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.
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:, 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!