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Thursday, January 16, 2003
It occurs to me that Andrew Sullivan uses the term "liberal" as do American conservatives - to refer to statists of the weenie-left. I have personally undertaken in my own quiet and humble way to uphold the notion that this term should be reserved for fellow-travelers of people like Friedman, Hayek and Mill. If even so libertarian a Brit as Sullivan has given up the ghost, though, it may indeed be a lost cause.
She Has a Point
I mean Ann Coulter, of course.
"It's safe to assume Attorney General John Ashcroft isn't getting a lot of help. But he has calmly persisted in the face of caterwauling idiots. The hundreds – hundreds – of terrorist attacks the Bush administration has prevented since 9-11 don't make headlines. In a small news item last week, the government announced in a legal brief that interrogations of enemy combatants have 'helped to thwart an estimated 100 or more attacks against the United States and its interests since Sept. 11, 2001.'
"The Department of Justice has disrupted terrorist cells in Buffalo, Portland and Detroit. It has won convictions or guilty pleas from about 100 people in terrorism-related crimes. Almost 500 potential terrorists have been deported. The arrest of a former roommate of two 9-11 hijackers led to 40 more arrests in a visa fraud scheme. Over 200 airport workers in the Washington, D.C., New York City and Dallas airports have been arrested for document and immigration fraud. At the Dallas and Newark airports, scores of workers were charged with alarming schemes to obtain access to high-security areas of the airports.
"The war isn't over, and it won't be until the malarial swamps are completely drained – something else the Democrats oppose. But whatever happens tomorrow or the next day, it is worth reflecting on the fact that there hasn't been anything approaching the 9-11 attack for 16 months now. That's not a bet many people would have taken on Sept. 12, 2001."
The entire article can be found here.
Extremism in the Pursuit of Vice is no Virtue
This, as the often spoofed Mastercard ad says, is priceless.
The National Football league has refused to accept advertising from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority on the grounds that it doesn't want to be associated with gambling.
No. I DIDN'T make that up. About $6 billion dollars will be bet on this year's Super Bowl. And the NFL sanctimoniously refuses to accept ads for the city of Las Vegas - ads, by the way, which make no reference to gambling of any type, much less gambling on football.
Hey, I have no dog in this hunt. I'm much more of a baseball fan. I'll watch the game like everyone else, though. And I have my squares in some pools; as do half the people I know. Does the NFL really believe that over half the nation watches this game out of love for gridiron action? Hah! As many people watch for the commercials, I expect.
For the NFL to pretend that it actually believes gambling isn't a primary component of its appeal is laughable. Indeed, you could argue that by making such an absurdly big deal of this ad, the NFL is proving via its hypersensivity how important gambling is to its very being.
BWWAAAHHHAAAAHHH!!!! This just in.....
According to WGN television, Carol Mosely Braun (herinafter to be known on this site as "Carol-Measly-Brain") IS CONSIDERING A RUN FOR PRESIDENT!!
New Zealand's gain is our loss.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Bush continues to impress. He put the government on the right side of the University of Michigan Law School case.
In view of all the Trent Lott nonsense, you could almost have forgiven him if he had taken a pass. My guess, though, is that the UM case is such an egregious example of reverse discrimination he decided he couldn't let it go unchallenged. For example, the point system UM uses to determine admission-worthiness gives one point for an outstanding essay....and TWENTY POINTS for being a member of a preferred minority. In fact being a member of a preferred minority is worth more than an outstanding essay and a perfect SAT score COMBINED!
This page at the Center for Individual Rights shows two "admission grids;" one for blacks and one for whites. Barbara Grutter, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, fell into a cell which for white applicants gave her a 9 percent chance of being accepted. Black applicants in the same cell?
One hundred percent.
For the record, as a libertarian I oppose the government meddling in the admissions policies of private institutions. And if the University of Michigan was a private school, it could admit or refuse whoever it damned well pleases and I would care not one drop.
So long as it is a taxpayer funded institution, though, it simply shouldn't engage in blatant racial discrimination.
This seems so obvious that I would be reluctant to point it out - except that I haven't seen anyone point it out yet. So I will.
Many have declared that Bush's proposed elimination of taxes on dividends won't really have much impact on stock prices. Why? Because a very large percentage of stock is held in such tax-free instruments as 401K retirement accounts.
There's a technical economics term for this type of thinking.
The price of a stock reflects the market's estimation of two things: a company's propsects for growth (capital appreciation), and the future value of the dividend stream that will be paid to shareholders. X (growth component) + Y(dividend value) = Z (stock price). The devil, of course, is in the details of figuring out what X and Y are; but that's pretty much how stocks are valued.
If Y is no longer taxed at, say 28%, but at ZERO percent, the net value of Y (and consequently Z) goes up correspondingly. The fact that some investors might buy the stock for a tax-free account doesn't change the fact that the tax-free nature of the dividend makes the stock more inherently valuable to buyers who AREN'T buying for a tax shelter. Which drives the price up for all.
I think the confusion stems from people associating this with tax-free municipal bonds. The return on such bonds is low - for the precise reason that they are purchased almost exclusively as a source of tax-free income. The policy gurus have made such bonds tax-free to keep the cost of borrowing low for municipalities.
The only way such logic would apply to stocks, though, would be if companies took the opportunity of the tax elimination to decrease dividends. There's another economic term to desribe THAT prospect:
If anything, companies will be under pressure to increase dividends - particularly in the case of companies that haven't had an exemplary long-term record of achieving capital appreciation. Stockholders will rightfully say: "You aren't investing the money very well - give it to us instead."
Bottom line: dividend tax relief is a more valuable tool of corporate accountability than all the SEC regulations and jailed CEO's put together.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
You've probably heard the old joke about the kid who killed his parents and pleady for leniency on the grounds that he was an orphan. Well, a dimwit named Charles Pierce has offered a similarly, if unintentionally, hilarious rationale in support of the case for Teddy Kennedy's greatness.
"If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age."
For those of you who might be unfamiliar, Senator Kennedy killed Ms. Kopechne in 1969 when he drove his car, with her in it, off a bridge and into the water off Chappaquiddick Island. He waited until EIGHT HOURS after the accident to report it to the police - by which time, of course, Kopechne was long since dead.
Mr. Pierce, in a neauseating 10,000 word profile in the Boston Globe, which does at least, acknowledge that "if his name were Edward Moore, he would have done time," reveals the sort of sickening enfatuation that most of the mainstream media still have with this family of mediocrities.
This column from Mark Steyn entitled "To the left, ideological purity trumps all" is postively scathing and brilliant in its analysis of leftist values. Here's just a small bit:
"That's terrific, isn't it? If he hadn't killed her, he'd have given her a grand old age -- if 62 counts as "old age," which most women would surely dispute (unless the Globe's using actuarial tables based on female life expectancy of Kennedy acquaintances). But Mr. Pierce's point is a simple one: Sure, 34 years ago, Teddy fished himself out of the briny, staggered away and somehow neglected to inform the authorities until the following morning that he'd left some gal down there. But, if he was too tired to do anything for her back then, he's been "tireless" on her behalf ever since....
"When you reduce citizens to subjects, inevitably a little droit de seigneur gets built into the equation -- not just in the Kennedy-Clintonian sense, but in all kinds of other areas. Take Al Gore, Mister Environment, the man who inflicted Federal toilet regulation on America's bathrooms in the interests of water conservancy. Meanwhile, back at the farm at his alleged home in Tennessee, Mr. Gore's tenants the Mayberrys had asked their distinguished landlord 30 times to fix their leaking toilet. But the Eco King saw no contradiction between requiring everybody else to make do with cisterns that hold less than a supersized cup at McDonald's and forcing his own tenants to live in a septic tank for over a year. The scale of his accomplishments as a great thinker drowns his deficiencies as a landlord as easily as the Niagara-sized torrent from his cistern cascaded through the bathroom and down his tenants' stairs....
"If we right-wing madmen do indeed spend every waking minute dreaming up ways to kill as many children as possible, we're not very good at it. By contrast, the left does a wonderful job of sacrificing the little people in the name of its own corporate interests. In America, generations of black children have drowned in the swamp of inner-city public schools because the Democratic Party subordinates their interests to those of the teachers' unions. Overseas, the hypothetical body-count of an Anglo-American war with Iraq exercises Bill Blaikie far more than the actual slaughter Saddam has already visited on his people. But then one of the curious qualities of the ideological left is its increasing imperviousness to reality. The uselessness of Canada's billion-dollar gun registry is not the point: Just having one, no matter how expensive, no matter how irrelevant, "sends the right message."
"After September 11th, the dispiriting feature of the left was its heartlessness -- the rush to deny the individual human loss and to reframe a deliberate act of premeditated murder as merely an unfortunate side-effect of an abstract "root cause"; the inability to rouse yourself from woozy generalities and perfunctory sloganeering...."
OK. That was more than a bit. But it's a really great piece. Steyn also dissects Adam Clymer, the guy who President quite correctly referred to as a "major league asshole" on the campaign trail in 2002.
Please check it out.
World renowned political theorist Sheryl Crow showed up at the Amerian Music Awards wearing a T-shirt that said "War is not the answer."
"I just think there's a really vital, sweeping peace movement out there that's not getting covered in the press, so I just kind of try to do my part. I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."
I see. If only the jews hadn't made all those enemies in Germany in the 30's and 40's.
Monday, January 13, 2003
Sometimes a picture really IS worth a thousand words - and more. Check out this satellite picture of the Korean peninsula.
I'm not sure about the attribution protocol for something like this in the blogosphere, so I'll give full credit. I found this via Natalie Solent, who saw it on the blog of Clayton Cramer.
Chief of CNN steps down
"Walter Isaacson announced Monday that he is leaving his post as CNN chief in April to become president and chief executive officer of the Aspen Institute...."
Heh heh. CNN is getting positively trounced by FoxNews and Isaacson is taking the fall. Delicious!
Beware of peaceniks drawing curves.
That's the lesson of this interesting essay by Francis Porretto at the Palace of Reason.
Here's a great article on the National Taxpayers Union website detailing the truth of the Bush tax cut proposal. Here are some sample paragraphs:
"Before you can even begin to assess whether you favor or oppose any specific tax reduction proposal, you first must accept one essential fact: You can only cut income taxes for people who actually pay income taxes. The simple truth is, lots of people don’t. As things currently stand, a married couple with two young children must earn more than $32,150 to owe the IRS. A single parent with one young child must earn over $19,100.
"In fact, many low-income individuals are actually entitled to receive free government money in the form of 'tax refunds.' Why? Because they can still collect child credits and earned income credits even after their federal income tax bills have been completely zeroed out. So they don’t just owe nothing. The government owes them (negative income tax, if you will). The point is, you simply cannot cut income taxes for individuals who owe nothing or less than nothing. Sorry about that. This isn’t a matter of fairness. It’s a matter of mathematics!...
"Another very good thing about the Bush tax-free dividend proposal: only dividends paid out of a corporation’s previously taxed income would qualify. So if a company wants to please the stock market by issuing tax-free dividends, it must first admit it earned taxable income and pay the IRS accordingly. This should discourage companies from using disreputable tax-avoidance schemes to shortchange the U.S. Treasury (yet another distasteful corporate shenanigan that’s been occurring over the last few years).
"There is, however, a shortcoming here. Any person who owns dividend-paying stocks in a tax-deferred retirement account (traditional IRA, 401(k), and the like) should be entitled to increase the tax basis of his or her account by the amount of any tax-free dividends. Otherwise, the account owner will be taxed on the dividends when they are eventually taken out as cash withdrawals. The Bush proposal doesn’t currently include any such basis increase mechanism, which effectively discriminates against retirement accounts. That’s unfair."
The article also details other "changes you probably have not heard about," that are specifically targeted at small businesses and the unemployed.
And finally, thanks to the latest addition to the blogroll, Right Wing News for bringing to my attention this bunch of pathetic losers at DemocraticUnderground.com who are rooting for the U.S. to lose a war against Iraq.
Further commentary would be superfluous.
Except for this. The guy who wrote the first post saying he hopes the U.S. loses has a signature that reads "Restore Gore in 2004." Which, seeing as how Gore isn't running, is about as likely to happen as Iraq vanquishing the U.S. military.
Bad to the Last: George Ryan Looks for Love in all the Wrong Places
Well, Illinois Governor George Ryan did it. He commuted the sentences of 167 convicted murderers from death to life imprisonment.
To really understand the depravity of what Ryan has done you need to examine his likely motivation. To do this, though, you need a little background.
Ryan is a profoundly corrupt and unpopular governor who's been known as a behind-the-scenes dealmaker his entire career. It was during his tenure as Illinois' Secretary of State that drivers licenses were routinely given to unqualified applicants in return for bribes. Drivers tests were fixed and licenses were given to hundreds of truck and passenger car drivers.
According to this article, "Over 690 truck drivers and 470 passenger car drivers were licensed as a result of the scheme. Later media investigations linked these drivers to at least 59 accidents and at least 9 deaths.
All told, federal officials claim, over $170,000 in bribes paid by unqualified drivers wound up in George Ryan's campaign coffers."
While he has spent his entire four year term successfully dodging direct implication in what has become known as the "Licences-for-Bribes" scandal, it now looks like investigators have begun closing in on Governor Ryan. He looks to be at most a few months away from being indicted himself. According to this recent Chicago Tribune article, "(N)ewly filed documents contend that Ryan was present in 1998 when his top aide, Scott Fawell, ordered a subordinate to destroy evidence that he expected federal agents to be looking for as part of their probe into a licenses-for-bribes scandal.
So the first piece to the puzzle of Ryan's motivation lies in the fact that he is about to leave office in disgrace. He was long since abandoned by his party (he didn't even consider seeking the GOP's renomination), and his approval ratings approach those of Richard Nixon at the height of the Watergate scandal.
Some, looking to understand Ryan's actions, stop right there. They conclude that having come to some sort of epiphany about the unfairness of the death penalty, Ryan simply figures he has nothing to lose. Plus, some have suggested, by issuing all these pardons and sentence commutations, he might earn some brownie points with his future bunkmates.
Alas, while this is all true; I'm certain there's also something else at work. Something both sordid and profoundly pathetic.
Ryan made his announcement at the Northwestern University Law School before a gathering that resembled more than anything else a pep rally. The AP called the assembled group a "who's who of anti-death penalty activists."
"Gov. Ryan has taught us what leading truly looks like. This is greatness, my friends," gushed one Lawrence C. Marshall, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, in an excruciatingly lengthy introduction that brought to mind Bill Clinton's speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention. Ryan sure didn't mind, though. He basked in the praise and applause directed his way - emanating both from Marshall's speech, and his own 19 page oration. "The rest of the world might not think much of me," he probably thought to himself. "But THESE PEOPLE understand me! They love me!"
Think I'm overstating it? Here's some more from the Sun Times.
"Ryan posed for pictures Saturday with former "MASH" television show actor Mike Farrell--just one of many celebrities around the world who have lobbied Ryan to commute the death sentences. Calls and letters have come in from South African leaders Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu; from the Vatican, the European Union and the governments of Poland and Mexico.
'For a guy like me to get a call from Nelson Mandela, that's pretty impressive,' Ryan said."
Is it hard to imagine that Ryan clings to the adoration of celebrity leftists and Nelson Mandela as the rest of his world collapses around him? By issuing the blanket commutation - which he had repeatedly DENIED he would do - Ryan clearly thinks he can change his legacy from disgraced politico to Nobel Prize winner. Yes, he's been nominated for that - and if Jimmy Carter can get one, why not a debased mediocrity like Ryan?
And you just KNOW that the sanctimonious twits at the JFK Center are going to give him a "Profiles In Courage" award.
The folowing are some of the "people" spared by Ryan's commutation.
Just call these, "Profiles In Carnage."
Fedell Caffey & Jacqueline Williams - They wanted a baby. So they stabbed a woman who was 8+ months pregnant to death and cut the fetus out of her body. Then they killed her children, a 10 year old daughter and 8 year old son, so there would be no witnesses.
Luther Casteel - He got thrown out of a bar, went home, got a bunch of guns and came back blasting. He killed two people and injured 16. He made a half-hour speech at his sentencing hearing, during which he said: "I'm not someone who asks for mercy or pity for my actions. I have absolutely no fear of anything anyone can put upon me."
Latasha Pulliam - Ms. Pulliam and her boyfriend convinced a 6 year old girl to join them by promising to take her to a movie. Instead they took her to her apartment where, according to the Sun Times, "over several hours, Pulliam and Jordan sexually assaulted the girl with a shoe polish applicator and a hammer, and then used the hammer to pulverize her skull, according to prosecutors. Pulliam also beat and strangled the girl."
There are not questions about any of these people being innocent. The families of the victims of these crimes are being victimized yet again so that a corrupt, venal man can bask in the adulation of shallow hollywood leftists and self-important ideologues who, their protests to the contrary notwithstanding, care not one whit for justice, fairness or decency.
George Ryan has chosen to spare people who have murdered, molested and tortured children so that the guy who played B.J. Honeycutt will call him a hero.
May he rot in hell.