ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Deutschland, Deutschland, Über...... ummm, someone? please?

H/T Just One Minute

The New York Times has an interesting article about a speech by Gerhard Schroeder to the German Bundestag on Thursday, where he called for a reduction in the corporate tax rate. It seems that even those Third-Way-ers in europe realize that lower taxes encourage investment and economic growth. I'm not sure whether Gerhard would ever actually follow through with a taxcut, but I think it shows the economic realities of the economic/political situation in Germany when the Chancellor (from the SPD - Social(ist) Democratic Party) suggest this in a speech. He knows that the center-right CDU could cause some problems based on Germany's economic performance under Schroeder.

Now, here are some key points from the article.

While Mr. Schröder's speech was geared toward Germany's economic problems, it was seen here as an important political gesture, aimed at trying to forge an informal alliance with the main conservative opposition parties in a search for solutions to the country's stubborn economic woes. Unemployment, the worst of them, is now at levels unseen since the 1930's. The corporate tax reduction has long been favored by the opposition, which last week proposed what has come to be called a jobs summit meeting to develop common solutions to Germany's dismal economic performance.

In a first step toward that aim, Mr. Schröder, after his speech on Thursday, met with Germany's two main conservative leaders, Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union and Edmund Stoiber, chairman the Christian Democrats' sister party in Bavaria, the Christian Social Union. Mrs. Merkel is Mr. Schröder's most likely opponent in the election for chancellor next year.
Hmmm... 1930s... what happened then... hmmm... Yeah, I don't think anyone wants to see continued high unemployment in Germany... something about idle hands. Seriously, though - If your country has unemployment that it hasn't seen since the GREAT DEPRESSION and the last time your country saw that level of unemployment, you turned to a racist form of fascism, perhaps you should be a little concerned. And the Left in the US bitches about our unemployment rate... which is running under 6%... puhleease.
The two parties will square off in elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous and most heavily industrialized state, in May. Polls give the Christian Democrats a good chance of wresting control of the state from the Social Democratic Party, which has governed there for the last 39 years. If that were to happen, it would be seen in Germany as a strong augury of the likely outcome of the federal elections next year.

"We are in a really difficult situation with the jobless figures," Mr. Schröder said Thursday morning in his speech. "Unemployment is the top problem in our nation."

"We need to do something in the short term," he said in what seemed a tacit admission that the legislation he has arduously pushed through Parliament - known as Agenda 2010 - has yet to bring significant results, especially in employment.

Recently released figures show the country's jobless numbers rising above five million for the first time, or 12.6 percent of the work force. In some places, especially in the former East Germany but also in industrial rust belt districts in the former West, the unemployment rate is above 25 percent.

Mr. Schröder, largely because of his perceived failure to reduce unemployment, has also faced a slow erosion of public support. A new poll indicates that if elections were held today, the Christian Democrats would win 41 percent of the vote and the governing Social Democrats 32 percent.
Now, North Rhine-Westphalia contains the manufacturing hub of Germany, which is referred to as the Ruhrgebiet (or Ruhr area) because it traces the Ruhr river. It ecompasses Duisburg, Essen, Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Bonn, as shown in this map (Western side of Germany).



When traveling from one city to the other, you never get the sense that you've left a city... you leave an urban area, then start to see suburbs for miles on end, then another urban area. The possibility of the CDU winning the next state election would be like a Republican sweep in California... and New York. So, I think Gerhard's days in office are numbered.

If the CDU/CSU does take power in the federal/state elections, it'll be intersting to see how this effects the EU. From the US perspective, the Germans under pro-business/pro-free-market government would be a concern... although we could probably count on a CDU government more on foreign policy issues than Schroeder & the SPD.

Digger's Realm is also talking about this subject

***UPDATE***
and here's a BBC report on the subject.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, March 17, 2005

New Conspirator here soon

St Patty's Day is over (and unfortunately I spent it on things that didn't involve pints of Murphy's/Guiness/Harp/Kilkenny, etc, etc, etc. Anyway, we're BACK IN BLACK... it was a nice change to the dark green, and I may end up changing the look of this awful template....

FYI - The real purpose of this post is to tell you that there'll be a new conspirator (hopefully) arriving tomorrow... wife and I are expecting a new baby girl on Friday, so expect light posting on for a couple of days, unless Brian/Penelope finally pick up the slack. (com' on you two... get with the program! The Left is going to have all kinds of problems if we're not in the background, pulling the strings of GannonGuckert, et al)... and by et al, I mean his throbbing... errr, nevermind.

;-)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Shift in Palestinian Opinion

Just saw this on Fox and will try to get my hands on the actual poll... Net is that a recent poll of Palestinians showed only 29% support for most recent suicide bombing, compared to 71% support for a similar bombing in September.

While 29% supporting murder is still a terrible thing, the trendline here is going in the right direction. Perhaps the democratic movements in Iraq, Lebanon, etc are tempering the Palestinian's willingness to let Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad dictate their future.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Lieberman without Joe-Mentum Momentum in Dem Party

Ok, the title's a stretch, but just have to work Joe-Mentum in there some where. I remember when he came out with that phrase....hilarious. Seemed like even he knew it was a joke.

Anyway, that loveable little ragamuffin Oliver Willis is at it again... Since he's decided to drop his hunger strike "only 3 twinkies a day principled stance" to get Brit Hume to resign, he's now turned on Senator Joe Lieberman. Apparently, the party of inclusion and tolerance is only inclusive and tolerant as long as you don't buck the DailyKossacks, the DUers, the Moron.Orgers, and now the Little Ollies.

Joe Lieberman Should Leave The Democratic Party
Submitted by Oliver Willis on Wed, 03/16/2005 - 11:17pm. Democrats

At some point, it is no longer about policy. It isn't about disagreeing on one issue and agreeing on another. It becomes about what is best for a political movement, and that political movement's ability to move forward and create progress for a nation.

That is why Joe Lieberman should leave the Democratic party.

In the new issue of The New Yorker (March 21) in an article discussing Democrats and foreign policy, Joe Biden is asked about Howard Dean. Senator Biden obviously has a different read on foreign policy than Governor Dean, so he answers the reviewer with a generic statement that the party chairman makes little difference in foreign policy. He's made it clear that he disagrees with Dean, but chooses not to launch a national attack on the chairman of the god damn party.

Not Joe Lieberman. Not the original Two-Face himself. No. Joe Lieberman makes a point of flipping the bird at the party that helps keep his ass in Washington and voted for him as its vice-presidential nominee five years ago.
"Dean was wrong on the war and what he was talking about was bad for the country. We'll see what he does as chairman. If he devotes his energies to building a party at the base, as he talked about doing, good for him. If he continues to be a prominent spokesman on defense policy, I would regret it"
Leave aside the question of policy (I happen to agree with Dean, but that is not the point). Joe Lieberman feels that as a Democrat, it's a good idea to launch a public attack on the party chairman. Why? Why the hell does he do this? Why is Joe Lieberman actively hurting the Democratic party? He knows the media salivates over the notion of a party member disagreeing with party leadership, and the GOP is smart enough to keep their disputes behind closed doors. But Joe Lieberman, seduced by the lights, camera, and ink can't wait to be the "maverick" once again, knifing his party in the back.
Nevermind that Dean (and Ollie and all those folks) were wrong about the war. Sure, it didn't make sense if you wanted to perpetuate the status quo... but if you wanted to change the entire face of the Middle East, increase the chances of peace in Israel, etc... it was the right move and history will prove that out.

Read the whole sorry excuse for an attack on the Democrats' most principled Senator...

Oh, and note the nice comment at the end of Ollie's post:
Go. And don't let the door hit ya where the good lord split you.
Not sure what he's trying to imply there... Is this a reference to the Senator's butt or something else? In light of his recent comments about Wolfowitz being "filthy", this is disconcerting... wtf is going on over there???

Read the whole post... what a dork.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Hmm... somethings missing...

Something seems to be missing from Oliver's site. The site looks cleaner for some reason. Almost thinner.
.
.
.
.
.
Did someone resign?



Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Is Kevin Drum for a flat tax?

Kevin Drum outlines some things for Democrats to do to gain the support of "big business"*. One had me almost spitting out my Blueberry Morning®.

CAP suggests closing corporate tax loopholes. Good idea. But instead of targeting "wealthy individuals," why not make the case to corporations that a flatter, broader, simpler tax code is in their best interests? It helps keep rates low and it helps insure that everyone plays on a level playing field, instead of constantly worrying that their competitors are figuring out new and better ways of outperforming them via ever more innovative tax scams.
And then I realized, he's talking about the FICA tax and not income taxes. A few problems with his analysis:
  • FICA is already flat (its a single percentage up to the cap)
  • FICA is already simple (again, its just a single percentage, no need to collect statistics on eating habits, smoking habits, what their mothers hat size was, etc.)
  • FICA applies to everyone (it's already a level playing field)
Interesting to note that the Dem's argument for removing the cap is that it will make things "simpler," and flatter. Look at the 1040 form sometime, and then get back to me.

*By the way, Big-Business!TM is not in the hands of the Republicans. Karl doesn't get to call up the local big-business and tell him how its going to be. In general, they tend to support both sides equally, because well, they're big. It's the small businesses that tend to support Republicans. And Kevin just tried to persaude the leader of that business that it's just simpler that if he works real hard and earns over the cap limit he should just give that money to the government as well. After all, as a former politician here in the St. Louis area once said: "He's been lucky in life's lottery."

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

South Park: The Hippie Episode

I you didn't catch South Park tonight, it's a must see... Hippies descend on south park for a music festival and Eric Cartman has to save the day (a la Armageddon). When stan's parent reminisce about their time at Woodstock, I almost threw up I was laughing so hard.

The writers take jibes at hippies for their stupidity with regards to basic economics and also their inability to do anything (ie instead of doing something about "corporations" they just have a music festival)...

Now, the creators of South Park are not affiliated with any party and make fun of republicans on occasion. However, they're definitely not fans of the Left as it exists today.



***UPDATE***
Captain Ed saw the episode, too... and had similar reaction.

Steady Earl is a fan as well...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Iraq's WMD, The New York Times, and Hitch

Hat-tip to Little Green Footballs

I don't know about you, but when anyone uses the phrase "Bush Lied, People Died" or goes completely mental and states, "WMDs weren't in Iraq, man! This was all cooked up in Texas as an oil grab", I immediately reach for my personal taser device some aspirin. This is a clear indication of an überpartisan who isn't welll informed about actual events in Iraq, nor the stated policy goals of the US in the run-up to the war. Unfortunately, many of these folks seem to be in the Mainstream Media (MSM).

During and after the war, we did find:

  1. weapons which were in clear violation of Security Council Resolutions; and
  2. weapons programs which had been suspended but could have been resumed at a moments notice.
Chris Hitchens (my favorite socialist) has a great piece in Slate that touches on this very issue - where there's clear and compelling evidence that Iraq under Saddam was continuing or had the capability of continuing its WMD programs and that it was in violation of existing Security Council resolutions. It seems that the conventional wisdom about WMDs in Iraq is so cemented in the media elite/Left that even factual evidence to the contrary is unable to break its hold on their collective mind.
It was eye-rubbing to read of the scale of this potential new nightmare. There in cold print was the Al Hatteen "munitions production plant that international inspectors called a complete potential nuclear weapons laboratory." And what of the Al Adwan facility, which "produced equipment used for uranium enrichment, necessary to make some kinds of nuclear weapons"? The overall pattern of the plundered sites was summarized thus, by reporters James Glanz and William J. Broad:
The kinds of machinery at the various sites included equipment that could be used to make missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs.
My first question is this: How can it be that, on every page of every other edition for months now, the New York Times has been stating categorically that Iraq harbored no weapons of mass destruction? And there can hardly be a comedy-club third-rater or MoveOn.org activist in the entire country who hasn't stated with sarcastic certainty that the whole WMD fuss was a way of lying the American people into war. So now what? Maybe we should have taken Saddam's propaganda seriously, when his newspaper proudly described Iraq's physicists as "our nuclear mujahideen."

My second question is: What's all this about "looting"? The word is used throughout the long report, but here's what it's used to describe. "In four weeks from mid-April to mid-May of 2003 … teams with flatbed trucks and other heavy equipment moved systematically from site to site. 'The first wave came for the machines,' Dr Araji said. 'The second wave, cables and cranes.' " Perhaps hedging the bet, the Times authors at this point refer to "organized looting."

But obviously, what we are reading about is a carefully planned military operation. The participants were not panicked or greedy civilians helping themselves—which is the customary definition of a "looter," especially in wartime. They were mechanized and mobile and under orders, and acting in a concerted fashion. Thus, if the story is factually correct—which we have no reason at all to doubt—then Saddam's Iraq was a fairly highly-evolved WMD state, with a contingency plan for further concealment and distribution of the weaponry in case of attack or discovery.
Read the whole thing...

Of course, this whole adventure in Iraq was a rovian conspiracy to show how illiberal the Left has become. As stated in the Victor Davis Hanson piece I commented on here, it was clear that the Left's transformation into it's current multi-cultural/post-modern state would never allow them to welcome the imposition of Western styles of government on "the Other" (sorry to use postmodern-gobbledygook terms)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

IRAQ IS A DISASTER

[sarcasm]

When will Bushitler and his neocon administration realize that this Iraq adventure just isn't working?!?! How stupid do they have to be? I mean, look at this AP story... Oh, wait... they apparently held a national assembly today. Hmm, that's got to be bad, right?

[/sarcasm]

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Operation American Freedom

H/T InstaPundit.com

Great Post on Operation American Freedom by sisu. As sortapundit figured out when he tried to argue rationally with the Kossacks about their plan to dig into the personal life of Greenspan (and those in his circle), the Left has become rather vicious of late. No longer will they have an open, honest, and fair debate of the issue or the policies. They'll attack you, throw out red-herrings (Gannon/GayPorn, anyone?), and fail to discuss the actual issue at hand.

As they continue this practice and turn on anyone on their side who might have reservations about the direction they're headed in (just go to DU or DailyKos to see examples of this), the Democratic party will continue to lose at the ballot box. As documented by Evan Coyne Maloney at Brain-Terminal.net, many on the Left view the system as broken and are looking for a revolution.

What rational people need to realize is that we cannot be fearful of these nutjobs. We have to speak our minds - otherwise, others will begin to assume that these people speak for the dominant political thought. Where appropriate, we must address these wingnuts with a logic and a calmness - even though we're likely to get something else in response.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Must Read VDH

If you've never read Victor Davis Hanson (NRO contributor, Fresno State Professor, and Democrat), you're missing out. Here's his latest from the The American Enterprise Online, but also keep an eye out on his Private Papers site, as well as NRO:

Geopolitics
By Victor Davis Hanson

Democracy Is Now the Realistic Policy

"The policy of the United States is to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.... All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."

Those and other idealistic passages in President Bush's second inaugural address sparked criticism that he was biting off more than even a superpower could chew. Are such prescriptions realistic in the Middle East? Is it wise to demand that voting must follow economic liberalization in China, or is isolating an autocracy of a billion people too dangerous? Is an elected but increasingly authoritarian Russian president Putin a quasi-, pre-, or post-democrat?

The foreign policy Realists want nothing to do with George Bush's idealism. They rely exclusively on deterrence and balance of power to adjudicate relations abroad: We must deal with the world as it is, they say, rather than as we think it should be. Isolationists likewise bristle at the idea of expending blood or treasure in an open-ended commitment to spread our values. And don't expect liberals to applaud the new idealism, as if their 1960s vision of an ethical foreign policy has at last arrived. The Left's attachment to "multiculturalism" long ago ended the idea that the U.S. had any right to place Western ideas of politics over indigenous practices. Other "progressives" are de facto pacifists; for them, any use of U.S. force is a betrayal of global diplomacy.

Old-style State Department officers, meanwhile, will resist formulating any typology of bad, worse, and worst regimes. Censuring Iran, Syria, North Korea, or Cuba is easy enough. But are nuclear China and Russia to be isolated or praised? Should mitigating factors temper our democratic crusade--the oil of a Wahabi Saudi Arabia or Castro-friendly Venezuela, a Mubarak dynasty that promises not to war against Israel, a Pakistan that offers sporadic help in rounding up terrorists?

Despite these many reservations and pitfalls, George Bush's new idealism may eventually make America's foreign initiatives more consistent and predictable to friend and enemy alike. Personalities and crises of the day may nuance the stance of the United States, but illiberal regimes will ultimately realize there will be no real friendship with the U.S. unless they reform their governments and free their peoples. Statesmen can haggle over protocols, but the main point is that in the future it will be principles of conduct that determine our relationships abroad--not oil, personal chemistry, or blackmail.

The previous "realpolitik," when the United States cozied up to some unsavory authoritarians in order to thwart Soviet hegemony, is at an end. Franco, the Shah, Pinochet, Somoza, Papa Doc, and others were artifacts of the Cold War, when the aberrant condition of 7,000 nuclear missiles pointed at our cities reduced and warped our options. If it was once hypocritical for the land of Jefferson and Madison to support dictators, then it is surely right to walk away from those earlier wrongs now that the Sword of Damocles has been removed.

And while promoting democracy is idealistic, it does not necessarily follow that it is naive. What, after all, prevents wars? Hardly the U.N.; and not just aircraft carriers either. The last half-century of peace in Europe and Japan, and the end of our old enmity of Russia, attest that the widest spread of democratic rule is the best guarantee against international aggression. Ballots substitute for bullets in venting internal frustrations.

And in today's Middle East, our new insistence on democracy is not our first but rather our last resort. We have already tried averting our eyes, subsidies, passive-aggressive lectures, outright hostility, everything but principled and consistent promotion of constitutional government. Despite varying degrees of American appeasement, monarchy, Baathism, Nasserism, pan-Arabism, and Islamic fundamentalism have all turned out to have intolerable spillover effects on the U.S. In contrast, the Muslims of democratic Indonesia, India, and Turkey do not threaten us.

Far from being impractical, naive, or dangerous, explaining to the world that America will from now on always encourage democratic rule is sober and in our own vital interest. With patience and persistence, it will turn out to be both the right and the smart thing to do.
This book (Carnage and Culture : Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power) by Victor Davis Hanson was excellent and I recommend it. (Thanks to Co-Conspirator Brian for sharing it with me.... )

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

W's News Conference - Live Blog

Now, as a member of the vast, rovian conspiracy, I already have access to whatever Bush is going to say. Oh, and I know what questions my handpicked reporters will ask - at least those with a past life in gay porn.

Anyway, here are the key issues from the press conf:

Social Security - we're still pushing ahead. It's the right thing to do.

Iraq - Long process, good signs politically today.

Questions from the attack dogs errr, objective press.

Why is Italy pulling out?
W: They're going to do so, but only after Iraqis can defend themselves and with the conslutation of the other allies.

Iranians don't like the Euro-carrots.... should we give them more or take the matter to the Security Council [and power up the B-52s]?
W: Iranians are liars as they hid their program from the IAEA and it only came to light when dissident groups publicized it. So, purpose for the program isn't clear...

how long before we go to Security Council?
W: When they reject the current EU3 offer.

David Gregory (NBC): poll after poll shows your take on SS is unpopular... Where's your plan??
W: you're a tool, David - I don't have aplan yet, so how can peope judge it in a poll? PRAs are a better deal than SS and would be voluntary. Nest that you can call your own. PRAs make sure the system works better for an individual worker. All options are on the table.

Dems aren't interested in submitting any proposals
W: Of course not, you tool. Dems are playing politics and I'm not interested in that.. I want a long-term solution. We're open to ideas and I want to work w/ Dems & Republicans [and the dems have been AWOL].

John Roberts (CBS) - Oil prices are huge... concerned about economy and what are you going to do?
W: Yeah, this isn't good. Been worried about it since 2001 when I came to DC. I went to Congress and asked for a comprehensive energy plan and they haven't done dookie. Encourage conservation, find alternative sources of energy, modernization of electricity grid. Need to use technology to get away from reliance on oil/gas and to use technology for coal in an environmentally friendly way.

Terry Moran (ABC), here comes the DailyKos question: Why are we continuing the policy of rendition?
Send terrorists back to their country of origin w/ promise of not torturing them. bite me.

Unpopular choice of Wolfowitz for leader of World Bank. what signal are you sending?
W: Hey, great slant, beyatch. Wolfowitz is qualified and committed to development. He'll do a fine job. Jim Wolfenson (retiring WB pres) made positive comments about Wolfowitz, so bite me.

Jim: Should Tom Delay be sunk?
W: Bite me.

Steroids investigation an abuse of power?
Hey, I brought this issue up a couple of years ago. MLB put in testing process... and should follow through. Congress can do whatever they want - it's their perogative. Effects are greater than just the problems experienced by the prof. athletes - it sends bad signal to youth athletes.

Carl Cameron (FNC): Hey, should the GOP do the nuke option? Which are more important: Judges or agenda
W: Harry Reid can bite me. Vote on the nominees on the floor...

Soshsecurity - What timeline? Would you drop PRAs?
W: PRAs are critical for individuals... choice choice choice, resulting in better rate of return. Timelines - ASAP, the longer we wait, the more difficult it is to solve the problem. There is no trust. pay as you go. PRAs convert this program to real assets, mentioned inheritance/death benefits to survivors - much more attractive than current program.

Death penalty - how can we be so cruel?
W: Death penalty is still important. deterrance.

Message to IRA by not inviting them?
Wanted to make sure we honored those in civil society in Ireland that are working toward the peace process.

Hezbollah could prove they're not a terrorist org if they did xyz.
Hezbollah is on terrorist list for a reason- violent organization. Democracy in Lebanon requires Syria withdrawal of troops as well as intelligence orgs - prerequisite for free election. Promises made during electoral campaign typically are non-violent, so the process of elections is a good thing.

Gay Marriage
court rulings on gay marriage strengthen my position.

Sammon: Any sense of vindication re policy in ME in light of democratization throughout ME in general?
Hey, feel free to criticize me... I don't care. Since I don't care, I won't gloat when history proves I'm right. This isn't about my 8 years in office... it's historical and we'll let future historians figure out whether I was right or not. The people that deserve the credit are the voters in Iraq. They're the ones with the courage in light of the threats they faced. Hard work left.... the process is good, even if you criticize it throughout each step. Your attention on the matter will amplify the positive effects of democracy and freedom.

Will Americas reputation be restored?
People will understand why we do things we do. They thought we were attacking Muslims - in reality, we're liberating Muslims. When we do what we say we're going to do, when we actually follow through ,they'll come around.

payments to journalists... video news packages sent out to networks
pieces are within the law... long standing practice of fed government. Ag/Defense depts do this all the time. justice dept has guidelines. Local stations should disclose it as well. Ken - Bite Me.

regime change in Iran?
Iranian people need to be free...

nativity scenes / 10 commandments on schools/federal property
Yes... I support that. [what a waste of a question]

Soshsecurity
I've laid out a vision and named a series of options. I'm the only pres to do so. Congress should start discussing possibilities instead of blocking ideas out of hand.

Security Council for Iran if they turn away from EU3 deal? We talking about military solution here
Diplomacy to start.... we've got suspicions and we've just started the process of getting them to understand our unified voice. Have patience....

***Post conference***
Gregory: President realizes that the public is against him on PRAs, so I think we're seeing some movement now by President away from that.

Yeah, sure Davey - that's what I heard, too. puuuhlease. It's good to know that David Gregory now see his job as making policy decisions instead of reporting them.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Rope A Dope

At least, that's how I'd describe BushRove's strategy RE Social Security reform. It appears that the first salvo was over whether SoshSecurity had problems... While Bush was making the push in that area, initial ideas were floated about how to fix it. The Dems and the beltway media seized on these arguments and attacked them, letting Bush win the "SoshSecurity is unsustainable argument" (although, as I've pointed out here and here, any three year old can see that, so perhaps we shouldn't jump for joy that 71% of people now recognize that fact).

Byron York has an interesting article today at NRO.

Yet inside the same Post poll, there is news that 56 percent of those surveyed say they would support "a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market," which is the centerpiece of the president's still-to-be-unveiled Social Security proposal. Forty-one percent say they would oppose such a plan, while three percent have no opinion.

The 56-percent support figure — 60 percent and higher among respondents under 50 years of age — is the highest level of support on that question in the last six Post polls going back before the 2000 election. The 41-percent figure is the lowest level of opposition in the last six Post polls going back before the 2000 election.

The Post also found that 71 percent of those polled believe that, if changes are not made, the Social Security system "is heading for a crisis down the road" — a perception that the president's advisers call a "precondition to authentic reform."
[...]
"What people have been doing is judging Bush on things he hasn't been doing," says the Republican pollster David Winston. "Bush has just wanted to establish that there is a serious problem with Social Security, and he's done that. He hasn't really been trying to engage, the 'what's the best solution' question, although I think you're seeing him enter that phase now. But they want to judge him on how well people like his plan, which doesn't yet exist."
While bush is winning that argument, the Dems are attacking a plan that doesn't exist, not hearing Bush "call them out," asking for any and all ideas to be on the table. The Dems counter with "only increased taxes or reduction in benefits is on the table," which can't sound good to anyone, those paying into the system right now, nor those currently receiving benefits.

As a Bush plan begins to take shape, the criticism will increase. And the Dems will not have any plan to counter with, at least not one that is palatable. They'll look like the uberpartisans that they are, since this isn't the first issue that they've been obstructionist on without any alternative to put forward. I think that the country is much more sophisticated financially than it's been since FDR (despite our failing education system) and I think that if it were up to those 50 and younger, the end result wouldn't be in doubt - you wouldn't be talking about a measely 3-6%... they'd want to invest the whole kit & kaboodle.

***UPDATE***
Forgot to mention... all the while that the Dems are attacking bush on soshsecurity, he gets tort reform passed, bankruptcy reform, and heck... maybe even ANWR!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

BREAKING ON DU - US is in Decline

According to this DUer.. This is a continuation of this thread (which I got to from LGF).

Here's a passage which is fun to read...

And despite what many here will say to the contrary, the Clinton years did not do much to change this. Much of the economic expansion of the 1990's was due to a technology boom brought on by the internet. While Clinton deserves some credit for better tax policies aimed at slightly reducing the rich v. poor gap, he really did very little to try and substansively change our economy. It continued through the 1990's to be based on short-term speculative finance, with corporate interests constantly trying to squeeze one last drop of productivity out of each individual worker while conducting layoffs in order to focus solely on next quarter's profits. The fact that Clinton's treasury secretary was someone like Bob Rubin (and later Lawrence Summers of Harvard fame currently) should show his administration's economic policies for what they really were.

Now, under Bush the lesser, we've taken these self-destructive policies into hyperdrive. We are running up record budget and trade deficits. We're overstretched militarily, and the primary thing holding our economy together is rampant consumer spending financed primarily through the hogging of the world's investment capital through the IMF and World Bank. The only question that remains is how long it will be before the fall, and how hard that fall will be. It's not like the US will enter some kind of dark age after this fall, but we can expect a 20-25% reduction in living standards across the board. We will diminish from our current status as a global hyperpower to just another major regional player in the greater community of nations.

Europe has realized that the use of military means to extend power and influence is a thing of the past. Real power in the world is wielded economically now. The US is incredibly vulnerable in this regard. Also, if nations want to gain influence in the world today, it is achieved through acting within the community of nations according to international standards, not through endless bullying and sabre-rattling, as the US now does.

Added to this is the lack of critical thought prevalent in America today. We are witnessing the final death throes of the Enlightenment in American society.Whereas people, before the advent of television, actually investigated, read about, and openly discussed a wide variety of issues at one time, that kind of inquiry has been replaced by the passive reception of belief.
  1. Europe has power and influence? HAHAHAHAHAHA In addition to not having military power, they don't have economic power... they're having a tough enough time with their double-digit unemployment and their inability to sustain a working population.
  2. I s'pose that this DUer would think that DU is a place to "investigate, read about, and openly discuss a wide variety of issues at one time." (I might disagree based on some of the "info" provided there, but I won't press the issue.)
This person apparently thinks too much of themselves (and perhaps should turn the critical eye towards themselves and their fellow DUers), as the full post and the subsequent comments demonstrate.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Fly Boeing

Short Final, Cleared to Land has an interesting post regarding a recent trip on Airbus and the crash of Flight 587 in 2001 (an Airbus A320). Read the whole post, because it contains some interesting information into Airbus' lobbying regarding the final results of the NTSB investigation.

SFCL also found this pic from someone else's adventure on an Airbus plane.



You shouldn't see engine parts mid-flight. Let's all fly Boeing planes...

***UPDATE***
If you haven't already seen this, Transterrestrial Musings has a great post on the implications of Airbus' quality for future space flight. Be sure to read the full post.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Our Future Chief Justice

I happened to catch Justice Antonin Scalia on C-SPAN late last night, giving a speeh with Q&A at the end regarding Constitutional Interpretation at the Woodrow Wilson Int'l Center. If you ever wanted to know what the heck original intent meant and why it protects our freedoms better than viewing the Constitution as a "Living, Breathing Document" that evolves with the thoughts and wishes of the people, this is Must See TV. (RealPlayer required). If the previous link doesn't work, copy this URL and paste into realplayer after clicking on File, Open in RealPlayer:
rtsp://video.c-span.org/project/c04/c04031405_scalia.rm

Or go to the CSPAN website and search for Scalia. Here are my search results. Title of the video is "Justice Antonin Scalia Speech on Constitutional Interpretation"

The basic message from Scalia is that if you want our laws & government policy to evolve with the people, DO IT THROUGH THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS. Convince and persuade your fellow citizens that your position is correct and get it passed through our democratic process. The "Living, Breathing Constitution" perspective empowers unelected justices to impose their feelings on these matters, while at the samme time removing the issue from further debate (ie if it's unconstitutional, it no longer becomes a matter for the legislatures (federal or state)). Our government is more flexible when the Constitution is interpreted through original intent, because the difficult issues of the day (on which our opinions will change over time) can be decided through the legislative process year after year.

***UPDATE***
Laura Ingraham discussing this topic now.

Recent poll shows that 75% of Americans (85% of Republicans, 75% of Indies, and even 66% of Democrats) think that Bush should keep his promise and appoint strict constructionists to the court (Scalia prefers the term Original Intent).

82% of Americans believe that a vote should occur on any judicial nominee that is deemed to be qualified (in terms of judicial competence, not in terms of political ideology).

Scalia was confirmed 98-0 and the remaining 2 votes would've been for him, but they were absent. This would be impossible given today's reactionary partisanship by the Dems.

The Judicial Confirmation Network attempts takes the issue to the grassroots. Here's an AP story about the speech on their website, for those unable to view the realplayer clip.

**UPDATE - 3/16***
Three Bad Fingers has the full transcript (if you're unable to watch the video)

***UPDATE 2 - 3/16***
Three Bad Fingers has now posted the transcript from the Q&A which followed. It's interesting to read the questions that some of the law professors ask. More importantly are Scalia's responses...

What I don't get is that this philosophy of Original Intent isn't complicated... and you can tell that people realize that, but also realize that it doesn't allow judges to do the "good things" that they want them to do. They're making a Faustian bargain by giving the Judiciary this much power to govern over our lives and not confining them to the original intent of the texts.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, March 14, 2005

Do We Have a Conference Call?

H/T PowerLine

NYTimes has done a story on the Lefty Bloggers' attempts to get their stories into the MSM. They're apparently holding conference calls about stories of interest to the bloggers.

Even as online pundits criticize traditional news organizations as slow, biased and technologically challenged, a group of bloggers is trying to use old-fashioned telephone conference calls to share their ideas with newspaper and television journalists.

The bloggers, who describe themselves as liberal or progressive, say the conference calls are intended to counter what they regard as the much stronger influence of conservative pundits online. Bob Fertik, president of Democrats.com, the host of the two calls so far, views them as a step toward getting their reports out to mainstream news organizations.

While there is no way to know precisely who dialed in, reporters from news organizations including CBS, The Washington Post, Newsweek, MSNBC and The National Journal asked for a call-in number, according to one participant.

"We hope to build a bridge," Mr. Fertik said, adding that different bloggers would be invited to share their reporting on each call. "We hope that good credible stories that are broken on the Internet find their way into coverage in the mainstream media."
First off... Why in the heck do the bloggers have to hold a CONFERENCE CALL?!?! I thought they had BLOGS where they could persuade their readers. Is the conf call just Kossacks reading off permalinks? "The next story is 'http://dailykos.com/story/2005/3/14/153519/308' Really good one there. You should read it. Next, we've got 'http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102x1311377' be sure not to miss that one."

I mean, what a bunch of tools. How laughable...

Second, credible stories? What credible stories have they been pushing? Anything with even a patina of credibility is already in the MSM, while the wild-eyed GannonGuckert/gay prostitute conspiracy theories are untouched - as they should be.

You see, conservative stories originate in the blogosphere PRECISELY because the MSM isn't there to cover them (or even think of them). Thus, when the center-right swarm hits on a story, it breaks into the MSM. When the Left swarms on a story, the MSM has either already covered it OR the story is so unbelievably asinine that the MSM can't cover it. Here's another excerpt which I find interesting:
"The way we perceive it," he said, "is that right-wing bloggers are able to invent stories, get them out on Drudge, get them on Rush Limbaugh, get them on Fox, and pretty soon that spills over into the mainstream media. We, the progressives, we don't have that kind of network to work with."
... interesting... we "invent" stories while they have "credible" stories they'd like to see in the MSM.

I have several questions about this:
  1. if the conservative blogosphere held a conference call, would any MSM reps call in?
  2. DOES ANYONE on the center-right side of the blogosphere participate in conference calls now?
  3. Did Rathergate, Easongate, or Lott-gate get pushed into the MSM through the use of a conference call?
I think I know the answers to these questions (No, No, and No), but as a CITIZEN JOURNALIST, I want to know! I'm a new entrant to the blogosphere (inspired by Hugh's book, BLOG), but if there's a conference call with the MSM, I'd really like to be on it. Of course, there isn't a conference call... there's never been one... there probably never will be...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Poor Bashar

H/T Or Does It Explode via Instapundit... oh, and be sure to check out the photo gallery from Beirut

Bashar must really wonder what the heck happened.... I mean, he did the Hezbollah rally, saw the Western media retreat in its "Maybe Bush was right" storyline, and all looked like it might work out...

now this.


Bashar must be thinking to himself... "I didn't tell Hezbollah to have another rally. Wait, what is that that they're chanting? 'Syria OUT!'?? 'Freedom'?? That wasn't in the script! Let me get Khatami on the phone..."

Oh, and I think Lebanon will be just fine. I have a feeling this girl won't let some chauvinistic twerp throw a burka over her.


Given Lebanon's history pre-80s, I think they'll do just fine - as long as Syria and Iran are prohibited from interfering.

the Bush Joe-Mentum Momentum continues on... Let's just hope that the NYTimes article from last week about Hezbollah & the Bush admin was the b.s. that we think it is. A Terrorist is a Terrorist is a Terrorist (as opposed to the Left's "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter..... smirk").

***Hey, Opinion8 - Any info from your friend Ziad??? ***

*** UPDATE ***
Decision '08 (HT Insty) sums up the situation in Lebanon in one sentence... which pretty much confirms this A Terrorist is a Terrorist is a Terrorist message.

The Lebanese Situation in One Sentence
From Time magazine:
[Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah is concerned that Lebanon will move into the U.S. orbit and face pressure to sign a peace treaty with Israel.
Precisely so...Hizbullah and its supporters are terrified of...peace.
Let's just hope that this outpouring from the people eliminates any thought in the Bush administration about dealing with Hezbollah as a legitimate political entity. I have a feeling the comment cited by the Times came from some weenie in the State Dept, which hasn't exactly been up to speed on this whole War on Terror thing. I hope Condi can right the ship over there.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist

Good Mark Steyn article today in the Chicago Sun-Times. As one with friends in Ireland, I share his thoughts about Gerry Adams - a thug/terrorist if there ever was one. It's good news that Bush won't be drinkin' a pint celebrating St Patty's Day with him.

Bridgeen Hagans, the late McCartney's fiancee, and his sisters are in America as part of their campaign to persuade some of the dozens of witnesses to his killing to come forward. They're reluctant to do so because, as in any third-rate gangster state, testifying against the local warlords can be severely injurious to one's own health. Recognizing that they had a public relations disaster on their hands, the IRA then offered to make amends to McCartney's grieving loved ones. You're right, they said, it was all a mistake, but don't worry, we're really sorry about it -- and, just to show how sorry we are, we'll murder his murderers for you. As an afterthought, they acknowledged that, as a lot of folks were upset by the brutality of the McCartney whack job, when they got around to murdering his murderers, they'd eschew the sewer rods, abdomen-slitting, etc., and just do it nice and clean with a bullet straight to the head. Very decent of them.

There's a lesson there in the reformability of terrorists. The IRA's first instinct is to kill. If you complain about the killing, they offer to kill the killers. If you complain about the manner of the killing, they offer to kill more tastefully -- "compassionate terrorism,'' as it were. But it's like Monty Python's spam sketch: There's no menu item that doesn't involve killing. You can get it in any color as long as it's blood-red.
BTW, here's an early "Slainte!" to all those with a pint of the Murphys or Guinness on St Patty's Day...

***UPATE***
Of course, it would be nice if Bush & Co would recognize this fact (once a killer, always a killer), instead of trying to deal with Hezbollah. Yes, Hezbollah has been "elected" to Lebanon's parliament has a political/social wing... but, so did IRA via Sinn Fein. Since 2001, the goal of US foreign policy was to take principled stance and speak truth to evil - ie, a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. It doesn't matter whether your blowing up Irsaeli women & children in buses, Irish/English shoppers, or Americans at work - it's all terrorism and it won't be tolerated. Now, this doesn't mean that we need to send the 4th ID into the Bekaa Valley (although that area could probably use an extreme makeover that only the US Army specializes), but it does mean that you shouldn't elevate their status as a legitimate entity by seeking to accomodate/negotiate with them.

***UPDATE 2***
Although, the claim that the Bush administration wsa doing this was made by the New York Times, so... you know... who KNOWS what the truth really is. JINSA has an interesting take on the matter.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

60 Minutes - Error of Omission

60 Minutes fact check session... all in all, a pretty decent show. The coverage of Theo Van Gogh's murder in the Netherlands was pretty good (although I was busy making dinner, so may have missed something).

However, with regard to the Enron/Ken Lay story, there are a couple of pieces of information that Scott "The Chin" Pelley left out (seems to be a pattern here, folks).

First, Enron was able to successfully hide its losses through the use of Special Purpose Entities (SPE) (which is a rather complex accounting trick that can be used for legitimate purposes). Andy Fastow was using the SPE to hide millions in losses, which isn't a legitimate use. However, the Federal Accounting Standards Board (FASB), which is an independent board established by the SEC to create accounting standards used by all SEC regulated companies, had been asked multiple times how SPEs should be accounted for. Until FASB rules on an issue, there is no clear indication as to how that particular issue should be handled - although accountants should use their best judgement. Pelley failed to mention the word SPE and how Fastow used it to hide the losses, or that FASB was slow to provide a ruling on the matter, leaving those in business to interpret as they saw fit. I'm no accountant, so don't get hyper-critical about what I've stated... these are broad brushes...

Pelley also failed to mention Enron's auditors, Arthur Andersen, had extremely close ties to Enron (one of their main corporate finance guys used to be a partner there).

Pelley briefly mentioned that Enron jumped into power plants in foreign countries, but failed to mention that one of the big money losers for Enron was a power plant in India which was a deal brokered and pushed by the Clinton administration.

Pelley also failed to mention exactly how Enron collapsed... it was just that investors started to get skittish and that other traders wouldn't talk to the Enron traders. It was that Enron's bond rating was on the verge of being downgraded to junk bond status. This leads to a crucial fact - former Clinton administration Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin phoned up a senior Bush administration official in the Treasury (Peter Fisher), asking them to get in touch with the bond-rating agencies to pressure them to hold off on downgrading Enron's rating. This was extremely inappropriate and unethical.

When the Bush administration failed to bend to Rubin's wishes, Enron's bond rating was downgraded (appropriately) and then the investors started to notice that something was rotten in the state of Denmark Houston. At THAT point, the game was up.

Keep in mind that the Left throws Rubin's name out there as some master architect for the 90s economy. They fail to recognize or remember his unethical and potentially illegal calls on behalf of Enron.

***EDIT***
Ken Lay is a jack@ss and will probably have the book thrown at him (which is what I would do). Same for Skilling... Also, I forgot to mention that Ken Lay packed the Board of Directors with his cronies, creating the situation which allowed Fastow to play his accounting gimmicks.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Saving Soshsecurity, Redux

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH

With Republicans like Lincoln Chafee, it's a wonder that we're accomplishing anything in Washington. Just now watching Linc and Ben Nelson of Nebraska (that red of red-states) on Meet the Left Press with former Cuomo aide Tim Russert. Linc just said that Bush didn't have a mandate b/c there wasn't an overwhelming victory in 2004... it was close and came down to Ohio.

Well, Linc - if there hadn't been voter fraud in Wisconsin, perhaps it wouldn't have been as close electorally as it was (Bush lost WI by 10k votes, significantly less than the 118k that Kerry lost by in OH). Oh, and don't mention the highest voter turnout EVER or the fact that Bush won majority (over 50%, Linc), the first time since 1988 when pappy Bush cleaned Dukakis' clock.

***UPDATE***
W/ regard to Soshsecurity, Linc wouldn't answer Russerts question which included a statement from Cheney that Democrats would lose favor from younger workers... Linc mentioned the opposition from seniors in his district, who won't even be effected by the reform OR be around to see the benefits of them 30 years from now. yeah, that's a good demo to focus on...

Now, I suppose that Linc is a Republican in the bluest of blue states, so his spinal fortitude on the hard matters isn't expected to instill confidence in his side. And it's better that he's a republican than a dem, I s'pose.... But, I think we need to keep in mind that not only do we need to convince the Dems that their worldview may need to be adjusted, but we also need to persuade those Republicans who don't "get" the free-market message that continues to give the GOP its gains.

My previous ramblings on the subject are here , here, and here.

Now, the only way to fix soshsecurity for the future without PRAs is to increase taxes (through increase in the rate or the cap) or to reduce benefits (index to inflation instead of wages or raise the retirement age). The reason for the PRAs is so that we won't have to make these difficult decisions in the future. In addition to the mind-numbingly basic concept of compound interest/Time Value of Money, people will own the assets in their accounts, they'll be able to pass on to their heirs... resulting in an accumulation of wealth over the years.

Why do we have a retirement system based on the 30s/40s when the rest of the world is in the 21st century? It seems like in one regard, we're stuck in the past and the rest of the world is ahead of us, so the euros should take heart.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

EU: Dazed & Confused

h/t InstaPundit

Tim Blair links to this interesting article which essentially says that the EU economy is 20 years behind the US economy.

EU economy 'at least 20 years' behind US
11.03.2005 - 17:43 CET | By Richard Carter

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The US economy is 20 years ahead of that of the EU and it will take decades for Europe to catch up, according to an explosive new study published on Friday (11 March).

The survey, unveiled by pan-EU small business organisation Eurochambres, is intended as a sharp "wake-up call" for EU leaders as they gather on 22 March for a summit on how to boost growth and jobs in the EU economy.

The EU's current performance in terms of employment was achieved in the US in 1978 and it will take until 2023 for Europe to catch up, the report shows.

The situation is scarcely better when it comes to income per person. The US attained the current EU performance in 1985 and Europe is expected to close the gap in 2072.

But the bleakest picture comes when comparing the two economic blocs in terms of research and development. Europe is expected to catch up with the US in 2123 and then only if the EU outstrips America by 0.5 percent per year in terms of R&D investment.

Presenting the survey, Arnaldo Abruzzi, the Secretary-General of Eurochambres, said, "the current EU levels in GDP, R&D investment, productivity and employment were already reached by the US in the late 70s/early 80s".

"Even the most optimistic assumptions show it will take the EU decades to catch up and then only if there is considerable EU improvement", he concluded.

Furthermore, the survey points out that enlargement will make the EU's mountain even harder to climb.

"Data clearly suggest that including the 10 new member countries in the comparison would further deteriorate Europe's position compared to the US for all four major indicators", says the report.

[...]

Eurochambres called for EU leaders to focus on concrete actions to revive the EU's economy and for a communications strategy to lay out the economic challenges facing the EU.

The group represents 18 million enterprises across Europe.
Now, I'd have to say that that this isn't surprising. First, note that this doesn't include some of the newer former eastern bloc countries that are probably stuck in the '50s. However, I remember living on the German/French border in 1996 and being PISSED that I couldn't get groceries in Germany after 6pm on a weekday or after 2pm on Saturday. A 30 minute bus ride to the French border town was helpful, because they had longer hours (not 24-hours a day, but longer hours on each day). All I'm saying is that the marketing strategies and view of customer service as a means to increase revenues/profits isn't as far along as it is in the US - it was definitely in the 70s when I was there and doesn't appear to have moved forward.

This is not surprising when both the workers and the governments distrust private enterprise. They really are a paradox... They have one foot in the 21st century (marveling at high-tech gadgets, telecomm, etc) and one foot in the 19th century (viewing successful entreprenuers as robber barons) and something else stuck in the 22nd century (with their permissive views of social issues (ie sex, drugs)).

It's encouraging to see that the business community is pushing for reform - although I wouldn't expect much improvement. I believe that Europe could make quick gains in this regard, given that the structures and components of a modern economy are known entities - because they're here in the US. However, their kneejerk anti-Americanism will probably inhibit any rapid movement in our direction. It's also important to note that most European entreprenuers end up coming to the US to start a new enterprise, so Europe is losing its best and brightest (and most aggressive) businesspeople to the New World.

Also, I'm interested to know whether Britain was included, as their economy is probably stronger than any of the continental economies. Simce they haven't signed on to the Euro, I wonder if they were included...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler