HobbsOnline

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Name:Bill Hobbs
Location:Nashville, Tennessee, United States

11/30/2003

Good News!
Some good news about the Good News finding fertile soil in, of all places, the campuses of elite northeastern universities. [Hat tip: Instapundit]

There are 15 evangelical Christian fellowship groups at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology alone. This is a pretty stunning development for a university where science has always been god, where efficiency and rationality are embedded in the DNA of the cold granite campus. Hundreds of MIT students are involved in these fellowships -- blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians, especially Asians. Some of the groups are associated with powerhouse national evangelical organizations, like Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Others are more home-grown. Either way, the ranks are multiplying.

It's the same on campuses across the Boston area. At Harvard University, "there are probably more evangelicals than at any time since the 17th century," says the Rev. Peter J. Gomes, religious historian and minister of the university's Memorial Church, who arrived on campus in 1970. "And I don't think I have ever seen a wider range of Christian fellowship activity."

After lagging far behind the rest of the nation, where a June Gallup Poll found that 41 percent of Americans identified themselves as "evangelical" or "born-again," New England is beginning to close the gap, with congregations sprouting in rented schools and office parks. Nowhere is that more true than at Boston's elite, soaked-in-secularism colleges, although you have to leave campus to find the strongest evidence.

On a warm Sunday evening in September, one of those amphibious Duck Tour vehicles trundling tourists slows as it approaches Park Street Church. The tour guide notes that nearly 200 years ago, William Lloyd Garrison delivered his first antislavery speech at this church, which sits across from Boston Common. The brick structure with the 217-foot steeple looks a lot like those historic churches that dot the Freedom Trail - important, well preserved, and about as relevant to today's world as powdered wigs and mutton. But the people filing into Park Street Church tell a different story. Instead of middle-aged sightseers clutching guidebooks, this crowd is young, tan, and diverse. And they're here to talk -- and sing - about Jesus.

Park Street is the flagship church for college evangelicals from about 20 campuses in the Boston area. Ten years ago, the church's traditional Sunday night service was attracting only 40 people and was about to be canceled. Church leaders instead decided to refashion it to suit college students and partnered with Campus Crusade and InterVarsity. These days, more than 1,000 students show up at Park Street most Sunday evenings. Church leaders have had to expand to two services.
It's Good News, any way you slice it.

China Kowtows to Blogosphere?
The Monday Washington Post reports that China has released three "Internet writers," but convicted another.

China released three Internet essayists who were detained a year ago for criticizing the government, including a college student in Beijing whose arrest on subversion charges had attracted international attention, a human rights group based in Hong Kong reported Sunday.

Liu Di, 23, a psychology student at Beijing Normal University known online by the pen name "Stainless Steel Mouse," and the two other writers were released Friday afternoon, the group reported. The same day, a court convicted a fourth writer charged in the case, Jiang Lijun, of subversion and sentenced him to four years in prison, his lawyer said.

Liu's father, Liu Qinghua, said by telephone that his daughter was released on bail but ordered not to speak to journalists. Frank Lu, director of the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, said he spoke by telephone with one of the other writers, Wu Yiran, 34, and confirmed the release on bail of the third, Li Yibin, 29, through friends.

The releases come days before German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is scheduled to visit China and little more than a week before Premier Wen Jiabao's first state trip to the United States. China often releases political prisoners before or after important meetings with U.S. and European leaders to blunt criticism of its human rights record.

Before her Nov. 7 arrest last year, Liu managed a popular Web site and was known for posting satirical notes about the hypocrisy of China's ruling Communist Party. In one essay, she suggested that people sell Marxist literature on the streets like "real Communists." In another, she argued that China's repressive national security laws make the country less secure.

She also wrote essays pressing for the release of Huang Qi, a businessman who was arrested in 2000 for running an Internet site that carried items about the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and was sentenced to five years in prison for subversion.

News of the arrest of the "Stainless Steel Mouse" spread quickly across cyberspace, and Internet users in China and abroad campaigned aggressively for her release. Three online petitions circulated in her behalf in China attracted thousands of signatures.
More on the story from Reuters and here from the PekingDuck.org blog. Background here from the Christian Science Monitor.

Carnival of the Capitalists #8:
Giving You the Business One Brilliant Blog Entry at a Time

Lots of good stuff this week - I'm not clever enough to come up with a theme and there's a 15-month-old boy who wants my attention, so I'll post things in the order they came in and let you pick and choose. I excerpt and hyperlink, you decide...

The next Carnival of the Capitalists will be hosted by A Penny For... To submit your writing for the next CotC, send the link via email to capitalists -at elhide.com, and it will automatically be sent to the next host. It would be helpful to put COTC in the subject line. Post guidelines can be found here. And now... onto our 21 economics and business posts this week...

Aunty Goob reflects on the Medicare prescription drug benefit and says we're "waltzing into socialism":

Every attempt by our government to impose someone's ideals of social change through legislation is another stab at freedom financed by taxpayer wallets. Our elected officials bluster and bumfuzzle us about their wonderful job protecting us from ourselves while they pass these extortionist measures.
Link may be bloggered - it was posted Sunday Nov. 23. Oh, and scroll down for Goob's Nov. 12 posting, "On to Tax Absurdity!," in which Goob comments sarcastically that senators opposed to the extension of the federal ban on states levying Internet access taxes on the grounds that it will cost states tax revenue, ought to take the "obvious next step" and "pass legislation forbidding discount sales or clearance sales and the like. After all, selling something cheaper means less sales tax collected when the item sells."

Steve Verdon examines "The Prisoner's Dilemma & The Folk Theorem," and explains why that facet of game theory is relevant to the economics of politics. Put on your thinking beanie and stick around awhile at one of my favorite blogs.

Dr. Jeff Cornwall runs one of my favorite new blogs about business and economics, called The Entrepreneurial Mind. And I don't say that solely because, as part of my day job, I helped him set it up. It's a must-read blog if you are interested in the cycle of entrepreneurship that powers the American economy. This week, Cornwall examines the myth that entrepreneurs are "gamblers," and correctly fingers the primary cause of the myth as being a misunderstanding of risk. There's risk, too, in not taking entrepreneurial advantage of an opportunity.
If entrepreneurs view their role as one of being a steward of the resources at their disposal, they begin to take a much more careful and thoughtful approach to business formation. The true act of entrepreneurial courage from this perspective is not blindly forging into a new venture, but rather become one of a willingness to only move ahead when "Sinking the Boat" risk is minimized.
Cornwall, a professor of business at the Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business at Belmont University in Nashville, writes and teaches about entrepeneurship from experience. He was one - and a rather successful one at that. Be sure to check out Jeff's blog.

Robert Prather shreds a Washington Times commentary by Paul Craig Roberts, who fretted about the loss of manufacturing jobs and worried the U.S. was expending its wealth en route to Third World status. Nonsense, says Prather:
As economists have noted ad nauseum, our progress has been built on temporary unemployment and dynamic labor markets that reallocate that labor to more productive pursuits. Manufacturing output is increasing - see first link above - and has been for decades through productivity increases. Employment in manufacturing has fluctuated between 10 and 20 million for the past seventy years - second link - while decreasing as a percentage of the labor force. It's useful to go back to agriculture as an example of how economies evolve.
Don't miss it.

Ryan Tasty Manatees blog fisks something written by someone called "Aunty Pinko," who I've never heard of and chances are neither have you unless you frequent Democratic Underground.
Auntie Pinko urges those seeking to determine the state of the economy to ask, “If I need information, is there a public library to help?” Clearly, the existence or non-existence of a nearby library has absolutely nothing to do with the state of the economy. No matter how desirable a library is, a local government can make a rational decision to forgo taxing the public and providing one, regardless of how astounding the economic upturn is. Auntie’s similar questions on other things, such as the environment, suffer the same defect.
Amusing.

Little Aardvark says "it's not always about the money," when people leave one job for another.
I've left jobs where management could have offered me twice as much money to stay and it still wouldn't have been worth the hassle. One of the things managers must do to keep turnover as low as possible is to ferret out the little sources of unhappiness for their employees. Sometimes all it takes to keep your employees happy is something as simple as saying "Good morning" or asking about their kids.
You think Little A secretly hopes his boss reads this?

Evan Kirchhoff weighs in on the California supermarket workers' strike, and spins it into a riff on the labor market and why some jobs "deserve" better pay and benefits than others.
What we absolutely do not owe anybody is the pretense that increasingly valueless labor is worth more than it really is. In fact, I would say that we have a positive moral duty in the opposite direction: our priority should be to discourage young people (for example, through low wages) from becoming lifelong grocery baggers in the first place, since that profession is about to die and their labor is urgently needed elsewhere in the economy. Where would "elsewhere" be? I'm not sure (although I'd start with "plumber" and "housecleaner" and the other manual trades where wage and price increases signal obvious shortages). But it is extremely unlikely, after several centuries in which nearly every profession has been repeatedly destroyed and replaced with something more valuable and higher-paying, and unemployment has decreased to within single digits of zero even while the labor pool has increased dramatically, that the death of the supermarket grocery bagger marks some kind of special tipping-point.
Read the whole thing.

Jeremy C. Wright blogs about a "fantastic example of the power of open source in business." Says Wright:
The simple concept of opening the core of your business up for the world to see is fantastically strong and yet considered fantastically weak by those in power. After all, knowledge is still considered power, even after the information-sharing 90's, and sharing of knowledge is often seen as a weakening of the higher echelon's power base.
Rob Sama says George W. Bush is Richard M. Nixon, and predicts Bush's capitulation on domestic spending issues could lead to his downfall in the upcoming election.
Dean will come out and say that while he's aware that some of the protesters are against war per se, he is not. He will point out that he publicly supported the first Gulf War, and he will give further reassurance that he will not pull out of Iraq prematurely, now that we're already in there. But he will say that going into Iraq was a distraction against the real war on terror, which needs to be fought, and taken directly to Iran and Saudi Arabia. And this is where Bush will find himself vulnerable. What happens in the minds of the Republican voter, when he looks at the disaster that one party rule has wrought, knowing that "compassionate conservative" means complete spendthriftedness and capitulation on every major domestic issue save taxes? What happens when conservatives are openly pining for the good old days of gridlock, with a Democrat president and a Republican congress?
With quotes from Cal Thomas, Bruce Bartlett and Rush Limbaugh.

Director Mitch explains why he believes "the whole negative focus on outsourcing is a bit extreme."
If the anti-outsourcing crowd really wants to do something, they can try to fill the domestic jobs we do have that can't be filled. There is a shortage of nurses - estimated at nearly half a million by 2007 - and these high-paying jobs can't be outsourced to India.
Trenchant commentary on a timely issue. There's more on outsourcing below from Sean Hackbarth.

D. Gordon Smith, a University of Wisconsin law professor and author of the new Venturepreneur blog, sent a link to an older post, called "The Fiduciary Duty of Good Faith," examining an important new doctrine in Delaware corporate law that developed in litigation over Michael Ovitz's short tenure and lucrative departure from Disney. Smith says it's not really a new legal doctrine - "just old wine in a new bottle."
The new formulation of the fiduciary duty of good faith is nothing new at all, but simply a reinvigoration of substantive due care. I say "reinvigoration" because substantive due care has long been considered a moribund doctrine, but this new duty of good faith could have legs. At a minimum, we see a dramatic change in the tone of the Court of Chancery, which had until this case treated the fiduciary duty of good faith with some disdain.
Smith also posts a link to a response to his essay, by Steve Bainbridge, which he calls "brilliant."

Michael Kantor offers a Thanksgiving Day post about Google and marketing - and why you should not take the advice of one of his regular readers, who said it's a waste of time to try to increase your Google rankings.
I've been thinking about this advice for the last few days, and I've come to the conclusion that it's incredibly bad advice. I don't know if GoogleGuy is intentionally trying to deceive people (for the benefit of his employer), or if he actually believes that all you have to do is come up with a great website and then it will automatically get found
Sean Hackbarth looks at outsourcing from an entrepreneurial perspective:
Experimentation like this is one way the free market better satisfies the desires of consumers (customer feedback that's really listened too is also extremely important). The possibility to err is vital in channeling resources to their most beneficial ends.
Beneficial bloggage.

Karsten Junge says the dividend is your friend, and makes some long-term market predictions:
Classical finance theory holds that dividends are irrelevant - lower dividends mean that the firm is investing more into lucrative internal growth opportunities which will grow future earnings. Sadly this relationship doesn't seem to hold.
Hey, don't look to me for a comment - I'm still waiting for the Big Beanie Baby Rebound.*

*Not really.

Karun Philip examines what The Matrix: Revolutions has to say about entrepreneurs.
The message here is a simple implicit assumption in science -- all things have causes. In entrepreneurship, we try to project what we can cause to result in the outcome we want (money, fame, enlightenment, whatever). We are fallible in discerning cause, but when we fail we look back to find what cause we had not factored. Over time, our experience makes us better and better at guarding against the normal garden variety things that we ought to have known in the first place. In business, there are many standard practices such as checking references and so on, to double check on whether someone is talking through their hat or is genuine. Whether you learn them from tradition or try it your own way, you will discover it is worth doing. Causality.
I haven't seen any of the Matrix movies, but I've re-read Philip's essay three times...

Professor Bainbridge, mentioned above in the Gordon Smith entry, explores the trend of regulation by litigation.
We see it in the regulatory arena, where courts increasingly make both economic and social policy via lawsuits brought by greedy/activist lawyers. The tobacco litigation was merely the opening shell. As many of us predicted at that time (pre-blogging for me), the plaintiffs' bar would soon move on to food and, especially, alcohol. We were right.
Bainbridge, a corporate law professor at UCLA, offers four suggestions for reform but admits that, "being a pessimistic fellow, I don't think any of this is going to happen."

M.J. Pechar considers the heavy hand of regulators on small business in Russia, and says, "In summary, the legacy of communism is a government at all levels that is unfriendly to free market business." Well, yeah.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union a mere decade ago, the new Russia has struggled with instilling democracy and free market philosophy into the government and population. The transition continues with understandable difficulty. Seventy plus years of communist rule bequeathed the country with local and regional bureaucratic institutions that were and continue to be overbearing, intrusive and corrupt. And nowhere have the regulations, inspections, permits, fees, and so on, been as burdensome than on small businesses. Of note is that, as of January 1, 2003, there were about 800,000 small businesses in Russia being overseen by 1.5 million federal bureaucrats. That's two regulators for every entrepreneur.
Read the whole thing.

Rob the BusinessPundit ruminates on the business of pornography and wonders "why do they make so much money?" Answer: "Because it's a stigmatized product."
Normally when an industry has high profits competitors come in and force prices down, but that hasn't happened with porn.
Moving right along...

Robert Tagorda is writing about the economics of porn, too.
Smut peddlers cleaned up their acts in response to corporate interest. Such a development provides little consolation to those who want to take down the $10 billion industry in its entirety. Actually, some may even be more dismayed than before. By "selling out," adult entertainment has made itself more acceptable to a broader audience, thus ensuring its perpetuation. Here's my question: Could some form of regulation have achieved similar success in changing pornographers' behavior for "the better" (I'm aware that this term is loaded, but please bear with me)? Clearly, the market has prompted them to change their business in a way that is arguably more socially responsible than before. Could we notch this one up for limited government?
Yes, this entry really did come right after the one above.

T. Jacobi also has some thoughts on business, technology and the open source movement, like Jeremy C. Wright above. He also asks for stats on how many people are reading Carnival of the Capitalists. I'll give what stats I can later on in the week - as an update at the end of this post - though they'll be for my entire blog and not just this entry.

Barry L. Ritholtz brings this week's CotC to a happy close with a light look at the corporate death penalty. Heh.
The only reason Merrill Lynch was allowed to survive was that it employed so many people in the NY area. I suspect Spitzer didn't want to be responsible for putting all those people out of work; It was economics, not politics, because you just KNOW those Merrill employees ain't voting for him anyway. Killing Merrill would have been a devastating blow to the NY and NYC economies. That's right, Spitzer has the power to whack the entire NY economy. Such is the nature of the vacuum left by the S.E.C., which the NYAG is more than amply filling.
Think happy thoughts... Think happy thoughts... Think happy thoughts...

And there you have it. The 21 posts that make up Carnival of the Capitalists #8. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The next CotC will be hosted by A Penny For... To submit something for consideration, send the link via email to capitalists -at elhide.com, and it will automatically be sent to the next host. Put COTC in the subject line, please. Post guidelines can be found here.

UPDATE: LATE ADDITION: This entry got lost in the email. Jonathan Wilde over at Catallarchy.net has a very good follow-up to his post about the blogosphere as a free-market anarchy, noting how such blogosphere creations as Technorati and Truth Laid Bear's Blog Ecosystem are giving structure to the blogosphere.
One of the biggest obstacles to overcome in convincing authoritarians about the benefits of a free society is their inability to accept the fact that order can can be an emergent property of individual action. For them, all facets of life have to have some sort of grand blueprint implemented by expert soverigns. The cannot conceive of the economy, culture, infrastructure, morality, or society itself as a bottom-up result of billions of autonomous individual actions. Yet, the blogosphere is a vivid example of how wrong they are.
Don't miss it.

UPDATE MONDAY Dec. 1: I've posted four five six nine economics items today. This one is the most important of the nine - and I've already submitted it for inclusion next week in Carnival of the Capitalists #9. For the rest of my economics posts today, scroll up, or hit the "Home" link and scroll down. Thanks for dropping by.

UDPATE TUESDAY Dec. 2: This blog, which normally gets 500-600 unique visitors a day Mondays through Fridays, got 2,787 yesterday, thanks to links from a variety of blogs to the Carnival of the Capitalists, and a link from Instapundit to this non-COTC, but economics-related, post of mine.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, Dec. 4: CotC-driven traffic seems to have subsided. This blog receieved visits from 1,091 unique visitors on Tuesday, down from 2,787 on the first day of CotC #8, and 583 unique visitors yesterday - which is about HobbsOnline's normal average weekday unique visitor count. By my calculations and rough guestimating, I feel safe in saying CotC attracted about 2,000 unique visitors over a two-day span. Not bad!

Good News from Iraq
Here is some good news from Iraq, where U.S. troops thwarted an attempt to ambush a military convoy in northern Iraq, killed 46 attackers, wounded 18 attackers and captured eight. On our side: five troops wounded, none killed. The attackers were wearing the uniform of the Fedayeen Saddam, one of Saddam's most feared militias, which you can take as evidence the hostilities toward American troops is NOT the result of some growing grassroots insurgency, but merely the last dying gasps of a defeated regime. Members of the Fedayeen have no future in a free, democratic Iraq and they know it, which is why they keep fighting a futile fight.

Inconsistency
My post yesterday (scroll down to the next item) about the state's sales tax prompted some readers to post comments about the state's "use tax," which you can read. I also got an interesting email from a reader, "zoogler," who notes that the state "wants it both ways" on sales and use taxes. The "use tax," for those of you who don't know, is the state's attempt to collect sales taxes on things you buy in other states. Most states that have sales taxes also have use taxes. If you buy anything - furniture, a car, a candy bar - in another state and bring it in to Tennessee and use it here, you are supposed to send Tennessee a payment equivalent to the sales tax you would have paid had you bought it here. They call it the "use" tax. The state has reciprocal agreements with other states to track sales of large items like furniture and cars to Tennesseans, and charges the purchaser the difference between the sales tax they already paid to the other state and the sales tax they would have paid in Tennessee.

Because the state has no uniform collection mechanism for the use tax for all purchases, I contend it is de facto a voluntary tax, and, again because the use tax is not uniformly and fairly enforced, it in all likelihood violates the basic constitutional principle of equal protection under law.

Zoogler makes another interesting observation. Tennessee law makes it clear that Tennessee indeed "wants it both ways." He cites the Tennessee Code Annotated:

TCA 1320-5-1-.29 NONRESIDENT PURCHASES.
(1) If a nonresident of Tennessee purchases articles of tangible personal property or taxable services from a dealer in Tennessee, and the sale is delivered to the vendee in Tennessee, the sale is not one of interstate commerce, and is subject to the Sales Tax. It is immaterial that the property will be later transported outside the State.
Interesting. Tennessee wants Tennesseans to pay taxes to Tennessee on things you buy in other states, but doesn't want non-Tennesseans to pay the use taxes in other states - or at least doesn't want them to use their "use tax" obligation in other states to avoid paying Tennessee sales tax.

11/29/2003

Interesting
This story is sure to make Tennessee officials spout off the usual blather about the need to tax online sales.

Nashville is the top city for online shoppers, while Raleigh takes the third spot, according to a new survey. The Music City jumped 15 spots in America Online's second annual "Online Shopping Cities" report with consumers in the city spending $328.60 a month, $100 more this year than in 2002 when the city ranked 16th. ... Los Angeles, Baltimore and San Francisco round out the top five.

Shoppers in Nashville told researchers they anticipate spending an average of $291 on holiday gifts using the Internet - a little more than 50 percent of their expected holiday budget. But all that holiday cheer doesn't sit well with the state. Many shoppers said they use the Internet because they aren't charged sales taxes...
You know why many online shoppers don't pay sales tax? Because many online purchases involve interstate commerce and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution forbids states from levying taxes on or otherwise regulating interstate commerce. Which is why I stopped the excerpt before getting Tennessee Department of Revenue Commissioner Loren Chumley's predictable rant about why the state needs to tax online sales. She obviously doesn't understand the Commerce Clause.

11/27/2003

Happy Thanksgiving!
Light to non-existent blogging today. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Bush Went to Baghdad!
Today's big story: President Bush made a secret Thanksgiving Day trip to Iraq. Hmm. Is Karl Rove reading my blog?

11/26/2003

Is Islam's Allah the Same as the Judeo-Christian God?
The invaluable Donald Sensing says no, and says it powerfully.

We agree that there is one deity, but what we each claim to have received in true revelation from the deity about himself diverges at utterly crucial points, so divergent and so crucial that both cannot be true.
Read the whole thing. If there's a better blog on religion - and artillery - I haven't found it. And check out what Michael Williams had to say today on the same topic. And, of course, I wrote last week about one reason why I don't believe Allah and the God of the Bible are one and the same.

I'm Looking Forward ...
To this. You'll need QuickTime and a broadband connection.

11/25/2003

Blogging Break
No more blogging until tomorrow. Today is my wedding anniversary. (Gifts accepted!) Three years and it just gets better and better. Our anniversary always falls in the week of Thanksgiving, which is wonderfully appropriate. I love my wife.

A Fatal Mistake?
Here's an article, via Arx Americana via Instapundit, about a Homeland Security warning to federal law enforcement agencies to initiate emergency counterterrorism measures to prevent possible al-Qaida car bombings.

I have a suspicion that, if al Qaeda launches car-bomb attacks in the U.S. as they have in Turkey recently, support for all-out war against the terrorist-supporting regimes of the Middle East will rise, and al Qaeda's leadership will come to regret their tactics.

It's a Texas Thang
Having lived in Texas, I assure you this is true:

Go right ahead and patronize the guy in jeans and a lamentable workshirt, and look down your nose at that beater of a pickup, if you must, but be warned, you do so at your peril. Around here, he may turn out to be the third richest man in the state, the chair of Classical literature at a major university, a leading heart surgeon, or the President of the USA. Or he could just be a small rancher from the Panhandle, but damned if you'll be able to tell by looking, and if you get suckered into a poker game, don't tell me you haven't been warned.
I miss Texas.

Good Advice
Here is some good advice. Plus, it's a train song. You'll need RealPlayer or Windows Media Player and a broadband connection.

Bush Blog
I'm adding Josh McClain's BushBlog to my blogroll. It's actually better than the official George W. Bush campaign blog.

More Economic Bad News (For the Democrats)
The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter at an even faster pace than originally reported, the government said Tuesday. The Bush Boom economy grew at an 8.2 percent pace rather than 7.2 percent. As CNN's Bill Hemmer said this morning, the economy "has afterburners on it."

Meanwhile... the U.S. economy will rush to a 20-year record pace, fast enough finally to shrink the jobless queues, a panel of top business economists predicted.

Investment would boom next year, adding power to an economy jolted to life by huge tax cuts and super-low interest rates, said a panel of 28 economists in the National Association for Business Economics (NABE). The world's number one economy would grow at a pace of 3.0 percent in 2003 and 4.5 percent in 2004, the speediest rate for any year since 1984, the NABE panel said Monday.
How in the world can the Democrats win with bad news like this? I blame those awful Bush tax cuts.

The NABE report, which you can see here if you are a NABE member, was co-authored by Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at LaSalle/ABN AMRO, and Dr. William Ford professor of econmics and holder of the Weatherford Chair of Finance at Middle Tennessee State University. I've interviewed Dr. Ford before.

11/24/2003

Still Rooting for Failure
The WaPo on the passage of President Bush's plan for a Medicare prescription drug benefit:

But some Democrats, reeling from defeat on an issue they long saw as their own, said a voter backlash against a measure they consider deeply flawed could still work to their benefit.
Typical. Still hoping for failure, so they can take political advantage of it.

The Right Man at the Right Time
Don't miss The Atlantic's profile of Gen. John Abizaid, the Arab-American general leading our military in the Middle East. Too long and too good to excerpt.

The Ski Bum And the Draft
I missed this story from Saturday's New York Times until just now: 33 Years Later, Draft Becomes Topic for Dean. It seems Dean used lower back pain to avoid being drafted, then went skiing.

In the winter of 1970, a 21-year-old student from Yale walked into his armed services physical in New York carrying X-rays and a letter from his orthopedist, eager to know whether a back condition might keep him out of the military draft. This was not an uncommon scene in 1970, when medical deferments were a frequently used avenue for those reluctant to take part in the unpopular war in Vietnam. And this story would have little interest save that Howard Dean was the name of the young man. Now, 33 years later, he finds himself a leading Democrat in the quest for the party's nomination to be president of the United States.

Dr. Dean got the medical deferment, but in a recent interview he said he probably could have served had he not mentioned the condition. "I guess that's probably true," he said. "I mean, I was in no hurry to get into the military."

But now that he is running for president, in a race when many Democrats believe they need a candidate with strong national security credentials to challenge President Bush, the choices Dr. Dean, a former Vermont governor, made 33 years ago are providing ammunition for critics. Senator John Kerry and Gen. Wesley K. Clark, two of his strongest challengers for the Democratic nomination, have recently started running advertisements highlighting their military experience. And all the Democratic candidates except Carol Moseley Braun had to face the possibility of being drafted during the Vietnam War.

In the 10 months after his graduation from Yale, time he might otherwise have spent in uniform, Dr. Dean lived the life of a ski bum in Aspen, Colo. His back condition did not affect his skiing the way the rigors of military service would have, he said, nor did it prevent him from taking odd jobs like pouring concrete in the warm months and washing dishes when it got cold. Even the candidate's mother, Andree Maitland Dean, said in a recent interview about his skiing after receiving a medical deferment, "Yeah, that looks bad."
It's worth noting that, back in 1968, the current holder of the job Dean seaks voluntarily joined the military - in fact, he joined a unit elements of which were at that very time engaged in combat in Vietnam. While George W. Bush was training to be a combat pilot, Howard Dean went skiing.

There WAS No Mob
The Memphis Commercial-Appeal has some words of praise for Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen's approach to crafting the state budget - via meetings open to the public.

The budget hearings send an appealing message after years of acrimony over state finances. Bredesen says the public hearings are intended to show taxpayers that no fiscal plots are being hatched behind closed doors. The people who pay the bills have a right to see that. Public confidence in state government hit a low point in summer 2001, when a mob protesting an income tax proposal broke windows in the State Capitol building. Protesters egged on by talk radio hosts circled the Capitol complex with car horns blaring. It has been a long, slow climb from that dark day to the tentative harmony that now exists.
It's all good - except for one glaring lie.

THERE WAS NO MOB.

I know because I was there. Familes were there with children, with babies in strollers, waving flags and placards and, yes, loudly yelling in protest of the proposed income tax, and in protest of the fact that the Sundquist administration was using state troopers to bar the public from the state capitol building while allowing lobbyists in to lobby legislators on the eve of a potential vote on the tax. One protestor, knocking hard on a locked capitol door, cracked a window. She paid for the repair.

The Sundquist administration claimed that a window in the governor's office was broken by a thrown object, but that allegation has never been substantiated with physical proof. In fact, the allegation has been undermined by the ever-changing story as the allegedly broken window was alleged to have been broken by a stick. No, it was a rock. Er., it was a brick. Yeah, a brick. That's the ticket.

But a rock is not a stick is not a brick, and though the media reported the rock landed at the feet of a legislator who was in Sundquist's office chambers, the media never showed a photo of the rock. Or the stick. Or the brick. Which strikes me as exceedingly odd - a news media bent on portraying noisy-but-peaceful protestors as a "mob" wouldn't have missed the chance to show the world the rock or brick or stick the "mob" used to break that window. (Now that I think of it - I don't recall seeing a news report showing the broken window, either...)

Yet the claim that the window had been shattered by rock-throwing mob was used as the trigger to call out dozens of state troopers and Metro Nashville police, who barred the public from accessing the capital and blocked streets to make it difficult for people to get to the capital.

But ... no rock, stick or brick was ever produced. I doubt there was a rock, brick or stick. There was no mob, either, and no one who was there and is honest claims otherwise.

UPDATE: The July 13, 2001, edition of The Tennessean carried a story titled "Crowd hurls rocks, rhetoric to protest tax," a headline that implies many rocks were being thrown, though the story admits in the lead that only one rock was tossed.

The story says it landed at the feet of a state representative who was in the governor's office chambers.
Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, said he sought refuge in the governor's suite of offices after sensing the crowd's angry mood. "All of a sudden, a big rock came through a window and landed at my feet," the legislator said. Security officers directed him and the governor's staff to another room.
Rep. Windle has not produced the rock.

More articles covering that "mob" that wasn't really a mob here.

This isn't the first time I've said I don't believe the rock/brick/stick exists. I made the same charge back on May 23, 2002, when I wrote this:
Of course, the administration claims riot cops were necessary because of last year's "riot" in which a window was broken by a protestor. Count me a skeptic. The administration has at various times described the "weapon" as a brick, a rock, and a stick. It allegedy landed at the foot of some lawmaker inside the governor's office. But where is the rock or brick or stick? Surely, if such a crime was committed, the witnesses would know if it was a rock or a stick or a brick, and the evidence would have been collected. The rock ... or brick ... or stick ... would be in investigators' hands. We would have seen a photo of it. But we haven't. Why? Until there is solid evidence otherwise, my guess is: because it doesn't exist. The Sundquist administration claims it exists, however, and so the media has bought the story without really questioning it...
Rep. Windle, members of the former Sundquist administration, Capitol police and state troopers have had ample time to produce the evidence - the rock, brick or stick - but haven't done so. I think we all know why.

The UT Bias Scandal
Adam Groves is a voice of reason in the increasingly overheated argument over free speech, hate speech and bias at the University of Tennessee. His latest post urges the UT College Republicans "not to lose sight of the real issue at hand." The real issue, as I see it, is a University-funded "committee" that is supposed to bring a balanced slate of speakers to campus has, in fact, been bringing in a heavily liberal slate of speakers, and reform is necessary.

11/22/2003

Liberal Hate-Speech at UT: An Update
UT blogger Adam Groves has two updates on the hate-speech scandal at the University of Tennessee. It looks like the university is not gonna do much about it... and in fact has responded by attacking the free-speech rights of the College Republicans. After you read that posting of Adam's, be sure to scroll down for more good stuff on his blog. He's all over the story. Instapundit has weighed in too.

There are two separate issues in this brouhaha. First, the fact that the "Issues Committee," a UT campus organization funded by the university that is supposed to present a "balanced" slate of speakers in fact presents mosly liberal speakers. Second, when called on it by a student newspaper columnist who happens to be a Sikh, one of the members of that organization sent an email that urged the murder of the columnist. The death-threat writer now says it was "taken out of context." As to the first, the solution is either to force the IC to present a balanced slate of speakers, or to allow the IC to be openly liberal and create and equally fund a second, conservative, committee to bring in conservative speakers.

As to the second, the death-threat writer ought to be kicked out of school, IMHO.

Stay tuned...

A Michael Jackson Brain Teaser
In America, a person accused of a crime is guaranteed a trial in front of a jury of their peers. I'm just wondering who Jacko's "peers" are.

11/21/2003

Quagmire Update
Survey says: "Afghans overwhelmingly optimistic." Interesting factoid: 48 percent of the 1,479 Afghans participating in the survey were women, something not remotely possible during the Taliban era. Also, here's a update on the military situation in Afghanistan, and another.

:-)
The bad guys in Baghdad are launching rockets from carts pulled by donkeys. Now it can be said: It's time for the American military to kick some ass. (Hah! Sorry, just couldn't resist a bad pun.)

A Christian Nation?
Michael Williams considers a study from some academics at the University of Michigan who found that the United States is a very religious nation and comments, "Perhaps America is more religious because we have more religious freedom and tolerance than other industrial nations?"

Yankee Ingenuity
Donald Sensing spotlights a medical advance straight from Iraq. Scroll up, too, for his piece on Tarawa.

Some Folks Are Too Thin-Skinned
And others look for insults in everything. The WaPo has a story about a cartoon that some Muslims think was an attack on Islam. Here is the cartoon:


[Hat tip: Tongue Tied, which has just been added to my blogroll.]

Changing the Game
Don't miss Ed Cone's magnum opus on how the Howard Dean campaign is using the Internet.

The lessons of the Dean campaign do not just apply to politics. Teachout and her compatriots have laid bare the essential power of the Internet to marketers of all types, from clothing to industrial equipment to financial services.

Television, radio, print and mail can create awareness and desire for a product. Senders control the presentation and, if intelligently worded and presented, the messages cause an individual or company to vote with its dollars, by buying the product. But the lesson of Dean's campaign is that the Web is not for micromanagers. With the Internet, an effective campaign creates a community that will on its own begin to market your product for you. Properly done, you won't be able - or want - to control it.
Long, but worth it.

The Other Four are In a Mass Grave
The BBC reports on the end of the United Nations' oil-for-food program for Iraq:

The United Nations is to formally end the biggest aid scheme of its history, the oil-for-food programme which helped keep an estimated six out of 10 Iraqis alive during the last years of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Perhaps the U.N. realized Bush adminstration's Bullets-for-Baathists program was likely to keep a much higher percentage of Iraqis alive in the coming years.

Islam's Civil War
Donald Sensing points out that al Qaeda is killing other Muslims at least as frequently as it kills non-Muslims, and explores what that means.

It is not at all clear that the Muslim world is itself awake to the implications of this fact. I have maintained all along ... that this war is indeed a religious war. Al Qaeda’s objectives are religious objectives, the restoration of the Islamic caliphate and the practice of pure Islamism, as they determine it, in the Arab countries.

Al Qaeda's war is not only against the West; in fact, I say that they are not even principally fighting against the West. Their primary war is against other Muslims. What is at stake are lives, human freedom and the very definition of Islam itself.
Worth reading - and filled with links.

Words Mean Things, More or Less
One of Nashville's two daily newspapers, The Tennessean, editorializes today that Only more democracy will stop Islam's fanatics

Every time terrorists kill in the name of Islam, they demonstrate that their enemy is not the United States. Their enemy is freedom. And it is the combined efforts of freedom-loving people that will stop them.
So, The Tennessean favored President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq to remove Saddam's regime and plant a democracy smack in the middle of the Islamic world, right?

Not that I recall.

Indispensable
If you aren't regularly reading Victor Davis Hanson, you do not understand the war. Here's his latest masterpiece, with some sharp commentary on the conduct of and the politics of the war. Read the whole thing.

Hanson: In this new war, the worst sin of a Western military is quite simply to be predictable.


Forecasting the Bush Boom
A team of economists at the University of Michigan predicts the U.S. economy will grow dramatically in 2004:

The U.S. economy will see its strongest growth since 1984 next year, a team of University of Michigan economists predicted in a report released Thursday. In the annual forecast from the university, Saul Hymans, Joan Crary and Janet Wolfe said Gross Domestic Product should increase by 5.1 percent in 2004.

"The economy starts the year 2004 with substantial momentum, propelled by real GDP advancing at a 5.8 percent rate in the second half of 2003," Hymans said in a statement. "The pace of output expansion remains vigorous next year, and employment responds to the strong economic growth."

The group predicted the country would gain 2.1 million jobs next year and 3.1 million in 2005. Unemployment is expected to fall from 6 percent this year to 5.4 percent next year and 4.8 percent in 2005.
I found it via Dustin Frelich, who says the Democrats's silence on the economic good news is "the greatest economic indicator of all."

UPDATE: Here are links to the University of Michigan press release and the economists' report summarized in a PDF file or in HTML.

Who should we blame for all this good news? I know! I know! I blame ... the Bush tax cuts!

UPDATE: Here's Robert J. Samuelson on the state of the economy, and what it means for Bush's reelection chances:
The U.S. economy seems to have just voted for George Bush. Almost all recent indicators favor the president's reelection: economic growth, rising at a 7.2 percent annual rate in the third quarter; jobs, increasing 286,000 since August; productivity, advancing at roughly a 5 percent rate since late 2001. Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for the forecasting firm Global Insight, has one of those equations that predict election results based on the economy and various political factors (incumbency, party affiliation). By the latest reports, Bush wins 56.6 percent of the 2004 vote.
And PoliPundit was pointing to this and also to a William Saletan column in which Saletan discusses a "revealing moment" from a recent Iowa debate involving the Democratic presidential wannabees:
The other revealing moment was Edwards' pledge to create 5 million jobs in the first two years of his presidency. Any presidential candidate knows it takes more than two years to enact an economic policy and see it produce results of that size. In other words, the pledge doesn't reflect Edwards' confidence that he can grow those jobs. It reflects his confidence that the economy will grow those jobs anyway. I don't suppose he'll credit them to the president whose policies are already in effect.
Hah! Read the whole thing.

Internet Access Tax Ban Update
News.com reports that "a logjam in the U.S. Senate over legislation to permanently ban some Internet access taxes appears close to breaking, bringing a vote on the measure within reach after weeks of delays."

Death-threat Email Stirs UT Review
From today's Knoxville News Sentinel

University of Tennessee officials said Thursday that they are reviewing a series of e-mails between members of the student organization that selects campus speakers following complaints that some of the e-mails contained racial slurs and threats against a conservative columnist for the student newspaper. One of the e-mails referred to the columnist, Sukhmani Singh Khalsa, as a "raghead" and suggested, apparently in jest, he should be shot in the face.
Nice to know the university is taking it seriously. Background here or scroll down a few posts. More coverage here and here.

11/20/2003

Yet Another Great Speech
President Bush's speech at Whitehall Palace in London yesterday will go down in history as one of the most important speeches of the war. Read the whole thing. If you know where the video is available online, please let me know. The BBC has the speech video and a list of what the BBC considers the key points. There's also video available from the C-SPAN web site.

Hilarious
AtomFilms asks What's Wrong with this Picture? You'll need a broadband connection and either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player.

Public Money Funds Liberal Speakers at UT
From the College Republicans at the University of Tennessee:

Death Threats and Racial Slurs Funded by UT
Contact: Adrienne Royer
423-505-1107
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2003

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Death threats, hate crimes and political discrimination are currently funded by The University of Tennessee while faculty and administration members ignore the activities.

Thursday, November 13, 2003, Sukhmani Singh Khalsa, a columnist for The Daily Beacon, the UT student newspaper, wrote a column titled, "Liberal Issues Committee Desperately Needs Changes." His column exposed his research that the Issues Committee, a UT Student Activities organization that receives $90,000 from UT each year, has sought to only bring partisan and biased speakers to campus.

According to their website, the Issues Committee is, "…dedicated to providing 'extracurricular education' that examines the most pertinent issues in a creative and balanced manner." However, the Issues Committee has only brought two conservative speakers in the last three years and welcomed speakers such as Scott Ritter, a known propagandist for Saddam Hussein, and Howard Zinn, a Marxist historian.

Amid a lively campus debate over the Issues Committee, Khalsa received evidence that the Issues Committee had made death threats and racial slurs and openly advocated a liberal, partisan agenda through internal e-mails sent to committee members and the faculty advisor, Edee Vaughan, via UT's e-mail system.

According to Hilltopics, UT’s student manual, a student may be expelled "…when it appears that the student has acted in a way which…injures or endangers the welfare of any member of the University community. Such violations include … commission of or attempt or threat to commit rape, murder, felonious assault, arson, or any other felonious crime against person or property."

"We are outraged that a publicly funded campus organization can get away with such racial threats. This committee receives $90,000 dollars a year to promote free and open debate on campus," said John McGary, the outraged chairman of UT College Republicans. "When Khalsa tried to engage the campus in such debate, his life was threatened."

The UT College Republicans hold that The University of Tennessee consistently discriminates against conservative while leaving extremist liberals in charge and unaccountable for their actions. The Issues Committee members along with their advisor, Edde Vaughan, knew what was going on, but they chose to do nothing about it. Their unapologetic hatred for conservatives and numerous racist remarks were simply ignored because of bureaucratic liberal politics within the administration.

"We demand that UT act immediately," McGary explained. "The only acceptable course of action is to disband the Issues Committee and suspend their advisor pending a full independent investigation into how the student activity funding is distributed and the institutional bias which has allowed discrimination against conservative students and minorities.

For more information, please contact Adrienne Royer at 423-505-1107 or aroyer1@utk.edu.
Here's a link to more coverage from UT student blogger Adam Groves. He's got a nice blog - and links galore.

And here is a link to Khalsa's original column.

UPDATE: From today's Daily Beacon:

Recent accusations of bias regarding the UT Issues Committee have prompted the Dean of Students office and Student Activities office to review e-mails sent between committee members regarding a column in The Daily Beacon.

Last week, members of the Issues Committee exchanged e-mails discussing their views concerning the column, written by columnist Sukhmani Singh Khalsa, one in which referred to him as a "raghead."

The e-mails were obtained by Chris Lewis, a former committee member and senior in political science who was not removed from the mailing list, and read aloud during a College Republicans meeting Tuesday night in the Taylor Law Building. Messages sent to and from UT e-mail accounts are stored on a UT server and may be considered public records under the Tennessee Public Records Act, subject to inspection by residents of Tennessee.
I'll be interested to see what Instapundit might have to say about all this.

And here's a follow-up column from Khalsa. Excerpt:
Lewis has had a working relationship with Lamar Alexander and his political director. Lamar and Tucker Carlson also have a relationship. After some talk with Lamar's director, Lewis naturally asked the Issues Committee's adviser if he could extend an invitation for Lamar to attend Carlson's speech. The adviser refused, saying that that would be political and that they wouldn't want to be political.

This is coming from the committee that just a few months ago had Scott Ritter here calling the Bush administration Nazis and calling American troops young slaughterers. Lewis inquired about this sudden change of attitude. The adviser actually said that Scott Ritter was not invited to be political. This is transparent nonsense. But apparently, a man who is a former UT president and one of our senators, who won't be campaigning for a few years, to sit and attend a function is unwelcome. Does the administration know that they have a faculty member setting such a precedent? Incidents like these eventually led to Lewis resign in disgust, but the committee forgot to remove him from their e-mail list. I've had the special privilege of reading their e-mails to each other. This was a forum of seething hate.
Khalsa is a voice of reason, rejecting the allegation that he is trying to turn the Issues Committee into a conservative soapbox. "I just want fairness and free speech," he says. Ah, there's your problem, Mr. Khalsa. The Left doesn't want those things.

UPDATE: Saturday, Nov. 22: Welcome readers visiting via from Instapundit. Scroll up for follow-ups, and also be sure to visit UT blogger Adam Groves' blog for the latest.

Trending Up
HobbsOnline's readership appears to be growing. Monday, without the benefit of an "Instalanche" driven by a link from the big guy, this blog was read by 522 different people. Tuesday, again without a link from Instapundit, 728 different people visited. Yesterday: 783. Three days does not a trend make, but if this continues I'll have to stop telling people who ask that my blog has about 500 daily readers, and increase it a bit. Thanks for visiting!

Jobless Claims Fall Sharply
I blame the Bush tax cuts for this.

First-time claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, a government reported said Thursday, while a closely watched barometer of job conditions hit its healthiest level since before the 2001 recession. ... The closely watched four-week average of jobless claims, regarded by economists as a truer reflection of the job market than the more volatile weekly figure, fell to its lowest level in nearly three years: 367,250, down from 376,250 the previous week.
I'll let you know how the currently-jobless Howard Dean tries to explain away this good news.

Arafat Funnels Palestinian Funds to Israeli VC Firm
You have to scroll a ways down to the second item in this from the San Jose Mercury News, but it's worth it. While the Palestinian people live in Third World conditions, their "leader" is funneling their money into Silicon Valley start-ups, via two Israeli venture capital firms. And some of Saddam Hussein's millions may have gone there too.

Strange twist, but Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has invested his people's money in Israeli and U.S. venture capital firms, among others.

Arafat, on behalf of the Palestinian people, has invested $8 million in Israeli venture fund Evergreen III and $4.6 million in Menlo Park's Canaan Partners, according to published reports from the Palestine Investment Fund. Canaan has invested in several Bay Area start-ups, including AlterEgo, Aperto, E-stamp and ONI.

Most of the money in the Palestine Investment Fund comes from taxes collected by the Palestine Authority and is part of Arafat's estimated $1 billion to $3 billion treasury, according to a recent report by CBS' "60 Minutes.'' The fund, which also invested in a Coke bottling plant in Palestine, was closely controlled by Arafat until this year, when Palestine Finance Minister Salam Fayad and Standard & Poor's began investigating and published the portfolio.

"60 Minutes'' made a connection between the fund and gifts from Saddam Hussein, the KGB and the Saudis. It said, for example, that the former Palestine treasurer told CBS that he saw Saddam hand Arafat a $50 million check for supporting him during the first gulf war.
Bizarre.

11/19/2003

Hah!
Scott Ott solves the California budget crisis.

I'm Shocked. Shocked!
Do you think this will get much media coverage?

On the Radio
I just had the pleasure of being on the radio, on the Steve Gill Show on WWTN 99.7 here in Nashville, guest-hosted today by singer Joe Bonsall of the legendary Oak Ridge Boys. We talked mostly about blogs and how the Internet has put the power of the freedom of the press into the hands of ordinary people. If you're visiting my website for the first time today because you heard about it on the radio this morning, I'm glad you're here - please leave a comment!

More than that, welcome to the world of weblogs and online commentary. There are blogs by right-wingers, left-wingers and wingnuts; blogs by Iraqis and by soldiers in Iraq, tech nerds and homeless guys and lawyers and economists and preachers and professors and ordinary people and by extraordinary people like you. There are even some satirical blogs, and cartoon blogs. You can find a long list of some of my favorite blogs over in the right-side column of my site. I'm not going to recommend any because you can click for yourself, read for yourself, think for yourself and decide for yourself.

Oh, okay, I'll recommend one. Instapundit.com. And if you want to start a blog, go to Blogger.com. Join the discussion!

Thanks, Joe.

UPDATE: Didn't get a chance to mention it on the radio (time moves a lot faster on radio than off!) but at Belmont University in Nashville, where I work, I am helping faculty members start blogs in areas of their expertise. The first, The Entrepreneurial Mind, has already launched, and there are more to come. Also, I maintain a weblog about blogging, Re: Blogging. And there's another Belmont-born blog that I didn't help start, but is well worth your time if you are interested in the issues of copyright and intellectual property rights in the digital era. It's called BelmontCopyright.com

11/18/2003

Fisking Lamar
Jay Johnson rather entertainingly fisks a letter from Sen. Lamar Alexander regarding the Internet access tax ban. Alexander is against renewing the ban. I voted for Lamar and will again if he runs again, but Lamar is just wrong on this issue. I explain why here (and follow the links therein).

Bubba Rah Rah
South Knox Bubba urges the killing of more innocent Iraqis in the Bush administration's illegal war for oil. I'm shocked.

/snark

Comparative Religion
Message on a local Islamic mosque not far from where I work: "Charity suppresses the wrath of Allah."

Huh. So, Allah is angry and to calm him down you have to give to charity out of fear, in order to keep Allah from dropping the holy hammer on you. But of course it only works for a little while and then Allah is angry again, and if you don't do something good for someone else, the threat is always hanging over you that ol' Allah will drive a holy car bomb into your life.

My religion is different. My God doesn't threaten me.

In Christianity, charitableness is motivated by gratitude for God's blessings, by thankfulness for one's salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Those who properly understand how Christian salvation works understand that you do not do good works and follow God's teachings and live a moral life as best you can in order to try to earn salvation - you do good works and follow God's teachings and live a moral life as best you can because you have been given the free gift of salvation.

Fear is a lousy motivator.

The sign reminded me of the sermon I heard last Sunday. You can read it here or listen to it here. Excerpt:

Do you really think the best way to call people to Christ is by preaching the fear of hell? To the contrary, John believed and taught that the love of God is more powerful as a motivation to righteousness than the fear of hell.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also (4:13-21).
The fundamental message of the gospel is not that Christ saves from hell but that he embodies the Father’s love. The driving force for new life in Christ is not the fear of hell but the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. And the sustaining power for faithfulness until Christ’s return is not the fear of judgment but the assurance and boldness that result from living in a supportive community of authentic Christian love.
There are those who claim Allah and the God of the Bible are one and the same. I think not.

UPDATE: Do NOT miss Michael Williams' posts, God - Good or Evil? and Real Faith - or Donald Sensing's Beware the compassion police: Why compassion cannot be a basis for public policy.

Changing China
The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that use of the Internet "is spreading farther than expected in China, reaching smaller, less-developed cities." The WSJ story explores the likely social and economic impact:

The findings, say the researchers who conducted the study, suggest that the Internet's impact is greater than previously thought, with implications for the future of the economy and the communist government. Far from being a tool of the educated and well-off in big cities, the Internet is cutting across income and geographical lines in China, creating a populace that is better informed and more demanding of the government, the researchers say.
The WSJ says the surveys show the emerging online community "shares ideas that could pose a challenge to a government often bent on control"
More than 85% recognize a role for the government in managing and controlling the Internet, and most are concerned about pornographic and violent content. But fewer than 13%, the survey says, believe that the government should police political content, and overwhelmingly people see the Internet as a medium allowing greater freedom of speech and criticism of government policies.

Surfing on the West Bank
The AP reports on how Palestinians living in the West Bank are going online in increasing numbers – and why.

Internet use has risen sharply, putting the Palestinians ahead of much of the Arab world. Business people use the web to place orders with suppliers, university students keep up with lessons and relatives separated by Israeli closures stay in touch through chat rooms.
Maan Bseiso, owner of Palnet, the leading Palestinian Internet service provider, tells the AP that Palestinains "are using the Internet a lot more for practical reasons than their counterparts in other regions" and "the political issue, as well as security issues in Palestinian areas, make people use the Internet for business and information and news."

It's probably too much to hope for that most of them would be visiting - and getting the truth - from news blogs like Little Green Footballs.

Economic Update
Prof. Cornwall says: "There is increasing evidence that we will enter 2004 with a strong economy that includes job growth." He points to surveys indicating business inventories were up in September for the first time in six months, and a new report on small-business optimism from the National Federation of Independent Business. Dr. Cornwall has the links.

Moving On
Here's New York Times profile of MoveOn.org, an Internet group that uses the Internet to mobilize its 2.4 million members to sign online petitions, organize street demonstrations and donate money to run political advertisements for liberal causes and politicians.

Democrats have embraced it as a new model of political organization, while Republicans have attacked it, saying it is making an end run around campaign finance laws.
The NYT says some political scientists believe MoveOn.org foreshadows "the next evolutionary change in American politics, a move away from one-way tools of influence like television commercials and talk radio to interactive dialogue, offering everyday people a voice in a process that once seemed beyond their reach." But, says the Times
For all of MoveOn.org's efforts, its record is mixed: Mr. Clinton was still impeached; the Bush administration invaded Iraq; Gov. Gray Davis of California was still recalled; Republicans still pushed through the Texas redistricting. Only one in three candidates it supported in the 2000 and 2002 elections was elected.

On Blogging
The Tacoma News Tribune explores "the Seattle-area blogopolis" and finds that "when you dip your perceptive mask below the surface of the cybersea, … a whole other planet comes into view" that is "teeming with a young species in love with itself, but not in an annoying way. Web log keepers - bloggers - write about their lives in online diaries. Others open and read the diaries, click on 'send a comment,' and create a community, buzzing with common interests, experiences and questions." The paper calls blogs a "parallel universe, running on two basic human impulses: self-exploration and curiosity about others."

Meanwhile the Christian Science Monitor has a good story today on how some employees use blogs to let off steam, and why some legal experts "warn that blogs can lead to problems for both employers and employees." John Lawlor, a business blogging strategist and author of the upcoming book Blogging Matters, says: "Blogs can be valuable for storing business communications, collaborating with colleagues, and sharing information with clients and vendors." But Christopher Wolf, a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm Proskauer Rose, advises clients not to start internal blogs and to keep a close eye on external blogs that mention the company's name.

Increasingly Unhinged
The Left is becoming increasingly unhinged. Well, at least Lefty blogger South Knox Bubba is with some wingnut conspiracy theorizing about the Bush administration and the 2004 election. Among the unsubstantiated charges paranoid claims in the post: The economic recovery (7.2% growth in the third quarter) is not real because the Bush administration cooked the economic books; Cheney is being set up to take the fall for "the misinterpretation and misrepresentation of intelligence data," and the Bush forces are setting up to steal the election via the controversial Diebold electronic voting machines "that don't keep any records of how anybody actually voted."

Hmm. SKB provides no proof of the first charge, that the Bush administration cooked the books to fake an economic "recovery." He doesn't mention the memo revealing extensive pre-war evidence of ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda, and he doesn't bother to tell you that the Diebold machines aren't going to be used in most polling places.

In otherwords, a loony hate-filled rant devoid of actual, you know, reality.

The reality is this: Bush has cut taxes, the economy is growing, we are making progress in the war on terror generally while Iraq, still a work in progress, is neither a perfect success nor a disaster, and the election will be decided not by machines but by millions of voters and - as it was in 2000 and indeed every election - the winner of the most electoral votes will be sworn in as the next president of the United States.

And regardless of who that is, we'll muddle through and make it alright because, well, because that's what America does best.

11/17/2003

Tennessee Had Big Surplus Last Year, Too
Gov. Phil Bredesen has revealed that Tennessee ended the last fiscal year with a $150 million surplus. Bredesen says more than $90 million of the surplus was due to a one-time gift from the federal government approved earlier this year to help financially strapped states., but about $59 million of the surplus was the result of spending restraint and higher-than-expected tax revenues. Amazing - because for four years before Bredesen took office, we Tennessee taxpayers were told that the state faced endless shortfalls if we didn't accept an income tax. We Tennessee taxpayers were told that the legislature simly could not cut spending enough to balance the budget. Yet here we are, no income tax, and the budget is balanced and the state - having ended last fiscal year with a sizeable surplus, is already rolling up another surplus this year.

UPDATE 11/18: The Tuesday Tennessean says the actual surplus from last year is $156 million, with $96 million being that one-time federal gift and $60 million being the result of less spending and higher-than-expected tax revenue. The paper also notes that, three months into this fiscal year, Tennessee has a $27 million surplus of revenue. The story also reports on the ongoing budget hearings in which Gov. Bredesen is seeking additional spending reductions.

The Future of Blogs in Journalism
Uber-blogger Andrew Sullivan says blogs will replace traditional editorial pages.

Sullivan said his web site now has a larger audience than The New Republic. He said bloggers are taking power away from editors and publishers, and that traditional media's way of expressing opinion will be outpaced. "The op-ed column is a dinosaur as a genre," Sullivan said. "I think that in the future, newspaper editorial pages will have five bloggers rather than five columnists."

Blogs offer users the opportunity to pick sources they trust and come to respect, forcing writers to be personally accountable information they post online. One of the ways blogs enforce this is through web links that appear with each entry. Sullivan said this is important so that readers are given the tools to form their own opinions. Sullivan believes the public is often skeptical of traditional media, which he referred to as "the man behind the curtain."
I think he's probably right. And I think it will be healthy for the news media and for the public discourse.

Sulivan made the comments during remarks at the Online News Association's 2003 Conference and Awards Banquet in Chigago. Here's a web page listing more coverage of blog-related ONA events. Some of the stories were written by students in the journalism program at the university where I work. This wasn't one of them, but I suggest you read it if you are interested in the future of blogs in journalism.

Cross-posted at Re: Blogging.

Third Word
My son Bennett, 14 months old, said his first word today other than "mama" and "dadda." It happened at a local grocery where the bakery hands out free cookies. His first real word: "cookie."

The Real Iraq
Ordinary Iraqis don't care about the whereabouts of the WMD. And they don't want Americans to leave, says New York Times reporter John Burns in an illuminating article:

And Iraqis want an end to the "Ali Babas," the bandits who terrorize neighborhoods and the roads outside Baghdad. After a narrow escape of my own from six masked, Kalashnikov-brandishing Ali Babas who leapt on the highway about an hour north of Nasiriya on Tuesday night, I could see their point. Only the swift reflexes of Abu Karar, the Iraqi driver who had helped me deal with Mr. Hussein's enforcers before the invasion, saw us through. He switched off our vehicle's lights and drove straight at the Ali Babas at 100 miles an hour, causing them to jump back from the road.

But then there is the bottom line, and it is accessible to anybody who stands on a street corner, as I did in the hours after that near-miss, covering the bombing of the Italian military police compound in Nasiriya. Gesturing toward the smoking hulk of the headquarters where at least 19 Italians and 13 Iraqis died, I asked the crowds if they thought America and its allies should pack up and go home. In the clamor that followed, I asked for quiet so that each man and boy could speak his mind. Unscientific as the poll was, the sentences that flowed expressed a common belief.

"No, no!" one man said. "If the Americans go, it will be chaos everywhere." Another shouted, "There would be a civil war."

"If the Americans, the British or the Italians leave Iraq, we will be handed back to the flunkies of Saddam, the Baathists and Al Qaeda will take over our cities," another man said.

Nobody offered a dissenting view, though many said it would be best if the Americans achieved peace and left as soon as possible. These people, at least, seemed concerned that America should know that the bombers, whoever they were, did not speak for the ordinary citizens of Iraq.

Five Lies about Internet Taxation
Dave McClure, president of the US Internet Industry Association, examines what he says are the five big lies being told by opponents of making permanent the federal ban on Internet access taxes, in this excellent piece at TechCentralStation.com. McClure's association is lobbying for making the ban permanent. Among the five lies McClure debunks are two false themes pushed by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee:

#1. This is an issue of state's rights that the federal government should not trample. Internet services are global in nature, and clearly fall within the realm of interstate commerce. According to Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution, the individual states have no right to regulate, tax or tamper with interstate commerce. Denying the states the right to tax the Internet is a cornerstone of what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution.

#3. Banning Internet Taxes is an illegal "Unfunded Mandate." In the Republican "Contract with America," Congressmen and Senators pledged they would not pass laws that required the states to spend money unless they also provided for reimbursement of that money. Nowhere in that pledge did they give the states a right to plunder the pocketbooks of working Americans. Nor does the pledge promise that the federal government won't step in to keep the states from acting in a way that harms national interests, such as taxing Internet access.
I addressed the first lie a few weeks ago in this post, where I wrote:
Alexander portrays the issue as one of states rights versus federal mandates, but that's a red herring. There's no federal mandate involved, simply a federal ban on a certain kind of taxes. The Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution clearly gives Congress the right to make laws governing interstate commerce, and the Internet clearly involves interstate commerce.
Also see this post.

Read McClure's entire TCS article for the other three lies.

The Blogged Campaign
The WaPo says "add 'blog' to the campaign lexicon" in this report on how weblogs are being used in political campaigns and ponders whether blogs are likely to have a big impact on campaigns. "Less passive than web sites, less private than email, blogs help build a sense of community among supporters, according to campaign aides and outside experts," says the Post. "But if blogs are the latest must-have for the Internet-savvy campaign, not every candidate agrees on what the sites must have." And, it continues, "some experts said it still is not clear whether blogs will make any difference to the race. The question is whether and to what extent the sites inspire political newcomers not just to chat but also to help the campaign in more tangible ways." The article says the Bush campaign blog will incorporate more "community" features - presumably, the ability of readers to post comments and such - as the campaign moves along. Let's hope so.

Denton's Growing Blog Empire
The New York Times profiles blogging entrepreneur Nick Denton and his growing collection of blog-publications. The Times says Denton's blogging venture "is catching the attention of millions of visitors a month and, increasingly, the interests of venture capitalists and New York's media elite - despite Mr. Denton's best efforts to at least feign a desire to remain under the radar."

Economic Boom Fuels Rising Revenue in Most States
From the Associated Press: Most States See Economic Gains.

The signs of growth are modest, even fragile. But in state after state, the summer brought stronger revenues, with two-thirds of the country finally seeing a brighter budget picture after the worst financial crisis since World War II. An Associated Press analysis of tax revenue in all 50 states found clear evidence of economic improvement.
I blame the Bush tax cuts!

Tennessee Budget Update
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen asks the various department of state government to prepare for a 5 percent budget trim next year, continuing the fiscal discipline that restored Tennessee to a balanced budget with no new taxes in one year - after the previous administration whined for four years that it couldn't be done.

Early forecasts show tax growth next year generating about $350 million, (Finance commissioner David] Goetz said, ''but there're always more needs than there are revenues.''
The only bad news: The Bredesen administration is already making plans to spend this year's surplus - rather than save it in a rainy day fund for next year or rebate the excess tax collections to taxpayers.

Did Iraq and al Qaeda Have Ties?
The U.S. Department of Justice says yes. The Clinton administration DOJ, that is, in a 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden and Muhammad Atef. They were indicted November 4, 1998, in Manhattan federal court for the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

According to the indictment, bin Laden and al Qaeda forged alliances with the National Islamic Front in Sudan and with representatives of the Government of Iran and its associated terrorist group Hezballah with the goal of working together against their common enemies in the West, particularly the United States. "In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq," the indictment said.
I wish I'd found it, but the "hat tip" for this find goes to Oscar Jr., which I found via the blog of Roger L. Simon. Simon comments that "the al Qaeda-Saddam link was already made by Janet Reno during the Clinton Administration. ... What this should only remind us of is what a dreary partisan game is going on."

True. The Left and the anti-Bushies are lying about the facts in order to gain partisan advantage. The Clinton administration believed there was an Iraq-al Qaeda link. The Bush administration believed the same thing. The difference is, Bush acted on it.

11/16/2003

Sunday Sermon
Michael Williams writes about "real faith." Bonus: It'll take less time to read than listening to a 30-minute sermon.

It Looked Like a Wal-Mart Job Fair
But it wasn't. Hundreds of illegal aliens showed up an a Nashville high school to meet wth officials from the Mexican consulate in Atlanta to get ID cards. Why was the INS not there to round them up and send them back to Mexico? And why does a major daily not ask why a major federal agency is failing to do its job?

11/15/2003

That Memo
Any honest person who reads this will conclude that Saddam's Iraq had significant and long-standing ties to al Qaeda. Dishonest people on the Left will attack the messenger, and dismiss the memo without disputing its facts. Or they'll say the intelligence information outlined in the memo was a Big Lie. Or they just won't talk about the memo.

But the information outlined in the memo is a giant saw, inexorably cutting through the limb on which the Left has ventured so far out. Their fall is likely to be spectacular - and very entertaining.

Dumb and Dumber
This story in today's local paper says illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants" can get an ID card from the Mexican consulate, and that some 40,000 of the cards have been issued to illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants" in Tennessean and some nearby states in recent years. The story also says there would be about 1,000 illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants" lined up to apply for the ID cards in Nashville today.

The Mexican Consulate in Atlanta is setting up shop in an Antioch high school cafeteria today to distribute an identification card that has been the subject of controversy in Tennessee and nationally.

The so-called ''matricula consular'' cards are sought by undocumented immigrants who have no other legitimate form of identification. More than 1,000 people are expected to stand for five hours in lines today at Glencliff High School to apply for the card.
I'm not going to rehash the debate over whether the ID cards should be legal or not - the story does an okay job of presenting the basics of both sides of the issue.

I just have one question. Because, you know, I pay taxes and I want my government agencies to be effective. So, where is la migre? Why doesn't the INS bring a few chartered buses to these events and take these illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants" back to Mexico? Wouldn't it have been a lot cheaper to round up 1,000 illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants" at this event today, than to do all the undercover work necessary before that raid on Wal-Mart a few weeks back that netted only a few hundred illegal aliens "undocumented immigrants"? I'm, you know, just wondering.

State Revenue Surplus Update
The Tennessean covers the state revenue surplus.

The budget is based on projected revenue growth of 3.32%. The growth rate for the most recent three-month period is 8.34%. If the trend for all tax collections continues, the state will end the fiscal year June 30 with about $110 million more than anticipated.
Hmm. Where have I heard that kind of prediction before? Oh yeah. I said it yesterday:
At its current rate of revenue growth, Tennessee could accumulate a $110 million surplus this fiscal year. Sadly, as I reported here Nov. 4, the governor and his administration are already planning to spend the surplus instead of save it in a "rainy day" reserve fund or rebate it to taxpayers. If Tennessee had a Colorado-style Taxpayers Bill of Rights, that kind of big-government fiscal irresponsibility couldn't happen.
Strangely, the Tennessean story goes out of its way to make it sound as if robust auto sales are the only reason for the sales tax increase. But as I pointed out yesterday, sales tax revenue was up in all significant sectors of the economy, not just auto sales.

Update: The Knoxville News Sentinel's Tom Humphrey reports on the surplus. Humphrey's piece raises an important point: comparing first-quarter revenues to first-quarter revenues in the prior fiscal year is not quite an apples-to-apples comparison because the state sales tax rate was increased two weeks into last fiscal year. The higher rate has been in effect for the entire 13 weeks of the first quarter of this fiscal year.

For a true apples-to-apples comparison, consider just the second and third months of this fiscal year with the second and third months of the last fiscal year. Sales tax collections in September were up a strong 4.31 percent over September 2002, and, as we noted yesterday, sales tax revenue was up 6.58 percent in October compared to October 2002. Bottom line: We have $27.6 million in extra revenue - surplus - after three months of the fiscal year and strong sales tax revenue growth has generated well over half of it, $21.1 million.

Idiot
Slate's Jacob Weisberg says President Bush "never served in the real military, only in the Texas Air National Guard." Darren Kaplan notes that members of the same unit that Bush served with were deployed to Iraq, so it would seem that Weisberg is wrong. As I've noted in posts before, the day Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard to learn to fly fighter jets, pilots from the Texas Air National Guard were flying combat missions in Vietnam.

As I wrote back on May 7, in the first of a series of posts debunking the Left's "Bush was AWOL" charge:

Incidentally, Bush flew with the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which was attached to the 147th Fighter Wing, based in Houston, Texas. While Bush's unit never got called to Vietnam, the 147th was. From 1968 through 1970, pilots from the 147th participated in operation "Palace Alert" and served in Southeast Asia during the height of the Vietnam War. The 147th came off runway alert on Jan. 1, 1970 to start a new mission of training all F-102 pilots in the United States for the Air National Guard.

Bush enlisted as an Airman Basic in the 147th Fighter-Interceptor Group at Ellington Air Force Base, Houston, on May 28, 1968 - at a time when the 147th was actively participating in combat in Vietnam. However, one can not train overnight to be a pilot. Bush completed basic flight training and then, from December 1969 through June 27, 1970, he was training full-time at Ellington to be an F-102 pilot.

Bush volunteered to serve in a unit at the very moment it was seeing combat in Vietnam, and only a restructuring of the unit's mission before he completed his flight training made it unlikely he would fly in combat.

Standing Up For Truth
Michael Williams has some rather direct comments for what he calls "Born-again non-Christians."

Blogger Under Attack
A company called "Infotel" that some have accused of less-than-honest business practices in their telemarketing efforts, is threatening to sue Justene Adamec, a West Coast attorney and blogger who publishes Calblog Instapundit has the relevant links.

Explosive, If True
A memo disributed to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee outlines evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda - including links to the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, and, possibly, the September 11 attack.

The New York Post has the story. [UPDATE: The Weekly Standard broke the story and its story is the definitive story on the memo.]

The memo goes far beyond the alleged but unproven meeting of 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and Saddam's intelligence chief in Prague in April 2001.

The relationship between Saddam and bin Laden continued to grow in the aftermath of the Cole attack when two al Qaeda terrorists were deployed to Iraq to be trained in weapons of mass destruction and to obtain information on "poisons and gases." CIA reporting shows the Saudi National Guard went on a "kingdom-wide state of alert in late December 2000 after learning Saddam agreed to assist al Qaeda in attacking U.S./U.K. interests in Saudi Arabia," the memo says.
It should be fun to watch the Left turn backflips to try to discredit the memo.

There's more on the memo here from Rantburg, and here from NRO. Exceprt of the latter:
According to the memo--which lays out the intelligence in 50 numbered points--Iraq-al Qaeda contacts began in 1990 and continued through mid-March 2003, days before the Iraq War began. Most of the numbered passages contain straight, fact-based intelligence reporting, which in some cases includes an evaluation of the credibility of the source. This reporting is often followed by commentary and analysis.

The relationship began shortly before the first Gulf War. According to reporting in the memo, bin Laden sent "emissaries to Jordan in 1990 to meet with Iraqi government officials." At some unspecified point in 1991, according to a CIA analysis, "Iraq sought Sudan's assistance to establish links to al Qaeda." The outreach went in both directions. According to 1993 CIA reporting cited in the memo, "bin Laden wanted to expand his organization's capabilities through ties with Iraq."
The Left has been screaming for evidence of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda, believing there were none. Oops.

UPDATE: Some critics will try to say this is after-the-fact justification of the invasion of Iraq. But it is not. As the Weekly Standard makes clear, the memo outlines classifed pre-war intelligence:
The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America's most determined and dangerous enemies.
UPDATE: Lefty blogger Kevin Drum responds to the memo by attacking the messenger.

11/14/2003

I'm Looking Forward to This
Dr. Meir Litvak, senior lecturer at the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and currently a visiting professor of history at Emory University in Atlanta, will speak at Belmont University in Nashville (which happens to be where I work) on Wednesday, Nov. 19. His topic: Why do Muslim Fundamentalists Have Such a Strong Dislike for the US and Israel?

Litvak's a Fulbright scholar and wrote what is considered to be a significant history of the political and religious development of the Shia Islamic shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala in the late 1800s. Najaf and Karbala are, of course, in Iraq.

It oughta be interesting. More details here. If you're in Nashville, c'mon and hear what Dr. Litvak has to say.

Fan-tastic
I just learned that Joe Bonsall, singer with the legendary Oak Ridge Boys, is a fan of my blog. Very cool. And I just learned from the Oak's website that - like me - Bonsall is from Philadelphia. How come I didn't know that before?

Joe - you should start a blog.

The Real Iraq
Donald Sensing has blogged this article written by U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee - my congressman - about her recent trip to Iraq. Blackburn:

When you are on the ground in Iraq, you see the progress of the Iraqi Governing Council, the ministry heads, and the constitution writing committee. These men and women readily accept the task of setting their country back on a firm footing and see it as their duty to work quickly and fairly, assessing the progress and taking the setbacks in stride.
You really should read the whole article - it's another case where a person of credibility who visits Iraq returns with completely different picture of the facts on the ground than the picture presented by the mainstream news media.

Shifting the Blame
Who is to blame for the media not portraying the full story on what's really happening in Iraq? Why, it's President Bush's fault, says this editorial from the Thursday edition of The Tennessean:

President Bush recently asserted that the media reports from Iraq didn't accurately capture the progress being made there. Any confusion about the status quo in Iraq must be laid at the feet of his administration.
Huh. And I thought the media was responsible for what media reports do or don't include.

Tennessee Surplus Update
As usual, you get the news of the Tennessee's monthly revenue reports first here at HobbsOnline. After three months of tax collections for the current fiscal year, Tennessee state government has a surplus of $27.6 million, of which $24 million is in the state's general fund. That's down slightly from the $30.2 million accumulated surplus one month ago, but the decline can be attributed to the state refunding excess franchise-excise taxes from businesses last year.

According to the October revenue data just released at 11 a.m. today by the Tennessee Department of Finance & Administration, the Department of Revenue collected $643.4 million in taxes in October, which is just $2.6 million less than the budgeted estimates.

The much-maligned sales tax - blamed in recent years by income tax proponents for cause revenue shortfalls - turned in another surplus in October with collections totaling $4.1 million more than the estimate. October revenue is based on September retail sales. For the first three months of the fiscal year, the sales tax has produced $21.1 million in surplus revenue.

Data from F&A shows that sales tax revenue was up 6.58 percent in October compared to October 2002, and is up 7.85 for the first quarter of FY 2003-04 compared to the same three months at the start of FY 2002-03. The monthly increase is a pure apples-to-apples comparison, with the state's recent sales tax rate increase being in full effect in October 2002 same as in October 2003 - hence, the 6.58 percent growth in sales tax revenue reflects not only more sales tax revenue growth than the state's panel of economist advisers had anticipated, but also reflects a state economy that is growing faster than anticipated.

Total revenue from all taxes was up 7.21 percent in October compared to October 2002, and up 8.34 percent for the three-month period.

At its current rate of revenue growth, Tennessee could accumulate a $110 million surplus this fiscal year. Sadly, as I reported here Nov. 4, the governor and his administration are already planning to spend the surplus instead of save it in a "rainy day" reserve fund or rebate it to taxpayers. If Tennessee had a Colorado-style Taxpayers Bill of Rights, that kind of big-government fiscal irresponsibility couldn't happen.

UDPATE: Here's the press release from the Tennessee Department of Revenue. The F&A press release and accompanying Excel spreadsheet, which together provide detail not included in the Department of Revenue press release, is not posted online. It should be.

The Revenue press release does have more detail on the growth in sales tax revenue, indicating that sales tax revenue was up in all significant sectors of the economy including retail sales (up 7.4 percent) over October 2002, auto dealers and service stations (up 8.2 percent), building materials stores (up 21.3 percent), general merchandise stores (up 7 percent), miscellaneous retail stores (up 8.6 percent), eating and drinking places (up 6.6 percent), apparel and accessory stores (up 10.3 percent), and more. This, clearly, is a broad-based economic recovery under way in Tennessee.

The People Disagree
Governing magazine has named Alabama Gov. Bob Riley one of its "Public Officials of the Year," calling his stubborn push for a massive tax increase a "profile in courage." The voters in Alabama rejected his tax increase in a landslide, but that doesn't matter to Governing, which favors higher taxes and bigger government budgets. It is Governing magazine, after all - not Taxpayers magazine.

I've written before about Governing's bias.

Meanwhile, here's a good analysis from Patrick Cotter, co-director of Southern Opinion Research (a public opinion survey firm in Tuscaloosa) and professor political science at the University of Alabama, on why Riley failed to persuade Alabamians to support his tax reform/tax increase. Bottom line: Alabamians distrust their state government.

Against such distrust, Riley didn't not show "courage" in pushing a tax plan few people wanted. He showed political arrogance and tactical stupidity. Governing thinks that's worth an award.

Ripple Effects
From Victor Davis Hanson

Americans once feared to retaliate against random bombings; terrorists now wonder when we will stop - as the logic of September 11 methodically advances to its ultimate conclusion. Aroused democracies reply murderously to enemy assaults in a manner absolutely inconceivable to their naïve attackers.
As always with VDH, read the whole thing.

Iran's Nukes
Amir Taheri says Iran is brewing up a recipe for disaster.

Bye, Ted. Please Don't Come Back
The loathsome Ted Rall is going to Iraq. Joining the "resistance," Ted?

Wow, Again
Last week came the news of the development of a "Liquid Drano" for arteries that has shown promise in reversing heart disease in a matter of weeks. Now comes news of a potential new treatment for type 1 diabetes that - rather than simply managing the disease, may cure it.

USA Today: Tax Cuts Boost Economy
There's a rather startling story in today's USA Today admitting that the Bush tax cuts will boost the economy. That - also called "supply side" economics - is something the mainstream media rarely admits and often goes out of its way to deny.

Taxpayers' refund checks will increase nearly 27% to an average $2,500 per family early next year, according to new forecasts from tax experts and economists, who say the windfalls will aid consumers, the economy and President Bush's re-election campaign.

As a result of the 2003 tax cut, about 8 million families who did not receive refunds this year will likely get them in 2004, says tax software publisher Petz Enterprises. It estimates refunds for the tax season will go to 108 million households vs. 100 million this year and will total $227 billion. That's up 38% from 2003. Merrill Lynch estimates total refunds from February through May will be up 34% from this year.

The Treasury Department estimates it will collect $100 billion less in taxes in the first half of 2004 than it would have without the tax cut. That reflects not only the higher refunds but also reduced tax payments by those who don't get refunds.

The refunds will fatten bank accounts and, if spent, boost the economy because consumer spending accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity. That will help ensure that the economic gains underway do not fizzle out, and it will ultimately benefit the 9 million Americans who are out of work.
The economic recover is underway. And USA Today blames the Bush tax cuts!

UPDATE: This story from the Associated Press, says rising hotel and travel bookings suggests a surge in travel in 2004. Tourism is the world's largest single industry. If it's starting to boom, the economic recovery is definitely strong and definitely for real. I blame the...

Is Howard Dean Lying?
Sydney Smith wonders if Howard Dean isn't telling the truth about his work as a physician.

Dr. Dean is guilty of just as much exaggeration, but he isn't getting any of the scrutiny he deserves. As Dean himself acknowledges, he's an internist. And internists - despite his touching story of teen pregnancy and photo-ops with babies - don't treat children. They treat adults. Dean's claim to have treated patients ages five to 105 is dubious at best, and it calls into question the rest of his story.

Four Brains, One Blog
There's a new technology weblog by four guys connected with MIT. Check it out.

Days and Confused
I took yesterday off to be there when my boy, age 14 months, had surgery to put tubes in in his ears. Now I can't shake the feeling that yesterday was Saturday and today is Sunday, even though I know it's Friday and I'm getting ready to go to work. Weird.

11/13/2003

Some People Don't Believe in Miracles
On the eve of surgery, a child's cancer simply vanishes. The news coverage doesn't indicate one way or the other, but I'd bet money prayer was involved. This story reminds me of another story, that I heard about five or six years ago while watching a local television program here in Nashville.

A young African-American gospel musician - I don't recall his name - told the host about his experience being diagnosed with some sort of cancer. (Again, I don't recall the details - if you happen to know more about this amazing case, please fill me in!) The doctor ran tests and the numbers indicated the cancer was very advanced, and the doctor suggested the musician begin chemo immediately. The musician said no, he needed 30 days, because he intended to consult a specialist. The doctor inquired if the specialist was God, and again urged the musician to start chemo immediately.

But the musician insisted - and spent the next 30 days having people pray for him. Lots of people. Lots of prayer. And 30 days later his cancer was gone. Thanks to the the ultimate "specialist," God, a God of Wonders.

The Real Economy
Economist Brian Wesbury discusses the economy.

The economy is not in bad shape. In fact, it's growing and even if pessimism is everywhere, there will be glory in the end. That's the view Brian Wesbury, chief economist at the Chicago-based investment bank of Griffin, Kubik, Stephens & Thompson Inc., carried to Great Lakes Bank's annual economic breakfast. According to Wesbury, who also spoke at the bank's breakfast last year, national deficits are essential, jobs will be plentiful and there is no evidence of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

"Deficits are essential investments in our future to get the economy moving again, which it is," he said to the crowd of businessmen and women. "In the early 1980s, the U.S., in my opinion, was making incredibly powerful investments with (President) Reagan cutting taxes and putting so much pressure on Russia that the Cold War ended. Then (President) Clinton came in and inherited an economy that was high in technology investments and inherited a world at peace. But the only way Clinton ended up with the surplus he had was because Reagan invested and understood the theory of no risk, no rewards."
In 1995 and 1996, Wesbury served as chief economist for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, advising members of Congress on economic issues relating to federal budget, tax, trade, and monetary policy.

Here's another recent article featuring Wesbury and his take on the economy and how the media is ignoring the new "Bush Boom."

11/12/2003

A Worthy Cause
AK-47 in Baghdad: $80

Plane ticket from New York-LaGuardia to Amman, Jordan, via American Airlines and Royal Jordanian Airlines, $1,847

Bus ticket from Amman to Baghdad: $600 to $1,000

Sending the loathsome Ted Rall to join the "Iraqi resistance forces," and never hearing from him again: Priceless.

I'll chip in.

UPDATE: Michael J. Totten calls Rall "The Ultimate Wingnut." Also, in comments below Totten's post, someone named "Tim" who, it seems, also writes at a blog called Four Right Wing Wackos, writes

If Rall =really= believes this stuff, and if he =really= supports the violent "Iraqi insurgency", and if he is in the United States penning this dreck, does that make him a chickenhawk?
Heh.

A Crime in Progress
The bureaucracy never liked "open records" and "open meetings" laws so forgive me for being a bit skeptical about an audit mentioned in this report that claims Tennessee's open records law makes identity theft easier in the state. The report says. On the other hand, it seems to make clear Tennessee has made it very, very easy for criminals and would-be terrorists to get access to the kind of documents they shouldn't have...

Tennessee laws providing public access to birth certificates and other vital records invite identity theft and should be changed to require tighter restrictions on who is allowed to see them, a state comptroller's audit says. "The birth certificate in some cases is a key to obtaining a Social Security card, driver's license and credit cards for use in committing crimes," the audit noted. "The perpetrator knows this and uses the system to his or her advantage."
The story also notes the role that current Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell - then a state legislator - played in passing one of the most liberal open-records laws in the nation back in the late 1980s.
State Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, recalled that Purcell, an advocate for open government, made his mark early in his career as "the public records act guru and guardian of records.

"He did a big study on that and kind of showed everybody that he could handle an issue on that, and we passed this big comprehensive law on open records."

Purcell conducted a series of public hearings on the issue in the late 1980s after other lawmakers attempted to close public information. Efforts to reach him yesterday were unsuccessful, but his senior policy adviser, Patrick Willard, said Purcell sponsored the legislation following an opinion from then state Attorney General Charles Burson that certificates of birth, death, marriage, divorce or annulment were confidential.

"He sponsored it at that time on the premise that records about births and deaths are open and should be open to the public and were understood to be open to the public," Willard said.
But as of three years ago, only 13 other states had such open access to birth records, allowing virtually anyone to review birth records or purchase a copy of any birth certificate from the issuing agency as long as they know the name and birth date of the person listed on the birth certificate.
"Numerous studies have been conducted over the years and have found that birth certificates are used as 'breeder documents' to create new identities,'' the audit said. "While originally intended for the sole purpose of birth registration, birth certificates are now used extensively for employment purposes and to obtain benefits or other documents used for identification."

In Tennessee, copies of birth certificates can be obtained in person, by mail, or via the Internet. Neither state law nor Health Department rules require persons requesting certified copies of vital records to provide proof of their identity.
Tennessee is also one of the states that makes it simple for illegal aliens to get a driver's license without providing any real proof of their identity. So now, whether you're a small-time ID thief or a terrorist needing new falsified ID documents that will allow you to get on a plane, come to Tennessee. We hand them out like candy on Halloween.

The Real Iraq
Bob Arnot has the details. Read the whole thing. And stop listening the doom-and-gloomers and the cut-and-run club. We're winning.

Humor Break
I found this via this post at Michael Williams' blog. Enjoy...

A Perpetual Tax Machine
Joseph R. Crosby, legislative director for the Council On State Taxation, emailed me a link to this report from the highly respected Mackinac Center for Public Policy on the credibility - or lack thereof - of the MultiState Tax Commission, which is fighting the renewal of the ban on Internet access taxes.

Among the most vocal opponents of this tax relief is the Multistate Tax Commission (MTC), a Washington, D.C.-based group representing 45 states, which promotes uniformity in tax laws as well as more rigorous tax collections. Member states finance the commission based, in part, on the amount of revenue each collects from income, sales and other taxes. This type of funding formula means that the commission stands to gain financially - intentionally or otherwise - by advocating policies that increase state taxes. Citizens would do well to question whether their interests are best served by this use of their tax dollars.

Michigan taxpayers, for example, are paying $273,568 to the MTC for the current fiscal year. While this may seem a paltry sum in a $38 billion state budget, commission activities influence public policies that can significantly raise tax bills for families and the businesses that employ them.

In essence, the MTC is a perpetual tax machine, spending taxpayer dollars in pursuit of higher taxes. (And for all its emphasis on taxpayer accountability, the commission itself falls somewhat short. The states’ compact requires the commission to submit an annual report to governors and legislatures, but only one has been issued in the past five years.)
I've previously written about the MTC and COST. I'll dig up those links and add them here soon. I'll also be looking for information on if Tennessee helps fund the MTC (I'm guessing yes) and how much of the taxpayers of Tennessee are spending to fund an organization that is working to raise their taxes.

UPDATE: For past posts on the Multistate Tax Commission, click here and follow the links.

UPDATE: Tennessee is an associate member of the Multistate Tax Commission.

UPDATE: Bill Bradley, director of the division of budget, Department of Finance & Administration, for the state of Tennessee, responded to my email query and says the Tennessee Department of Revenue pays the Multistate Tax Commission dues, $21,400 in the current year. That's small change, but it's still the government using tax dollars to help fund an organization whose primary purpose is to make sure states can tax you as much as possible. On the issue of Internet access taxation, the MTC has taken the position that Congress should not be in the business of telling the states what they can and can't tax. But of course Intrnet access and Internet-delivered services such as email are inherently matters of interstate commerce, which the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution reserves for Congress to regulate and, in fact, prohibits states from regulating or taxing.

But the MTC is just doing the bidding of its creators - the states - who do not like to be told there are certain things they may not tax. The MTC is just fighting to raise your taxes (if you live in the states where the ban is in force) or prevent them from being reduced (if you live in Tennessee or one of the other handful of states that had Internet access taxes in place before the ban was enacted five years ago.) And the MTC, and Tennessee, are using your tax dollars to lobby Congress against renewing the ban. It is a clear case of the state working against the interests of its citizens, and ought not to be permitted to continue.

Eco-Terrorism Update
Apparently, there's a move on in New York to designate domestic environmental groups that perpetrate violent acts as terrorist organizations. Good.

11/11/2003

Sinking Hopes
Dean Esmay weighs in on the media's one-sided portrayal of combat in Iraq - focusing only on dead American soldiers and not reporting on how many of the enemy are being killed or captured, and isolating each death as a separate event rather than reporting on events in a strategic light. In a comment below his post, one wag tried to revive the "Vietnam quagmire" meme by commenting, "I seem to recall another conflict where we had a good 'kill ratio': Vietnam."

But the point of Esmay's post and mine about the media ignoring enemy deaths in Iraq isn't to track the "kill ratio." The point is the media focuses on only one side of each battle.

These are photos of the USS Yorktown taken during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, during World War 2 in the Pacific. You can click the photos to see larger images.

The first photo shows the Yorktown as it is under attack by Japanese torpedo bombers. The second photo shows the Yorktown ablaze.

The Yorktown sustained a lot of damage. The second photo shows the scene on board shortly after she was hit by three Japanese bombs. The dense smoke is from fires in her uptakes, caused by a bomb that punctured them and knocked out her boilers. The Yorktown was still burning an hour later while crew attempted to make repairs.

Salvage crews pushed guns, aircraft and other removable weights over the side, counterflooded the ship to reduce the list and did many other things to try to save the ship. The USS Hammann, a destroyer, stayed alongside Yorktown to provide power, water and other assistance.



Midday June 6, however, an undetected Japanese submarine fired four torpedoes, hitting Hammann and Yorktown amidships on their starboard sides. The Hammann sank in minutes, and many of her crew were killed or badly injured in the water when her depth charges exploded as she sank. Yorktown remained afloat, however, lasting through the night despite large torpedo holes on both sides amidships. But as the sun rose on June 7, 1942, the Yorktown slipped beneath the waves and sank three miles to the bottom of the ocean.

Imagine if the press had reported that, at the Battle of Midway only that the Japanese had attacked and sunk the USS Yorktown. Americans reading and hearing that press coverage, not knowing that the U.S. had sunk FOUR Japanese carriers and wreaked great damage on the navy of the Empire of Japan, might have begun to lose hope in the war effort.

If all you know of the Battle of Midway is the sinking of the Yorktown - if all you know of the Battle of Midway is these pictures - then you don't know the truth about the Battle of Midway.

You don't know that the Japanese lost four of the six aircraft carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor - the Akagi, the Kaga, the Hiryu, and the Soryu, sent to their deserved final resting place - and more than one hundred trained pilots. You don't know that the United States victory at Midway derailed the Japanese offensive in the Pacific, postponed their plans to invade New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa, and turned the tide in the Pacific. You don't know that, in a strategic sense, the United States started to win World War 2 in the Pacific at the Battle of Midway.

I understand why the press covers the deaths of even a single American soldier in Iraq. In a war where we have accomplished so much at so small a cost in human lives, each death of an American soldier is news precisely because we have lost so few. Can you imagine Dan Rather reporting from the Battle of the Bulge, or Normandy on D-Day, or Iwo Jima on the death of one American soldier? Of course not.

During past wars, the death of one soldier was not news as it happened hundreds and even thousands of times a day. But if the press is going to report each death of an American soldier in Iraq, it should be fair and put those deaths in context. And part of that context is how the enemy fares after attacking U.S. troops

We lost the Yorktown at Midway. But we started to win the war that day, too. Just like we're winning today in Iraq.

The big difference:

Back then, the American press wasn't ashamed to be on our side.

UPDATE: Darren Kaplan has some related thoughts.

UPDATE: A ton of phenomenal Battle of Midway/Yorktown photos here - and a real nice shot of the Hiryu burning, with a huge hole in her flight deck. And this page provides details on the sinking of the Japanese cruiser Mikuma at the end of the Battle of Midway.

UPDATE: I have deleted this photo from this post, purporting the show the Yorktown having rolled over shortly before slipping beneath the waves, because there is growing evidence the photo is not of the Yorktown and that the Yorktown did not roll over before sinking.

UPDATE: Here's a story about the Battle of Midway through the eyes of some men who survived it.

The U.S. lost two ships, and 147 carrier and land-based aircraft at Midway. Japan lost five ships, and 322 carrier-based aircraft. 362 Americans were killed in the Battle of Midway, along with an estimated 3,057 Japanese.

Midway survivor Airman Lee McCleary: "I'm not a hero. The heroes are the guys who didn't come back."

You're wrong, Mr. McLeary. You are a hero, too.

A Commercial for Nashville
Not only is the Nashville area real estate industry on pace to set a record for home sales this year - some 68 homes costing $1 million or more have changed hands so this year in Nashville, compared to 66 last year. reports today's Tennessean. A local real estate agent tells the paper that buyers of the million-dollar-plus homes include area residents and out-of-state executives who have moved here as part of their company's relocation to Nashville.

And there is another group of buyers for such homes, the real estate agent said: Wealthy people who move to Nashville because it is a city that nurtures entrepreneurs.

The Jobs-More Recovery
A USA Today story says the economy will add 2.7 million jobs over the next, from the fourth quarter of 2003 to the fourth quarter of 2004. That should ensure that nine Democrats don't get the job they want. By the way, Steven Antler thinks that's low - and thinks we have already gained back all the jobs lost during the recession. And he's the EconoPundit.

A Good Question
Brendan Miniter, the assistant editor of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal.com, examines why, as he puts it, "The death of an American soldier is front page news, while the death of his attacker is buried deep inside the paper, if reported at all." It mirrors what I said yesterday in comments about USA Today's story on Alpha Company, only he says it with a lot more detail. Don't miss it. [Hat tip: Dean Esmay

All The News That's Beside the Point
The New York Times sends a reporter to Iran to cover a momentous cultural story. No, not the democracy movement. No, not the very pro-American attitudes of Iran's younger adults. An Internet matchmaking service.

Just a Reminder
Michael Williams reminds us - and Ralph Nader - that, under any reasonable recount method, George Bush really did win the state of Florida in 2000, according to the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which conducted the six-month study for a consortium of eight news media companies, including CNN. That includes the form of recount Gore sought - a hand recount limited to just four heavily Democratic counties. As the 2004 election campaign season heats up, anything you hear to the contrary from still-bitter Democrats is just counter-factual spin and addled-brain conspiracy theory.

11/10/2003

Do They Believe That, Too?
Here's a New York Times story about the difficulties in democratizing the Middle East. The story is fine, for the most part - a look at how the grand and good vision outlined by President Bush in his historic speech last week before the National Endowment for Democracy calling for the Middle Eastern nations to embrace democracy. But the kicker is at the end: a statement, damning the United States, that the Times allows to stand unchallenged:

"No individual, or group, has ever commissioned Bush to safeguard their rights, nor is he responsible for supporting anyone here," Hamidreza Asefi, a spokesman for the Iran's foreign ministry, said in a statement carried by the Islamic Republic News Agency. "And basically, keeping in mind the dark record of the United States in suppressing the democratic movements around the globe, he is not in a position to talk about such issues."
And so, a mouthpiece for the Islamo-fascist government of Iran - a regime that sponsors the terrorist organizations Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terror groups in the Persian Gulf region, Africa, and Central Asia, is considered a wellspring of global Islamist terror - is allowed to accuse the United States of great, but unspecified, evils, and the editors of the New York Times see no need to call him on it, nor offer an opposing point of view.

A Nashville Housing Boom
From NashvillePost.com (subscription required):

With 2,909 home closings reported in the month of October, the Nashville area saw a 25 percent increase from the same period last year. Figures were provided by RealTracs Solutions through the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors. Year-to-date closings are 26,833, a 12 percent increase from the 23,960 closings reported through October 2002.
The greater Nashville area is on pace for a record year for home sales, as every month this year the number of homes sold has been higher than the same month in 2002.

The data provides an interesting perspective on the Nashville area economy, given this story in today's Tennessean that says, in effect, Nashville's economy was reasonably healthy throughout the recession, making it difficult to detect locally the stronger economic recovery now underway nationally. The very strong housing sales data is either evidence of that thesis - or evidence that the Tennessean reporter wasn't looking very hard.

For Veterans Day
Donald Sensing explains what it really means to be a veteran. Not to be missed. And do NOT miss this from South Knox Bubba.

It's amazing how, though the world is much different now than back during World War 2, and all-the-more different than it was in 1918, when the end of WW1 lead to the creation of Veterans Day, it is still in many way the same: There still are enemies of freedom - murderous totalitarians and would-be totalitarians of one ideological stripe or another - loose in various parts of this world. And there still are Americans who are willing to go and try to stop them.

A New Line of Attack
Bruce Bartlett says the Democrats are getting new marching orders and will soon alter their economic talking points to reflect a new line of attack. Out: complaints about a sluggish economy and a "jobless recovery." In: complaints about inflation and rising interest rates. The change is "necessitated by excellent recent data on growth and jobs," says Bartlett, in a must-read anaylsis of Sunday's New York Times editorial on the economy. [Hat tip: EconoPundit Steven Antler]

Amazing
Don't miss today's USA Today profile of Alpha Company, on duty in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, in the "Sunni triangle." Deep in the main story is this nugget:

In six months, the learning curve for these GIs has been dramatic. Their quick and overwhelming counter-fire in the face of ambushes has, their officers believe, quelled direct assaults by the enemy, causing insurgents to rely more on roadside-detonated bombs. The battalion lost its first soldier to an RPG attack in October.

"When I told these guys to assault or charge or shoot back, nobody got scared, nobody was still down. Everybody just got up and started shooting," says Staff Sgt. Jimmy Ha, 24, of Aua, American Samoa, as he leads his squad on foot patrol. "We were getting them first, before they get us."
It seems the good guys are getting better at stopping the bad guys - hence the increase in non-traditional and strategically ineffective methods of attack such as the home-made roadside bomb.

Alpha Company is part of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, which has experienced among the highest number of daily attacks from enemy fighters in Iraq and suffered six American soldiers killed since July. You've heard about every single one of those attacks from the mainstream American news media. But did you know that Alpha Company alone has killed 47 enemy fighters in raids and ambush counter-attacks? That tidbit of good news is buried in the USA Today story, and such good news is largely ignored by the mainstream press, which mostly portrays Iraq as a one-sided killing field where only Americans die. The truth is, the bad guys are dying - and doing so in much larger numbers.

The sidebars profiling several of the men of Alpha Company are moving, including the one profiling 1st Sgt. Jose Oquendo, the senior enlisted officer of Alpha Company. He could have retired six weeks ago, having finished his 20-year Army commitment, but decided to stay on for the duration - until Alpha Company comes home - in April.
By e-mail and satellite phone, he conferred with his wife, Sandra, about delaying his retirement for the duration of the company's time in Iraq. The couple has two daughters, ages 16 and 7. "I was afraid that she would get upset about it, but she was very, very supportive," he says. "I got to take these guys back."
I'm going to pray daily for Sgt. Oquendo by name until he comes home.

The USA Today stories are not all positive gloss - they reveal the hardships and the toll it has taken on the men of Alpha Company. But in the end it's the kind of story that makes you proud, very proud.

We're winning.

Our Gloomy Economy
Steven Antler has an important economic announcement. I won't steal his thunder. Go read the whole thing.

Quagmire Update
Here's more coverage of how poorly things are going in Iraq.

Iraq's crude oil exports are rebounding and may surpass $1 billion this month as repairs and improved security in the southern section of the country make it possible to boost output from the nation's biggest oilfields. Iraq, holder of the world's second largest oil reserves, exported 1.15 million barrels of crude a day in October, according to a Bloomberg survey of producers and analysts, almost triple the 400,000 barrels a day shipped in July. October's exports were worth about $890 million, based on an average price of $25 per barrel. The value will surpass $1 billion this month assuming exports increase at the same 15 percent rate they did last month. That assumption is consistent with a forecast from Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization that the country will export 2 million barrels a day by March.

"We've repaired pumping stations and gas-oil separation plants and restored the power,'' said Scott Saunders, spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington. "We've got the infrastructure in the south under control,'' he said.

Rising oil exports will help fund Iraq's interim administration and may give President George W. Bush an example of progress in the country as guerilla attacks mount.
Huh. Progress in Iraq. Why haven't we heard more about this?

Blogging Polticos ... and "Microjournalism"
Wired.com looks at the new "community" blog resource planned by Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark. I don't care for Clark's politics, but his campaign's approach to using the Internet and blogs is certainly interesting.

Also in the same topical vicinity - blogs - is this from MediaPost.com, which examines the role and impact of blogs and "social networking" software on the news business. MediaPost.com is a new addition to my blogroll, under the "Media" category.

And Editor&Publisher has a story on blogging freelance journalist Chris Allbritton, who raised donations via his blog to fund a reporting trip to northern Iraq, where he reported on the war and its impact on the Kurds.

His coverage of the war was very different than that of traditional embedded journalists. His blog spends ample time musing on the future of Iraq and his observations on the transitional society he sees around him. Further, Allbritton uses his intense personal interest in the plight of the Kurds to discuss their ordeal in great detail - an issue he feels the mainstream press is uninterested in and often ignores.

"The Kurds were our best allies," Allbritton said. "They had 70,000 troops [in the American-led coalition], the Brits had 30 or 40,000."

Allbritton faults the "absolutely awful" war coverage by television outlets, but feels that newspapers, particularly
The New York Times and The Washington Post, did an admirable job of covering the war. Allbritton also insists coverage such as his, which he believes benefited from its independence from the influence of editors and corporate-owned newspapers, should not be a substitute for more established media outlets.

"I feel that this type of microjournalism, or guerrilla journalism, should really be an addition to your media diet," Allbritton said. "Maybe the vitamins or the garnish rather than some kind of replacement for
The New York Times. No one has a monopoly on the truth. It's usually better for readers or the public to go to several different sources and try to get as much of the mosaic of the truth as possible. I was part of that. I felt it was important to have someone in there without adding any kind of filter."

Allbritton says he utilized his close contact with his readers to create a more interactive style of journalism: "My readers e-mailed me and asked me to investigate stories. They would suggest story ideas. I didn't have one editor to answer to, I had thousands. And that was a new way of doing journalism."
This is part of the future of journalism - individuals using technology to reclaim for themselves the freedom - and the power - of the press.

The Real War
Check out Jihad Watch for the latest updates in the war against Islamist terror. Especially useful now as al Qaeda has launched attacks in Saudi Arabia.

The Cycle of Blog Life
A weblog by a professor at the university where I work gets a mention (but, sadly, not a URL) in a story in the local newspaper. I helped the professor set up the weblog, so I'm rather proud of this. If you're interested in the topic of business entrepreneurialism, be sure to check out Dr. Cornwall's blog, The Entrepreneurial Mind. Interesting side note: blogs are mainstream enough now that the paper didn't feel the need to explain what a "web log" is.

Two for Tennessee
Tennessee beat Miami on Sunday. No, actually, it was worse than that. They beat 'em so bad the starters rested in the fourth quarter. Tennessee’s defense intercepted Brian Griese three times and sacked him four times, forcing three fumbles. They shut down Ricky Williams. They scored almost at will, and set a franchise record with their sixth straight game of 30-plus points. The Titans are 7-2. Their remaining seven opponents are the Jags, Colts, Bills and Bucs at home and Jets, Falcons and Texans on the road. 13-3 or even 14-2 are not out of the question. Is there a better quarterback in the league right now than Steve McNair? A better defense? No. Those of you who cheer for some other NFL team will just have to get used to it.

And, ahem, some other Tennessee team also beat some other overrated Miami team on Saturday.

Atheists at Church?
In a post yesterday, I linked to and gave you an excerpt of a sermon which touched on the notion among some Christian theologians that Jesus was not divine.

A reader - okay, my dad - forwarded me an email newsletter that contained a link to this story about a poll by Harris Interactive that found that, amazingly, 10 percent of Protestants, 21 percent of Roman Catholics, and 52 percent of Jews do not believe in God.

While 79 percent of Americans believe there is a God, only 66 percent are absolutely certain of it. Nine percent do not believe in God and 12 percent aren't sure. And weirdly, not everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian or a Jew actually believes in God.
Harris Interactive also reports that 82 percent of Midwesterners and Southerners believe in God, compared with 75 percent in the East and West. A few other bits of data from the survey:
84 percent of women believe in God, compared with 73 percent of men.
91 percent of African Americans believe in God, compared with 81 percent of Hispanics and 78 percent of whites.
87 percent of Republicans believe in God, compared with 78 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Independents.

Howard Dean Makes History
Howard Dean says he will reject public financing for his campaign, and John Kerry says he might do the same. reject public financing. Also, Scott Ott has more on Dean's decision to forego campaign welfare.

This is believed to be the first time in history a Democrat has ever suggested there was a better way than relying on the public dole.

Who Will This Help?
Dean Esmay pointed me to this from the Gallup Poll:

Consumer perceptions of the economy changed dramatically between late October and early November, according to a new Gallup Poll, conducted Nov. 3-5. Consumer optimism is now at its highest level in more than 18 months. Consumer spending intentions are more positive than they have been at any point since 9/11. Add this attitudinal economic data to the surge in economic growth during the third quarter and the new job growth reported by the Labor Department and there is every reason for retailers to be extremely optimistic about consumer spending during the upcoming holidays.

According to the early November poll, many more consumers now say economic conditions are 'getting better' (53%) than say they are getting worse (37%) - a difference of +16 percentage points. Although there was also a net positive reading for this question in late October, the difference for that month between the "getting better" (47%) and "getting worse" (43%) responses was only +4 percentage points. This means consumers are significantly more optimistic about the future prospects for the U.S. economy than they were in October, and represents a complete turnaround from September, when the difference was –10 percentage points. More importantly, this is the first time since May 2002 that the percentage of Americans saying they think economic conditions are getting better rather than worse has surpassed the 50% mark.
Spokesman for the campaigns of Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Al Sharpton, Wesley Clark, Carol Moseley-Braun, Joe Leiberman, Dick Gephart, John Edwards and John Kerry all immediately disputed the Gallup Poll data - and flatly rejected the notion that the above named candidates were deeply depressed by the poll results.

Carnival of the Capitalists 5
The fifth edition of the Carnival of the Capitalists, a weekly roundup of economy/business bloggage, is up at The Accidental Jedi. I'll be back later... got some reading to do!

11/9/2003

Sunday Sermon
I haven't written about the controversy in the Episcopal Church about the confirmation of a gay bishop because, well, because I generally leave the theology blogging to the likes of Donald Sensing, but today I give you a link to pre-prepared text and audio of the sermon I had at church today regarding heresy and its roots:

The United States Episcopal Church has recently ordained its first openly homosexual bishop. That event didn’t occur in a vacuum and without historical preparation. The larger Anglican Church, of which the U.S. Episcopal Church is part, had many of its leaders to follow the lead of John Hick. [Ed note: the next paragraph is from Hick's book, The Myth of God Incarnate, published in 1977.]
In the nineteenth century, Western Christianity made two major new adjustments in response to important enlargements of human knowledge. It accepted that man is part of nature and has emerged within the evolution of the form of life on this earth; and it accepted that the books of the Bible were written by a variety of human beings in a variety of circumstances, and cannot be accorded a verbal divine authority. … [A]nother major theological development is called for in this last part of the twentieth century. The need arises from growing knowledge of Christian origins, and involves a recognition that Jesus was (as he is presented in Acts 2:21) 'a man approved by God' for a special role within the divine purpose, and that the later conception of his as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity living a human life, is a mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us. This recognition is called for in the interests of truth; but it also has increasingly important practical implications for our relationship to the peoples of the other great world religions.
The position Hick argued for in 1977 is similar to that of John’s nemesis, Cerinthus! Jesus was a righteous man whose piety was at the center of his marvelous influence. But the notion that he was God incarnate was untenable for him. So the logical and inevitable next move is to embrace ethical relativism with a vengeance and to say that biblical strictures against homosexuality are no longer tenable either. The consecration of Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire may create a permanent break in the larger Anglican fellowship. A false im-pression of Christ has finally created so stark and public a false ex-pression of Christian faith and lifestyle that division seems inevitable. It is a graphic public example of how one leads to the other.
I have long been able to worship with any Christians who affirm the basic doctrine that Jesus was God incarnate, that he was killed on a Roman cross, rose to life again and ascended to heaven, and that salvation is by God's grace through faith in Jesus - no matter our differences on non-core issues (of which there are thousands). But Christians who claim Jesus was just a man confuse me. If they don't believe Jesus is who he said he was... why do they get out of bed on Sunday to worship him? If I thought Jesus was just a man, not God in the flesh, I'd sleep in on Sundays. No need to waste good sleep time praising a liar.

I'll be interested to read Don Sensing's thoughts on the impact of Hick's book on the Anglican church and the wider Christian world in general. (Not that I'm giving out assignments to other bloggers!)

11/7/2003

Thanks!
I've received several tips and donations via Amazon and PayPal in the last few days, mostly from anonymous donars. One, "mocha," gets a big thank you. I appreciate the gift - and the compliment.

Dean Takes New Attack Angle On Economy
By golly, that Howard Dean is smart. he's figured out President Bush's weakness on economic issues. I'd try to provide an opposing point of view, but I'm too busy working right now... (Once you click the above link, just keep scrolling - lots of good stuff.)

The Incredible American Job-Creating Machine
Quick: What year did 33 million Americans lose their jobs? Answer: 2000 - the year the Clinton-era economic boom peaked. Clintonomics resulted in 33 million Americans losing their jobs in one year. Okay, I'm being a bit facetious there - but it is true that 33 million Americans lost their jobs in 2000.

I learned that from a fantastic op-ed in today's New York Times by W. Michael Cox, chief economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Richard Alm, his co-author on the book Myths of Rich and Poor: Why We're Better Off than We Think, which you can buy here from Amazon.

Here's an excerpt from their op-ed:

Large-scale upheaval in jobs is part of the economy; the impetus for it comes from technology, changing trading patterns and shifting consumer demand. History tells us that the result will be even more jobs, greater productivity and higher incomes for American workers in general.

New Bureau of Labor Statistics data covering the past decade show that job losses seem as common as sport utility vehicles on the highways. Annual job loss ranged from a low of 27 million in 1993 to a high of 35.4 million in 2001. Even in 2000, when the unemployment rate hit its lowest point of the 1990's expansion, 33 million jobs were eliminated.

The flip side is that, according to the labor bureau's figures, annual job gains ranged from 29.6 million in 1993 to 35.6 million in 1999. Day in and day out, workers quit their jobs or get fired, then move on to new positions. Companies start up, fail, downsize, upsize and fill the vacancies of those who left. It is workers' migration to new and existing jobs that keeps the country from sinking into some Depression-like swamp.

Yes, this disruption can be very hard on some workers who lose their employment and have trouble adapting. But in the larger sense, the turmoil in the labor market is vital to economic progress. A good part of the turnover takes place in a handful of industries, like restaurants and retailing, but to greater or lesser extent the churning grinds on across the board, in bad times and good. Tallies of net jobs lost or gained capture only a fraction of the flux in the job market. As this plays out, most workers end up better off.

Societies grow richer when new products emerge that better meet consumers' needs, and when producers adopt new technologies that reduce costs by making workers more productive. In a dynamic, innovative economy, these forces unleash waves upon waves of change. Some industries and companies prosper while others wither. Some companies find themselves with too many workers while others struggle with too few. A free-enterprise system responds by moving resources — in this case workers — to where they're more valuable.

For example, e-mail, word processors, answering machines and other modern office technologies are cutting jobs for secretaries but increasing the ranks of programmers. The Internet opened jobs for hundreds of thousands of Webmasters, an occupation that didn't exist as recently as 1990. Digital cameras translate to fewer photo clerks.

A century ago, 40 of every 100 Americans worked on farms to feed a nation of 90 million. Today, after one of history's most brutal downsizings, it takes just two agricultural workers out of 100 workers to supply an abundance of food to a nation more than three times as large. Suppose we'd kept 40 percent of our labor on the farm. Absurd, yes, but if we had, we wouldn't have had enough workers to produce the new homes, computers, movies, medicines and the myriad other goods and services of our modern economy.

Likewise, the telecommunications industry employed 421,000 switchboard operators in 1970, when Americans made 9.8 billion long-distance calls. Thanks to advances in switching technology, telecommunications companies have reduced the number of operators to 78,000, but consumers ring up 98 billion calls. Let's face it: Americans are better off with more efficient long-distance service. To handle today's volume of calls with 1970's technology, telephone companies would need 4.2 million operators, or 3 percent of the labor force. Without the productivity gains, a long-distance call would probably cost 40 times what it now does.

Microeconomic failure is not macroeconomic failure.
Read the whole thing. And cheer up. The American economy is a great job-creating machine, and it's once againe accelerating.

Ouch
Rev. Artillery blasts Bubba with facts and the all-important context. What? Is it pile-on-Bubba day? Read the whole thing.

Interesting Reading
I'm looking forward to reading a five-part series published at OpenDemocracy.net titled "The New Information Ecosystem." It's by Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of the forthcoming The Anarchist in the Library and it ponders the implications of electronic peer-to-peer networks for culture, science, security, and globalization. Vaidhyanathan believes peer-to-peer networks are a key site of the contest over freedom and the control of information. Here's a link to Part 1: Cultures of anarchy and closure

The Real Iraq
An Iraqi exile describes what's really happening in Iraq - and indicts the western press.

As the eight days went by, I started to revise assumptions formed under the influence of western news coverage dedicated almost exclusively to the reporting of violence. ... There are plenty of other signs of Iraq’s rebirth conspicuously absent from the news bulletins.
Read the whole thing. [Hat tip: Instapundit]

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!
The business section of my local big daily has a graphic today (from the Knight-Ridder News Service) headlined "Behind the Jobless Recovery."

Oops. Bad timing, considering today's news:

The nation's unemployment rate dropped to 6 percent in October as companies added thousands of new jobs for the third straight month, new evidence of an improving labor market.

The Labor Department reported Friday that payrolls grew by 126,000 last month, significantly more than the 50,000 new jobs that economists had predicted. That followed a revised 125,000 new jobs in September, which initially was reported at 57,000.

U.S. companies also added new jobs in August, marking three months of hiring gains following a sixth-month slump. October hiring occurred across a broad swath of the business landscape, including technical services, temporary employment firms, health care, social work, education and retail.

"We can finally put the nail in the coffin of the jobless recovery," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics. "We are back on a rising job track."
I blame the Bush tax cuts!

In related information, Steve Verdon notes that the much-lamented decline in manufacuturing jobs is hardly Bush's fault as it started 5 years and 8 months ago - when some guy named Clinton still had almost two years left in his presidency. (The same graphics package in my newspaper today tells only half the story - showing losses in manufacturing employment since March 2001. Why that arbitrary date? Easy - anti-Bush bias. March 2001 is shortly after George W. Bush became president, so the loss of jobs can be implied to be his fault. But as Verdon points out, the decline started long before Bush became president. In fact, manufacturing employment peaked at 18,726,000 in March 1998, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Actually, the next month when manufacturing employment declined, the BLS referred to as the third straight month of "weak" data from the sector.) Manufacturing employment stood at 18,239,000 in January 2001, when George W. Bush became president. Bush's economic policies, including tax cuts, did not begin to take effect until October 2001, the start of the new federal fiscal year. Manufacturing employment stood at 17,301,000 in October 2001. The decline in manufacturing jobs started during the Clinton administration and accelerated into the Bush administration.

You can debate whether Bush's economic policies will improve things - but you can't be honestly blame the loss of manufacturing jobs on Bush.

Also at Verdon's blog, scroll down for his comments on the latest jobs and unemployment data. [Hat tip: Instapundit] And here is the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest Employment Situation Summary.

UPDATE: Steven Antler points out that the latest monthly job numbers - 125,000 new numbers created in the month of October - might be low. After all, the initial September number was revised upward and basically doubled.

Of course, there's another way to look at this. Perhaps it sill is a "jobless recovery." Because the stronger the recovery, the more likely that most of the nine Democrats running for president will be jobless.

Frighteningly Inaccurate Predictions
Bubba pats himself on the back for making "frighteningly accurate predictions" in this post from January 18 about the coming war in Iraq and the economy and the stock market. So I read his Jan. 18 post and I have a few comments for Bubba:

Which prediction were you right about? That the war would entail a month of air operations and 3-4 months of ground operations? That the stock market would "plunge and stay depressed for the duration" of the war? That the Dow would be around 7,000 on May 1? That the Bush administration would equate the economic recovery with a rise in the Dow?

The invasion of Iraq began on March 19. Air and ground operations commenced almost simultaneously. Baghdad fell in three weeks. Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1.

On March 19, the Dow closed at 8,265. It rose steadily throughout the war, closing at 8,454 on May 1.

On March 19, the NASDAQ closed at 1,397. It rose steadily throughout the war, closing at 1,472 on May 1.

On March 19, the S&P closed at 874. It rose steadily throughout the war, closing at 916 on May 1.

So forgive me, Bubba, if I'm not sure what you were "frighteningly accurate" about. I'll re-read the Jan. 18 post and look again for your prediction of 7.2% GDP growth in the third quarter (the eighth straight month of economic growth), record rising productivity, record home sales, first-time jobless claims falling to pre-recession levels (last week), a surge in the manufacturing index and rising retail sales. That's a real economic recovery under way, not just a rise in the Dow. And, yes, the stock market is up too - in fact, the Dow is up more than 30 percent, the S&P 500 up more than 30 percent and the NASDAQ up more than 60 percent in the last year, or what I call the first year of the Bush Bull Market. (I blame the Bush tax cuts!)

UPDATE: I just re-read Bubba's January 28 predictions again, and this line jumped out at me:

I would not expect to see the start of any real economic recovery for at least six months.
I think I've found Bubba's problem. You see, the economy has been growing now for eight straight quarters - that's a full two years. The economy recovery started in the fourth quarter of 2001. Check out this graphic:


[From USA Today]

Bubba said we wouldn't see the "start" of economic recovery for six more months when, in fact, we were already in an economic recovery and had been for nearly 16 months. Bubba can't predict the future well because Bubba can't even predict the past. Heh.

Incidentally, I first published that graphic on Oct. 31, in this post, in which I also made a prediction. I said:
With the Bush economic recovery now entering its third year on a roll, jobs will soon become even more plentiful - and the unemployment rate will fall.
Seems I was right...

Note to readers: The Washington Post website offers daily-updated NASDAQ, Dow and S&P charts. I have put those links on my blog, under the list of "Economics" blogs and sites. They are a very helpful research tool.

I Sure Could Use A Little Good News Today
And AlphaPatriot has some. Where do I send my campaign contribution?

Quagmire Update
The war in Iraq must be going so badly, turning into a depressing, bloody quagmire, judging from this report.

Memo Talk
Dallas syndicated radio talker Joe Kelley (WBAP Fort Worth/Dallas) mentions me on his blog in a post about the controversial leaked memo in which is revealed the Democrats' plan to politicize classified intelligence information related to the Iraq war. He likens it to revelation in the Los Angeles Times last July that Democrats in California's legislature were making plans to prolong that state's budget crisis for political gain.

I don't always mention inbound links from other bloggers - but Kelley's thoughtful and well-designed blog, The Sake of Argument, is also going on my blogroll. Interesting to see the fusion of talk radio and weblogging...

11/6/2003

Here Come the Jobs!
First-time claims for unemployment compensation have fallen to pre-recession levels. In other words, first-time jobless claims last week were about the same as during the last economic boom.

Here's another media outlet's take on the same data, which notes:

The number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits plunged last week to a level not seen since before the 2001 recession, the government said on Thursday, fueling hopes a long slide in employment had ended. Coupled with other recent news indicating an improving labor market, the data suggested a quickening pace of recovery had finally taxed the ability of businesses to boost production without hiring workers, economists said.
And this report says Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is now has a positive outlook on the jobs front. "The odds, however, do increasingly favor a revival in job creation," Greenspan said, noting that lean inventories in many industries could bring a wave of rebuilding, which will mean a pickup in hiring.

I blame the Bush tax cuts. But you knew that.

Meanwhile, the media likes to downplay good news, but it couldn't do much to make the jobs numbers bad. But Reuters went out of its way to put a negative spin on growth in retail sales in October in a story headlined Warm October keeps lid on U.S. retailers' sales. So, sales were flat? No. Sales rose "modestly." One survey of 62 retailers found sales rose 3.3 percent in October, about what was expected. Not exactly "keeping the lid on."

America: Politically Divided Along Religious Lines
Michael Williams has a very good look at part 8 of this report from the Pew Research Center: Overview: The 2004 Political Landscape. I've scanned the whole Pew report and it's chock full of interesting things I could blog about if I was not so busy. But don't wait for me to tell you what I think - you can read the actual report yourself!

Newsflash: Iraq Admitted its Al Qaeda Connection
Darren Kaplan has the details.

Context
South Knox Bubba, who I read daily, has published a quote of something Vice President Dick Cheney said back in 1991, that's worth commenting on because SKB is hoisting it up as evidence that the Bush administration made a mistake by invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power. First the quote, then my comments:

Well, just as it's important, I think, for a president to know when to commit U.S. forces to combat, it's also important to know when not to commit U.S. forces to combat. I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shi'a government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Ba'ath Party? Would be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all.
Yes, well, Cheney said it. He most certainly did. Waaaay back in 1991. Incidentally - and importantly - that was BEFORE the Islamist terror underground made it clear they intended to kill us in large numbers on our own soil, by flying planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and failing to hit the U.S. Capital) killing 3,000 people sitting down in their office cubicles with a cup of Starbucks, ready to work 8 hours and then go home to wives, and husbands and children and mothers and fathers. 3,000 people who had done nothing to deserve to be mass-murdered.

Some of us think September 11 was a world-changing event. Some of us think September 11 made it an insane risk to simply allow a wacko like Saddam, with his weapons, his bloodthirst, his hatred of America and of Israel, and his connections to Islamist terror organizations to remain in power.

Context is everything. Cheney's quote above was said in a pre-September 11 world. But September 11 was a world-changing event and I suspect Cheney's views changed in the aftermath of the worst attack this nation has ever sustained.

I believe Cheney was right in 1991. Back then, going to Baghdad was not the smart play. But I also believe that what Cheney said in 1991 would NOT be the right approach for the post-September 11 world. The risks and difficulties entailed in governing post-Saddam Iraq are, I believe, small change compared to the risks of leaving him in power. I suspect Cheney feels the same way.

That is, by the way, the argument between supporters of the recent Iraq war and the non-looney war opponents in a nutshell. Those of us who favored the Iraq war think that it was simply too risky to leave Saddam in power in a post-9/11 world, while the not-looney anti-war side thinks we have made the world less safe by going to war. (There is a looney anti-war ultra-Left that is just anti-American, period.)

The pro-war side thinks "draining the swamp" and spreading democracy and freedom and capitalism to the Middle East, starting with Iraq by force and then spreading it by leverage, proximity, example and influence to Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia held more positive potential than did a strategy of containment, pinprick cruise missile attacks on empty tents and aspirin factories in response to terror attacks, and hoping all those graduates of the hate schools of Wahhabi Islam's madrassas don't find their way to New York, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, etc... But those on the anti-war side think we've made terrorism MORE likely.

It's an honest debate, and history, ultimately, will decide who is right.

Bubba presents the Cheney quote in isolation. I don't know, of course, but that suggests Bubba doesn't think September 11, 2001, changed the context. I'm not trying to be critical of Bubba - a lot of us bloggers toss onto our blogs isolated quotes that appear to support our position or undermine someone else's position, and we often make the mistake of not discussing the context of the quote. We fire them across the partisan battle lines like missiles. It's intellectually weak and unfair to readers and to the people we quote.

I would like to read some analysis and commentary - from Bubba if he feels like writing it or from some other not-looney anti-war blogger explaining why they believe what Cheney said in the pre-9/11 world was right back then - and why September 11 either didn't change the world, or why it did but Cheney isn't allowed to change his views to fit the new reality.

The Cheney quote from 1991 doesn't bother me at all. On the other hand, if September 11 hadn't made him reconsider his views, I'd be worried. In a war for the survival of Western civilization, we need leaders who can adapt to changing circumstances, not stake out unalterable positions and refuse to consider fast-changing reality. The good news is, in President George. W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, we have such leaders. That's why the Democrats' carping about the lack of a "plan" for post-war Iraq is so silly. There is a plan: kill the bad guys, rebuild the economy and the infrastructure, install a democratic government and turn it over to the Iraqis as soon as we can do so without risking what has been achieved. What Democrats call a "plan" is really just tactics - and tactics must change as the situation in Iraq changes.

UPDATE: One more thing I just noticed about the Cheney quote: he was discussing the dangers of getting American military personnel "involved in a civil war inside Iraq." We have not done that. All available evidence shows a majority of Sunni, Shia and Kurds favor us having removed Saddam, and most of what the media calls "insurgents" are either Baathist remnants or foreign fighters or al Qaeda. Cheney's comments in 1991 related to involving U.S. troops in an Iraqi civil war. We have not done that. Even without 9/11, the internal context of Cheney's words in 1991 revolve around an Iraqi civil war - which is simply not relevant today.

UPDATE: President Bush himself said just today that the new reality requires a new policy. In a speech at the National Endowment for Democracy today, Bush said:
Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe - because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo. Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.
Speech text here. CNN coverage here. The BBC calls the speech a "defining moment in the Bush presidency." here. [Hat tip: Darren Kaplan]

More on That Treasonous Memo
Democrats have touted the leaked Rumsfeld memo as some sort of evidence that the war is going badly. But contrast Rumsfelf's memo with the leaked Democrat memo. The goal of Rumsfeld's memo is winning the war by asking honest questions. The goal of the Democrat memo is winning the election by dishonestly politicizing the nation's intelligence-gathering.

From the Department of Redundancy Department
Headline from Xinhuanet:

Saudi police shoot dead militant in Riyadh

Meanwhile, the story says, other al Qaeda "militants" escaped.

11/5/2003

That Treasonous Memo
I have read and re-read the controversial leaked memo from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and come to a sad conclusion: It is evidence of a conspiracy to commit treason for the sake of partisan political advantage.

The memo, in case you hadn't heard, describes the Democratic strategy to call for an independent commission to look at how the White House used intelligence information to justify going to war in Iraq. It was drafted by the panel's Democratic staff and outlines a timetable - conveniently close to election day - for the Democrats to call for an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration.

The smoking gun is a single odd sentence in which the memo writer says this: "Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq."

What does that mean? It means the Democrats are using the Intelligence committee to do opposition research for the coming campaign. I think the memo writer was suggesting Democrats use classified information to which committee members are privy as a tool to increase public dissatisfaction with the situation in Iraq. Fanning the flames of public opinion against the war is clearly the goal, and if they have to use classified information to do it, by golly, "intelligence issues are clearly secondary."

As Stephen den Beste says:

There may well be a serious question whether American intelligence failed before September of 2001. There may be serious questions about our intelligence regarding Iraq before we invaded there. But there's also a serious question whether a public investigation of those questions while the war continues might cause more harm than good, and cost a lot of American servicemen, or American civilians, their lives.
Sen. Zell Miller is right when he says heads should roll. Says Miller:
"Of all the committees, this is the one single committee that should unquestionably be above partisan politics. The information it deals with should never, never be distorted, compromised or politicized in any shape, form or fashion. For it involves the lives of our soldiers and our citizens. Its actions should always be above reproach; its words never politicized. If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin. The ones responsible - be they staff or elected or both - should be dealt with quickly and severely, sending a lesson to all that this kind of action will not be tolerated, ignored or excused.
I said a few months ago that some top Democrats wanted things to go badly in Iraq in order to help them defeat President Bush. But it's worse than that. The memo tells me some are willing to compromise national security to defeat Bush.

Interesting Numbers
Steven Antler digs some interesting data out of the 2004 Political Landscape report from Pew Research. One interesting tidbit: In 1997-99, 36 percent of those surveyed in so-called "swing" states identified themseves as Democrats, 30 percent as Republicans. But after the September 11 attacks, the divide was 34 percent Democrat and 33 percent Republican. Now, in the wake of the Iraq war, the two parties are vritually tied at 34 percent Democrat, 33 percent Republican. [Ed. note: I previously said they were tied at 33 percent. I misread the chart. My bad. Sorry] Republicans have gained steadily. For more, visit Antler's excellent EconoPundit blog.

A Measure of Humanity Restored
President Bush has signed the law banning partial birth abortion, the never-medically-necessary process by which a baby is partially delivered, then stabbed in the back of the head with a sharp instrument so his brains can be sucked out with a device similar to a vacuum cleaner, instead of being allowed to be born. Read Bush's eloquent remarks at the signing ceremony.

The View from Iraq
Want to know what's really going on in Baghdad? Read the blog of an Iraqi doctor named Zeyad. Here's an excerpt. Caution - strong language ahead:

You see a handful of teenagers dancing in front of the camera celebrating dead Americans, and you judge an entire people, you start whining about pulling the troops out of Iraq and giving the Iraqis what they deserve. Are you people really so close-minded? It is the fault of your news agencies that show you what they want, its certainly not ours. If you want us to go out and cry for your dead soldiers and wave American flags, then don't count on it either. We are losing way too many innocent Iraqis daily to be grieving over dead soldiers who have actually made a decision to come here. What about the thousands of dead Iraqis who were not as lucky to have a choice? Did you cry for them?

According to a poll by an Iraqi agency, only 3% of Iraqis want Saddam back and less than 40% want the Americans to leave immediately. Did you even hear about these results?

If you think that Iraqis aren't doing enough, then you're being mislead by your media. Thousands of people are applying to be members of IP, FPS, and the civil defense force. They are begging for the security to be in their hands. We know how to handle those scum. The Americans are more interested in being nice and all about human rights and free speech and stuff. We have our own Law and court systems which we can use but the CPA won't allow us to. They are being too lenient and forgiving on our expence. If you think that is what is required to build a successful democracy then you're too deluded. You don't know the first thing about the Iraqi society.

Iraqis are providing intelligence to the CPA hourly. Just ask the soldiers here. Iraqis are cooperating in every way they can. They're losing their lives for it goddammit. If you aren't seeing it on tv, it isn't my fucking problem.

Imagine yourself living in a neighbourhood with a large number of ex-Baathists/Wahhabis/extremists like I do. Would you go out and denounce the Jihadis/Ba'athists openly for everyone to see, and then get back from work one day to find your brother kidnapped or a threat letter hanging on your door? A friend of mine was standing in front of his house with his kids when a car drove by and emptied a magazine of bullets into them. You know why? Because he was working with the CPA in reconstructing Baghdad Airport. What do you think he did? He stubbornly refused to quit his job and bravely returned to work after spending a week in hospital. Would you do the same? Of course not. We expected most of the IP would simply leave their jobs after last weeks bombing, well they didn't. In fact there were thousands of parents volunteering to carry arms and protect the schools which their kids attend to allow the IP to do their real job.
There are some Americans who want to abandon the people of Iraq, to cut and run, to turn tail and say that, because we didn't find a warehouse full of weapons of mass destruction in the middle of Baghdad, marked by a giant flashing neon sign, ACME WMDs, that we should just bring the troops home. Of course, these same folks never really cared about liberating the people of Iraq in the first place and if they had their way, Saddam would still be in power, the rape rooms would still be operating, the mass graves would still be filling, and Saddam would still be pursuing weapons of mass murder so he could kill on an even more industrial scale.

Bookmark Zayed's blog. Read it often. And suggest your leftist co-worker and your local newspaper editor do the same.

Appalling
Michael Williams writes about an appalling abridgement of a Colorado woman's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion by a court in a child custody case. A court has told a woman that she may not teach certain parts of her religious faith to her child. Welcome to the new America, where courts now sanction discrimination against Christians.

Incidentally, I would not obey any court order telling me what I can and can't talk about to my child involving religion. There is a higher authority.

Out of Their Depth
Today's Nashville City Paper editorial calling for passage of the permanent ban on Itnernet access taxes shows a level of research and understanding that far and away surpasses that of last week's Tennessean editorial opposing extension of the ban. NCP understands the issue is one of interstate commerce. Last week's Tennessean editorial ignored the facts, swallowed the opponents' spin and was fixated on making it possible for state government to increase taxes. I have just two questions: How come a little free paper started less than four years ago does a better job than a big deep-pocketed daily with more than a century of history and a much larger staff? And, do you actually have to do real research to write editorials for The Tennessean - or just be able to reword the latest liberal talking points?

Rush Returns
Rush Limbaugh returns to the air on Nov. 17. I predict he will get his highest ratings ever. By the way, I rarely listen to Rush, believe it or not. I have a day job, and I prefer to listen to music in the car most of the time (though I admit to listening to Glenn Beck on the drive to work.)

Banned by Bubba?
It appears I've been Banned by Bubba. I try to visit Left blogger South Knox Bubba's blog at http://www.southknoxbubba.net/skblog and I get the following message:
Forbidden
You don't have permission to access /skblog on this server.

Ironically, this happened as we were debating why the Left hasn't rained criticism down on Howard Dean for his stereotyping the south as being a land of Confederate Flag-waving redneck racist bubbas. Bubba had declined to criticize Dean though the Right side of the blogosphere did pummel Trent Lott for the same kind of racially insensitive remarks. Tell me again how it is the Right that stifles opposing points of view?

Bubba: If Luskin and Atrios can mend fences, surely we can. (And if you're just having computer problems and I haven't been banned, I'll post an update here.) Meanwhile, Bubba, you are still free to visit my blog and post comments.

UPDATE: Bubba's blog is now accessible. Apparently I wasn't banned. Good! Bubba's blog is a daily stop on my trip through the blogosphere. He's wrong most of the time, but in a highly entertaining way!

Taming the Tax Monster
In Colorado, citizens get to vote on tax increases. Yesterday they voted a very loud NO:

Coloradans defeated by a 3-to-1 ratio a plan that would have raised property taxes on homeowners across the state. Amendment 32, which would have repealed the state's current property tax system, went down early. "It's such a decisive statement by the voters of Colorado. They clearly saw through this, and they said they're not interested," said Ron Stewart, of Citizens for Fairness in Taxation, the group opposing Amendment 32. The amendment would have repealed the Gallagher Amendment, the popular measure passed by voters in 1982 that drove down residential property tax assessment rates every year since the late 1980s.
Gallagher is one of two amendments in the Colorado constitution that limits taxes and spending. The other, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, is currently under assault by an array of special interests, big-government proponents and left-wing think tanks, who are aiming to put on next year's ballot a package of "reforms" that would gut TABOR. Consider yesterday's rejection of changes to Gallagher a message from voters: don't mess with our protections against higher taxes.

Imagine That
Democrats are playing politics with the war. Why am I not surprised.

UPDATE: Newsmax has the text of the controversial memo.

UPDATE: Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat with a conscience, has some thoughts on the memo. He calls it "perhaps treasonous" and says "heads should roll." Sadly, they won't, Zell.

GOP Wins in Mississippi Too!
They were still counting the votes on this one when I went to bed, but now it's official - the GOP has defeated yet another Democrat governor. This time, it's in Mississippi, where Haley Barbour defeated the incumbent Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. Barbour won handily.

Here's coverage from the Jackson, Miss. Clarion-Ledger and the Washington Post

The Financial Times says: "The South's creeping conversion to the Republican party was proved again on Tuesday, as the party took the governor's mansions in Mississippi and Kentucky."

John Cole says the Democrats lost Kentucky and Mississippi because Nancy Pelosi didn't make enough campaign appearances there. And because southerners are racists. Actually, he makes some very good points.

I really like Stephen Green's analysis of the election results.

I'll let Tim Rogers over at the Broken Masterpieces blog have the last word on Barbour: "I think Barbour is really Spanky McFarland from The Little Rascals."

Difficult as Dell
Dell, the giant computer maker, has a large operation in Nashville, and is generally perceived positively around here. In the interests of balance, I present you one customer's story of how Dell, essentially, ripped her off. By contrast, I've had nothing but good experiences dealing with Gateway.

UPDATE: Dell president Kevin Rollins, in a Q&A at News.com today:

We still have a business model highly dependant upon the execution of our company every day. It's not a model in which we develop a proprietary widget and sell it without worrying, because no one can catch us on the technology. We have to do it every single day. So all customers have to have their needs met, products need to be shipped every day, the quality standards need to be met - just a whole series of to-dos. Therefore, it takes a lot of discipline to pull that off. We have to train a lot of people--because we grew this year between 15 percent and 20 percent in revenue, and we've got 41,000 employees worldwide. We're adding new people every day, and none have ever worked at Dell. So they need to come in and understand how to execute every day. That's really hard. It's hard to keep that execution intensity at the level where you don't ever make a mistake; you don't ever upset a customer. And we do. We fail, but not very much - that's the biggest challenge.
Whatever.

11/4/2003

"Like Liquid Drano for Arteries"
Wow. And, no, this doesn't mean you can increase your intake of bacon and eggs.

Here's Some Good News
Apparently the number of foreign students at U.S. universities has leveled off - and in a good way: The decline was most dramatic among Muslim countries as the number of students from the Middle East was down 10 percent from the previous year, with decreases of 25 percent each from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Good. That's fewer we have to track and watch in order to screen out terrorists. Oh, don't be offended - 19 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were from the Middle East - mostly from Saudi Arabia - and many of them came here on student visas. Until we win the War on Terror, the fewer people we let in from that part of the world, the safer we'll be. You know it's true.

The Horse Race
Dean Esmay takes a look at President Bush's poll numbers:

Look at the current polls. Not only is Bush going up in approval, and not only is his approval rating higher than either Reagan's or Clinton's were one year before re-election, but Bush is popular and supported by a majority of women and a majority of young people aged 18-30. Young people in particular are highly supportive of the war in Iraq. There's also no disconnect between men and women on Bush anymore.
I read somewhere that there are eight men and one woman in America who think Bush is defeatable.

GOP Wins in Ky
The Republican candidate has won the governorship of Kentucky, defeating a well-known Democrat and breaking the Democratic Party's 30-year hold on the governor's office in the Bluegrass State. Gov.-elect Ernie Fletcher has been a fighter pilot, a family-practice physician and a preacher as well as a three-term congressman. A quote about why he went into politics:

"I just saw government growing larger, more intrusive, more regulatory," he said during his gubernatorial campaign. "I saw a social welfare program that captured people in the cycle of dependency rather than empowering them. I wanted to be part of the solution."
Kentucky has a better future today than it did yesterday.

Wiggles Toy Drive Update
Dean Esmay has the latest on Operation Give, a/k/a/ the Chief Wiggles Toy Drive for the Iraqi children.

Have I mentioned that we've collected a bit over $29,000 in donations so far, not to mention having shipped close to a thousand packages over there so far, with volunteers from the American Legion, the Mormon church, and several webloggers helping out? We're still looking for your help, by the way. We have flyers you can distribute at work, school, church, etc. as well as buttons you can put on your web site.
Chief Wiggles is a soldier who has put his life on the line for the people of Iraq - and his faith into action for the children of Iraq. I linked to it earlier, but here again is a link to a Toronto Globe and Mail story on Wiggles - and it's not about the toy drive.

Governor Already Making Plans to Spend Tennessee's Surplus
If you ever wanted more proof that Tennessee needs the basic protections afforded by a Colorado-style Taxpayers Bill of Rights, just read this news analysis by columnist and former AP statehouse reporter Phil West. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen's top budget chief says that, on the one hand, the state's $30 million surplus after two months "does not a year make," but on the other hand he ticks off a list of things the Bredesen administration apparently is planning to spend it on.

For those of you who don't know, the Colorado Taxpayers Bill of Rights requires surplus revenue to be returned to taxpayers via direct rebates or tax rate reductions. The government can't spend it unless it first gets voters' permission in a statewide referendum on a plan that outlines specifically how the money would be spent.

You can learn a lot more about the Taxpayers Bill of Rights here.

Here's an excerpt from West's column:

Just two months into the 2003-04 fiscal year, Tennessee's tax collections are more than 8 percent higher than expected. At this rate, Gov. Phil Bredesen could send us a nice little tax refund next July. Of course, Tennessee's fiscal structure doesn't allow for tax refunds to individual taxpayers, but wouldn't that be nice?

So why is Bredesen asking his department heads to prepare budget requests that are 5 percent lower that what they're getting in this year's $21.5 billion spending plan?

Bredesen has to deal with the usual, nagging commitments like the $100 million contribution to the state employees' retirement fund that is financed by taxpayer dollars. Then there's $57 million to fund growth in the Basic Education Program, the 1992 law that overhauled Tennessee's education system.

Settling the teacher pay equity lawsuit is expected to cost around $50 million a year, from this point forward.

"When you pile up all the new things we need to pay for this year, the amount outstrips the amount of new revenue we have coming in," Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz says.

Despite a weak economic recovery, state tax collections in the first two months of the 2003-04 fiscal year are well ahead of projections.

"Two months of revenue does not a year make," Goetz warns. "People who have money are spending, but there's not that many jobs being created. People have given up looking for work. It's not like we've entered a full-blown economic expansion."

That's true. But two months of tax collections accounts for more than 16 percent of the tax collection year. That's a pretty good trend.
Let's consider that for a moment. Goetz refers to "all the new things we need to pay for this year" and says that, in effect, there is no surplus because of them. But there is a surplus - $30 million in excess revenue after two months of the fiscal year. The state has collected $30 million more than it needs,so far, to pay for the $21.5 billion budget for this fiscal year that Bredesen requested and the legislature passed.

The previous administration called surplus revenue "unbudgeted dollars" and promptly spent them. This administration hasn't gone that far - but Goetz is trying to blur the line between fiscal years.

The increased spending Goetz listed is for the next fiscal year's budget, and should be paid for out of the next fiscal year's tax revenue. Implying there's no surplus this year because we have more expenses next year is disingenuous. There IS a surplus. You ARE paying more taxes than the state really needs. And until Tennessee has a Taxpayers Bill of Rights, bureaucrats WILL find reasons to spend it, and WILL come up with rhetorical tricks to pretend the surplus doesn't exist.

UPDATE: Michael Williams blogs about the distinct possibility that Gov. Schwarzenegger will propose a spending cap for California, with links to an item at Sacramento Bee blogger Daniel Weintraub's blog, which itself links to a Sacramento Bee story about the proposed spending cap that says, accurately, "The mechanism is intended to prevent the state from committing revenue windfalls to ongoing programs, one of the causes of the current fiscal crisis."

Williams says: "If you're familiar with the California budget debacle, you'll know that the cause of our shortfall wasn't a lack of revenue, but reckless spending. There are only 3 numbers you need to know to back up this assertion." And then he gives you those three numbers.

By the way, reckless spending was the cause of Tennessee's budget problems in the past four years too. And it will be again in the future if Tennessee doesn't adopt some sort of cap on governmental spending growth.

Progress In Iraq
Scott Ott highlights some real progress in Iraq. A side note: this is the kind of progress that the anti-war crowd tried to stop, and the cut-and-run crowd would gladly abandon.

Howard Dean's Trent Lott Moment
CJ at Up For Anything considers Howard Dean's Confederate Flag remarks.

One time, and I suppose it could be an accident, a slip of the tongue, a faux pas. Twice, and it's clear that the use of the Confederate flag as a campaign tool is intentional. So where is the outrage? ... I've searched and searched and searched, and I can't find any reaction from the NAACP. What about the Congressional Black Caucus? Nothing, not a single word that I can find. Imagine if President Bush had made the same statement as Dean. There would be calls for boycotts and apologies. The hypocrisy is so clear it needs no further explanation.
Good point. For Dean not only raised up a symbol many consider to be racist and made it a rhetorical flag of his campaign, he has stereotyped the South and made it clear he doesn't understand the region and its people at all. And he's the Democrat's front-runner. Is that the best they can do?

Meanwhile, perhaps we should surf some Lefty blogs and see if they're condemning Dean the way the Right half of the blogosphere condemned Trent Lott. I'm guessing ... no.

UPDATE: Using Technorati, I looked up the list of bloggers blogging the WaPo story about Dean's pro-Confederate Flag remarks and found none of the big Lefty bloggers are blogging about it. Where's CalPundit? What about Josh Marshal? South Knox Bubba? Atrios? The Daily Kos? I mean, you would think Kos would go after Dean for his race-pandering remarks - after all, he went after Haley Barbour for something similar. Oh, er, nevermind. Kos works for Dean. I guess race-based pandering is okay with Kos if you are a Democrat and you sign Kos' paycheck.

I'll be checking via Technorati again from time to time to see if any prominent Lefty bloggers condemn Dean - and do so without the "yes it was bad, but..." approach.

UPDATE: Howard Dean refuses to apologize for remarks offensive to African-Americans.

Chief Wiggles
The Toronto Globe and Mail has a great story on Chief Wiggles. Don't miss it. [Hat tip: Instapundit]

It's Not Just a Job
This is the kind of job I'd apply for if I didn't have a wife and two children to consider. And if I had Arabic language skills. The Institute for War & Peace Reporting is looking for a journalism trainer/editor to work for a few months in Iraq "to assist our project to strengthen the capacity of Iraqi media and individual journalists to cover practical humanitarian issues."

11/3/2003

Hmm. Something to Hide?
This WaPo story has an interesting factoid at the end:

The Iraq Survey Group, the CIA-supervised body appointed by President Bush to lead the hunt for special weapons, hopes its searches for fugitive officers from the Iraqi security services may also produce breakthroughs in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. In the meantime, as they travel on site visits and conduct interviews, survey group teams increasingly are falling under hostile, professional surveillance and ambush attempts, according to officials involved in the weapons searches.
It's almost as if somebody in Iraq still has something to hide - and the weapons-hunters are getting closer.

Hollywood Wouldn't Have Written This Script
This post from Sofia Sideshow via Instapundit will remind you again why you should be proud to be an American - and very proud of our troops over in Iraq.

Miller - the Senator - Endorses Bush
Democrat Sen. Zell Miller has endorsed George W. Bush for re-election. Common Sense and Wonder excerpts Miller's recent WSJ op-ed explaining why. You gotta wonder how many Bush-hating bloggers are racing to delete nice things they ever said about Miller...

It's Almost Miller Time
Dennis Miller is getting a primetime show on, of all networks, CBS: the Clinton Broadcasting System. CNBC. No real comment here, 'cept to say...

Allllrighttttttttt!

Flat Tax Update
Iraq's tax code has been reformed with a flat tax. The WaPo has a good article on it that, amazingly, mentions that Russia's economy has benefited from having a low and flat tax.

Economic Indicators
Sales of personal computers are up - and higher than expected - reports Seattle Times columnist Paul Andrews:

Is the personal-computer boom back? Most indicators for the quarter that ended Sept. 30 suggest PC sales are on the upswing. Two research companies, IDC and Gartner, reported double-digit worldwide sales growth year-over-year - 15.7 percent from IDC and 14.1 from Gartner. In the United States, the figures were 16.1 and 19.1 percent. That equates to 38 million to 42 million computers sold globally during the period, depending on which figures are cited.

The numbers are encouraging to a sector that has been languishing for the past three years, battered by the dot-bomb, a flagging economy and a mountainous inventory of used equipment that sold at auction for far less than even the cheapest new computers. In confirmation, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and others reported stronger-than-expected PC-related sales in quarterly earnings. Summer PC sales were driven by demand in the U.S., Japan and Europe, said John Connors, Microsoft's chief financial officer.
Yet another sign of the strengthening of the two-year-old economic recovery. I blame the Bush tax cuts!

Carnival of the Capitalists
This week's Carnival Of The Capitalists is up over at Insults Unpunished.Thirty-three posts on various economic issues such as the California fires and the "broken window fallacy," "the latest buzzword - corporate governance - and the consulting companies that have sprung up to assist companies in their own governance," "a trend among highly successful women that are choosing childcare over career," and a post by a professor who says "research into academic economic research ... is of little value. Publish or perish is yet another form of rent-seeking." A little light reading for you...

You can find previous editions of the Carnival of the Capitalists here.

Some Democrats Wish for a Bad Economy
A few months ago I linked to a story that suggested top Democratic Party strategists longed for a bad economy in order to boost their chances of winning the White House. Some on the Left side of the blogosphere criticized me for making the accusation - and said I was out of bounds for making the accusation, ignoring the fact that I didn't make the accusation, I merely linked to a story in which a reporter reported having been told as much by some top Democrat strategists. (I never accused all Democrats of wanting the economy to remain in bad shape - though the Lefty bloggers failed to make such a distinction and falsely accused me of having done so.)

So, do some top Democrats wish the economy wasn't recovering? Of course - at least, so says the New York Times in a story published Sunday titled Economy's Surge Poses Challenge for Presidential Hopefuls. An excerpt:

For more than two years now, the Democrats seeking the presidency have planned on running a 2004 campaign built around the weak economy and patterned after Bill Clinton's 1992 defeat of President Bush's father. But with the economy having surged this past quarter they are suddenly confronting the possibility of a far less encouraging historical comparison: that the election year economy could be more like the one Ronald Reagan ran on in 1984, when the country was coming out of a long slump. The rapid change in the outlook - underscored by figures released on Thursday showing the fastest quarterly economic growth since 1984 - is already forcing the Democratic presidential candidates to calibrate their attack on Mr. Bush's economic record in ways they did not have to just a week ago. It has also left them in danger of looking as though they were clinging to economic gloom.
Note the way the Times describes it. The Democrats built their strategy for retaking the White House around a weak economy. They didn't want to alter their strategy of selling "economic gloom" but are being "forced" to alter their strategy because the economic recovery is now well under way. Translation: Top Democrats hoped the economy would not recover in time to boost Bush.

The story also has this little tidbit of good economic news: The median weekly pay of American workers has risen faster than inflation over the last three years. Huh. I blame the Bush tax cuts.

UPDATE: Did Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe really call for Democrats to boycott American products to undermine the economic recovery? They report you decide. [Hat tip: Rosemary at DeanEsmay.com]

11/2/2003

New to the Blogroll
Sean Hackbarth's The American Mind deserves some of your blog-reading time. So does Robert Prather's Insults Unpunished.

Add This to Your Reading List
John Hawkins over at Right Wing News has just published an interview with Bernard Goldberg, the former CBS correspondent whose recent No. 1 bestseller Bias laid bare the leftward bias of the mainstream media. Hawkins' interview is a must-read. (And they say bloggers aren't journalists...) Incidentally, Goldberg's next book, Arrogance, also about the media, is due out soon.

Economic Indicator
Tony at Trojan Horseshoes makes an interesting observation: You know what the best sign there is that the economy has turned around? The Media no longer refers to it as "the Bush economy."

Don't Believe Everything You Read
Washington Post story on hunt for Saddams WMD filled with, uh, factual inaccuracies. [Hat tip: Instapundit]