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

Friday, July 21, 2006

Changing the Status Quo

Interesting article at Tech Central Station today by Josh Manchester.

Shaken and Stirred
By Josh Manchester : 21 Jul 2006

The US invasion of Iraq has so shaken and stirred the Middle East that some exceptionally strange things are happening. More importantly, these things unequivocally favor the US in influencing the outcome of the Israeli-Hezbollah War now taking place in Lebanon.

What sorts of strange things? Well, consider an Arab League meeting in Cairo over the weekend, where a fight of sorts broke out.Jed Babbin described it best:
"This meeting began with the Lebanese foreign minister Fawzi Salloukh proposing a resolution condemning Israel's military action, supporting Lebanon's 'right to resist occupation by all legitimate means' ... The Lebanese draft also called on Israel to release all Lebanese prisoners and supported Lebanon's right to 'liberate them by all legitimate means.' ... The Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moallem, strongly supported Lebanon and Hizballah. But an historic obstacle was raised that blocked the Lebanese endorsement of terrorism.

"The Saudi foreign minister, al-Faisal, led a triumvirate including Egypt and Jordan that, according to the AP report, was '...criticizing the guerilla group's actions, calling them 'unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.'' Faisal said, 'These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we simply cannot accept them.' . . . The Arab leaders are frightened that the acts of the terrorists they have coddled for decades might have consequences for them. And they are very frightened of what Iran may do next.'
[...]
Decisive action is what has traditionally been missing from the wars of the Middle East. Land changes hands, blows are exchanged, and peace eventually is negotiated. But the underlying dynamic never changes because the sides are rarely faced with a decisive defeat, the only condition that can force the most avowed of men to abandon the ideas they hold dear.

Israel now has the chance to destroy Hezbollah. Only time can tell what Israel will do with the opportunity it possesses. Opportunities forsaken are opportunities lost forever, as MacArthur was sometimes rumored to say. But let there be no mistake: this moment would not have been possible without the invasion of Iraq, and the destruction of Hezbollah is very much in the interest of the United States and that of any other nation that abhors terrorism.

Regular readers and co-conspirators know that this was the primary reason for Operation Iraqi Freedom. (See here, here, and here from a brief search of ARC on "status quo.") Other, secondary reasons for the war were:
  1. there was the concern over possible WMDs;
  2. the 12 year mini-war that we had with Saddam after '91; and
  3. (as all good conspirators know) oil, fat contracts for Halliburton (HALLIBURTON!!!) and the usual need to satiate the Carlyle Group, the Illuminati, and the Pentaverate (headed by Col. Sanders and his wee beady eyes).
But, in the final analysis, the entire response to 9/11 was the recognition that the status quo in the Middle East had to change. And Saddam was in the unfortunate position (along with the Taliban) of being key components of the status quo who could not be changed through diplomacy.

***ARC: Brian adds ***

Excellent points Saint. I'd like to add some points if I may.

Some 9/10 democrats may question the "recognition that the status quo in the Middle East had to change." They would question that anything needed to be changed at all. Keep Saddam in his box, cruise missile a few tents in the Afghani hinterlands, and we can go back to debating how many billions we should be spending on public education and stop worrying about the rest of the world.

This worldview is prevalent in the Scowcroftian and Madeline Albright schools of foreign policy which could no longer prove viable in the wake of 9/11. The reason is simple, no longer could we simply shut our eyes to the damage a potential attack could take. In terms of direct costs the events of 9/11 were miniscule in actual damage inflicted and lives lost. A little over 3000 lives lost, a few (although large) buildings, and the shutdown of air traffic across the country. America could survive any of that. Pick herself up, mourn for the dead, rebuild and move on.

But the indirect costs were the real kicker. While perhaps in a mild downturn at the time, the attacks pushed us into much deeper recession than would have happened without the attacks. Billions of dollars lost, jobs lost, livelihoods lost. Maintaining the status quo would have continued to inflict these indirect costs. Businesses would have taken more cautionary positions. Urban flight would intensify as people and businesses would no longer decide to live in a potential target zone and would move to the countryside.

Despite the sympathy friendly nations would have provided, they would question their continued friendship with us, detecting a lack of resolve to do big things.

Our enemies would be emboldened to attack our interests elsewhere, knowing that the worse that would happen would be to be punished mildly. The only lesson our enemies, specifically Kim Il Jong and Saddam, would take from our lack of resolve is that they should be careful about getting caught committing attacks against us. Saddam and others would use Al Queda and other terrorist groups to commit attacks on us while maintaining an arms length and "plausible deniability". All the while pressuring and bribing the world community to lift the sanctions imposed on them.

No, the status quo could not be maintained. Just as a bank failure can cause a ripple into the confidence of the entire banking system, a foreign attack can cause a ripple of the confidence in the United States.

I often imagine what pressure there must be on our leaders in Washington, when they consider where the next attack might come from. Worrying about the effects of even a small dirty bomb attack on a city the size of say, Chicago. Not just in the direct costs to the residents of that city, but the indirect costs to other cities in the country. The costs to St. Louis, to Minneapolis, to Milwaukee, to Memphis. The loss of productive GDP. The lost lives and influence those people brought to our country. Gone. Forever.

After 9/11, the status quo could no longer be maintained. We could give up, or we could fight. Maintaining the "box" would just cause us to lose slowly.

******


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Blogosphere of the Moonbats

You know you're a moonbat lefty when your entire blog and every post in it turns into discussions about Lamont vs. Lieberman.

Firedoglake surely fits that bill... they are absolutely obsessed with this primary race.

Here's a excerpt of a post about Lebanon and US policy in the Middle East:

While Lebanon Burns
By Taylor Marsh

I’d like to get Joe Lieberman’s opinion on the Middle East escalation going on right now. I bet he’d back Bush all the way.

First we had Bush’s lackluster Katrina response, Lebanon-style, which held Americans hostage to a promissory note in a war zone.[...]

Either that or they have blogblock and can't think of anything else to write.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Thursday, July 20, 2006

OliverWillis & I Agree

On Cynthia McKinney:


For The Love Of God, Georgia
Published July 19th, 2006 in Politics, 2006 Election.
Digg this

Don’t send Cynthia McKinney back to Washington. My cousin lives in McKinney’s district. Embarrased is too soft a word to describe the sentiment.

Although, I s'pose from a Rovian standpoint, I really want her to be in a position to be the mouthpiece of the Moonbat Left - a position which she's been so successful at in the past.

Hmmmm.... I guess it comes down to how much damage she can do as a congresswoman.... hmmmm

And for someone who didn't show up for the debates, I think she did surprisingly well. Perhaps if she'd actually participated, she wouldn't have this runoff? This doesn't say much about the voters in her district.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Evacuation from Lebanon and American Idiocy

I was not believing my ears today when I listened to and watched the MSM coverage of the evacuation of Americans from Lebanon by cruiseliner. You would have thought it was the Ship of Fools. It was embarassing.

People were complaining about the fact that it was hot and that there was not much food aboard the charterd Norwegian cruiseship for a trip of a few hours. I have a flash for the media and the morons they were covering: in July in the Mideast it is HOT. This is news? You are surprised?

People in Beirut were being bombed, and these impossibly immature people were complaining about there less than five star accomodations on their short trip to Cyprus.. They had the unmentionable gaul to compare their evacuation to the experience of the folks getting out of New Orleans during Katrina.

Then there was the matter of the State Department asking for $200 per person in partial re-payment of the cost of getting these idiots out of a war zone. You would have thought they were being held up and refused passage unless they came up with the measely two hundred bucks. Welllllll... firestorm over at CNN. Of course the Foggy Bottom weaklings folded.

What was this really all about?

Of course the MSM was once again trying to make President Bush look bad. I suppose a few folks will buy into this most recent driveby shooting of W. But I suspect most folks will react as I did. The whining passengers were ungrateful idiots and the media are transparently seditious.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Artificial Timeline?

Now, this article in The Guardian points to an artificial timeline being imposed by the US:

United States to Israel: you have one more week to blast Hizbullah
Bush 'gave green light' for limited attack, say Israeli and UK sources

Ewen MacAskill, Simon Tisdall and Patrick Wintour
Wednesday July 19, 2006
The Guardian

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.

US strategy in allowing Israel this freedom for a limited period has several objectives, one of which is delivering a slap to Iran and Syria, who Washington claims are directing Hizbullah and Hamas militants from behind the scenes.

George Bush last night said that he suspected Syria was trying to reassert its influence in Lebanon. Speaking in Washington, he said: "It's in our interest for Syria to stay out of Lebanon and for this government in Lebanon to succeed and survive. The root cause of the problem is Hizbullah and that problem needs to be addressed."

Tony Blair yesterday swung behind the US position that Israel need not end the bombing until Hizbullah hands over captured prisoners and ends its rocket attacks. During a Commons statement, he resisted backbench demands that he call for a ceasefire.

Echoing the US position, he told MPs: "Of course we all want violence to stop and stop immediately, but we recognise the only realistic way to achieve such a ceasefire is to address the underlying reasons why this violence has broken out."

He also indicated it might take many months to agree the terms of a UN stabilisation force on the Lebanese border.

After Mr Blair spoke, British officials privately acknowledged the US had given Israel a green light to continue bombing Lebanon until it believes Hizbullah's infrastructure has been destroyed.

Washington's hands-off approach was underlined yesterday when it was confirmed that Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, is delaying a visit to the region until she has met a special UN team. She is expected in the region on Friday, according to Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN.

The US is publicly denying any role in setting a timeframe for Israeli strikes. When asked whether the US was holding back diplomatically, Tony Snow, the White House's press spokesman, said yesterday: "No, no; the insinuation there is that there is active military planning, collaboration or collusion, between the United States and Israel - and there isn't ... the US has been in the lead of the diplomatic efforts, issuing repeated calls for restrain,t but at the same time putting together an international consensus. You've got to remember who was responsible for this: Hizbullah ... It would be misleading to say the United States hasn't been engaged. We've been deeply engaged."

Of course, this is all just wild speculation that the US has given a green light for Israel to destroy as much of Hizbollah in a week. This isn't from an open communication, back channel, or even a side channel for that matter. But, since it's speculation by Israeli and European officials, it's put as the headline. A better headline would be, "US Says Hizbollah Must Disarm before US will back cease-fire" or "US, Britain call tell Israel to destroy Hizbollah threats."

At the end of the day, Israel will continue to attack Hizbollah positions until they are satisfied that their military capabilities in terms of rockets have been eliminated. Then, the UN will have to enter the southern zone of Lebanon, disarm Hizbollah, and hope that the Lebanese government are strong enough to keep Syria out of its internal affairs.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Welfare Reform After 10 Years

It was 10 years ago this coming August that President Bill Clinton signed into law Welfare Reform. From a legislative standpoint, this will be Clinton's landmark achievement - even though it required continued pressure from the GOP controlled Congress.

I'm traveling, so - of course - USAToday is going to be highlighted. (See here for background)

USA Today has this story on the anniversary of Welfare Reform, profiling three families. All in all, I would say that all of them are better off. Even the most disconcerting profile at the end shows that the welfare mom, while having difficulty making the transition to work, is having an impact on her children - demonstrating to them the importance of staying out of the system, getting an education, and waiting for children.

How welfare reform changed America
Posted 7/17/2006 11:23 PM ET
By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Michelle Gordon was 30, a poor, single mother with four kids between 5 and 13, when the federal government decided in 1996 that parents on welfare should go to work.

Since then, Gordon's life has been "a little bit of a roller coaster." She has held about 10 jobs — at a call center, as a nurse's aide, as a janitorial supervisor, most recently at a grocery store. She lost that job on April 19, her 40th birthday. It took her two months to find another. For 25 hours a week, she cleans bathrooms and vacuums floors at a drug rehabilitation center.

Mary Bradford was 45 in 1996, with three children between 11 and 25, when she traded welfare for a job filling orders at Victorian Trading Co. Ten years later, her office has moved from Missouri to Kansas, and she's still with the company. She's a production supervisor, and her earnings have more than doubled from the $7 an hour she made in 1996. "Most likely, I'll retire from here," Bradford says.

"She's reliable as the sun coming up," says Randy Rolston, the company's co-founder. "I can't think of a day she's missed."

The story continues on to profile others who have left the welfare rolls and discusses the fact that the dire predictions of liberals have not come to fruition.
Worst fears didn't come true

When Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, conservatives celebrated and liberals screamed; three administration officials quit their jobs in protest. The act ended a 60-year-old federal guarantee of cash aid for the poor.

The law, modeled on state pilot programs begun in 1994 with federal approval, was intended to prod welfare mothers and fathers into the workplace with a series of carrots and sticks. Work, and you got help with child care, job training, transportation. Refuse, and you risked sanctions and being cut off by time limits.

A decade later, the worst fears of liberals haven't materialized. States did not enter what critics feared would be a money-saving "race to the bottom." Thousands of poor children did not wind up "sleeping on grates," as Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan predicted.

Major employers hired thousands of welfare recipients. UPS hired 52,000; CVS/pharmacy hired 45,000, 60% of whom remain. Welfare offices have shed the look and language of their first 60 years for the aura of job-services agencies.

Nearly 70% of all single women are working, compared with 66% of married women, a reversal of the past. Single women's incomes have risen, thanks in part to the expansion of the earned income tax credit, a tax break of up to $4,400 for low-income workers. Child poverty rates have dropped, particularly among blacks and Hispanics. Teen pregnancies are down. Child support collections are up.

"Everything has worked," says conservative Douglas Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute. "Every critique one might have is about what could have gone better, not something that has gone poorly."

The article describes how many of those that are still on welfare are improving their skills, becoming more marketable, etc. It's also interesting to note that no one in this article is making minimum wage. (No, they're not making $15/hour, but they're not making the minimum...)
Finally, the article returns to Gordon:
For Michelle Gordon, making ends meet these days depends on two lawn mowers, two trimmers and a broom. "I'm living with my mother. I'm 40 years old," she says.

She uses her experience as a lesson to her children. Daughter Essence, 19, has a high school diploma and a job and is attending college. Son Geno, 17, also has a summer job. Daughter Zoila, 15, says she won't have kids until she's married and established in life. The family gets food stamps, and the youngest two are on Medicaid, but they no longer get cash benefits.

The roller coaster Gordon has been riding for 10 years has made her less dependent on the government and more of a role model for her kids, she says.

"I'm not making $50,000 a year," she says, "but I'm keeping my head up, and I'm surviving."

Keep in mind that the three fathers of Gordon's children do not pay any child support, so she is in a very difficult situation. However, it appears that she is a positive influence on her family. Would this have occured if she stayed in the old system?

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, July 17, 2006

Kossack or Heaven's Gate Cultist?

Proof that it's tough to distinguish between cultists and Kossacks.

< === ? === >

A Moonbat Kossack steps up to the video camera and shoots a couple of hours of himself nodding at Juan Cole.

the horror... the horror. Here's a portion of the video that I've transcribed for your enjoyment:

[...]
All the news that I get, I get from DailyKos. I don't go to Yahoo!, I don't go to CNN.com, and I don't watch television news, that's for sure. Now if I'm interested in something more analytical, maybe some post that'll last a little longer, then I'll go to Booman Tribune. Or i'll go to My Left Wing, with the inimitable Mary Scott O'Connor. All three of these blogs are reality based. Now, what the hell does that mean? Well, it means that they back up with their opinions with facts that they reference through links on the internet and those links are generally well-respected sources. And if they aren't, then people jump all over their case, and troll rate them into oblivion.

Ahhh, yes... "sources." And for those who don't konw My Left Wing founder Mary Scott O'Connor, here's the profile that the WaPo provided of her miserable life.

Fortunately, they also include this picture of her blogging (is she wearing pajamas?!?), red wine at the ready, screaming at the camera.

Sorry, back to the Moonbat we're profiling today:
Well, it's full disclosure time: I'm a blogger, too. I've posted on DailyKos for almost a year and a half. And on Booman Tribune. And I'm just getting started on My Left Wing. My call sign is "MarkInSanFran," because my name is Mark and I live in San Francisco. But, in order to be more open to those of different persuasions, I have changed my callsign to "Diogenes," but you can call me "DIO," which is really the callsign.
"MarkInSanFran" - Very original. Changed to "Diogenes" to be more open to people of different persuasions... is he talking about Greeks? I'm confused...
I'm also trying to reach out by wearing a red shirt - to appeal better to the red-staters. And I'm sporting an asymmetrical collar, that has been made so popular by our President.
Ok, I have no idea what the @#$ you're talking about. First, when I see red, I don't think about red states. I think about communist totalitarianism. Oh, and my favorite Little Flyer wagon from when I was a kid, but I digress.... Lose the red. Asymmetrical collar? Did I hear that right? What are you smoking, my friend?!?

And, just a note... if you also write for all of the blogs you mention, perhaps you should venture out when you want to get news. You know, visit DemocraticUnderground... or perhaps visit The Nation... of The New Republic. You know, stuff that normal poli-geeks read. Just reading those blogs shows that you're unhinged.

And one other point... why do the Lefty blogs seem to form over-bearing communities, while Right-wing blogs, with some exceptions, seem to be individualized/small group rants? Curious....

Now, he gets to the point about this damn video:
Ok, so what about Iraq? Well, I generally tend to go to the source as much as I can. I've read a lot on the blogs about Iraq, and one particular blog that I didn't mention is called JuanCole.com. Juan Cole is a person who actually knows something. He's not just an opinionated person who knows how to write or who knows how to talk on TV a hell of a lot better than I do.

Yes, go to the source.... Juan Cole. "Someone who knows something." heh

I suppose that when you know very little, talking to someone who knows something is pretty awe inspiring - worthy of a video that you share with the world on Google. Anyway, what follows is an hour of Mark aka "Dio" aka "Moonbat-Supreme" nodding while Juan Cole looks around the room.

It'll make your eyes bleed if you watch too much, but basically Cole gives us a high school history lesson, discusses spamming, etc. One thing I love is that he asks Cole whether walling off Iraq into three distinct countries would be a good idea... that's his contribution. And even Juan Cole tells him that would be disastrous.

Then, Juan Cole says that pulling out of Iraq immediately would be disastrous. I wonder if this is what Mark / Dio / Moonbat-Supreme thought he would hear when he scheduled the interview?

There are 6 parts to this video... if you're able to handle that much Moonbattery, Mark is willing to dish it up.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Dean Admits Democrats Are Not a National Party

At least, that's the most important point I got out of this story (heh):

The Democratic chair plans to fight in every one of the 50 states. Is this shrewd strategy or a recipe for disaster?

By Dan Gilgoff
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006

DIAMONDHEAD, MISS.--Here's what the front line of Howard Dean's revolution looks like: two dozen senior citizens seated inside this gated community's clubhouse listening intently as operatives from the state Democratic Party pitch them on becoming precinct captains. A rep named Jay Parmley approaches an oversize easel and flips to a page showing John Kerry's share of the 2004 presidential vote here in Hancock County. "28%" is scrawled in magic marker. "Kind of scary," Parmley says.

But he flips the page to show former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's share of the vote here in his unsuccessful 2003 re-election bid: "43%." The discrepancy, Parmley explains, shows that the better Mississippians know a Democrat, the more likely they are to vote for him. Which is why he's here recruiting precinct captains. If Democrats can define themselves on a "neighbor to neighbor" basis, Parmley says, their candidates can win again, even here, in a red county in a red state.

If that doesn't sound revolutionary, consider this: Mississippi's Democratic Party hasn't trained precinct captains for more than a decade. Until recently, the state party consisted of a single full-time staffer. In 2004, the Democratic National Committee invested so little here that activists shelled out thousands of their own dollars to print up Kerry yard signs. That all changed last summer, when newly elected DNC Chairman Howard Dean began rolling out his "50-State Strategy," a multimillion-dollar program to rebuild the Democratic Party from the ground up. Over the past year, the DNC has hired and trained four staffers for virtually every state party in the nation--nearly 200 workers in all--to be field organizers, press secretaries, and technology specialists, even in places where the party hasn't been competitive for decades. "It's a huge shift," Dean tells U.S. News. "Since 1968, campaigns have been about TV and candidates, which works for 10 months out of the four-year cycle. With party structure on the ground, you campaign for four years."

The strategy is also a reaction to the past two presidential cycles, when the shrinking number of battleground states the Democratic nominee was competing in left no room for error. Both elections were arguably determined by a single state: Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. Says Dean: "We've gotten to the point where we're almost not a national party."

YEEEEEEEEEARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH

Great strategy, Howard... and yes, voters in Mississippi are probably more inclined to vote for a Mississippi Democrat than say, a Vermont Democrat. Or a Massachussetts Democrat... or a Democrat pretending to be from New York.

Of course, it's great that they're trying to be competitive in all 50 states and not just focusing on their enclaves on the coasts. Unfortunately, their platform doesn't exactly sell well with voters in the heartland of America. If they open their ears and eyes when they visit these foreign (to them) places, perhaps the party will be less likely to listen to the Moonbats (like Markos "Screw 'Em" Moulitsas ZĂșniga). I for one would welcome such a change...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Odds & Ends from USAToday

Wow... I was out of town last week at an undisclosed location and couldn't blog during the day and was absolutely exhausted by the time I got to a reliable internet connection.

Sorry about the absence... hopefully they are few and far between.

This caught my eye on Drudge's main page:

News Online Seems to Have Long Shelf Life
By NOAM COHEN
July 17, 2006

A new research paper seeks to answer a riddle for publishers, editors and even readers: when does new news become old news?

In the case of a news article on the Internet, the answer is surprisingly long: 36 hours on average, according to the paper, “The Dynamics of Information Access on the Web,” which appeared in the June issue of Physical Review E, the journal of the American Physical Society.

Well, despite this story, I have a couple of items from Wednesday's USAToday that I'd like to comment on, unrelated to the battle in the GWOT that's heating up in Lebanon.

First, the deficit:
Hold your applause: Deficit dip is but a drop in bucket

Great news! This year's budget deficit won't be $427 billion as forecast in February but $333 billion. President Bush touted …

Oops, wait a minute. Those numbers are from last July's White House press release. Let's start again.

Great news! This year's budget deficit won't be $423 billion as forecast in February but $296 billion. President Bush touted this on Tuesday as evidence that his fiscal policies are working.
[...]
The government faces a severe financial crunch as the baby-boom generation prepares to retire. Runaway health costs and the swelling number of people collecting government benefits are the chief contributors to what the Government Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress, estimates to be a long-term government shortfall of $46 trillion.

In that light, the most urgent question is not whether this year's deficit is $400 billion or $300 billion, but what the administration and members of Congress are doing to head off the much larger deficits on the horizon.

First, as a percentage of GDP, this deficit is a "drop in the bucket" of the US economy (to borrow a phrase). Second, since this reduction in the deficit once again proves that tax cuts stimulate the economy generating more tax revenues for the federal government. Wait, why am I cheering for this? It should only be the Dems that would applaud the increase in revenues, right?

Second, USAToday points out that the big problem is future obligations that we're unable to cover. I would note that the Bush administration has attempted to address these issues through the introduction of choice into healthcare and retirement systems (ie, Health Savings Accounts and personal retirement accounts). Both are condemned by the MSM such as USAToday.

Next story from USAToday - Lose the Penny:
Why keeping the penny no longer makes sense

By Robert Whaples

Here's a startling fact: Because of the soaring price of zinc, it now costs nearly a penny-and-a-half to produce a penny. If the U.S. Mint were a for-profit business, the next step would be pretty automatic — it would shut down penny production or quickly reduce the penny's cost by changing its content. The Mint, however, has the luxury of considering what is best for the country as a whole in making such a momentous decision.
[...]

My favorite part of the story was a quote by Greg Mankiw, who I've posted on before. In regards to the penny, he said, "When people start leaving a monetary unit at the cash register for the next customer, the unit is too small to be useful."

Exactly.... and losing the penny would not only save money in production costs, but would also result in an estimated $300 million a year. After losing the penny, we should introduce the dollar coin which is more durable, resulting in an estimated $500 million. (Hey, that $800 million could go towards the deficit!)

Now, from the business section. First, the airlines may turn a profit, indicating that the End Times are near. All I can say is that the flights for the past year have been absolutely packed. ARC:Brian has pointed out to me that the air system is now back at pre-9/11 volume, but with reduced flights and I'd have to agree.

And finally (do you have to applaud that loud?), I thought people using the interweb pipes would find this story interesting:
Download Net on your laptop? Maybe someday
Way storage is growing, who knows?

So you're on an airliner over Butte, Mont., which, without the “e” would be Butt, which in turn suddenly makes you think of Zinedine Zidane's World Cup head-butt and wonder whether head-butts are common in soccer because maybe soccer players don't use their hands even when fighting.

You'd like to search the Internet to find out. Except there's no Wi-Fi on your domestic flight and there's not likely to be airborne Wi-Fi in the near future even though JetBlue says it's going to try. You just have to go on wondering about soccer head-butts, leaving a maddening hole in your life.

How to avoid this kind of situation in coming years? Well, you probably will be able to download the entire Internet to a laptop before you get on a plane.

It seems preposterous. It sounds like saying you might eat a refrigerator full of food before a trip so you don't have to stop at restaurants for a couple of days.

But this week, Freescale introduced the first commercial memory chip based on a new technology called magnetic random access memory, or MRAM. It's a big step toward putting unimaginable amounts of data on something smaller than an Advil tablet.
[...]
As a result, entrepreneurs are thinking about how they might use almost limitless storage to solve real-world problems. And this is how I came to be sitting across from Rakesh Mathur as he suggested that we could download the whole Internet and then search it — instead of searching the Internet and then downloading what we find. He is launching a company, Webaroo, to eventually help people do that.

Mathur, who in the 1990s co-founded recommendation-engine Junglee and then sold it to Amazon.com, had gone to Alaska to photograph the aurora borealis. He was in his car, freezing, bored, miles from the nearest Wi-Fi, and wishing he had the Internet.
[...]
Mathur told me that he was thinking about these trends, and about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, author Douglas Adams' fictional reference device that holds all the universe's knowledge and does not rely on searching the Internet because Adams never imagined Wi-Fi in space. Why, Mathur thought, couldn't laptops or Treos work that way?

“We could use storage and memory to solve the problem of connectivity,” he says.

Now, nobody knows how big the Web is — maybe 1,000 terabytes, which is a petabyte. No device will be able to hold that much for a long time, and by then, the Web will be bigger. But Mathur designed Webaroo to grab and store the most useful slices of the Web.

As storage increases, the slices can get bigger. You might never store all of the Web but enough to almost always find what you want. If you search Google for “head-butt red card,” you get 211,000 results. Pretty much anything you'd need to know is in the first 20.

This is a very interesting concept. However, would people really want a static interweb thingy in their pocket? I mean, if they downloaded this site on Wednesday of last week and went "off-the-net," they would've missed all our great content from then to now...

...is that laughter I hear? Are you laughing at our site? Now back to regulary scheduled programming...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler