunately for him provided the excuse he needs to Google instead of mingling with real human beings.
So, farewell Jadegold, and find a new hobby, okay?
Say It's Not So, Mike
Michael Vick, quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for involvement in dogfighting. He has been indicted on federal charges because his dogfighting venture involved interstate travel to "South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, New York, Texas and other states" according to this story.
Man, I really like Michael Vick. But if these charges prove to be true . . . strike his name from the tablets. Dogfighting is just brutal, and any loving pet owner would rightfully consider it unforgivable.
Anti-War Self-DelusionWhy is it that the Republican base was able to rather easily kill the immigration bill - even though the President and a significant number of Republican senators supported it - while the Democratic base is unable to defund or stop the military in Iraq, even though the Democratic leadership is foursquare behind defeat in Iraq?
The Republicans had the numbers, for one thing. Capitol Hill was deluged with outraged calls, killing the switchboards. Republican donors began demanding refunds. The outrage was palpable, and authentic. Democratic 'outrage' against the war, in contrast, is knee-jerk, mechanical, and ho-hum predictable. Moreover, the numbers just aren't there.
Oh sure, there are the polls that claim that 120% of the American people loathe the war and want our troops out yesterday - but the Democrats have been duped by these polls and the tepid anti-war movement proves it. Besides, typical poll questions ask something akin to "do you want our troops to come home?" Hell, I am a huge supporter of the war and I too want our troops to come home. I am sure that if you polled the American people in the depths of World War II if they 'want the troops to come home', the answer would have been hell yes. Another great question is "do you approve of the way the war is being handled?" Well, if we haven't won yet, I guess the answer must be no.
The typical American's views on the war are actually quite complex in ways that cannot be captured by polls, and many seem to adhere to the following points:
However, a great many Americans also believe the following:
These are not mutually exclusive views. It is possible to hold all of these views without suffering from cognitive dissonance. This view of things is far more nuanced than the typical Democrat defeatists who think, in their deluded way, that they actually have the full support of the American people and have a mandate to end the war. If so . . . where is the clamor to end the war on par with the clamor to end the immigration bill? Live by the polls, die by the polls: the Dems have overrelied on polls and are now paying the price.
Is The Surge Working, Or Not?According to Senator Harry Reid, the Surge has already 'failed', even though the Surge properly has not even begun in earnest. It is never too early for the Democratic leadership to declare defeat however, invested as they are in failure in Iraq.
Is Reid correct? Not according to Michael Yon, who unlike Reid is actually in Iraq (and has been for months) and who has no axe to grind. Yon, you will recall, was not hesistant to declare that Iraq was undergoing a civil war - he calls 'em like he sees 'em. Listen to his interview with Hugh Hewitt, and contrast that with the views of the know-nothing Dems on the Hill.
So who do you believe, Yon or Reid? The question that answers itself.
Behold The Future Of Warfare
This is the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) known as, get this: THE REAPER. As Wikipedia puts it, the "MQ-9 is the Air Force's first purpose-designed hunter-killer UAV designed for long endurance high altitude surveillance." This is a massive upgrade from the Predator - the Reaper flies higher, longer (42 hours with external fuel) faster (250 mph versus 80 mph for the Predator) and will be able to deliver a wide array of weaponry, from Paveway guided bombs, to JDAMs and air-to-air missiles.
The AP article about the Reaper that is getting a lot of linkage says this: "the Reaper is loaded, but there's no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada."
The future of warfare: videogame champs chugging Mountain Dew in Nevada as they blow stuff away. I don't know whether to cheer or cringe. Pilots are now the one thing actually holding military aircraft back. The full performance of fighter aircraft, for example, cannot be reached due to the human physical limitations of the pilot. Remote piloting is the inevitable answer, so keep the Mountain Dew handy.
P.S. Woah, take a look at the future of explosives, via Instapundlit. Alas, that does appear to be yet another F-14 Tomcat succumbing to an ignominious end.
North Korean Nuclear Shutdown Is For RealThe North Koreans have shut down their sole nuclear reactor, located at Yongbyon. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei stated today that "our inspectors are there. They verified the shutting down of the reactor yesterday." The 10-person team of inspectors will work for several days applying IAEA seals as the nuclear equipment cools off. The North Koreans are 3 months late in implementing their end of the Denuclearization Action Plan. According to that plan, the nuclear shutdown was to have begun within 60 days of the agreement's date.
The crux of the February 13, 2007 agreement among the six-party members is as follows:
IV. During the period of the Initial Actions phase and the next phase - which includes provision by the DPRK of a complete declaration of all nuclear programs and disablement of all existing nuclear facilities, including graphite-moderated reactors and reprocessing plant - economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO), including the initial shipment equivalent to 50,000 tons of HFO, will be provided to the DPRK.
North Korea is required to account for all nuclear weapons, programs and nuclear materials, leading to the eventual de-nuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula. In return, North Korea gets fuel, humanitarian assistance, and steps towards full diplomatic recognition and normalization with the U.S. - including removing NoKo from the terms of the Trading With The Enemy Act and removing them from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.
On paper, this is an astounding and world-historic diplomatic victory for the Bush administration, and especially for its chief architect, the indefatigable Christopher Hill. Will this turn out to be a Neville Chamberlain-esque appeasment deal gone awry? It could very well be: North Korea has a history of regarding such deals as merely printed words without meaning. They violated the terms of the much-ballyhooed 1994 Agreed Framework before the ink was even dry. North Korea was a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which they also egregiously violated. In short, a North Korean signature on an agreement means exactly nothing. Yet North Korea is in desperate straits, with no fuel, little help from China, and no friends anywhere in the world. Perhaps Kim Jong-Il really does savor normalization and trade with the rest of the world. It is a very encouraging sign.
There are lingering problems with this deal however, the least of which is the fact that we have essentially bribed North Korea to shut down its program with no guarantee it will actually happen. Another huge concern that National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley raises is the fact that intelligence shows a covert uranium-enrichment program that does not rely on the Yongbyon facility.
Also, North Korea is demanding that it be removed from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism, even though North Korea sponsors terrorism:
North Korea has a long history of sponsoring terror and other international provocations. In November 1987 North Korea bombed a (South) Korean Airline Boeing 707 in mid-flight, killing 115 people. In 1983 a bomb detonated in Rangoon, Myanmar, minutes before South Koreas president was to lay a wreath there. The bomb killed 17 senior South Korean officials and wounded 14 others. There have been innumerable bloody incursions into South Korea by North Korean forces, and many attacks and attempted attacks on both South Koreans traveling abroad and North Korean defectors. Lower-level violence is almost constant. Reportedly, graduating from North Korean Special Forces training requires successfully entering South Korea and committing an act of vandalism. (Since the Special Forces are one of the only segments of North Korean society that eats enough, candidates have great incentive to succeed.)
It seems that perhaps we are bending some of our principles here in order to get this deal done, by 'rewarding' North Korea with goodies to do many things they already agreed to do. Aren't we training them like a dog that the way to get the things they want is to piss on the linoleum? Turning a blind eye to their past misdeeds, and pretending they do not sponsor terrorism likewise shows that our ideals are fungible.
My fear is that we will once again be left holding an empty bag, with egg on our face and our ethics compromised. If the deal works however - it may be a tiny price to pay.
Why We Are Winning In Afghanistan
Apparently, this is the type of foe we are facing there:
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 449 -- Record Deficits.
The Bush Record On Tax Cuts & Deficits-
Investors Business Daily, on the incredible shrinking deficit:
...the deficit this year would be $205 billion, or 1.5% of GDP, down from $248 billion, or 1.9% of GDP, last year and well below the peak of $413 billion, or 2.6% of GDP, in 2003. That 1.5% of GDP, by the way, also is well below the average of 2.4% over the past four decades.
Indeed, the Bush tax cuts did not cause deficits. They probably accelerated the evaporation of the deficits, though, according to Brian Riedl:
The inflation-adjusted 2004-2007 revenue surge of 25 percent represents the largest three-year tax revenue surge since 1966-1969.
Tax cuts do not cause deficits. Overspending does.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: States Riddled With Debt Lose People To Low Debt States.
Quote Of The Day, Chirping Crickets Edition
From Michael J. Totten:
If Israel sent the IDF three kilometers into Lebanon and started digging trenches and building bunkers it would make news all over the world. But Syria does it and everyone shrugs. Hardly anyone even knows it happened at all.
This story does indeed seem to have passed below the radar screen. A 'rightwing' dictatorship invades a democratic neighbor, violating its sacred sovereignty. Where are the screeching liberals on this one?
Apparently the silent left and the MSM approve.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 112
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Sharon Thompson of Soperton participates in the redneck horse shoe toss, which is done with toilet seats, at the 2007 Summer Redneck Games in East Dublin, Georgia, July 7, 2007. The Redneck Games began as a joke in response to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.Oh right, as if that is all that is going on here! Give us a real caption!
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, July 17. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captioning is to real news, as martial music is to music. Enter today!
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 448 -- Americans Tend To Move From High Debt States To Low Debt States.
Americans Voting With Their Feet-
Similar to yesterday's strong correlation between higher state government spending and fewer people wanting to live there, it turns out that higher state debt also correlates nicely with people moving to lower debt states:
So, running up a big tab to pay for all kinds of goodies isn't the way to attract a flourishing population. It seems that-- in our increasingly mobile society-- smaller government is all people actually want when they are looking for a place to live, work, and otherwise exist.
If you want to see the state-by-state data, click here for the .pdf.
Not surprisingly, the correlation seems to hold for all sorts of similar indicators. Taxes, for example. People can and will move to where taxes and spending are lower. Again, this is precisely why we need a smaller federal government-- to encourage competition between and among states. Let the best ideas win. Ultimately, all the states will gravitate to those winning ideas, and everyone will be better off for it.
That is federalism at its best.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: High Levels Of State Spending Chases People To States With Low State Spending.
Mozart Piano Sonata No. 13 K.333
The third movement Allegretto Grazioso by the late, inimitable Glenn Gould.
Music so crystalline pure, it can almost help you reach satori.
Here is my contribution:
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 447 -- State Government Spending Correlates With Domestic Migration.
Americans Voting With Their Feet-
The Cato Institute today released an analysis of Portland, Oregon, and one of the findings was that Portland's over-the-top central planning has actually made the city less livable. Indeed, people are voting with their feet, moving elsewhere, where the impact of government is lower. An interesting read for those who believe that policies matter.
The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research has some data on their website available for downloading, and I juxtaposed two of the data sets:
Notice that as state government spending rises, domestic in-migration falls-- and eventually becomes out-migration (see chart: .pdf). In other words, there is a strong correlation between the size of state governments and the "people climate."
The above graph is strictly domestic or internal migration, not international migration. This also leaves out rates of fecundity. This graph is purely a way to visualize the way actual Americans respond to government incentives. High spending, it turns out, is NOT what people really want.
This is precisely why we should shrink the size of the federal government as much as possible and let the states compete. We would see more innovation, and bad ideas couldn't hide out and linger quite as long as they do now.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Big Government.
Quotational Therapy: Part 137 -- Friedman, On Equality.
Equality & Liberty-
More on equality, from another intellectual giant, Milton Friedman:
"A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both."
Ultimately, it is only the power of individual liberty that will produce a world-- and a society-- inordinately more perfect, more prosperous, and more fair than the one we have today.
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
Fair Is Fair
Mind you, in all fairness President Bush really has little to do with this. The president's power over the economy is routinely overstated - as if the federal government is the be all and end all of economic health in the nation.
But what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If we are to believe that Bill Clinton belongs in the upper tier of presidential quality due to the awesomely powerful unbelievable greatness of the economy during his tenure, the same goes for Bush 43.
Oh, did I mention that the most recent unemployment figures remained at 4.5% -
P.S. I suppose it is fair to point out that Bush's economic stats would be even better if he didn't have to contend with the Clinton recession when he assumed office.
Could The Left BE Any Stupider?
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 446 -- Our Enormous Federal Government.
FDR Changed Things Forever-
Amity Shales, on the roots of big government:
In 1936, Washington's spending as a share of the economy rose by a full third, to $7.8 billion from $5.6 billion. Federal spending as a share of gross domestic product had risen before, but relatively slowly. That year it climbed to 9.3 percent from 7.6 percent of GDP.
And the federal government has never looked back.
Today, for example, it takes the average American 79 days to pay his federal tax burden, and 41 more days to pay the state and local burden. Both are way too high, but the federal burden is nearly twice as large. A visual of that:
Incidentally, in thinking about all the polls showing that young people are leaning inordinately leftward these days, it will be interesting to see how young people who actually pay taxes view the impending and likely inevitable post-Bush tax hikes, come 2011 or so. The media and Democrats will say, "we're just repealing the Bush tax cuts."
Ah, yes, just going back to the natural and optimal level of taxation, after several years of abnormally low levels.
It is difficult to imagine young people who know nothing else than the Bush levels of taxation-- hitting their higher-earning 30s just as Democrats drastically raise taxes-- not having a sudden ideological and partisan change of heart. Especially if Democrats keep this up for much longer.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Regulations On Health Care Are Costly.
The Enviro-Luddites Want You Dead
From a commenter over at Tigerhawk's place, we have a collection of quotes from luminaries of the enviro-luddite movement and the journalists who admire them. It shows what the true agenda behind global warming and environmentalism is, namely, replacing capitalism with a genocidal form of green communism. It becomes quite apparent that, far from hoping to help mankind, many in this regressive movement would be more than happy to commit mass murder in order to 'save' the environment.
Please note the assurance with which these 'experts' proclaimed the death of the world by the year 2000 or so. Sounds alot like the Goreacle, doesn't it?
"The right to have children should be a marketable commodity, bought and traded by individuals but absolutely limited by the state."- Kenneth Boulding, originator of the Spaceship Earth concept (as quoted by William Tucker in Progress and Privilege, 1982)
"We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religionguilt-free at last!"- Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue).
"Free Enterprise really means rich people get richer. They have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process . Capitalism is destroying the earth." - Helen Caldicott, Union of Concerned Scientists
"We must make this an insecure and inhospitable place for capitalists and their projects . We must reclaim the roads and plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settled land." - David Foreman, Earth First!
"Everything we have developed over the last 100 years should be destroyed."- Pentti Linkola
"If you ask me, itd be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that wont give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other." - Amory Lovins in The Mother EarthPlowboy Interview, Nov/Dec 1977, p.22
"The only real good technology is no technology at all. Technology is taxation without representation, imposed by our elitist species (man) upon the rest of the natural world." - John Shuttleworth
"What weve got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy." - Timothy Wirth, former U.S. Senator (D-Colorado)
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"I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems." - John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
"Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs." - John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal
"The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing....This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run." - Economist editorial
"We advocate biodiversity for biodiversitys sake. It may take our extinction to set things straight." - David Foreman, Earth First!
"Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental." - Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!
"If radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human populations back to sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS." - Earth First! Newsletter
"Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planets Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along." - David Graber, biologist, National Park Service
"The collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans." - Dr. Reed F. Noss, The Wildlands Project
"If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels." - Prince Phillip, World Wildlife Fund
"Cannibalism is a 'radical but realistic solution to the problem of overpopulation'. - Lyall Watson, The Financial Times, 15 July 1995
"We, in the green movement, aspire to a cultural model in which killing a forest will be considered more contemptible and more criminal than the sale of 6-year-old children to Asian brothels." - Carl Amery
"Every time you turn on an electric light, you are making another brainless baby." - Helen Caldicott, Union of Concerned Scientists
"To feed a starving child is to exacerbate the world population problem." - Lamont Cole
"If there is going to be electricity, I would like it to be decentralized, small, solar-powered." - Gar Smith, editor of the Earth Island Institutes online magazine The Edge
"The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States: We cant let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are. And it is important to the rest of the world to make sure that they dont suffer economically by virtue of our stopping them." - Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund
"The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population." - Reid Bryson, Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man, (1971)
"The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines. Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. Population control is the only answer." - Paul Ehrlich, in The Population Bomb (1968)
"I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." - Paul Ehrlich in (1969)
"In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish." - Paul Ehrlich, Earth Day (1970)
"Before 1985, mankind will enter a genuine age of scarcity in which the accessible supplies of many key minerals will be facing depletion." - Paul Ehrlich in (1976)
"This [cooling] trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century." - Peter Gwynne, Newsweek 1976
"There are ominous signs that the earths weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food productionwith serious political implications for just about every nation on earth. The drop in food production could begin quite soon The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologist are hard-pressed to keep up with it." - Newsweek, April 28, (1975)
"This cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people. If it continues and no strong action is taken, it will cause world famine, world chaos and world war, and this could all come about before the year 2000." - Lowell Ponte in The Cooling, 1976
"If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder by the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us in an ice age." - Kenneth E.F. Watt on air pollution and global cooling, Earth Day
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Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 111
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Joey Chestnut grimaces during Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition at Coney Island in New York in this file photo of Tuesday, July 4, 2006. Takeru Kobayashi, the Japanese eating machine who is the six-time defending champion of the contest, received a chilling diagnosis that could end his Fourth of July roll. Some believe his complaint of an achy jaw is a ploy to unnerve Chestnut, who recently broke Kobayashi's world record by downing 59? dogs in 12 minutes. Others suggest it's a dodge to avoid Chestnut.Come on now, give us a real caption here!
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, July 10. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at email@example.com.
2. Rodney Dill:
You gotta fight for your right to caption! Enter today!
Independence Day: Famous Last Words On July 4.
In the course of the establishment of the experiment in liberty we call America, there were circumstances that-- looking back-- were almost too perfect to be anything but divinely inspired.
One moment, as fate would have it, took place five decades after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and more than three decades after the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It was the strange circumstance of rival Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams passing away on the very same day.
They both died on July 4, 1826. Independence Day. Precisely half a century after the Declaration of Independence was written.
Their last words:
"Is it the Fourth?"
"Thomas Jefferson still lives."
Source: The Founders' Almanac
Read more on this amazing coincidence here.
Happy Birthday America!
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 445 -- Deadly Regulations.
Excessive Health Care Regulations Take Their Toll-
Some startling data, courtesy of the Pacific Research Institute:
As of 2002, according to Professor Christopher J. Conover of Duke University, the total burden of health regulation in the United States was $169.1 billion per year, or an average of $1,500 per family per year. These regulations kill 4,000 more Americans annually than die from lack of health insurance: 22,000 versus 18,000.
And a graph, too, on the costs of excessive regulation (.pdf):
It's a national problem, often rooted in varied state action.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: AIDS is OVERfunded, not UNDERfunded.
2007 LIVESTRONG CHALLENGE: I Need Your Help.
I must be crazy, but I have signed up to ride a bike 100 miles in October, here in Austin (actually, more like Dripping Springs). That's 100 miles all at once.
My fundraising goal, as of now, is just the minimum $250. If you would like to help me meet or beat that goal, while doing something to conquer cancer, all while getting the 501(c)3 non-profit tax advantages (.pdf), you may click on the LIVESTRONG banner at the top of the sidebar over on the left, the banner in this post, or just click here.
Only The West Offers Freedom To Muslims
How ironic it is that Muslims can only find religious freedom and freedom from sectarian violence in the hated, decadent, kuffar West.
Some great points from Amir Taheri:
Britain and a few other Western democracies are the only places on earth where Muslims of all persuasions can practice their faith in full freedom. A thick directory of Muslim institutions in Britain lists more than 300 different sects - most of them banned and persecuted in every Muslim country on earth.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 444 -- We Spend Way Too Much On AIDS.
AIDS Funding Out Of Whack-
In the recent Democratic Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton suggested that it was disgraceful that President Bush has let the Ryan White CARE Act (AIDS funding) remain flat, at ONLY 2 billion dollars per year. Mrs. Clinton also noted that AIDS disproportionately affects black women, one of the core political constituencies in her potential electoral coalition.
Government AIDS funding, in reality (and as noted here before), is completely out of whack, relative to the actual scope of the problem.
The total number of AIDS deaths, ever, do not equal the number of cancer deaths in a single year:
Cancer, meanwhile, is the second leading cause of death in America, accounting for 1 out of every 4 deaths (564,830 deaths due to cancer in 2006 -- .pdf). Certain cancers can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle (using sunscreen, not smoking, staying in shape) and diet (high fiber can prevent colon cancer, for example), but, unlike heart disease or AIDS, the overwhelming majority of cancer cases are not the "fault" of the victim.
Cancer deaths versus AIDS deaths, and federal cancer funding versus federal AIDS funding, a visual:
Shouldn't our scarce public resources go toward the sorts of diseases that are not easily preventable? Shouldn't the way we fund scientific and medical research provide societal and individual incentives for healthy and productive behavior?
Ultimately, shouldn't our collectively funded scientific and medical research programs serve the collective? As long as our money is being forcibly confiscated by the government, shouldn't that money at least go toward projects that would help a wide cross-section of people, rather than a small slice of people who-- overwhelmingly-- could have avoided their plight?
Sure, a small number of people contract AIDS by no fault of their own. Some children even get it. Those exceptions are truly tragic and heartbreaking.
But, ultimately, exceptions should not drive public policy. Smart allocation of scarce resources requires one to neutralize emotionalism and look at the big picture. Accordingly, AIDS research is overfunded, not-- as Hillary Clinton suggests-- underfunded.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Journalism = Code For Left-Wing Activism.
Libby Gets Out Of Jail, Not Quite Free
President Bush commuted Lewis 'Scooter' Libby's 30-month prison sentence today, after an appeals court rejected Libby's request to remain free while he appealed his conviction. Libby must still pay a $250,000 fine as part of his punishment.
This is perfectly appropriate. After all, now Libby will spend precisely the amount of time in jail that Sandy Berger did.
Quotational Therapy: Part 136 -- Goldwater, On Equality.
Equality Shouldn't Mean Socialism-
Watching the Democrats debate and speak on C-SPAN in recent weeks, it is clear that the left-wing obsession with "inequality" is still alive and well. Inequality this, inequality that. Bush's tax cuts for the rich this, executive bonuses that. Corporations this, outsourcing that. Oil companies and Wall Street are evil, socialist health care and unions are good.
Class warfare, year after year, maintains a peculiar resonance among Democrats. As usually is the case when prosperity is as preponderant as it is today, targeting successful people for being too successful is now the default rhetorical point of all '08 hopefuls on the left.
Listening to each of them speak, they all seem to believe that any new wealth must be divided evenly. Otherwise, it is just unfair.
Equality is a nice notion. But I have never understood how those on the left can so consistently misconstrue the "equality" America's Founders wrote and spoke about to mean equality of results.
Indeed, Barry Goldwater felt the same way:
Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.
Why Do They Keep The Clay Pigeon Around?
The failure of the cloture vote last week on the doomed immigration bill was a huge but unsurprising defeat for Harry 'Clay Pigeon' Reid. How appropriate that the Senate Majority Leader invoked the arcane clay pigeon procedure to try to ram the immigration bill down the unwilling throats of the American people - because everything Harry Reid throws up in the air gets shot down like so much crockery. Here is a guy who couldn't even pass a meaningless vote of 'no confidence' against Alberto Gonzalez. Even when Reid scores a victory, it is actually a defeat - such as when he proudly crowed that he 'killed the Patriot Act.' Never missing an opportunity to completely misinterpret the will of the American people, Reid backtracked when he realized that Americans actually want to be protected against terrorists.
Reid is the most unpopular member of the most unpopular Congress ever. What a bonus Reid is for the Republicans: the Dems are hampered by a bumbling and completely ineffective Senate leader who can achieve nothing, makes the Democrats look like fools, and makes the Republicans look like parliamentary geniuses by comparison. It seems that the Democrats' iron rule of never stepping down from any official position ever, unless led away in handcuffs, allows Harry Reid to endure. The Democrats must really like Harry Reid to tolerate such mediocrity. I must say . . . I like the guy more and more myself, and I just hope he can stay where he is for a while.