Friday, December 12, 2008


I am a bit skeptical of a bailout. I liked Thomas Friedman's take on this in the New York Times. Read the whole article--he talks about foreign innovation challenging Detroit.

Do not expect this innovation to come out of Detroit. Remember, in 1908, the Ford Model-T got better mileage — 25 miles per gallon — than many Ford, G.M. and Chrysler models made in 2008. But don’t be surprised when it comes out of somewhere else. It can be done. It will be done. If we miss the chance to win the race for Car 2.0 because we keep mindlessly bailing out Car 1.0, there will be no one to blame more than Detroit’s new shareholders: we the taxpayers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


The CIA intelligence estimates continue to be questioned. . .and we face an Iranian nuclear bomb once again.

A year has passed since the release of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. In a stunning departure from all the previous estimates dating back to 1997 under Presidents Clinton and Bush, it declared: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."

It also judged, with modest confidence, that Iran had not resumed its quest for nuclear weapons. If correct, this new assessment meant that previous ones, such as the 2004 NIE that also judged with "high confidence" that Iran was expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities under the cover of a civilian energy program, were based on flawed intelligence.

But was this astonishing reversal correct?


Summary of information on Obama/Blagojevich issues. Michelle's possible contacts with Blagojevich.


Lengthy video, but presents conservative view well. Malkin & Reynolds are critical of the media.


This columnist knows the Chicago machine! He also comments on Obama's reactions.

Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, the boss who runs the machine that he says doesn't exist, refused to take a position either way. That's because he's sane.

The governor isn't the only one in this mess. His chief of staff, John Harris, also was arrested. Before Harris worked for Dead Meat, he worked for Mayor Shortshanks at Chicago's political golden goose: O'Hare International Airport.

Blagojevich "has to figure out what's best for him and his family, and the State of Illinois," the mayor said. "He will have to do the right thing."

Ah, the right thing. When Harris spills—and he will, because he's not crazy either—Daley doesn't want Harris to spill on him. He wants guys to do the "right thing," which, if I may translate, means to keep their traps shut.

Another perceptive columnist.

Now America is learning to pronounce “Blagojevich” and discovering what The New York Times calls “the murky and insular world of Illinois politics.” It’s a realm of open corruption, boundless greed and contempt for the law. And it’s the lifelong political home of President-elect Obama.


What, you didn’t know that Obama made his bones in the Chicago political machine? You didn’t know, for example, that he won his first election by getting one of his political mentors thrown off the ballot? Or about his financial support from corrupt Chicago moneyman Tony Rezko? Or how Obama and sidekick Rahm Emanuel advised the campaign of a machine hack named Rod Blagojevich?

You didn’t? Don’t feel bad. According to a post-election Zogby poll, a large majority of Obama supporters didn’t know key facts like these, either. And why should they? After all, NBC, The Boston Globe-Democrat and the rest of the Partisan Press had little interest in reporting these stories.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I find this Politico story ironic--Obama will use his full name "Barrack Hussein Obama" in the swearing-in. During the election Democrats and some media commentators were charging Republicans and some conservatives with negative campaigning, and worse, when they used "Hussein" in referring to his full name. What a difference an election makes.

I see conservatives have caught on to this double standard.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I hadn't heard about this doll controversy.

December 7, 2008 - Washington, DC: In what may be a cover-up or a retreat, Mattel Inc. has removed from their corporate “Investors and Media” website ALL statements about the controversial “Little Mommy” doll. Parents nationwide have complained for months to Mattel that the doll says “Islam is the Light” without any notification label for consumers that the doll is advocating Islam. Between October 13 and December 4 - for FIFTY-TWO DAYS - Mattel had prominently posted, as the feature story at their corporate website Investors page, a media advisory statement that the doll only makes “cooing” sounds, and an audio file they alleged was the doll’s soundtrack.


Obama's election is cause for rejoicing among liberals.

Obama is still seven weeks away from taking office but has already signaled that he's going to do grand things, huge things – dare I say heretofore unimaginable things. A half-trillion dollar (at least; some suspect it may end up being more like a trillion) jobs-and-infrastructure program, which he wants to enact as soon as possible after he takes office? Liberals have complained for decades – yes, decades, since the 1970s – about the creaky state of America's bridges and roads and the need for more spending on transit. Ditto the schools. We live in a country of which it's still probably true that most schools were built in the 1920s (New York City, for example, opened a new school building once every three weeks for that entire decade). Again, we have complained and complained and complained about their condition, and quite rightly so, for decades.

And here comes a president who is about to do something about all this, and do it more grandly than most liberals would have dared to imagine just a few months ago. And do it immediately. And he's not liberal enough? Please. If President Obama were to pass a trillion dollar jobs-and-infrastructure bill and, Heaven forbid, drop dead on his elliptical machine in March, that single act alone would be enough to make him one of the most progressive presidents in the history of the country.

Monday, December 08, 2008


A discussion of why Democrat failures are "misdemeanors" and Republican failures are "felonies."


This story won't stop conspiracists, but it does come from a more conservative internet news site which I am sure will now be attacked by those who refuse to accept that Obama was born in the U.S.A.

For months, I have been bombarded by e-mails claiming Barack Obama was born in Kenya and therefore does not meet the constitutional requirements to be president. I have also received hundreds of e-mails from readers asking why I do not expose the truth about his birth.

The truth is that Obama was born in Hawaii. Hawaii, by law, does not make original birth certificates public, and this has enabled conspiracy theorists to claim that there is something nefarious about the circumstances of Obama’s birth.


An Obama program which will destroy the already terrible US trade imbalance! I never thought of this kind of impact.

Friday, December 05, 2008


The Saudis want to build a mosque in Moscow, but Moscow wants the reciprocal right to build a church in Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


From the Detroit News. Evidently Ford is building more modern plants in Brazil than in the US. This doesn't speak well for the future of the auto industry in America.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Zombie movies dominate under Bush; Vampire movies will dominate the Obama administration--What does this mean?

Zombies are red, vampires are blue.

Whatever its challenges, the Bush White House has presided over a period of robust health for a genre that – if history is any guide – will soon fade: the zombie movie.

Tuesday's election of a Democratic president, meanwhile, comes at the start of a new cycle of vampire films (“Twilight,” “Let the Right One In”) and TV shows (HBO's “True Blood.”)

Coincidence? Or something spookier?

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Now that Obama is elected CNN has changed the American military occupation of Iraq to a "humanitarian mission."


Hej slovane! Who would have ever dreamed that Slovakia is in better financial health than California, New Jersy, etc?

Monday, November 24, 2008


Barna Group's analysis of how people of faith and no faith voted.


From "Shots Across the Bow".

There's been a lot of talk about how the mainstream media failed the country during this last election cycle, and that because of that failure their days are numbered.

I have to disagree. I think the media performed flawlessly during the two year election cycle. They managed the story, shielded their candidate, attacked the opposition, sat on damaging stories, and in short did everything a good state run media should do during an election cycle.

Halperin criticism.

Howard Kurtz.

Ed Driscoll.


I don't know much about this guy, Gerald Celente. Will he be right?

Fox Interview.


Not surprising. I don't see a breakdown between Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians. If you have to take a test on American government to become a citizen, maybe we should have a similar test before someone is allowed to run for political office.

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

Friday, November 21, 2008


From the National Intelligence Council.

U.S. economic and political clout will decline over the next two decades and the world will be more dangerous, with food and water scarce and advanced weapons plentiful, U.S. spy agencies projected on Thursday.

The BBC view.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


From Typealyzer:

The analysis indicates that the author of Chairman Ku's Little Blue Book is of the type: ISTJ - The Duty Fulfillers.

The responsible and hardworking type. They are especially attuned to the details of life and are careful about getting the facts right. Conservative by nature, they are often reluctant to take any risks whatsoever.

The Duty Fulfillers are happy to be left alone and to be able to work at their own pace. They know what they have to do and how to do it.

Analysis: This shows what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing.
Thinking: logical, mathematical
Sensing: order, habit, details


From Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic Monthly.

The demographics are changing, and it's probably true that the proportion of voters who identify as conservative evangelicals -- white conservative evangelicals -- will decline over time. It's also probably true that white conservative evangelical identifiers will become less focused on the cultural issues that defined our politics in the 1990s and more focused on the challenges of globalization, the environment and technology. That's the generational ticking time bomb for single issue pro-life voters. But the realities of politics today are such that the GOP cannot win national elections without the enthusiastic support of white evangelical Christians. They can try; it won't happen. That depresses moderates in the party, it depresses atheists and agnostics in the party, but it's the reality. The results of 2004 showed that, given certain conditions and issue sets, winning coalitions can be formed. Maybe the Bush-Iraq-Terrorism-Economy-Katrina event chain has changed all of that forever; maybe not.

To throw this out there: it will be easier for a conservative Catholic nominee, like, say, Bobby Jindal, to expand the Republican coalition rather than a white evangelical protestant like Mike Huckabee.


From Roman Catholic Cardinal Stafford:

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.”

Zawahri calls Obama
"House Negro."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Sunday, November 16, 2008, Dallas Morning News.

These things shouldn't be decided by voters.--Gay rights leader Geoffrey Kores, on why his group wantscourts to overturn the California vote banning gay marriage (San Francisco Chronicle, Wednesday, November 12, 2008).

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Report on Secretary of State Albright saying that the Clinton administration could tolerate the deaths of 500,000 children in Iraq. See Albright's CBS interview here.


More Iraqis died during Clinton administration than in Bush administration according to Muslim cleric.

"Whoever thinks that the Democrats are less hostile to [the Arabs] than the Republicans should know that the number of Iraqis killed during the siege [of Iraq] by the Democrat Bill Clinton is twice as high as the number of [Iraqis] killed by the Republican [George] Bush.

"The Democrats kill you slowly without you noticing it - and therein lies the danger. They are like a snake whose touch is not felt until its poison enters your body.


This is getting crazy. Now, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, universities want part of the stimulus package to help them out. Maybe the Republican Party should apply for a stimulus package.

Congress is crafting a second economic-stimulus bill, and the nation’s colleges, hit by the deepening fiscal crisis, want a share of the money.

Over the last few weeks, colleges and their lobbyists have bombarded members of Congress with letters and phone calls seeking money for research, student aid, and infrastructure. Their appeals emphasize the role colleges play in the nation’s fiscal health, not only as educators but also as employers and innovators.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


McCain will be audited more carefully than Obama because he took public money! I think federally financed campaigns may be a thing of the past.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I was intrigued with the title of the Economist editorial endorsing Obama for President (as a British publication the writer can't vote, but who says non-citizens can't make endorsements). The title didn't strike me as an overwhelming positive recommendation: America should take a chance and make Barack Obama the next leader of the free world. "Take a chance". . .is that what voting for Obama means?

Later it states: Most of the hoopla about him has been about what he is, rather than what he would do. His identity is not as irrelevant as it sounds. Merely by becoming president, he would dispel many of the myths built up about America: it would be far harder for the spreaders of hate in the Islamic world to denounce the Great Satan if it were led by a black man whose middle name is Hussein; and far harder for autocrats around the world to claim that American democracy is a sham. America’s allies would rally to him: the global electoral college on our website shows a landslide in his favour. At home he would salve, if not close, the ugly racial wound left by America’s history and lessen the tendency of American blacks to blame all their problems on racism. It seems the writer has doubts about what Obama "would do."

And it continues:
There is no getting around the fact that Mr Obama’s résumé is thin for the world’s biggest job.

But in the end the magazine feels all of the negatives pale in comparison to McCain/Palin. So America has thrown the dice and will be gambling on Obama.


An essay on the issue of change in America. Does it really happen?


This is an issue that has to be faced, more for future elections than impacting the 2008 election.

Obama won, and he won big enough that nobody can claim that the--undeniable--irregularities in this election were enough to make a difference. His win was beyond the margin of fraud.

But that doesn't mean that there wasn't fraud and there weren't irregularities. In fact, there were a lot. And while, as in 2004, we have been fortunate enough to have an election that was beyond the margin of fraud, it was nonetheless the case that the election system once again demonstrated that it's not up to the demands of the 21st century.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


From the WSJ.

Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in support of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president.

According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% -- down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both political parties.

Monday, November 03, 2008


From the WSJ (Oct. 27, 2008): Arthur Laffer.

But here's the rub. Now enter the government and the prospects of a kinder and gentler economy. To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn't create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved.

If you don't believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they'll do with Wall Street.

Since I don't have a lot of confidence in Congress based on its passed economic decision-making, I just don't see how Frank, Dodds, Pelosi, and Reid will make good decisions in the future. And congress and Bernanke are talking about another $300 billion stimulus package.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have been wondering about this issue of massive crowds to hear political speeches. I don't know if people are really critically thinking about the issues or are they just following a political redeemer.

As the late Nobel laureate Elias Canetti observes in his great book, "Crowds and Power" (first published in 1960), the crowd is based on an illusion of equality: Its quest is for that moment when "distinctions are thrown off and all become equal. It is for the sake of this blessed moment, when no one is greater or better than another, that people become a crowd." These crowds, in the tens of thousands, who have been turning out for the Democratic standard-bearer in St. Louis and Denver and Portland, are a measure of American distress.

The morning after the election, the disappointment will begin to settle upon the Obama crowd. Defeat -- by now unthinkable to the devotees -- will bring heartbreak. Victory will steadily deliver the sobering verdict that our troubles won't be solved by a leader's magic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Basically this argument is that libertarians would rather face Obama's economically intrusive policies as opposed to McCain's alliance with social conservatives.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Playing both sides of the issue.

Two contrasting views of the Democratic Party’s use of the abortion issue in this year’s election have emerged in recent press reports. When one reads them together, a fascinating picture emerges of how the Dems are deploying and funding anti-choice messages in the conservative House districts that they hope to pick up from Republicans while simultaneously playing up pro-choice messages in districts where that works for them. Pragmatic or just smarmy?

The strategy is pretty clear: say whatever works on the social issues in order to capitalize on the wave of anger and frustration bordering on desperation that is about to sweep Obama into office and possibly change the face of Congress. And hey, I’ve got no desire to stand in the way of that.


Michael Malone (ABC News) on slanted press coverage.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Pew Research Center Report. McCain and Palin obviously get hit with negative coverage far more than Obama and Biden. FOX has a study on late night jokes which also shows McCain/Palin are the butt of far more jokes. Here is a collection of election jokes.

Voters say media wants Obama to win according to this Pew report.


Interesting. I wonder if there are more loopholes out there?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Fat women produce conservative offspring!

Conservatives, on average, outweigh liberals. Maybe it’s just a regional thing, as conservatives tend to congregate in parts of the country where the daily diet consists of fried food, meat and potatoes, and that sort of stuff (my own preferred cuisine, I confess). But maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the weight-political ideology link than cultural geography.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008


I just finished reading James Parker's review of Religulous in The Atlantic Monthly. The most perceptive, and saddest, quote if you are a practicing Christian is the following:

Religulous should make the faithful wince. The average Christian--as if we needed reminding--makes a piss-poor apologist for his own faith.

As I thought about this, maybe there is something worse--it's scientists who try to defend their evolutionary world view and tenure battles in the movie Expelled. When Richard Dawkin's raises the issues of aliens jump-starting earth, is it any different from Christians trying to justify their faith? Then again this type of film-genre may lead to these kind of responses or omit the more serious arguments.

Monday, October 06, 2008


‘Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done not by consent, but by compulsion — when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing — when you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get rich more easily by graft than by work, and your laws no longer protect you against them, but protect them against you — when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you may know that your society is doomed.’

Ayn Rand


From Catholic.Vote.Com--I haven't seen anything this well-produced by any group on the Religious Right. The message comes across clearly without loud stridency.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


David McCullough's 1995 speech at the National Book Awards.

We, in our time, are raising a new generation of Americans who, to an alarming degree, are historically illiterate.

The situation is serious and sad. And it is quite real, let there be no mistake. It has been coming on for a long time, like a creeping disease, eating away at the national memory. While the clamorous popular culture races on, the American past is slipping away, out of site and out of mind. We are losing our story, forgetting who we are and what it's taken to come this far.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


The Washington politicians have failed us. Famous last words:

"We will not Christmas-tree this bill," Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat promised a few days ago. "The times are too urgent. Everyone has their own desires and needs. It's going to have to wait."

(Includes a chart which shows where the billions are going.)

Thursday, October 02, 2008


A collection of post-debate comments at The Moderate Voice.

Who made mistakes:

Michael Totten on Biden:

In Thursday night’s vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, Biden said the strangest and most ill-informed thing I have ever heard about Lebanon in my life. “When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.” Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.” [Emphasis added.]

What on Earth is he talking about? The United States and France may have kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon in an alternate universe, but nothing even remotely like that ever happened in this one.

Nobody – nobody – has ever kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Not the United States. Nor France. Not Israel. And not the Lebanese. Nobody.

Fact Check:

ABC News independently fact checked some of these claims and found both vice presidential wannabes were guilty of stretching the truth during the debate

TaxProf: Palin made more mistakes on tax policy.


From the Wall Street Journal: a collection of quotes by politicians on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


TaxProf has a good summary of the issues involved.

All Mr. Paulson’s proposal aimed to do was to put lubricant back into the engine, to get short-term money flowing again to prevent our economic engine from freezing up. Now that the proposal has gone down to defeat, we can only hope that Mr. Paulson was wrong.


Der Spiegel reports:

George W. Bush has grown old, erratic and rosy in the eight years of his presidency. Little remains of his combativeness or his enthusiasm for physical fitness. On this sunny Tuesday morning in New York, even his hair seemed messy and unkempt, his blue suit a little baggy around the shoulders, as Bush stepped onto the stage, for the eighth time, at the United Nations General Assembly.

And now, of all times, the world is faced with a preeminent power that no longer seems capable of leading and a US president who is not even able to unite his divided country in an hour of need.

For weeks, Bush ignored the crisis, insisting on the strength of the market and telling Americans: "Everything will be fine."

In a televised address to the nation last Wednesday, Bush gave his oath of disclosure. He warned Americans that they could face a "long and painful recession" and that "millions of Americans could lose their jobs" unless swift action is taken.

But nothing happened swiftly, at least not at first. The crisis is happening while the United States is in a political vacuum. Bush lacks the power needed for decisive leadership, and his potential successors, John McCain and Barack Obama, seem more concerned about making a strong impression on voters.


If news reporters want to support a candidate that is fine, but should they report the news or moderate a debate? I want to see a real debate that is impartial. If Sarah Palin fails, I want to be sure it is her failure and not because the moderator is favoring Joe Biden.

Thursday's Vice Presidential Debate between Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden will be moderated by a staunch Obama supporter.

Gwen Ifill wrote a book on her friend, Barack Obama, that will be released on January 20, 2009... Inaugural Day.

It is beginning to look like Hillary can make a good case for the media holding her accountable in ways it didn't Barack Obama. Joe Biden has been given a walk for his statement that he "was shot at in Iraq"--Hillary wasn't given this light treatment for saying she was fired at on a Bosnia visit.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


It should begin with Pelosi. This was a time when the Democrats (and Obama) could have stepped up and approved the bailout proposal or come up with one of their own. They could have shown leadership when Bush, Paulson, and the Republicans seemed to be floundering. But leadership would have involved risk and failure. Evidently fear of failure and "gotcha" politics dominates their thinking. But success would have assured a Democrat landslide in November.


Congress lives up to its 10% approval rating.

The 228-205 defeat reflects badly on all concerned, starting with the Democrats who run the House. The majority party is responsible for assembling a majority vote, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed in that fundamental task.

House Republicans share the blame, and not only because they opposed the bill by about two-to-one, 133-65. Their immediate response was to say that many of their Members turned against the bill at the last minute because Ms. Pelosi gave her nasty speech. So they are saying that Republicans chose to oppose something they think is in the national interest merely because of a partisan slight. Thank heaven these guys weren't at Valley Forge.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Scott Burns chronicles all of the lies told by major Wall Street financial firms. It is not pretty.

Here's your quiz question for the day: Who is the biggest liar of them all?

The answer will surprise you, and, yes, you're allowed to consult your daily newspaper or favorite Web sites. Gird yourself. You may be overwhelmed by the number of candidates.

And then he tells you who taught Wall Street.

Washington, D.C., the home of the federal government and the source of current efforts to rescue our economy.

When it comes to deception, misleading accounting and lack of disclosure, Uncle Sam is the father of all con artists. Indeed, as large as the current crisis is, all the losses racked up by the Nitwit Sector pale when compared with what our government has done.


See the video.


Another historical hit.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


From the WSJ. Selected quotes.

How did we get here? Let's review: In order to curry congressional support after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed to increased financing of "affordable housing." They became the largest buyers of subprime and Alt-A mortgages between 2004 and 2007, with total GSE exposure eventually exceeding $1 trillion. In doing so, they stimulated the growth of the subpar mortgage market and substantially magnified the costs of its collapse.

If the Democrats had let the 2005 legislation come to a vote, the huge growth in the subprime and Alt-A loan portfolios of Fannie and Freddie could not have occurred, and the scale of the financial meltdown would have been substantially less. The same politicians who today decry the lack of intervention to stop excess risk taking in 2005-2006 were the ones who blocked the only legislative effort that could have stopped it.


Carl Leubsdorf comments on the challenge of a president-elect setting up an organization and administration after the election.

Unfortunately, the growth in presidential appointees and an increasingly cumbersome clearance and nominations process means that, even with good intentions, the next president will need months to create a functioning government.

Transition expert Paul Light, a New York University professor, notes that John F. Kennedy took less than six months to install 200 top Senate-confirmed appointees. In 2001, President Bush took a year longer, in part because he had to fill 600 such jobs.

By all accounts, Mr. Bush ran such an efficient transition in 2000 that his administration got off to a fast start. By contrast, Bill Clinton wasted time with distractions from an economic conference to an untimely fight with the Pentagon over gays in the military.

Also William MacKenzie's "Campaigning Isn't Governing" what campaigns face once the election is over and the candidate faces governing.

The campaign trail seemed a universe away from SMU's John Tower Center last week, where Andy Card and Mack McLarty held forth for more than an hour about the realities of running a government.

They know something about that. Mr. Card was George W. Bush's first White House chief of staff; Mr. McLarty held that post under Bill Clinton. Those grueling tenures showed them what it's like to manage a president's day, hire and manage Type-A staffers, keep an agenda rolling and deal with Capitol Hill.

The longer they talked the other night, the more being president sounded as disconnected from what John McCain and Barack Obama are doing on the stump these days as pitcher-and-catcher camps are from the realities of a marathon baseball season.


Congressman Barney Frank (D, Mass.) nixes a Bush administration attempt to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003.

'These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis,'' said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ''The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


There are two scenarios.

The first: she’s a disaster waiting to happen who will explode at the debate and confirm neither she nor John McCain are fit to govern. There is another: she’s a godsend for John McCain because she is the newest — and only remaining — source of optimism and good cheer in the campaign.

And then there is this prediction -- The Muse of the Coming Police State


FDR was president in 1929! And he got on television to do it!

Another criticism of Biden gaffes.

Monday, September 22, 2008


From the Wall Street Journal.

The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won't create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that's not a conclusion to take on faith -- it's what the empirical data tell us.

"What Americans Really Believe," a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I never appreciated the Hastert-led Republican Congress, but the current Democrat congress is even worse. Pelosi and Reid promised an improvement in ethics when the Democrats took over, but it looks like the same old backroom deal-making. And then I read this -- a congressional leadership more concerned about protecting earmarks than solving the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression:

As the stock market plunged nearly 1,000 points in two days this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada was preoccupied with protecting billions of dollars worth of earmarks contained in a separate, unpublished committee report that got a one-sentence reference in a giant $612 billion defense bill. Reid engineered the 61-to-32 vote to limit debate on the bill, thus barring consideration of an amendment offered by Sen. Jim DeMint.

And then I look at California, a state that has floundered under a Democrat-led state legislature. Recently there was a budget clash with the Governor Schwarzeneggar (R), which I have not followed. But he was threatening to veto a budget (and I think on solid ground) that the Democrat California legislature submitted to him. One issue was:

Schwarzenegger had criticized the earlier plan for failing to meet his demands for a more robust rainy day fund. He said the budget relied on accounting gimmicks to close a $15.2 billion deficit -- such as collecting an extra 10 percent of workers' income tax in advance and repaying it later -- that could lead to an even larger deficit next year.

The Democrat legislature is foisting the problem on the next year's budget--I guess they have learned from Washington.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I haven't followed this debate: Pontius Palen and Messiah Obama

"Jesus was a community organizer; Pilate was a governor" is ahistorical and just plain dumb.


The view from Germany:

In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered. Since 1864, American banking has been split into commercial banks and investment banks. But now that's changing. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch -- overnight, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have disappeared into thin air. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are the only giants left standing. Despite tolerable quarterly results, even they have been hurt by mysterious slumps in prices and -- at least in Morgan Stanley's case -- have prepared themselves for the end.

Many are drawing comparisons with the Great Depression, the national trauma that has been the benchmark for everything since. "I think it has the chance to be the worst period of time since 1929," financing legend Donald Trump told CNN. And the Wall Street Journal seconds that opinion, giving one story the title: "Worst Crisis Since '30s, With No End Yet in Sight."

But what's happening? Experts have so far been unable to agree on any conclusions. Is this the beginning of the end? Or is it just a painful, but normal cycle correcting the excesses of recent years? Does responsibility lie with the ratings agencies, which have been overvaluing financial institutions for a long time? Or did dubious short sellers manipulate stock prices -- after all, they were suspected of having caused the last stock market crisis in July.

The only thing that is certain is that the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed -- at least for now. The near nationalization of AIG, America's largest insurance company, with an $85 billion cash infusion -- a bill footed by taxpayers -- was a staggering move. The sum is three times as high as the guarantee provided by the Federal Reserve when Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in March.

Things are not going to be the same economically and politically. Sofar I haven't seen this kind of realism in America.


The Democratic-controlled Congress, acknowledging that it isn't equipped to lead the way to a solution for the financial crisis and can't agree on a path to follow, is likely to just get out of the way.

What a quote! Senator Harry Reid (D, Nev.): "'no one knows what to do' at the moment."


Some background on what McCain tried to do 3 years ago to provide more government oversight. There were both Democrats and Republicans blocking passage of this bill. It doesn't help Obama that he was a major recipient of a lot of money from Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines and was silent on the issue of reform.

I finally found something I agree with John Gibson on:

Lehman Brothers’ collapse is traced back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two big mortgage banks that got a federal bailout a few weeks ago. Freddie and Fannie used huge lobbying budgets and political contributions to keep regulators off their backs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Discussion of negative advertising and its impact.

[A]a series of new experiments show that misinformation can exercise a ghostly influence on people’s minds after it has been debunked — even among people who recognize it as misinformation. In some cases, correcting misinformation serves to increase the power of bad information.


The role of the Clinton administration.

Obama in a statement yesterday blamed the shocking new round of subprime-related bankruptcies on the free-market system, and specifically the "trickle-down" economics of the Bush administration, which he tried to gig opponent John McCain for wanting to extend.

But it was the Clinton administration, obsessed with multiculturalism, that dictated where mortgage lenders could lend, and originally helped create the market for the high-risk subprime loans now infecting like a retrovirus the balance sheets of many of Wall Street's most revered institutions.

As soon as Clinton crony Franklin Delano Raines took the helm in 1999 at Fannie Mae, for example, he used it as his personal piggy bank, looting it for a total of almost $100 million in compensation by the time he left in early 2005 under an ethical cloud.

Other Clinton cronies, including Janet Reno aide Jamie Gorelick, padded their pockets to the tune of another $75 million.

Who in Washington got some of the money in political donations?

Of the 354 lawmakers who received money from Freddie and Fannie between 1989 and 2008, Sen. Chris Dodd received the most. But next was . . . drumroll . . . Barack Obama. Yup. And he was only there for three years. Not too much went to John McCain, about a sixth of what Obama received.


I have been concerned that politics was too much intertwined with Fannie Mae decisions in the past. This blogger examines the role of Jamie Gorelick.

Monday, September 15, 2008


This video interests me because I am reading a well-researched book on what the US was doing or not doing in the 1990s with regard to al-Qaeda. There were clearly Clinton administration failures. I would like to know what sources this docudrama used to build its case.

THE suits at Disney-owned ABC are too chicken to re-air or release on DVD their $40 million docudrama that accused Bill Clinton of squandering many chances to capture Osama bin Laden before the Twin Towers attacks.

That's the charge of John Ziegler, director of a new ABC-bashing documentary titled "Blocking 'The Path to 9/11.' " It focuses on why ABC delayed airing and severely re-edited its ambitious miniseries "The Path to 9/11" in 2006 after a furious Clinton and his cronies strong-armed the network.


I haven't seen such creativity on the right before. I was trying to look at this from a sublimal standpoint--the German intonation makes it even more sinister.


From the Gibson-Palin ABC interview. I really hadn't thought much about camera position in political interviews.

Friday, September 12, 2008


A view from London on Palin. A pistol-packin' Looby Loo: the Left's worst nightmare. It's reminiscent of how they used to patronise Mrs Thatcher 30 years ago. What did this small-town girl know about anything?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


From Salon:

What's the difference between Palin and Muslim fundamentalists? Lipstick. A theocrat is a theocrat, whether Muslim or Christian.


This web page is an interesting look back in time to 9/11 and what one blogger was recording. Presumably it will be factored into some broader historical account of how the US and its citizens were responding to this act of terrorism.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


They have gone largely to Democrats. But it also shows you how corporations leverage donations between the parties.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Maybe there are two Americas: one likes kids, the other doesn't. Maybe it's just that simple.

Friday, September 05, 2008


A numerical analysis of negative comments.

If one compares Palin’s speech to Obama’s, it appears to me that they used similar amounts of sarcasm (not much), but Obama made considerably more extensive negative comments about McCain and Republican administrations than Palin did about Obama and Democrats. Palin’s negative comments, however, were on balance funnier, better written, and more pointed than Obama’s. Neither candidate’s comments were entirely fair in every characterization of their opponents’ positions.


The Anchoress comments:

Sen. Obama does not get it: He’s hauling out the women (including Clinton) to counter Palin. He doesn’t get the fact that Palin’s gender is secondary or even tertiary to why she has the GOP energized out of its collective mind. It’s what she IS, and what she DOES and what she BELIEVES and what she SAYS, and how she doesn’t just talk it, she WALKS it.

Hiding behind 1000 women standing behind you and saying you’re great (while ripping her apart) cannot counterbalance that. It will preach to the choir, and the media will sing along, but that’s all. The Dems really are working off of an outdated template. They do not, in the least, understand modern conservative women.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

While watching coverage last night we saw one of Palin's daughters grooming the hair of the recent baby. The presumably Democrat comments made on the Huffington Post are going to disturb a lot of people and really create sympathy for Palin.

Sarah Palin's youngest daughter Piper is just six, but she proved a natural in front of the cameras on Wednesday as she waved to the crowds at every opportunity. At one point while her mother was speaking, Piper held her baby brother Trig and was even seen licking her hand and smoothing the baby's hair.


The cameras briefly showed some protester being escorted out of the Republican convention. Here is the story.

One of Barack Obama's elite fundraisers from the anti-American group Code Pink attempted to storm the stage last night during Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the GOP convention in St. Paul.


From Politico:

Among the eyebrow-raising comments in recent days:

• Democrat Joe Biden, in what he intended as self-deprecating remark, observed, “There's a gigantic difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and between me and I suspect my vice presidential opponent. ... She's good looking."

• A spokeswoman for the National Organization for Women, noting Palin’s opposition to abortion rights and support of other parts of the social conservative agenda, told Politico, “She's more a conservative man than she is a woman on women's issues. Very disappointing."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


From Instapundit (September 2 posting):

HOW THEY COULD HAVE KEPT THE PALIN PREGNANCY STORY OUT OF THE PRESS: Leaked it that John Edwards was the father . . . ..


From the New Republic.

What the Republicans missed about Sarah Palin then [referring to her victory over the Republican Party establishment in Alaska] --and what the Democrats seem poised to miss now--is that she is a true political savant; a candidate with a knack for identifying the key gripes of the populace and packaging herself as the solution. That keen political nose has enabled her to routinely outperform her resume. Nearly two years into her administration, she still racks up approval ratings of 80 per cent or better.

Sarah Palin is a living reminder that the ultimate source of political power in this country is not the Kennedy School or the Davos Summit or an Ariana Huffington salon; even now, power emanates from the electorate itself. More precisely, power in 2008 emanates from the working class electorates of Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Sooner or later, the Obama camp will realize that the beauty pageant queen is an enormously talented populist in a year that is ripe for populism. For their own sake, it had better be sooner.

We shall see. Here is Giuliani's tussle with Brokaw on the issue.


A summary of what the New York Times was saying about the surge in Iraq.

Friday, August 29, 2008


At TaxProf blog. I am still not convinced that either candidate has the answer to this.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Another McCain ad. Whoever is writing his stuff is very good from all the examples I have seen in the last two weeks.


A good case for taking a year or two off doing something that will give you life experience. Do it before or after college.

Just do something that will make you a more complete person. I suspect that it'll also make you appreciate your education more (and, ironically, make you more attractive when you do apply for college or enter the job market).

Why should an 18- or 22-year-old head for Nepal instead of the University of Illinois or Wall Street?

For three reasons. First, because you can. Because the world is an interesting place, life is short, and there just aren't that many opportunities to take long stretches to do really cool things.

Second, and perhaps more practical, it'll make you appreciate your education more, whether you do it before or after college. I remember the first time I saw terraced rice paddies in Indonesia. I'd taken a course on monsoon Asia in college but the concepts seemed remote and academic. But when I was standing in Bali, staring up at the remarkable green fields carved into the mountainside, I finally understood all the facts that I'd memorized for the exams.

Last, it'll impart perspective and maturity. I've encountered a small but growing number of students -- amazingly smart and talented people -- who just seem intellectually immature and even emotionally unhealthy. They're obsessed with grades more than learning (because good grades are necessary to do the next hypercompetitive thing).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008


James Hudnut-Beumler, In Pursuit of The Almighty's Dollar. A History of Money and American Protestantism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

I can't say this was a well-written or edited book, but it was a very interesting read. I haven't seen any books that discuss an historical perspective of how Protestants handle money. Sometimes I have seen books and articles that deal with current issues like the "Prosperity Gospel," but these do not give an analysis of how this all evolved. Hudnut-Beumler's book focuses more on the mainline denominations, although in the late 18th and early 19th centuries the term "mainline" really was not used. Someone looking for information on denominations other than the larger Presbyterian and Methodist denominations will be disappointed, but the author believes this is not an important issue because all Protestants tend to act alike when it comes to raising money. But the key point is that he studies the "materialization of religion," specifically American Protestantism. However, I am not sure "materialization is inevitable," although looking at how some churches conduct giving campaigns, he might be right. Also he really doesn't get into issues since the 1960s in as extensive detail.


1. Church funding as it is now was not an issue when you go back to as late as the early 19th century when local governments supported churches or people paid for pews to sit in. With separation of church and state, churches had to develop private systems of funding. Churches were not longer seen as a public good, but now were supported for private or personal reasons.

2. Getting rid of the "pew system" democratized the church, but it also led to the need to raise money to pay for the church. This led to an increase in books and sermons on tithing and other reasons why a person should contribute to the local church.

3. Ministers were the most educated individuals in a community before the WWII period and were seen (or saw themselves) as "public officers" and "intellectual elites." As I look at this issue today, with the prevelance of higher education, ministers may be some of the least educated in many communities.

4. The theological views and interpretations on tithing presented in many churches today really has its foundation in the interpretation of various biblical tithing passages in the last half of the 19th century.

5. The structure, design, and organization of a church has changed over the last two hundred years to reflect how we see ourselves or God. What has evolved is a flexible, entertainment-oriented design. As I thought about this, I do believe that God's pulpit or altar has become a stage for music, drama, etc. The focus has moved from the Word to experience and visual effects.

6. He argues that the tithe was "reinvented" in the 19th century, but it could be argued that it was rediscovered biblical teaching. To me the tithing sermons of the late 1800s are quite similar to tithing sermons in the 2000s, although the process of implementing tithing has certainly changed. I don't recall any church having a "Loyalty Sunday" in which church members came together to pledge their tithe for the year (of course it could be happening in churches I am less familiar with).

7. Salaries of leading clergymen in a community may have been larger when one considers the standard of living than what I think many clergy are paid today.

8. He had a chapter on ministers' wives and how they had to budget and live with community expectations.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Daniel Pipes has an online essay on terrorist infiltration. He gives a number of examples. Aifia Siddiqui is only one.

Aafia Siddiqui, 36, is a Pakistani mother of three, an alumna of MIT, and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Brandeis University. She is also accused of working for Al-Qaeda and was charged last week in New York City with attempting to kill American soldiers.

Her arrest serves to remind how invisibly most Islamist infiltration proceeds. In particular, an estimated forty Al-Qaeda sympathizers or operatives have sought to penetrate U.S. intelligence agencies.

Such a well-placed infiltrator can wreck great damage explains a former CIA chief of counterintelligence, Michael Sulick: "In the war on terrorism, intelligence has replaced the Cold War's tanks and fighter planes as the primary weapon against an unseen enemy." Islamist moles, he argues, "could inflict far more damage to national security than Soviet spies," for the U.S. and Soviet Union never actually fought each other, whereas now, "our nation is at war."

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I love these quotes:

The fact is that all Russian politicians are clever. The stupid ones are all dead. By contrast, America in its complacency promotes dullards.

Think of it this way: Russia is playing chess, while the Americans are playing Monopoly. What Americans understand by "war games" is exactly what occurs on the board of the Parker Brothers' pastime. The board game Monopoly is won by placing as many hotels as possible on squares of the playing board. Substitute military bases, and you have the sum of American strategic thinking.

Chess players think in terms of interaction of pieces: everything on the periphery combines to control the center of the board and prepare an eventual attack against the opponent's king. The Russians simply cannot absorb the fact that America has no strategic intentions: it simply adds up the value of the individual pieces on the board. It is as stupid as that. But there is another difference: the Americans are playing chess for career and perceived advantage. Russia is playing for its life, like Ingmar Bergman's crusader in The Seventh Seal.

It is somewhat ironic that the article is accompanied by an ad "Find Your Own Russian Beauty!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


From the September issue of Radar magazine:

Sheridan Middle School, New Haven, CT:
Action: Student buys a bag of Skittles from a classmate.
Ruling: Violated an anticandy "wellness policy."

Central High School, Providence, RI:
Action: Sophomore snaps photos of the principal smoking and posts them online.
Ruling: "Disrupted the learning environment."

Killian Middle School, Lewisville, TX:
Action: Student rubs hands with hand sanitzer, then smells them.
Ruling: Openly flouted antidrug rules.

If you want to see the 100 "Signs your College Isn't Prestigious" you will have to get a login and password. Some examples:

#1 sign: "Courses offered in-class, online, and drive thru."
#82 sign: "Professor holds office hours in his taco truck."


A superb photo documentary. More photos.


Communism was not above anti-semitism.

Jewish Communists returning from exile to the Soviet occupied part of Germany were confronted with prejudice and suspicion and sometimes even had to fear for their lives.


The Beloit College Mind-Set List.

For these students, Sammy Davis Jr., Jim Henson, Ryan White, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Freddy Krueger have always been dead.

1. Harry Potter could be a classmate, playing on their Quidditch team.

2. Since they were in diapers, karaoke machines have been annoying people at parties.

3. They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.

4. GPS satellite navigation systems have always been available.

5. Coke and Pepsi have always used recycled plastic bottles.

6. Shampoo and conditioner have always been available in the same bottle.

7. Gas stations have never fixed flats, but most serve cappuccino.

8. The students' parents may have dropped them in shock when they heard George Bush announce "tax-revenue increases."

9. Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.

10. Girls in head scarves have always been part of the school fashion scene.

11. All have had a relative—or known about a friend's relative—who died comfortably at home with hospice.

12. As a precursor to "whatever," they have recognized that some people "just don't get it."

13. Universal Studios has always offered an alternative to Mickey in Orlando, Fla.

14. Grandma has always had wheels on her walker.

15. Martha Stewart Living has always been setting the style.

16. Häagen-Dazs ice cream has always come in quarts.

17. Club Med resorts have always been places to take the whole family.

18. WWW has never stood for World Wide Wrestling.

19. Films have never been X rated, only NC-17.

20. The Warsaw Pact is as hazy for them as the League of Nations was for their parents.

21. Students have always been "Rocking the Vote."

22. Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.

23. Schools have always been concerned about multiculturalism.

24. We have always known that "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

25. There have always been gay rabbis.

26. Wayne Newton has never had a mustache.

27. College grads have always been able to Teach for America.

28. IBM has never made typewriters.

29. Roseanne Barr has never been invited to sing the national anthem again.

30. McDonald's and Burger King have always used vegetable oil for cooking french fries.

31. The students have never been able to color a tree using a raw-umber Crayola.

32. There has always been Pearl Jam.

33. The Tonight Show has always had Jay Leno as its host and started at 11:35 p.m. Eastern time.

34. Pee-wee has never been in his playhouse during the day.

35. They never tasted Benefit cereal with psyllium.

36. They may have been given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in the crib.

37. Authorities have always been building a wall along the Mexican border.

38. Lenin's name has never been on a major city in Russia.

39. Employers have always been able to do credit checks on employees.

40. Balsamic vinegar has always been available in the United States.

41. Macaulay Culkin has always been Home Alone.

42. The students' parents may have watched American Gladiators on TV the day they were born.

43. Personal privacy has always been threatened.

44. Caller ID has always been available on phones.

45. Living wills have always been asked for at hospital check-ins.

46. The Green Bay Packers (almost) always had the same starting quarterback.

47. The students have never heard a gasoline-station attendant ask, "Want me to check under the hood?"

48. Iced tea has always come in cans and bottles.

49. Soft-drink refills have always been free.

50. The students have never known life without Seinfeld references from a show about "nothing."

51. Windows operating systems have always made IBM PC's user-friendly.

52. Muscovites have always been able to buy Big Macs.

53. The Royal New Zealand Navy has never been permitted a daily ration of rum.

54. The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.

55. 98.6 degrees F, or otherwise, has always been confirmed in the ear.

56. Michael Milken has always been a philanthropist promoting prostate-cancer research.

57. Off-shore oil drilling in U.S. waters has always been prohibited.

58. Radio stations have never been required to present both sides of public issues.

59. There have always been charter schools.

60. Students always had Goosebumps

Sunday, August 17, 2008

GEORGIA has some good things to say about the performance of the Georgian army. Obviously the Georgians were overwhelmed, but they killed a Russian commander and took some planes out. I wonder what they would have done if they had more surface-to-air missiles?

Russian troops beat the Georgians on the ground, not so much because of superior numbers, but because the Russians had more troops with combat experience, and very recent experience in fighting this kind of war. The Russians got this way by fighting a successful campaign just across the border, in Chechnya.

A more pessimisic report from the DEBKAfile is that Putin is threatening to place missiles in Syria and Iran in retaliation for American missiles in Eastern Europe and ex-Soviet republics.

DEBKAfile's military sources report Moscow's planned retaliation for America's missile interceptors in Poland and US-Israeli military aid to Georgia may come in the form of installing Iskandar surface missiles in Syria and its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

Russian Baltic and Middle East warships, submarines and long-range bombers may be armed with nuclear warheads, according to Sunday newspapers in Europe.