Monday, December 31, 2007

NFL Playoff Picks


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Here are my picks for the NFL Playoffs:

AFC
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh- the Jags are running all over people and the Steelers don't have Willie Parker. Barring a huge game from Big Ben, I like Jacksonville.
Tennessee @ San Diego - I can't believe the Titans even made the playoffs. San Diego by two touch downs.

San Diego @ Indianapolis - The Colts may not be as good as last year, but the Chargers have declined more. With or without Marvin Harrison, Peyton and Addai will have a big day.
Jacksonville @ New England - I like the Jaguars, but they are no match for the greatest team ever.

Indianapolis @ New England - The real Super Bowl? Greatest team ever wins by 10.

NFC
Washington @ Seattle - The Redskins have won four straight, beating the Bears, Giants, Vikings, and Cowboys.
N.Y. Giants @ Tampa Bay - The Giants played well against New England on Saturday. Eli is looking relaxed and Jacobs is a beast.

Washington @ Green Bay - Green Bay in a close one.
N.Y. Giants @ Dallas - Dallas has too many weapons on offense. Just don't let Romo hold for any kicks.

Dallas @ Green Bay - I like Favre over future-Favre (Romo).

Super Bowl: Green Bay vs. New England - Sorry Packers fans, but it's the year of the Patriots. After this game Tom Brady cements his status as the greatest QB of all time.

"Misunderestimating" Bush and the Troops


Peace and security are spreading around Iraq. US fatalities are down to 21 in the past month, almost identical to March, 2003. Michael Barone offers several lessons we should learn in NationalReview.com. One of the lessons is that "societies can more easily be transformed from the bottom up than from the top down." The Democrats have focused their latest criticisms (now that the security issues are so much improved) on the Iraqi politicians' bickering. However:
The impetus for change has come from the bottom up, from tribal sheiks in Anbar province who got tired of the violence and oppression of al Qaeda in Iraq, from Shiites and Sunnis who, once confident of the protection of American forces and of the new Iraqi military, decided to quit killing each other. They did not wait for orders from Baghdad or for legislation to be passed with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed.
In summary:
Some of George W. Bush’s critics seem to have relished the prospect of American defeat and some refuse to acknowledge the success that has been achieved. But it appears that they have “misunderestimated” him once again, and have “misunderestimated” the competence of the American military and of free peoples working from the bottom up to transform their societies for the better. It’s something to be thankful for as the new year begins.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Huckabee's Foreign Policy Fumbles


The tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto by terrorists had all the candidates rushing to the nearest microphone to express their sympathy and show off their foreign policy acumen. Or lack there of, in Mike Huckabee's case. He expressed concern that martial law would continue longer in Pakistan, apparently unaware that martial law was lifted two weeks ago. Huckabee also stated that Musharaff "really does not have enough control of those eastern borders near Afghanistan." Um, perhaps he should take a look at this map. Huckabee went on to offer his "apologies" for the assassination, later saying he meant "sympathies." But that's not all. He also tried to tie this to illegal immigration for a Pella crowd, expressing concern about the 660 Pakistanis who immigrated illegally this past year. How does Huckabee know the exact number of illegal immigrants from Pakistan? The Huckabee camp seems to be stumped as well.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fox News Most Balanced in Election Coverage


A new study of the media's coverage of the '08 election shows that Fox News has been more balanced than the networks. The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason U did a scientific analysis of all 481 election news stories on the main evening news shows on NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX from October 1 through December 15. Their findings:
  • Hillary stories were 42% positive, 58% negative, Obama 61% positive, 39% negative.
  • Huckabee was 50/50, Romney 40/60, and Giuliani 39/61.
  • Fox News was 51/49 on Dems, 49/51 on Republicans, while the networks were 47/53 on the Dems, 40/60 on the Republicans.
Just because Fox has shows like O'Reilly's and Hannity & Colmes doesn't mean their news is biased.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

No Country For Old Men


I finally saw the Coen brothers' "No Country For Old Men" today. It is in the "Fargo" vein, but more intense, darker, and even better. I am a huge fan of the Coen brothers ("Big Lebowski", "Oh Brother Where Art Thou", the aforementioned "Fargo") and I think this is their masterpiece. I don't think I moved a muscle whenever Javier Bardem's psycho-killer was on screen. For more info, check out this review from the LA Times:
The story of stolen drug money and the horrific carnage it precipitates, "No Country for Old Men" doesn't celebrate or smile at violence, it despairs of it, despairs of its randomness, pervasiveness, its inescapable nature, of the way it eats at the soul of society and the individuals in it.

Sowell on '08


Thomas Sowell, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford (and the author of the excellent book Black Rednecks and White Liberals, which I am currently reading), provides a quick summary of the '08 presidential election for National Review. I especially like his take on Obama's campaign: "When it comes to articulation, no one can beat Barack Obama. He can even convince people that he has new ideas, when in fact they are old 1960s ideas that have failed repeatedly, ever since that irresponsible decade."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Consensus Debunked


The "consensus" on global warming that has been jammed down our throats isn't holding up too well. The media claims that the scientists who contradict claims that CO2 emissions are destroying the planet are akin to the Flat Earth Society or Holocaust deniers. A new Senate report outlines the views of 400 prominent scientists who disagree with the claims of Gore and the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). 400! These scientists are sacrificing piles of grant money to stand up for the truth: that trying to control our climate is impossible, that variations in global temps are normal, that greenhouse gases are only one of many things influencing climate (and CO2 is a small part of greenhouse gases, water vapor makes up the vast majority of it), and that reasonable ideas for improving the environment are cast aside for hysteria. 

Homer Every Day

Remember the Youtube video where the guy takes a picture of himself every day for years? This one's better.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Huckabees

Please don't let this man win the Republican nomination.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Romney on Meet the Press

Romney was on Meet the Press with Tim Russert yesterday. You can watch the interview or read the transcript here. I thought Governor Romney was very successful in handling the tough questions from Russert on Mormonism, abortion, etc. He came out strong against Huckabee's comment that the Bush administration has an “arrogant bunker mentality,” saying “that’s an insult to the president, and Mike Huckabee should apologize to the president." (Huckabee refuses to apologize). The most talked about moment occured when Romney was asked about the Mormon church's decision to finally allow African Americans into the priesthood in 1978. His eyes filled with tears for a moment as he described his reaction to the news.
“And so it’s very deep and fundamental in my life and my most core beliefs that all people are children of God. My faith has always told me that. My faith has also always told me that in the eyes of God, every individual was merited the fullest degree of happiness in the hereafter and I had no question that African Americans and blacks generally would have every right and every benefit in the hereafter that anyone else had and that God is no respecter of persons.”

Rich Rodriguez in at Michigan


Now for something far more important than politics: Michigan football. After getting turned down by LSU's Miles and Rutgers' Schiano, UM landed a head coach in Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia. Rodriguez has been hugely successful at WVU, taking them to a BCS bowl game two out of the last three years, so I am very excited about this move. Rodriguez's teams have used a spread offense and a mobile quarterback, so it will be very interesting to see what he does with the Michigan offense. Ryan Mallet has to be a little concerned, as he's a traditional, drop back passer. However, the #1 recruit in the country, Jeanette, PA junior Terrelle Pryor, has now put Michigan on his short list. He's a 6-6 dual threat QB with 4.4 speed (think Vince Young in maize & blue).

Mike Huckabee or John Edwards?


Read the following quotes and see if you can guess who said them - Mike Huckabee or John Edwards.

  • "American foreign policy needs to change its tone and attitude, open up, and reach out. The Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad."
    • "When I hear the headlines that the economy's doing great, I know that it is, if you look at it from the macro sense. But if you go out and talk to people who work on the floors of factories or you talk to waitresses who are doing their second job, school teachers who have to work an extra job, you don't hear quite the confidence about how great the economy is doing."
    • “I don't want to see our food come from China, our oil come from Saudi Arabia and our manufacturing come from Europe and Asia.”
    • "I am not interested in being the candidate of Wall Street but of Main Street. Wealthy CEOs get paid 500 times what the average worker does, but they are not necessarily 500 times smarter or harder working and that is wrong."
    • "If you want to know how to fix [healthcare], I've got a solution. Either give every American the same kind of healthcare that Congress has or make Congress have the same kind of health care that every American has."
    • The US has a "revenge-based corrections system." And "we incarcerate more people than anybody on earth."
    If you guessed that all of these quotes are from Huckabee, you are the big winner. He is definitely not a conservative. His comments about lower income workers are not based in reality. As I posted earlier, because of economic growth, the lowest quintile saw their income increase by 90.5% from '96 to '05. Why is it any of the government's business what corporations pay their executives? If they overpay, the market will punish them. In healthcare, we should only "give" healthcare to the impoverished. Let everybody else pay their own way. Sure, he's a social conservative, but let's support all conservative principles.

    Thursday, December 13, 2007

    National Review Endorses Romney

    National Review, the prominent conservative magazine, has just endorsed Mitt Romney for president. While they also like Thompson, they do not view him as a viable candidate, citing his lackluster campaign and lack of executive experience.
    Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest.

    On Rudy and Huckabee:
    Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country.

    More on why Romney is the right choice:
    Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.

    A huge endorsement for Romney, who many feel scored some points on Huckabee at the debate yesterday in Iowa.

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007

    Global Warming Update


    Good news on the global warming front:
    • So far the US and Canada have resisted efforts to get them to sign legally binding agreements to cut carbon emissions at the Bali global warming summit
    • The former director of the National Hurricane Center contradicts Henry Waxman's (D-CA) investigation that claims Republicans pressured him to change his testimony regarding the impact of global warming on hurricane activity.
    • Pope Benedict is now a global warming "denier." He will make a speech on January 1 (the speech was released in time for the Bali conference): The Pope "suggested that fears over man-made emissions melting the ice caps and causing a wave of unprecedented disasters were nothing more than scare-mongering." HT American Thinker.

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Mitt's Speech


    Mitt Romney gave an inspiring speech today. He spoke of freedom and the values that made this country great. Romney showed that his faith is important to him and makes him who he is. While his faith isn't the same as mine (or the evangelical base) he made clear that his values are the same: "Perhaps the most important question to ask a person of faith who seeks a political office, is this: does he share these American values: the equality of human kind, the obligation to serve one another, and a steadfast commitment to liberty?" Please watch the video.

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Gallup Poll: Democrats Not All There

    A new Gallup Poll of 4,000 reports that Republicans have much better mental health than Democrats. 58% of Republicans, 43% of independents, and only 38% of Democrats rated their mental health as excellent. You might think this is a result of all the money Republicans have stolen from the poor, but this relationship persists even when you control for income, age, gender, church attendance, and education. The differences in mental health are remarkably consistent across all of these characteristics. The impact of being a Republican on mental health was statistically significant, for the statisticians among you. As we all learned in stats, correlation does not prove causation. While this data does not tell us whether being a Republican improves mental health or if being mentally healthy causes you to choose to be a Republican, I believe that both are true.

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Nooma: Burrito

    This is a Rob Bell parody that we put together for youth group.

    CNN/Youtube Debate


    I'm not sure who the winner of Wednesday's debate was, but the clear loser is CNN. They flew in a member of Hillary's campaign to debate the candidates on gays in the military when all of the questioners were supposed to be undecided Republicans. CNN would have realized that many of the questioners were actually Democrat plants if they had done a minute's worth of research online and I don't think anybody's buying their story that they didn't know who the gays in the military guy was. Many of the questions CNN chose revealed their view of Republican voters: crazy gun lovers and religious weirdos. One questioner wanted to the candidates to comment on his Confederate flag. We get the message, CNN: Republicans are kooks. CNN is a joke, yet it's the Democrats who refused to even go on Fox News for a debate.

    As far as the candidates (click here for transcript), I thought Rudy got creamed, especially on illegal immigration. Thompson was good, but not great. He had solid answers to every question, I'm confident in his conservative values and character, but he just hasn't excited me yet. Huckabee was good, although he did take shots on taxes. He had a great line, when asked about expanding the space program: "maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars." No one addressed his huge weaknesses in understanding a free-market economy (see my entry below). Romney scored some points early on Rudy, but seemed to waffle on a couple questions. However, he firmly responded to criticsm from Thompson on his abortion record: "I was wrong." Romney noted that he had his change of heart soon after becoming governor and vetoed every abortion rights expanding bill that came across his desk. I think Romney made a mistake though in wasting all his ammo on Rudy. He should have targeted Huckabee's lack of conservative credentials, as Huckabee is a greater threat in the early primaries.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Mike Huckabee: Chuck Norris Approved

    Mike Huckabee has come on strong in the Republican primary. Only a few months ago he was a second tier candidate, now he is challenging Romney in Iowa. I can see why people like him – his social conservative credentials are unmatched by any of the other Republicans candidates and this may be the best campaign ad ever. However, he is far from a conservative, as Robert Novak notes in the Washington Post. Huckabee is preaching a populist message - half James Dobson, half John Edwards. As governor of Arkansas he increased the overall tax burden by 47% (the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, gave him a “D” in fiscal policy). He criticized President Bush for vetoing the SCHIP healthcare expansion that would have covered “children” up to the age of 25 and families making up to $83,000. He may have Chuck Norris protecting the borders, but he fought for in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants. He says nonsensical, anti free-market things like “I don’t want to see our food come from China, our oil come from Saudi Arabia and our manufacturing come from Europe and Asia” and claims that he can get us energy independent in 10 years. We don’t import much food from China, cheap imports are a huge benefit to the “Mainstreet” people he’s always talking about, and being energy independent in 10 years is impossible. The Club for Growth says that nominating Huckabee would be “an abject rejection” of the free-market, limited-government principles the Republican Party stands for. Huckabee responded by calling them the “Club for Greed.” If you’re a “values voter” and you don’t care about the free market or taxes, Huckabee might be for you. If you want a conservative, pick Thompson or Romney (preferably Romney).

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    Hillary Vs. the GOP


    A new Zogby poll of 9,355 people shows that if the presidential election were held today, Hillary Clinton would lose to any of the five of the GOP candidates included in the poll. Shrillary, who is still the Democratic front-runner despite a series of screwups, trailed Rudy Guiliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee by 3-5%. In July, the same poll had her leading the pack (with the exception of Huckabee, who wasn't included). Sorry Ron Paul fans, he wasn't included in either poll. As scary as a potential of a President Ratched is, this poll is encouraging. However, Edwards and Barack Hussein Obama would probably fare better than Hillary in the general election.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Happy Thanksgiving


    A couple days late, I know, but here's a good Thanksgiving story (from Rush Limbaugh) that has nothing to do with this photo:
    On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford... But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness... And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims -- including Bradford's own wife -- died of either starvation, sickness, or exposure.

    When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well. They were collectivists! Now, Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. He decided to take bold action.

    Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. ... Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years -- trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it -- the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild's history lesson. If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future. Here's what he wrote: 'For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice.' That was thought injustice. Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result? 'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, 'for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been'... In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves... So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians.

    The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration'... Do you realize what we face in next year's election is the equivalent of people who want to set up these original collectivists communes that didn't work, with nobody having incentive to do anything except get on the government dole somehow because the people running the government want that kind of power. So the Pilgrims decided to thank God for all of their good fortune. And that's Thanksgiving.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2007

    The New York Times on Iraq

    Adding to yesterday's post - here's more on the good news coming out of Baghdad from the front page of the New York Times of all places. A couple highlights:
    The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.
    And
    For the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Iraq - A Quagmire for Al-Qaida


    More good news out of Iraq: the Washington Post is reporting that attacks against civilians and US troops are down 55% over the last nine months and Jack Kelly from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (ht Rush Limbaugh) makes a compelling case that Al-Qaida has suffered big losses in personnel and in their reputation in the Muslim world. After the fall of Saddam, Al-Qaida chose to make Iraq the main battle ground against the US. Now they have been driven from most populated areas and have to hide out in the mountains. Al-Qaida's attacks have killed many Iraqis and the population has largely turned against them. Where are these stories? Kelly notes:

    When U.S. troop deaths hit a monthly high in April, that was front-page news in most major newspapers, Mr. Benedetto noted. But when U.S. troop deaths fell in October to their lowest levels in 17 months, that news was buried on page A-14 of The Washington Post and mentioned on Page A-12 in The New York Times.

    In the same Washington Post article I linked to above, the author wonders why Bush's approval ratings remain so low, despite the improving situation in Iraq and North Korea. Could it be that whenever a Republican President is in office we get blasted with non-stop bad news? If the war is going better, it's not reported, instead we read about global warming or an income gap.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Will Ron Paul Reject the Neo-Nazis?


    Ron Paul's nutty views have attracted a strange crowd. Paul, a Republican Congressman from Texas, is running for President on a platform similar to the anti-war left. His winks and nods to the 9-11 conspiracy theorists and anti-neocon rhetoric has warmed the hearts of Neo-Nazis and other anti-Semitic groups (David Duke calls Paul "our king"). Any politician is bound to attract unsavory supporters. The difference with Ron Paul is that he is not distancing himself from these people. The American Thinker cites several examples, here's one: Stormfront.org, a Neo-Nazi website is currently raising money for Paul's campaign:
    "Whatever organization you belong to, remember first and foremost that you're a white nationalist, then put aside your differences with one another and work together. Work together to strive to get someone in the Oval Office who agrees with much of what we want for our future. Look at the man, look at the issues, look at our future. Vote for Ron Paul, 2008."

    This was brought to Paul's attention over a month ago and he refuses to return the money. Maybe he just needs the money. But consider these comments by Paul in the Houston Chronicle:
    "If you have ever been robbed by a black teen aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be... I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city (Washington, D.C.) are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."
    Or this comment:
    "By far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government."
    As a Republican, I am embarrassed by this man.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Refuting the Income Gap

    The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a new study on American incomes between 1996 and 2005 conducted by the Treasury Department. Guess what? It doesn't give much credence to the populist, class envy messages that we've been hearing from the likes of John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, and Warren Buffet about a supposedly growing income gap.
    The study examined the tax returns of 96,700 people over a ten year period. It showed that the poorest quintile actually saw the most growth (yes, adjusted for inflation) - their incomes were 90.5% higher in 2005 as compared to 1996. As the graph on the left shows, the poorer you were, the more income growth you had in the last decade. The top 5% actually saw their incomes drop 6.8%. In an impressive showing of upward mobility, 58% of those in the bottom quintile in '95 moved up at least one quintile. These data are even more impressive given the huge numbers of low skilled immigrants that have entered the economy in the last decade. The American dream appears to be alive and well. How should this data affect our view of the "income gap?"
    All of this certainly helps to illuminate the current election-year debate about income "inequality" in the U.S. The political left and its media echoes are promoting the inequality story as a way to justify a huge tax increase. But inequality is only a problem if it reflects stagnant opportunity and a society stratified by more or less permanent income differences. That kind of society can breed class resentments and unrest. America isn't remotely such a society, thanks in large part to the incentives that exist for risk-taking and wealth creation.
    The great irony is that, in the name of reducing inequality, some of our politicians want to raise taxes and other government obstacles to the kind of risk-taking and hard work that allow Americans to climb the income ladder so rapidly. As the Treasury data show, we shouldn't worry about inequality. We should worry about the people who use inequality as a political club to promote policies that reduce opportunity.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Romney's Lead Widens


    Mitt Romney has opened up a twelve point lead over Giuliani in New Hampshire, while maintaining a large lead in Iowa. Giuliani still leads nationally, but some are now saying that Romney should now be considered the Republican front runner. If Romney takes the first two primaries (Iowa and NH) he will get a big boost in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida. Giuliani has neglected Iowa and NH, instead focusing on states like New Jersey and California, and now it may be too late.
    "Mayor Giuliani keeps hanging his hat on national polls that show him getting around 30% support, yet fully 100% of the electorate knows who he is. That is a very big gulf to have between the number of voters that know him and the number that support him," says a spokesman for the Romney campaign.
    Giuliani is not being helped by the federal indictment of Bernard Kerik, the NYC police commissioner while he was mayor. Giuliani had recommended Kerik to President Bush as a nominee for secretary of homeland security in 2004. Kerik is accused of accepting free renovations to his home in exchange for lobbying for a firm to get a government contract.
    Romney's got momentum - now's the time to join the bandwagon.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Chi-Comms - No Bibles at Olympics


    Bibles made the list of prohibited items at the Olympic Village for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. No one, including athletes, will be allowed any religious symbols or books for "security purposes." Big government is great isn't it? Maybe if the media actually reported the story, bags like these wouldn't be so trendy.

    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    The Media and the Economy


    Granted, the credit crisis is a big problem, both for the people who bought houses they can't afford and for the bankers. However, why is every story about the economy full of gloom and doom? This past week we found out the economy grew 3.9% in the 3rd quarter and added 166,000 new non farm jobs in October (twice the number expected) - great news!

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    President Clinton - This Time With Pants


    Nurse Ratched made a strong case for why she shouldn't be president last night in the Democratic debate. She got caught in a bind on questions about New York Governor Spitzer’s plan to give illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. She said the plan “makes a lot of sense,” but then weaseled out of saying whether or not she supported it. Instead, she got angry and blamed President Bush for the failure of immigration legislation and said “what’s (Spitzer) supposed to do?” Here’s why she doesn’t know what to do: giving illegals driver’s licenses will lead to massive voter fraud that will favor Democrats (there’s no way to stop someone with a driver’s license from voting), so she supports it, as she said earlier. However, recent polling suggests 72% of New Yorkers are against it for the obvious reasons. Democrat messaging that those against amnesty are racists is not working out nationwide either. Should she win the nomination, add illegal immigration to the long list of huge problems for her campaign.

    In response to challenges that she was too cozy with big business, Hillary said she had specific plans "to take $10 billion away from a lot of these industries." Is this in addition to her promises to take away the oil companies' profits?

    The Shrillary camp is furious with Tim Russert for asking Hillary, since she's running on her experience, why Bill Clinton is preventing all of the records of the advice she gave to him as first lady from being shared with the public. Hillary weaseled out of this, claiming it's just that the National Archives are slow to release them. This is a lie. Bill Clinton can release them anytime he wants. For reasons we can only speculate about, none of the other candidates opted to ask what they are hiding.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    The Income Gap


    Billionaire Warren Buffet is saying that he wants to be taxed more, saying that our current income tax rates are not progressive enough: "The taxation system has tilted towards the rich and away from the middle class in the last 10 years. It's dramatic; I don't think it's appreciated and I think it should be addressed." Buffet makes most of his money investing. Capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than the top income brackets. Low taxes encourage investment and economic growth, high taxes hurt investment and economic growth (and abortion groups that depend on Buffet's handouts). I am mystified at how the tax system is "tilted" toward the rich. The fact is that the richest 1% pay 37% of all income taxes! The bottom 50% only pay 3.3%! I think our tax system punishes achievement quite enough. But wouldn't taxing the rich more close the "income gap?" The media has recently sounded the alarm that the income gap is growing. A growing income gap is a good thing. That means the economy is growing. Everyone benefits from that, only the rich benefit more, because they have more money invested in the growing economy. If we punish them with higher taxes, they will be less likely to take risks with their money. Think of a small business owner with a new product he's excited about. Should he take out a second mortgage on his house in order to afford more employees? Higher taxes means a smaller potential payoff should he succeed, making him less likely to take on the risk. The income gap talk is nothing more than stirring up class envy.

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Hillarycare? Maybe We Should Ask the British First


    Socialized medicine seems to be working wonders in the UK. Breitbart.com (ht Moonbattery) reports that a man recently pulled out seven of his own teeth with a pliers because he got sick of being on a six week waiting list for emergency dentistry. Maybe Michael Moore should do a sequel.

    Sunday, October 21, 2007

    Behind the Scenes at the Drudge Report


    The Drudge Report is an addiction for me. I probably check it at least 10 times a day. The site links to various news around the web, often things overlooked by the mainstream media (like when it broke the Lewinsky story and this picture of John Kerry). The Drudge Report gets 3 million unique visitors a month, giving Matt Drudge great influence on the public and what stories the media covers. The New York Times has an article about politicians efforts to get favorable coverage that I think is interesting. The NYT reports that Hillary is stepping up her efforts by giving hot tips and that Romney has been the most successful of the GOP front runners at getting on Drudge's good side.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    Bright Eyes - Chicago Theater


    Sarah and I saw one of my favorite bands (and one of the few Sarah and I both like) at the beautiful Chicago Theater last night. Bright Eyes sounded great, they played a good mix of old songs and stuff off Cassadaga. Unfortunately, Mike, their usual guitarist/violinist couldn't be there. I saw them kick off their current tour at the Metro in February and the violin sounded really great on songs like "Four Winds" (click here to see the music video). Cassadaga is really growing on me lately, but I still like I'm Wide Awake It's Morning the best. Andrew Bird opened and he was amazing. In his solo act, he builds each song by adding layer after layer with his violin, and while they are played back, plays guitar and sings.

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Safer than Saddam's Iraq


    The American Thinker notes the rapidly declining deaths in Iraq since the "surge." The French wire service AFP put the September death toll for civilians killed at 840, down 50% from August, a figure you probably haven't heard if you rely on the mainstream media. AT notes that during Saddam's 23 year rule, he killed at least 300,000 civilians and political prisoners, or 1,086 a month. In September it was safer to be a civilian in Iraq than under Saddam. And that does not include the 500,000 Iraqis who died in wars he started, the soldiers killed by his army in wars he started, or the people killed by the terrorists he financed.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Court Rules Gore Is a Liar

    The British government has been trying to force all school children to see Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." However, they were sued by a truck driver claiming the government was guilty of political indoctrination. The judge ruled that the movie could be shown, but teachers must explain that it is a political work showing only one side of the argument and must acknowledge eleven falsehoods in the movie. Here's the 11, as listed in newsbusters.org:

    • The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming. The Government's expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
    • The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
    • The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that it was "not possible" to attribute one-off events to global warming.
    • The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government's expert had to accept that this was not the case.
    • The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice. It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
    • The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant's evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
    • The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
    • The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.
    • The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
    • The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
    • The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

    Cyanide and Happiness

    This has happened to me so many times...





    This is from a comic strip called Cyanide and Happiness.

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Freakonomics and Sports Betting


    I don't bet on sports, but I found this story about how Vegas sets point spreads interesting. The authors of Freakonomics (check out their blog) show that bookies do not just try to get half the bets for the favorite and half for the underdog, as you might expect. Losers have to pay 10% on top of their wager, so that would net the bookie 5% of the total wagers. However, the bookie knows that people tend to like the favorite a little more than they should and are biased toward certain teams (recently the Bears and the Bengals have been favored by more fans over equally good teams like Seattle and Carolina) and sets the spread accordingly, tempting them into bad bets. I also learned that if you bet home underdogs in the NFL you will, on average, beat the bookies. Anyway, check out the article if you like the Freakonomics stuff.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Romney Newsweek Cover


    Mitt Romney (my favorite for the Republican nominee in '08) is on the cover of the most current Newsweeek. The article examines Romney's upbringing and shows his struggle to portray himself as the turn around artist of the 2002 Winter Olympics and not as the Mormon candidate. The authors paint a picture of a hard working, disciplined, analytical, and bright person. Romney is shown to be very principled, but at the same time cognizant that he must connect with voters on shared values to overcome the liability of his religion. Not an easy thing to do, but I think as the average Republican voter gets to know him (as they have in New Hampshire and Iowa), he will gain ground on Rudy and Thompson. I'd like to see him run with Mike Huckabee as VP. Huckabee would help shore up the southern and evangelical vote.

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Meeting Crashers

    I really enjoyed this YouTube video. I love how the people go back in to the Port-o-Potty.

    Sunday, September 30, 2007

    Axis of Idiocy

    Three different Democrats, three idiotic ideas. In the past week, these are the stories that raised my blood pressure a little:

    #1: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (a Democrat liberal enough to represent San Francisco) said that a border fence between the US and Mexico is "a terrible idea." She argues that some border towns would then have a wall running through them, dividing communities. Oh, and drug runners, criminals and terrorists (yes, many Mexicans are just looking for work, but a high percentage are not) would have a harder time getting into this country illegally.

    #2: Pretend for a moment that Rush Limbaugh or George W. Bush said the following about African-American males: “We cannot build enough prisons to solve this problem. And the idea that we can keep incarcerating and keep incarcerating — pretty soon we’re not going to have a young African-American male population in America. They’re all going to be in prison or dead. One of the two.” Is this not an incredibly racist, pessimistic, and idiotic comment? In fact, John Edwards made these comments. A big part of being a Democrat is convincing everyone that we live in a rotten country that needs comprehensive change - more taxes, more programs, more government control. Thus, things must always be going badly. If the country is getting better, Republican ideas of less government and lower taxes make more sense to the average person. National Review Online clears up some of the misconceptions that Edwards is perpetuating. African-American males 18-24 are four times as likely to be in college as in jail and there are more in college overall than behind bars. And is racism by whites the reason so many African-American males kill each other? I would argue that growing up in a single parent household (which our welfare system has helped promote) is largely to blame.

    #3 Hillary Clinton announced a plan to give every newborn a $5,000 bond. When they finished high school they could use the money for college or to buy a house. This $5,000 bond program, which would cost $20 billion+ a year, would be financed by more taxes "on the rich." Usually the Democrats are a little more subtle about buying votes. The usual line is "vote for me, I'll raise these people's taxes and give the money to you using more social programs (socialized medicine, for example)." Now Nurse Ratched's plan is "vote for me and I'll take these fat cats' money and give it to you in CASH."

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    But She's So Perky


    In case CBS is still wondering why nobody watches Katie Couric (pictured after seeing her ratings), here's a clue. At the National Press Club yesterday she let this one slip (ht Moonbattery):
    "The whole culture of wearing flags on our lapel and saying 'we' when referring to the United States and, even the 'shock and awe' of the initial stages, it was just too jubilant and just a little uncomfortable. "

    I guess supporting, no wait, even identifying with your country in a time of war is too much to ask for of the mainstream media.


    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    The Face of Evil


    Columbia University decided to give Iranian president (and perhaps the most dangerous man in the world) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a high profile platform to spread his vile idealogy. Caroline Glick notes in her column the hypocrisy of a university that bars the ROTC for it's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but welcomes a terrorist dictator whose regime has a policy of executing homosexuals. Ahmadinejad has promised to wipe Israel off the map, which he believes will result in the second coming of the 12th Imam. Columbia believes it is fostering debate? I didn't know that the debate over genocide needed fostering.

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Shrillary's Plan to Change America


    In a recent speach, Hillary said, "I will bring my experience to the White House and begin to change our country starting on Day One." Steven Warshawsky writes in American Thinker about what she has in mind: socialized medicine and dramatic cutbacks in energy consumption. If she is successful, this would result in disaster for health care and our economy. In the '08 election, Hillary will make the case that America needs changing because it is not "fair" enough and the average American isn't capable of success, productivity and responsibility. The solution is more government control over our lives. Hopefully a Republican candidate can rise to the challenge, as Reagan did in the 80's, offering an optimistic vision for America, one centered around freedom instead of socialism.

    Saturday, September 15, 2007

    Golf, Concerts, Little Blogging


    Sorry I haven't posted in a while, I've been busy. I went up to northern Michigan with some college buddies for our annual golf trip. 90 holes at Boyne and then my favorite course - Arcadia Bluffs. I played much better than last year, but not exactly good. I came back to a three day evaluation at the regional office. I finished just in time to see Wilco play a great show at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park. The lawn was packed, but we had some great seats in the reserved section. What a great venue!

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Climate Change: What Do the Studies Say?


    I know what you're thinking, "Jon does not post enough about global warming." Well here you go: a researcher has examined all of the published climate studies in the last three years to see how many supported the "consensus" that man was at least partially responsible for global warming (not even, as Gore claims, that man is primarily responsible and that global warming will result in catostrophe). Out of 528 studies on climate change found in the literature, only 7% explicitly endorsed the "consensus", 6% rejected this view, 45% accepted this view without saying so explicitly, and 48% were neutral. Guess how many referred to the catostrophic results of global warming? Only one out of 528. It is clear that the global warming hysteria is being driven by politicians and tree huggers, not science.

    Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    Give Up Your SUV


    John Edwards, if president, would tell Americans to get rid of their SUVs. So sell your boat and put your kids up for adoption if they don't fit in a Prius. If Edwards is so worried about climate change, maybe he should downsize from his 22,000 square foot mansion.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    Taxing the Rich


    A recent New York Times article makes the tired liberal argument that the rich do not pay "their fair share" of taxes. The American Thinker rejects this argument based on actual IRS statistics. About half of tax returns are for people making less than $30,000 (Adjusted Gross Income). They pay between 3.5-4.5% in taxes (maybe a $1000 a year). Those making $200,000 (AGI) or more make up 2.7% of the population, pay over 20% (at least $40,000 a year) in taxes and contribute 51% of all income taxes. Sounds like more than their fair share to me. The top 2.7% pay at a minimum 40 times as much as the bottom half. Doesn't it follow that the ones paying the most tax should benefit the most from tax cuts? It would be nice if the left would stop trying to use class envy to get votes.

    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    AIDS in Africa


    I picked up a Vanity Fair in a doctors office and read an interesting story on AIDS in Africa. The scope of the problem is overwhelming, but it appears that there is some good news. The author, Alex Shoumatoff, explores the efforts to raise money and the impact of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) on the AIDs epidemic. In 2002, only 1% of the 5 million in Africa with AIDS were being treated with life saving ARVs. Only five years later, 28% are getting ARV treatment and the number is rapidly increasing. Shoumatoff gives little credit to the pharmaceutical companies supplying the medicine for a fraction of their average cost ($125 for a year's supply that would cost $10,000 here) or the companies selling "Red" products (4o% of the profits from "Red" Apple, GAP, Nike, etc. products go to fighting AIDs) and the extra $15 billion President Bush has authorized barely gets a mention. Instead, most of the praise is reserved for Bono. Certainly we can do better at helping the poor around the world, not just those with AIDs, but the greater numbers who are starving to death , but what is often missing from the discussion is how to help Africa become self-sufficient. Jennifer Brea argues in The American that aid often has the unfortunate effect of stifling entrepreneurship and incentivizes laziness in African government. Maybe some of the aid money would be better spent on investment or infrastructure. Given the opportunity, who can doubt the potential of Africans? Check out the homemade windmill. I think World Vision strikes a good balance between meeting basic needs and promoting self-sufficiency by addressing the causes and results of poverty (in the interests of full disclosure, my uncle works for World Vision). Give here, if you're interested.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    Democrats "Recalibrate" Iraq Message


    The Washington Post reports that, faced with the surge's military successes in Iraq, the Democrats are now changing their argument for surrender. The military successes don't matter because of the Iraqi politicians can't reconcile. Even Shrillary and Obama have had to acknowledge the effectiveness of the surge. This complicates things for the Democrats. Their fanatically anti-war base is unhappy that we haven't lost the war in Iraq yet and General Petraeus issues his report in a month and it looks like there will be good news. The GOP is finally on the offensive.

    Saturday, August 18, 2007

    Is the Science Settled?

    The global climate models took another hit. These models are what the Al Gore's of the world base their predictions of disaster, intending to scare us into allowing massive new taxation and government control. The models predicted that for every degree centigrade of warming, precipitation would increase by 1-3%. However, the American Thinker brought to my attention a study published in CO2 Science has just shown that precipitation actually increases by 7% per degree C. This is a big difference and it's an important difference. Increases in precipitation will help cool the planet and throw off the catastrophic predictions significantly. Scientists clearly have a long way to go to understanding climate. I'm all for conservation and improving energy technology to reduce pollution, but let's hold off on Kyoto-like protocols and let's not vote for politicians that support them.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Obama - Commander in Chief?


    Barack Hussein Obama seems to be making one foreign policy mistake after another. He must recognize that his lack of foreign policy experience is his biggest weakness. However, his recent statements aren't helping much. First Obama promised to meet with every dictator, thug, or leader of a terrorist nation that will have him. Next he would invade Pakistan, one of our only allies in the region. Then he promised never to use nuclear weapons (I hope our world never sees the use of these weapons again, but I will side with Hillary Clinton on this one: "I don't believe that any president should make any blanket statements with respect to the use or non-use of nuclear weapons.") Now, Romney is calling him to the carpet for saying that our troops in Afghanistan are "just air-raiding villages and killing civilians." A horrible and untrue accusation against US troops. Obama may offer "hope" (whatever that means, I'm guessing higher taxes), but he appears to be not quite ready for prime time, and Shrillary is taking full advantage.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    Romney Wins Iowa Straw Poll


    Mitt Romney was expected to win it, and he won big, with 32% of the vote. Giuliani, McCain, and Thompson did not participate. Giuliani and McCain because they knew they would lose, and Thompson is not officially running for President yet. Romney has been focusing on the first two states to hold primaries - Iowa and New Hampshire. This win doesn't make him the favorite by any means, but I think it does put him in the top three with Giuliani and Thompson. However, Romney is taking the tried and true approach to winning the GOP nomination: court social and economic conservatives and spend money in the early states to propel you to victory in the others. Once Romney separates himself from the crowd of Brownbacks, Huckabees, Tancredos, etc., he can show voters that he is the conservative option compared with the moderate Giuliani, Thompson, or McCain. Giuliani is taking a novel approach to the nomination by skipping Iowa and New Hampshire and focusing on getting moderates who aren't big primary voters to come out for him in New York, Illinois, Florida, California, etc. Giuliani still leads the polls, but as the race narrows, I think Romney will start to pick up the conservatives that are supporting the second tier candidates. I believe Romney is the best choice for conservatives who want a candidate who can articulate conservatism and who is strong on defense, family values, and the economy.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Poll: the Mainstream Media Sucks


    A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that most people believe the news media is politically biased and inaccurate. Those who get their news primarily from the internet were even harsher in their criticism. The skeptics among us may say, but maybe some think the media is biased toward the right (hard to believe, I know, when news people give money to Democrats 9-1 over Republicans). My retort: 53% of the internet people (who tended to be younger and better educated, by the way) felt that news organizations failed "to stand up for America." Does that sound like something anyone on the left would say? The public's perception of the news media has fallen sharply since 1985, when a similar study was conducted. We are constantly barraged by the liberal bias of the media (for example, the cover story of Newsweek this week: "Global Warming Is A Hoax - Or so claim well-funded naysayers who still reject the overwhelming evidence of climate change"). It puts a smile on my face to know so many people see it for what it is.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    The Surge Is Working


    At last even the New York Times is acknowledging good news in Iraq. Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack wrote an op-ed ("A War We Just Might Win") last week that was overwhelmingly positive on the surge's impact. O'Hanlon and Pollack have been nothing but critical of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq until now. "Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms... we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with." Their key points:


    • Morale of the troops in high, as is their confidence in General Petraeus

    • Civilian fatality rates are down 1/3 since the surge began

    • Our troops are leaving formerly dangerous areas as the Iraqi securtity forces step to the plate. Much of the corruption within these forces has been removed, and our troops are much more confident in the Iraqi forces

    • A local mayor told them his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq

    • Iraqis are rejecting Al-Qaeda and Moktada al-Sadr’s forces

    • The Anbar province has gone from the least secure area to one of the most secure

    • The economy is showing a lot of improvement

    Democrats can't afford to acknowledge any success in Iraq. They are invested in defeat. Success in Iraq is a win for the Iraqis and a win for the U.S. but it is a loss for the Democrats.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    Bonds Cheats (not just with steroids and mistresses)


    Everybody's sick of hearing about Barry Bonds and steroids. However, Michael Witte at Editor & Publisher (ht Drudge) writes of a different way Bonds has cheated to catch Hank Aaron's home run total: his elbow "armor." I always thought the elbow pad was unnecessarily huge, but Witte has analyzed his swing and makes a surprisingly convincing argument that the elbow pad is actually a mechanical apparatus that gives Bonds a significant advantage. For example, he claims that it keeps Bonds' swing remarkably consistent and efficient, harnessing his power more effectively. It also allows Bonds to hit the ball with more mass, but with better mass distribution than using a heavier bat. A rule change years ago forbids players from wearing an elbow pad, but Bonds was grandfathered in and his pad has grown more than his hats since he started wearing one in 1992. I was hoping he would be indicted, suspended, or suffer some Tonya Harding related tragedy before he tied Aaron (can you picture Bonds down, sobbing as he clutches the knee, "Why? Why? Why?"). It's too late for that, I guess I'll have to keep rooting for Alex Rodriguez to break the record 7 or 8 years from now.