Friday, September 28, 2007

It's official: Kennedy is Senile

I had an internal debate as to whether or not I should write this post. Reading this article was infuriating and writing blog posts while angry is akin to going food shopping hungry. Neither is a particularly good idea. Both invariably lead to excess. So I will write very little about the Kennedy hate crimes bill.

1) A hate crimes bill should not be attached to a defense bill for obvious reasons.

2) He thinks that expanding hate crimes legislation will protect the military by ending crimes that the military commits. He is either senile or this is all a big rhetorical joke.

3) The bill also covers "perceived" gender/orientation crimes. Without the fancy law degree I can say with some certainty that the ambiguity of the word "perceived" opens a large door.

4) Is there a violent crime that isn't a hateful crime? I can comfortably answer no here, so why are some crimes committed in hate worse than other crimes committed in hate? There is no logical answer. The only logic that can be used is the first Tuesday in November.

Thanks go to Byron York for writing about this because it is destined for the back pages.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

# 160

I didn't think I would get to 160 so soon but here it is. The good news is that SHIP doesn't have the votes to survive a Bush veto. The bad news below:

The bill drew support from 45 House Republicans, many of them moderates who do not want to be depicted as indifferent to low-income children's health needs when they seek re-election next year. But 151 Republicans sided with Bush, a move that Democrats see as a political blunder.

It hardly matters that the expansion would be expensive or a step toward socialized health care, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said during the House debate. When lawmakers go home, he said, "the question is, Were you with the kids or were you not?"

It just seems crazy to me that politicians can openly flaunt their status as populist (kids divert your eyes) sluts. Maybe I'm wrong but wasn't there a day when politicians would only say these things in smoke filled back rooms. Oh wait....smoking is illegal. Maybe all the smoke filled back rooms have been closed and the only alternative is to give bad speeches on the floor of the house. I have no clue.

The health care system may have its problems now, but in 5-10 years it is going to be broken. What do i mean by broken? All vestiges of a free market will be banished (free market in the Milton Friedman sense not the faux free Willard Romney prefers). Once price signals are eliminated quality will decrease, choices will vanish, and the US will lose its edge. Can't wait.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reason to Hate Politics - #159

The impending expansion of SCHIP is placing the Republicans lack of courage on display. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, Republicans fought against government control and socialized anything. Now they don't have the backbone to defeat a bill which is simply another step closer to federal control of the health care system. Although some politicians like Senator McConnell are standing strong, the head counters predict 69 votes for SCHIP in the Senate here.

Senator Grassley isn't worried. It is only going to cost a mere $35 billion. Whats a few billion among friends? They also have it paid for. Tax those dirty cigarette smokers. In exclusive Free to Choose breaking news I have obtained the formula used by genius law makers:

61cents on every pack of cigarettes - any recognition that people are smoking less in this country + absolutely ignoring the possibility that the $35 billion figure will not increase at a time when we don't know how we are going to pay for social security and Medicare = sound policy

I'm sure it makes a ton of sense now that I have revealed the formula.

If you want solid evidence that this is bad policy look at what America's Health Insurance Plans (the largest insurance lobbying group according to the Post) said:

"It repairs the safety net and is a major movement toward addressing the problems that states and governors have been trying to address, which is how to get access for children"

Translated for the politically impaired: "We want the government to use your money to guarantee our sales. Thank you hapless voter."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Quiz Answers

Source: Cafe Hayek cites these statistics from a Cato study here.

1) e. 2006 (Source: Economic Report of the President, 2007)

2) e. 2006 (Source: Bureau of the Census)

3) e. 2006 (Source: Bureau of the Census)

4) a. 2006 (Source: U.S. International Trade Commission)

5) d. $66,414 (Source: National Association of Manufacturers)

6) c. The U.S. output is 2.5 times as much as China (Source: U.N. Industrial Development Org.)

7) e. U.S. manufacturing output is 21 percent of world total (Source: U,N. Industrial Development Org.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I extend my sincerest apologies to Willard. I mistakenly used Millard in a previous post.

Sorry Willard.


Because we are saturated with O.J., Brittney, Jena 6, and Ahmadinejad, I have have decided to go with something a little sexier: US Manufacturing!

Here is a quiz that was posted at Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux (don't cheat!). Answers will be posted tomorrow.

1) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing output reach its all-time peak?
1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

2) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing revenue reach its all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

3) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing profits reach their all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

4) In what year did U.S. Manufacturing exports reach their all-time peak? (inflation adjusted)
1966 b. 1976 c. 1986 d. 1996 e. 2006

5) Average annual compensation (wages + benefits) for US manufacturing jobs is
$36,000 b. $46,0000 c. $56,0000 d. $66,000

6) What are the relative sizes of the US and Chinese manufacturing sectors?
China outputs 2.5 times the US b. Equal c. The US outputs 2.5 times China

7) Which country produces the largest share of total world manufacturing output?
China b. Japan c. Germany d. France e. US

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thank you Willard Romney

Thank you for opening the door Willard. The door to universal health care. Now Hillary can deflect charges of socialistic medicine by pointing to Willard, a "conservative" Republican. What is the proper retort to that? I can't think of one. Many "conservatives" had few reservations because the Marx-Guevara Provide Everything For Everybody, Especially Women, Children, Elderly, Hobbits, and Lepers Act of 2006 (you may know it as Romneycare) was endorsed by Heritage. Their excuse now is that the darn liberal Democrats changed everything. They did tinker with the bill (including tax issues) but the essence was unchanged.

Willard has done more than open the door. He has has provided a blueprint. Hillary's plan (here) is very similar. I'm sure that it is a TERRIBLE idea now that Hillary is onboard the Millard cool aide train. If I am correct that she is sailing towards the next presidency (and i see no evidence to the contrary) we can expect to hear Willard's name being used to justify her plan.

Thank You Willard.

Friday, September 14, 2007

When did Iowa Become New York?

I just don't know what to say about this. We all know by now (or have been forced to cede by college professors) that the government will eventually create utopia by slowly picking away our freedoms in the name of "common sense" or "fairness" or "equality", but can't we stick to the best bad policies.

No government should be banning trans fats. We should make the decision to consume or not to consume privately, but at least there was a rational (however poor). Banning a corn eating contest has no rational. And yes this is quasi public policy because a publicly funded institution is attempting to sway societal behavior in a distinct direction.

Has everyone gone crazy?

The War On Fat (And Tradition)

What's the world coming to when fans of Iowa's Hawkeyes cannot fuel their fervor for the annual Cy-Hawk Trophy tussle with the hated Iowa State Cyclones by devouring as much locally grown corn as possible? Yes, the students' annual corn-on-the-cob eating contest has been cancelled. Iowa's vice president for student services, Phillip Jones, explains that the contest promotes gluttony and collides with initiatives to curtail obesity. According to the FDA, a cob of corn contains about 150 calories and 31 grams of fat, if it's not lathered up with a bunch of butter. That doesn't seem too bad.

Still, Jones probably prefers that students limit their pregame tailgate menu to celery sticks and rice cakes, washed down with a nice glass of water.

No word on whether Iowa's bratwurst eating contest, which was a hit last year, will be permitted.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thompson Torn to Pieces

Here, (printed in the Washington Post and linked on RealClear) George Will absolutely annihilates Fred Thompson. It is well known that Will is a Giuliani supporter and it is obvious in the article. He makes several points that bolster the anti-Thompson arguments. Will paints the picture of a cosmopolitan DC insider who is now trying to reclaim the pickup truck and flannel shirt. Although I personally don't care about a politicians personal life, it would be nice if they were at least slightly genuine.

More importantly he absolutely eviscerates Thompson on campaign finance reform. You can read it below, but the real impact is it feeds into the attack line that Thompson will hear until January (December?): he is lazy. I have no idea if he is lazy or not, but if he can't get his story straight on campaign finance then is he presidential material? The average voter may not care about losing basic individual freedoms in the name of "fairness" but the voters do care about a candidates understanding of the issues.

Here is Will's thrashing of Thompson.

Consider his confusion the next day when talk radio host Laura Ingraham asked him about something he ardently supported -- the McCain-Feingold expansion of government regulation of political speech. His rambling, incoherent explanation was just clear enough to be alarming about what he believes, misremembers and does not know.

Thompson said he had advocated McCain-Feingold to prevent, among other things, corporations and labor unions from "giving large sums of money to individual politicians." But corporate and union contributions to individual candidates were outlawed in 1907 and 1947, respectively.

Ingraham asked about McCain-Feingold's ban on issue ads that mention a candidate close to an election. He blamed an unidentified "they" who "added on" that provision, which he implied was a hitherto undiscussed surprise.

But surely he knows that bills containing the ban had been introduced in previous sessions of Congress before passage in 2002.

In 1997, Thompson chaired a Senate committee investigating 1996 election spending. In its final report, issued in 1998, Thompson's committee recommended a statutory "restriction on issue advocacy" during "a set period prior to an election" when the speech includes "any use of a candidate's name or image." And in 1999, Thompson co-sponsored legislation containing what became, in 2002, the McCain-Feingold blackout periods imposed on any television or radio ad that "refers to" a candidate for federal office -- a portion of which the Supreme Court in June declared unconstitutional.

Thompson, contrary to his current memories, was deeply involved in expanding government restrictions on political speech generally and the ban on issue ads specifically. Yet he told Ingraham "I voted for all of it," meaning McCain-Feingold, but said "I don't support that" provision of it.

Oh? Why, then, did he file his own brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold McCain-Feingold, stressing Congress' especially "compelling interest" in squelching issue ads that "influence" elections?

Most lamely, Thompson takes credit for McCain-Feingold doubling the amount of "hard money" an individual can give to a candidate, which he says reduces the advantages of incumbency. But that is absurd: Most hard money flows to incumbents.

Ingraham asked why government should be telling individuals how much they can give to fund political speech by candidates they support. Thompson replied: "Why should the government ... tell a loan officer that he cannot accept money from someone trying to get a loan from him ... and then go ahead and give that person a loan? ... I mean, it's bribery in the real world."

So he believes, as zealous regulators of political speech do, that political contributions are incipient bribes -- but that bribery begins with contributions larger than $2,300.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

Sometimes I feel as if I must be one of the few people left in America who is not a military expert.

For example, all sorts of politicians have been talking about all sorts of ways we ought to "redeploy" our troops. The closest I ever came to deploying troops was marching a company of Marines to the mess hall for chow.

But people who have never even put on a uniform are confident that they know how our troops should be redeployed.

Maybe this is one of the fruits of the "self-esteem" that is taught in our schools instead of education.

Thomas Sowell

Monday, September 10, 2007

Presidential Debate in Spanish?

I wish somebody could give me a good reason why this country needs a presidential debate in Spanish (here) .

I have made my opinion about English and assimilation issues clear here in the past, but this is silly for several reasons. First, we haven't had one in English yet. The debates (which I do my best to avoid) are centered around sound bites that have no bearing on policy. They attempt to create an image in 30 second increments which is foreign to reality if you ask me (and of course nobody asked me).

Secondly, if they are going to debate in Spanish then they should begin scheduling debates in Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, French, German, Arabic, etc. There are around 300 languages spoken in the U.S. so there is a lot of scheduling ahead. We have to either operate in all languages or one. I vote for one...English. If these languages had a national television station would they have their own debates? It would be a wonderful mess.

This is not a matter of public policy and is only irritating, but I wouldn't spout off about it if there was a debate held in English first. Maybe in my lifetime. One can only hope.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cry me a River Paul Bremer

The New York Times editorial page today features a "don't blame me" article by Paul Bremer.

I don't even know where to begin. Lets start with the title: "How I Didn't Dismantle Iraq's Army". That is an outright lie. He did. While he is correct in saying much of the army had already dissolved, he doesn't mention the real reason they wanted to erase the existing structures: Baathphobia. The administrations heavy reliance on people like Ahmed Chalibi caused Baathphobia which went beyond reality. Chalibi had an ax to grind and we facilitated his singular cause. Many within the Baath party were simply ordinary citizens trying to make a living, not tyrannical dictatorship conspirators. Individuals within the party could be jailed for 10 years if they refused a party promotion. Would you turn down a promotion at work that offered more pay to be sent to jail? These people were supposedly the enemy.

He explains that other high ranking officials also supported disbanding the army. Sure he wasn't alone in the decision process, but it was his decision. Citing other sources who agreed with him does not erase culpability. The buck stopped with him. He was essentially the viceroy of Iraq.

Bremer then goes on to show why they dismantled the army. According to him it was dismantled because it symbolized the end of the Saddam era. Also most of the Shia conscripts wouldn't want to come back and serve under Sunni commanders. Wait a minute. This is an odd argument considering he first claimed he DIDN'T disband the army. In a true moment of narcissisms he even claims that what he did/didn't do was the correct decision?!

Lets parse this out. He claims that he didn't make the "right" decision of disbanding the army. An army that had to go. A twisted trail of logic to say the least.

We all make mistakes in life. At some point it makes sense to own up. In his case he just shouldn't make a terrible argument in the most prominent newspaper in the world to cover-up bad decisions. Move on.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Appalachian State Victory in Perspective

Appalachian State has achieve the unthinkable: defeat a powerhouse division 1A team. There is no doubt about that, but was it the greatest upset ever? A few pundits have exclaimed so, but I have my reservations.

Appalachian State did not defeat a ho-hum 1A program. Michigan has several players that are (were) considered definite NFL prospects, were ranked 5, and playing at home. The entire city of Boone North Carolina (yes this is where Appalachian State is located if you didn't know) can fit into the Wolverines stadium....eight and a half times. Yes that is correct the town of Boone, population 13,000 can fit into the big house, capacity 110,000, 8.5 times!

It was no doubt a great accomplishment, but it still finishes second. I cannot rank Appalachian State above the Lake Placid U.S. Hockey victory. I just can't do it.

The U.S. victory over the Russian hockey team was more than a game. It transcended sports. The victory did end the cold war or help defeat the Soviets, but it did provide a much needed boost to the sagging American psyche. Appalachian State defeating Michigan had no such affect. Furthermore, it was not a global phenomenon.

Lake placid is still the site of the greatest upset in U.S. sports history.