December 31, 2003
2003 TAM Weblog Awards
This is a brand new award. My criteria are simple: the weblogs have to be on my blogroll and I have to consider them insightful, entertaining, or have some good quality to keep me coming back.
Congratulations to the winners.
2003 TAM Book Awards
And now, the TAM Book Awards:
2003 TAM Music Awards
I know you've been waiting for this all year. The TAM Music Awards are here.
Letter to Dean, M.D.
Dear Dr. Duck,
Please refrain from wearing a Green Bay Packers hat on the campaign trail. They're my favorite sports team and I don't appreciate you jumping on their playoff bandwagon just so you can pad your lead in Wisconsin. Also, they have a winning tradition which you won't know much about after you're defeated next November.
Please ignore Jonah Goldberg's ignorant comment implying the Packers are some kind of quasi-socialist organization. While they are own by shareholders, they are still a private entity. They are a great example of a community-supported enterprise that seldom needed government help. Currently, the team does receive tax-payer support for the remodeling of Lambeau Field so they wouldn't make too many libertarians happy. Let it be noted that the Packers aren't a good example of the socialistic tendencies inherent in your campaign platform.
If by some gift from God (he does work in mysterious ways) you become the next President of the United States and the Packers win a Super Bowl during your term, feel free to wear a hat with a big "G" on it. For now, stick with one of these or, more fitting, one of these.
It's not enough for Duck, M.D. to be the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. He also demands to be treated with kid gloves. If not then he threatens to keep his supporters away from the polls if he doesn't get to face President Bush next year.
Then there's also the hypocrisy where it's ok for Duck, M.D. to bash "conventional Washington politicians," but they can't try to clip his wings.
Warm Up with Something Bad
The latest Bonfire of the Vanities is up. Fortunately for me, Kevin didn't add the post I submitted.
No, I won't tell you what it was.
December 30, 2003
TAM Labels Dean "Twit"
Keeping quacking Dr. Duck. He has to be speaking only to his Net heads because calling the Bush White House "the most dangerous administration in my lifetime" will do nothing to win over conservative and swing voters.
Milwaukee's own Mark Belling, filling in for Rush Limbaugh talked about a story of a California high shcool being harassed for expressing conservative opinions. Glenn Reynolds wants the Justice Department to get involved. Isn't that overkill? And how does that tie into his idea of federalism? Or is Reynolds' federalism a "soft" federalism?
"A Dissenting Student Hounded for his Views"
Michele the Greek
I hope Michele pulls out some of her voodoo to make sure her Super Bowl prediction comes true.
I'll Stop the World and Melt for You
Sen. Joe Lieberman said Howard the Duck would "melt in a minute once the Republicans start going after him." Was he trying to make a funny? Remember some of the best ice cream is made in Duck, M.D.'s Vermont. (My tastebuds transcend ideology.)
I know nothing about the book, but just by its title alone I'm declaring Enslaved by Ducks the official book for Deaniacs.
I've got two posts that again demonstrate that Howard the Duck is the perfect name for Gov. Dean, M.D. First, Jim writes about Duck, M.D.'s hypocracy for criticizing Vice President Cheney's secret talks with energy executives while doing the same thing when he was running Vermont's government.
Second, at Jonathan Chait's Diary of a Dean-o-phobe he thinks Dr. Duck's newfound religous talk comes "across as forced and awkward, like Michael Dukakis in a tank." Chalk one up for Chait for making the first specific Dean-Dukakis link in this election.
In both cases, he's all wet.
I'm a few dozen comments away from hitting 1000. Back in September, Jim at Unix, Music, and Politics left the 500th comment and got a CD off his Amazon wish list. That's what will happen to the lucky 1000th commenter so comment away.
December 29, 2003
Those Darn Almanacs
People posessing almanacs should send up a red flag to police. At least that's what a FBI memo is saying. Will I and other booksellers be drafted into the Department of Homeland Security to monitor almanac sales? Which book is more dangerous to national security: The World Almanac or The Farmers' Almanac? This warning is on par with looking at people with binoculars with suspicion. Be wary of those bird watchers.
Duck's to Lose
James Joyner links to some polls and other than New Hampshire, Arizona, and Wisconsin, Howard the Duck has no big lead anywhere. What he is doing is holding his own in Iowa (with Gephardt), crushing John Kerry in New Hampshire, and "dominating the money primary." I'd say my prediction of Duck, M.D. getting the nomination is threatened, but the ABD (Anybody But Dean) voters are all spread out among the other candidates and none of them appear willing to drop out until its too late.
Then go read Stephen Green's thoughts on the primary season.
"The Horse Race"
Person of the Year
Enter Stage Right seeks nominations for its Person of the Year. If you can think of someone better than President Bush (none of those plural persons Time does although this year's pick was good) go here, then leave a comment to this post letting us know who you chose and why.
Less Debt for Iraq
Japan has agreed to reduce a portion of its outstanding Iraqi debt. James Baker is turning out to be an economic saint for the Middle East debtor. Chalk this up as another foreign policy achievement by President Bush. This time no stick was needed.
"Japan Ready to Write Off Majority of Iraq Debt"
Carnival of the Capitalists
This is the last Carnival of the Capitalists for 2003. What a toppsy-turvy year in the economics/business world it was. President Bush got more tax cuts passed and continued to allow the Congress to spend, spend, spend. Also, through much of the year, the economy looked to be a heavy weight on Bush's re-election chances. But in the second half of the year, things perked up. The economy grew at a rate not seen in 20 years. The stock market has rebounded, while everyone waits for jobs to be created. What will happen in 2004? Here's wishing all of you untold riches (both material and non-material) in the new year. I apologize in advance for any and all errors or misconceptions of posts. Next week's CotC will be hosted by Misty at A Special Kind of Stupid.
Let's get this party started.
Josh Cohen has given up on NASA and sees it as a waste of tax dollars.
Da Goddess has found the real reason behind an Australian kangaroo culling.
Dean Esmay found a union he wouldn't mind joining.
J. P. Carter gets the "Most Clever Post Title Award" for his "Collecting Dead Presidents from Dead Peasants." It looks at a practice where an employer gets life insurance benefits from dead employees.
Todd at A Penny For... can help you find some good business books to help pass the time during the post-holiday doldrums.
Karun Philip is about to start his Knowledge Capital Project. This innovative, grass roots idea has real promise.
Robert Prather points out something good in the recently passed Medicare bill: Health Saving Accounts "get the same tax treatment as a regular insurance policy -- meaning a company can expense it and the employee doesn't have to pay taxes on it."
For you students of technical economics, Steve Verdon got a new book for Christmas. Firms aren't the "profit maximizers" you thought they were. This is due to the incentives of employees.
Joe Kristan offers some end-of-the-year tax ideas. (As with all things legal and tax-related, check with you accountant or financial adviser.)
Professor Bainbridge looks at food regulation in light of the Mad Cow situation.
Barry Ritholtz sees 2004 as a test for supply-side economic theory.
Aunty Goob rips apart a news story on pollutants found in people.
Rob of BusinessPundit sees the business benefits of running.
Micha Ghertner at Catallarchy.net points out that capitalism's critics have to do more than use platitudes.
Mike Pechar, the Interested-Participant, posts on the rise of the gift card and its effect on after-Christmas sales.
Tony Gill writes about Canada's new Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and how it incorporates health emergencies (unlike the U.S. Department of Homeland Security).
Lesjones applies the Law of Demand to prescription drugs.
And last, but not least, Kevin points out that Howard Dean, M.D. is already calling for a federal bailout of the cattle industry in light of the Mad Cow situation.
December 28, 2003
Still Waiting for CotC?
I'm home, but due to the Packers sneaking into the playoffs (thank you, Arizona) I'm on the phone and Net trying to get tickets for next Sunday's game. Wish me luck.
UPDATE: My patience paid off. After a little over 1 1/2 hours of constant redialing, I got through and got my tickets. What a way for a big Green Bay Packers fan like me to start the new year. The CotC is on its way.
Another CotC Reminder
You still have plenty of time today to get in your entry to this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. I'll be at a family Christmas gathering today so the CotC won't be up until late this evening. So far the entries are of high quality. Now, I also want a high number. Any recent economic or business related posts are fair game. Just send the URL to capitalists -at- elhide.com.
December 27, 2003
This is from an e-mail posted on The Corner:
Wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and to let you know my wife gave me a copy of Rich Lowry's book for Christmas...she says she saw me rearranging the book display at our local Waldenbooks - replacing all of the Franken tomes with Legacy. She then thought, correctly, that I should have one in my collection.
I don't care if this person was a conservative who thinks Al Franken is full of it. He's still obnoxious and rude. If I saw this guy doing his own version of "Hey, I work in a bookstore too" I would have asked him if he needed any help while thinking, "It's people like you that give conservatives a bad name."
This is even worse than a female customer who was upset a stack of Bill O'Reilly books were right next to Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? Some people, whatever their ideology, get so upset and threatened at the mere existence of an opposing opinion. Why they even bother to turn on a tv or radio, open a newspaper, read a website, or even step out their front door is beyond me.
Best of the Worst
If I pointed out all the "Best of" lists on others' weblogs I'd have no time to enjoy this Christmas weekend. There is one list I will point out for you. Right Voices AKA Boycott Hollywood had a wild year. By pointed out the stupidity of certain Hollywood celebrities the William Morris Agency tried to shut them down. Lisa S and her crew are still at it so the attempt failed. For your pleasure and for WMA's displeasure here is Right Voices' worst quotes for 2003.
Hate Stops Help
Help and aid from all over the world is headed to Iran. Unlike the 1990 earthquake that killed 36,000, the Islamic nation isn't shunning the assistance as long as none of it is Jewish.
Officials have said this time help would be welcome from everywhere except Israel.
The mullahs should be toppled now for putting their religious bigotry above the needs of victims. This is a matter of life and death. You'd think driving the Jews into the sea could take a back seat. Heck, the U.S. has put their problems with the Iranian government aside for a little while in order to help.
My prayers are with the survivors, victims' families, and those helping.
"Stench of Death in Iran Quake City, U.S. Sends Aid"
UPDATE: Some Jews are transcending the mullahs' hate by collecting donations for the earthquake victims.
Bush: Lord of Plagues
Some Deaniacs think President Bush is behind Mad Cow Disease arriving in the U.S. As one person wrote on Duck, M.D.'s "Forum For America,
The questionable beef comes from the Pacific Northwest, typically a Democratic stronghold. Who would most benefit from the Pac NW losing so much agricultural business? How about the Midwest and Southest, i.e. Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska - hated RED states!!
The supposed Dunce-in-Chief is also a diabolical political mastermind. Amazing!
It's too easy to call these extreme members of Dean's raft crazy. I just think it's amazing that Duck, M.D. and his politicos give them such an open forum to embarass themselves and the campaign. All candidates have their wacked-out supporters. If you head over to Free Republic, I'm sure you'll find some "interesting" Bush-backers. But unlike Duck, M.D., President Bush doesn't give his kooks a soapbox. Sure, it's not as open, but the goal of a campaign is to win the election, not to give every tin foil-wearer a voice--especially when anyone can easily start a weblog and mumble to himself.
[via Jessica's Well]
TAM has made the Google top 20 for the term "Howard the Duck." If you want to do something to counter the "miserable failure" Googlebomb copy this link: Howard the Duck. It's lame and juvenille, but when has that ever stopped anyone on the Net?
Belated Weblog Anniversary
The wild and wooly Christmas shopping season is my excuse for missing TAM's 4-year anniversary. On 12.11.99, your humble weblogger uploaded his first post onto a bit of free space on Angelfire. I won't reminisce too much because it is only TAM's fourth birthday, and who gets all worked up about four years of anything (marriage excluded)? Oh, but those were the days. Weblogging by hardcoding HTML with plain old Notepad. Today, I have a fancy, schmancy CSS-based template (thanks Joni) and some spiffy software to make publishing so much easier (thanks MT guys). TAM's purpose was to force me to get in the daily writing habit. Ideally, it would lead to a paid writing gig or book project. That hasn't happened yet due to me having a poor ability to self-promote. A lesson I've learned from over four years of weblogging is just putting content on the Net isn't enough. There's too much other stuff out there competing for people's scarce attention. What I haven't learned is how to self-promote without looking (or feeling) like a linkwhore. Maybe I'll find my answer in 2004. I'll be sure to let all of you know.
I do want to thank all those who have linked to TAM over the years. More importantly, I want to thank all of you who read my screeds. Your traffic and feedback means that I'm writing more than the merely non-trivial. Thank you.
December 26, 2003
An RFID With Cheese
Forrester Research advises the use of RFID tags in the food supply chain in recall cases (like Mad Cow disease).
Graham Goes No. 2
Keep the Carnival of the Capitalists entries coming. Only a few of them are "Year in Review," "Year-End Wrap-up," or "2004 Prediction" posts. That's ok, but this week would be the most timely for them. Keep 'em coming. Since the Packers are playing a late game, you have most of Sunday afternoon to get your entries in.
I haven't asked you to help build my Kings of Chaos army in quite a while, but in the past few days an opponent has had my number and sabotaged most of my offensive and defensive weapons. So click early and often to help me rebuild and exact revenge. Then click on these fellow KoC players: Laurence, GoaticusMaximus, and Dr. Schloktopus.
Here's Howard the Duck's Christmas message:
Today, for just a single day out of the year, much of the world recognizes a day of peace. It is a day when we set aside our differences and come together to celebrate an ideal of a world free from hate, free from want and free from war.
To find out what's missing, read Matt's post at Hoystory where I found this bit of Duck, M.D. quacking.
December 25, 2003
Not Over Yet
Just because Christmas is over, don't think that me and other retail workers will be taking it easy. Schools are out until after New Year's Day and many workers take their last few days of vacation for the year. Add that to the large numbers of gift cards given this Christmas and the inevitable gift returns, and retailers will be quite busy for a while. I won't be taking a breather until the middle of January when the post-holiday doldrums set in. It won't come too soon.
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
He rules the world with truth and grace,
December 24, 2003
Mad Cow Effects
It may be a short trading day on Wall Street, but resturant stocks are getting hit because of the Mad Cow scare. But there's a possible bright side:
But some analysts said there could be a long-term benefit for restaurants as beef prices slide from recent highs.
Of course, that requires people to not be scared to eat beef.
On the futures market cattle futures are down sharply. No surprise there.
"Restaurant Stocks Drop on Mad Cow Scare"
This is a reminder that I'm hosting the last Carnival of the Capitalists for 2003. Fitting posts would include "year in review" or "look ahead" posts. Do you have an analysis of the ups and downs of the stock market? Send them my way? Do you know what a major marketing trend was this year? Let me have it. Do you know of a hot company or sector we should all be watching in 2004? Send me that too. Do you know who'll win the Nobel Prize in economics next year? Gimme, gimme, gimme. Of course, I'll accept any and all economics and business-related posts. Send all entries to capitalists -at- elhide.com.
Black Christmas for Beef Producers
The first U.S. case of Mad Cow disease has been found in Washington state. Japan, Singapore, and South Korea immediately banned U.S. beef imports. It was only a matter of time before the disease reached the U.S. Let's hope the beef industry prepared for this potentially devastating blow.
Mad Cow is related to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease [also here], a devestating neurological disease where 90% of its victims die within one year. Scientists believe both diseases are caused by prions, proteins folded in such a way as to disrupt the brain. There is no known treatment.
As for me, I'll be enjoying some nice beef roast at my family's Christmas dinner.
"First U.S. Mad Cow Case, Buyers Ban Beef Imports"
"USDA Refused to Release Mad Cow Records"
December 23, 2003
Really Freaking Out
My latest Freaks of the Week column is up at SportsBlog.org.
Joyner on the Book Biz
With this being the final few days until Christmas, work has driven me away from posting. After running around tolerating people who don't understand the idea of planning ahead I come home exhausted. Sleep and a little reading is preferrable at this time.
But I can still get myself to link to James Joyner's post on the book biz. He gives us his perspective as "an acquisitions editor with a publishing house at the mercy of the B&N's of the world."
December 22, 2003
James Joyner has an insightful post on the homeland security color threat scheme and government bureaucracy:
Since the inception of the system, we have always been in either Elevated or High status. Because the level is set by a bureacracy, it will likely always be either Elevated or High. No bureaucrat is going to be willing to take the risk of lowering the level to merely Guarded or--Heaven forfend--Low because, if they do, and an attack happens, heads would roll. Likewise, we're unlikely to see the level raised to Severe unless we're literally in the midst of an attack and already know it. No one is going to be willing to call Red Alert and then not have an attack happen.
The end result is a constant state of alert that becomes "background noise" to the public. Using public choice economics would offer a more complete analysis, but all we really have to know is that much of this is simple CYT (Cover Your Tush). Bureaucracies want to continue to exist. Setting the level too high for an attack that doesn't come is less damaging than setting the level too low and giving the public a false sense of security. However, setting the level too high puts financial stress on state and local governments. These bureaucracies pressure Congressmen who pressure the Department of Homeland Security. The equilibrium color is yellow, the color the scheme started with.
Don't tell PETA.
CotC Now Available
The Bejus Pundit hosts this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. Yours truly will be hosting next week. Get those economic and business posts in. I'm really interested in takes on the Christmas shopping season. Was it good in your neck of the woods or lackluster? Notice any trends? Another good topic is last-minute tax advice or important changes for 2004. Of course any subject-related posts are welcome. Tell your friends, family, and friends' family about the CotC. I want to be really busy on Sunday collecting all the entries. Send all entries to capitalists -at- elhide.com.
Why is This News?
Even the NY Times reporter admits President Bush's parties are "standard seasonal events, with many of the same guests and much the same menu year after year, no matter the president." Is this just to make Bush appear to be a man out of touch with most Americans while living it up with people who have special access to him? Will Howard the Duck be using elements of this story in his irritatingly populist rhetoric?
WI Reporter Weblogging in Iraq
Favre's Dad Dies
Brett Favre's father passed away last night. He was only 58.
Will Favre play in tonight's game? Will this tragedy end Brett's 204 game streak of starting as Green Bay's quarterback? Will his father's death do what drug addiction and injuries couldn't do: stop him from playing?
As someone who's dealt with death in the past few months, Brett's comfort zone has been totally disturbed. For him, his father was his football coach and his biggest fan. Knowing Irv won't be watching him play could be a tremendous distraction. Or it could give Brett the amazing focus needed to pull off a performance for the ages as a testimony to his father.
I don't care if Brett plays or not. That's not the important thing right now. Coping with one's own loss and comforting others is what's most important. Brett's family wants him to play. Football is in their blood, and that may help all of them. Whatever he chooses to do, I support him (like that really matters). Playoffs come and go. In the end, it's just a game. It's just a way to escape from the real world for a few hours.
I offer Brett and his family my deepest sympathy. Godspeed, Irvin.
"Favre's Father Dies Suddenly"
Devoted Duck Watchers
Add the Question Dean Blog to the list of Duck, M.D. watchers. It's filled with plenty of satire as well as tough criticism.
I will be making an announcement soon regarding TAM and Dr. Duck.
December 21, 2003
Some Thoughts on the Book Biz
Interesting. As one on the other end of the book business--an acquisitions editor with a publishing house at the mercy of the B&N's of the world--I always just assumed that such efforts were a way for the book chains to keep more shelf space devoted to schlock books that are almost pure profit.
I'm sure there are plenty of things B&N does that's not in the best interests of their customers or publishers (Some publishers won't sell through B&N). The company is no more virtuous than any other. To tell you the honest truth from the front lines of retail bookselling: we don't care who's books we sell. The goal of my superiors from the store level on up is to put the book the customer wants in their hand. If it's a B&N house title, fine; if it's someone else's, fine too. What B&N does by expanding its publishing business is inject some more competition in certain markets (classics, crafts, some cooking).
James' mention of returns is interesting. I've read comments (don't know of any links) from Len Riggio saying how much he hates returns. At a store-level it can be a waste of time. It does give store managers and company buyers the flexiblity to take a chance with a book, but that risk then is on the shoulders of the publishers.
Then there are the deep discounts. I'd like to say that if the base prices were lower to begin with then there would be no need for the discounts. However, that doesn't take into account the economics of physically making a book and the tough barganing of huge retailers like Target and Wal-Mart who get more favorable prices than B&N (but sacrifice that with a lack of selection).
I think more experimentation is needed. So far, e-books are a bust, but maybe print-on-demand technology will help alleviate the need to print lots of books that may be returned and allow non-blockbuster titles with little-known authors to make a profit.
Barlow Joins Blogosphere
It feels like 1994 all over again. A tech company prepares for a big IPO and John Perry Barlow has a weblog. When will Wired paste "BLOG" all over one of its issues like they did with "push" technology?
Welcome, John. The more, the merrier.
Promoting Big Government
Another reason not to donate to my alma matter:
The University of Minnesota-Duluth is planning on offering a new weekend Masters Degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership. It’s a program designed for people who want to make the world a better place…through advocacy and political activity.
Why don't they just call it a "Masters Degree in Expanding Government." It's safe to assume the student body will be dominated by Lefties.
Time Person of the Year
"Contradictions on Foreign Policy"
On Thursday, the Washington Post was pretty harsh on Howard the Duck. The editorial said,
The former Vermont governor has compiled a disturbing record of misstatements and contradictions on foreign policy; maybe he will shift yet again, this time toward more responsible positions.
It goes on to say,
His most serious departure from the Democratic mainstream is not his opposition to the war. It is his apparent readiness to shrink U.S. ambitions, in Iraq and elsewhere, at a time when the safety of Americans is very much at stake.
When Duck, M.D.does get the nomination will the Post bend over backwards to offer some kind of reason to endorse him over President Bush? If the paper ends up backing Bush then a Bush-Dean race could be the landslide many Democrats fear.
This does benefit Duck, M.D. in his claim that he's challenging the "Washington Democrats."
Bush Benefits from Improving Economy
An AP poll finds public support increased for President Bush's handling of the economy. Right now, 55% approve and 43% disapprove. Last month, 46% approved, while 51% disapproved. The first thing to notice is how quickly public opinion moved. Second, other than dropping the steel tariffs, Bush hasn't done anything in the past month to deserve praise. In fact, the signing of the prescription drug expansion to Medicare will do long-term harm to the economy. What probably did more to boost people's spirits was the good economic news from the government and the rise in stock market indices [Dow Jones, NASDAQ, S&P 500] and a decrease in gasoline prices.
This is another reason to discount a poll from a rationally uninformed sample.
Bombs Over Brookings
I consider myself pretty well-versed in recent U.S. history. That's why I was shocked to hear that people in the Nixon White House considered bombing the Brookings Institution in order to steal damning documents in their possession. I don't know how in the last few days I stumbled upon this piece of information, but it's been floating around since at least 1982 where this Atlantic article very briefly mentions it. How did I miss this all these years?
"Nixon Aide Tells of Talk about Bombing Brookings Think Tank"
Duck's Mouth Hurts Him Again
Will Duck's, M.D. (is this the correct grammer?) raft realize their candidate and cult leader is a baffoon for shooting his mouth off. He could make a case (albeit, a weak one) that Saddam's capture doesn't make American safer, but he didn't stop there. Duck, M.D. went on to claim "We are no safer today than the day the planes struck the World Trade Center." Al Qaeda was blasted in Afghanistan, bin Laden is in hiding, Iraq's not funding terrorism, Libya has given up its WMD, and there has been no attacks on the U.S. mainland since Sep. 11. In what way are we less safe?
Howard Dean's strategy may be to demonstrate that he isn't the wacked-out Lefty the Right thinks he is; but his ridiculous statements make him appear to be an ignorant fool.
December 20, 2003
Kevin Holtsberry is plugging my company's Collectors Library. Let me add that this is part of the company's efforts to make books more affordable.
"Barnes and Noble Collectors Library"
"Poor" Little Rich Girls
I gave up on The Simple Life after the second episode. Based on Tom Johnson's review of the most recent episode, I'm not missing much. The review re-confirms my belief that Paris and Nichole are the ones leading the "simple life" not the average Joes and Janes they're living and working with.
"The Simple Life Turns Sour"
December 19, 2003
Libya Abandons WMD
Libya's abandoning of WMD is one heck of a foreign policy victory for the President Bush. Without firing a shot, Gadhafi gave up. Bush bashers and members of Duck, M.D.'s raft may try to argue that diplomacy can be just as effective as war. And since war has all that destruction, they would argue diplomacy is the more moral option. Let's look at the timeline here. From the AP story:
In London, Blair said Libya had approached Britain and the United States in March, after successful negotiations on Lockerbie, to see if it could "resolve its weapons of mass destruction issues in a similar manner."
Gadhafi started talks at the time of the final military build-up and invasion. Would the dictator have even bothered if he didn't think the U.S. and U.K. were willing to go to war if necessary? I'm sure Gadhafi's reasons for abandoning WMD development are more complex than that. From my very casual following of Libyan news Gadhafi wants to bring Libya out of the international hinterlands. There may be domestic politics involved that would explain a part in his actions, but I'm very sure a possible military confrontation played a role.
Also note that Bush didn't publically threaten Libya. Diplomacy was used. Non-U.N., non-French diplomacy to be exact.
Combine this news with Iran agreeing to international nuclear inspectors, and one can make a pretty credible case that President Bush's muscular policy is having a positive effect.
Surfing the blogosphere, James Joyner asks, "Could it be that the 'you're either with us or you're against us' line is actually having positive results?" It's hard to say it isn't. The outlier is North Korea. Hindrocket at Power Line is happy writing, "if the administration's tough line can yield results like these, its wisdom should be beyond question." HipperCritical has a wide range of links on this story. To give you an idea how knee-jerk Bush bashers are taking this news, here's an Oliver Willis quote:
You mean we can stop WMDs without invading and occupying nations? Unpossible!
"Libya to Give Up Weapons Programs"
UPDATE: Oliver reminds me that he thinks Blair and Bush did a good job. So I'll take back calling him a "knee-jerk Bush basher" in this instance. Oliver caught me. Me bad, me sorry. I'll try not to be so knee-jerk myself.
Clash of Cultures
Will John Rhys-Davies ever get a job in Hollywood again for saying stuff like this:
By 2020, 50% of the children in Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent. You look and see what your founding fathers thought of the Dutch. They are constantly looking at the rise of democracy and Dutch values as being the very foundation of American Democracy. If by the mid-century the bulk of Holland is Muslim—and don’t forget, coupled with this there is this collapse of numbers ... Western Europeans are not having any babies. The population of Germany at the end of the century is going to be 56% of what it is now. The populations of France, 52% of what it is now. The population of Italy is going to be down 7 million people. There is a change happening in the very complexion of Western civilization in Europe that we should think about at least and argue about. If it just means the replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, that doesn’t matter too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western civilization with a different civilization with different cultural values, then it is something we really ought to discuss—because, g**dammit, I am for dead white male culture.
He even realizes that "what I’ve been saying [is like] blasphemy."
How Jonathon Chiat got away with running an anti-Dean weblog for almost a week and I not knowing just goes to show you how mentally draining working in retail during Christmas is. Diary of a Dean-o-Phobe will be a fun daily read for all us anti-Duckers even if Chiat's dislike for the man has little rational basis (like his Bush hatred). Now, I just have to get Chiat to call him "Howard the Duck" just once (and/or get a link).
December 18, 2003
Another Something New I've Learned
Hopefully, this post won't need a correction.
Marquette University has an extensive J.R.R. Tolkien collection including the original manuscript of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Author Wayne Hammond said Marquette's collection is "one of the two most important in the world, together with that at the Bodleian Library in Oxford."
"Marquette Expanding Tolkien Collection"
Really Freaking Out
It's late. Really late. Two days late. But Week 15's Freaks of the Week is posted at SportsBlog.org.
December 17, 2003
Learned Something New
Blaster's a pilot. I didn't know that.
UPDATE: Like the New York Times, I have to make a correction. Pittspilot is a co-weblogger at Blaster's Blog who is the pilot. I may have been wrong, but I've still learned something new.
I quote Thomas Kean head of the Sep. 11 investigation:
There are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in at that time because they failed. They simply failed.
My first pick would be CIA chief George Tenet. Why he still has his job, I don't know.
Still Wrong on Saddam
For Howard the Duck, capturing Saddam didn't make America safer, but Taegan Goddard found this quote from Duck, M.D. last year:
There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies.
Not quite yet. There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies. The question is, is he an immediate threat? The president has not yet made the case for that.
Dean stuck with the idea that Saddam had to be an immediate threat to justify war. Let's go to President Bush's State of the Union speech. He shot down this argument that could make for a pretty good commerical contrasting Bush and Duck, M.D.:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
Removing and capturing Saddam eliminated a threat (even if not imminent or immediate). That, by definition, makes America safer.
The Bush administration's great efforts to get free trade agreements makes it even more frustrating when they try to buy votes like they did with the steel tariffs.
James Baker is doing amazing work on reducing Iraq's debt. In a little over two weeks, he's moved France and Germany from being totally recalcitrant to not requiring a new Iraqi government to be in place before debt is reduced. Russia will require its companies have access to rebuilding contracts. It's all a part of the Bush strategy I surmised last week.
I did enjoy John Cole's rip on Howard the Duck:
If only Howard Dean had taken the time to teach former Secretary Baker and President Bush about foreign affairs, instead of just teaching them about defense, perhaps that could have been negotiated today. Howie will soon save us all, I guess.
Can anyone explain to me why the union opposes this particular restructuring of A-Rod's contract? What do they have to gain or protect?
"Union Rejects Changes to A-Rod's Contract"
Wisconsin Packers fans have an explanation why the first few minutes of the game against San Diego was missed:
Fox 11 did not broadcast the start of the Packers game at San Diego Sunday.
Not only was Ahman Green's touchdown run missed, but his team-record breaking run was too. He passed Jim Taylor for most yards rushing in a season for a Packer.
"WLUK GM: Fox Admits it Goofed"
Card Pulls No Punches
This is amazing, hard-hitting stuff by Orson Scott Card. In essence, he calls Howard the Duck, and the anti-war Democrats "unpatriotic." He also bashes the media for their "yes-but" approach to coverage of the war and economy. Some of this criticism could also be applied to a few Left-wing weblogs.
Austrian Econ Apparel
"What the World Needs Now"
Anarchy Lew is Off His Rocker
PunchtheBag found a real doozy from my favorite anarchist, Lew Rockwell. It seems Saddam wasn't that bad since he ran a "non-Islamic regime, and protected the Christians." In Anarchy Lew's twisted morality human suffering by the state is not as bad as long as the Christians are protected. As long as Muslims are the subject of brutal oppression it's all right to turn a blind eye and deaf ear. Now, that's not to say oppression justifies a U.S. invasion. It doesn't. It isn't a necessary nor sufficient condition. What we have seen from Anarchy Lew a bit of ugly non-Christian bigotry along with some factual errors (see PunchtheBag's post). It's a remark like this that makes me glad his ilk doesn't join the mainstream Right in our common fight for liberty and smaller government. They can stay on the sidelines and away from us non-bigots.
At least fellow weblogger, Bill Barnwell was happy Saddam was captured.
"Worse than Nebuchadnezzar"
"Morning-After" Pills Next to the Tylenol
Selling Plan B, a "morning-after" pill, over the counter might not be as bad as I first thought. The pill is a massive dose of hormones that can prevent fertilization (My views aren't as strict as those of the Catholic Church). But it can also prevent a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the uterus. When that happens it's a chemical abortion, and that's my problem with it. If a pill could be made where only fertilization was prevented, my opposition would be cease. Regardless of my moral concerns, an FDA advisory panel recommended morning-after pill be sold as easily as asprin.
Pass the Marshmellows
The latest Bonfire of the Vanities is up. Read 'em and weep. Really. They're that bad.
December 16, 2003
Read It and Weep
Yesterday, Howard Dean, M.D. gave his foreign policy speech that was suppose to fill in the holes of his most glaring weakness. Oh, what a lurch to the center. actually had the gall to call the current administration "radical." Much of it sounds like it was taken from President Bush's speeches. However, Dean's speech contains a significant falsehood.
The difficulties and tragedies we have faced in Iraq show that the administration launched the war in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with inadequate planning, insufficient help, and at unbelievable cost. An administration prepared to work with others in true partnership might have been able, if it found no alternative to Saddam's ouster, to then rebuild Iraq with far less cost and risk.
Dean continues the canard that the U.S. went into the Iraq War alone. If that's the case, then what are those British, Polish, Italian, and Spanish soldiers doing hanging around Iraq? Did they come for a ring-side seat at a guerilla resistance movement? Later on Dean wacks the Bush administration for choosing "unilateral action as our weapon of first resort." If that's what happened then the U.S. would have toppled Saddam much sooner instead of taking time to bend over backwards to please the French.
Seriously, the blame for other nations not joining the "Coalition of the Willing" lie with France, Germany, Russia, and those that refused to join. Months and months of diplomacy both across the globe and at the U.N. were tried to convince unwilling countries that finally dealing seriously with Saddam was critical to the security of the free world. The "Coalition of the Unwilling" wasn't convinced. Some of the resistance was due to those countries not particularly liking President Bush. Much of the resistance was animosity toward the U.S. France and other coutries saw Iraq as an opportunity to knock the United States' global stature down a notch. They fear the continued American Century more than the Islamist threat.
As for less cost and risk, if the coalition were bigger, Dean has made a point, but only a slight one. A larger coalition would have spread out the cost of the war and rebuilding as well as risk to soldiers across more nations. So the U.S.'s relative costs and risks would have been less, but the total costs and risks would still be the same.
Dean's theme in this speech is that the U.S. shouldn't have gone into Iraq until it convinced more countries to help fight. But what about what actually happened? France, Germany, and Russia said, "No." They weren't going to help free Iraq. German President Gerhardt Schroeder used anti-American and anti-war fervor to win a narrow re-election while France claimed that oodles of U.N. resolutions should be ignored because it finally found a way to stymie American "hyperpower." In his speech, Dean said, "America should never be afraid to act alone when necessary." Fine words, but doesn't answer this question: If no other country was willing to invade Iraq, would you have sent in U.S. forces? A related question is this: How long would you have tried to build a larger coalition knowing that Saddam was in possession of WMD (at least that was the conventional wisdom that not even war opponents denied)?
But wait, there's more:
The Iraq war diverted critical intelligence and military resources, undermined diplomatic support for our fight against terror, and created a new rallying cry for terrorist recruits.
If it wasn't Iraq, something else would have been Islamist terrorist recruiters' ralling cry. If Osama bin Laden was under siege in Pakistan, Islamists would be encouraging people to march upon the location to aid with the monster's last stand as well as calling for attacks upon the U.S. to try and break the will of the American public. Dean is critical, but he really hasn't thought this through at all. Knee-jerk Bush bashing helps pump up his followers and gets them to "hit the bat"--his nickname for donating to the campaign.
Here's an example of sloppy thinking on Dean's part:
We have, rightly, paid much attention to finding and eliminating the worst people, but we need just as vigorous an effort to eliminate the worst weapons. Just as important as finding bin Laden is finding and eliminating sleeper cells of nuclear, chemical, and biological terror.
The problem with WMD isn't that they exist. It's that the wrong people have them or are trying to get them. Great Britain, France, and Russia all have nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons yet the U.S. isn't planning on invading them to make sure they don't fall into terrorists' hands.
Let's finish this up with another example of Duck, M.D.'s loose lips. In the speech, he said, "[T]he capture of Saddam has not made America safer." An Iraq without Saddam was the whole key to the war. Saddam's Iraq in possession of WMD (at least in the past) threatened his neighbors and the U.S. Saddam' links to terrorism (housing Abu Nidal, funding Palestinian homicide bombers) only made him that more threatening. Now that he's been captured, it's assured he will never have the controls of a state to use for his evil intentions. That makes America safer. Dean can't see that and exemplifies Sen. Joe Lieberman's hard-hitting attack on him.
The speech was filled with lots of what was bad about President Bush's foreign policy and vague notions of what Howard Dean would do as President. What Duck, M.D. displayed was how unsophisticated his thinking is. The ideas sound like they came out of the mouth of a undergraduate foreign relations student. Yesterday, along with this important speech, Dean announced his foreign policy advisors. Many of them have extensive foreign policy experience. Unfortunately for Duck, M.D., none of them impressed any wisdom upon him.
Lieberman Plucks Duck
Sen. Joe Leiberman (D-CT) isn't letting up on Howard the Duck. Today, in New Hampshire, he said,
He seems to believe if you are just against everything, that's enough. Against removing Saddam Hussein, against middle-class tax cuts, against knocking down the walls of protection around the world so we can sell more products made in America. Dr. Dean has become Dr. No.
"Lieberman Sharpens Criticism of Howard Dean's Foreign Policy"
He Doesn't Like Duck
Alex Knapp has some good reasons not to vote for Howard the Duck:
After 9/11, he said that we needed to erode civil liberties to catch terrorists. Now he lambasts the PATRIOT Act.
In Alex's words, "I think that evidence is mounting that Howard Dean is, like most politicians, just a naked opportunist who sticks his finger in the wind to decide where he wants to go." It's too late for his followers to listen. They've already drank too much of his kool-aid and will stick with him until the bitter end.
"Howard Dean--Naked Opportunist"
Baker Already Succeeding
It didn't take James Baker very long to find some success in reducing Iraq's debts. Also, the carrot-and-stick approach seems to be working. France is already willing to eliminate some of its debt in a deal put together next year. France wants to tie it to the establishment of a new Iraqi government. Since the plan is to shift sovereignty to them next summer, the U.S. and its diplomatic adversary are on the same page. On the rebuilding contracts front, the administration says its remains open to discussion.
"U.S., Germany, France Agree Iraq Needs Debt Relief"
Dean and Iraqi Classical Music
My response to Howard Dean's foreign policy speech will have to wait until daylight. I'm beat from dealing with too many Christmas shoppers. I'm at the point where I'd wish the Pope would declare that Christmas is canceled for this year due to too great an emphasis on buying stuff.
On a postive note, Eric Pfeiffer has a story on the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra's performance in Washington, D.C. Before the concert, Colin Powell (may God bless him) told the audience, "Witness the historic re-entry of Iraqi culture to the world stage. This wonderful orchestra is a symbol of normal life returning to Iraq." Here here!
Then ScrappleFace reports on Howard the Duck's other response to Saddam's capture.
"Dean Demands Saddam's Release, Recapture by U.N."
December 15, 2003
Quacking About Foreign Policy
A response to Howard the Duck, M.D.'s foreign policy speech will have to wait until I'm done with work late tonight. My first impression is that Dean's attempt to move toward the center is filled with as much serious policy thinking as that of a college student studying foreign relations.
Until then, chew over this Washington Post story on Duck, M.D.'s move to the center on foreign policy. Here's an interesting quote I noticed on Instapundit:
Though Dean has repeatedly criticized Bush for failing to win international support for the Iraq war, for instance, in June 1998 he defended Clinton's bombing of Iraq by arguing on the Canadian program, "I don't think we could have built an international coalition to invade or have a substantial bombing of Saddam."
"Dean Working to Be Seen as Foreign Policy Centrist"
Zombyboy Attacks Raft
Zombyboy goes off on Duck, M.D. commenters. If you didn't get enough of my selections, check his out.
Rosemary, "Good" Dean's wife, just had a field day with Howard the Duck's take on foreign policy and right-to-work laws. The more Duck, M.D. talks, the more polarizing he is. What this does is make his base (followers) just go crazy with passion. They eat this stuff up. At the same time, Bush backers get reved up too. Such excited political bases mean next year's election won't be a Goldwater or McGovern-like landslide. Bush will win, but that's as firm a prediction as I'm going to make.
December 14, 2003
Econ Links. Yummy!
samaBlog hosts this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.
Dial "M" for Moron
I never thought someone would be so obnoxious as to one-up Terrell Owens in the touchdown celebration department, but New Orleans' Joe Horn did that. After his second touchdown catch he made a call with a mobile phone that was hidden in the goal post padding.
Kevin is checking the vote totals for accuracy, but it's clear TAM didn't win the Large Mammals Category. It's not like I expected to since I was competing with the likes of Roger Simon and Professor Bainbridge. I'd like to say I was just glad to be nominated, but I nominated myself. Anyway, it was fun, and I found some interesting weblogs.
Kevin's exercise has convinced me to add a weblog category in this year's TAM Awards. I'll try to post the method of this maddness in a few days. If you think you have a weblog that you think deserves this award leave a comment or e-mail me.
The reactions from Howard Dean's followers are wide-ranging. There are many who are proud of the efforts of our troops in capturing Saddam. Some don't want this victory politicized by anyone. There are some almost neo-isolationists like a commentor named "turn" who wrote,
HEY GUYS WAKE UP!!!
There's the conspiratorial such as one commentor quoting a comment from another post that reads, "It seems the capture of Saddam is some huge success--ignoring the real motivation for invading Iraq, which was not to protect us, but to protect Bush's financial interests, etc." "Pat_K" thinks Saddam's trial is already rigged:
Whether an Iraqi court or world court, given that no weapons of mass destruction have been found, won't the legitimacy of the U.S. "pre-emptive" invasion come into question as part of any war crimes trial of Saddam? Or is the notion that this question can be avoided by "keeping it local" (in the hands of the Iraqis...largely under the control of the U.S.).
"REAL DEM" thinks this:
Some have said that a live Saddam might be a problem for Bush because he'll tell the truth about Republican support of his regime in the 1980's when he's put on trial.
"Anamericanabroad" believes "In this administration there are no coincidences, this just shows how frightened the DNC/DLC and the GOP are of keeping their jobs."
There's the display of historical ignorance:
The capture of Sadam is a victorie for the Iraqi people and the coalition forces. On this occassion I would like to thank the American armed forces: good work.
Democracy has never been the norm in the Middle East. Turkey and Israel are the only free democracies in the region.
There's the eerily cultish comment:
Don't forget--Dean has us--and that's what will carry him through this media rapture with Hussein's capture.
Then there's the cynical, political analysis like this from "Carrie B":
I can't believe this. I'm crying here. I feel that we now don't have a chance in this election.
Here's one from "gg" (don't these people have real names?):
I am feeling pretty upset as well. I think our chances are dropping fast.
But mostly it's the feeling that they're still right in opposing the war. Here's Silhouette's (who actually has a weblog) comment:
It is a trimuph for human rights that Saddam Hussein was captured. We should thank the troops and the intelligence gathering that we have caught him.
[via a small victory]
*According to this bird web page a group of ducks is called a "raft." I've never heard the word used that way before.
Doing My Best Cheney Impression
Fox News just reported an explosion in Baghdad. For up-to-the-second coverage go to The Command Post. TAM will be off to an undisclosed location to eat good food, drink good beer, and (hopefully) watch a Packers victory. I don't know if I will post until this evening.
The Complicated World We Live In
Michael Van Winkle has a cogent post on Iraq rebuilding contracts. In his argument he sees this as a free-rider problem:
The whole world benefits from the coalition’s actions in Iraq. So if you’re a foreign country, there is not much incentive to join the coalition because you know they are going to overthrow Saddam with or without you. Your benefit is the same whether you pay or not. Leaving contract bidding unrestricted enhances this effect even more. This would be a disaster for future American campaigns. We would expect that fewer and fewer countries would participate unless they had an immanent security threat, even if the whole world agreed that the campaign would be beneficial.
President Addresses Nation
I just watched President Bush's brief statement. Here are some quotes:
"His capture was critical to the rise of a free Iraq."
To Iraqi people:
To American people:
"We Got Him"
Note in Saddam's capture that he was found in a spider hole on a farm. Over five months passed since President Bush declared major war operations over. It took that long to find one man. We shouldn't be surprised that WMD hasn't been found yet.
"Without Firing a Shot, U.S. Forces Detain Ex-Iraqi Leader"
To follow the news as its made periodically visit The Command Post.
"Roundup of Saddam Stories"
UPDATE II: Fox News is reporting a rumor that Saddam's location may have bee given away by a tipster. If so, that person may have earned the $25 million bounty on that thug's head. Note: this was only a brief mention, but I'll be keeping my ears peeled on this angle.
Let's be real clear... If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam would be in power, not in prison.
Now why couldn't Joe have said this stuff a few months ago? Is it because the Democratic base so full of anti-war/anti-Bush rage they wouldn't listen?
December 13, 2003
Someone Smack Sony on the Nose
Sony Music is not listening to the cries of their customers who want more music for less. While Universal Music Group has begun rolling out their CD price-reduction plan (not as broad as I hoped), Sony tries to double dip into Thorns fans' pockets by putting out a new version of their debut album with a bonus acoustic CD which came out just this past May. For those who haven't purchased the album, getting it now is a sweet deal. Two disks for under $14 dollars on Amazon. But for those of us who already are enjoying the lush harmonies we're peeved to have to buy the album again.
Technically, I wouldn't consider Harry Browne a paleolibertarian. However, this violent fisking was inspired by a Steve of Norway post that linked to my post responding to the paleo ruckus earlier this week. It may be two parts removed, but it's close enough, and Browne's foreign policy makes Duck, M.D.'s seem imperialistic.
For what it's worth, like Steve, I'm also on the Loompanics mailing list. I also recently gave some money to Free-Market.net. Since they're owned by ISIL, they sent me a membership card, making me a "card-carrying libertarian." If they only knew I was a "warmonger" bent on American imperialism. Although I don't believe ISIL has an organizational position on the Iraq War.
"Why I Will Never Vote Libertarian Ever Again"
"Why I'm Not a Big L-ibertarian"
To Democratic Supporters who Oppose Howard the Duck:
Please continue to make ads like this one. President Bush may be a campaign fundraising machine, but it's nice to see attacks on his soon-to-be opponent without having it cost him a dime.
Please make this Democratic race as ugly and bloody as possible. It will be great entertainment for us Right-wing political junkies, plus it will help the President get re-elected.
Duck Starts Flying to the Center
Duck, M.D. actually has a foreign policy that goes beyond his typical opposition to the Iraq War. These interviews on foreign policy issues is a sure sign Dean even thinks the Democratic nomination is his to lose. Not a single primary or caucus has been held and he's already moving to the center. Here's an interesting quote from the Washington Post story:
Indeed, Dean suggested that on some issues, the difference between Bush and himself was more of tone and temperament.
Will this bother his anti-war, anti-Bush followers? We'll have to watch for any cries of "sellout" from Duck, M.D.'s flock.
December 12, 2003
With all the traffic I got for my spot-on take on Rockwellians, I had to dig out the post where I tell the world why the word "Anarchy" always precedes Lew Rockwell's name on TAM. I've been critical of Anarchy Lew Rockwell's take on politics for years. Here's what I wrote back in 2000 (when I was in the weblogging Dark Ages hand coding posts to an Angelfire account):
I'm so tired of Lew Rockwell's rhetoric. He's a proud and able defender of the free market, but when it comes to talking politics, I'm sick of his bashing. He already wants to hate GW's administration before he even beats AlGore or implements one policy. He calls Dick Cheney a "mouthpiece for the military-industrial complex." I guess I'm a mouthpiece too because I support a strengthening of the U.S. military after the defunding and demoralization of eight years of Clinton/Gore. Rockwell then calls the Bush/Cheney ticket "an all-oil ticket, one with a history of war-making and war-profiteering." He also offers some silly conspiracy theory about the real reason for going to war against Iraq.
Karen De Coster was observant enough to know that TAM is an original "Paleo-watcher," maybe the original. However, I do not hate Anarchy Lew Rockwell. In college in the mid-90s, I was graced with receiving copies of the Mises Institute's Free Market newsletter, and loved the stuff. I didn't agree with everything in it then or now, but it was refreshingly radical. My problem isn't with Anarchy Lew's economics, it's with his hidden-in-the-closet anarchism. She then goes on to claim that "Mr. Rockwell needs to be schooled by Mr. Hackbarth if Lew wants to really learn about Rothbard. Uh huh." I said nothing of the sort in this post.
Throughout De Coster's post is the air of snobbery. She knows the Truth devined by Murray Rothbard and other libertarian thinkers. I don't need to attack or defend Rothbard. He wrote more than De Coster and I could ever write. It's just that any opposition to her (and her fellow Paleolibertarians') worldview is treated with so much derision. I'm "simplistic, vapid, uninformed." Her snobish tone about my occasional Paleowatch posts (which are about responding to wacky Paleos, thus the name) and her not actually reading many of my posts feels as though the words "simplistic, vapid, uninformed" are better applied to her. And who cares what TAM's Alexa ranking is? I TAM was only about generating traffic, then it would have been abandoned long ago.
This attitude proves PunchtheBag's arguement that Paleos have nothing constructive to offer the American body politic. There are people like Robert Prather and myself who are fans of the thinking of Mises and Hayek. Together, Paleos and other members of the Right could work together on issues they agree with to fight back against Leviathan. We libertarian sympathizers might even be pursuaded that anarcho-capitalism is a realistic, non-utopian political program. But Paleos like De Coster brush us aside for not being pure enough. The only ones smiling are the socialists--of both parties, to steal Hayek's phrase--who have that much less opposition to their plans of bigger and bigger government.
Bablu Blog held a BlogCuba day today. Great idea, because just 90 miles off the U.S. coast sits a prison nation just waiting to burst from its shackles and join the league of free nations.
At that weblog I found an awful piece of propaganda from the Granma, Castro's "journalistic" mouthpiece. Over three years ago when I was passionately covering Elian Gonzalez's story I knew Castro would use that little boy as a propaganda tool. I was right, that's exactly what Fidel has done to Elian. To celebrate Elian's 10th birthday, Castro declared that Cuba has "made a utopian dream reality." It's such a utopia that people clammor to escape.
Kevin Aylward is right to call for the end of travel restrictions to Cuba. I'd even go so far as to call for the end of the embargo. Castro's survived all these measures that were designed to remove him from power. After all these years of failure something new must be tried. We shouldn't bother crushing them with our military (It's too busy fighting the Islamist War). Instead, we should crush them with our economy and our ideas of freedom.
"Cuba Has Made a Utopian Dream Reality"
Matthew Stinson has a picture of Howard the Duck, M.D. and is looking for some captions.
John Cole wants to be "one of the first people arrested next year for violating" the BCRA. I've joined up with Matthew Hoy and wonder if FEC agents are armed?
Death Over the Counter
The idea of dropping into the local Wallgreens, putting a few bucks down, and getting some morning-after pills to kill your unborn child is barbaric. What would come next, do-it-yourself partial-birth abortion kits? Here we have technology attempting to make up for personal mistakes. The price to be paid is in the blood of dead children. Will we learn that there isn't a technological fix for everything?
I'm not begging, I'm pleading. Please vote for TAM in the Weblog Awards. I can promise nothing but a smiling face from me and warm spot in your heart. Unless you had some spicy food for dinner in which case you should get some Pepto Bismal.
December 11, 2003
Matthew Gross, Duck, M.D.'s chief weblogger had underestimated President Bush's tactic in regards to Iraqi reconstruction contracts. Bush sustained the new policy that only companies from countries that are part of the war coalition can bid on the major contracts (but they can be subcontractors). Here's an key item from the LA Times:
The president made no mention of specific nations. But in a clear reference to France, Russia and Germany — key targets of a U.S. effort being led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III to restructure Iraq's staggering international debt, estimated at $125 billion — Bush suggested that he might look more favorably on those who helped ease Iraq's current financial problems, even if they had not contributed militarily or financially to the war effort.
Carrot, meet stick. And with this Bush could do some major damage on Iraq's huge debt. If the President pulls this off Iraq's future is more secure, he can claim a substantial foreign policy victory, and Duck, M.D.'s chances at beating him become dimmer.
"Bush Stands Firm on Iraq Contracts"
Slartibartfast tells the story of his family's first adoption. This culture war isn't just playing the role of the critic. It also involves sharing the joy of a family being formed.
"The First Adoption"
"First Adoption, Part II"
Quack Quack Quack
How can I not respond to the nasty, uncivil Dean rally in NYC Monday night. It won't be hard for the GOP to alienate Duck, M.D. from the public because he's doing well on his own. We shouldn't be surprised Duck, M.D. hangs around these types. He let the foul-mouthed Elaine Cho post some dreadful rap on his official weblog.
Then notice that Duck, M.D. was giddy the Supreme Court made it legal for Congress to restrict political speech despite the clear words of the First Amendment.
"GOP Hopes to Paint Dean as the New McGovern"
What a Plan
Matthew Hoy wants to challenge the BCRA (McCain-Feingold Free Speech Restriction Act). Here's his plan:
My suggestion is to somehow pool enough money, via donations or some other method (I'm a poor journalist), and run a 30-second ad during primetime on CNN either just before the Super Tuesday primaries or the November general election. We'll need to rope in some legal assistance, but the challenge to the high court's "logic" will be how exactly are we corrupting the political system by our 30-second electioneering communication? How and why would any politician feel indebted to us for our single ad aired during the FEC's blackout period?
Count this weblogger in as long as it doesn't cost too much--I'm a poor bookseller.
Bob Bartley died of cancer at the age of 66. He made his mark as the editor of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page. His advocacy for tax cuts influenced Republican Presidents for over 20 years. Fred Barnes said, "How many other editorial pages can say they created the economic policy for an administration and for an era? Without The Wall Street Journal editorial page, there is no supply side economics." It's pretty easy to argue that Bartley's editorial page was the most influential in the world. That stems from Bartley's belief in the benefits of freedom and its relentless pursuit.
"Robert L. Bartley"
"Robert L. Bartley, Who Led Journal Editorial Page, Dies at 66"
"Robert L. Bartley Dies; Influential Editorialist"
December 10, 2003
On the Battleline
The American Conservative Union is fed up with the spending spree of President Bush and the GOP Congress. An editorial goes so far as to call the Republican Party the "nation's new welfare state party." They're also fed up with conservative journals like National Review and The Weekly Standard who the ACU thinks aren't holding the GOP to task.
The ACU's response is to start a new conserative magazine, Conservative Battleline Online. It's a mouthful but an important mouthful in the fight for smaller, limited government. The idea is good. I just hope its focus is on advancing conservative ideas rather than being a weapon in a conservative civil war.
Free Speech Restricted
What part of "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech" didn't a majority of Supreme Court justices understand? For some analysis, check out the Volokh Conspiracy [here, here, here, and here]. Rick Hasen is distressed at the Court's "cursory dismissal of First Amendment arguments." Since Hasen is an election law specialist, his weblog is loaded with relevant posts. Read 'em and weep--for the First Amendment.
With the opinion weighing in a over 90,000 words (by Eugene Volokh's count) really good evaluations will take a while.
"Campaign Finance Law's Key Parts Upheld"
Revised GDP Numbers
Steve Verdon points out that due to adjustments on how the government measures the economy third quarter 2000 GDP growth was negative. There goes the idea that President Bush led the country into a recession.
"Bureau of Economic Analysis Revises 2000 GDP Numbers"
Lots of Vanity
No, I don't mean one of the women who hung out with Prince in the 80s. First, there's the (ick!) bug-infested Carnival of the Vanities hosted by Signal + Noise. Then after reading some good posts, check out the stinkers at the Bonfire of the Vanities hosted by Wizbang!
Falcons Drop Reeves
How is Atlanta Falcons' coach Dan Reeves rewarded for getting his marquee-player back and a victory Sunday night? He gets fired. I smell a sulking superstar behind this. Details at SportsBlog.org.
"Is 9/11 His Fault Too?"
Dr. Schloktopus actually watched more of The Simple Life. Better him than me.
"The Twit Train Rolls On"
Week 14 Freaks of the Week
It's late, but my latest Freaks of the Week column is up at SportsBlog.org.
December 09, 2003
What do these rusting ships have to do with anything? Not much. I'm just trying to divert your attention away from the mildly embarassing post below.
Separated at birth?
UPDATE: Howard Dean is no Hitler. I just thought it was a funny contrast. Sometimes I forget that some jokes (no matter how lame) don't transfer well through the written word.
Population Bomb a Dud
Paul Erlich and those that feared a world where we run out of room must be happy with new U.N projections. For me, it's just further proof that capitalism solves leads to a solution. For some reason when a country gets richer they don't have as many children.
"World Population to Level Off"
AlGore Waddles with Duck
What, precisely has been remade? Prior to the Gore announcement everyone was saying that it's Dean's to lose, and that he was the prohibitive favorite. The polls in Iowa, NH, SC and MA were all looking good for him (to name a few key ones). So how does Gore's endorement "remake" or "rock" anything aside from Lieberman's ego?
It was pretty classless for AlGore to not even bother to give his former running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman a call letting him know his was endorsing Duck, M.D.
Michael Van Winkle notes that Duck, M.D.'s big issues are "polarizing issues" with nothing to go after the middle with.
Oliver Willis spotted Duck, M.D. waddling on the Charles River.
With Dean sure to have the nomination wrapped up after the South Carolina primary this will make for an extremely long Presidential race. Maybe the longest in U.S. history. Will the public even pay attention to the shots Duck, M.D. makes at President Bush and vice versa? Or will they just go about their business and start focusing around Labor Day? This may be great for political webloggers and professional pundits, but besides us, will anyone be listening?
[This is a late entry to the Beltway Jam. Traffic was really bad here in Wisconsin, ok?]
Vote for TAM
I'm stunned the folks at LewRockwell.com care about little old TAM. More on that later after some much-needed sleep.
I ask you to vote for TAM in the 2003 Weblogs Awards. I only have 10 votes, and it's been that way for some time. I don't expect to win, but don't want to end up in last place. Remember, a vote for TAM is, well, a vote for TAM.
December 08, 2003
Good Business Weblog
Oliver Willis and Jimmy Varghese have a business weblog called BoomNation. There are good, short, pithy posts there.
Out of Touch with Reality
Professor Bainbridge has discovered this wacked-out statement from one of the paleolibertarians writing for Mises Blog:
However, I'll never understand the leaners and their support of hegemony, war, and false phraseology such as the "war on terrorism." That's the stuff that separates the wheat from the chaff, and ultimately, freedom from chains.
I'll concede that I'm still not sure the Iraq War was a good idea, but how can you call the war on terror "false phraseology"? Did she sleep through 9/11?
I'm guessing in the author's mind the United States' interventionist foreign policy brought on those horrible attacks. The War on Terrorism (a very imprecise term rather than "false phraseology") then is an effort to clean up the mess while at the same time growing the state. I'm also guessing that the author's solution to the Islamist threat is simply to bring all our troops home and hope the rest of world would simply want to trade freely with the U.S. Seeing how apart from reality this view is is obvious.
Remember, even though this writing is written under Ludwig von Mises' name, it may not truly represent his beliefs. What this thinking does represent is Murray Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism. This point is reinforce by this post from Robert Prather.
TMLutas agrees with the author about false phraseology but acknowledges "there is an honest and proper case to be made in the practical world for the policies that are grouped under the War on Terror and which can be supported on libertarian grounds."
"The Mises Bloggers are Stark Raving Nuts"
Taxing the Duck Campaign
Joe Trippi, Duck, M.D.'s campaign manager, is in a tizzy (that's the closest you'll get to Snoop Dog here at TAM) over a Club for Growth ad attacking Dean as a typical Democratic tax-hiker. Trippi called the ad a "bald-faced lie." Why? What part of the ad was incorrect, the AP story doesn't say. Presumably, Trippi didn't have an answer. What really got my wings flapping was his claim that Bush's tax cuts "threaten this country's economic well-being." They seem to be doing alright for the economy so far. The problem is with runaway spending that Bush is facilitating to the shagrin of many on the Right. Also, as Steve Verdon pointed out Duck, M.D.'s budget wouldn't be fiscially sound.
Charles Krauthammer, being a doctor, has "discovered" a new psychiatric condition: Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS). It's just like Bush fever only he has a proper definition:
the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush.
Those afflicted with BDS (no need to name names) may respond that Krauthammer is just another neocon using his pen to further American empire. Or they may explain that the President himself is the cause of BDS.
Duck, M.D. will never admit to having BDS. His explanation will be that as a doctor (as mentioned on all his press releases) he knows his health pretty well. Well, just like lawyers shouldn't represent themselves in court, doctors may not notice certain symptoms like wacked-out paranoia. Here's an example:
Diane Rehm: "Why do you think he (Bush) is suppressing that (Sept. 11) report?''
Someone better call a vet and send him to Burlington, stat. [Get it? Vet? Duck? Oh forget it!]
December 07, 2003
I'm trying to start a conversation at SportsBlog.org on the difference between computer analysis in college football (the BCS mess) and baseball (sabermetrics). Why has it taken the latter sport by storm while receives plenty of derision in the former?
Since Cam isn't competitng with TAM in any catagory of the 2003 Weblog Awards, feel free to vote for him in the "Adorable Rodents" catagory.
You're welcome, Cam.
ABC, CNN, FNC, and NRA?
The NRA as news organization. I love the idea. With the costs of information distribution constantly going down (it's getting the public's attention that's expensive) any can (and does) become a news organization. In the NRA's case, they already are because they publish some magazines.
One of the unintended consequences of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance (free speech restriction) law is its own destruction.
Oliver Has Bush Fever
In the comments to this John Cole post, Oliver Willis actually defends a despicable Dennis Kucinich ad that said the Iraq War wasn't about Iraqi liberation or America's self-defense but to fatten the pockets of Bush's rich friends. But realize, anti-conservative views have gotten so off-the-wall that he's labled Reagan fans "GOP Jihadis."
I don't know what's gotten into Oliver. He's smart, writes well, and is a great, entertaining part of the blogosphere. It's just that he's gone (figuratively) crazy with Bush anger.
There will be month of screaming in the college football world because number 1 USC won't be playing in the national title game. I have more at SportsBlog.org.
"USC Beaten by Equation"
Remembering Pearl Harbor
Today is Pearl Harbor Day and Michele is saddened because she's found little media coverage. Part of it is time. As one of commenter wrote, many WWII veterans are dead. People who had direct experience with those events are gone. Another reason for the lack of Big Media coverage no hook to the anniversary. 1941 is 62 years ago, an odd number for anniversary coverage. Contrast this to the 40th anniversary of JFK's assassination. There was lots and lots of coverage on television and newspapers as well as a bunch of new books.
We don't honor every anniversary of infamous events. If we did we'd have no time to live our lives and make our own history. We'd be too busy honoring the dead at the expense of the living. We'd become a culture of historians.
I don't want the memory of the awful Tuesday to be a day of over sentimentality. Every Sep. 11 should not be a day where America cries and laments how some evil men killed 3,000. That day should be remembered as the beginning of the Islamist War where the United States took on its biggest nemesis since the Cold War and in the process brought freedom and opportunity to the Middle East.
Michele worries that Sep. 11 will be "forgotten" eventually like Pearl Harbor. But history's perception changes with the culture and distance. I hope it isn't forever a day of saddness, but of rebirth. Out of the ashes of Ground Zero a new urban center will be built (despite the bad Libeskind plan). Hopefully vitality can rise from the ashes of death. If it happens people in the future will remember Sep. 11 as a day of transition for New York City and the U.S.
Milwaukee Mayor Poll
Poll results for Milwaukee's mayoral race are out. Former Congressman Tom Barrett is first with 29%, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is second with 24%, undecided is third, Common Council President (and soon to be mayor, replacing John Norquist until the election this spring) Marvin Pratt with 11%, with the rest of the 11 candidates dividing up the remaing 36%.
"Poll Shows Tighter 3-way Race for Mayor"
Don't Underestimate this Man
Anyone who thinks President Bush is a political doofus has to look at the sheer genius of what he pulled off last week. Last Tuesday, he goes to Pittsburgh, Steel City, and pulls in lots of campaign money. While doing this, he's deciding whether to dump steel tariffs that would have resulted in a trade war with the EU. Later in the week, Bush scraps the tariffs (pun intended) with loud opposition from steel workers in the crucial states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Then Friday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that steel industry executives believe the end of the tariffs won't hurt their industry.
Bush averts a trade war, rakes in a boatload of campaign funds, and the industry he protected ends up being ok (it still doesn't justify the tariffs in the first place). Sometimes is better to be lucky than good, but the President read this situation perfectly.
December 06, 2003
What's Republican About Her?
Elisabeth Hasselbeck is cute and all--let me rephrase that, she's very cute--but what makes her a Republican babe? Has she ticked off Barbara Walters by being a cheerleader for President Bush while co-hosting The View?
And no, just because she's not on The View I'm not programming it into the TiVo.
[via The Evangelical Outpost]
Iraq's "Odious Debt"
Politically speaking does anyone really believe U.S. critics like France will consider any of Saddam's debt "odious?" Doing so would help the U.S. in their rebuilding efforts, and the only thing France cares about it putting up as many roadblocks in front of the U.S. as possible. For Chriac et. al. global gamesmanship is more important than successfully building a free country in Iraq.
[via Jay Solo]
Vote for TAM
You can now vote for TAM in the Large Mammals catagory of the 2003 Weblog Awards. You can vote once every 24 hours. There is some really tough competition. Roger Simon, Professor Bainbridge, Jay Solo, Josh Clayborn, mtpolitics.net, and Ben Domenech are all really good weblogs. I'm already greatful (and surprised) for the votes for TAM so far. Thanks for voting and reading.
December 05, 2003
Cheering Myself Up
Here some things I've done to combat today's funk:
Now, I'm going to do something totally out of character: I'm going to get away from this weblog for the rest of the night. I'll try to finish Anne Applebaum's Gulag (great yet heartbreaking), and get some sleep so I survive another day at the store.
Bad DayToday, I dealt with the idiot shoppers who only enter a bookstore once a year, really have no idea what they want other than that big, yellow book they saw at another store last year, and think it's poor customer service if you can't get them exactly what they want. While I'm doing this, I'm tolerating a bad back I hurt moving a new television all by myself (I know, me bad). Then Kevin got his pink slip, and now Lori and Maripat are signing off from the Right We Are!
Iraq's DebtPresident Bush appointed James Baker as the point man in restructuring Iraq's debt. Why should Iraq even bother paying back this debt? There is a new regime in charge. The money lent to Iraq by other nations was to Saddam's government. That one is no more. The $120 billion owed is Saddam's debt, not the New Iraq's. Besides the crushing effect on the Iraqi economy, paying off this debt wouldn't change international lending behavior. There should be a disincentive to not lend money to dictators. Paying off the debt is a form of moral hazzard. Lending money to dictators only encourages these brutal people to continue on violating the rights of their citizens. There should be more risk for lenders who lend to dictators. If thug become a pariah toward the rest of the world, they risk being toppled and the debts vanishing. In Iraq's case, the people shouldn't need to suffer because of Saddam's economic policies. Operation: Iraqi Freedom wiped the slate clean. That includes international debt. "Bush Picks Friend Baker as Iraq Debt Envoy"
The unemployment rate dropped to 5.9%
UPDATE: Steve Verdon's post asks a good question: "has something changed in the economy that means employment will take longer to rebound and the rate of growth will be smaller?"
Could Paul Krugman get off his Bush-bashing horse and tackle this question? He is a better economist than political hack columnist.
"Unemployment Lower for Second Month"
December 04, 2003
Bush Bashing Babes
One could take this site to be opposed to lesbianism. Instead, it's just Bush bashing with lots of skin.
Reilly at Right Voices just goes off on these ladies.
Foot Still in Mouth
Oliver isn't apologizing for his crass and flippant "jihad" description of gung-ho Ronald Reagan fans. I didn't expect one. He actually thinks comparing Reagan fans to terrorist killers is stating a fact. The fact is if Reagan fans don't get the Gipper on the dime they won't strap bombs onto themselves, board a bus, and blow themselves up like real jihadis do. If Oliver can't see this obvious distinction than it just shows he's willing to put rabid, unthinking, uncivil partisanship above reasoned, highly opinionated discourse. He's better than that.
Interestingly, it's alright for Oliver to equate Reagan fans with Muslim terrorists, but he feels the need to point out vicious statements by persons with opposing ideologies. Something about a pot, a kettle, and the color black comes to mind.
Then there are the commentors to his "GOP jihad" post. It seems Grover Norquist is the Osama bin Laden of the "GOP Jihad." Since when is the pursuit of radically smaller government on par with Islamism? These comments are perfect for the Democratic Underground. Oliver and those wacked-out commentators need to take this Susan Estrich column to heart.
Finally, I have a question: Is the GOP Jihad a spin off of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, or is it an independent offshoot? Do I have to get two membership cards?
Croom Makes History
James Joyner comments on the hiring of Sylvester Croom as coach of the Mississippi State football team. He becomes the first black coach in the history of the Southeastern Confernce. I don't have anything more to add to James' cogent thoughts except I want to give you a local (Wisconsin) angle. Croom is currently running backs coach for my beloved Green Bay Packers and will finish the season with them.
"The Croom Hire"
UPDATE: Croom may only keep both full-time jobs until Sunday. He's said, "I truly am during this transition period going one day at a time."
"Croom Says Double Duty with Packers May End Soon"
In a related note, for the rest of the season, Packers players will have a #3 decal on their helmets in honor of the late Tony Canadeo.
"Packers To Pay Tribute To Canadeo With Helmet Decal"
Opus Part 2
The second Opus strip is on the Web. Thank god!
[via Oliver Willis]
I have one and only one comment on the nonsense spewing from Bush bashers over his now famous Thanksgiving Day picture: Wouldn't you rather have your picture taken with a gorgeous, real (just not eaten) turkey than with some poultry sitting in a pot at a buffet? 90% of us have the aesthetic sense to know a good visual like that.
That is all.
Dr. Schloktopus watched The Simple Life too. He's a little less generous towards Paris and Nicole than me:
If I were that dairy owner, I would have shot them.
If he was aiming at Paris, and she turned sideways he wouldn't have anything to aim at.
"Twits on Parade"
Need More Opus
Is the second Opus strip anywhere on the Web? Since the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are still morons for not putting it in their Sunday paper. Or if anyone's willing they could send me the strips periodically (I'd cover postage, of course). I just really want my Opus, and one strip was a taste I can't resist--kind of like Krispy Kreme's golden glazed goodies.
Packers Legend is Buried
Running back Tony Canadeo, the "Grey Ghost," was buried in Green Bay yesterday. The Hall of Fame halfback died last Saturday at the age of 84.
In 1949, he became the third player to rush for over 1,000 yards. Now, every season, many players accomplish that feet. Canadeo is fourth on the all-time Packers rushing list and is one of only four players to have his number retired.
"Funeral Held Wednesday for Packers Great Tony Canadeo"
"Running Back Stuck with Pack"
Here's a stunning quote from liberal researcher Isabel Sawhill on how to reduce poverty:
If people did a few things -- graduated from high school, got a job, and delayed having a baby until they married -- our analysis shows that would eliminate a huge chunk of poverty in this country, and that would be far more effective than anything we could feasibly do through the welfare system alone.
When Dan Quayle said stuff like this he was chastised for "blaming the victim." This thinking may soon become conventional wisdom.
December 03, 2003
Better Check Those Numbers
Steve Verdon ran Duck, M.D.'s budget numbers. They don't add up. With some generous assumptions Howard Dean's spending plans would increase the deficit. Duck, M.D. hasn't even been elected yet, and he's already broken one of his campaign promises.
Steve doesn't even include the effects of Duck M.D.'s "re-regulating," of rescinding Bush's tax cuts. Both would prevent economic growth which would lead to greater deficits (barring the miracle that Duck, M.D. would actually cut non-defense spending).
"Democrats and the Deficits: Dean"
Bad, Bad Oliver
Oliver Willis is upset that some Reagan zealots want to put the 40th President on the dime (sounds good to me, just wait until he's dead). But Oliver goes over the top when labeling them the "GOP jihad."
I'm posting the comment I left there:
GOP jihad!?! That's really over the top. Wierd Reagan cult, yes. Republicans intent on waging holy war across the country in the name of their hero, absolutely not.
Are the people who want to change the appearance of a coin on par with bloodthirsty killers willing to turn planes into cruise missiles? Of course not. Oliver knows better. No wonder some webloggers think he's "overrated." (I am not one of them.)
Oliver crossed the line. The blogosphere is wonderful because its passionately opinonated, but civility must still be maintained. He should apologize.
"The Hagiography of Ronny Continues"
Enough of The Simple Life
I wanted to post a summary of the second episode of The Simple Life. I tried to watch it from start to finish, but it was too painful. It wasn't Paris' and Nicole's work attire for their first day of work: designer camo hats, sunglasses, and shiny, new work boots--farmer chic. Nor was it the goofy way they walked arm-in-arm around the pasture rounding up the cows for milking. It was the way Paris and Nicole were completely unattached to the idea of work. In the middle of the day, they decided they had enough, and it was time for a dip in the hot tub.
Without having any experience as to how things get done in the real world, it's not a surprise Paris and Nicole got fired after their first day. At first glance "the simple life" the show refers to may seem to be the one in Arkansas. In fact, Paris' and Nicole's lives of pampering are simple compared to the complex, real world between the two coasts where things have to be done or else. I feel sorry for them. Good comes from knowing you've worked hard and accomplished something. Since these two ladies haven't had to do anything significant, they fill their empty lives with drugs (for Nicole) and sexual adventures (for Paris).
I think I'm done with The Simple Life. These are freak shows analagous to the wierdos of circuses past. The audience gets some cheap laughs from the eccentricities of the freaks. Some may have a chuckle watching super-rich women flounder around, but for me there's too much sympathy.
"Fox TV has Fun Tormenting the Farmyard Rich Chicks"
Lessons from Adam Smith
In his column last week, Declan McCullagh points out that the Bush administration has done more for protectionism than just slapping tariffs on imported steel and Chinese underware. They also went after cheap Korean memory chips. Somebody send the White House a copy of The Wealth of Nations.
"Adam Smith's Lessons for IT"
Brooks on Soldiers in Iraq
David Brooks writes on the peacekeeping and warmaking U.S. soldiers have to do in Iraq. He also takes on the "America as Empire" meme:
When you read their writings you see what thorough democrats they are. They are appalled at the thought of dominating Iraq. They want to see the Iraqis independent and governing themselves. If some president did want to create an empire, he couldn't do it with these people. Their faith in freedom governs their actions.
Flames of Desire
Or at least some really bad posts in this week's Bonfire of the Vanities.
Freaks of the Week: Week 13
My latest Freaks of the Week column is up at SportsBlog.org.
December 02, 2003
I Feel Better
I don't feel that ashamed for watching The Simple Life, because Kevin watched it too.
"The Simple Life"
Alright, I'm scared.
According to United Nations estimates, up to 80 per cent of the approximately 6bn metric tons of cargo traded each year is moved by ship. Of that, almost 75 per cent passes at some point through one of the five main choke points in the seafaring economy - the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, the Straits of Gibraltar, the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits of Malacca.
But wait, there's more (unfortunately):
Data compiled by Aegis Defence Services, a UK security consultancy, provides worrying evidence of this. In March, for example, pirates boarded a chemical tanker, the Dewi Madrim, near Sabah in the south Pacific for several hours. Their intention was not to ransom the crew or offload its cargo, as south-east Asia's pirates usually do, but simply to learn how to steer it at varying speeds. And in the past few months, 10 tugboats have been reported missing, each of which could be used for close-in manoeuvring of a disabled tanker, hijacked just before entering a big port (at Singapore, say) and just before being set ablaze.
You want to see gas and oil prices go through the roof. Imagine New Orleans in flames after an attack. It would probably take at least a year if entire petroleum operations were destroyed. Energy and auto stocks would take an immediate hit. Chemical companies would be running around trying to assure themselves adequate oil supplies. Manufacturers who use petro-chemicals would alter their production probably layoff workers. At the minimum we'd drop into another recession.
Because I'm more concerned about national security I'm willing to excuse much of President Bush's domestic actions. I don't trust Democrats like Duck, M.D. who didn't see the wisdom of the Iraq War.
Bush's Improving Poll Numbers
Like the economy, President Bush's polls numbers are coming out of the doldrums. You know Bush is doing some good political work when his approval rate from Democrats is 55%.
I Can't Believe I'm Watching This
Oh, The Simple Life would have been perfectly fine if a terrorist would have taken out Paris Hilton's and Nichole Richie's helicopter with a surface-to-air missile.
How many times am I going to hear one of them say, "Oh, my god!"?
Best quote so far:
Nichole: "Paris, don't drive it like its a Porche."
I'm half-way through so I should be able to tough it out until the end of the first episode. Come back for an update.
UPDATE: More stunning quotes:
Paris: "What does soup kitchen mean?"
Paris: "What is Wal-Mart? ... Do they sell walls there?"
Paris: "What's a well for?"
Nichole: "We should have a threesome with him [one of the teenage boys they're living with]."
I'm tempted to give The Simple Life a TiVo season pass. But can I endure the pain?
Someone get Paris a decent pair of jeans. I'm all for females showing off what they've got, but the plumber look just doesn't turn me on. And could someone tell Paris it's alright to eat something. Put about 30 pounds are her and she'd stop looking transparent and be rather cute.
Like Shooting Ducks in a Barrel
Playing the role of tech geek diverted my attention from my daily Duck, M.D. hunting. Thankfully, Steve Verdon has some killer posts on Howard Dean's economic hypocracy how he'd deal with Iran and North Korea.
TAM's Gone Wireless
The TAM global publishing empire has finished its first major addition to its infrastructure since moving over to Movable Type. TAM HQ has now gone wireless. Yours truly had no problems installing a network card into the mothership (my desktop), connecting the wireless router, and installing the Wi-Fi card into the TAM Mobile Command Center (ie. notebook computer). I bought D-Link products and installation went smoothly. The only real problem is with ZoneAlarm. After a few minutes of Net use, I can't receive any inbound traffic, but I notice plenty of traffic going outbound. So, I'm trying some other free software firewalls such as Agnitum's Outpost Firewall.
UPDATE: My wireless router must be providing enough security for me. It also must be turned on by default since I didn't do anything to turn it on. I tested my notebook's security with AuditMyPC.com and it came out fine.
Professor Bainbridge has added TAM onto his blogroll. Thank you, professor. I'm in great company with the other newcomers.
While being a leader of the Paleolibertarian movement, Anarchy Lew Rockwell is quite the misleading advertiser. In response to David Brooks' column on the GOP as the nation's governing party, he writes,
But did Bill Buckley really invent conservatism in the early 1950s? As Murray Rothbard pointed out, this is propaganda intended to send the Old Right down the memory hole, and to convince Americans that conservatism means bombs and central planning. In other words, Buckley is a neocon.
Anarchy Lew makes it appear Rothbard was just a Buchanan-type small government conservative. In fact, he was very radical. He was a full-blown anarchist, but you wouldn't know that from Anarchy Lew's brief post.
Oh, is this funny.
"Pardoned Turkey Suffering From Survivor Guilt"
Steel Tariffs Still Kicking
Maybe dumping the steel tariffs aren't "all but set in stone" like I thought yesterday. The AP reports President Bush is still weighing his options. He might decide not to get rid of all the tariffs he imposed last year. Keeping some wouldn't make the EU happy and would probably result in retaliation. I don't know what political calculations Bush is doing. If he doesn't drop the tariffs there will be a trade war just when the U.S. economy is coming out of its slumber. Domestic steel manufacturers would be hurt, but domestic steel users could face a steel shortage. We will know the President's decision later this week.
"Advisers Urge Bush to Drop Steel Tariffs"
December 01, 2003
Nominations are Now Open
The Bush Boom
Factory growth is at a 20-year high, people are being hired, and construction remains strong. Dare I say it? The recession is over and a new boom has begun.
Bush's Beneficial Quirk
The slow crawl of government may be pretty timely for President Bush's re-election:
Mr. Stanley pointed out that while the Bush tax cuts this year were retroactive to Jan. 1, the tax tables could not be changed until July 1, after the cuts were adopted. As a result, next spring, consumers will receive tax refunds fattened by federal over-withholding during the first six months of this year. That might make taxpayers feel better, and if they spend the money, it could buoy an already consumer-driven economy as the campaign moves into high gear.
Bush bashers (i.e. Oliver Willis) will simply smell a conspiracy.
"Change in Consumer Confidence and Thus the Presidency"
Bush Steel Tariffs: R.I.P.
Rolling back the steel tariffs are "all but set in stone" according to unnamed Bush administration officials. Yeah!
"Bush Likely to Repeal Tariffs on Steel Imports"
"President To Drop Tariffs On Steel"
UPDATE: Stephen Green notes, "Free trade just doesn't seem to be in Bush's blood."
Weasley is Fiscally Irresponsible
Duck, M.D. is a spendthrift and Weasley Clark isn't any better. He's wants to spend $30 billion to fight diseases in foreign countries. Imagine how much he'll have to throw at Americans so as to not have it appear he cares more about foreigners than the natives.
"Clark Proposes $30 Billion Plan"
It's been way too long since I had a Paleowatch post. But thanks to PunchTheBag I found one hell of a "what!?!" item to post on. Anarchy Lew Rockwell may be pretty good with economics, but when it comes to speculating on foreign affairs he comes off as extremely goofy.
"Bush I Revisionism"
Satisfy Your Econ Cravings
Bill Hobbs is hosting this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.
Dean: Fiscally Irresponsible
Steven's column let's me go off on Duck, M.D.'s flippant remark about last week's great GDP numbers. He stated, "[the] Bush administration’s fiscally irresponsible house of cards upon which this ‘growth’ is built cannot continue forever" (emphasis mine).
Duck, M.D., donning his economist cap, wants to be "fiscally responsible" by giving states and municipalities $100 billion over two years to "prime the pump" of job creation, pay for special education, and cover anti-terrorism costs to police and fire departments. That may all be well and good (except for their constitutionality), but does Duck, M.D. promise that the "Fund to Restore America" will dry up after its planned two years? Or will that just ossify into existing government spending to make it impossible to ever end?
But creating an entitlement to state and local government isn't Duck, M.D.'s only example of fiscal responsiblity. He also wants to spend $200 million to start a "Welcome Baby" program to "connect families and their children to the resources and services available to help them raise healthy, successful children" (government services most likely).
Then there's Duck, M.D.'s big budget item: universal health care. Based on an analysis by a health care consulting firm, it would cost $88.3 billion a year. Always be wary of estimates on the cost of government programs. Because the government doesn't opperate with the profit incentive, it's less inclined to control costs.
Dean's health care plan would be paid for by recinding some of President Bush's tax cuts. Since most economists think those tax cuts helped bring the economy out of recession, raising taxes might not be so good for the economy and subsequently the budget deficit.
So Duck, M.D. will subsidize state and local governments, welcome babies into the world, and provide health coverage for every American. While doing all this (and more) he'll balance the budget. How will he do this? By using the political bromide, "tough decisions."
"Dean Riding Steady Course to Party Crown"
Stephen Green declared T.R. Fehrenbach's op-ed "required reading." It's good because it goes into the mind of our (conservative's) political opponents. The summary of the piece goes like this: conservatives/Republicans are beating liberals/Democrats because the former focus on strategic thinking and the pursuit of innovative ideas. Liberals/Dems instead are "long for office." This makes them become fixated on putting "together winning coalitions, not a generation from now, but today."
This difference can be seen from conservative intellectual history. After FDR's political victories in implementing his New Deal, many conservatives felt that even if their ideas were better they wouldn't be put into effect. Folks like Albert Jay Nock reserved their thoughts for the "Remnant" who would keep conservative ideas alive until there was ever a time society would accept them. They were a pessimistic lot.
Compare this to the Democrats/liberals. After the New Deal, they were the major political power for over 40 years. Running government and winning elections became their sole (and important) talent.
Now, the tide has turned. Liberals/Democrats have to create their own idea factories while conservatives/Republicans have to learn how govern in a conservative way that doesn't bust the bank. Historically, we're in a political transition period (one that started in 1994 with Newt Gingrich), and like many moments of change, they can be quite messy.
"Democrats Should Learn from Conservatives"