Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Getting Wright with O-Ba-Ma

Apparently, Senator Obama is not happy with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Can you guess what particularly has the Illinois senator upset? (Hint: it concerns Senator Obama)

"And what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciations of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that I am about trying to bridge gaps and I see the commonality in all people."

That’s right, “all people” – even if we’re just a "typical white person". (work warning – links to a recording)

Of course, the big problem with all of this is, well, I’ll let Senator Obama tell us:

“Obama said he was troubled by many aspects of Wright's recent appearances, including his decision "to command the stage for three or four consecutive days in the midst of this major debate" about such issues as health care, education, energy, economic policy and the fight against terrorism.” Obama Calls Minister's Comments 'Outrageous'

Not sure it’s fair to imply that Rev. Wright interrupted a “major debate” when Senator Obama has made it clear he won’t debate anyway.

Besides, what do he and Senator Clinton really disagree about?

What the Wright flare-up has done though is distract us from Barack Obama’s audaciously hopeful plan to reenergize America. To do this, he promises to:

Quit Iraq;
Quit NAFTA and;
Quit any recent tax cuts.

(But in order to make it happen, he has to first convince Hillary Clinton to...quit.)

In his Philadelphia speech, Senator Obama tried to give us more than just “the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube” because we didn’t the know good Reverend like he did.

Well, I think that educational gap has been bridged.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Why the Obamas have to pay more for Arugula

A wise man noted not too long ago:

“So-called progressivism is practically a self-perpetuating movement: In trying to solve problems in one generation, it creates new ones for it to solve in the future.”

Well, not too wise – apparently the process has sped up considerably:

The willingness to try, fail and try again is the essence of scientific progress. The same sometimes holds true for public policy. It is in this spirit that today, Earth Day, we call upon Congress to revisit recently enacted federal mandates requiring the diversion of foodstuffs for production of biofuels. These "food-to-fuel" mandates were meant to move America toward energy independence and mitigate global climate change. But the evidence irrefutably demonstrates that this policy is not delivering on either goal. In fact, it is causing environmental harm and contributing to a growing global food crisis.” Ethanol's Failed Promise

Ah yes, nobility in even their most obvious and predictable failures.

Just how bad the food crisis is was spelled out elsewhere in the Post:

“More than 100 million people are being driven deeper into poverty by a "silent tsunami" of sharply rising food prices, which has sparked riots around the world and threaten U.N.-backed feeding programs for 20 million children, the top U.N. food official said Tuesday.” World Faces 'Silent Tsunami' of Rising Food Prices, U.N. Food Official Says

That second article is much more reluctant to blame biofuels production; in fact, it seems to not have any clue why food prices might be rising. Here’s the only stab at the cause:

“The increasing use of crops to produce biofuels has been criticized as contributing to food shortages. While Britain and the European Union have called for greater use of biofuels, [Prime Minister] Brown said Tuesday that "we need to look closely at the impact on food prices and the environment."

Huh? How can you acknowledge a food shortage and at the same time wonder if taking food out of circulation might contribute to a food shortage? Does anyone get to wonder if watering their lawn contributes to a water shortage?

And does anyone read Adam Smith anymore?

“In some parts of the world, Sheeran [of the UN] said, the [World Food Program] needs to provide food to people who have none. In other countries, she said, food is plentiful but prices have risen so much that people cannot afford it. She said the WFP is considering programs in those countries to provide cash assistance or emergency food vouchers.

“Food experts have said such programs could help lower domestic food prices without hurting local farmers…”

So food is plentiful but the prices are too high. Well, somebody is paying those prices – prices that no one can pay don’t tend to stay around long…and high enough prices – like so much in this world – is a reason why the food is plentiful. And it is journalistic laziness to cite “food experts” on the economic effect of certain programs. In what universe do providing cash and cash equivalents somehow lower prices?

But I could be simply misreading all this as incompetence. After all, one way to reduce mankind’s carbon footprint is to reduce mankind…

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008


Stoned for Gaia

Believe it or not, Mother Earth just doesn’t get the attention she deserves which is why Earth Day is so important. Actual Earth Day is tomorrow (April 22nd) but much of the celebrating went on yesterday including a very important Green Apple Festival down at the Mall in DC – one of 8 free concerts around the country. Unfortunately, Mother Earth doesn’t always know what is best for her (which is why we have liberals) and torrential rains cut the DC event short:

“…the concert on the Mall was to have been the largest of the eight, a 7 1/2 -hour event featuring an eclectic lineup of artists and an equally eclectic group of activist speakers, from actor Edward Norton to NASA climatologist James Hansen.” A Watered-Down Lineup

(No doubt James Hansen will claim the rains were just another attempt by the Bush Administration to muzzle him.)

Writer J. Freedom du Lac is apparently the go-to guy at the Post for environmental-hysteria themed concerts and he provides plenty of examples of the concert-goers doing their bit for a cleaner tomorrow:

“In fact, the pungent odor of cannabis wafted across the east end of the Mall early and often.” [Well, at least it wasn’t cigarette second-hand smoke which I’ve heard kills just about everyone it comes into contact with.]

“Garbage bags became popular rain slickers.” [And aren’t those garbage bags made from plastic?]

“…trudged through the mud, headed back to their tour bus without having played a single note here.” [So they spewed all that fossil fuel residue into the air for nothing??]

But despite the fact that absolutely NOTHING was accomplished environmentally (I mean beyond the environmental impact of so many people traveling by bus, car and what-have-you to get together for an electrically-enhanced concert), the concertgoers can still pat themselves on the back:

“…Indiana band Umphrey's McGee, whose singer, Brendan Bayliss, said: "You're all getting wet for a good cause."

Thursday, April 17, 2008


The Land of Misogyny that is Whoville

Greg Pollowitz over at the Media Blog on NRO notes some recent blogging by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Blogger . Mr. Abdul-Jabbar is not pleased and he is particularly not pleased with the controversial movie Horton Hears a Who:

““Hey, it’s just a cartoon,” you might say. But this particular cartoon will be seen by millions of children around the world. And they will come away with a clear impression that a single son is worth more than 96 daughters. Those boys are inherently more valuable than girls, and more likely to be successful (in this case, in saving the world) than girls.” Horton hears a racist

His concern got me thinking back to his days as a player and how I almost had one more final chance to see him play. I was stationed in Saudi Arabia in the immediate aftermath of the 1st Gulf War when it was announced that Mr. Abdul-Jabbar himself was part of a exhibition Basketball Tour that was coming to various parts of Saudi Arabia, including where I was.

Well, this would have been a wonderful diversion but unfortunately the exhibition game was off-limits to women spectators. Our military commanders correctly said then that if it was off-limits to female soldiers, it was off-limits to all soldiers.

…but I’m sure all the little Saudi girls who heard about the game from their brothers were clearly impressed by the message he brought.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Media Blog on National Review Online for the link.


The Simpsons speak Truth to Power

So the word is that some Argentineans are not happy with the Simpsons. D'oh! 'Simpsons' Again Angers South Americans

Here’s the offending clip: "Plus his wife was Madonna"

How is that not funny?

Sunday, April 06, 2008


The Clinton Campaign, as sung by ABBA

Apparently Hillary Clinton and ABBA together are a natural:

The Winner Takes It All (By ABBA) starring Hillary Clinton and

Mommy Dearest, Hillary Clinton (Music Video - ABBA)

A few more and we can have a political Mama Mia.

Friday, April 04, 2008


Mortgage Crisis in Maryland is Over

One good thing about being an economic illiterate is that you can then play the populist with a clean conscience. While anyone losing their home to a foreclosure is a regrettable event, I’m still trying to figure out how mortgage companies MAKE money off it.

O'Malley Signs Foreclosure-Relief Bills

For years, while real estate prices were rising, our elected officials were coming up with more and more ways to spend the money the increased real estate was bringing to our state and local governments. You heard nary a peep from these people while all these bad loans were being made. Now that the borrowers – read: Democratic voters – are being asked to pay back what they agreed to pay back, all hell breaks loose.

Some of the new provisions sound good on paper but trust me – they will be paid for by future borrowers (“our children”?). Extending the foreclosure timetable merely means that the borrower has that much more time to not pay his mortgage and still maintain his residence (although certain exceptions to the extend timetable are in place). Chances are that additional time is NOT going towards making the place more presentable for the next purchaser.

Another quality innovation is the banning of pre-payment penalties. When I bought my condo, I willingly agreed that, in return for me not pre-paying 20% or more of my loan for the first year, I would get a very attractive first year interest rate. Now that’s illegal, meaning that if I were to try to buy a property today, that quid pro quo would not be available and I’d pay a higher rate. Thank you for saving me from myself, Annapolis (and that’s a bipartisan sarcastic “thanks” since the Republicans were on board with this too).

I leave it to our governor to capture exactly what all this means:

"There will no longer be in our state the draconian fast-track to foreclosure that has existed in the past," O'Malley said at a bill-signing ceremony in Annapolis. "People who unscrupulously try to prey upon the suffering and challenges of people who are economically vulnerable will face stiff criminal penalties when they try to profiteer on the backs of vulnerable people."

You mean like imply electric rate relief in a cynical attempt to profiteer with the votes of vulnerable people?

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Remember when Ted Turner used to be cool

As noted earlier, Ted Turner is back in the news. And then some: Ted Turner: Global warming could lead to cannibalism

(sigh) On the one hand, no one that accomplished should be considered stupid…on the other hand, he did marry Jane Fonda.

Some money quotes from the father of five:

“Turner suggested that "on a voluntary basis, everybody in the world's got to pledge to themselves that one or two children is it."

He’s suggesting that because:

"We're too many people; that's why we have global warming," he said. "Too many people are using too much stuff."

…so says the LARGEST land owner in America.

Over-population has been a longstanding cause célèbre for Mr. Turner: Turner: In his own Words

“No area is more important than managing human numbers in a sensible way," said Turner in his acceptance speech.”

Supposedly, if Ted were in charge, the world population would be a more manageable 2 billion people. Professor Walter Williams explains:

How did Turner arrive at the ideal population? He learned it from his mentor, professor Paul Erlich, author of the 1968 best-seller, "The Population Bomb."

“In that book, Erlich predicted major food shortages in the United States, and by "the 1970s ... hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." Erlich forecasted the starvation of 65 million Americans between 1980 and 1989, and by 1999 the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million. Erlich saw England in a more desperate situation, saying, "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000” Walter Williams

To give you an idea of just how not over-populated we are – at least not here in the US – consider this factoid: If we were to give every person on this country (yes, even the illegals) their very own acre of land, we would populate Texas, New Mexico and Arizona…and that’s it. The remaining 47 states could be people-less. Total Acreages of States

Of course that might entail taking some 1,999,999 acres away from Ted Turner.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Trust us, it's for your own good.

So-called progressivism is practically a self-perpetuating movement: In trying to solve problems in one generation, it creates new ones for it to solve in the future.

Ted Turner, Churches Fight Malaria

“But their new joint project has an even more ambitious goal: to stop deaths from malaria. The disease kills more than 1 million people a year _ mostly women and children under the age of 5 in Africa.”

See, this is a big problem because:

“In the early 1960s, several developing countries had nearly wiped out malaria. After they stopped using DDT, malaria came raging back and other control methods have had only modest success. “

…which is why, finally: WHO Backs Use of DDT Against Malaria : NPR

Hey, not all Nobel Prizes are for junk science.

Side Note: Forget the DDT ban; this Rachel Carson’s real crime:

Indeed, Rachel Carson was one of the reasons I became so conscious of the environment and so involved with environmental issues. Her example inspired me to write Earth in the Balance…” Silent Spring: An Introduction by Al Gore

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Tarnishing the Clinton legacy...

...which, for many of us, is like adding water to the ocean. From today’s E.J. Dionne column:

“For all Democrats, the worst thing that has happened since January is the tarnishing of the Clinton brand.…

“In light of today's economic crisis, most Americans look back fondly on the rapid and widely shared growth of the 1990s.”

Well, apparently one prominent American isn’t looking back that fondly:

“Barack Obama on Thursday laid much of the blame for America's unfolding credit crisis on the financial deregulation of the 1990s in his hardest hitting attack so far on the economic legacy of Bill Clinton's administration. “ - Obama attacks Bill Clinton's economic legacy


It sucks to be Jim McDermott

Not a great week for Congressman Jim McDermott. First we learn his “fact-finding” trip to Baghdad as part of his campaign to keep the US out of Iraq was in fact underwritten by the guy who had the most to gain by keeping the US out of Iraq: Saddam Hussein.

“A spokesman for Mr. McDermott, Michael DeCesare, yesterday said the trip had been billed as an opportunity to "see the plight of the Iraqi children." He said Mr. McDermott was invited by a Seattle church group and was unaware of any other funding.” Charity official held in Iraq trip

…in other words, he went into Iraq based on faulty intelligence.

And now we learn that Rep. McDermott is a loser in a civil suit brought on by another congressman, House Minority Leader John Boehner….and it is an expensive loss: approx. one million dollars (Ed. Note: Can anyone say “one million dollars” nowadays without hearing and picturing this?) This goes back to an instance where Congressman McDermott leaked a tape recording of a conversation that included Congressman Boehner (and other Republican congressmen, including Newt Gingrich).

This was a noble fight though:

“"This has been a long and costly battle but, in the final analysis, the judgment handed down today in the U.S. District Court is a small price to pay in defense of so fundamental a principle, and freedom, as the First Amendment," McDermott said, later adding: "While the amount of damages assessed in this case is significant, I submit that defending the First Amendment is beyond measure and worth every penny." McDermott Owes Boehner $1 Million for Legal Fees - Capitol Briefing

Yeah, the congressman has been a real stalwart on this from the beginning:

“One question that still dogs McDermott has to do with how he behaved at the beginning of the tape imbroglio. The Martins held a press conference shortly after the story broke and named McDermott as the recipient of their tape, but McDermott himself waited five years before admitting his role. In the meantime, he evaded questions and, in one case, lied. "I've never understood why he didn't tell the truth from the beginning," wrote Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat in 2004, shortly after one of McDermott's legal setbacks in the case.” The War on Jim McDermott

And his commitment to free speech is absolute…unless, of course, you want to mention a federal candidate within 60 days of an election. Vote on Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002)

Most importantly, his courageous defense of Linda Tripp’s right to record her own conversations was made without any consideration of the politics involved….(Yes – of course that last was an April Fool’s comment)


Anyone remember why they voted for Martin O'Malley?

As other MBAers have noted (Maryland Politics Today, Red Maryland), our governor has put in a supplemental budget request:

“As lawmakers worked yesterday to trim state spending to balance Maryland's budget for next year, Gov. Martin O'Malley proposed $18.2 million in new expenditures…” Amid budget struggle, O'Malley ups 'core' spending request

Here’s my favorite part of the new expenditure request:

“• $7.7 million more to help low-income families pay rising utility bills, with nearly half of that to come from the general fund budget and the rest from special funds.”

Rising utility bills? But I thought

Another related item in the news today sparks this visit to the archives (courtesy of fellow-MBAer, Stephanie Dray):

“The two slugged it out over Ehrlich's regulation commission and whether or not it should have done more to stop BGE from raising rates so drastically. This led to a blistering exchange between the two where Ehrlich told O'Malley that it was wrong to demonize his friends, and O'Malley shot back that it was worse to sell out the working people of the state out of loyalty to those friends.

“It was a hard hit on Ehrlich that he was unable to counter.”
Detailed Highlights of O'Malley-Ehrlich Debate Jousting for Justice

Well, now we have Martin O’Malley’s commission:

“[O’Malley appointee] Steven B. Larsen, chairman of the Public Service Commission, told state lawmakers yesterday that the regulatory body found no evidence of collusion in the 2005-2006 wholesale power auctions that caused a 72 percent price increase for households buying power from Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which is a subsidiary of Constellation.“There was no reason to believe that the rates weren't "just and reasonable," Larsen said.” Power auctions cleared

Can anyone point out one significant aspect of this whole BGE mess where Martin O'Malley was right and Bob Ehrlich was wrong?

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