Thursday, May 31, 2007
Kosovo? I thought that problem was solved
“On Kosovo, Russia backs Serbia, its longtime ally, in opposing a plan proposed by U.N. mediator Martti Ahtisaari that would give the ethnic Albanian majority of the Serbian province independence with international supervision. Serbia wants to grant Kosovo only broad autonomy.” Rice, Russian Clash Over Kosovo Plan, Missile Shield - washingtonpost.com
Apparently this is a big deal:
“In its struggle for Kosovo, Serbia is also struggling for fundamental principles of international justice and order. And, by defending an inalienable part of its territory, Serbia may even be defending the future of democracy as a way of life and a view of the world.” Vojislav Kostunica - Justice for Serbia (Prime Minister of Serbia)
Who knew the Serbian nation was so focused on selflessly improving all of our lives? Kind of makes you think the Albanians in Kosovo are a bunch of over-reacting whiners. But just to refresh our memories:
Kosovo has been overseen by the UN since 1999 – when NATO dropped some bombs on Serbia because of an ethnic cleansing program Serbia was applying to the Albanians in Kosovo. And while no parades awaited our troops there in the aftermath (mainly because we didn’t really have any there), the Kosovo Albanians are grateful as hell for the US role in their survival: Kosovo to honor Bill Clinton with statue
Of course the issue is tricky because we are discussing the carve-out of a sovereign nation – Serbia. At least that’s what Russia claims is of prime concern to them….and for sheer sincerity on concern for sovereign nations, who better than the Russians….
Anyway, the UN and NATO remain watching Kosovo nearly EIGHT Years after NATO bombing encouraged the Serbian government to leave their Kosovo province. The presence remains because we’re just not sure if Kosovo goes back to being under Serbia’s control (because it is, after all, according to the almighty international law, a recognized part of Serbia) or does it get its independence because many feel that you just can’t trust those Serbians to do right by the Kosovo Albanians. Granting Kosovo independence kind of feels right especially in light of all the misery the ethnic Albanians went through there. But if the UN can assert a province of a country to be free of that country, where does it end? How do we differentiate between the Serbian put-down of Kosovo secessionists (the Serbian side of the story) and the Russians in Chechnya?
For the record, I supported our efforts in Kosovo and would probably have supported ground troops there had the President thought them necessary. The eventual success and relative peace there now (for us) however does not mean the problem was completely resolved…as the matter before the UN clearly shows.
Perhaps these international matters involving varying ethnic and religious groups just take some time...
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Now turning to Baseball...
Normally, I am dismissive of mid-season firings as I don’t think they usually address the problems that lead to the perceived need for the firings but…
…Sam needs to look at the man he replaced in the midst of the 2005 season: Lee Mazzilli. Soccer Dad actually seems a bit nostalgic for Lee but I couldn’t have been happier to get rid of a manager than when the O’s dropped him. My problem with Mazzilli was that there were times when I knew – not thought I knew but actually 100%, take-it-to-the-bank KNEW!! – that a Lee Mazzilli managerial decision was absolutely wrong.
Now an intrinsic part of being fans is that we can always second guess coaching decisions. Yet, for the most part, I think we also recognize that our second guesses are just that – guesses. But Lee Mazzilli was apparently the last person in Baltimore to recognize that Mike DeJean was an absolute disaster in relief. There was one string in 2004 where he pitched in 6 out of 9 games and lost 3 of them. Listening to the games, I would go into a fetal position when Joe Angel announced the bad news of who was coming in from the bullpen.
When I see that a manager can’t discern what even a casual fan is aware of…well, that manager has lost my support.
Which brings us to Sam Perlozza and the Orioles’ 2007 version of Mike DeJean: Danys Baez. I was out of town the weekend of May 19th, arriving back on Sunday afternoon just in time to listen to the last three innings of the O’s – Nationals game on my drive back from the airport.
I am not proud of the language I used when I heard that Baez was being summoned in the 8th but that was a moment when I just KNEW Sam was making the wrong call - not kind-of-knew or think-I-knew - but KNEW!!. And when Baez justified my complete lack of faith in him and gave the Nationals the late-inning win…
Then last Friday…apparently Sam Perlozzo was the only person in that stadium who didn’t know how that was going to turn out…
Side Note: Last night while channel surfing through the O’s, Pistons-Cavs and the Nationals, I briefly settled on the Mets-Giants extra inning affair out of Shea. The Giants had just taken a 4-3 lead in the 12th and ex-Oriole and long-time head case Armando Benitez was brought in to record the save. As an admittedly somewhat bitter fan, I will always tune into to watch Armando Benitez potentially implode on someone else’s dime.
…and Armando did not disappoint:
An opening walk to Jose Reyes, a balk to get him to 2nd base followed up by a 2-out balk to get him – as the tying run – home…spectacularly followed up by a monstrous Carlos Delgado homerun to win the game for the Mets.
I know it’s wrong to take such perverse pleasure in the discomfort of another and that it’s been almost ten years but…
Friday, May 25, 2007
Finally, an Ethical Capitol Hill
One thing I got out of this matter is just how self-centered Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano apparently is. When last we talked, this noted liberal was concerned about his potential next job:
““… a "revolving door" provision extending the waiting period before former members can lobby Congress placed unfair limits on his future job options.” (He should be pleased – no extension provision was included.)
But all is not joyful in the Capuano household – a bundling provision is front and center in this bill requiring disclosure of lobbyists who “bundle” contributions together for the benefit of a candidate. Again , this liberal lion was concerned, saying:
“…the bundling measure did little to address the main problem in campaign finance, which "is the millions I have to raise to run for office."
A true servant of the people!
Most meaningless reform: “…the bill would require that lawmakers interviewing for private-sector jobs publicly recuse themselves from issues involving their prospective new industry.”
How many congressmen openly acknowledge that they probably won’t be around after the next election by interviewing for a job? Since most run for re-election with the reasonable expectation that they’ll win, I can’t see this so-called reform as much of a hindrance to business-as-usual.
Should Good Politics Trump Good Policy?
…so far I am not impressed. Mr. Gerson was writing for the President up until last year and may be illustrative of the mindset producing this Administration’s out-of-touch approach to the issue of immigration.
Today’s missive Letting Fear Rule - washingtonpost.com takes note of many conservatives’ antipathy to the new immigration rules proposed and makes a common argument:
“Conceding Latinos to the Democrats in perpetuity is a stunning failure of political confidence. If the Republican Party cannot find ways to appeal to natural entrepreneurs, with strong family values, who are focused on education and social mobility, then the GOP is already dead.”
He expounds later by quoting a minister:
“"The elephant in the room," says Rodriguez, "is the Latinoization of America. What are the results? America will be a more religious nation. America will continue to be a nation that promotes family values. Wow, that really turns American culture upside down."
Well, maybe – just maybe – many Americans are looking at countries that are already Latinoized and not finding it an attractive picture. After all, the first wave of Latinoization in North and South America seems to have produced countries – for the most part, run by Latinos – that fellow Latinos can’t wait to leave. In fact, they are so anxious to depart these countries; these family values exemplars leave behind their families, obviously convinced that their own Latinoized country lacks the right environment to provide them the opportunity to make a living. Tough to blame that massive cultural and economic failure on US ‘nativism’.
I think it would also help smooth some ruffled feathers and ease stereotypical fears if we weren’t bombarded with the conventional wisdom that finally getting tough on present and future illegal immigrants is somehow an insult to many legal immigrants. What this tells us is that for those immigrants, ethnic and birth nationality identity trumps their American identity. While that may seem a natural response, no one should have any reason to expect the rest of us to find that a particularly admirable or desirable trait.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
New Report: Governments not adequately managing our lives
No, sadly, this group of nanny-state cheerleaders predictably called on government to do more. Study: Tobacco Should Be Banned in Public Indoor Settings - washingtonpost.com
Of course no story about tobacco would be complete without the use of scare stats and the Post writer Christopher Lee obliges:
“Tobacco use causes 440,000 deaths every year, and second hand smoke contributes to another 50,000 deaths.”
That’s a total of 490,000 deaths. Using a 2004 death total of 2,398,343 calculates to 20% of U.S. deaths are tied to cigarettes. Standing alone, that means that second-hand smoke’s 50,000 deaths contribute to 2% of US annual deaths.
I’m sorry but that number is just too ludicrous to accept.
The EPA claims 3,000 deaths of lung cancer from second-hand smoke in a famous 1993 report. They based their conclusion on a review of a number of other studies and made their mind up from that. This report has been oft-criticized, even by people who want it to be right. A federal judge even got in the act of trashing the report. That study though has become a mainstay of anti-tobacco enthusiasts (and is obviously still available on line).
This 50,000 number though apparently comes from the California EPA and is cited in a 2005 report (page 10 of the PDF):
“Adding the mid-point of the ranges for lung cancer deaths and heart disease deaths, and including the SIDS point estimate, one can attribute about 50,000 deaths per year in the United States and 4000 deaths per year in California from ETS associated disease.”
It is that report that the Surgeon General refers to in its 2006 report on the dangers of smoking. Strangely, it does not cite another California (UCLA) study...perhaps because it did not support the Conventional Wisdom on the subject:
“Conclusions The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed” Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98 -- Enstrom and Kabat 326 (7398): 1057 -- BMJ
Look, it is self-evident that smoking is not good for you. Even Ivy League-educated Barack Obama seems to know that. But it is a simple matter for a business owner to establish his or her own policies as to cigarette smoking on site without goverment meddling. Most had no problems doing so with cigars and I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt as to them knowing what’s best for their business. (Obviously there are some 90-day-a-year residents of Annapolis who disagree with me on this.)
Full disclosure: I do not smoke…beyond the occasional cigar. But I just find it an irksome mindset that so many across the political spectrum seem to believe that more government is the default answer to everything…well, except when it comes to national defense.
A WaPo Pontification
I’d say most critics from the right acknowledge that we’re not going to engage in mass deportation. Instead, many envision an increased border security and not turning a blind eye to those openly flouting our laws. In other words, when our various government agencies – federal and state – are openly presented with an individual who shouldn’t be here, they will do something about it. Such enforcements would have the added benefit of possibly leading to self-deportations by making being here illegally an increasingly uncomfortable status. If, as the Post intimates, that makes us mean-spirited, so be it.
As an attempt at public suasion, this editorial ranks somewhere between “Because I told you so!” and “Oh yeah? Well, so are you…”
“But those who cite the offending sections and insist on the bill's defeat must explain how that would leave the country in a better posture. The practical effect of a defeat would be to leave the country without any resolution to the current non-system of immigration for at least two more years, and possibly for much longer -- an outcome the American public clearly doesn't want.”
This is typical elitist arrogance – why should the onus be on us to explain anything? The defenders instead should outline exactly why they believe implementation of this proposal will improve on the status quo. And in reading the Post’s channeling of Ted Kennedy…
…can someone point out to me where exactly the Post does this? For many associated with Congress, the act of passing laws has seemingly become the singular mark of productivity. However, the rest of us (including the Post) should still insist that passage of a new immigration law be at least somewhat dependent on a showing that it will improve the lives of current US citizens.
Clinton in Iowa
But here’s the part I like:
“Communications director Howard Wolfson said that neither he nor Clinton nor campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle nor chief strategist Mark Penn nor media adviser Mandy Grunwald had read the memo before it became public.”
I wonder if this is the first time that Mike Henry is learning that nobody that counts is reading his memos.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Conservatives & Blacks thwart Democrats' good intentions
“With a vote on the bill slated for tomorrow, leading Democrats were fighting yesterday to keep its meatiest remaining piece, a provision unmasking the lobbyists behind bundles of contributions delivered to lawmakers.”
Of course, this being the Washington Post, you just knew that conservatives had to be involved:
“But even that faced significant opposition from conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats and members of the Congressional Black Caucus”
The article cites the following Democrats (listed in order of appearance) in fleshing out the story:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)
Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (D-Ga.)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.),
Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.),
Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.)
Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.)
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md)
Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.)
Of the eight, exactly one of them is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, (coincidentally he is also the only member cited of the other “significant opposition” source: The Congressional Black Caucus): Rep. Sanford Bishop. Here’s how Ms. Williamson described his role:
“…a Black Caucus member tasked with rounding up votes for the bill.”
Elsewhere, reads like Rep. Meehan is also working in support of the bill. Of course Speaker Pelosi and Reps. Van Hollen and Emanuel are part of the leadership and you would think so is Steny Hoyer but… “Yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer called the bundling provision "difficult to get to."
The Left’s latest darling and Speaker Pelosi’s personal choice for House Majority Leader, John Murtha, had some encouraging words of support, describing the proposed ethics bill as "total crap”. Further, reliable liberal and Speaker Pelosi’s choice to head up her Speaker transition team, Rep. Capuano, identified this important concern:
“… a "revolving door" provision extending the waiting period before former members can lobby Congress placed unfair limits on his future job options.”
But remember, it’s those damn Blacks and Conservatives that are mucking up the Democrats' chance for ethics’ reform in the House.
Another problem only Steve Pearlstein can solve
“Instead, I lay on the table a modest proposal: Put the government into the oil business.”
Mind you, he doesn’t want the government to take over the business; he just wants them to be a competitor in the business.
“The charter would require the company to operate at only a modest profit, while doing everything in its power to expand supply, smooth prices and expose collusive behavior.”
He’s even got capitalization of this enterprise solved:
“To capitalize Standard Oil, I propose raising the federal gasoline tax by a penny or two. I won't try here to lay out the economic arguments, but trust me, the burden of this tax would fall mostly on refiners, not consumers.”
Well, I suspect the real reason he won’t lay out the economic arguments is because someone else hasn’t (literally) drawn them for him. In business, the end user ALWAYS pays for the underlying costs…or else the underlying costs aren’t incurred. And he’s been in Washington long enough to know that few things have a longer shelf life than a federal tax.
Here’s where Mr. Pearlstein is coming from:
“But how should we respond to complaints about market fairness from an industry that has earned windfall profits for three decades by free-riding on the activities of an international price-fixing cartel?”
You can tell this guy is a serious reporter because he uses precise terms such as “windfall profits” and (earlier) “modest profit”. But the inconvenient truth about all this is that government (Federal & State) has consistently outperformed Big Oil in terms of collections vice profits.
He follows up with a snark worthy of Air America (a good Rorschach test: is that a compliment or an insult):
“And if the government is really as stupid and inept as industry executives have always claimed, why should they worry?”
They should worry because any competitor with a deep-pocket backer (the reluctant, nonvoting share-owning taxpayer) and a mission statement that reads like a Kumbaya stanza has the potential to skew the market in unrealistic ways. And we should all worry because no-one benefits when the government proves itself “stupid and inept” by implementing a “stupid and inept” proposal.
I know there is a certain tongue-in-cheek aspect to Steven Pearlstein’s proposal. I suspect he wrote it, in part, to once again affirm his liberal street cred with his peeps. Still, it displays an economic ignorance that should disturb his bosses at the Post.
Congrats to Crablaw
“…was contacted by a major blog aggregator (Newstex.com), regarding syndication of CMW [Crablaw Maryland Weekly] content.” CMW: Meta - New Developments (5/21)
...and apparently, this is going to go through.
A few of us will be bragging that we knew him when.
Hopefully, fame and fortune won’t prevent him from acknowledging he knew us.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"Arrest that foreigner - he's not wearing a seat belt!"
As part of the campaign, Monday May 21 kicked off a two-week Enforcement period during which law enforcement is really going to go after the scofflaws who just won’t buckle up.
Juxtapose all that with Federal efforts, including the recent comprehensive overhaul proposal, to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
Now ask yourself: Which of the two – not wearing a seat belt or being in this country illegally – do you honestly believe our governments want law enforcement to take more seriously?
Monday, May 21, 2007
January in Florida
Hmm, campaigning in January in New Hampshire, Iowa or Florida? Focusing your early campaign in which one of those three would be most likely to curry favor with the tag-along press?
But there are risks for Florida:
“Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has threatened to take away half of Florida's delegates if the primary is held before Feb. 5. The Democratic National Committee said the state would lose 50 percent of its delegates and all its superdelegates. The DNC also said it would penalize candidates who campaign in Florida for a primary earlier than Feb. 5 by making them ineligible for receiving any of the state's delegates.”
Yeah right, the parties are going to openly dis a crucial vote haven like Florida. My prediction: Both parties cave in this instance because one party definitely will; thus making it incumbent on the other to do the same. (H/T NRO)
While it would obviously be better for the GOP to have dedicated sites that generate more hits, this piece comes across as more wishful thinking than actual cause for alarm. To make its initial case, the article cites two Republicans:
“…David All, a former Republican congressional aide, [who] launched a blog recently…” and
“Another Republican -- Michael Turk, who was in charge of Internet strategy for President Bush's 2004 campaign…”
And when all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Mr. All further analyzes the problem:
“"We've always been a party of staying on message," All said. "It's the Rush Limbaugh model. What Tony Snow says in the White House filters down to talk radio, which makes its way to the blogs."
…which pretty much describes how we got to the ongoing group hug in conservative circles over the latest immigration proposals.
“Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank that in recent months has been advising Democratic members of Congress and their staffs on how to take full advantage of the Web, argues that the culture of Democrats is a much better fit in the Internet world.
"What was once seen as a liability for Democrats and progressives in the past -- they couldn't get 20 people to agree to the same thing, they could never finish anything, they couldn't stay on message -- is now an asset," Leyden said. "All this talking and discussing and fighting energizes everyone, involves everyone, and gets people totally into it."
Then, to further illustrate this, Mr. Leyden pointed to the spirited but civil discussions liberals and progressives within the Democratic Party have been engaging in for years over Abortion, the Iraq War and Global Warming.
(Ed. Note: Had that think tank instead been Salt Lake-based and advising Republicans, you think Post writer Jose Antonio Vargas would have left out the descriptive “conservative” or "right-wing" like he left out “liberal” or "left wing" here)
The article also cites Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (and to which fellow MBAer Crablaw is one of the more rational contributors). The Daily Kos is an immensely successful web site, arguably the biggest in the political arena. And here’s an example of how influential such web sites can be:
“But Kos’s political instincts leave, shall we say, something to be desired. In 2004, he created the “Kos Dozen,” A group of 12 (eventually 15) candidates whom Daily Kos readers were supposed to back with donations. With Kos’s keen instincts, and large donations from Daily Kos readers, the number of Kos Dozen candidates who were elected was… zero.
“Then last year, Kos backed Democrat Iraq-War-veteran Paul Hackett in his challenge to Republican Jean Schmidt for an open House seat in Ohio. After funding Hackett with hundreds of thousands of dollars, Hackett… lost.
“Kos hasn’t learned, though. This year, he’s been on a crusade against relatively moderate Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar. Kos backed Cuellar’s Democrat primary opponent, former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. In Tuesday’s Democrat primary election, Rodriguez… lost.” PoliPundit.com » The Kos Record is Intact
But apparently this is of little significance:
"Sure, conservatives can point to the Dan Rather controversy and the Swift boat episode as a measure of their success online. But that's it," Moulitsas said.
Well, that “it” is supposedly what the article is all about. The Swift boat episode is often credited with having some impact on who got elected in 2004 so that’s a pretty big “it”. Obviously, Republicans can use the internet better but part of their problem is that conservatives are already pretty well-entrenched on the ‘net with a variety of well-written and widely read sites. And they are not shy about castigating Republicans for their mis-deeds.
And besides, if the ‘net were it – Howard Dean would be President (or, at the least, he would have been the loser in the Electoral College) and Ned Lamont would be a US Senator.
Congress and the President get tough on immigration
Mild understatement to note that this is not an easy read; particularly since it amends existing law so you get a lot of:
“.(2) Z.A DEPENDENT VISA..Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall grant a Z.A dependent visa to an alien
(A) described in section 101(a)(15)(Z-A)(ii);
(B) meets the requirements of paragraph (3); and
(C) is admissible to the United States under section 212, except as otherwise provided in paragraph (4)."
I can’t claim to have read the whole thing yet but meandering through the document, I did find some goodies to highlight:
.(3) PROOF OF ELIGIBILITY..
31 .(A) IN GENERAL..An alien may establish that the alien meets the requirement for a Z.A visa through government employment records or records supplied by employers or collective bargaining organizations, and other reliable documentation as the alien may provide. The Secretary shall establish special procedures to properly credit work in cases in which an alien was employed under an assumed name.
I’m going to guess that an alien (or anyone) working under an assumed name probably hasn’t been too forthright in other matters like, I dunno…taxes. Any bets on whether there will be pressure for the Secretary’s "special procedures" to include credit for Social Security purposes.
.(B) TIMING OF PROBATIONARY BENEFITS..
32 .(i) IN GENERAL..Subject to clause (ii), an alien who submits an application for a Z.A visa under subsection (d), including any evidence required under such subsection, and any spouse or child of the alien seeking a Z.A dependent visa shall receive the probationary benefits described in clauses (i) through (iv) of subparagraph (A) at the earlier of.
(I) the date and time that the alien has passed all (Page 307) appropriate background checks, including name and fingerprint checks; or
(II) the end of the next business day after the date that the Secretary receives the alien.s application for Z.A visa.
Who among us has received the benefits of a tax refund by the end of the next business day after filing a tax return or…any benefits the next business day after filing anything with the federal government?
39.(B) DURING APPLICATION PERIOD..The Secretary shall provide that, in the case of an alien who presents a nonfrivolous (Page 308) application for Z.A visa during the application period described in subsection (c)(1)(B), including an alien who files such an application within 30 days of the alien.s apprehension, and until a final determination on the application has been made in accordance with this section, the alien
(i) may not be removed; and
(ii) shall be granted authorization to engage in employment in the United States and be provided an employment authorized endorsement or other appropriate work permit for such purpose.
So, you are in the country illegally and somehow you get apprehended…no problem, file a Z.A Visa application, the law can’t touch you. What if you were driving without a license – how many of you Ted Kennedy clones think a simple application for a license should cure your citation for driving, using the PC parlance of today, undocumented? (Or practicing law without a license - perhaps a quick sign up for the LSATs would establish your seriousness of purpose)
(g) Fine..An alien granted a Z.A visa shall pay a fine of $100 to
4 the Secretary.
See, it’s not amnesty!!!
(3) TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT..
(A) PROHIBITION..No alien granted a Z.A visa may be terminated from employment by any employer during the period of a Z.A visa except for just cause.
(B) TREATMENT OF COMPLAINTS..
(i) ESTABLISHMENT OF PROCESS..The Secretary shall establish a process for the receipt, initial review, and disposition of complaints by aliens granted a Z.A visa who allege that they have been terminated without just cause. No proceeding shall be conducted under this subparagraph with respect to a termination unless the Secretary determines that the complaint was filed not later than 30 months after the date of the termination.
I’m an at-will employee and without a Z.A card so the federal government has no such interest in the circumstances of my prospective termination. I didn’t read a definition of “just cause” within so if I’m an employer I’m proceeding with EXTREME caution. This reads like a potential windfall for labor lawyers.
.(iii) ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS..The arbitrator shall conduct the proceeding under this subparagraph in accordance with the policies and procedures promulgated by the American Arbitration Association applicable to private arbitration of employment disputes. The arbitrator
shall make findings respecting whether the termination was for just cause. The arbitrator may not find that the termination was for just cause unless the employer so demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence.
Yep – because who you gonna believe: the guy who sneaked into the country illegally, under an assumed name and only files for legal Z.A status after he gets picked up or…the U.S. citizen who decided to employ him.
Friday, May 18, 2007
"Wait here, Mary Jo, I'll go get help..."
But if Ted Kennedy saw no problem with taking a college exam without actually reading it first (Okay – without he himself actually taking it), I guess he doesn’t think it too big a stretch to ask fellow Congresspeople to pass a bill with similar preparation:
“Congress should coalesce behind sweeping new compromise immigration legislation despite steep political obstacles because opportunities to confront the problem head-on are rare, Sen. Edward Kennedy said Friday.” Kennedy urges support for immigration bill - USATODAY.com
Helpfully, over at The Corner at NRO, Mark Krikorian has collected some Ted Kennedy quotes from some of those previous “rare” opportunities:
“1965: "The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs."
“1986: "This amnesty will give citizenship to only 1.1 to 1.3 million illegal aliens. We will secure the borders henceforth. We will never again bring forward another amnesty bill like this."
..and remember, like Brutus, Ted Kennedy is an honorable man.
The World Bank Vacancy
(I have a suggestion: John Bolton)
The linked-to AP story suggests that its writer, Jeannine Aversa, knows nothing about the World Bank:
“The European Commission called Friday for a quick appointment, saying the poverty fighting institution needs "stable and strong political leadership."
“The Wolfowitz flap had been seen as a growing liability that threatened to tarnish the poverty-fighting institution's reputation and hobble its ability to persuade countries around the world to contribute billions of dollars to provide financial assistance to poor nations.”
“threatened to tarnish”?? Only among people as clueless as Ms. Aversa and her editors apparently are does the World Bank even have a reputation capable of being tarnished. And what press release is she reading off of with these incessant references to the Bank as a poverty-fighting institution? Please, the Bank would need a dramatic infusion of enthusiasm, competency and ethics just to approach the effectiveness of HUD's poverty fighting efforts. Meanwhile, the Bank is safely ensconced in its $160,000,000, 13-story, refurbished Headquarters at 1818 H Street in DC, a scant two-blocks from the White House.
Hell, even John Edwards probably knows there is nothing to learn about fighting poverty at the World Bank.
As an institution, the World Bank and its employees have obviously adopted the credo of the ‘60’s preacher, Reverend Ike:
“The best thing you can do for the poor is not be one of them.”
A Preakness Weekend look at Maryland Racing
Earlier this week, Soccer Dad posted some thoughts on Maryland Racing: Soccer Dad: Decline of horse racing in maryland. He concludes:
“I'm against subsidies to any industry. I'm also not convinced that slots are a great idea. It might just be it's time to let horse industry in Maryland die.”
I’m probably somewhat in tune with the philosophical underpinnings that lead to such a conclusion but I can’t sign on to the conclusive sentiment. [Full disclosure: I really enjoy a day at the track.]
There was a time when Maryland racing was among the better national circuits. If it wasn’t in the Top Tier, it was certainly in shouting distance. As recently as 15 years ago, it would have been laughable to suggest that Delaware or West Virginia would have been worthy competitors in attracting the quality mid-Atlantic thoroughbreds.
No longer. The advent of slots in those two states has allowed them to significantly increase their purses, their facilities and their foot traffic – and much of that foot traffic arrived in cars bearing Maryland licenses. Now Pennsylvania has joined their ranks.
I agree with Soccer Dad as to a general aversion to subsidies to any industry. But on slots, I’m ambivalent. Were slots to come back to Maryland, they’d probably not coax a dime out of me. But being the pro-choice guy I am in so many aspects of life, I don’t have any moral or philosophical reasons to oppose letting others spend their money that way. But I do have some reservations:
- Slots should be legal because it’s a matter of individual choice not because it can help save an important industry. While the state has certainly not proven to be a friendly place for the business (or many businesses), the incompetence of the industry’s ownership (*cough*Joe de Francis*cough*) of late has been staggering. (The jury is still out on new owners Magna Entertainment.)
- Horse racing should have no more claim to provide slots than the corner grocery store and
- Providing the government another stream of income is simply providing the government an additional – vice alternative -stream of income. In Maryland, that is never a good idea.
Slots have been a political issue since 2002 and the election of Bob Ehrlich. Legalizing slots was an important part of his campaign but as we learned, elections mean mandates only when Democrats say they do. So, Speaker Busch was free to impose his own sense of morality on the rest of the state. Since he is not an identified member of the so-called Religious Right, this has been considered acceptable behavior:
“In the three years since Busch became speaker, he has never been coy about his views on slots. Lawmakers have mused over the notion that the roots of his opposition lie with the gambling problems that consumed his father, who died in 1997 in a flophouse on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
“But the burly, silver-haired speaker brushes off that suggestion, saying he merely wants to prevent the state from handing out valuable gaming licenses to a few well-heeled, politically connected insiders.
"I just don't think slots is good public policy," Busch said Friday, after the legislation passed the House.” Md. Speaker Could Control Fate of Slots (washingtonpost.com)
Well, of course, a lot of us think he is just full of …. And that his opposition to slots will be waning now that a Democrat is back in the Governor’s Mansion and Democrats everywhere will be seeking an alternative to raising taxes to pay for the so-called structural deficit that they’ve imposed on the state with their previous legislative spending sprees.
Part of the problem with slots, of course, is that they really don’t require much of the state beyond just the issuance of a license. In other words, the racing industry is just seeking authorization for an additional revenue stream, not a handout. And let’s face it: our state Democrats don’t really know how to interact with a constituency that doesn’t have its hand out.
So I say let the tracks have the Slots…or Video Poker…or whatever….but also let slots go to other locations. And while they are at it, open more Off-track-Betting facilities (hint! hint! the Inner Harbor) and reduce the required takeouts from each dollar wagered. Preakness Weekend is uniquely Maryland and perhaps our greatest annual event (although a family member’s college graduation in Boston will preempt my attendance this year). So I am optimistic that something will be done to allow our tracks to compete if, for no other reason, than I doubt that Governor O’Malley and the Democrats want to go down as the governor and party that lost the Preakness.
My conclusion: If the horse racing industry in Maryland is to die, let’s at least make sure it’s not because the state is stepping on the oxygen supply tubing.
Side note: In the Kentucky Derby, I bet a total of $40 which included a $2 exacta on Street Sense-Hard Spun (ridden by Maryland-based Mario Pino). That paid $101.60 so I did OK.
For Saturday’s Preakness: As impressed as I was with Street Sense, I wasn’t so impressed as to bet him at 7-5. On the other hand, I loved Hard Spun’s wire-to-wire performance in Kentucky. Betting the Preakness, I’ll have Hard Spun on top of a lot of exactas as well as to win.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
If Bush has lost Detroit...
Detroit Council Urges Bush Impeachment
“The Detroit City Council called for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, unanimously passing a resolution sponsored by a Democratic congressman's wife.”
That would be “…Councilwoman Monica Conyers. Her husband, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where any impeachment proceedings would start. He has said he does not intend to move forward with any impeachment effort.”
If you don’t know much about Councilwoman Conyers, perhaps a look at some of the people she hangs with will give you a glimpse of who she is:
Councilwoman Conyers with some friends (from her website)
Once again, the predictably obvious surprises Congress
In light of these increased costs, the benefits of going public are rationally diminished and private equity thereby becomes more attractive. Pretty basic stuff…unless you believe economic laws are no match for the collective wisdom of a House committee:
“As attention intensifies on the growing role of private equity in the U.S. economy, a House committee yesterday raised the question of whether the government should intervene to protect the interests of affected workers and communities.” Parties Split Over Public Inequities of Private Equity - washingtonpost.com
The increased role of Private Equity also has the attendant impact of reducing the opportunity for the less-wealthy among us to invest in growing, successful businesses that correctly decide that there are cheaper and better ways to raise money than going (or staying) public.
So, to summarize, in an effort to “protect” the small-time investor, Congress (with the President’s help) passes a bill that so increases the cost of public-market capital that those seeking capital increasingly look elsewhere. Thus the small-time investor is protected from even making certain otherwise-attractive investments.
Well, as they'll continue to tell us, they do know what’s best for us.
I wonder how all this playing with the “reality-based community”?
Over $100 billion says "We Don't Care"
I guess it is an article of faith among so-called progressives that not only do the poor have a right to government-sponsored (hence taxpayer sponsored) housing but they have a right to it wherever and whenever they want. So it seems that public housing isn’t being made available quick enough to suit some of the poor who want to live in New Orleans…or to suit those who make a living gabbing about such inequities in DC. Ms. Browne-Dianis even hints that such inaction may have racial overtones (this, I guess, further strengthens her civil rights bona fides).
“The federal government might as well have put an ad in the paper: "Blacks Not Wanted." One month after Katrina's landfall, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson, who is charged with providing housing to the poor and eliminating discrimination, stated that New Orleans "is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again." Worse, just days after the storm, Rep. Richard H. Baker (R-La.) proclaimed, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
Ms. Browne-Dianis doesn’t explain just why the federal government, particularly its black HUD Secretary, doesn’t want other blacks in New Orleans. As to the “Worse, just days after the storm” statement by Rep. Baker – well, let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
Any conversation that touches on government corruption touches on New Orleans and Exhibit A for this could very well be The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO).
“HANO has been awarded two HOPE VI grants since 1993, the first year they were awarded. In 1994, HANO was awarded $44.3 million to demolish existing units in the Desire complex and replace them with some 373 new units. And in 1996, HANO received another $25 million in HOPE VI funding for demolition and revitalization of the St. Thomas complex.”
“In January 2002, HUD assumed control of HANO. This unprecedented step was taken when it became clear that management problems were extensive and despite enormous funding from HUD, very little progress was being made.
“HANO received a $25 million HUD HOPE VI grant in 1996 to demolish and revitalize the 60-year-old St. Thomas public housing development. The redevelopment, however, stalled and the land sat vacant because of a series of missteps by former HANO officials and others.” HUD News Release 03-049
So it seems the destruction and not-so-quick replacement of NOLA public housing has a long history, dating even back to our first black president.
The problems of New Orleans are as numerous as they are unfortunate. But I bristle at the idea that it was the failed response of the federal government that so doomed New Orleans. The past and present incompetence, corruption and laziness of state and local leaders, and the citizenry’s proactive toleration of them, are instead my candidates in this Blame Game.
But instead, Ms. Browne-Dianis plays the pathos card in her indictment of federal inaction:
“Residents of New Orleans public housing want to go home now, not in five to 10 years. Most are depressed, some talk of committing suicide, others are suffering the effects of high blood pressure, and several elderly residents have died.” (emphasis added)
Bush lies, several elderly die!
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
$21 a week to eat...or trim a few strands of John Edwards hair
Lawmakers Find $21 a Week Doesn't Buy a Lot of Groceries - washingtonpost.com
“Ryan and three other members of Congress have pledged to live for one week on $21 worth of food, the amount the average food stamp recipient receives in federal assistance. That's $3 a day or $1 a meal. They started yesterday.”
We are also treated to a picture of Congressman Ryan as he shops for his weekly sustinence.
Not to be too cynical about all this but…what a crock. The Congresspeople (see, I can be PC) are acting as if $21 is supposed to cover the week with no other source of income. That simply and demonstrably is not the way the program works. Nor does it take into account other programs such as the meals provided at schools. Or the WIC program. Or welfare payments. Or Housing Assistance. (Money being fungible and all).
Besides, rather than demonstrating how down he is with the people’s struggle, Congressman Ryan is actually showing just how clueless he is by attempting to stretch his $21 at a Safeway – a WalMart would probably have been a much better choice.
But I understand that may have presented our concerned Democrat with an awkward photo op.
Immigration: Ted Kennedy and Hazleton, PA
“When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) declared last week that unnamed "stakeholders" would decide whether Congress overhauls immigration law this year, Latino organizations in Washington understood exactly what he meant.” Latino Groups Play Key Role on Hill - washingtonpost.com
The Post article does note they are unnamed but apparently everyone knows who they are. Does he mean the millions of illegal immigrants currently residing here? Not sure why their opinion should have one iota of influence over the proper course to pursue the best interest of our country is here but I can easily see a knee-jerk liberal like Ted Kennedy thinking that way. But perhaps he just means US citizens of Hispanic-descent. There certainly is a hint of that in the article. Again, not sure why their opinion on a favored course of action is any more relevant than that of other US citizens with differing ancestries but again, Ted Kennedy is certainly of the ilk that would think ancestry should be a determining factor in many facets of government action.
Of course, there is always the real possibility that Ted Kennedy didn’t name them because nobody in Progressivedom authority has yet told Ted Kennedy who they are.
In other immigration-related news: No doubt Ted Kennedy would be appalled at this development (H/T NRO)
Pa. mayor who targeted illegals on way to third term (Hazleton, PA)
Here’s my favorite part:
“Barletta trounced GOP challenger Dee Deakos with nearly 94 percent of the vote. And he beat former Mayor Michael Marsicano for the Democratic nomination by staging a last-minute write-in campaign, all but guaranteeing himself another term, unofficial returns showed.”
I’m going to guess that that’s not what Ted Kennedy’s unnamed stakeholders wanted.
The Montgomery County Council - Saving Us From Ourselves
“The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a ban on partially hydrogenated oils in restaurants, supermarket bakeries and delis yesterday, becoming the first county in the nation to restrict artery-clogging trans fats.”
Sayeth Council member Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), the bill's chief sponsor:
"The goal is to protect the public health," she said. "People want to know what they are eating."
(I guess she forgot the bit about it also being “for the children.”)
This is yet another example of the liberal mantra “trust us, we know what’s best for you” come to life and Post writer Miranda Spivack just can’t contain her approval for such totalitarian acts:
“The anti-trans fat bill puts Montgomery in the vanguard of a growing national movement…”
“The measure marks the second time in recent memory that Montgomery has taken the lead on a health issue of national significance.”
So why did so many businesses start using such a dangerous subsance in their food products? And how could our governments have allowed this? Ms. Spivack partially answers this:
“Trans fat, which contributes to "bad cholesterol" levels, is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, which helps increase the shelf life and flavor of certain foods.” (Ed Note: increased shelf life = lower food costs = a good thing).
But another big reason trans fats became so popular is that years ago the conventional wisdom was scaring everyone about saturated fats….you know, like that found in butter…which is why margarine became so popular…you know, margarine, as in trans fats-containing margarine.
More from our fawning reporter:
“The measure doesn't eliminate such items as french fries or desserts from restaurant menus but requires that they be made with healthier oils, such as canola or soy.”
But apparently it requires no such thing – it just bans trans fats (From the MC Council website: MC Council Votes to Ban Artificial Trans Fats). As Ms. Spivack later notes:
“Restaurateurs say that it could be difficult for them to find healthy replacements for trans fatty oils and that they might have to use artery-clogging palm and coconut oils or butter.”
And what does the FDA say about all this? Well, it got on the scare bandwagon awhile ago with a mandatory trans fats labeling requirement but it still classifies trans fats as “Generally Recognized As Safe”. Further, from the FDA website:
“Q: Should trans fat be eliminated from the diet?
A: No. According to experts, eliminating trans fat completely from the diet would require such extraordinary dietary changes (e.g., elimination of foods, such as dairy products and meats that contain trans fatty acids) that eliminating trans fat could cause an inadequate intake of some nutrients and create health risks.” FDA/CFSAN - Questions and Answers about Trans Fat Nutrition Labeling
Idle thought: How would liberals react if the Bush administration forbade trans fats for Gitmo detainees?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Great moments in the Entertainment Industry's priorities
“Heroes” airs at 9PM on Mondays and is available to anyone with rabbit ears and a TV.
Meanwhile, Smoking in movies to affect ratings. …
So, to recap: The free, over-the-air, in the middle of prime-time availability of a video whereby heroin is portrayed as an important factor in a Hero-being-a-Hero – OK; The portrayal of cigarettes as an affectation of a character in a pay-to-see video: not OK.
(and for the record, I am not seeking any kind of legal restriction on Heroes or other such quasi-glamorizings of drugs...)
Great moments in environmental awareness
“Mountaintop removal is devastating hundreds of square miles of Appalachia; polluting the headwaters of rivers that provide drinking water to millions of Americans; and destroying a distinctly American culture that has endured for generations.”
…now noted, without comment:
“Leonardo DiCaprio's neighbor is charging him with an offensive foul, claiming the actor excavated the neighboring property without permission and damaged plants and hedges to build a basketball court at his home.” DiCaprio Sued Over His Basketball Court - washingtonpost.com
Just think - if we could have had global warming years ago, maybe there would have been no icebergs. No Icebergs = No Titanic sinking = No Titanic movie = ... maybe no Leonardo DiCaprio as a movie star?
A Maryland Conservatarian Mea Maxima Culpa
Yep, after listening to Al Gore’s completely fact-checked case for why we’re all going to hell in a hand basket, reviewing the cerebral musings of Laurie David and considering the practical suggestions of Cheryl Crow, I just knew I had to cut down on my “carbon footprint”…or else we were doomed as a species and quite possibly so was the planet.
So I did.
Ooops, my bad!
I moved from Baltimore to Rockville as I am now working full-time for a client so based. Now, instead of driving at least 2 ½ hours a day, I’m driving at most 10-12 minutes, that is, when I’m not walking to work (a mere mile and a half away). Trips to DC or Bethesda begin with a door-to-door, 6 minute walk to the Shady Grove metro. Also, within a five minute walk, I am at my local grocery store, several restaurants/bars, liquor store…even my new general practitioner/doctor.
In other words, I overdid it. I apologize. Starting today, I’ll leave my car running in the parking lot for at least half an hour a day.
UPDATE: ...or maybe I should just take advantage of this valuable service: CarbonDeductions.com - Offsetting the Dangers of Carbon Credits (H/T: NRO)