Friday, June 11, 2004
(okay, I know it's a long service. But really, you're on national TV. And one of you is considering a presidential run in the coming years. Pop a Red Bull before you go...)
Evil is gaining serious ground, as the gap is now down to 55-45 in favor of Good (well within statistical boundaries similar to any recent LA Times poll). Last week it was the mention of Ann Coulter that gave me the boost. This week it's a combination of mentioning the Kyoto Accord and Gov. John Rowland of Connecticut. That is a one-two Evil combination that cannot be denied. I think I have a sure-fire topic to push Evil over the top next week. So stay tuned...
"What the hell is that, some Robert Ludlum novel?" is most likely the response you have from reading the title. Well, it's a conference partly sponsored by the Danish Government. They brought together some of the world's leading economists (sorry Paul Krugman, your invitation was...lost) and had them apply cost-benefit analysis to the world's leading problems. They ranked the issues thusly, and were given a mythical $50 billion to spend.
Here are the global problems they felt were "very good" projects, or projects where the return on investment was greatest:
- Control of HIV/AIDS
- Providing Micronutrients to malnourished
- Removal of trade barriers and subsidies
- Control of Malaria
And here are the four "poor" projects, or projects where the money spent would show little if any return:
- Guest worker programs for unskilled labor
- Optimal carbon tax
- Kyoto Accord
- value-at-risk carbon tax
I found this all quite interesting. Though the cost for AIDS prevention was high ($27B), the result would be 30 million averted infections by 2010, and the prevention of possible societal collapse on a continental scale in Africa.
Also, free trade was determined to yield extremely large benefits to all nations, developed and developing alike. That's how I've always seen it as well, and why the anti-globalization freaks confuse me to no end.
As for the worst four... well, I don't think it is any surprise that climate-control programs were the three lowest-ranked projects at this conference. There is little return on investment and they are needlessly expensive. And, although the Conference did not address this, the fact is that we do not have all the facts on why global warming is occuring. As I have said before, to take a 30-year subset of data, compared to the thousands of years of climatic activity, and to extrapolate what the climate "should be" is irresponsible and statistically invalid.
The guest worker program being listed low is interesting as well. These are programs that are very popular in Europe, especially France. The panel said that these programs aren't worth much because of their "tendency to discourage the assimilation of migrants." And with the tension constantly on display in France these days between immigrants and the native French, you have a tangible example. Also, Pres. Bush should look at this, since his ill-advised "amnesty" for illegal aliens is similar to these programs.
Anyway, it's a very interesting report. Check it out.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
One of the greats of music passed away today. Ray Charles has died at the age of 73.
Ray was one of my favorite artists. Not only for his music, but also his performance in one of the best movies ever made, The Blues Brothers. His seminal line: "I'll even throw in the black keys for free."
He was one of most talented musicians to grace the earth, and he will be truly missed.
Joining the august panel of links to your left is Donald Luskin's The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid. You have to like anyone who relentlessly slags that blowhard Paul Krugman. Especially when he uses Krugman's words against him.
Here's a taste:
Another bit of Krugman vandalism in his column Tuesday is his
characterization of Reagan as "The Great Taxer." Dismissing Reagan's titanic accomplishments as a tax-cutter, Krugman says "no peacetime president has raised taxes so much on so many people."
How can Krugman make such a claim? Because out of the nine tax bills passed during the Reagan years, Krugman points out two that raised taxes. According to the US Treasury (with thanks to colleague Bruce Bartlett for sourcing this information), Reagan's 1981 tax cuts represented 2.89% of GDP -- that, of course, is properly what Reagan is remembered for in the Tax-cutter's Hall of Fame. But then Krugman devotes his column to the tax increase of 1982 that represented only 0.98% of GDP, and the 1983 hike in Social Security taxes that represented only 0.21% of GDP.
Put all nine bills together, and cumulatively Reagan cut taxes by 1.23% of GDP. Against all that, those two tax-hikes are supposed to make Reagan "The Great Taxer?" That's like naming Bill Clinton the Model Husband of the Year
because he remembered to send Hillary a Mother's Day card.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
If you visit George W. Bush's home page (I am not linking to it), you will be presented with a memorial page for President Reagan (aka the Last Good President). It is a very nice page, with a nice photo and links to many of his most famous speeches.
And it is utterly distasteful.
This page should not be the main page for Bush's site. It should be a link, a large link, maybe a paragraph with photo link, from his main page. THEN you should come to the memorial page.
By doing this, Bush is basically hijacking Reagan's death for political gain. And it makes me ill.
You think the Republicans would have remembered the consequences of committing such a act. When Dem. Senator Paul Wellstone tragically died, the Democrats at his memorial basically turned it into a party rally. The result was they lost the special election to fill Wellstone's seat.
What do you think the result will be here?
In my home state of Connecticut, Gov. John Rowland (R) is up for possible impeachment. The main thrust originally was some undeclared work a construction company performed on his lake house. Later on, said company got some nice state contracts.
But the newest revelation is even better. One of his wealthy cronies, Robert Matthews, was looking for a $5.4 million loan guarantee on one of his businesses in 1997. A similar request had been denied. The governor intervened and the man got his loan. That, by itself, while borderline, is not illegal.
But then it plummets right into kickback land. After he got the loan, Matthews' niece started renting Rowland's old condo for $1,750 a month, when other condos were going for $500-650. Except the money was coming from Matthews' company, which dropped the money into his niece's account via wire transfers. In other words, it was payoff money from Matthews to Rowland for getting the loan.
Then, Rowland 'sold' the condo to an associate of Matthew's for $68,500. That is roughly double the price of other condos in the building. Just like the rent money, Matthews fronted the cash to his friend, Wayne Pratt, who then gave the money to Rowland. Pratt is now doing time for tax charges stemming from that sale.
Warning: Strong language coming
Rowland is a piece of shit and he has this coming. He is an arrogant blowhard who has always thought himself above the rules the rest of us play by. Here are two more reasons why he deserves all of this:
- He has abused his wife: This is the old story that never gets talked about. In 1994, he was able to keep the police report of an "incident" between he and his wife suppressed. But it's common knowledge that physical abuse was involved. To make it even more repulsive, he has since appeared at numerous opening of shelters. Apparently he wants eveyone to forget that he has perpetrated some of the same actions that force women and their children to seek out these shelters.
- He has mocked my sister:My little sister has done some lobbying at the State Capitol in Connecticut. She is quite the liberal. We agree with each other maybe 7% of the time on political issues.
So in 2002, when the GOP ran roughshod over the Democrats, Gov. Rowland saw my sister the next day in the Legislative Building. And proceeded to tease and mock her over the loss. She handled it pretty well, whereas I wanted to drive down to Hartford and rip his fucking head off. Since that day I prayed for Rowland to get his.
So here's to you, John! All your years of flouting the law, beating your wife and acting like an ass have finally paid off!
Well, now we know why our troops are wearing outmoded flak jackets and driving around in un-armored Hummers. Apparently, the Defense Department has been blowing money on unused airline tickets.
Between 1997 and 2003, the DoD spent over $100 Million on unused airline tickets, and then failed to get refunds. Even though refunds were available. They also bought over 68,000 first-class and business-class tickets when they should have been coach. Worst of all, they reimbursed claims by employees for tickets that the DoD bought. So, in essence, they paid twice for the ticket.
This is abysmal. And it's not a Democrat/Republican issue, as the time frame cuts across Clinton/Bush pretty evenly. The issue is that because of waste like this our men and women have been denied vital equipment.
An "up-armored" Hummer, the kind our soliders need in Iraq, costs roughly $185,000. Which means that these wasted tickets could have bought roughly 540 more armored Hummers for our men and women in Iraq. To supply all the soldiers in Iraq with the Interceptor vest (which can stop multiple AK-47 rounds) would cost less than $97 million at retail prices. Some troops already have the vest, so it would be even less. But I guess that's out of the question. Hey, at least some fat-asses at the Pentagon got to fly first-class:
"Too bad Johnny had to get killed wearing that Vietnam-era flak jacket...but look at the legroom I have in this seat!"
This has to be corrected. It'd also help if Rumsfeld killed the over-hyped, over-budget, under-performing F-22 program and invested that money where it's needed: our soldiers.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
From a speech he gave at the Sorbonne in 1910:
The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.
Boy, if this doesn't sum up the problems with our national leadership over the past 12 years, I don't know what does.
Please welcome two new blogs: diary of an anti-chomskyite and andrewsullivan.com. Andrew Sullivan is, of course, a famous writer and commentator, as well as someone who also sees how the GOP has degenerated into a fundamentalist, ideological camp. The diary exposes the biases, foibles and outright lies of Noam Chomsky. I f***ing hate Chomsky, so to find such a well-written blog on the subject is a joy. As Benjamin says, "VIVA LA COUNTERREVOLUTION!" Visit both of them, won't you?
Monday, June 07, 2004
If it wasn't printed in a real newspaper, I wouldn't believe it. In the Portland Oregonian, the lawyer for a man who beat his son to death is intending to claim that he suffered from post-traumatic slave syndrome. Essentially, the defense is that since his ancestors were slaves and were beaten, he suffers from "multi-generational trauma", and transfered this onto his 2 year old son by whipping him on the neck and back until dead.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most repulsive things I have ever read. I hope, I PRAY, the judge in this case tosses this defense out at trial, as she did in pre-trial, as it is nothing but junk pseudo-science.
Think about it. This man was not a slave. His father was not a slave. His grandfather was not a slave. Maybe, MAYBE, his great-grandfather was, if he was REALLY old. But most likely, the last member of his family to suffer from the injustice of slavery was his great-great-grandfather. And this sleaze-sucking pig of a defense attorney is using that as a defense for this man?
Not only is that sick, but it lessens the sacrifices of those slaves who suffered so wrongly. I am sure that they'd be thrilled to know that all the pain and trauma they suffered through is being used to excuse a father killing his son.
To top this carnival of fools off, is that even if the man gets the maximum sentence, he's eligible for parole in 25 years. How pathetic.
But now I know I can commit any crime I want. See, my Irish ancestors were abused by the English and kicked off their land in the mid 1800s. And since they were never counseled for that trauma, it must have been passed from generation to generation. So don't hit my car or cut in front of me in the checkout line, because apparently that "multi-generational trauma" is a bitch.
Here is a piece by Thomas Oliphant. He writes for the Boston Globe and is definitely left-of-center in his political views.
Yet, unlike the NYT, he was able to write a kind piece on Reagan that talked about what he accomplished, even when there was much that Oliphant disagreed with him on.
I encourage you to read it. And then use it as an example to others who may not have his sense of decency and decorum.
In the wake of President Reagan's death, it has been interesting to read the stories in the large US newspapers. Most of the papers were at intellectual odds with Reagan during his two terms. The two most obvious ones being the Washington Post and the New York Times.
The Post did a very respectful spread of Reagan, including four front-page stories and an 8-page pullout.
The Times did a single obituary.
You know, the supposedly most important paper in America. The one that covers all the important events.
And the obit? A fine example of damning with faint praise and basically speaking ill of the dead.
The most important part of Reagan's legacy? Iran-Contra. Not breaking down the Soviet Empire. Not rejuvenating the American economy. Not eliminating an entire class of nuclear missles. But Iran-Contra.
Oh, and the Soviet collapse? Apparently, Reagan had nothing to do with it:
It was Mr. Reagan's good fortune that during his time in office the Soviet Union was undergoing profound change, eventually to collapse, setting off a spirited debate over Mr. Reagan's role in ending the Cold War.
Good fortune??? Perhaps the NYT needs a refresher. In 1980 the Soviet Union was nowhere near collapse. They were on the move in Afghanistan and Nicaragua. They were getting grain from the United States. They were making us look the fools with our idea of detente. Reagan changed that. He applied pressure:
- Geo-politically: Supported anti-communist movements in Afghanistan and Nicaragua. Kicked Cubans out of Grenada. Overtly supported Solidarity in Poland. He forced the Soviets to increase support to numerous locations, which they couldn't sustain.
- Militarily: Increased spending for military. Deployed the MX to Germany. Introduced Star Wars, which forced the Soviets to increase spending on nuclear arsenal and hastened their economic collapse.
- Economically: Negotiated with Saudis to keep oil prices low, undercutting the Soviet's main source of income: oil exports.
Those three areas of pressure were all developed and executed by Reagan and his staff. And it broke them in 8 years. THAT is why the Soviet Union collapsed, whether the NYT can bring itself to admit it or not.
Their "obituary" was nothing more than recycled garbage that they undoubtedly spewed between 1981-89. It wasn't respectful in the least. I am not saying that they can't criticize him. But is his obituary the place to do it?
The NYT should be ashamed of themselves. Especially since the Post set a clear example of how to honor a man, even if his political beliefs didn't match yours.