Monday, May 30, 2005
I'll have some analysis later today, when I've had a chance to look at some more detailed reports, but let me leave you with a couple of thoughts: first, the really big loser here is Jacques Chirac, whose ego caused him to hold a national referendum instead of a simple parliamentary vote, like Germany, and who waged a high profile personal campaign in support of the constitution for the past several weeks; second, the EU constitution faces a referendum vote in the Netherlands on Wednesday, and polling indicates that opposition there is even higher than it was in France.
The EU constitution, pushed aggressively by the French government for years, is probably now headed back to start over from scratch because of the opposition of the French people. And here's the big question: is it really going to be possible to work out a compromise between the capitalistic open market economy countries of Eastern Europe and the socialist nanny states of France and the Scandinavian countries?
Sunday, May 29, 2005
All politics is local
The real reason Voinovich is angry was a series of TV ads played by a conservative group in Ohio criticizing the Senator for not backing Bolton early.
Bolton and the White House had nothing to do with the ads. But insiders say Voinovich was so ticked off by the local pressure he vowed to get Bolton.
I don't find this very convincing. First, Voinovich is no starry-eyed kid, he's a political veteran of almost thirty years' experience. He's been around enough not to take things like that personally. Second, Voinovich is no dummy, and isn't likely to go off half-cocked. He would have known who was behind the ads (and there were some spots that ran in Ohio) and would not have "vowed to get Bolton" because of the actions of third parties.
I think the much more likely explanation is that Voinovich probably does in fact find Bolton's personal style distasteful - Voinovich is himself very low-key and always appears rather laid-back, preferring to settle differences out of public view. More importantly, I think Voinovich is positioning for a possible run as a centrist in 2008, and if he can point to OHIO - likely to again be one of a dwindling number of states in play - as overwhelmingly behind him, that goes a long way to establish electability. I think the most likely explanation for his grandstanding on the Bolton nomination is that Voinovich is playing to the hardcore and sizeable, fairly moderate, Democrat constituency in Ohio to drive up his approval numbers.
Note: the link here is to the NewsMax main page; the "Insider Report" is by subscription only, so I wasn't sure about the propriety of linking directly to that report.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.
I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.
My estrangement hasn't happened overnight. Out of the corner of my eye I watched what was coming for more than three decades, yet refused to truly see. Now it's all too obvious. Leading voices in America's "peace" movement are actually cheering against self-determination for a long-suffering Third World country because they hate George W. Bush more than they love freedom.
A turning point came at a dinner party on the day Ronald Reagan famously described the Soviet Union as the pre-eminent source of evil in the modern world. The general tenor of the evening was that Reagan's use of the word "evil" had moved the world closer to annihilation. There was a palpable sense that we might not make it to dessert.
When I casually offered that the surviving relatives of the more than 20 million people murdered on orders of Joseph Stalin might not find "evil'" too strong a word, the room took on a collective bemused smile of the sort you might expect if someone had casually mentioned taking up child molestation for sport.
My progressive companions had a point. It was rude to bring a word like "gulag" to the dinner table.
I look back on that experience as the beginning of my departure from a left already well on its way to losing its bearings. Two decades later, I watched with astonishment as leading left intellectuals launched a telethon- like body count of civilian deaths caused by American soldiers in Afghanistan. Their premise was straightforward, almost giddily so: When the number of civilian Afghani deaths surpassed the carnage of Sept. 11, the war would be unjust, irrespective of other considerations.
Stated simply: The force wielded by democracies in self-defense was declared morally equivalent to the nihilistic aggression perpetuated by Muslim fanatics.
Susan Sontag cleared her throat for the "courage" of the al Qaeda pilots. Norman Mailer pronounced the dead of Sept. 11 comparable to "automobile statistics." The events of that day were likely premeditated by the White House, Gore Vidal insinuated. Noam Chomsky insisted that al Qaeda at its most atrocious generated no terror greater than American foreign policy on a mediocre day.
These days the postmodern left demands that government and private institutions guarantee equality of outcomes. Any racial or gender "disparities" are to be considered evidence of culpable bias, regardless of factors such as personal motivation, training, and skill. This goal is neither liberal nor progressive; but it is what the left has chosen. In a very real sense it may be the last card held by a movement increasingly ensnared in resentful questing for group-specific rights and the subordination of citizenship to group identity. There's a word for this: pathetic.
True, it took a while to see what was right before my eyes. A certain misplaced loyalty kept me from grasping that a view of individuals as morally capable of and responsible for making the principle decisions that shape their lives is decisively at odds with the contemporary left's entrance-level view of people as passive and helpless victims of powerful external forces, hence political wards who require the continuous shepherding of caretaker elites.
Leftists who no longer speak of the duties of citizens, but only of the rights of clients, cannot be expected to grasp the importance (not least to our survival) of fostering in the Middle East the crucial developmental advances that gave rise to our own capacity for pluralism, self-reflection, and equality. A left averse to making common cause with competent, self- determining individuals -- people who guide their lives on the basis of received values, everyday moral understandings, traditional wisdom, and plain common sense -- is a faction that deserves the marginalization it has pursued with such tenacity for so many years.
There is really no commentary that I need to add to this piece. I just urge you to go and read the entire thing… excerpts, even more extensive excerpts than would normally appear here, do not do justice to what is obviously a heartfelt and soul-searching explanation by a man who is not really leaving the left, but who has rather been abandoned by the left in its dash to the brink of an insane, amoral, anti-individualist statism.
Compromise is a loss for principle and the Constitution
1. Either the nominees were qualified, or they weren’t. If they were, the seven Democrats who participated in the deal had no legitimate right to filibuster the nominations. If they weren’t, those seven Democrats had no legitimate right to allow the vote on the nominees in order to preserve the filibuster.
2. I guarantee you that in the back of the minds of the Republican participants was the thought that the pendulum will eventually swing, and the filibuster should be preserved against the day when Republicans are in the minority. Well, either the filibuster on judicial nominees is legitimate, or it isn’t. (I happen to think it isn’t). If it is, the Republicans had no legitimate right to threaten to eliminate it. If it isn’t, then it still won’t be when a future Republican minority uses, or threatens to use, it.
The Senate has done nothing more than manage to avoid deciding the issue. An issue which will be reappearing the very first time Bush makes a Supreme Court nomination, because ANYBODY he is likely to nominate will fall into the “extraordinary circumstances” category.
As I see it, there are two big losers here. Bill Frist, because when push came to shove, he couldn’t deliver. And the Constitution, which is still held hostage by a minority of Senators who are apparently willing to use an extra-constitutional tactic, the judicial filibuster, to obstruct the appointment of apparently qualified judicial nominees. And I say apparently qualified, because enough Democrats to break the filibuster agreed to allow the nominations to proceed in order to preserve the filibuster for use another day.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Traffic exchange update
Also, I’m continuing to get really good results, in terms of multi-page views and return visits, from both TrafficAxiom and Webcentresurf. I blogged these sites a while back, and added buttons in my sidebar, and wondered at the time if the results I was seeing on Sitemeter were for real. Well, I’m convinced now that other bloggers are seeing good results too, because there are several blogs other than mine now displaying regularly on these sites. I know they’re honest about referrals, too, because I tested it by having a friend join under my referral code. Both of these offer bonus credit systems that you will simply not see in the blog exchanges. I’ve corresponded with the owners of both exchanges, and they really like having blogs mixed in to add another dimension and keep the exchange more interesting to users. I also think I’m getting the results I get because after looking at thirty “Make Money Now” pages, up comes my blog with something different to offer.
If you don’t consider “traditional” exchanges like these, you are really limiting the exposure of your blog. Why would you assume that only other bloggers would be interested in what you have to say?
When you join an exchange, try to use the buddy system. If you join, and your “buddy” joins through your referral link, you’ll find out how honest the exchange is pretty quick. And they’re not all honest! The referrer usually gets some kind of bonus credits out of the referral, so alternate who joins first and who joins second. The other advantage of using the buddy system is that you’ll see each other’s page come up in the rotation, so you’ll know if your page is taking too long to load, coming up five times consecutively to the same surfer, or never showing up in the rotation at all.
You can waste a ton of time “clicking for credits”, but if you’re smart about it, you can really find new readers that way. If all you want is to see your counter spin, join the “short-timer” autosurf exchanges. But the truth is, most autosurf programs will not get you readers. In fact, if your blog is real top-heavy with pictures and graphics, most autosurfers will never actually see it. By the time it loads, the timer will move on. Or it will freeze the viewer’s browser, interrupt his surfing, and probably just piss him off. Not the best way to earn new readers.
If you are just looking to pad your stats, try Autohits.dk and Surfhornet. Autohits.dk is a straight up autosurfer, .8 credits per page viewed. It runs very smoothly for an autosurfer, and delivers return hits like right now…if you surf 50 pages, by a few minutes after the time you finish, you’ll have gotten your return visits. When I was testing autosurfers, this was the one that actually delivered a few multi-page view visits. Surfhornet is a ten-second autosurfer with a liberal bonus program – a thousand bonus credits when you sign up, and ten bonus credits on the surfbar every ten or fifteen sites after you surf thirty five or so in a session. You can pile up credits effortlessly on this one. Return visits don’t register as visits on Sitemeter, they register as page views. So you might get a one-hour, 40 page view visit. You’re NOT going to get new readers from a ten-second autosurfer, but you can pad your length of visit and page view stats, if that’s what you’re into.
One other thing I've learned while researching traffic exchanges: you'd be surprised at some of the blogs that use traffic exchanges and paid traffic services to drive their readership numbers. And no, I'm not going to name any names.
Strange search results
Everybody has a camera phone now, right? Well, everybody but me, anyway. British teens, and even pre-teens, have found a fun new use for the popular gizmos. It’s known as “Happy Slapping”:
But now there's a disturbing new trend emerging with the way some teens overseas are using these phones to videotape themselves slapping innocent bystanders.
Indications that "happy-slapping" may be spreading. British transport police investigating 200 incidents in the last six months.
I can see only one way to deal with this strange craze. I’m going to start a fund to send British kids to France for their summer vacation.
The original post is a bit longer, but you get the idea. Now here's the odd part: the AOL search is in French... apparently from France...and has now been re-run four times over two days by four different IP addresses. Gee, I hope I'm not causing an international incident. What if France declares war on me? I have a pretty big yard, but not big enought for a POW camp for the whole French army!How will I feed all those POW's? Where will I find that much cheese?
Friday, May 20, 2005
Once-feared tyrant to deploy ferocious lawyers over embarrassing photos
Lawyers for Saddam Hussein said today that they have started legal action against The Sun after the newspaper published a front-page picture of the deposed dictator wandering around an Iraqi jail in his underpants.
Ziyad Khasawneh, who heads Saddam's 20-strong defence team based in Jordan, told The Times that he would also be starting legal action against US forces in Iraq and Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, for allowing Saddam to be photographed in jail in breach of international law.
First, let me say that I think publishing the photos was just plain stupid. But since stupid seems to be the way the press does business anymore, I’m not surprised. Second, let me say that I’m sure Rumsfeld is shaking in his shoes, and will be hiding out and ducking process servers for years to come. Yeah, sure. Particularly since the International Red Cross has already said it doesn’t even plan to issue a statement:
Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention of 1929 says: "Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."
The mention of "public curiosity" is taken by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Geneva-based guardian of the Conventions, to mean that photographs should not be published of prisoners of war in which they can be identified.
But the ICRC appeared relatively unconcerned today about any breach of the Convention and said it did not plan to issue any public statements about the Saddam photographs.
What I find delightfully ironic is that Saddam is going to sue somebody over being embarrassed. Well, I guess that’s what you’re left with when you can no longer have people who aggravate you taken out and shot and buried by the truckload, or give them to your kids to put through an industrial chipper-shredder.
Personally, I think Saddam should be paying us for holding and protecting his miserable butt. What do you think would become of him if he was released on the streets of Baghdad today? Can anybody out there say “Ceaucescu”? No? How about "Mussolini"?
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Quran flushing story put to the test
Now obviously we were not going to use an actual copy of the Quran for this test. For one thing, most of those things are quite heavy, being in hardback editions, mostly green, often with embossed covers, and we wanted to make this as fair a trial as possible. And for another, we have this odd desire to keep our heads attatched to our shoulders.
Instead, for the purposes of research we went out and got a copy of another Holy Book, "Stupid White Men" by Michael Moore. It was a paperback, which we felt would give it a much better chance of attaining maximum flushability that anything in hardback. Also, it's a pile of crap and the toilet is where it belongs anyway. It cost us $21.00, and we mean that in a very real, and tax-deductible way.
Go read this, now! It’s hilarious! And it has pictures, too!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Europe united in dislike for the French
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Britons described them as "chauvinists, stubborn, nannied and humourless". However, the French may be more shocked by the views of other nations.
For the Germans, the French are "pretentious, offhand and frivolous". The Dutch describe them as "agitated, talkative and shallow." The Spanish see them as "cold, distant, vain and impolite" and the Portuguese as "preaching". In Italy they comes across as "snobs, arrogant, flesh-loving, righteous and self-obsessed" and the Greeks find them "not very with it, egocentric bons vivants".
Interestingly, the Swedes consider them "disobedient, immoral, disorganised, neo-colonialist and dirty".
Apparently it’s not just a nationalistic thing, it’s personal. Because it isn’t France the Europeans don’t like, it’s the French:
According to Mr Clodong, [one of the authors of the study] the old adage that France is wonderful, it's just the French who are the problem, is shared across Europe.
"We are admired for our trains, the Airbus and Michelin tyres. But the buck stops there," he said.
Hmmmmmm... how could anybody not love the French?
Standard journalistic practices?
Neal Boortz is one of my everyday reads. I often do not agree with him, and I rarely agree with everything in his blog. But this bears repeating. Here's Neal Boortz' take on the journalistic standards at Newsweek:
Might I submit to you that the Newsweek journalistic "standards" bear close resemblance to the following:
1. The Bush Administration didn't rely on faulty intelligence in its move to depose Saddam Hussein; instead, Bush "lied."
2. Any story from an anonymous source critical of a Republican president, no matter how thinly based or weakly corroborated, must be initially believed as true and may be reported as such if deadlines are close.
3. Any story from an anonymous source critical of a Democratic president must be initially believed as untrue and should only be published out of a fear that some other news organization is going to publish it before you do.
4. Torture of Muslims is a widespread and accepted part of the U.S. military culture.
5. Virtually all of the detainees being held in Guantanamo are innocent and should be immediately released, perhaps with reparations payments for their incarceration.
6. Every action involving the U.S. military under other than a Democratic commander in chief will, within no less than 21 days, become a "quagmire."
7. There is no legitimate reason for the application of U.S. military force overseas under a Republican president until after the nuclear tipped missiles are actually launched.
8. There is no reason not to apply U.S. military force overseas under a Democratic president.
9. Anti-war activists are prone to tell the truth. Military officials are prone to lie.
10. Reporters never lie, unless they work for The Washington Times or the Fox News Channel.
11. America is great because of its government, so long as that government is controlled by Democrats.
12. If the United States government is controlled by Republicans, America is not great.
13. Freedom has nothing to do with America's greatness, no matter who is in control of our government.
Here's another frivolous lawsuit for your entertainment
A man only identified as John Doe in court papers sued a former lover. He contended the woman suddenly changed positions during sex, fracturing his you-know-what.
The man had emergency surgery in September 1994 and says he's been unable to satisfactorily perform since.
The court papers say he hasn't responded to medication or counseling.
The appeals court ruled the woman isn't legally responsible for her boyfriend's injuries. A lawyer for the man said they may file an appeal.
I can't think of anything I need to add to this gem.
Monday, May 16, 2005
Good stuff over at CUANAS
You should consider adding CUANAS to your regular reading, if you haven’t already. It’s a good blend of bringing together material from different sources with reasoned and articulate original commentary, and covers a wide variety of subjects intelligently without beating you over the head with lengthy diatribes.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
I have a lawn and garden question
I was just wondering.
Friday, May 13, 2005
Is Voinovich looking ahead to 2008?
He then took the same rather uncharacteristic tack in getting the nomination from the committee to the floor, again very publicly disparaging Bolton and his nomination, but claiming that he didn’t feel his judgment on the matter should prevent a vote on the Senate floor.
Well, if it’s a matter of principle, and you feel the nominee should not be approved, isn’t it your responsibility, as a member of the committee, to act on that conviction? And if you have misgivings about the nomination, but are not sufficiently doubtful to block the nomination when you could do so, why the big public presentation of your best impersonation of Pilate, washing your hands of the matter and making others responsible for the ultimate decision?
The common explanation has been to dismiss Voinovich as a “maverick”, as if that somehow explains his behavior. I wonder if there’s another explanation: Voinovich is positioning himself as a “moderate” for a run at the White House in 2008.
The other issue on which he chose to publicly display his “maverick” tendencies was his opposition to the Bush tax cuts, unless linked to spending cuts. That’s a pretty reasonable, fiscally responsible, moderate position: tax cuts good, spending cuts equally good and equally important. A pretty big chunk of the political middle would be willing to go along with that. And contrary to what most conservative pundits seem to think, the vast majority of Americans are neither “conservative” nor “liberal”, they are somewhere in a huge middle ground with opinions that range from conservative to liberal from issue to issue.
Exactly the constituency who might take a serious look at an Ohio Senator who favored tax cuts but insisted on spending cuts to go along with them, who showed loyalty in not blocking a nomination despite misgivings, who showed humility in allowing that the majority of the Senate, not one Senator, should have the final say.
Voinovich knows how to win an election in which he has to have votes from the entire political spectrum. Before he was a popular, and successful, Ohio Governor, and then Senator, he was a very popular, and successful, Mayor of Cleveland. For a Republican to be elected Mayor of Cleveland is remarkable. Cleveland is one of the rock-solid bases of Democrat domination in Northeastern Ohio, and the conventional wisdom in Ohio is that as long as he runs as a Democrat and isn’t an axe-murderer, a chimpanzee could get elected in most places in Northeastern Ohio.
So is Voinovich positioning himself for 2008? Time will tell. It’s certainly not a sure thing. But at this point, I wouldn’t bet against it, either.
UPDATE: If he's positioning, he's doing a good job in his home state. In addition to all the national coverage, Voinovich got the front page photo and story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today, as well as several other papers around the state. The more I look at this, the more I think he's got his eye on a run as a "centrist" candidate, a moderate Republican with a history of carrying moderate and even not-quite-so-moderate Democrats. "He's electable" can be a very important thing to have people thinking.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Kentucky Derby was fixed! Massive conspiracy uncovered!
Wherein HBO boxing announcer and Huffington Post newbie blogger, Jim Lampley, explains how they fixed Saturday's Kentucky Derby right under your noses.
At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Derby Day (Saturday), I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the the Kentucky Derby, 45 minutes before post time. Bellamy Road was a five-to-two favorite. You can look it up.
Go read the whole thing. You'll be glad you did.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Your tax dollars at work: free medical care for illegal aliens
Health care providers can charge the government for emergency care provided to illegal aliens beginning Tuesday.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued final guidance Monday that sets up a system for reimbursement. Lawmakers set aside $1 billion over four years for the program, created by Medicare legislation passed in 2003.
Two-thirds of the money will be distributed to health care providers based on a state’s percentage of undocumented aliens. The remaining third will go to providers in the six states with the largest number of arrests of undocumented aliens.The states receiving the highest amounts in the current fiscal year are California, $70.8 million; Texas, $46 million; Arizona, $45 million; and New York, $12.25 million.
Our political leadership has completely failed us on this issue. I got an immigration policy for you: if you're here illegally, you have to leave. NOW. I don't care how you got here, what you were studying when your visa expired, or who employs you as a nanny or anything else, you go home. NOW. If your children were born here, they're citizens. They can stay. But you leave. NOW.
What was so hard about figuring that out?
Debunking global warming...again!
In early May, newspapers across the country reported that a team of "adventurers" from Minnesota was setting off to "document climate change" at the North Pole.
According to newspaper reports, they aim to "draw [attention to] the gradual warming of Earth's climate" and "hope to convince skeptics, especially in the Bush administration, that global warming is real...."
In other words, this summer will bring a barrage of misinformation about the Earth's ice structures provided by non-scientists who make casual observations and then claim they know what caused the situations they are observing.
There is real scientific data available for consideration, such as a lengthy study of the “melting glaciers” we hear so much about. But we don’t hear about the scientific data, because it simply doesn’t support the whole “humans are destroying the earth with global warming” tale:
A few years ago, R.J. Braithwaite's peer-reviewed article in Progress in Physical Geography described a "mass balance analysis" he conducted of 246 glaciers sampled all around the world between 1946 and 1995. That's 50 years of data. Braithwaite found some glaciers were melting, while a nearly equal number were growing in size, and still others remained stable. He concluded, "There is no obvious common or global trend of increasing glacier melt in recent years."
But if your goal is to frighten the public into thinking humans are causing global warming with potentially catastrophic consequences, there is no shortage of melting glaciers to report upon. By some estimates, 160,000 glaciers exist on Earth. Only 63,000 have been inventoried, and only a few hundred have been studied in the detail described by Braithwaite.
Likewise, the highly publicized cry that “the arctic ice shelves are disappearing because of global warming” is simply unsupported by the real scientific data:
The scaremongers also point out as many as seven ice shelves have broken off the Antarctic continent over the last 50 years. They blame global warming, rather than address the inconvenient confounding evidence -- that the continent is actually cooling dramatically. Between 1986 and 2002, the continent cooled by 0.7 degrees Celsius per decade. There also has been a statistically significant increase in sea ice area, as well as an increase in the length of the sea ice season, since 1990.
There’s much good factual information in the piece, it is well worth the time to read it all.
And before you switch to candles and a bicycle in order to save the planet, keep in mind that thirty-five years ago, scientists were certain that the earth was going to be destroyed in a new ice age brought on by global cooling!
Idiot of the Day
Many of the participants in this blog have graduate school educations. It is damned near impossible to go to graduate school in any but the most artistic disciplines without having to learn about the basics of social research and its uncanny accuracy and validity. We know that professionally conceived samples simply do not yield results which vary six, eight, ten points from eventual data returns, thaty's why there are identifiable margins for error. We know that margins for error are valid, and that results have fallen within the error range for every Presidential election for the past fifty years prior to last fall. NEVER have exit polls varied by beyond-error margins in a single state, not since 1948 when this kind of polling began. In this past election it happened in ten states, all of them swing states, all of them in Bush's favor. Coincidence? Of course not.
Karl Rove isn't capable of conceiving and executing such a grandiose crime? Wake up. They did it. The silence of traditional media on this subject is enough to establish their newfound bankruptcy. The revolution will have to start here. I challenge every other thinker at the Huffington Post: is there any greater imperative than to reverse this crime and reestablish democracy in America? Why the mass silence? Let's go to work with the circumstantial evidence, begin to narrow from the outside in, and find some witnesses who will turn. That's how they cracked Watergate. This is bigger, and I never dreamed I would say that in my baby boomer lifetime.
And the incontrovertible evidence, the smoking gun, as it were?
At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.
People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.
Yes, boys and girls, the sports reporter has it all figured out… the election was stolen because the bookies had it figured that Kerry would win. Never mind that they were looking at the same RAW DATA as everyone else, and never mind that the FINAL, SCRUBBED exit poll data actually supports the “Bush Wins” outcome, and never mind that those of us who have actually paid enough attention to this stuff to have an informed opinion realize that social research certainly DOES NOT exhibit “uncanny accuracy and validity”, especially when you are talking about exit polls, which CAN NOT be used in any scientific way to predict outcome, and which the pollsters later admit were conducted by a bunch of nineteen-year old college kids with almost no training and certainly no real experience at anything other than going to school.
(I'm sure I've posted previously on the invalidity of exit polls in predicting outcome, but I can't find it. And if you actually make any effort to be informed on subjects like this, you already know all that anyway!)I simply had no idea that any being walking on two legs was still flogging this particular dead horse.
Oh, by the way, I’m sure we can all take note of the fact that, like exit polls, oddsmakers are NEVER wrong…especially when they’re looking at distorted and largely irrelevant data.
If you look at the very first post on this blog, it’s a composite of emails sent to various persons. It starts after the election. The reason for that is that prior to that time I operated a subscriber newsletter on politics, which ended after election day. Please note the message dated Nov. 2, derived from an e-mail I sent to subscribers, pointing out that all exit poll data from that afternoon should be disregarded. You may also remember Hugh Hewitt’s famous “everybody at The Corner go out and shoot hoops until 6:00 p.m.” post on election day.
While actresses, sports tv reporters, barking moonbats and assorted left wingnuts wearing the latest in tin-foil headgear may have been confused by the exit polls, many of us who have actually studied electoral politics for more than five minutes, and analyzed more than one election, knew those exit polls stank within minutes of seeing them.
As a final note, the Pew poll right before the election pegged the numbers pretty closely…but I’m sure those raw exit poll numbers compiled by nineteen year old Kerry supporters are much more accurate.
Congressional reps and private travel funding
Shrinking deficit, increased tax revenues just not newsworthy
On Monday, May 2nd, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that, due to a greater than expected influx of tax receipts around April 15, a projected monthly deficit actually became a surplus.
In fact, this influx was so large that the Treasury is going to actually buy-down or retire $42 billion worth of net debt in the second quarter. This would represent the first time that this has occurred since the second quarter of 2001.
As a result, government officials are reducing their deficit numbers for fiscal 2005 and into the future. Furthermore, as reported this morning by the Washington Post:
But in the short term, many forecasters said the budget deficit appears to have crested.
"I think it has turned the corner," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's, the credit rating agency. "My guess is 2004 will have been the worst year."
Now, one would think that the deficit being lower than expected, and the possibility that 2004 would be our worst shortfall during this cycle, would be front-page news, correct?
Yet, a Google-search indicates that no major media outlet picked this story up from Reuters on Monday. Not one.
I guess the MSM would rather concentrate on the Democrats' latest anti-Bush line of B.S., the "repeal the tax cuts and save social security" garbage being doled out. More about that particular pile of garbage later.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
BILL OF NON-RIGHTS
This was written in 1993 by libertarian Lewis Napper but it is still well worth repeating:"We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt-ridden, deluded, and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights."
ARTICLE I:You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
ARTICLE VI:You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
ARTICLE VII:You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.
ARTICLE X:You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness - which, by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.
There is lots more to this piece, and lots of other really great stuff at that blog. If you're not getting your WICKED THOUGHTS regularly, you really should be.
Kerry campaign still spending money on "travel"
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Ohio Governor Bob Taft: taxes and home seizures
He opposes any casino gambling in Ohio, but loves that lottery money rolling in. He opposed Ohio’s concealed carry permit law, and signed off only because a compromise allows newspapers to publish the names of all applicants. He ran for office for his first term on a promise to reform education, pushing fundamentals like reading. But a term-and-a half later, state education funding is still in a state of turmoil as the branches of government (all Republican-controlled, by the way) bicker over funding in what is really just an ugly – and stupid – power struggle, primarily between the Supreme Court and the legislature. Taft has provided no discernible leadership on the issue.
Taft ran for reelection on a “no increase in taxes” platform, which anyone smarter than my toaster knew had to be a load of crap. But the Democrats tossed out a former Cuyahoga County commissioner as opposition, and it was so obviously so lopsided the Democrat couldn’t even raise any serious money. So Taft got reelected, and since that day he has been trying to slap a tax on anything that doesn’t move fast enough to get out of the way. Cigarettes are a particular favorite target of his, and the state of Ohio is now aggressively pursuing people who make an online or catalog purchase that doesn’t include Ohio sales tax. But Taft has his principles. While he’s hunting for new stuff to tax, and taxing more heavily the stuff that’s already taxed, it looks like Ohio’s budget this year (presently embodied in H.B. 66) will include substantial tax cuts for big business and the wealthy.
I know, I know, you’re wondering if a guest Democrat is writing this post, or if the site has been commandeered by KOSites. Nope. It’s me. Generally, I’m in favor of tax cuts. Income tax cuts especially, and tax cuts that will stimulate business and investment…and all tax cuts stimulate business and/or investment at some point in some way.
But when the state is foundering in red ink, you don’t cut taxes for the wealthy – and unlike the Bush tax cuts, these are not across the board cuts, these are for the wealthy – while at the same time trying to seize the family home of marginally middle class citizens who’ve had the misfortune to end up in a nursing home on Medicaid assistance. But that’s what H.B. 66 contains, in the form of a change that would extend the reach of the Medicaid Estate Recovery program. Here’s how Medicaid and nursing homes interact with middle-class citizens, as explained by Armond Budish, writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Nursing homes in Ohio are costly. You may pay $5,000 or $6,000 per month, sometimes more. Most middle-class Ohioans cannot afford to pay these charges from their income, so they "spend down" their savings.
Medicaid provides a vital safety net. To qualify for Medicaid coverage, you cannot have much money or property. A single person (widowed, divorced or never married) cannot have any more than $1,500. A married couple may keep a little more. When one spouse enters a nursing home and the other spouse remains home, the state takes a snapshot of your and your spouse's total assets (excluding your home). You must spend one-half the total, but you can keep no more than $95,100. So, if your assets total $100,000, you'll have to spend $50,000; with assets of $250,000, you'd have to spend more than $150,000, and you may keep $95,100.
In addition, a married couple may keep their home. When your spouse goes to a nursing home, the state won't make you sell the house and sleep on the streets.
There's another important Medicaid rule, known as Estate Recovery. While the law allows the healthy spouse to keep the house and up to $95,100, at that spouse's death the state will seek to claim those assets rather then allow them to pass to your children or other heirs. The state may recover up to the amount of Medicaid benefits previously paid out.
Why haven't you heard much about Estate Recovery? That may be because, at least until now, the law has placed severe limits on the state's ability to grab your home (and remaining assets).
The most significant limitation is that Estate Recovery applies only to assets that pass through probate. These probatable assets pass under the terms of a will, under supervision of the county Probate Court. It's pretty easy to avoid probate; just add a joint owner, or name direct beneficiaries (called payable or transferable on death), or place the assets into a revocable living trust. By avoiding probate, you avoid the state's Estate Recovery program as well.
But now Bob Taft and his Republican state legislature allies want to remove this exemption, and allow the state to grab up the house as well:
House Bill 66 allows the state to take your home (and any other assets) when you die, even if you avoided probate, rather than allow you to leave it to your children. If this legislation is passed by the Ohio Senate and signed by the governor, you can kiss your home goodbye.
Many states, including the president's home state of Texas and Florida, as well as our neighboring states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, have refused to expand their Estate Recovery programs.
They recognize that you can't keep much to qualify for Medicaid; in most cases the house is the only asset of significance left at death. They say the family home is special and middle-class folks should be allowed to pass at least that one asset on to their children.
So there you have it. While Republicans are trying to make the case against the death tax across the country, Ohio Republicans are trying to implement a “cost recovery” measure that amounts to exactly the same thing: grabbing the property that is the only asset to be passed on to heirs. Whether it is a family business, a family farm, or a family home, what is the difference between the federal government grabbing it for taxes and the state of Ohio grabbing it for Medicaid?
Like I said, Ohio Governor Bob Taft is making every effort to slap a tax on anything that doesn’t move fast enough to get out of the way. And Bob Taft has apparently figured out that houses don’t move very fast.
This is exactly the kind of thing that adds credibility to Democrat claims that Republicans represent special interests, big business, and wealthy people: giving tax breaks to big business and the wealthy while changing the rules to snatch the family home from people just barely in the middle class. Taft is also pushing for a 30% increase on electric utility taxes, .30 per pack on smokes, and big boosts in the tax on beer and wine. None of those are exactly low- or middle-income friendly taxes. Ohio Governor Bob Taft has become the stereotypical evil Republican of old Democrat fairy tales.
And here in Ohio, if the Republican Governor, Republican Legislature, and Republican Supreme Court don’t get their act together, there may be trouble ahead for the GOP.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Pushing EU Constitution, Chirac resorts to bashing "Anglo-Saxon" countries
As reported by Christopher Caldwell at The Weekly Standard, all did not go well, and overnight polls suggested that disapproval, hovering around 53% since mid-April, spiked to 56% the day after Chirac’s appearance…which barely drew more viewers than the Clint Eastwood movie “Pale Rider” showing on anther channel.
The French are concerned about losing jobs to the eastern European nations, such as Hungary and Slovakia [go here for a piece about President Bush’s visit to Slovakia], where labor costs are a fraction (Caldwell says 1/7th ) of those in the socialist states of Germany and France, and the EU Constitution would abolish national protectionism for most trades and professions. Costs in Turkey, which Chirac long endorsed for membership, are even lower, and, if admitted to the EU, Turkey would be the largest member. With unemployment in France at a permanent double-digit level, and according to Caldwell, 22% among young workers (25 and under) the French are understandably wary of giving up the government-sponsored protectionism of the current system.
So Chirac, his popularity sliding and the EU, for all intents and purposes a French-driven effort to create a French-dominated Europe, facing rejection of its constitution by the French people, Chirac took to the airwaves, arguing that a vote for the Constitution is a vote against “the Anglo-Saxon countries”:
Since the Iraq war, Chirac's popularity has followed the same downward spiral from dizzying heights that the elder George Bush's did after the Gulf war. Chirac, though, sought to recapture a bit of the old magic by suggesting that the best argument for passing the E.U. constitution was that the Americans (and the British) dislike it. Should France vote "No" on the constitution, Chirac warned, "the free-market trend will spread. What do the Anglo-Saxon countries want, particularly the United States? They want us to stop this European construction, which risks creating a Europe that will be stronger and capable of defending itself."
Hey Jacques, ANY TIME you want to take over paying for your own defense, you go right ahead. I think I can speak for most Americans when I say “It’s about time.”
For fifty years the US has expended untold millions of dollars protecting France, Germany, and the other countries of Western Europe from the threat of invasion. Those countries, France and Germany in particular, freed of the necessity of paying for their own defense, were able to build bloated, top-heavy socialist societies, for which they are now beginning to pay the price. While you’re at it, Jacques, how about repaying the millions (even with simple interest, surely now billions) in WWII-era war debts you still owe us?
Of course, protecting Western Europe was in the best interests of the US, you know, the policy of containment and all that, but that doesn’t change the fact that OUR military muscle made THEIR lifestyle possible. Do you suppose they’d all take the month of August off if they had to equip and support a few battle carrier groups the equivalent of ours? France’s military capability is adequate for shooting Ivory Coast demonstrators from helicopter gunships, but they can not imagine mounting anything like the air and ground campaigns, primarily made up of US and UK forces, that liberated Kuwait, ousted the Taliban and toppled Saddam Hussein.
What France envisioned in its drive to create the EU was an expansion of French nanny-state socialism, not the economic competition of the newly-liberated and capitalistically inclined nations of Eastern Europe. And the prospect of capitalism, and competition, is making many French citizens very, very nervous.
So go ahead, Jacques, keep bashing away at the “Anglo-Saxon” countries. You know, those countries that gave tens of thousands of their young men’s lives to save your country from Germany, and then spent millions upon millions of dollars protecting you from Russia. But be careful what you wish for. Because quite frankly, we’d LIKE to see you start paying your own way and protecting yourself. One day you may wake up and find that we’ve decided to let you. And we’ll all see how your people like the idea if working 40 hour weeks and twelve-month years in order to compete with the other European nations… and working a little overtime now and then to pay for their own national defense.
NOTE: I don’t have a link for the following point, I’m doing it solely from memory, so take my word for it or don’t, but several weeks back Jacques appeared at a conference for some organization or group of states related somehow to “Asia-Pacific” issues… and his speech at that one included the paranoid suggestion that the US, UK and Australia – the English-speaking peoples – were trying to take over and dominate the pacific rim and Asia.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Presidential Social Security Soundbites
"Perhaps our greatest opportunity and our greatest obligation at this moment is to save Social Security...It would be unconscionable if we failed to act, and act now..." PRESIDENT CLINTON, TOWN HALL MEETING, KANSAS CITY, APRIL 7, 1998
Remember now, boys and girls, the official Democrat position today is that "there is no crisis". Perhaps one of them could explain to me exactly what happened between 1998 and today to solve the problems they saw in 1998.
A Little something for your toybox
It’s called “Bug Me Not”, and you can use it to look up logins that get you around many of those registration screens. I don’t make any representations as to how well it will work with any given site, and I have no connection with it, and do not receive any benefit from providing it to you. Use it for your own purposes and at your own risk, but here it is if you want it.
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