Saturday, January 29, 2005

OH the Humanity

"Life on Earth Snuffed Out by Global Warming"--headline, the Australian, Jan. 2
Even for the utterly shameless global warming alarmists this has been a new low. Riding your issue on the backs of hundreds of thousands of dead people goes beyond the pale. As the story goes, many people live in the path of potential tsunamis. If global warming were to lift the sea level, coastal peoples would be more vulnerable to massive future inundations. That sounds plausible and certainly puts a nice “crisis” sound to it all.

Friends of the Earth Director Tony Juniper told a British newspaper, "Here again are yet more events in the real world that are consistent with climate change predictions." The Friends of Mars could not be reached for comment. The Voice of America broadcast a story linking tsunamis and global warming. Naomi Oreskes, an associate professor of History at University of California, argued the tsunami that devastated the Asian and African coastlines, highlights the need to take action on global warming. There is plenty of quantitative evidence on sea-level rise and historical tsunamis and it mostly contradicts Oreskes.

Actually, sea levels in the Indian Ocean region have been declining, according to satellite data and the record of sea level changes. Virginia state climatologist and Cato Institute fellow Patrick Michaels said in a media release that linking the Indian Ocean tsunamis to global warming is "in grave contravention of well-known facts about changes in sea level in that region." I know the Cato Institute has an agenda but so do the “Friends of the Earth”.

The Topex-Poseidon satellite, designed to measure sea levels worldwide, does not show any rise in sea levels over the last ten years. In a 2001 paper published in Science, a respected and peer reviewed publication, by Cecile Cabanes, sea levels in the northeastern Indian Ocean, where the tsunami was most devastating, have gone down, not up over the last 10 years. In fairness when Cabanes looked back and compared temperatures measured by submarines to the satellite-sensed sea levels, he was able to calculate global changes back to 1955. That entire record does yield a sea-level rise for the region of about 1.5 inches. The estimates for the onshore height of the recent tsunami waves were in the range of 40+ feet. So sea-level rise accounts for 1/320th of the tsunami wave.

The global warming crowd argues that it is future changes in sea level that we should be concerned about. But the best estimate for the future rate of global warming is that it will be very close to the rate ready established about four inches in the next 50 years.
After then, who knows? Our technologies are likely to be very different decades from now much more efficient and there's no guarantee that they will even burn fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases. So, why argue the sky is falling? The way we now fund science, issues compete with each other for the cash of our one research provider, the U.S. government. In order to shake Uncle Sam's money tree, the problems global warming, AIDS, chemical threats are cast in the starkest possible terms. No one ever got large amounts of money out of Washington by saying that an issue might not be a problem. But the level of distortion this time, where an inch is judged to be an important addition to 40 feet has made the global warming movement look silly and opportunistic.

For additional non-scientific data, I saw my parents last month who live about 10 miles from the ocean and whose land is mostly beach sand. My father noticed that the ocean must have been up here at one time centuries ago. I don’t know how Dick Cheney did this but it attests to how evil he must be.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I know this will make someone laugh...

Via Instapundit

Coming to a faculty near you...



Ward Churchill is perhaps one of the most provocative thinkers around. A Creek and enrolled Keetoowah Band Cherokee, Churchill is a longtime Native rights activist. He has been heavily involved in the American Indian Movement and the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. He is Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado and has served as a delegate to the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations.


Read the rest here.

I don't even know what to say about this guy...InstaPundit is full of outrage about this guy...I just think it's pretty funny.

Lockheed reportedly to build Marine One

From MSNBC:

"WASHINGTON - In a surprise move, the U.S. Navy has chosen a trans-Atlantic team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. to build a new U.S. presidential helicopter fleet, a congressional source familiar with the decision said Friday.

The decision was a stunning setback for Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp.'s Sikorsky Aircraft unit which for nearly 50 years has built and maintained the green and white 'Marine One' helicopters that fly the president. Lawmakers say Lockheed Martin will build the next fleet of presidential helicopters."


This wasn't just a decision to build Marine One, it was a decision to build the next fleet of military combat helicopters.

There are two ways to view this, but no matter your perspective, this is a sad day for American industry.

If you are a protectionist - our military has just outsourced aircraft development to Europe. We are now dependent on foreign countries for U.S. military hardware and we are unable to produce our defense assets. It's almost like we're on the receiving end of Lend-Lease. Our tax dollars on national defense will now enrich Italy and the U.K., rather than create jobs and wealth at home.

If you are a globalist - U.S. companies are no longer capable of manufacturing the best military hardware in the world. Other nations, through ingenuity and drive, have surpassed our engineering capabilities to product a superior product. While it may be to our economic and strategic advantage to use offshore labour and technology, we no longer hold the "advantage" in our borders.

Aerospace is high-tech stuff, as difficult as anything on the planet today. Military aircraft are not a commodity like steel or plastic doo-dads - it is high up the value chain. This may be an isolated incident or indicative of something greater. If American companies can't build the best high-tech/high-value products available, we may letting our technological advantage over the rest of the world slip.

This is not a panic or crisis, but it's worth watching.

U.S. to select firm for president's next helicopter

A few weeks back, I talked about this here. This decision will have serious implications for Sikorsky, a division of American-based UTC, and European aerospace companies bidding on the job in conjunction with Lockheed Martin.

According to CNN, the new Marine One contract will be awarded at 5 PM today. Stay turned for more details and analysis for follow.

The Death of Identity Politics

From Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post:

"Because of her race, her symbolism and her personal story, Rice is not a run-of-the-mill appointment but a historic one. Which makes some of the more vitriolic charges against the first African American woman ever chosen for the office once held by Thomas Jefferson particularly wounding and politically risky."


As I was listening to Sean Hannity last night, I noticed that a lot of conservative commentators want to make race an issue in Presidential nominations. "Democrats just talk diversity" because they're opposed to Rice for Sec. of State or Gonzales for Atty. General.

Personally, I don't find the nomination of Dr. Rice all that historic - we've had a female Secretary of State, we've had an African-American Secretary of State. Big deal - she's an African-American woman - what next, the first African-American woman from Texas with 9 fingers?

It's disingenious to advance someone solely because of their racial, ethnic, or gender identity - that's the whole argument that conservatives make against affirmative action. I agree with that, unless the institution in question has demonstrated an institutional bias of exclusion, a problem government hasn't had for quite sometime. No institution in America better mirrors the diversity of America than the federal government. Look to Charles Goodsell for statistical evidence. Colin Powell said in his autobiography that once the U.S. Army was integrated, it was a pure meritocracy with a blind eye to color, and the federal government as a whole has been this way for almost 30 years.

If there's a backlash against anyone for coming out against the president's nominees on the basis of identity and not ideology, it's a sad reflection on America. These nominations were not designed to advance an identity politics agenda, like Thurgood Marshall or Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. These nominations were designed to advance an ideologoical agenda and that these people are from minority groups - well, that's a testament to the diversity of thought in this country. Not all people of color are Democrats.

I think (at least I hope) we're close to a place where people are starting to become color-blind and that opposition to Rice was because she takes the seat of one of the few dissenters in the president's cabinet.

Besides, nominations don't reflect racial acceptance anyway - elections do because they require a large and broad assembly of people to accept a candidate without bias - in some cases, people with little education that live in segregated communities.

With the exception of a few old timers, the people in the Senate have been working with a diverse crowd of people as peers their whole lives - from their days at Harvard or Yale, the agencies their committees oversee, the CBO, their congressional staffs...They stopped seeing a person's color a long time ago - Republican or Democrat.

Municipal Fiscal Irresponsibility

Bob Herbert in today's NY Times:

"At $1.4 billion, this playground for the richest among us would be the most expensive sports stadium in the history of the world. The city and the state, which can't afford toilet paper for the public schools, would put up a minimum of $600 million and undoubtedly much more. The smart money says the public will take at least a billion-dollar hit on this project so Woody Johnson can hold court amid a sea of luxury boxes hard by the Hudson on the Far West Side of Manhattan."


This is worst kind of corporate welfare imaginable. Cities spending public money on sports venues. Republicans rail against farm subsidies as "enriching millionaires" - at least with farm subsidies, there's a chance that some of that money ends up in the hands of a family farmer. No common citizen gets any benefit whatsoever from the construction of a new stadium.

There are so many studies that demonstrate this is the biggest waste of civic economic investment they aren't even worth citing, yet mayors across the country still fall into this trap - most recently, Anthony Williams of the District of Columbia.

Everyone falls into the trap believing a new stadium can have an effect like Camden Yards did for Baltimore. Baltimore was a unique situation, and it can't be replicated again.

First, Baltimore is 40 miles from a major metropolitan area that until last month, had no baseball team. According to the U.S. Census, Baltimore is in the Baltimore-Washington CMSA, the 4th largest metropolitan area in the U.S., behind New York City Metro, L.A. Metro, and Chicago Metro and just in front of the San Francisco-Oakland Metro area. Of these top 5 metro areas in population, only Baltimore/Washington has one baseball team serving the entire area.

Second, Camden Yards was the first new baseball park constructed in the U.S. in the "throwback" style. Architecturally, it was unique and drew people from other nearby cities such as Pittsburgh, Philly, Richmond, and even Raleigh when it first opened. It also anchored the redevelopment of the Inner Harbor area, a blown out section of Baltimore that many of my former colleagues in Maryland used to describe as quite dangerous. Memorial Stadium was up near 28th Street, not downtown.

With the positive environment for attendance, the uniqueness of the park, and it's role in a redevelopment effort, Camden Yards has shown a slight benefit to the local economy, but nothing near the construction costs. The football stadium, built on the same site, has been a money loser for the State of Maryland.

Look at the City of Pittsburgh with a new football stadium and the nicest baseball stadium in America. The city is practically bankrupt and it will take close to a decade to get their finances in order.

The RBC Center, near RDU Airport sits vacant most nights with the NHL on strike, and even with a settlement, the future of the Carolina Hurricanes is in doubt. With a massive vacant building on the outskirts of town, the Mayor of Raleigh is pushing a new convention center downtown.

Take a lesson from these people about the perils of publically constructed sports venues. Mayor Bloomberg, you're never going to see a Camden Yards effect - tell the Jets to stay in Jersey or pay for a new stadium with their own money.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Why you can forget about Rick Santorum for President

From the American Spectator:

"Earlier this week, polling data purportedly paid for by the DSCC began popping up on various Democratic-leaning websites. It showed that the current Pennsylvania state treasurer, Bob Casey, Jr., led Sen. Rick Santorum 52 to 38 in a poll of likely voters. The leaking of the polling data came coincidentally less than a week after both Schumer and Reid had begun courting Casey to run against Santorum. Casey, a pro-life Democrat, and son of the legendary Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey, is said by associates in Pennsylvania to have warmed to the idea, but only if Schumer and Reid could assure him that the Democratic primary field would be cleared for him.

"He asked about it and Schumer guaranteed him a clear field," says a political consultant with ties to the DSCC. "That polling data, wherever it came from, is probably the first step toward getting Casey in line, and running off a few folks with eyes on running against Santorum"

Santorum was already girding for a bruising re-election battle, having been targeted by Democrats as Enemy No.1 in this election cycle, and Casey would make the campaign a tough one. "He's right on the issues that Catholics in Pennsylvania vote on, and moderate enough to get strong Democratic support," says the consultant. "He scares the hell out of Santorum's people."


Bob Casey Jr. comes from an immensely popular and powerful Pennsylvania political family. Look at recent Pennsylvania politicians - Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, Arlen Specter, a moderate Republican...folks from the Keystone State don't like ideologues.

Ed Rendell is going to be in tough battle for Governor, and he needs a clear field. With Casey running for the Senate seat, the question is: Where does this leave Barbara Hafer? The most powerful Democratic1 woman in PA politics, the former State Treasurer swapped parties in 2003, presumably to run against Santorum. The Democratic field in PA will have to be clear, so what about her?

There is a proposal before the PA legislature to allow the governor to pick a lieutenant governor as a running mate (currently, they are independently elected). If it passes, this could be in effect for 2006. Rendell is not happy with Catherine Baker Knoll, the current Lt. Gov., and would likely pick a different running mate.

In 2006, Rendell may have to take on Lynn Swann - R. His running mate - Barbara Hafer. If he wins, in 2008, Ed Rendell is going to a major national player. The former national chair of the DNC could be called as a VP candidate for a Southern Democrat (Gov. Mark Warner?) and at the very least, he will end up in a Cabinet position2 in a Democratic administration if they take the White House in 2008. Barbara Hafer will become Governor of PA upon Rendell's resignation, serve out the remainder of his term, and run for one term in 2010 at the age of 67.

If they are smart and the cards fall their way, PA could be securely Democratic before the end of the decade.



1Correction: Make no mistake about it: Mrs. Hillman is THE most powerful woman in PA politics. Barbara Hafer was the most visible, and is the female face of the Democratic party in PA.

2Ed Rendell would be ideal for Secretary of Homeland Security. Personally, I think this job belongs to an executive politician (not a judge or legislator) with experience in public safety management. A governor from a disaster-prone state (Mike Easley?) or a former big-city mayor, like Rendell, has the skills necessary for multi-agency emergency coordination.

Martin O'Malley, Mayor of Baltimore - another favorite of mine, after he beats Bob Erhlich to become Governor of Maryland, but that's another story for another time.

observations

Ted Turner must read Yankee madmen (see the "New N Word")
"Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II," reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

Ted, in the past, has praised Castro and his network faced embarrassment when it had to admit the following.
In April 2003, just after the liberation of Baghdad, CNN's Eason Jordan described the network's relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime:
I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails). . . .
I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.

Former Klansman opposes 1st black Secretary of State.
Does anyone doubt that this would the NYT headline if a republican senator, who was a Klansman, held up a black democrat for anything?
Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, the former Klu Klux Klaner, is taking a stand over states' rights, or his rights over State, or some such. Whatever the reason, the sight of an old Klansman blocking a little colored girl from Birmingham from getting into her office contributed to the general retro vibe that hangs around the Democratic Party these days.

The end of the Indian IT outsourcing market has been set in motion...

From the The Economic Times:

"A Pune-based company has inked an agreement with the Shenzhen government to train some 1,000 Chinese software project managers in India with a view to transform the booming southern Chinese city into the outsourcing capital of the Communist giant."


Once China becomes globally competitive for IT work by enhancing their project management skills and creating more English-speaking workers, why will anyone look anywhere else for offshore IT services? The price will be unbeatable, and if it's quality-competitive; better than Vietnam, slightly-less than India, they'll lock up the market. India will be like a luxury car - more expensive, slightly better quality - that rich companies will go to when they're worried about the final product. If you want a workhorse, someone to just get the job done (like a Ford Taurus), you'll look to China.

It's about time to hear some fiscal sanity...

From CNN.com:

"An influential Senate Republican is admonishing Homeland Security Department officials not to count on an increase in the agency's $32 billion budget.
'I don't think there's going to be more money,' Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said Wednesday 'In fact, I know there's not going to be more money. I would urge a review of your situation as to how to get the job done better with the money that's there now.'"

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Evan Bayh announces for 2008

From the NY Times:

"Those who voted against Ms. Rice, besides Mr. Jeffords and Mr. Dayton, were Senators Barbara Boxer of California, who was one of her most outspoken critics, Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Evan Bayh of Indiana, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Tom Harkin of Iowa."


This is an appeal to pure ideological Democrats. Forget about a press conference in front of his boyhood home, or the State Capitol of Indiana - he announced his candidacy today.

Marx - Going the way of the panty raid?

Marx is in decline on college campuses, at least from some ancedotal evidence in my Policy Process Seminar last night.

We were discussing different theories of group political behavior - pluralism, Olsen's rational-choice theory, and then we turned to Marx...

The professor said, "Does anyone read Marx anymore? When I was an undergraduate, EVERYONE read Marx, but today, he's largely forgotten." Most of the class agreed, based on their experiences in school.

Have no fear liberal bias crybabies - the revolution isn't going to be starting anytime soon. To paraphrase C. Wright Mills, the proletariat will continue to be ignorant about their position, and we're certainly not educating a vanguard today.

BTW - I always rail against liberal bias whiners, most of the time believing the claims to be false. I was talking to my sister over the weekend, and she told me an egregious example of liberal bias in the classroom - far beyond the Arab kid's lousy essay on Constitutional development that seems to be hot among the folks with their head up the elephant's behind.

At some point, I'm going to ask her to describe the experience on here, although when that occurs, we will cease to be "Madmen", but become "Madpersons".

SpongeBob linked to Scarlett



Seeking to put an end to the rumors of homosexuality, SpongeBob Square Pants was seen out with Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johannson. Observers said they looked "very cuddly for 'just friends'"

James Dobson and Patrick the Starfish were unavailable for comment.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Republicans : Condescending AND Amusing

Quite an interesting bunch, those GOP folks.

First, from the Washington Post:

"'I felt very, very secure,' said John Jernigan, in a black fedora and with a Mississippi drawl, still looking a bit dazed from the celebrations.

'Yes, there were some waits -- and in our section there were two cruddy-looking people,' he said, referring to two protesters who found their way to the prime blue section B, right in front of the Capitol. 'You would've just thought they were trash that had blown in is all, but I thought it was great.' "


Can't you just feel the love for the common man? Is this the "Compassionate Conservative" I've been hearing so much about? (Oh yeah, you hardly hear that at all anymore)

For the absurd, we look to Wonkette:

"Subway, 9th St. between F and E, parade had just passed by. Red state dad instructing red state adolescents: "See those protesters over there? They hate America. They hate capitalism. They want you to . . . eat beets."


I actually like beets, and picked horseradish is a complete part of any good Slovak's Easter diet. How else could you stomach the Hrutka? I guess that's where it all went wrong for me - beets made me a Democrat.

Cynicism isn't a barrier

E.J. Dionne in today's Washington Post:

"...the greatest barrier to Bush's success in his second term is the intense cynicism he has inspired about his motives. This cynicism affects the near majority that voted against him at home but also a vast number of citizens in nations around the world that were once American allies.
...
Bush supporters see this cynicism as mean-spirited. In fact, it is the bitter fruit of bitter experience."


As I've argued many times before, cynicism isn't a bad thing. It's necessary to the process - the people, their motives, their ideas all should be subject to intense scrutiny and approached with doubt until proven otherwise.

One of the things that bothers me most about this administration and its supporters is precisely the idea that view cynicism as "mean-spirited". The administrator is arrogant enough to treat it as an affront to their authority. They don't present ideas - they present crisis scenarios, and get people all worked up that they throw critical examination out the window.

Convince me! Show me something - I believed there was WMD in Iraq, in the face of other evidence (of course I was wrong). If it's in Syria - prove it - show me evidence, don't just put on a show about the danger of Syria. The same thing holds true for Social Security.

This is the most frustrating thing about Bush supporters and why half of this country and most of the world view them as stupid. They're not dumb, just gullible. They spend so much time trying to discredit Democrats (and there's a lot of crazy stuff that comes out of their mouths, so it's not that hard) instead of trying to validate their position. Never a bad word, never a negative assessment, never a good, hard examination. Everything that's bad is lies from the media or homosexuals or "America-haters". They swallow it down, and that attitude, that loss of cynicism and scepticism is what gets nations into trouble.

Where is the evidence of rampant lesbianism in Oklahoma high schools? Where is the evidence of WMD transport to Syria? Where is the evidence that private accounts will fix solvency issues? We don't hear it - just attacks on critics. Validate a position in the face of cynicism, take action, and THEN you are a success.

Hereditary Cynicism

From an e-mail I received earlier today:

"Hines Ward crying on TV. Jerome Bettis wasn't crying[He may be retiring]. Please. They barely beat the Jets. The problem is they believe their own hype but just don't have what it takes to get the job done. Ward said yesterday that nobody gave them a chance. Who is supposed to give them a chance! Please."


Who issued this tongue-lashing of the Steelers, ridiculing a man for crying on television?

My mom.

I'm so proud.

NHL Loses Another Fan

From SI.com:

"It appears only an 11th-hour miracle can save the NHL season, but even that would be too late to help Archie Bennitz. The 84-year-old Canadian died last week and used his obituary as a forum to trash NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and union leader Bob Goodenow from the grave. 'He asked that Mr. Bettman and Mr. Goodenow know that they are 'skunks' for denying him the pleasure of watching the NHL this year,' read Bennitz's death notice in last Thursday's Ottawa Citizen. 'He also asked that Mr. Bettman step aside and give Wayne Gretzky the job that rightfully belongs to him.' You tell 'em, Archie. R.I.P."


The NHL might as well close the doors right now. I remember baseball strikes where there was some mixed opinion about the players ("How can they ask for so much money?") and owners("They make so much money - can't they just settle this?)

BOTH sides are losing face in this fight. I can agree with the owners to a point, but some of these franchises aren't ever going to make money - they need to "get real"* and close them down.

*Courtesy of that fat blowhard professional-witness turned pompous daytime host - Dr. Phil

Monday, January 24, 2005

Why do you trust George Bush?

"Thank God George Bush is President!"

According to Rudy Guiliani at the RNC, these were his first thoughts on 9/11.

Why?

This has nothing to do with George Bush - why would anyone ever trust or believe an individual politician?

They have one goal : re-election. Not "the public interest", "moral values", "business-friendly environment", "labour", "good jobs", "poverty", etc.

One goal: RE-ELECTION

A politician will bring you benefits or support your position ONLY IF it benefits him or her.

If you support those same positions - great, you have goal alignment.

BUT YOU CAN'T FORGET - RE-ELECTION IS THE GOAL!

A politician will change their position the minute it is necessary for re-election. They cannot be trusted. EVER.

What I can't understand is why do people conveniently forget this when it applies to George Bush? There's almost a fervent adoration of him that goes beyond goal alignment.

The other thing I don't understand - why do you want a leader? The President, and any other politician, is your agent, your employee. They need to be responsive, not agenda-setting.

I don't get it - I don't understand this dynamic.

Please comment and help me out.

Will you do anything to get a vote?

From the Sun-Herald

"Some Mississippi lawmakers are scheduled to speak Thursday to the Council of Conservative Citizens, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls "a patently white supremacist group."


Guess what political party these lawmakers are from?

From one the papers produced by their "thinktank":

"America is rapidly plunging into central-control statism and a mainly nonwhite nation.
...
The pro-white movement is spearheaded by a persistent but loose coalition of conservative groups ranging from moderate political activists and theoretical think tanks to the overt hostility of white supremacists and militias. There were over 500 of these groups in 1999 which by early century expand into the nucleus of a viable third political party.

A turning point in its surge to power is the growing number of white millionaires aiming their donations toward the critical mission of white preservation in America. Amply financed, the groups suppress their differences and organize into the fast-growing "white preservation" party focused on a single goal: elevate and arouse white consciousness to action and restore the country to its original Euro-white dominance. "


It is INSANE that anyone is going to give these people a forum or access to the process.

Fine, Robert Byrd was in the KKK, YEARS AGO. He's not actively meeting with them today! Besides, like I've said a million times, this isn't a race to see who can be less of a jackass...

There are fringe elements with dangerous ideology on the left, like eco-terrorists, that shouldn't get any political attention unless its an appearance before a judge. All of these people have a right to say anything they want, but to actively engage them in the mainstream political process, to lend validation to their viewpoint...They can stand in front of the Legislative Building and scream all they want, but when these voices are in the chamber...

L-Hack, honestly, and I'm not being rhetorical - please explain to me why this is OK - because I don't get it.

[By the way: Don't try to go to the C of CC website at your job. Your firewall will block it as a hate group - no lie.]

Super Bowl Prediction

After my horrible 0-2 performance this week, and with the elimination of the Steelers, football season is basically over for me this year.

For the playoffs, I finished at 4-10. Not too good - I probably could have done better flipping a coin...however


New England vs. Philadelphia

Everyone expects New England to win and solidify their dynasty position in the NFL. Since I tend to swim upstream on most things, this will be no exception. Despite my recent losses, I need to stay true to my counter-culture roots.

Philadelphia

Bush Bootlicker - Head of NEC

From Nouriel Roubini's Global Macroeconomic and Financial Policy Site:

"Now, who do we get to run NEC? Hubbard...no, not the smart Glenn Hubbard who was the first Bush CEA head, but rather Allan Hubbard whose illustrious curriculum and qualifications for the job include:

- Major fundraiser for Bush.
- Friend of Dubya since they were classmates at Harvard Business School
- Deputy chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the administration of Dubya's father.
- President of privately held E & A Industries, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana, which owns several chemical companies, including Car Brite, Inc., a maker of chemicals used to recondition cars.

That says it all. A perfect choice for an administration full of Yes men and cheerleaders in all the top economic posts.

And can we sink any lower than this? After superior intellects such as Rubin, Tyson, Sperling, Lindsey and Friedman, we get Allan Hubbard..."


Even worse, I actually read something a few weeks back about Larry Kudlow for Secretary of Treasury!?! What? No position for Sean Hannity in the new administration?

When Electronic Voting Machines Attack...

From WRAL.com
"Despite calls to concede the Agriculture Commissioner's race, Britt Cobb says he is staying in the race.

...

Cobb was appointed interim Agriculture Commissioner two years ago after Meg Scott Phipps resigned amid scandal. In his bid to keep his job last fall, he found himself trailing Republican Steve Troxler by 2,300 votes.

With more than 4,400 ballots lost in Carteret County, the State Board of Elections was forced to make a decision. It decided to invite those people to vote again, as well as anyone who did not vote previously in Carteret County.

When that was rejected by a Superior Court judge, the board called for a new statewide election, which, too, was overturned.

At one point, attorneys for Republican Steve Troxler presented the court with more than 1,300 affidavits signed by Carteret County voters who swore they voted for Troxler. At his press conference Monday, Cobb said it would set a bad precedent if the affidavits were accepted."


Think very carefully about this. It's 2000 in New Hampshire. An entire county's votes are lost. At this point, Al Gore is leading in the county's that have been counted. [In the end, the margin was around 7,000 votes.] Rather than let these people vote, or allow the entire state to re-vote, NH declares Al Gore the winner.

Republicans would have gone nuts...this has nothing to do with partisan politics. Fair is fair - if votes were lost, and it's the State Board of Election's fault, the election has to be held again. Let the courts decide if it's statewide or just in the county, but let the will of the people of Carteret County count in the election.

One more thing - I don't take this logic to include Florida in 2000. There wasn't any real proof of lost ballots (not like an admission of the State Board of Elections), and the President won, fair & square...but - THE SAME THING IS TRUE IN WASHINGTON!!!

Gregoire is the governor. Period. Yeah, yeah...dead people voted...guess what, dead people voted for Republicans too. Dead people voted in Ohio. People that aren't citizens voted all over the country.

You don't have an election with the electorate you want, you have one with the electorate you have...

Deficits May Be Wearing Thin at the Fed

From yesterday's The New York Times:

"There is a rumor in Washington - thus far unconfirmed - that Mr. Greenspan warned the White House in mid-December that it would have to take more credible steps than it has so far to meet its goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009.

If true, the unspoken but inescapable threat would be clear: if the Fed wasn't satisfied, Mr. Greenspan could signal his lack of confidence in Mr. Bush's fiscal plan. Investors would be shaken and Mr. Bush's credibility would be damaged."


If you don't agree with Greenspan, how about Paul Volcker, the financial wizard of the Reagan assault on inflation?

From The Economist in Nov. 2004:

"AS THE dollar hit another new low against the euro, briefly breaching $1.30 on November 10th, an increasing number of economists are asking how far the greenback might fall and how its slide will affect the world economy. One of the most alarming answers comes from Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan's immediate predecessor as chairman of the Federal Reserve. He recently said that he thought there was a 75% chance of a currency crisis in the United States within five years.


What does a currency crisis look like? At best, domestic inflation, at worst, stock and bond market collapse, rising interest rates, and recession.

I can only hope that the President has the good sense to listen to Alan Greenspan and not surround himself with group of "yes-men" that are going to continue this country's reckless fiscal policy. If he won't, it's time for Congress (I can't believe I'm suggesting this) to reclaim their rightful place as the principle institution of government in this country and dictate to the executive branch how things are going work from now on.

It is time for the national legislature to rein in the power of the executive, something that should have been done 40 years ago - maybe the potention of a real fiscal crisis, not the imaginary one in the President's head, will be the impetus for a re-emergence of Congressional leadership.

Conversion attempts in the time of grief

From rediff.com:

"Villagers were complaining to the police about a missionary group to which the van belonged.

They said the group had taken away to another place their belongings and the relief they had got from nongovernmental organisations and the government, which they had kept inside the temple, because they refused to listen to its missionaries.

'They want to try their luck at some other place. Since we resisted, they took away our things. We won't allow this to happen,' they said. 'Why don't you arrest all of them?' the villagers asked the police.

The villagers' torrent of angry words continued. 'We have lost everything to the sea. They said they would help us if we followed their religion. What logic is this? Are they here to help us or change our religion?' The police couldn't cool their tempers.

The group said it did not take away the belongings of the villagers and insisted that the contents inside the van belonged to it."

It's good to see fruitful political dialogue...

From Wonkette's collection of inaugural observations:

" 'As we marched along side fellow democrats towards the parade a very well dressed republican family (obviously from Texas) walked by. The youngest child- a girl no more than 8 shouted at the crowd 'Democrats kill babies' -- her family chuckled as they walked away. Without missing a beat a woman smiled and shouted back 'too bad you weren't one of them.'

It was a lovely moment'"

A realistic assessment of the current situation

I'm sure some conservatives, the ones that have predicted the demise of the Democratic Party, will just see this as more pandering on the part of the New York Times , I think it's a very realistic assessment:

"It is now fair to say that today the Republican Party is the dominant party in America,' said Ken Mehlman, the new Republican National Committee chairman. 'It's not a deep majority, it is not a broad majority, but it is a very strong majority.'

'Now what does that mean?' Mr. Mehlman continued in an interview at his new office on Capitol Hill. 'We're certainly not in the position that F.D.R. Democrats were in the 1930's and 40's. We're not the overwhelming favorite. There are going to be challenges. We're going to lose elections sometime. But it does mean we're in a very strong position.'"


The Republican Party is without question the dominant political party in America today. Have they achieved permanent majority status?

"It's still a story waiting to be told," Matthew Dowd, a senior Bush campaign adviser, said. "You can't say after a national election that you won by 2.7 percent nationally, and a lot of states were close, that the Republican Party is going to be dominant."


That's right - 2.7%. The really troubling thing:

"With this election producing a second-term Republican president and solid majorities in both the Senate and the House, Mr. Bush's party is more dominant than at any time since Herbert Hoover was elected in 1928."


We all know what happened in 1929. History probably won't repeat itself, at least on that dramatic a scale, but a bump in the road?

"Governor Sanford of South Carolina pointed to the public perception of an economy in trouble, saying, "If we were to see some sort of storm in our economy, well, there are advantages to holding all the cards, and there are disadvantages."


Perception/Reality is hard to distinguish sometimes. I think Matthew Dowd said it best, it is a story still be told.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

In-your-face evangelist challenges hate-crime law's limits

From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Since the Bill of Rights was first put to paper, there has been a fine line between what's free expression and what's not. You're free to speak your mind in public, but not free to intimidate somebody because their race or religion is different than yours. You can peaceably assemble in a public space -- and Center City Philadelphia is indeed a public space -- but if you fail to disperse when asked to do so by police, you can still be arrested. You have the freedom to worship, but where does worship stop and provocation begin?"


There is a pretty interesting case in Philadelphia regarding a Christian group called Repent America and their activities at a Philadelphia homosexual event.

On the face of it, I have to think the Philly D.A. is reaching. Now the article describes the group as agressive, but if the Christian group wasn't threatening anyone and didn't engage in violence, I can't imagine why their action is "ethnic intimidation" (PA doesn't use the phrase "hate crime")

My only question, why were they the only ones arrested? I suspect there's something more to this, but of course, that's just my liberal bias. Maybe their leader, Michael Marcavage, is right:

"Philadelphia police," Marcavage declares on his Web site, are "under the control of homosexuals."


Frank Rizzo must be spinning in his grave.

When I was young, I used to care about things too

This is what happens when you allow yourself to believe.

1 for 4 in AFC Championship Games at home. For years, my friends would say, "How can you be a Steelers fan? You're so pessimistic, you're so critical?" In years past, even if they would have won the Super Bowl, I would have said they got lucky.

Yeah, it reminded me of Election Night too. I cared about something too and watched it go right down the shitter...

F**k this - you win - everyone else in the world is right and I give up - I'm an idiot Liberal, the Steelers suck, Jesus is the answer, I think this lima bean looks like the Leader...

Maybe I'll just go on a five-year bender and when I'm good and numb at the bottom of an ocean of Jack Daniels, I'll pop my head up and look around.

This night is seared, seared into my memory.

Last weekend when Pittsburg defeated the Jets in overtime I received two alcohol fueled phone calls from liberal blowhard and his Pittsburg friends rubbing it in. Now I’m not one to cause trouble but seeing the Steelers lose on Heinz field brings me back to election night. That Tuesday night me and L-blowhard were at the local pool hall, at 6pm he predicted a big night for the Democrats. I think you should start routing for the Arizona Cardinals and voting for the Green Party you might have better luck.

Halfway to an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl

I missed the Philly/Atlanta game - my original pick was Atlanta, but I started to rethink it last night with the snow and cold in Philly. I should have swapped picks.

Unfortunately, with the weather having taken a turn for the worst, NE is very good in this kind of crappy weather...I hope the Steelers are up to it.

Why science shouldn't be a matter of public policy; not just for conservatives either.

From today's NY Times op-ed page:

"The National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific organization, has declared evolution 'one of the strongest and most useful scientific theories we have' and says it is supported by an overwhelming scientific consensus."


Unfortunately, the endorsement of the NAS isn't enough for people that want ID or Creationism taught in schools. I've been critical of this before and labeled as "intolerant" of other people's views.

In And the Band Played On, you can read about Mervyn Silverman, Health Director of San Francisco, and the struggle he faced closing bathhouses in the city to stop the spread of AIDS. The city's public health priorities became a political debate, and Silverman was accused of trying to limit gay freedom by closing the bathhouses. How many people needlessly died because epidemiology became a debate about social values?

Science shouldn't be open to debate on the grounds of the social or moral views, only observation - a person's "feelings" don't matter, and this just doesn't apply to conservatives and evolution. Keep in mind, a theory is an observation about how something works - the "why" is usually a metaphysical question, and that's why evolution and God aren't irreconcilable. Neither proves nor disproves the existence of the other one. I'm not attacking research ethics - the core of the stem-cell debate - I'm talking about pure science.

The favorite doomsday scenario of bad TV movies is the bio-weapon. Our best scientific defense - quarantine - does it infringe on personal liberties - sure, but who cares if it is scientifically the single best resort to stop the spread of something like smallpox. Biology cannot be open to a debate about "freedom".

True, no one will die from teaching ID or Creationism in school, but it's bad science and it's bad public policy. From a scientific perspective, how do these "theories" explain the fossil record, homology, or DNA? From an application perspective, why conduct primate testing if there's no biological linkage? Why conduct scientific research at all, because if something can't be explained as too complex, we'll just attribute it to the Designer?

From a public policy perspective - I'll look to ID supporters to make my case. I've read arguments that man believed in a geocentric universe for years until proven wrong, why can't it be the same for evolution?

First, that's a false statement. Ancient Greeks, albeit on flawed reasoning, hypothesized a heliocentric system based on observations. The geocentric model was advanced by Aristotle with absolutely no basis in observation but as a metaphysical theory - kind of like Intelligent Design. We all know the story about Galileo and the Inquisition, but he wasn't the one that "proved" the Coperican model of a heliocentric system - it was Kepler, an Austrian Protestant. The environment for Italian Catholic scientists during the Inquisition didn't permit this type of research.

From a public policy perspective - What scientific discoveries will our country miss out on because social values are allowed to intrude into the advancement of theories?

Higher Ground

The underground economy is a difficult subject for the right, we like smaller government (at least we did), but “fighting the power” and “sticking it to the man” is not our thing. It’s suspected that the underground economy makes up 10% of the overall U.S. GDP. This number has risen from 3% in 1970 to 9.4% of GDP in 1994 according to economist Friedrich Schneider. In 1998 the IRS commissioner, using different methods, estimated that $200 billion was owed in unpaid taxes each year, about what is spent on Medicare.
The rapid growth of the underground economy is especially interesting considering two of its largest activities have come out of the shadows and into the mainstream. Gambling and pornography until recently was controlled by organized crime which was all underground.

During prohibition in the 1920’s it was estimated that 5% of the U.S. economy was underground. This number declined until the 60’s when the counter-culture along with the anti-tax movement of the late 70s encouraged distain for the government. While conservatives point to high taxes and regulation liberals claim wage depression and the decline of unions responsible. As for European countries Great Britton (12.5% of GDP) has the lowest, most E.U. countries have around 20% of their GDP in the shadows, I wont even go into Russia or the 3rd world. Several studies have found strong evidence that taxation policy influences the underground economy. In Austria, the burden of direct taxes (including social security payments) has been the biggest influence on the growth of the underground economy, followed by the number of regulations affecting firms and workers, and the complexity of the tax system. Other studies show similar results for Germany, and the United States. In the United States, analysis shows that as the marginal federal personal income tax rate increases by one percentage point, other things being equal, the shadow economy grows by 1.4 percentage points. A Canadian study shows that people are highly mobile between the official and the unofficial economy, and that as net wages in the official economy go up, they work less in the shadow economy. This study also emphasizes that where people perceive the tax rate as too high, an increase in the tax rate will lead to a decrease in tax revenue.

The two big sources of unreported income are drugs (mostly marijuana) and work performed by immigrant labor. To reduce the percentage of underground GDP we could start with marijuana legalization. The taxes collected from sales and the money saved by reduction in enforcement and incarceration should more than make up for the increases in other social costs and bring the largest cash crop in the U.S. into the mainstream economy. The issue of unreported immigrant income is far more difficult both politically and economically to get a handle on. A study by the Pew Hispanic Center states remittances to Mexico have tripled to $13.2 billion between 1995 to 2000, yet “officially” the Mexican population has increased only 56% and wages rose only 10%. California alone loses $100 million in sales taxes. There is little effort to shutdown sidewalk vendors or landscape services in suburban neighborhoods and employers who hire undocumented workers have little to fear from the government right now. In 1997 there were 18000 arrests due to investigations of employers using undocumented workers, in 2002 that number fell to 1000. The focus should be on the employers, more aggressive audits and simplification of the process might make the transaction from under to over ground more attractive.







Death Benefit for Soldiers

From Investor's Business Daily:

" When Pentagon officials were killed on 9-11, their families got an average $1.5 million in death benefits from a special fund. When GIs are killed overseas fighting terrorists, their families get $12,420.

That's right, barely enough to cover funeral costs. What's wrong with this picture? Everything."


This is shameful. When this is all over (if if ever ends - are we in Iran yet?), we're going to have to provide a lot of health care for vets through the VA, and that costs $$$.

This is why we need to get spending in control and raise taxes back to pre-2001 levels. The tax cut was fine as an economic stimulus in the recession, but all indicators point to recover. A couple of extra percent isn't going to crush the economy, and it could help get the debt in line.