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Friday, January 17, 2003

Who knew?

I was reading Joanne Jacobs today and noticed this line: "The Post also reports that Bush quickly rejected the suggestion that he duck the Michigan case to appease black voters. The story makes him sound like a serious man. Who knew?"
I couldn't resist posting a comment:
Who knew? Well, some of us have known for a long time.

Bush is, in fact, a very serious and thoughtful guy, with a passion for education. This rarely gets into the mainstream media, (He's from Texas AND a Christian; so OF COURSE he's a moron) but if you look at what he was doing as Governor of Texas, you will discover many of the same themes as now. He holds them tenaciously, and comes back again and again.

In Texas, along with other interesting education reforms, he initiated a plan to give the top 10% of all Texas high school students admission to the U of Texas. The point was to get minority and disadvantaged students in, without the quotas and dishonesty we see at U Mich.
I'm going to be rash and make a prediction. By the time George W. Bush ends his term as President, in 2008, it will be common in many parts of the United States for parents to choose which schools to send their children to. State and local governments will pay, but if schools want to have students they will have to attract them with high-quality education. The result will be stunning improvements all around.
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from The Federalist Newsletter ...

And a footnote on all the Leftist class-warfare effluent being spewed by the Demos, we thought you might be interested to know who the "classiest" guys are in the Senate. The wealthiest Democrat could buy and sell the richest GOP senator more than 13 times. Drum roll please.... First place goes to John "Ketchup King" Kerry (D-MA) $675 million (more than half a billion inherited); In 2nd place is bad-boy Jon Corzine (D-NJ), $400 million; 3rd place goes to Herb Kohl (D-WS) $300 million; In 4th place, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), $200 million; 5th place goes to Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) $50 million. Finally a Republican, Lincoln Chafee, shows up in 6th position. (Oops, did we say "Republican." Let's not make that this week's editing error!) Hold the phone, there is a Republican majority in the Senate, but the richest guys are all Democrats, you know, the "Party of the People." Shouldn't there be some "affirmative action" plan to raise up more rich Republicans?
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Historical note ...

I recently encountered this quote:
Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. --George Washington
In fact, Washington was indulging in a bit of wishful thinking. Most Americans in Washington's time thought of themselves as Georgians or Virginians or New Hampshiremen... Robert E. Lee, when he had to choose which side to fight with in the Civil War, said, "I cannot fight against my country." By which he meant Virginia!

The Civil War itself was the great transforming event that changed this. After it, we stopped saying these United States, and began to say The United States.
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P. Krugman
#73: Binge Drinking by ... ??

We're almost feeling sorry for Paul Krugman these days as he struggles to find meaningful, partisan things to write about. Almost! Today's column Off the Wagon (01/17/03) is out right laughable. Anyone who has observed the Washington budget scene for a few years knows that if a "binge drinking" analogy applies to anything in Washington it is to congressional spending, particularly to Democratic congressional spending, and not to tax cutting. A major rationale for Bush's 2001 tax cut was to get the surplus out of town before congress could spend it. As far as we are concerned small deficits "as far as the eye can see" is just what the doctor ordered. They do no damage to the economy (because they are small as a percent of GDP) and they serve to keep spending growth in check.

Krugman as much as concedes all of this. Despite the fire and brimstone rhetoric about the evils of deficits and a clumsy attempt to resurrect "Rubinonomics" he does not identify one, single negative impact of these small deficits on the economy. How can he? As we pointed out last summer in Squad report #36 long term interest rates are historically low and likely to stay that way during the balance of the recovery.

We think Krugman is about to face his ultimate nightmare. This would be some combination of the following events over the next 18 months:

1. Iraq is resolved favorably and oil prices recede back to the mid $20s per barrel.
2. The economic expansion continues with the growth rate gradually rising to over 4% per year and the unemployment rate falling below 5%.
3. Progress is made with medicare/medicaid and tort reform and a growth package featuring tax cuts is enacted.
4. The stock market rises to 12,000 on the Dow Jones Industrials taking much pressure off state retirement systems.

All of these things probably won't develop exactly as scripted, but if you look at the world probabilistically (and Krugman, like most economists, does) then the prospect of a Republican ticket headed by a popular president running on platform of "peace and prosperity" and sweeping to victory with large congressional gains is a real possibility. To argue otherwise he needs to come up with a lot more negatives than he did today.

It's enough to make a guy hit the bottle..

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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Thursday, January 16, 2003

No doubt it's just coincidence,

but I was listening to ABC News on the radio today, and they mentioned the Jewish Astronaut now up in the Shuttle...and the very next item was about a rabbi who has been sent to prison for murdering his wife...

Also, the astronaut, Colonel Ramon, is one of the pilots who destroyed Saddam's Osirak reactor in June of 1981. We owe Israel a lot for that one. Here's a good book on that event

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Natalie Solent...

just posted a splendid defense of "the (yes) immutable law of the market...
...Another short answer, the one that Ms Toynbee has heard and didn't like when she asked those who gave it "how they can justify paying £203.70 a week for work such as this?" is that a great many people can do the job. A care worker needs a kind heart, patience, common sense, the ability to stick to procedures and maintain standards, a certain amount of physical strength and the ability to overcome physical distaste. The qualities needed by a care worker are admirable but not rare. Her wording implies that confronted with her "how can you justify..." everyone falls silent in shame. I don't see why. Rarity does influence price. Polly Toynbee gets a high salary as a Guardian correspondent because the skills needed (of writing to time and theme, research, eloquence and self-promotion) are comparatively rare. If she thinks that is so outrageous, will she voluntarily reduce her pay to that of a care worker?...
Reminds me of book I read, wherein the author lamented that we no longer make the elaborate ornamental woodwork of past ages. She said it was because we no longer are willing to pay enough. But that's exactly backwards. We pay too much. The carpenter of, say, 1880 was what we would call poor. He would live in a cold-water flat, have no insurance or pension, and his children would be unlikely to even go to high school. So it was economically feasible to have him work for months detailing some rich guy's billiard room.
...I haven’t even covered the question of state control versus the market in deciding whether old people go into care homes at all – and how long they stay at one home. Many, perhaps most old people, would have preferred to grow old at home. There could have been scope for literally millions of people to be employed as carers for them. The terrors and indignities of old age would be softened by a personal relationship and familiar surroundings. There is evidence that the onset of senility is actually delayed for those old people who live in their own homes. Of course a raft of government regulations make this impossible. So we send ‘em to care homes, and even then, the government can’t keep its paws off. Many, many private care homes have been closed down in recent years when the cost of complying with absurd “safety” regulations and “standards” became too much. So the old people are shoved into the hospitals at the age of eighty-five and die, disoriented and miserable, by the thousands. Some safety. Some standards. But why wave their shrouds in front of Ms Toynbee’s face, what's she got to do with that? Because it was brought about by people of exactly her cast of mind; well-meaning, passionately caring people who wanted the best standards for our old people. They decided that the (yes) immutable law of the market that if you make running something one long hassle and expense then people won’t do it anymore could be overridden by mere act of benevolent will...
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Up on the wall...

I just had to show this off:

Hasui print in new frame

This is the Hasui print that Charlene gave me for Christmas. I just finished the frame, and now I can call her at the office and tell her there's something she might find interesting on my weblog...
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From Frum

...So here we are, in 2003, being challenged by some veterans of Clinton’s administration – and some Bush critics in the media – to be “consistent” in our policy. If we credulously trusted North Korea’s lies back in 1994, we must now (as a matter of simple fairness!) credulously trust Iraq’s lies in 2003. If international inspectors failed miserably in North Korea, they must now be given their full opportunity to fail miserably in Iraq as well. Instead of learning from the mistakes of the past, Bush’s critics say, we must repeat them, as if the supreme accolade for a nation’s foreign policy were to be able say, “it is consistent” – even if that means being consistently stupid...

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Interesting thoughts on NK...

from Orson Scott Card...
... Most people don’t understand what President Bush means when he says that we will pursue a “diplomatic solution.”

He doesn’t mean that we’ll negotiate with North Korea. What would be the point of that? They don’t keep their treaties anyway.

The diplomacy that will solve the problem is happening right now – between us and China...

...The only reason North Korea exists as a separate political entity is because in the early ’50s, when UN forces had virtually overrun all of North Korea, China sent a huge army that flung us back south. Only when each army held roughly the territory that had been North or South Korea before the war did the Chinese agree to an armistice.

This was a huge victory for China, and it remains one of the proudest moments in their history.

Do you think there’s even the slightest chance that China would let the US conduct any kind of military action against North Korea without massive retaliation? ...

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... But the key, of course, is that none of these conversations would take place in public. China can only bend to US pressure when they are not seen to be bending to US pressure.

In other words, if President Bush openly threatened China, then China could not cooperate with us without losing face – with the risk of a coup.

That is why President Bush cannot answer his critics. There is no answer he could give that would not wreck the diplomatic process.
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Thinking outside the box...

From Blaster's Blog, via Wes Dabney:
... I haven't changed my mind on removing our troops from South Korea. But for those who argue that this would be a destabilizing disengagement from the region, we replace those troops with something else.

We send 37,000 environmentalists to North Korea. This is a plan with so many wins and positive side effects that it is an absolute no brainer. UN inspections are notoriously incapable of stopping nuclear weapons development programs. Under the UN inspection regime, Pakistan and North Korea have become nuclear powers, and Iraq pretty darn close - twice. But in the United States, environmentalists have been totally effective at shutting down development of new nuclear power plants (we haven't put a new reactor on-line in over a dozen years), as well as shut down all US plutonium processing for at least a decade. They have a real track record of success.

Additionally, we could significantly reduce the number of tree sitters and trashcan-through-the-window-of-Starbucks throwers during the World Bank meetings. And these guys will get a true taste of living in a Stalinist hellhole Worker's Paradise. This could be a real Kumbayah Brigade, and be a "national service" project for the youth. And if they don't get 37,000 volunteers, Charlie Rangel could draft the graduating classes of UC Berkeley and Stanford and move on through the Ivies ...
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P. Krugman
#72: A Small Point

"In Stimulus for Lawyers (01/14/03) Paul Krugman tries to stretch a small point into a large one and comes up empty. The small point concerns the potential for abuse in eliminating the double taxation on dividends. The reason it remains a small point is that the same can be said of just about every provision of the tax code. That will be true as long as we have an income based tax system.

Meanwhile, Krugman misses an opportunity to make a valid criticism of the dividend tax proposal. Rather than make dividends tax free to individuals, dividends should be made deductible by corporations. This would at least put equity and debt on an equal footing and help solve the bias toward debt that has plagued corporate America in recent years. Of course, Krugman would never advocate that since it might help the rich.

By the way, in our last squad report, we used the phrase "running out of poor people" to illustrate how devious Krugman and the Democrats are at using the term "rich" without defining what rich means. Since then a number of articles have appeared that expand on this point. They are all worth a quick look...One, two, three, and four.

It's pretty clear that the people who really get hammered in the U.S. are those making between $75,000 to $200,000 per year. In most cases, this is solidly middle class. Yet every Krugman rant about a "tax cut for the rich" applies to them. There simply are not enough truly rich (top 1 %, say) to pay the bills. Big government finance depends on taxing the hell out of this second tier. That's where the money is.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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Monday, January 13, 2003

Seen on Sharkblog:

...Meanwhile, another group of Useful Idiots held a pro-Saddam singing vigil in Berkeley recently.

Among the pacifist folksongs they were singing: "Thank you, O Saddam, for firing Scud missiles into Tel Aviv", "Who gives a shit about all those Kurdish children you gassed?" and "Every Arab deserves the chance to be tortured by his own government" ...

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Wake up! Look around! We are privileged to be alive in these days...

This post from Baltic Blog (no perma-links, dated 12.1.03) made me think of Dave Trowbridge and his splendid Schutzhund, Oka.
Estonia contributes to the war on terror
TALLINN -- The Baltic News Service reports that Estonia's very own "Super Soldiers" will be staying in Afghanistan for another six months. The United States, impressed by the skill and tenacity of these soldiers, have requested that Estonia extend their mission.
Who are these proud patriots that surely have the terrorists cowering in their caves?
They are Estonian dogs, namely the bomb-sniffers that have been helping make sure that U.S. airfields have been secure.
Accompanied by their human companions, mine clearance experts who have volunteered for the mission, these dogs have been front-page news here since Shein, an Estonian bomb dog, won the professional competition at an international security forces air force base in September -- literally nosing out the allied competition.
"Americans have used their own dogs in Afghanistan and there have been other countries' dogs as well," said Igor Liiv, chief of the Estonian Rescue Board, told the Estonian daily Eesti Paevaleht . "But there are few of them in the world and ours have really shown themselves from the best part and we have been praised because of them." Liiv also said that the current dogs, labradors, need a holiday, so they will be replaced by shepards in the near future.
The human element makes three to five times the average Estonian wages (about $385) as combat pay.
For Shein and his buddies -- milk bones all around
(Via andrea
Actually, what really thrills me from my head down to my toes is that, for most of my life, the Baltic states were but a dim legend. The hardly existed. They had been swallowed by Stalin (who would be a progressive in today's terminology) and I assumed they had been digested totally, including the bones. And now here they are helping other countries to fight for freedom! What an age of wonders we live in...
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Those racist Republicans...

I was driving around this morning and caught these statistics from Rush. Since 1994, the Texas Republican Party has elected 5 minority candidates to important statewide offices. [And what else happened in Texas in 1994? hmm?]

The Texas Democratic party has elected . . . . 4 . . . . . since . . . . . . . . . . 1872.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

sluggish day

My brain-switch is stuck on the off position, at least for writing or talking. So I'm doing non-verbal things, including making a cool picture-frame for the print Charlene gave me for Christmas. Also, I've added a Favicon to my blog. That's the little icon that many (but not all) browsers now display with favorites or in the history list. (If mine doesn't show for you, you may have to clear your cache.) I think I'm way ahead of the blogging crowd ...