Friday, April 29, 2005
I find this all especially ironic because George W. Bush in some ways is the most moderate Republican we've had in a long time. He's increased spending significantly, especially on education -- up 40%. He's exacerbated a entitlement problem with his Medicare Drug Benefit plan. And his foreign policy, is Neo-Wilsonian. It seems that Democrats should be embracing Bush as one of the more moderate Republican Presidents. But all the "olive branches" Bush has offered seem only to enrage Democrats more
But specifically I want to dwell on this: The Neo-Wilsonian Bush doctrine that says as Americans we should be spreading Democracy. Isn't this exactly what Democrats used to stand for: doing the right thing to help improve the position of other whether it's in American interests or not?
Thursday, April 28, 2005
WOW -- AND PEOPLE THINK IT'S A SHAME HE'S NOT PRESIDENT [Jonah Goldberg ]Al Gore in his speech to MoveOn:
"This aggressive new strain of right-wing religious zealotry is actually a throwback to the intolerance that led to the creation of America in the first place," Gore said as many in the audience stood and applauded. The speech was sponsored by the liberal group MoveOn's political action committee
Here is the undeniable, irrefutable truth of the whole controversy over John Bolton's embattled nomination for the job as America's ambassador to the United Nations. If John Bolton had been the nicest, sweetest, let-me-help-you-with-your-groceries, you-can-sleep-on-my-couch, I'll-get-the-thorn-out-of-your-paw teddy bear to everybody he ever worked with or met, not a single Democratic senator on the Foreign Relations Committee would change his vote from "no" to "yes." And, if Bolton were an H. G. Wellsian lover of one-world government who believed that the United Nations was America's last best hope, all those "no" votes would switch to "yes" votes — even if it turned out that Bolton had a Skipper complex that compelled him to swat every wayward staffer in the head with his hat.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
And this isn't the first Joke by Rhodes about assasination.
Government officials are reviewing a skit which aired on the network Monday evening -- a skit featuring an apparent gunshot warning to the president!
The announcer: "A spoiled child is telling us our Social Security isn't safe anymore, so he is going to fix it for us. Well, here's your answer, you ungrateful whelp: [audio sound of 4 gunshots being fired.] Just try it, you little bastard. [audio of gun being cocked]."
The audio production at the center of the controversy aired during opening minutes of The Randi Rhodes Show.
"What is with all the killing?" Rhodes said, laughing, after the clip aired.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
What do Nostradamus, "Star Trek" and the Book of Revelation have to do with the Bush administration's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations?
In an attempt to deep-six John Bolton's nomination, Democrats placed stories in The Boston Globe, USA Today and CNN citing a women who claimed Bolton threatened her - the very same woman who published an article on newsmax.com using those sources to predict world peace was at hand.
Those articles also failed to mention the fact that Lynne Finney, the women who claims she was abused by Bolton, has problems with her memory. She believes that she long suppressed and later recovered memories that she was molested by her father - a process which the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association regard as dubious and an unreliable source of testimony.
Monday, April 25, 2005
"People who contributed less than $200 to politicians and parties gave 64 percent of their money to Republicans," writes York, based on 2002 campaign-finance data. "People who gave $1 million or more to politicians or parties gave 92 percent to Democrats."
"Dean has suggested that they are "evil." That they are "corrupt." He called them "brain-dead" during a stop in Toronto and while the Terri Schiavo case was still in the news. He has tagged Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) as a "liar." Last week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that he mimicked a "drug-snorting Rush Limbaugh" at an event there."
I've tried to cronicle Dean's hysteria on my blog. This is the leader of the Democratic party; Dems need to wake up and realize this kind of nonsense is going to catch up with them. Also note that Rush has not been accused of snorting drugs, only being addicted to painkillers.
The Washington Post takes a look at the Democrats surprising success at obstructing Republican-led initiatives in Congress this year:
They have stymied President Bush's Social Security plan and held fast against judicial nominees they consider unqualified. To protest a GOP rule change, they have kept the House ethics committee from meeting. And they have slowed and possibly derailed Bush's nomination of John R. Bolton to become ambassador to the United Nations.
Of course, what the Post doesn't note is that none of this would be happening without GOP defectors.
My guess is there will be a fallout for both Democrats and Republican defectors if this trend continues. Obstructionism doesn't pay dividends, especially when the obstuctionists aren't proposing any of their own ideas. (e.g., how to fix Social Security.)
Friday, April 22, 2005
Not much, though, if confirmed, his new position at the UN will definitely put him front and center before the world. And what are the accusations? Basically, that John Bolton is a bully -- though these accusations seem trumped up, if not outright fabricated.
One accuser, a Mr. Westerman, claims Bolton berated him, and then tried to have him fired. But that's not really true, Bolton only tried to have Westerman removed from his portfolio of intelligence officers -- not fired -- and this requesting was made for good reason: Bolton had submitted a speech for clearance, and Westerman had altered the speech to include some of his own prejudices.
And then there is another accuser, Melody Townsel. She possibly met up with Bolton in a hotel in Moscow, where they were working for the same company, and where, according to her, Bolton one night got angry and chased her down the hallway, throwing things at her. The problem is that no one was there to witness it, and those who were there, or where in the know, say that such and episode was very unlikely to go unnoticed. In addition, Townsel, who complained to her supervisor about trivial things all the time, never mentioned anything about the alleged Bolton explosion.
Townsel it seems has plenty of motivation to hinder the Bolton nomination. While working in Biskek and Moscow, she was under audit for misappropriation of company funds, as well as trying to steal a company contract. Bolton was asked by his supervisor to look into these questions, a reason Townsel may harbor a grudge against him. She also founded the Dallas chapter of Mothers Opposing Bush.
But where was she during the previous nominations? Why is Townsel coming forward with this all too vital information (sarcasm intended) so late in the game? She claims that she was to busy to come forward at earlier hearings; preoccupied with raising here child, who, apparently now, at the age of 4, is raised. But, despite being to busy for earlier confirmation hearings, Townsel was not too busy to work at Ogilvy, a large public relations firm, and, at the same time, work on "Whistleblower" issues for the Androvett Legal Media and Marketing firm, and run her own Townsel Communications firm.
In short, all of this smacks of Anita Hill.
And anyway, what is the relevance of all of the above accusations (though far from proven) even if they are true? There is NONE! Are democrats trying to claim you can't be a great diplomat or public servant if you rub people the wrong way, or worse, are a jerk? Certainly their own leadership doesn't clear this bar (i.e., Howard Dean; Bill Clinton et. al.) The late great Daniel Patrick Moynahan, and Jeanne Kirkpatrick were known to be a bit prickly now and again -- yet are still counted among the greatest diplomats the US has had. Shouldn't we be talking about Bolton's view of the UN, or his approach to diplomacy, (which, by all accounts, are impressive) or something else that has real importance and goes to the heart of Bolton's qualifications to represent us at the UN?
Yes, we should, but such is the case with today's politics, that substance doesn't count for as much as the appearance of impropriety.
Friday, April 15, 2005
The question arises, "what do we do to keep the courts in check?" Lawyers at the corner have had an extensive debate about the practicality of impeaching judges. Glenn Reynolds has also added his own suggestions. Among them are term limits for judges and having a super-majority override of judicial decisions.
I find both of these options lacking.
Term limits may make the politicians more accountable, but to whom? Probably to the political majority. A step like this would only further the main problem we have with the judiciary: its politicization. Courts are supposed to tell the majority to "take a hike" when it is running roughshod over the constitutionally enumerated rights of the minority. Term limits would -- if judges can be reapointed -- only make them more mindful of the political ramifications of their decisions. But judges should mind only the law and constitution.
I have no problem with a super majority override of court decisions, though I don't think It would really change much. We already have a super majority way of checking the courts through amending the constitution, but this is largely impracticable. Any attempt is denounced as "playing politics with the constitution." Perhaps if a supper majority can override the court without changing the constitution, it would help in a PR campaign but I doubt it would provide the strong check need on the judicary. I'm told in Canada the parliament has as super majority override, and that whenever its use is even considered, the media goes wild with accusations of "the parliament infringing upon the independent judiciary" -- even though such a law is, by design, supposed to infringe upon the judiciary.
I think -- though I'm not positive-- that requiring a court to have some sort of super majority for any constitutional ruling may be appropriate. Then, if a ruling is reached that is widely unpopular, and based on statutory law, the legislature can change the ruling by changing the statute with a simple majority. Courts could still make decisions based on the constitution, but there would have to be enough of a consensus to convince 2/3rds or even 3/4ths of the judges. I think this would make constitutional judicial activism very rare. one problem is that standing opinions, which were inapropriately based on the constitution, e.g., Rove v. Wade, would be near imposible to overturn.
I'm not 100% sure this is a foolproof answer, but it seems to me like it may be a good fix.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
HEY, I LOVE THE BRITISH [Jonah Goldberg]
But this guy doesn't. From a reader:
I think I'll sleep a bit better tonight knowing that al-Qaeda's master poisoner thinks that the best way to kill large numbers of Britons is to target the toothbrushes.
Isn't it possible that this plan was designed to occur simultaneously with 9/11 but nobody in Britain has bought a toothbrush since then?
Here are some of my favorites:
Chalk up one more example of liberal lunacy -- and add it to electing Howard Dean head of the DNC, allowing Al Sharpton to speak at the Democratic convention, embracing Michael Moore, etc.
You may have missed that Judge Guido Calabresi has been admonished by a judicial panel. Why was he admonished? Last June, he urged the defeat of President Bush. And in the bargain, Calabresi — a former dean of Yale Law School, and a Clinton appointee — compared Bush’s actions in the 2000 election to the machinations of Hitler and Mussolini. You betcha. (A story on the matter is here.) Calabresi was speaking before a left-wing group, cutely named the American Constitution Society. Have a sample of the judge’s thought: “Like Mussolini, [Bush] has exercised extraordinary power. One of the things that is at stake is the assertion by the democracy that when that has happened it is important to put that person out.”
Frankly, I sort of like it when Democrats speak their minds, à la Calabresi. Good for him. Comparisons of Bush to evil dictators are routine in liberal circles, such as the judge inhabits. (In truth, Bush is a bringer-down of evil dictators.) Why keep these beliefs hidden? Why pretend that Calabresi has ever been any other kind of thinker?
And more, this last line had me laughing quite heartilly:
The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen is an honest writer, basically. He wears his hates on his sleeve. In his 4/7 column, he wrote, “. . . I knew that the most alarming case against Saddam Hussein — that he was an imminent threat to the United States — was a lie.”
Please note that word “imminent” — and recall what President Bush said in his State of the Union address, before he went to war against Saddam: “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 will come too late.”
You should read the whole thing; well worth it.
Bear in mind that Charles Rangel is not some street-corner ranter. He is a member of the U.S. Congress, and the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. If his party wins a majority next year, he will be chairman.
Rangel gave a speech about Social Security before black retired workers outside New York’s City Hall. Meghan Clyne of the New York Sun reports:. . . For black Americans, the congressman added, the struggle against the proposed changes in the entitlement system was “not only a civil-rights fight, but a fight for America.” Mr. Rangel called on African-Americans to continue their “missionary” work against the Social Security proposals and likened the effort to his marching with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery.
“We have to get rid of the bums that are trying to take it away from us,” Mr. Rangel said of the Social Security system, referring to Republicans in Washington and City Hall — “people who sleep with Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and the rest of them.”
A member of the City Council from Brooklyn, Charles Barron, joined Mr. Rangel in urging African-Americans to stand against alterations to the system. “It’s bad enough they won’t pay us our reparations,” Mr. Barron, who for a time was seeking the Democratic mayoral nomination, said. “Now they’re trying to take away our Social Security!”
Neither Mr. Barron nor Mr. Rangel detailed at the meeting why the president’s proposals were harmful to the black community. When asked for specifics by The New York Sun after the event, Mr. Rangel said, “The progressive nature of being able to get returns means that lower-income people benefit more than higher-income people” from the Social Security system. Since members of minority groups disproportionately constitute the lower income brackets, the congressman said, they stand to lose the most from Mr. Bush’s efforts — which the congressman labeled “fraud” and an “impeachable offense.”
I’m trying to figure out which is most interesting: that Rangel considers opposition to Social Security reform a civil-rights stance; that he regards reform as an “impeachable offense”; or that he saw fit to invoke the name of Paul Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defense, in a speech demonizing Social Security reform.
Anything to get that name out, I guess — a name that, as Mark Steyn says, begins with a scary animal and ends Jewishly.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Judicial activism in the Terri Schiavo case. Here, I think the complaint is just off-base. Congress passed a procedural statute, and was disappointed that it didn't get the substantive result that it wanted.
This I have a hard time understanding. The de novo review passed for Terri was a procedural law, true. But those of us who are upset about what the courts did are arguing that Terri was denied the procedural review afforded her by this law. (we didn't get the results we wanted, but we're not holding the courts responsible for that) Perhaps this complaint goes to the heart of the question: What is a de novo review? On the surface, it seems that the review Judge Greer gave Terri was not in fact the de novo review that congress had in mind.
Now Factcheck writes:
the return on the [personal] account [assumed by the Democrats]was only 3 percent -- dismally low compared to the stock market average of about 7 percent (accounting for inflation).
One thing we found is that the calculator systematically underestimates the likely returns of investments. It says "The calculator assumes that your investments get a rate of return of 3 percent above inflation ," a figure most financial advisers would find absurdly low. As we've pointed out before , the stock market has averaged 6.8 percent above inflation for the past century.
and in regards to fixing solvency, I wrote:
And Factcheck writes:
But there is one other problem -- the Dem's calculation compare the (deeply flawed) "numbers" from "Bush's plan" with today's promised benefits. The problem? How will we pay for those benefits? Raise taxes? Since personal account and cutting benefits are off the table raising taxes is all that's left. And If we do, well have less than three people paying for every retiree! Payroll taxes will have to be very high in order for that to work -- very high indeed.
So once again there are your choices; really high taxes or personal accounts -- take your pick.
So in short, factcheck.org's article today finds the same errors, and reaches more of less the same conclusions as my post from yesterday. In other words -- I've scooped fact check!
Both the ad and the calculator use benefits promised under current law as their basis for comparison, but they fail to mention that current tax rates can't support those benefit levels beyond 2041. According to the latest projection of the Social Security trustees, benefits would then have to be cut 26 percent at that time, and that reduction would grow every year thereafter. Compared to the actual level of benefits that can be supported by the current system, Bush's supposed "cuts" would be much smaller.
Put another way, maintaining benefit growth at the level assumed by the calculator and the ad would require a tax increase, something not mentioned.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
The assumptions where these: Future benefits would be indexed to wages with four percent personal retirement accounts (fair enough so far), but then, the accounts would have a contribution limit of 1000 dollars per year -- the cap increasing every year by 100 dollars plus an adjustment for inflation. Huh? No such thing has been proposed by the Bush administration so where did this come from? In addition the return on the account was only 3 percent -- dismally low compared to the stock market average of about 7 percent (accounting for inflation).
These assumption produce seriously flawed results. If you make 50,000 dollars annually, Bush's real plan would allow you to invest two thousand of those dollars, twice as much as what this calculator has allowed for. On top of that you would receive a much higher rate of return, probably at least 5% if you're a very conservative investor -- even higher if you're not.
They do have one point; indexing Social Security benefits to inflation will produce lower returns on your money that is still in the old Social Security system. The problem is the that they inappropriately put far to much money into that old system and give much to small of returns on the money in the new personal accounts. That means money that would actually be earning a fairly good return, is, under the Dem's assumptions, earning a negative return -- and that screws things up significantly enough to make a good deal look bad. Nevertheless, the personal accounts -- even under the democrats assumption -- have higher rates of return than the current Social Security system now has. (though they don't point that out)
If you look at the assumption there are other things that tell you something is not right. For instance, personal account are called a "loan" from Social Security to invest. Well that's nonsense. You earned that money not the government; and the money is for your retirement. Its not a loan its what economists call and opportunity cost -- that is the cost to you of choosing one use of your capitol over another. The classic economics example is a person who has two job offers. Job X offers 30,000 a year, job Y 40,000. The opportunity cost for picking job Y is 30,000 dollars. THAT'S NOT A 30,000 DOLLAR LOAN, ITS AN OPPORTUNITY COST! Calling personal accounts a loan shows you how these liberals think. If you keep your own money and invest it (at a rate higher than what Social Security promises you --even they admit that) well you've incurred a debt. Nonsense, what you've done is turn a bad investment in the government into a good investment in the private sector.
But there is one other problem -- the Dem's calculation compare the (deeply flawed) "numbers" from "Bush's plan" with today's promised benefits. The problem? How will we pay for those benefits? Raise taxes? Since personal account and cutting benefits are off the table raising taxes is all that's left. And If we do, we'll have less than three people paying for every retiree! Payroll taxes will have to be very high in order for that to work -- very high indeed.
So once again there are your choices; really high taxes or personal accounts -- take your pick.
P.S. More here by Michael Tanner about mortality rates and annuities, probably not taken into account (the fact that the calculator does not ask for your sex is a dead giveaway). Here is a calculator by Cato that takes mortality rates into account.
Monday, April 11, 2005
Kerry has never disputed the outcome of election, saying voting irregularities did not involve enough votes to change the result. Bush won the pivotal state of Ohio by 118,000 votes, giving him enough electoral votes to win re-election.
Ok, but what exactly is Kerry saying then? That his party's voters are stupid?
"Leaflets are handed out saying Democrats vote on Wednesday, Republicans vote on Tuesday. People are told in telephone calls that if you've ever had a parking ticket, you're not allowed to vote," he said.
If you're not smart enought to know what day to go to the polls, then perhaps you shouldn't be voting.
Thursday, April 7, 2005
I thought it was conservatives, and not liberals who were the intolerant one? Take homosexuality as an example. Conservatives are suposed to be bigots and intolerant for not embracing homosexuality. Sure there are those conservatives who do actually hate homosexuals, but these aren't the ones that are ususally denounced. Even conservatives denounce Randall Terry, and are critical of Alan Keys. Some (namely Andrew Sullivan --if he still counts as conservative) are even suspect of Jerry Falwell (I think this is unnecessarily so, because, even though Falwell denounces homosexuality typically on religious grounds, I have seen Falwell say that if his son or daughter came out as a homosexual, he would still say (I paraphrase) "there is your bedroom, I still love you." This, I think, shows tolerance). Thus, we conservatives are willing to purge the the hate-mongers from among us (and besides those mentioned above, I can't think of any really).
But for liberals this is not the case. "Tolerance" is number one on liberals' agenda when tolerance = allowing gay-marriage. But that isn't tolerance at all. It is possible to not like/endorse same-sex marriage and still be tolerant of homosexuals. We conservative, for the most part, just respectfully disagree to the correctness, morality, a benefit to society of same-sex marriage. And we believe that allowing gay-marriage is tantamount to condoning, not tolerating the practice (we already tolerate it).
But for not condoning we are bigots -- and herein lies the conservatives' beef as well the evidence against liberal tolerance. All of the assaulted conservatives, listed above, went to colleges to share ideas -- specifically political ideas. If ever there was something that needed tolerance it is political speech,which is really the one type of speech the first amendment is supposed to protect unconditionally (not kiddy porn -- a suprize to some I'm sure). But apparently liberals can't say to themselves, "Well, I don't like Coulter, or Horowitz, and do not agree with them, but I will -- in the spirit of tolerance -- let them express themselves, and, if needs be, counter with my own opinions and facts in due time."
Instead the message conveyed by throwing fruit is, " Your ideas aren't worth listening to or thinking about, and, in addition, I despise you and your ideas so much you deserve to be punished for even having them!" What other justification can you have for such behavior?
Need more evidence? Larry Summers. Here is a liberal man who expressed the idea the men and women may just have different strengths and aptitudes -- a conclusion based on his economic research. For this he has been criticized relentlessly by feminists, and many have called for his resignation. Liberals, it seems, cannot even tolerate their own when they make a observation -- true or not -- that is at odds with there dogma. And who has come to Summers defense? Conservatives! Sure we agree with Summers on this point that men and women have differences --and because of his liberalism this may be the only point we agree with him on. But, to the feminist this idea is not only wrong, its intolerable.
Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
OKLAHOMA CITY — A convicted murderer and a deputy warden's wife who disappeared nearly 11 years ago have been found living together and raising chickens in Texas. The woman said she was held captive the whole time, staying with the killer out of fear her family would be harmed if she fled.
Where's the outrage?
The Washington Times reports that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi helped secure $3 million last year for a nonprofit organization, WestStart-CALSTART, whose president gave money to her political action committee. The organization also paid for the European trip of one of Pelosi's policy advisers. Republicans are suggesting that nothing distinguishes Pelosi's actions from those of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and other Republican members Pelosi has criticized.
Monday, April 4, 2005
Americans now oppose gay marriage by a margin of 68 percent to 28 percent. Last year, the figures were 58 percent opposed and 42 percent in favor. That’s a 10 percent increase in opposition and a 14 percent drop of those in favor. Support for a Federal Marriage Amendment has also risen sharply. Americans now favor a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a
woman by a margin of 57 percent to 37 percent. Last year the figures were 48 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. So support for a Federal Marriage Amendment has moved up by nine percent.
Sandy Berger, the top Clinton national- security official and erstwhile close adviser to Sen. John Kerry, has finally confessed what he spent nearly a year heatedly denying: that he intentionally smuggled classified documents from the National Archives — and deliberately destroyed them.
Here are excerpts from a speech Ginsburg gave on Friday to the American Society of International Law, as reported by the New York Times:
"Judges in the United States are free to consult all manner of commentary." "The notion that it is improper to look beyond the borders of the United States in grappling with hard questions has a certain kinship to the view that the U.S. Constitution is a document essentially frozen in time as of the date of its ratification."
"Even more so today, the United States is subject to the scrutiny of a candid world. What the United States does, for good or for ill, continues to be watched by the international community, in particular by organizations concerned with the advancement of the rule of law and respect for human dignity."
Ginsburg and her like view themselves as a combination of ambassadors, legislators, and Cabinet members. She simply will not confine herself to the dictates of the Constitution. So, what do we do about judges who brazenly continue to thumb their noses at the rule of law?
If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he
did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about aids?