Friday, August 16, 2002
Good for Him: McCall surges ahead of Cuomo in the most recent poll. Recently Al Gore, in a rare episode of self-criticism, talked about people (such as himself) who believed that they were owed power and status because of their family backgrounds and station in life, and how bad that was. Thus it would be good to see Gov. Cuomo's son defeated, so that people have a different option in the fall election.
WORLD TO END TOMMORROW Women, Minorities, Hardest Hit. From the "famous mock headlines file". Some news organs are self-parodies.
A Policy Change Who's Time Has Come: Bush may be standing up for political rights and freedom in Egypt. I hope he sticks to his guns on this one. We've been far too passive for far too long, and that's why the same crowd that's criticizing us for adopting a policy of "regime change" now has been able to get away with the contrary accusation of saying we're propping up these oppressive regimes.
The danger here is that he'll be talked out of it on the grounds that we "need" the support of the Egyptian regime in the war on terrorism and that "now isn't the time" to make these kinds of demands. Then there's also the crowd (again, the same crowd that criticizes us for "propping up these regimes") that believes tying aid to conditions is somehow a humiliating and inapropriate way of dealing with "third world" countries, and that aid is a right and should be unconditional. So there will be criticism from that direction as well.
Budget Deficit Bush has finally taken up the cause of fighting excessive spending increases. Folks say the deficit is due to the tax cut. This is wrong. They also say that the increased spending is due to the expenses of the war on terror. This is also wrong. Spending looks like it'll go up almost 15% at the federal level, if it's not reigned in. The majority of that increase having nothing to do with the war on terror. Indeed, if the war on terror was the main budget priority, then instead of radically increasing unrelated spending, they'd be cutting superfluous programs (and I don't mean medicare or medicaide or welfare. I mean - well, lets start with the porkine Farm Bill. Lets go down to other frills, spending on this that or the other junk. Eliminating garbagey programs, each individually small, would net at least 40 billion. Defund the Left and that's another several billion. If the priority is war and reviving the economy while not increasing the deficit, lots of spending "fat" could be eliminated).
Thursday, August 15, 2002
Oh, What a Devastating Rebuttal! Demosthenes retorts to Steven's Transnational Progressivism post.
This "response" to the Transnat Progressivism thing made me wonder: is it just my fevered imagination or does he often respond to things by saying, in effect "Oh, I have so many good arguments against this risible proposition of those who I don't agree with, arguments that are so good, in fact, that I won't share them with anyone. Instead I'll just insult the writer and quote someone else insulting the writer and claim we've enviscerated his arguments." Maybe I'm missing his brilliant, incisive mind or something. Perhaps he's just too smart for me.
But I do gotta wonder: isn't there someone better out there to have a colloquy with? Someone who doesn't consistently dismiss arguments he can't deal with by the use of handwaves and rhetorical slight-of-hand? Some people have made more substantive comments and counter-arguments. Not, IMO, convincing ones, but they have actually taken on the argument and entered a debate on it.
Globalization and the Free Market Deficit tackled by Virginia Postrel in the pages of the New York Times.
One of the things the column exposes is that UN studies use faulty data methodology. That's not new, nor is it a surprise. They, like many other politically driven organizations, usually know what sort of answer they want the data to give them before they collect it. So they collect, compile, and analyze it in such a way that it tells them what they want to hear, and what they want to instruct others to believe.
The fact is, even though things have been uneven and in some places it's been two steps forward, one step back, there's been a lot of progress in materiel prosperity in the world. Many of the problems have been because of bad state policy and, yes, counter-productive IMF "solutions" to crises caused by such policies. Most of the poorest countries have stayed poor because they've followed socialistic economic policies, not market driven policies.
Sam Donaldson's "Tough Interviewer" Reputation has always been a bit overblown. Yes, he can be very tough and probing - when questioning Republicans and conservatives. But he often rolls over like a kitty for Democrats.
In this case, Donaldson probably just wasn't prepared. But then that's part of the problem - you can bet that if Sam was in show prep to interview a Republican and planning on asking a question like this, he'd make sure he had the facts on hand in case the interviewee tried to stonewall, dissemble, or twist things. Apparently he just didn't think he needed to, here, so when he encountered that tactic here, he wasn't ready to return serve. This is not the first time something like that has happened, and I doubt it'll be the last.
How Academe Portrays Liberals Compared to How They Portray Conservativs such as Reagan is an example not of scholarship, but of ideologically driven partisan polemics. But what else is new?
Awww, and He Was Soooo Counting on Her Support: but Susan Sarandon doesn't like Dub. So?
One reason I don't particularly like the pontificating of Celebs is that, when it comes right down to it, though they're taken far more seriously than a average guy on a bar stool spouting off, their opinions on anything aren't really of greater weight than such a person.
Note what I didn't say. I didn't say the opinions of the guy on the bar stool are worthless. Nor did I say Sarandon's (or any other celeb's) opinions are worthless. It's just that they don't carry any more weight than those of the guy in the bar simply on account of the fact that it was Sarandon who uttered them. The guy in the bar very well may have more insightful observation's than Sarandon's - especially since his may not be duckspeak (see also and here). The arguments and observations should be what matters, not the fact that the person speaking them is a actor or not.
It's always struck me as odd that Liberal opinion, which supposedly gives great weight to the views of "common people", hangs on every word that wealthy, connected, lefty celebs utter. Hey, guys, these are the new elite, the would-be aristocracy. Average Americans (including most registered, rank-and-file Democrats) have more common sense in their little finger than Sarandon and her hubby, Tim Robbins, have put together.
But who's really the spokesmen for the powerful, when it comes to this? Dems - including Al Gore.
Iraq's Germ Warfare program discussed in this Washington Times piece written by the intrepid Bill Gertz.
Tom Friedman Discovers that, as things go, India is relatively cool. I've long believed that, in the future, India would be a good ally for the U.S.. Especially compared to Pakistan, the House of Saud, or even France. It'd be good if we worked harder to forge solid bonds with India. That doesn't mean that their policies in, say, Kashmir are right. But it does mean that they're more often right than wrong, and we share far more "values" with India than with many of our current so-called "allies".
Just Say "No" to Drugs: at least when it comes to drugging your children, doping them up on speed-like Ritalin. Neil Bush learned the hard way. When some fop diagnoses your child with the mythical "ADD", get another opinion.
There are a variety of reasons why "ADD" is frequently diagnosed in America's children but doesn't even exist in Europe (yes, those guys are right sometimes). For one thing, its easier than fixing the schools (the problem they say is with your child may be with the education environment they're in. Schools are so dopey in many cases, it's a wonder more kids aren't acting up. Oh, I guess they are). For another thing, for every "special needs child" enrolled, the school gets extra funding. Parents often go along because it means their kid will get additional attention. Lots of perverse incentives here. But turning your kid into a speed freak isn't the solution to life's problems. Doping the kid so that he won't be a problem may allow one to go on with life without having to teach manners and patience (the drug lulls them for you), but if we look around and wonder why there are so many people who grow to adulthood withoutt ever seem to have learned ettiquette, patience, and decorum, perhaps the resort to drugs as the solution to behaviorial problems is a reason here, too.
In any case, just say "NO".
A "New Tone" at Ranting Screeds: Having pondered this Spinsanity piece, I'm going to try to follow Bush in adopting a "new tone" for this site. Oh, not that I'll stop ranting and ravining about vexatious things. But I'm going to try and avoid using insulting adjectives (like "Gilded-Age Tom Daschle" and perhaps I'll even stop referring to the New York Times< as the New York Pravda). That kind of thing may have its place, sometimes. Especially in illustrating the crude tactics of the Left (who frequently use such rhetorical tricks, directing that kind of bile at conservatives and Republicans), but in the main it does just create a heated environment where people are spewing spittle at each other rather than listening, and turning off the "unconvinced" who might be swayed by argument if the adjectival insults didn't cause them to tune out.
So we'll see how it goes. The "new tone" hasn't worked that well for Bush, really - but part of that is perhaps because he carried it too far. It's one thing to not return insults and slander with insults and slander. But it's another thing to not rebut false and disingenuous accusations, or refuse to point out hypocrisy (like Daschle using his mother as a rhetorical device to prop up a weak argument against Social Security privatization, saying she's totally dependent upon Social Security. What kind of son does he want voters to think he is? His family earns hundreds of thousands - at least - from his job as a Senator and his wife's job as a corporate lobbyist for the airline industry, and he leaves his mother to depend completely upon Soc Sec? Meanwhile, Dashle and other members of Congress, as well as government employees generally, benefit from a retirement program that does just what they won't let the rest of us participate in - allow them to invest part of what otherwise would go into the Social Security fund in mutual funds and the like. Oh, but Daschle's mother isn't as bad off as he portrays, either (neither is Dick Gephardt's mother, I bet, who he also uses as a rhetorical prop, how poor and dependent upon the government she is. I guess neither Dem leader minds if people think they suck in the family/son department) - Dashle's mother went on a junket to France recently. Perhaps the tickets were comped or given at a cut rate, because of the Daschle Family's corporate connections - you know, of the same sort they always decry when it involves non-Democrats).
See, a "new tone" doesn't require that one not point out hypocritical double-standards and dissembling. But it leaves out the un-needed invective. Nor does it require that one not rant (as in the above diatribe, today's daily diatribe). But it leaves it uncluttered with superfluous insults. So we'll try it here and see how it goes.
International Progressivism and its Hatreds: Glenn Reynolds links to the Cap'n's riff on John Fonte's article on the ideological war within the west.
Pretty much all stuff I've been saying for years and which formed the main current in driving me to where I am today, politically. Said and argued much better than I can, though. At least all in a tight set of arguments.
Check out this Francis Fukuyama article too. It's somewhat related.
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Style, Templates, and Makeovers: I've gone back to my original template with a few minor tweeks. If anyone out there has a problem viewing it or a suggestion, or wants to write in to say they liked the other one better, or hate both equally and want me to go with hiddeous green backgrounds and neon purple text or something, mail me.
Daughter-In-Law of All Battles will be fought in the cities, says James Robbins. Then it'll get ugly. This isn't a surprise, but we still need to remember just how ugly it may get.
I believe in going in, but going in with open eyes.
Ultimately, Baghdad may just be put under a form of loose seige (Basra and Mosul will probably be captured like the cities in Afganistan), with the bulk of the country - including the oil areas - occupied until it becomes possible to take Baghdad without too much devastation.
UNC Koran Instruction Controversy: James Bowman weighs in. It would be one thing if it were going to be a balanced presentation. But people are - rightly - worried and suspicious that it'll be a propagandistically selective white-wash, basically the perspective on things the House of Saud would want Americans to have, rather than an accurate portrayal. In other words, it'll be bovine fecal matter masquerading as scholarly instruction. The usual indoctrination pre-fit to be acceptable to multicultural standards, where only the West (and especially the United States) are "evil" or have negative traits, while we "celebrate" anything smacking of the "Third World".
Btw, speaking of Mein Kampf, will the incomming freshmen be told that it is one of the best selling books in the Arab world today? Alongside the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
Academia's Swindle: Deborah Saunders in the SF Gate, on the tactics and antics of the usual suspects.
Iran and al-Queda: Far from fighting al-Queda, as they hoped to have us believe by turning over a few expendables to the House of Saud, Iran has an interesting relationship with the terror network.
Economic News: The Fed may not have lowered interest rates, but treasury bill rates are the lowest they've been since the '60s. Many interest rates (like mortgages) are tied to the T-Bill rather than the Fed Funds Rate, so this will have some broader effect. We still could have used a somewhat looser monetary policy (danger of deflation does exist), but there is some light here.
U.S. Troops are in Jordan, in Brigade strength, for training excersises, and will leave Jordan the 8th of September. Where will they go from there?
Even a Broken Watch is Right Twice a Day, and even the New York Pravda gets some things right, like this reasonably balanced account of who was to attend the Bush Economic "Summit". They also, more significantly, have this story on how the Russian economy is being transformed by some crafty corporate raiders. People who, oh, happen to have some skill at running a business, replacing the former party hacks that seized the industry in the immediate wake of the USSR's collapse and the faux-privatization. This is real privatization, not perfect but positive by comparison with what has gone before. Along with a tax code that the U.S. should consider adapting aspects of (not in toto), or at least looking at and learning from as we strive to reform and simplify ours, and growing strength in the oil market, Russia may be on a path to economic strength. It'll take a long time and with some fits and starts, but it can be done.
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Old Developments Become New Again Instapundit blogs Radio Free Mike's comments on a recent strike against Iraqi ADA radar facilities.
This isn't anything new, as Radio Mike reports it. Strikes of a similar sort have been going on for virtually the last decade, every few months. For whatever reason, Iraqi air-defense radar will "light up" allied (US or British) aircraft, and then be nailed as a result.
The strike isn't something that represents a sort of new policy or attempt by the US to thwart possible return of inspectors, as Radio Mike seems to infer.
Actually, however, it's possibly an argument against those who take Saddam as a "rational actor" - they rebuild their radars, upgrade them, all rather piecemeal, then target allied aircraft with them, having to know that they will then be destroyed. This process repeats every couple months (if not weeks). Some people say insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Prime Minister Tony Blair mentioned this when he appeared before a Parliamentary Foreign Policy committee just a few days ago. A Google or Lexus/Nexus search will come up with literally dozens of stories on such strikes over the past decade.
An "Enron" You'll Probably Never Read About in a Krugman Column because it's Big Labor, not Big Business.
The Boogiemen: A article on the demonization of NeoCons, saying they've replaced the Religious Right as a totem of horror. That's quite a feat, if that's happened. I'm not sure things have gotten that far, yet in the histrionics, but it's getting close.
Economic Resilience: I still would like it if the Fed cut interest rates today, even though all the buzz is they won't. But even so, retail sales rose 1.2% in July. Our economy is quite resilient. That doesn't mean we can't do more to encourage growth - like a rate cut or indexing the capital gains tax to inflation. Something has to be done to offset the growth-retarding regulations that were recently passed in Congress and signed into law by Bush.
A Society of Wusses, says Clint Eastwood:
Take the way they handle terrorists in movies these days. You've got to make (the villain) a neo-Nazi. You've got to take some old tired neo-Nazi group out of the Idaho panhandle. You can't do anything that's current, because God forbid you should insult somebody.
We're just afraid to say what we might be thinking....
Unite the Right has long been a dream among Rightist voters in Canada, ever since the epic collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party. Some are saying that the retirement of Joe Clark, who led the PC Party back to "official" status, but found the Canadian Alliance Party's terms for union unacceptable, opens the door for a fusion. We'll see. The Alliance party still seems to be a bit of a mess - but of course that might be a solid reason for union, rather than a reason to oppose it. They could use an infusion of experienced "party hack" types, that the PCP would bring in.
Overheard: Following e-mail making the rounds: A Senate committee composed of senators Daschle, Clinton, Kennedy, and Feinstein, have announced that the rescue of Pennsylvania’s nine coal miners has been cancelled. The miners will, by recommendation of the committee, be placed back in the mine for potential further rescue, or additional rescue, if done correctly and legally, because the senators noted the following violations in the rescue process:
10.) Heavy diesel equipment was moved to the rescue site without concern for possible air pollution.
9.) Water was first pumped out of the mine without first determining if the water was polluted or providing an environmentally safe catchment area for the water.
8.) Numerous holes were drilled in the ground for the rescue without first performing an environmental impact study.
7.) No effort was made to make sure racial, ethnic, and sexual diversity of the rescue workers.
6.) The governor of Pennsylvania was heard to thank God during the live TV broadcast of the rescue many times, violating the separation of church and state.
5.) Several people at this public government supported rescue mentioned praying. The miners' families mentioned praying. In fact when the miners came out they said they had prayed. For that reason alone they ought to be sent back in there.
4.) The trapped miners did not represent a diversified cross-section of American society. There wasn't one of them that was black, there wasn't one female, there wasn't one native American, there wasn't one Hispanic, there wasn't one member of al-Qaeda.
3.) Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Hillary Clinton were not given sufficient time to arrive and make speeches at the site, which will be corrected during the next rescue if all these other things could be handled first.
2.) The senate was not given sufficient time to determine whether or not any Republican officeholder owns stock in the coal company, thus being responsible for the conspiracy to cause the mine to flood in the first place.
1.) No one mentioned that Al Gore invented mine rescues himself.
Monday, August 12, 2002
Cooking the Books and Inflating Profits is a subject all over the news these days. We also get a lot of innuendo about what people who are now prominent officials were doing in earlier years. Last week I mentioned something briefly. But it looks like the Commerce Department, during the last years of the Clinton Administration, engaged in some questionable accounting practices of their own. The Washington Times goes into it a bit deeper.
Remember we were told by the Clintons when they swept into office in all their glory how they inherited the "worst economy in fifty years"? It had, in the Quarter just prior to Clinton's inauguration, grown at an annualized rate of 5.4%, and the economy had grown in the first three quarters of '92 at a 3.4% clip. Now Clinton's mouthpieces are everywhere claiming that they handed over to Bush the strongest economy in record. But the figures show that the economy grew at a annualized 2.7% rate in 2000, and during the last quarter of that year it grew at a sluggish rate of 1.1% (a rate when, duplicated this last Quarter of 2002, has the DNC Bagman, Terry McAullife, of Global Crossing fame, decrying it as economic catastrophe). Far from inheriting the weakest economy since the Great Depression, the Clinton-Gore Administration inherited a growing economy (and rapidly undid that - the economy grew hardly at all in '94, which was one of the conditions that made it possible for the GOP to take Congress), and far from handing over the strongest economy in recent memory, they left office leaving an economy that was sliding into recession. On the books at the time, however, the figures were compiled in such a way to make things look better than they really were.
In 1999 the Commerce Department, under Clinton, overstated corporate profits by 16%, and in 2000 they overstated corporate profits by over 30%. Remember, the revised figures have been compiled before companies come in with their own revised reports (which will happen this Wed, the 14th) - thus the flawed results are not due to companies mis-reporting, but to the Commerce Department over-estimating and inflating things (which, btw, no doubt caused people to make stock investments on faulty data, keeping the Dow Jones up during the election year). Officials say that there is "no evidence" of wrongdoing, and claim that the discrepancies fall within normal ranges. However, in '96 they underestimated corporate profits by 10%, and in '97 they were off (over) by only 2.5% - that makes the election year discrepancy greater by a magnitude of 15!
Now, since various commentators have taken to dropping implications in recent months about Bush officials possible involvement in bad corporate accounting, and their possible motivations, it's only fair to point out that in this period ('99 and '00), the Secretary of Commerce was Bill Daley, who also served as Gore's Presidential Campaign Chairman and was one of the people he dispatched to Florida to help direct the massaging of ballots until the chads spoke.
Asside from a couple people who can be dismissed as right-wing mouthpieces, this has gone un-reported. Where is the front page New York Pravda in-depth "analysis" piece/hit job? Where's the Krugman foaming-at-the-mouth column? Where's Bob Kuttner? Other than pondering how to explain it all away or blame it on Reagan (as Gore campaign hatchet-woman Donna Brazile attempted to do on Crossfired last week), they're AWOL. So much for the impartial, even-handed "paper of record" and the other people who claim to be shocked and appalled by accounting malfeasance and people using and gaining political influence their by.
"These are the good people. Feel their goodness wash over you in a wave" - Mike Nelson.
Best Defense, an column by Austin Bay. Many seem to think we should hit only those who hit us first, not those who pose an obvious threat. I wonder what they'll say if and when we do wait to get struck first - will it be that "Bush failed, we knew these guys were dangerous and not enough was done to pre-empt them and keep us safe"? We had enough finger pointing post-Sept 11th, including some by the same crowd that doesn't think we should take pre-emptive action now against remaining threats. We know that "paying the threats off" with policy changes and the like will only encourage them to see threatening people, including us, as a way of achieving their goals. So we need to do something that will show that there is a cost, a heavy cost, not a benifit, to threatening and attacking us.
Then perhaps, we can talk about these other things.
The Osprey: I've always hoped it would work out in the end, that whatever flaws it might have would be fixed, because it would provide a great increase in mobility. But according to this report, the Osprey's troubles continue. Probably the only thing keeping it on life support now is the reticence of Congressional appropriators to nix programs ("Defense Budget Pork"), which is too bad. But if it's unfixable, then it should go, no matter what improvements it might offer in theory over the current rotor transport fleet. Theory aint practice, practical reality should win out.
My So-Called "Life": Porphy's Bio, for those who think stuff like this matters. Now that my Bio is up, you can be certain I'm no pederast. Or can you? What if my Bio is bullshit? Someone else's life? Or invented out of whole cloth? ("No one would invent a bio that pathetic for themselves" - au contrare - a crafty person would do just that, because people would react just as the question implies: it must be true, because. . .)