Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Tom Friedman remembers Iraq

Thomas Friedman, the NY Times columnists who lately has seemed to come down with a man-crush on Al Gore, is being excoriated in some parts for his column today:

Here’s how it opens:

“Boy, am I glad we finally got out of Iraq. It was so painful waking up every morning and reading the news from there. It’s just such a relief to have it out of mind and behind us.

“I don’t know whether it was the sheer agony of the debate over Gen. David Petraeus’s testimony,… but the air has gone out of the Iraq debate."

He concludes:

“If we’re going to just forget about Iraq, let’s do it when we’re gone — not when we’re still there.”Remember Iraq - New York Times

Powerful stuff from the much-hyped man but, by my reckoning, this is the first column by the NY Times foreign-affairs columnist that is devoted to Iraq since September 16 - which was his post-Petraeus wrap-up. (Thomas L. Friedman - The New York Times).

Maybe he really did forget about it.

H/T: Stubborn Facts


Maybe we could get Ms. Pelosi to go on a fact-finding tour...

I was glad to see this on the front page of the Washington Post:

“Independent experts have pinpointed what they believe to be the Euphrates River site in Syria that was bombed by Israel last month, and satellite imagery of the area shows buildings under construction roughly similar in design to a North Korean reactor capable of producing nuclear material for one bomb a year, the experts say” Photographs Said to Show Israeli Target Inside Syria

Of course, this is the Washington Post so…

The new report leaves many questions unanswered [such as]…why Israel chose to use military force rather than diplomatic pressure against a facility that could not have produced significant nuclear material for years.”

Yep - can’t really figure out why the Israeli’s didn’t apply DIPLOMATIC pressure against the facility, especially since Syria is widely considered to be a sucker for smooth-talking diplomacy (just ask Madame Speaker or Dennis Kucinich). So I did some research. Turns out, Israel doesn't have diplomatic relations with Syria. Who’d a thunk it??

Look, I’m sure the Syrians meant well. And if they were building a nuclear plant, it was probably just intended as a contribution to the fight against global warming but…I’m still going to give the Israelis the benefit of the doubt here and believe they did the right thing…and, while I’m at it, I’m giving them my thanks.

Monday, October 22, 2007


The Truth about Joe Wilson's trip to Niger (Plenty to choose from - Take your pick)

The Washington Post is giving Ms. Plame’s new book generally favorable treatment and in doing so uses this strange teaser:

Outed Spy Tells Inside Story
After memoir, one remaining question is whether Plame was behind husband's famed trip to Niger.
Alan Cooperman”

That’s the one remaining question? Sherman, to the way-back machine:

“Ms. Wilson told the committee that, despite what has been written and said repeatedly, she did not recommend her husband for the trip to Africa. In fact, she said, she had unhappy visions “of myself at bedtime with a couple of two-year-olds” to handle alone if her husband went overseas. (The Wilsons have young twins.)

“I did not recommend him, I did not suggest him, there was no nepotism involved,” she said. “I did not have the authority.”

Ms. Wilson said she did sound out her husband about the trip after she was asked to do so, but that her husband was picked for the trip because of his background in Africa.” Valerie Plame Wilson, Subject of C.I.A. Leak, Testifies - (3/16/2007) New York Times

But a few months later, in her book:

“She says that when the vice president's office asked the CIA about the uranium allegation, a "midlevel reports officer" suggested in a hallway conversation that the agency could send Joe Wilson to investigate. The suggestion made sense because Wilson had served as an ambassador in Africa, was the top Africa expert on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration and made a previous trip to Niger at the CIA's request in 1999. She and the midlevel officer brought the idea to their boss, who liked it and asked her to send an e-mail up the chain of command. "My husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity," she wrote.

Now, to me, that latter account reads like a little more than just sounding out her husband because they asked her to. More bluntly, it reads like she is lying in at least one of the accounts.

It also reads like her husband is a liar (which, I think, many of us had concluded awhile ago.) Again, we go to the archives:

“Wilson's assertions -- both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information -- were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report…

The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him.”

“Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger.
"Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson wrote in a memoir published this year. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip."
Plame's Input Is Cited on Niger Mission (

But obviously she did - under either of her scenarios - even if she denies initiating the suggestion.

“Thus, by her own account, Valerie Wilson neither came up with the idea nor approved it. But she did participate in the process and flogged her husband's credentials. When Joe Wilson learned about her e-mail years later, she says, he was "too upset to listen" to her explanations.” Valerie Plame, Telling the (Edited) Inside Story

C'mon Valerie, I'll listen.


The Good, the Bad...

The Good: Holy Cross Posts Impressive 59-10 Road Victory At Lehigh :: Holy Cross defense forces six turnovers on the day.

The Bad: Terps Lead, Then Fall Low

The Ugly: Redskins' Offense 'Embarrassed' After Win

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Harry Reid raises $4.2 million for the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation

In covering the just concluded fund-raising sale of the Senate Democrats’ letter to Clear Channel’s CEO criticizing Rush Limbaugh, the Washington Post’s Neely Tucker gives a written wink and a nod to Senator Reid and his fans:

“The letter in question is an Oct. 2 two-pager from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to Clear Channel Communications CEO Mark Mays lambasting the syndicate's Rush Limbaugh, who had recently criticized U.S. troops who were against the war in Iraq.

“"Phony soldiers," blasted Limbaugh.”

…except that anyone without political blinders on would acknowledge that that wasn’t what happened. That treats the matter as if both sides had equally valid points. The moniker “phony soldiers” was applied to…phony soldiers, you know true faux soldiers, people who said they were soldiers but were found to be lying.

“The morning update on Wednesday dealt with a soldier, a fake, phony soldier by the name of Jesse MacBeth who never served in Iraq; he was never an Army Ranger. He was drummed out of the military in 44 days. He had his day in court; he never got the Purple Heart as he claimed, and he described all these war atrocities. He became a hero to the anti-war left. They love phony soldiers, and they prop 'em up. When it is demonstrated that they have been lying about things, then they just forget about it. There's no retraction; there's no apology; there's no, "Uh-oh, sorry." After doing that morning update on Wednesday, I got a phone call yesterday from somebody, we were talking about the troops, and this gentleman said something …prompting me to reply "yeah, the phony soldiers." The Anatomy of a Smear: "Phony Soldiers" Is a Phony Story

Mr. Tucker gets Senator Reid’s reaction:

“Yesterday on the Senate floor, Reid said Limbaugh had "very, very constructively" raised more than $2 million with a letter "signed by this senator and my friends."

(all the while never acknowledging Rush’s offer to match the winning bid.)

To recap: A little more than a month ago, Harry Reid had no problem questioning the bona fides of one General Petraeus but he goes absolutely ballistic when Rush Limbaugh refers to phony soldiers as phony soldiers. When the Senate Majority Leader tells us he supports the troops, at least now we know which ones he means.

Side Notes: Not directly on point but still amusing:

“Then there are the political "veterans" whose war records are even more dubious than their campaign promises. In 1984, Robert Sorensen was a Connecticut state representative running for reelection. When challenged on his opposition to opening legislative sessions with the Pledge of Allegiance, Sorensen huffily replied: "My patriotism should not be questioned by anyone because . . . when my country called me into service, I fought in Vietnam."

”Except that he didn't, as his opponent quickly discovered. Even then, Sorensen brazened it out, employing an excuse that, for sheer audacity, can't be beat. "For the first time ever, the American public had before them a war in their living rooms," he explained. "Every single person in this United States fought in that war in Vietnam. We all felt the anguish that those people felt. So in a sense I was there." Fake War Stories Exposed, Weekly Standard: Phony Soldiers Bring Shame To Military Forces - CBS News

Friday, October 19, 2007


Governor O'Malley explains the deficit

As you may have heard, our Governor is proposing all kinds of tax increases and tax decreases in order to stem a significant so-called “structural deficit”. Here’s how he is explaining that at his official website: Budget Updates from Governor Martin O'Malley

“Over the last decade, our state government reduced revenue by $1 billion with an income tax cut, and then increased spending by $1.5 billion with the Thornton education plan – opening up a $1.7 billion hole.”

Now when he writes that “…our state government reduced revenue by $1 billion with an income tax cut…”, he doesn’t really mean that revenue is down a billion dollars (I’m assuming he means annually – he’s not clear on this). That would be absurd. Our State Budget in 1998 was nearly $16 billion dollars with $3.8 billion coming from Personal Income Taxes. In 2004, the budget was up to $22.7 billion, with Personal Income Taxes providing over $5 billion.

No, when he says it’s down by a billion dollars, he is using liberal-speak for reduced when compared to what might have been had tax rates not been cut and everything else was exactly the same.

His use of the phrase “our state government” also tactfully avoids calling out his fellow Democrats for the $1.5 billion increase in Thornton spending. Remember, Bob Ehrlich had vetoed the legislative action that removed the last hope of fiscal sanity involved with Thornton but was overridden. Our state government could always re-introduce a little fiscal restraint into all this but methinks that won’t play well with much of their electorate.

Obviously Maryland is taking in more money than ever before but, unremarkably, it is spending it even faster. Our fiscal problems aren’t because of “reduced revenue” nor is the increased spending solely to be placed at the feet of Thornton. That’s demagoguery – pure and simple.

With a special session coming up on October 29th, I encourage all to review the Governor’s proposal to eliminate this deficit…and I’d appreciate it if you would forward onto me any – and I mean even $1 worth – of proposed spending cuts found therein.


The Huckabee Bandwagon

First Steve Pearlstein, now David Brooks.

I don’t normally read the NY Times but NRO linked to this David Brooks column and he is the rare voice of maturity over there so I clicked: From the Back of the Pack

“And before too long it becomes easy to come up with reasons why he might have a realistic shot at winning the Republican nomination”

The “he” he is discussing is Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas and to date an also-ran among GOP candidates. Here’s what really caught my attention:

“Second, each of the top-tier candidates makes certain parts of the party uncomfortable. Huckabee is the one candidate acceptable to all factions.”

Wow – how out of touch am I with ALL the Republican factions? I have been stating openly that the Republican candidate I am most uncomfortable with is Mike Huckabee precisely because of some of the populist rhetoric Mr. Brooks goes on to expound upon (his “There’s no free trade without fair trade” is fingernails-down-the-chalkboard to me).


…who’s kidding who - should Mr. Huckabee somehow become our nominee to take on whichever from the Democratic side of the aisle, there won’t be a moment’s hesitation before I decorate my car with “Huckabee ‘08” stickers.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


We're losing money if we don't spend it

In an otherwise uninformative column on the supposed commonsense beauty of yet another proposed government mandate to help the poor that Barney Frank(!) assures us will not cost us money, David Broder adds a little errata sheet:

In my Oct. 14 column, I attributed to the Congressional Budget Office the estimate that the Wyden-Bennett health-care plan, if enacted, would save the country $336 billion over the next 10 years. The estimate actually came from the Lewin Group, a private consulting firm. The CBO has not scored the legislation.”

(The Wyden-Bennett plan aims to get the federal government involved by establishing a publicly subsidized individual health insurance program.)

Now that may seem like a whole lot of savings going on but it seems that just getting such insurance to all of California, as a universal health care proposal introduced in California aimed to do, “…would save California $343.6 billion in health care costs over the next 10 years…” (or nearly $8 billion more than getting it to all Americans)

That was also based on a Lewin Group study (which apparently has never found a government health care program that doesn’t save us gobs of money.)

So here’s what I’m hearing:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Global Warming Co$t$$$$

I haven’t had time to read the whole study itself but the Executive Summary does not encourage me.

Warming's Costs to Top Its Benefits, Study Says

The study is out of the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Environmental Research which, I’m sorry, makes it initially kind of suspect….I just can’t conceive of anyone in most of academia – and serious about staying in said academia - publishing anything that throws cold water on the current global warming hysteria. Further heightening my suspicions is this tidbit:

“…funded in part by the advocacy group Environmental Defense…”

Note the Post writer doesn’t indicate exactly which way that advocacy goes but you can be pretty sure that if it was a conservative or libertarian-leaning group, that detail would have been disclosed…and, in fact, later in the article, a reaction was noted from someone from the Property and Environment Research Center, which was duly noted as libertarian. Now funding by ED doesn’t automatically negate a study but just imagine a study, even tangentially funded by an oil company and with an opposing result…

Anyway, not sure exactly what we’re supposed to get out of the study beyond an increase in our general alarm:

“But the study's authors declined to put an overall price tag on climate change's future impact, saying it is impossible to predict how it would affect the U.S. economy on a broad scale.”

But they are willing to put the price tag on specific additional costs in specific regions:

“Not all regions of the country or sectors of the economy will be equally affected by climate impacts because of differences in climatic, economic and social conditions whose interplay influences coping capacities. For example, in the Northeast, the maple sugar industry—a $31 million industry—is expected to suffer losses of between 15 and 40% ($5-12 million) in annual revenue due to decreased sap flow. The region can also expect a decrease of 10-20% in skiing days, resulting in a loss of $405-810 million per year.”

Much of the summary is like this – outlining specifics on where the authors think warming is going to cost us. Yet surely there are some avoided costs in any potential warming but the summary doesn’t provide even one quantified example of such:

“For example, electricity demand in Massachusetts may increase by 40% in 2030 because of climate change alone, most of which will occur in summer months and require significant investment in peak load capacity and energy efficiency measures.”

That surely is worst-case scenario and one seemingly designed to plausibly ignore the positive effect of a warmer winter - because that would probably have a greater impact on the demand for heating oil (vice electricity) but no estimates of such savings are provided. (And how inartful is the wording "...increase by 40% in 2030..." - do they mean in 2030 the demand for electricity suddenly goes up 40% or are they telling us that such demand may have increased 40% by 2030.) But, to their credit, they do expound on the potential value of nuclear power to meet our future energy needs.

Ha! Of course they didn’t (I did mention this study came out of a public university with funding from ED, didn’t I?).

But here’s my favorite instance of global warming alarm found within:

“However, additional warming and the movement of agricultural areas mean not only economic losses for farms that lose production. They also add costs to farms that benefit from improved growing conditions because cultivation of new crops and changing farming practices may make prior investments in technology obsolete.”

Obviously, the authors of this study have no familiarity with the concept of a “sunk cost” but... prior investments are not a future cost. For example: Living in Maryland, you buy a $500 snow blower to make your life easier (and maybe even a bit more fun) on snow days. A week later, you start thinking about moving to Tampa. Now whether you move or not, that snow blower still cost you $500 and it certainly is not a cost of the move to Tampa just because it will have no relevance down there.

(Further, such observations highlight an obvious need for the authors to read some Joseph Schumpeter and his brilliant insights into Capitalism and what he termed “creative destruction”.)

Most problematic with the study is a lack of specific matching of costs of mitigation to the supposed costs of the warming. As such, the study seems most designed to just add to the cacophony of voices screaming for action, preferably government action…because it seems that most benefits economically those doing the screaming.


We're 48th!!!

An old Cold War joke: An American was bragging to a Soviet: “In America, if I want to go print in the paper that President Reagan is an ass, I have the freedom to do so". The Soviet smiled and said “In my country, I, too, have the freedom to print that President Reagan is an ass.”

I bring up this bit of nostalgia because it is time once again for the 2007 edition of the Worldwide Press Freedom Index. Good news, we’re now 48th – up from 53rd – and I couldn’t be prouder.

Despite our progress, we apparently are still being held back by “…the detention of Al-Jazeera’s Sudanese cameraman, Sami Al-Haj, since 13 June 2002 at the military base of Guantanamo and the murder of Chauncey Bailey in Oakland in August..."

Here’s what I wrote last year about Sami Al-Haj:

“Sami al-Haj was first detained by Pakistani authorities before being transferred to U.S. authorities. He is surely not being held because the US thinks that the detention of an assistant Al-Jazeera cameraman will cripple word-wide reporting efforts.” Maryland Conservatarian: We're 53rd!!!

I’ll stand by that. As to the murder of Mr. Bailey, as tragic as that was, it is hardly a systemic indicator. The Oakland police have a suspect in custody and the investigation continues. It is certainly not being institutionally ignored or countenanced.

I also stand by my previous point that it is hard to believe that American journalists sit around moping that their counterparts in Slovakia (#3), Trinidad and Tobago (#20) and Nicaragua (#47) have it so much better than they do.

Our 1st Amendment is a model of brevity for what it seeks to outline:

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”

But that freedom of the press is no greater a freedom than our freedom of speech; the press badge or a pay stub from the NY Times does not grant the holder any more freedoms, particularly from the responsibilities of citizenship - which is what many in the press seem to think is their due. It would be nice if the so-called working press respected our rights to free speech with anywhere near the fervor they express in trying to carve out special privileges for their work. If our reluctance to grant them additional rights and privileges beyond what the rest of us enjoy is what keeps us out of the Top 20 - so be it.

Side Notes: Denmark is ranked #8 but just try and publish a cartoon depicting Mohammed there…and which do you think is the better long-term bet: publishing something harshly critical of our President (see e.g. almost any editorial published by the NY Times since 2001) here in the US (ranked #48) or being consistently harshly critical of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua (#47)?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Armenian Resolution Update

Political Radar: Pelosi Wavering on Armenian Resolution

“…According to Congressional and Bush administration sources, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now unlikely to bring a resolution which would label the deaths of Armenians in a conflict more than 90 years ago as "genocide"

Key Pelosi ally Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., is also lobbying against a vote.”

Congressman Murtha explains:

“Hey, it’s not like the Turks are US Marines or anything.”


(yawn) Law Professor critical of Justice Thomas

I swear, the more Op-Eds I read that are written by law professors, the more apparent it becomes that the best and the brightest are not teaching law school.

In Sunday’s Post, Georgetown law professor Emma Jordan writes in reaction to Justice Thomas’s new book, My Grandfather’s Son. Predictably she is not impressed with the good Justice. Her argument seems to be that since Justice Thomas mentioned lynchings at his hearings, he should consider lynchings in his decisions on the Court.

She even makes this bold prediction: “If the court had taken notice of past racial violence, it would have reached the opposite conclusion in the schools case.” For Clarence Thomas, Lynching Is Personal. Only.

What she doesn’t say is why. Why would (and why should) recounting racial violence from 60-odd years ago (as she does with reference to a certain Kentucky-based study) inform Court decisions – particularly one about Seattle Washington - about school systems that do not let certain students – based on their skin color - go to a school they otherwise would.

Stranger still is this line:

“Residential segregation today provides the foundation for school resegregation and the attendant inequality of public schools.”

Residential segregation?? Is she talking about Prince George’s County here in Maryland? Is she talking about the importance of New Orleans remaining a “chocolate city”? Justice Thomas has long been outspoken about his rejection of the idea that minority-majority schools are implicitly a lesser quality (and Thomas Sowell has excellent research on this). Why does she seemingly assume that such schools have an “attendant inequality”?

I wonder if she feels that way about where she got her law degree – Howard University.


Can we afford to leave parenting to parents?

It seems that no matter what we do nowadays, there exists a cadre of “experts” ready to tell us we’re wrong. This must be especially true for parents for whom there are seemingly enough “experts” out there to convince them that before they even bring the child home from the hospital they’ve probably already screwed up her life.

So it was of little surprise to find that even parental tricks to get their kids to eat vegetables are frowned upon by “many experts”.

“Then there's the other approach: Sneak it in.

“And although that's certainly an appealing tactic for anxious parents, many experts don't think it's such a great idea.” Hiding Veggies In Food: Benefit Or Betrayal?

Listening to these “experts”, one might surmise that sneaking vegetables into a kid’s food is roughly akin to cheating on your wife or voting Republican.

“The practice of adding a little sugar to make foul-tasting medicine go down is as well-known as the tune Mary Poppins sang to popularize it. But when it comes to food, that strategy sends the wrong message -- and risks creating an atmosphere of mistrust among children.”

Wait, there’s more:

" "Betrayed" is how registered dietitian and therapist Ellyn Satter puts it. "Kids almost always catch on eventually," notes Satter... "Kids are smart. They'll figure it out. And when they do," she says, "they not only feel betrayed, but patronized."

“And they may wonder: If mom does this, what else does she do?”

[long, protracted eye-roll]

Yeah, I remember my many years of therapy and the estrangement I experienced after finding out about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And I shudder to think about the long-term impact on this generation when they learn the truth about that oversized SpongeBob they met at a mall opening.

Side Notes: I am going to presume these admonishments against parental deception do not apply to forced viewings of An Inconvenient Truth.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Immigrants Fight Deportartion and Inflation

At times you wonder if anyone at the Post has any economic training. Today’s edition featured a piece by Shankar Vedantam entitled: When Immigration Goes Up, Prices Go Down. Yep, now immigrants are anti-inflation tool:

“Immigration, economist Saul Lach recently found, plays a powerful role in holding down prices. For every 1 percent increase in the ratio of immigrants to natives, prices go down by about 0.5 percent, according to Lach's new study about the effects of 200,000 Jews immigrating to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1990.”

For some reason, Mr. Vedantam thinks the purported impact of 200,000 welcomed, legal immigrants, coming out of a repressive society and into a more productive one where all were eager to see them successfully assimilated; he thinks all that may be somewhat comparable to our situation here in America and, more specifically, here in the DC area:

“Lach's research has particular resonance given the contentious debate over immigration that has recently roiled the Washington area and the nation….If Lach's thesis is correct, however, successful measures might have the opposite effect than the one desired -- as immigrants are pushed away, prices on everything from diapers to dairy items might go up.”

He may already have seen this in action:

Noting that a gallon of gas cost $2.99 in Bethesda vice $2.63 in Wheaton, he speculates:

“The difference in gas prices may have to do with the fact that Wheaton has many more immigrants who are not yet fully assimilated into the economy than does Bethesda.”

He’s right to a point – an overburdened Wheaton is less desirable than Bethesda (hey - don’t shoot the messenger; that’s the verdict of the overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic Montgomery County Real Estate Market). More Desirable = Higher Land Costs = Higher Purchase Costs...and Higher Real Estate Taxes.

Methinks that has more to do with the difference in gas prices. Besides, using Bethesda for gas price comparison can make almost any other Maryland community look good. Now compare Wheaton with its $2.66 to Aberdeen and it’s $2.55 at the local Wawa – is the influence of immigrants even greater than Wheaton or…

Further indicating he may not fully grasp his subject matter, Mr. Vedantam querys:

“Why would the same company charge you 14 percent more for an identical product in one location?”

..and he answers:

“Because it can…. If you are willing to pay extra for the convenience of filling up...why blame Exxon for taking your money?”

…especially since Exxon isn’t the one taking your money. Don’t know the two gas stations he is talking about but I’m going to guess they don’t have common ownership. So the same company isn’t charging you “14% more for an identical product in one location”.

Depressed land prices and decreased profits for the businesses that serve them is not a particularly strong resume to present on behalf of immigrants – legal or otherwise. This reads like the kind of scholarship that would impress Steve Pearlstein but probably not those with a real business/economic background.

Side Notes: Reading Mr. Vedantam’s piece more closely, he seems to be telling us that immigrants are significant contributors to global warming. By keeping gas prices down, they work to keep us less economically inspired to seek alternative fuel sources. And more ominously, there’s this:

“Lach said in a new paper published in the Journal of Political Economy that immigrants tend to do what Bethesda drivers do not do often enough: They go the extra mile to the cheaper gas station.”

Hmmm – immigrants “go the extra mile” – focusing just on illegal immigrants and with an estimated 12,000,000 of them here, let’s say 4,000,000 have cars. Conservatively estimating just one fillup a week, that means illegal immigrants alone are selfishly driving over 200,000,000 extra miles a year – all to save a few pennies on gas while ignoring the impact their thriftiness has on global warming.

Alright!! Enforcement Firsters are the new Greens!!

(BTW – The latter part of this posting is my contribution to Blog Action Day. It feels good to give something back)


Congress gets that old-time religion

A few days ago, the House passed a resolution entitled “Recognizing the commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and expressing respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world on this occasion, and for other purposes.” H.RES.635

Apparently, the big deal about all this is not that the House went out of its way to make nice with a Religion but rather that 41 Republicans (and 1 Democrat) voted “Present”. - Twenty percent of Republicans vote ‘present’ on Ramadan resolution

Tom Tancredo explains his “Present” vote:

“This resolution is an example of the degree to which political correctness has captured the political and media elite in this country. I am not opposed to commending any religion for their faith. The problem is that any attempt to do so for Jews or Christians is immediately condemned as ‘breaching’ the non-existent line between Church and State by the same elite.” Tancredo Issues Statement on Ramadan Commencement Vote

He may be referring to a 2005 vote whereby the House expressed the sense “…that those who celebrate Christmas believe that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected.” While that resolution easily passed, 22 Democrats did vote against it (not just “Present”).

I think these kinds of Resolutions are silly and shouldn’t be such an integral part of Congress’ day. Still, I’d love to watch the squirm if a similar resolution also describing Judaism as one of the world’s great religions could be introduced.


Getting BC out of the BCS

The first BCS rankings are out and, regrettably, Boston College is third. Admittedly, at 7 -0, they are a decent team, certainly worthy of some attention and national ranking. But they are not one of the three or four best teams in America and hopefully, their fraudulent status will soon be exposed…by November 10th at the latest when they come to Maryland to play the Terps.

Anyway, the point of this posting is to educate – tell you something that you’re just not getting from the sycophants in the MSM.

“The Eagles are 7-0 for the first time since 1942 and debuted at No. 3 in the BCS.” NCAA Football -

Aaahh, 1942. Whatever happened to that 1942 Boston College team? They eventually went to 8-0, were ranked #1 in the nation and were all but guaranteed a berth in the Sugar Bowl until…

(loyal readers can probably see where this is going)

...November 28, 1942, a 4-4-1 and unranked Holy Cross team came to Fenway Park for the annual rivalry game. BC had 5 shutouts already that year and their defense was allowing an average of less than 30 yards a game. And?

The NY Times Dave Anderson (also a Holy Cross grad) recounts what happened: Sports of The Times; The Upset, the Party, the Fire

“IT'S arguably the biggest upset in college football history. …Holy Cross stunned Boston College, 55-12.”

BC didn't go to the Sugar Bowl (Orange instead) and they didn't finish #1. The Crusaders work was done. 65 years later it may fall to the Terps to perform a similar public service.

..and if you run into any obnoxious BC fans (I know, I know, redundant) and they start spouting this history, feel confident in asking what ever happened to that team.

Side Notes: I don’t mean or want to downplay what that day is most infamous for: that evening a fire broke out at the Boston nightclub Cocoanut Grove that killed nearly 500 people. It is a fascinating and gruesome story that continues to resonate in the Boston area. Boston Globe Online: The Cocoanut Grove inferno

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Playing on our fears

"He played on our fears.”

That’s Al Gore back in 2004 more or less accusing the President of doing whatever it took to get us into Iraq. Now the former Vice President has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize based largely on his efforts to scare the bejeesus out of us using exaggerations that, you know, are seemingly designed to play to our fears.

Just wanted to point it out.

Friday, October 12, 2007


…joining other illustrious winners such as Yasser Arafat & Kofi Annan

Gore, U.N. Body Win Nobel Peace Prize

“Former Vice President Al Gore Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today, along with a United Nations panel that monitors climate change, for their work educating the world about global warming and advocating for political action to control it.”

Meanwhile U.K. Judge Rules Gore's Climate Film Has 9 Errors

“Burton's ruling said that there is "now common ground that it is not simply a science film -- although it is clear that it is based substantially on scientific research and opinion -- but that it is a political film, albeit of course not party political." Burton said Gore's errors "arise in the context of alarmism and exaggeration in support of his political thesis."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


News flash: Steven Pearlstein is probably not voting Republican

Few columnists offer as reliably consistent a target as Steve Pearlstein, the Business Columnist for the Washington Post. So I am grateful that he has finally found something besides giving Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac a bigger role in our economy to write about. This time it’s “this sad pack of candidates” that makes up our current Republican field of presidential candidates.

Now Pearlstein readers surely know that his liberal credentials are rock-solid but just in case you don’t, he offers up his take on yesterday’s GOP debate:

“Instead, for two hours yesterday, the nine white men who would be president were each peddling the Big Lie that the only way to ensure economic growth is by cutting all the taxes ever created -- and when you're finished with that, cutting them some more.”

(See, by identifying them as “white men”, he lets you know that he is sensitive to diversity issues and is otherwise down with the struggle.)

I know that last bit of Pearlstein sarcasm was meant to ridicule the “nine, white men” but I find myself simply sighing: “If only...” If only I could be convinced that all of these “nine white men” could be counted on to continue to keep the pressure on for a reduced tax burden and perhaps even reign in spending…but I don’t think that’s the reaction Mr. Pearlstein is looking for.

His admitted lack of any economic training is obvious by his apparent confusion of the difference between tax rates and tax revenues. I know of no major Republican candidate (Ron Paul therefore not included) that is promising less federal government revenue but that apparently is what Mr. Pearlstein is hearing.

But maybe I’m giving him too much credit – perhaps this apparent confusion is willful. The bulk of his column is made up of a slew of one-liners that have no discernible basis in fact (except perhaps from a consensus of thought on the Daily Kos). This one especially stands out:

Two hours, nine candidates, every one professing his support for the right of workers to form a union, but not one willing to acknowledge that that right no longer exists because of rampant employer intimidation.” (Ed. Note: He must have been especially pleased with that “Two hours, nine candidates” literary device as he used it most of the column.)

To quote Mr. Pearlstein from this same column: “Who writes this stuff, anyway?” The most obvious right that many American workers do not enjoy is the right to not join or be forcibly compelled to support a union – you know, the whole Right to Work ideal.

But his column is replete with such baseless generalizations and accusations, all seemingly designed to be rally cries for a class-warfare mentality. Should that revolution come, I have no doubt that Mr. Pearlstein would be an excellent candidate to fill the role of the NY Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Walter Duranty.

Side Notes I: Mr. Pearlstein’s column has at least provided me additional affirmation that my instinctive aversion to Mike Huckabee’s candidacy is well-grounded:

“Judged by who can offer a serious approach to economic policy, the hands-down winner in the Republican race so far is Huckabee, who combines intelligence, candor and comfortable familiarity with the issues and a practical approach anchored in solid conservative beliefs. If only the political press were as impressed with the quality of a candidate's program as with his name recognition, it would be Huckabee, not Thompson, who was energizing the Republican contest.”

Mr. Huckabee is a nanny-stater of the first order whose actual economic policies have shown little compatibility with any “solid conservative beliefs” that I’m aligned with. The Club for Growth does an excellent job of analysis on this so-called conservative.

Side Notes II: “Two hours, nine candidates, all eager to hurl the scurrilous charge of "government-run health care" against Hillary Clinton but not one willing to call for an end to Medicare as we know it."

“Government-run health care” is a scurrilous charge against Senator Clinton??? Is he even familiar with her body of work?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


There are trends...and then there are trends

Remember this September 11, 2007 front page story in the Washington Post:

More Kids Developing High Blood Pressure

“The rate of health-threatening high blood pressure has started rising among American children for the first time in decades, researchers reported yesterday, confirming a trend long feared by experts worried about the consequences of the obesity epidemic.”

…and in today’s Washington Post Health section Page 1:

“A new study has found a significant link between women's exposure to DDT as young girls and the development of breast cancer later in life…Experts emphasized that the breast cancer findings must be considered preliminary until they can be replicated by others.” Long-Hidden Dangers?

But the Post’s Robin Wright had no problem defending her paper’s short shrift to some recent positive news out of Iraq:

[Howard Kurtz] “"Robin Wright, should that decline in Iraq casualties have gotten more media attention?"

[Robin Wright] “Not necessarily. The fact is we're at the beginning of a trend -- and it's not even sure that it is a trend yet.” ‘Journalists’ Tell Howard Kurtz Why Good News from Iraq Shouldn’t Get Reported (updated w/video) see also: The Corner on NRO

Monday, October 08, 2007


The EU is where it's at

From this weekend’s Outlook section in the Post: 5 Myths About Sick Old Europe

Never mind that these so-called myths enjoy no real cachet that I am aware of (and I am certainly no Europhile), Steven Hill uses these strawmen as an excuse to extol the virtues of life in the EU.

Here’s a cornerstone virtue:

“Europeans still enjoy universal cradle-to-grave social benefits in many areas. They get quality health care, paid parental leave, affordable childcare, paid sick leave, free or nearly free higher education, generous retirement pensions and quality mass transit. They have an average of five weeks of paid vacation (compared with two for Americans) and a shorter work week. In some European countries, workers put in one full day less per week than Americans do, yet enjoy the same standard of living.”

All wondrous things but if you were to emigrate to Europe, would it primarily be because you want to contribute to the welfare state…or partake of it? Immigrants – legal and otherwise – come to the US because they seek an opportunity to be directly rewarded for their efforts. Long term, that’s got to be a healthier motivation for future economic growth.

I’m still betting on us.

Side Notes: “The European Union's $16 trillion economy has been quietly surging for some time and has emerged as the largest trading bloc in the world, producing nearly a third of the global economy. That's more than the U.S. economy (27 percent) or Japan's (9 percent). Despite all the hype, China is still an economic dwarf, accounting for less than 6 percent of the world's economy. India is smaller still.”

OK – but the EU has a 50% greater populace. So, if we were as efficient as the EU, we’d have only 22% of the world’s economy.

And look at China – less than 6% of the world’s economy…yet somehow they've become #1 in carbon emissions despite an economy only 1/4th our size.

Noted without comment:

“Europe is more of a "workfare state" than a welfare state. As one British political analyst said to me recently: "Europe doesn't so much have a welfare society as a comprehensive system of institutions geared toward keeping everyone…working."

“Unemployment for the entire European Union, including the still-emerging nations of Central and Eastern Europe stands at a historic low of 6.7 percent. Even France at 8 percent, is at its lowest rate in 25 years.”

“That's still higher than U.S. unemployment, which is 4.6 percent,…”


Happy Columbus Day

If you work for the federal government, you are enjoying a paid holiday today…courtesy of the rest of us who aren’t. Columbus Day was the probably the first politically correct holiday – established in 1971 in response to a vocal group of Americans of Italian descent who thought one of their own should be so honored. Now, of course, it is probably the most politically incorrect because, you know, Columbus lied, Indians died or something like that.

I think we have too many national holidays and I am instinctively opposed to the idea of such holidays honoring individuals but if we’re going to do it, let’s be consistent with our application. Here in liberal and oh-so PC Maryland, we do not close our schools for Columbus Day or Veterans’ Day and Washington’s Birthday is only honored generically as President’s Day. Now lumping Jimmy Carter in with George Washington for honors is simply insulting the memory of the latter and I have yet to hear or read a good explanation as to why honoring the contributions of Martin Luther King are considered more worthy of a day off than honoring those of our veterans. But I’m sure the progressives out there can give me an earful on it…that is after they get back from their three-day weekend.

Friday, October 05, 2007


The Times v. Justice Thomas

The NY Times continues their unrelenting war against Justice Thomas with another one of their just-make-up-an-excuse-to-attack-him editorials:

“If Mr. Biden, Yale Law School or the A.C.L.U.’s Southern California affiliate, which opposed Justice Thomas’s confirmation, have business before the court, it is hard to see how any of them could expect a fair hearing from Justice Thomas. But the Supreme Court allows justices to make their own recusal decisions, and no one should expect to see Justice Thomas bowing out of cases based on angry comments in his memoir.” The Angriest Justice - New York Times

Meanwhile, let’s go to the way-back machine:

“Answering questions from the audience after her remarks, Ginsburg defended her decision not to recuse herself from a case involving the National Organization of Women Legal Defense and Education Fund, a women's advocacy group with which she is associated.

“Ginsburg's involvement in a January lecture series organized by the group has been criticized because two weeks prior to the series, she took the side backed by the defense fund in a medical screening case. “
UConn Advance - March 22, 2004 - Ginsburg Gives Behind-The-Scenes Glimpse Of Supreme Court

And here’s the NY Times editorial excoriating her for that decision:

In fact, Justice Ginsburg also used to work for the ACLU but I don’t see her recusing herself from cases involving them (nor do I think she necessarily should). I’d appreciate it if someone would forward me all the NY Times editorials preemptively berating her for not doing so.


...and as opposed to the real world coming out of Hollywood

Dewey Ballantine (but I thought it was Dewey & Leboeuf now?) is one the bigger law firms out there so I had to click: George Clooney at Dewey Ballantine

“The new George Clooney film Michael Clayton—set in the world of big Manhattan law firms—was filmed in part in the New York offices of Dewey Ballantine.”

Perhaps the law firm is just buying into the old adage of no such thing as bad publicity but here’s the part I liked:

"When you start doing research into the big law firms, it's amazing to discover how massive they are, how they're complete worlds unto themselves," states production designer Kevin Thompson. "People go into the office and rarely leave during the course of the day and into the night. All their meals are catered, and they only go home to sleep and shower. We wanted to show how law firm life can become a parallel universe, and how that disconnect could foster insular thinking and corrupt ideals."

..uhh, I think he’s talking about you, Dewey.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Sen. Domenici to retire

N.M. Sen. Domenici to retire over brain disorder

From an AP report earlier today:

“Sen. Pete Domenici is retiring after a generation as a dominant Republican voice on budget matters in Congress, deferring to health concerns after six terms in office.”

…meaning former New Mexico prosecutor, David Iglesias (one of the infamous Fired 9 that so fired up Democrats a few months earlier) now comes off as even more full of himself:

“In an e-mail last night, Iglesias attributed Domenici's retirement to the lingering questions about his pre-election phone call.

"He was very good to me early in my career, and for that I will always be grateful, but it is equally true that his attempt to interfere with an ongoing federal criminal investigation last fall was wrong and beneath the dignity of his office," Iglesias said.” Domenici Is Set to Retire From Senate -

Trust me, Mr. Iglesias – you’re not that important.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Religion leads to Evil

From the smartest man on earth, Richard Dawkins (Ed. Note: not the cool one in Hogan’s Heroes) in Tuesday’s Washington Post: Richard Dawkins: OnFaith on

“There is a logical path from religious faith to evil deeds. There is no logical path from atheism to evil deeds”

…conveniently forgetting that such prominent non-believers as Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao made the eradication of religion a key part of their assertion of total control. Since religion often acknowledges a higher authority than the state, it could seem a “logical path” for a non-believer who disagrees with such a hierarchical inclination to invoke various degrees of persuasion.

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