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Friday, May 07, 2004
 
Our Accomplishments in Iraq

Good article in the NY Post by Andrew Natsios, the administrator for US-AID on the accomplishments in Iraq:

* We have rehabilitated eight power plants and are installing three new ones. We are also replacing towers, stringing wires, rebuilding lines and installing new generators.

* We have played a key role in restoring Iraq's transport and communication systems. Among other things, we have repaired the Baghdad airport and the country's deep-water port. We have rebuilt bridges, improved rail service and repaired the fiber optic network.

* We expect child mortality and water-borne disease to drop sharply as a result of our commitment to repair and rehabilitate the water and sewerage system throughout the whole of the country. We are in the process of vaccinating 3 million Iraqi children. We are reequipping 600 health-care clinics, training doctors and nurses and distributing high-protein supplementary food rations to hundreds of thousands of pregnant and nursing mothers.

* USAID has also helped uncover mass graves where as many as 400,000 Iraqi victims of Saddam's genocide campaigns lie buried. Hundreds of thousands of others, including untold numbers of children, died from deliberate neglect, indifference and politically motivated deprivation.

And we're helping the Iraqi Human Rights Association inventory the mass murder that took place under Saddam. A spokesman of the group put things very well when he said that what Iraq needs most of all is "not technicians and engineers" - "but someone to rebuild our souls."

* Which brings us to USAID's efforts to rehabilitate and restructure the Iraqi educational system so that it can shed the legacy of four decades of totalitarian rule and enter the ranks of the civilized world as a fully modern and productive nation.

* We're also working to build democracy at the grassroots, empowering the many enlightened and talented people of Iraq, men and women, who were repressed and silenced under Ba'athist rule.


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Dead Air America--Updated!

The most famous radio network in America that nobody's listened to since the first day is listing badly in the water. Drudge reports that it's missed payroll this week.

This could go down in history as one of the worst business decisions of all time, up there with the Edsel and IBM deciding to farm out the DOS and chip-manufacturing jobs to Microsoft and Intel. Anybody getting the feeling that Al Gore's investors are getting a little nervous?

Right Side Redux has scanned in a Dead Air America paycheck. "You're smart enough, you're good enough, and doggone it, people want to pay you!"
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Thursday, May 06, 2004
 
On the Ride Home Today

Going along at a good clip (say 45 MPH) and I see a woman pulling up to a stop sign on the right, maybe 100 feet ahead of me. And I'm thinking, surely she's not going to try to pull out in front of me. But of course she does, and even worse, she doesn't hit the gas, so I've really gotta mash the brakes. And I'm all set to blare the horn, flip the bird and pass her at the first opportunity, maybe even cutting back in front of her a little closely.

And then I see the little bumper sticker.

My son is a United States Marine.

Man, I felt lower than low for even thinking what I'd thought. Next time I don't care if they've got a bumper sticker or not. I'm going to treat them like they've got one.
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Link to the Obnoxious Cartoon on Pat Tillman

It's here. Sorry, just realized that somehow I'm the second result for that search on Yahoo, third on MSN.

There are better cartoons on the pathetic Ted Rall here and and here.

The Ted Rall Unemployment Project email list is here.

If you want solid political commentary from a conservative perspective, check out Kitty Litter. And if you want to see Kitty and I do a tag team on John F'ing Kerry, surf on over to Kerry Haters.
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Get Out Your Hankies for This One


Photo by Lynn Faulker (father of the girl)

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Lynn Faulkner, his daughter, Ashley, and their neighbor, Linda Prince, eagerly waited to shake the president's hand Tuesday at the Golden Lamb Inn. He worked the line at a steady campaign pace, smiling, nodding and signing autographs until Prince spoke:

"This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11."

Bush stopped and turned back.

"He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man," Faulkner said. "He looked right at her and said, 'How are you doing?' He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest."


"I'm a pretty cynical and jaded guy at this point in my life," Faulkner said of the moment with the president. "But this was the real deal. I was really impressed. It was genuine and from the heart."

Hat Tip: Powerline via Captain's Quarters.
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More Heroes

Ben Domenech has a good blog entry on some of the heroic actions by our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There are thousands of Pat Tillmans fighting abroad today, men and women who have left behind all they hold dear to join this fight. There are thousands of them in every war, in every conflict - from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, that much has remained unchanged.

Amen, Ben.
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Welcome Blade Forum Readers!

The post on the Salvadoran soldier saving his life and his buddies with a knife is below "Media Mutters" and "Lileks on Rall".
0 comments links to this post
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
 
Media Mutters

David Brock has a new blog out covering the abuses of the Right Wing Media called Media Matters.

Their very first post is called "Backdating the Recession" and it deals with unscrupulous efforts by the Republicans to convince people that the recession began during the Clinton Administration.

Now, it is true, as Media Matters goes into great detail in explaining, that the recession is considered to have begun in or around March 2001, about 2 months after President Bush was elected. The group that determines this is known as the National Bureau of Economic Research. However, as Donald Luskin points out, the NBER determined the starting date of the recession in November 2001, and several of the data that they may have relied on to make that determination have since been revised for the worse.

Most important, back then third quarter 2000 GDP growth was reported at 1.3% -- but now it's been revised all the way down to a negative 0.5%. NBER had no way of knowing that then.

But even if we accept the March 2001 starting date, does that mean that it's Bush's fault? No, because the forces in play to cause the recession had already started well before his inauguration.

Having worked in finance for most of my life, I always look at the Treasury Yield Curve. This is presented in graph form in every issue of the Wall Street Journal, so it's not as if its importance is unknown. The Yield Curve provides a graphic look at the tradeoff between term and rate.



(Note: the graph above is dynamic and may change over time, so the interest rates discussed may be different from what you see above if you're read this in the archives).

The graph above shows the current treasury yield curve. The numbers on the Y-axis are interest rates, and the numbers along the X-axis represent the term or length of time till maturity of the particular treasury. For example, looking at the black line on the chart, we can see that the yield (effectively the interest rate) for a 3-month treasury is somewhere between 0.75% and 1%, that the rate for a 6-month treasury is between 1% and 1.25% and that the rate for a 2-year treasury is between 2.25% and 2.5%. You can also see that as the maturity gets longer, the interest rate generally rises. This makes sense, as the longer one lends somebody money (even the US Treasury) the more risk there is.

The yields on long term treasuries, for example the 10-year and 30-year instruments, are determined by the market. In theory, the yield, or interest rate, has three components:

The safe rate (i.e., the rate the investor would anticipate given no inflation and no risk);

The inflation rate (because the investor does not want his return eaten up by inflation); and

The risk rate for the particular investment.

The shorter term rates (3-month and 6-month) are effectively set by the Fed.

Most of the time the yield curve looks something like the above. But sometimes, in order to battle inflation, the Fed is forced to raise short term interest rates enough that the yield curve becomes flattened, or even inverted, with the short term interest rates higher than longer term interest rates. This means the Fed is putting strong brakes on the economy.

As happened in the last year of the Clinton Administration. In January of 2000, the treasury yield curve was still normal, but quite a bit higher than today's rates--as of 1/14/00 the rates were 5.41% for 3 months (which I'll call the short term rate) and 6.69% for 10 years (which I'll call long term rates).

However, over the next six months things changed substantially. The 3-month yield moved steadily higher, finally reaching 6% just before the Fourth of July. Meanwhile, the 10-year treasury had dropped to 6%, making the yield curve virtually a flat line with a few small bumps. By August the 3-month was yielding a full 1/4% more than the 10-year. The yield curve was thus inverted, predicting recession ahead.

By September of 2000 the spread between the 3-month and the 10-year had widened to almost 6/10ths of a percent. The 3-month topped out on 11/6-11/7/00 at 6.42%, which was still 1/2% higher than the 10-year.

The brakes obviously worked. As Luskin remarks, real GDP growth crashed from 5% to 2% for the last two quarters of 2000, to 0% in the first quarter of 2000. It's quite obvious that the economy was cooling in the last quarter of 2000 under the effect of the inverted yield curve.

The Fed and the bond market began to realize that they had tightened too much and that the economy was slipping towards recession. So they both eased off on interest rates, but rates fell faster at the longer terms. By the end of December 2000, the 3-month was down to 5.89%, while the 10-year had declined all the way to 5.12%. Still a strong brake on the economy. By 1/19/01, the last trading day before the inauguration of President Bush, the 3-month had dropped to 5.24%, while the 10-year had risen slightly to 5.19%.

The next trading day after Clinton left office, the 3-month treasury yielded 5.23% and the 10-year finally inched above it again, yielding 5.25%. It was the first time that the shorter term rate had yielded less than the long term rate since 7/19/00. By the end of March, the short term rate had dropped to 4.3%, while the longer term rate was 4.93%.

How does the inverted yield curve work at predicting economic recessions? Pretty good actually. Obviously it predicted the last one. In mid-1989 it predicted a recession; the economy hit one in the third quarter of 1990. At no other point in the last two decades has the inverted yield lasted for more than a day or two; each time a recession followed.

IOW, a recession was largely inevitable.
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Lileks on Rall

This cheered me up to no end:

But sometimes just being yourself is punishment enough. I have no idea if Mr. Rall is personally happy, although the one time I met him he didn’t strike me as a jolly old soul. But it has to be hard to be happy when one carries around so much bile and rage. It’s tiring. Anger wears you down, especially when your anger doesn’t seem to accomplish anything.

Yep, that's the problem with being a leftie. Everything's an outrage, and the only time you can smile is when you imagine a hero dying.
0 comments links to this post
 
A Story of Individual Heroism in Iraq


Corporal Samuel Toloza

NAJAF, Iraq — One of his friends was dead, 12 others lay wounded and the four soldiers still left standing were surrounded and out of ammunition. So Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza said a prayer, whipped out his knife and charged the Iraqi gunmen.

In one of the only known instances of hand-to-hand combat in the Iraq conflict, Cpl. Toloza stabbed several attackers swarming around a comrade. The stunned assailants backed away momentarily, just as a relief column came to the unit's rescue.


Update: Captain Ed has a good story on heroism in Afghanistan.

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Ted Rall Put In His Place--Updated

This is really a good parody. Hat tip: A Small Victory.

Updated: Here's another good one. Hat tip: Liberal Utopia.
0 comments links to this post
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
 
O'Reilly Vs Rall

Missed it while driving home, caught the replay a couple hours later. O'Reilly missed the obvious chance to nail him with that first panel, and then allowed him to rattle off the usual leftist drivel. Rall actually looked quite comfortable there, like a guy who knew he should have been knocked out and instead managed to dazzle a bit with his footwork.

ARGGGHHHH!

Update: The good news is that I appear to be the only one who saw it that way. I got an email from reader Gayle, who felt that O'Reilly gave Rall plenty of rope with which to hang himself, and Laura Ingraham's radio show had the same take. I'm a pessimist at times; remember that when reading my stuff.
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Gorevision--Coming to a Four Digit Satellite Channel Near You

Captain Ed riffs off AlGore's announcement that his group has completed the purchase of a cable TV network on which to launch his new youth-oriented programming. Gork's stated goal is to "focus on public affairs and entertainment for 18-to-34-year-olds and it will not have a political affiliation". Given that, I think we could expect a program schedule like the following Saturday lineup:

8:00 AM FlipFlopMan teaches kids an important lesson about revising positions in light of changing political reality.
9:00 AM Democratic Hero Cartoons. In this week's episode, Ted Rall fights valiantly against the forces of modern day McCarthyism, and beats up a couple Rangers, just for fun! Plus KerryMan creates 10 million jobs his first day in office as the France agrees to become the 51st state, but evil CheneyBurton Corporation plots to steal his promised middle class tax cut.
10:00 AM Prison Beach Volleyball. Felons today, Democratic voters tomorrow.
11:00 AM Neocon Watch. Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd debate whether a candidate's favorite rock and roll album is signicant in deciding for whom to vote. Madonna and Rob Reiner guest.
12:00 Noon WNBA action. Teams TBA.
2:00 PM Mr Ed. Ed runs for president but loses to a horse he considers his social and intellectual inferior.
2:30 PM The Munsters. Herman runs for president, but loses to a man he considers a stiff.
3:00 PM The Addams Family. Lurch runs for president, but loses to "Thing".
3:30 PM The Barbra Streisand Show. Guests James Brolin, Rosie O'Donell, Susan Sarandon and James Brolin.
5:00 PM Moderate Young News. Former porn star and AIDS victim Laura Roxx reads the news while stripping.
6:00 PM WNBA rebroadcast: See Noon
8:00 PM Veepstakes Reality Show. See 16 men and women debase themselves horribly in order win the title of John Kerry's lapdog. This week: 13 of the contestants shock the hosts by resigning from the show before it begins filming. Could Kucinich win it?
9:00 PM Best of Saturday Night Live: Spotlight on Al Franken.
9:05 PM My Friend Fidel. Oliver Stone shows the scenes that HBO cut from his last movie.
11:30 PM Micah Wright's Truth.
11:31 PM The Wit & Wisdom of Ted Rall.
11:32 PM Evening Signoff: the Iraqi National Anthem.
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Rall Up for Cartooning Award

Reader Clyde McKenney let us know that Ted Rall is up for a Reuben Award for editorial cartoons from the National Cartoonists Society.

Here is a list of the members who have websites. As you can see, there are far too many to get email addresses from. What I'd suggest is going to a couple of the websites of cartoonists you know, see if you can get an email addy and send them a quick note. The URL for Rall's libel against Tillman is here.

Rall's competition is the odious (but talented) Tom Toles and the somewhat annoying Mike Luckovich. Luckovich won recently, so there may be a "It's somebody else's turn" attitude among voters. The good news is that a lot of these cartoonists (judging from their photos) are older folks, to whom the notion of patriotism may not be offensive. Oh, and don't send email to any of the creators with an asterisk before their name; they are deceased.
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Speaking of Heroes...

There is a great post about some uncommon folk in Iraq over at Captain Ed's blog.
0 comments links to this post
 
Welcome A Small Victory Readers!

The Ted Rall Unemployment Project is just a few posts below. Thank you for your support, and please, if you know of any publications which are not listed which carry Rall's "work" please let me know in the comments section and I will add them.
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Ted Rall=Ellsworth Toohey

In the Ayn Rand novel, The Fountainhead, Howard Roark is opposed by Ellsworth Toohey, a newspaper columnist. Toohey is a collectivist whose goal is to tear down any heroes that emerge. Because heroes are unique and admired, they must be torn down before they become something that the average person aspires to be.

Ted Rall has a response to the emails he's been getting about the Tillman cartoon. Perhaps appropriately, his page is entitled "Search and Destroy".

My cartoon is a reaction to the extraordinary lionizing of Mr. Tillman as a national hero. First of all, the media's decision to genuflect to a cult of death is terrifyingly similar to the cult of Palestinian suicide bombers in the Middle East and the glorious coverage given by the Japanese during World War II to fallen kamikaze fighters. Nowhere has this excessive praise for the act of voluntary death been more extreme than in Mr. Tillman's case.

What a whack job! Tillman is nothing like a suicide bomber or a kamikaze pilot. He did not intend to die for his country, rather as Patton exhorted, he wanted to make the other guy die for his country!

Second, Mr. Tillman served an evil president and an evil cause. Anyone with an open mind after 9/11 could easily have learned the truth, that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq occured instead of a war on terror, not as part of one. A person who planned to risk his life in combat should reasonably be expected to dig a little deeper rather than to fall for Bush's transparent lies. We all judge each other, and while Tillman's decision to sacrifice millions of dollars for his beliefs is admirable, his belief that killing the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan had something to do with defending America was not. At best, Tillman was foolish and misguided.

He grudgingly admires Tillman for giving up millions (what communist could fail to admire that!), but not for this president and this cause. Ellsworth Toohey could not have put it better.

Michele Catalano has a lot more on this topic, and I should have given her a hat tip yesterday.
0 comments links to this post
Monday, May 03, 2004
 
The Ted Rall Unemployment Project--Updated III!

I strongly suggest that you make the focus of your email the first panel of the offending cartoon, in which Tillman is quoted by Rall as saying, "Never mind the fine print. Will I get to kill Arabs?" As offensive as the rest of the cartoon is, this is the part that Rall cannot defend, as he puts racist words in Tillman's mouth that Pat never said, never even hinted at. Be polite; remember that the editor will probably be on your side unless you turn him off with anger and profanity. And be sure to specify that you want to see Rall's cartoon pulled permanently from their publication.

Here's a sample email:

I am writing to you today about Ted Rall, a cartoonist who I believe is associated with your publication. In his May 3, 2004 cartoon, Mr Rall depicted Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who quit football to join the Army's Rangers and who was killed in Afghanistan a few weeks ago, as a racist, an "idiot" and a "sap".

Mr Rall certainly has the right to call Mr Tillman an idiot and a sap if he so desires. However, he does not have the right to put racist words in the mouth of Mr Tillman. In the first panel of his cartoon, Rall has Tillman saying, "Never mind the fine print. Will I get to kill Arabs?" Mr Tillman never said those words, or even hinted that was his motivation for enlisting, and it is disgusting and disturbing of Mr Rall to attribute those comments to a young man who can no longer defend himself.

I hope that you can see that Mr Rall is not the kind of cartoonist your publication cares to be associated with in the future.

Recipients:

Universal Press Syndicate:
Lee Salem
lsalem@amuniversal.com

MSNBC:
letters@MSNBC.com
GeneralComments@feedback.msnbc.com

Washington Post:
ombudsman@washpost.com

NY Times:
public@nytimes.com
Update: NY Times replies rather snidely:

As I noted, Mr. Rall's cartoons have not appeared in The Times for at least a month.

As we have many issues to deal with which have appeared in The Times, it would be helpful if in the future if you would make sure The Times has done something which concerns you before writing us about it.

Sincerely,
Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

Hartford Advocate:
Alistair Highet
ahighet@hartfordadvocate.com

San Jose Mercury News:
Update: San Jose Mercury News says they have not carried Rall for several years.

Los Angeles Times:
letters@latimes.com

Las Vegas Review-Journal
Online email submission link

Wilmington News-Journal
John H. Taylor
jtaylor@delawareonline.com

San Diego Reader
Online email submission link

Village Voice
Online email submission link:

Aspen Times:
mail@aspentimes.com

Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger says they have not run Rall's cartoons in a couple of years (probably since the 9-11 widows strip).

Lexington Herald-Leader
hleditorial@herald-leader.com

Sacramento News & Review
Tom Walsh
tomw@newsreview.com

Tucson Weekly
Jimmy Boegle
jboegle@tucsonweekly.com

Washington City Paper
mail@washcp.com

Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News
John Kirkpatrick
mailto:jkirkpatrick@pnco

Philadelphia Daily News
Online email submission link

Men's Health Magazine:

Online email submission link

(Hat tip to Chris)

If you can find some more places where he's being published and/or emails of contacts, please put them in the comments section.
0 comments links to this post
 
Tigers Update

The Tigers are currently 13-12. They would need to go 64-73 in order to break the record for the greatest year over year turnaround in baseball history, currently held by the 1998-1999 Arizona Diamondbacks.
0 comments links to this post
 
Good Tigers Weblog

Appropriately enough, entitled The Detroit Tiger Weblog. Solid analysis and commentary on the Motown Maulers.
0 comments links to this post
 
Andrew Sullivan On Tillman

Go read.
0 comments links to this post
Sunday, May 02, 2004
 
A Little Photo-Editing

0 comments links to this post
 
Anti-Warrior Exposed as Fake Ranger

This is typical:

In the Style section last summer we profiled a Los Angeles writer named Micah Ian Wright, who'd just published a shrill antiwar poster book called "You Back the Attack! We'll Bomb Who We Want!" In his book, he described himself as a veteran of combat, a former Army Ranger whose experiences during the 1989 invasion of Panama turned him into a peacenik. In interviews with The Post and other media, he played up that background.

Wright, it turns out, is a liar. He never served in the military -- and confessed that last week to his publisher, Seven Stories Press, after we insisted on evidence of his service. Pursuing a tip from real Rangers who'd never heard of Wright, we filed three Freedom of Information Act requests with separate Army commands -- and last month finally confirmed that Wright never served.


As I have discussed in the past, this is how the left mainstreams itself--it lies. Mr Wright knew that he had greater credibility as an anti-warrior if he claimed to have been inside the military himself. Typical of these wannabe heroes, he was not satisfied claiming he was a soldier. No, he had to be one of the elite soldiers, a Ranger. Let me tell you, you meet up with somebody who says he was a cook or a radioman or in a supply unit, odds are he's telling the truth. You meet a Ranger or a Navy Seal, and the odds are quite a bit less likely.

The story states that Wright promised to publish an apology on his website. So far no sign of it. Update--Here's the first version, here's the second.

Comic Book tie-in: Wright has written about 30 issues of Stormwatch: Team Achilles. Not familiar with the title, but his bio also notes that he did or is doing a 6 issue miniseries on the 1980s DC character The Vigilante.

Oh, and just so there's no confusion: I am not a vet myself. This story tied more into two longtime interests of mine--comics and lying lefties, and of course a recent interest of mine, the Army Rangers.

Update: Lots of attention to this story in other blogs. Turns out that, in typical leftist style, Wright used his supposed service as a club with which to beat his critics.

What blows my mind about this is the shallowness of thought used by Wright and others (particularly Democrats who thought Kerry was electable). They don't really think that only those who served in the military can criticize the use of the military, do they? Of course not, because then there'd be nobody to protest the war. But they do vaguely sense that their opposition would have greater credibility on the right if they can say they fought. Nobody then will think they're one of the mindless anti-military crowd, although that is exactly what they are.

Note too that in the both versions of the apology, Wright claims that his decision to reveal his fraudulent claims is guilt, especially following the death of Pat Tillman. However, the initial story I linked to above, makes it clear that it was actually the fact that the Washington Post had the scoop on his "Stolen Valor", and his initial apology, mentioning Tillman, was backdated to April 15th. Unfortunately for Wright, he backdated it a bit too much, as Tillman's death was reported on April 23rd.
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