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Saturday, May 14, 2005
New Study on Iraq War Deaths Estimates 24,000; Media Silent

Tim Worstall notes the hullaballoo that accompanied last year's estimate of 100,000, and wonders about the reason for the silence regarding the new study.

He's right that the lefty bloggers, to the extent they will ever acknowledge this study (and I'm not holding my breath) will inevitably conclude that no amount of lives lost was worth it; just as they studiously deny that the death toll should be adjusted for the number of people Saddam would have killed in the last two years had he been left in power.

Hat Tip: Instapundit
Meeting Kyoto Standards in Cities

This fawning article on local mayors attempting to meet the Kyoto mandates is amusing. Look at the "sacrifice" the mayor of Seattle is making his citizens endure:

Mr. Nickels said that to achieve the 7 percent reduction, Seattle was requiring cruise ships that dock in its bustling port to turn off their diesel engines while resupplying and to rely only on electric power provided by the city, a requirement that has forced some ships to retrofit. And by the end of this year the city's power utility, Seattle City Light, will be the only utility in the country with no net emissions of greenhouse gases, the mayor's office said.

Salt Lake City has become Utah's largest buyer of wind power in order to meet its reduction target. In New York, the Bloomberg administration is trying to reduce emissions from the municipal fleet by buying hybrid electric-gasoline-powered vehicles.

So cruise ships account for 7 percent of Seattle's greenhouse gas emissions? Somehow I doubt that it's even 1 percent; it's just that's where they could get an easy reduction.
Friday, May 13, 2005
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Saw it this afternoon, and while I found it entertaining, it was patchy at best. Part of the problem is that I've played the game, read the book, listened to the radio show and saw the TV series, so it's hard to surprise me, without changing the story around (which they do wildly). So the purists will hate it for tampering with the story and everybody else will be mostly baffled. There were only three or four legitimately funny bits. The entire Marvin the Paranoid Android bit, which was one of the genuine charms of the original series is annoying here. The costume is silly, and he just doesn't carry off the world-weariness of the original.
Interesting Randy Moss/Jerry Rice Comparison

Andrew Perloff raises the heretical notion that Randy Moss might be the greatest wide receiver of all time. The notion seems silly with Jerry Rice's incredible career just about complete annexing the receivers section of the NFL record book, but he does make this good point:

When you look at the numbers, however, Moss really hasn't fallen at all. When healthy (he battled a hamstring injury last season), Moss has maintained a statistical level of excellence that is rivaled only by Rice. Moss joins the Raiders for his eighth NFL season with 9,142 receiving yards and 90 TDs, nearly identical to Rice's 9,072 receiving yards and 93 TDs at that point in his career.

Now, of course, any rational assessment of the two would have to include their respective temperaments, off-field behavior, and example as stars to the rest of their teams. And it's pretty obvious that Rice comes out far ahead of Moss on that scale. Rice was pretty much the kind of superstar that every sports franchise dreams of; Moss is more of a nightmare.

But anybody whose numbers compare to Rice's after seven years in the league is clearly one heck of a player. I don't think Moss has a chance of catching Rice long-term. Rice's eighth to eleventh years he averaged 1500 yards per season and 13 TDs, numbers that Moss will be hard-pressed to match.
Aidan Delgado Update

Via Grendel's Dragon, we learn that he participated in events related to National Deserters' Day.
More Problems at See-BS News?

In the Right Place has the details.
Guaranteed to Win Awards

This movie sounds like it will be a big hit with the brie & chablis set:

BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares is being turned into a feature film to be screened at Cannes' film festival.

The BBC Two series questioned whether the threat of terrorism to the West was a politically-driven fantasy, winning a Bafta TV award among other prizes.

Yes, it was a politically-driven fantasy. Those two towers coming down? Computer graphic animation. The bombings in Spain? Hey, do you really believe in Spain? I think it's somewhere near the Shire in Middle Earth. Middle Earth, Mediterranean, get it?
Thursday, May 12, 2005
NY Times Should Have Gotten It Right When Everybody Else Got it Wrong

I can't help reading this theya culpa and thinking that's what Okrent has in mind.

About to be liberated from his duties at The New York Times, outgoing Public Editor Daniel Okrent, who was critical of the paper's pre-Iraq war coverage but in a measured way, spoke more bluntly in an interview with this week.

Okrent said the Times did "a lousy job on WMD," and, while it was "not consciously evil," it was "bad journalism, even very bad journalism."
Lampley Engaging in Dishonest Linking?

He starts off with a smear of Diebold, the company that is rapidly replacing Halliburton in the feverish fantasy world of the left.

Make no mistake: my argument is that the final official vote tally is anything but accurate, that it is the product of massive vote fraud carried out through the programing of Diebold voting machines and various other machinations aimed at suppressing, destroying or losing Kerry votes.

But then he goes off the deep end with this boner:

Various statisticians have reported that the odds on the occurrence of variances from exit polls to actual results such as were produced in this election range up to 959 000 to 1. Sounds like DNA. As US Count Votes notes in a statistical abstract, "No matter how one calculates it, the discrepancy cannot be attributed to chance.

Believe it or not, he links "various statisticians" to this post at Democratic Underground. I mean, is that hilarous or what? Jim, when you link the words "various statisticians" to something, we assume it's going to be reasonably scholarly in nature, not a bleat from one of your fellow sheep who wouldn't know a standard deviation from a standard deviant. Linking to that post with the words "various statisticians" is intellectually dishonest. Note as well that the linked post does not contain the odds 959,000 to 1 anywhere.

I sincerely hope that Byron York doesn't waste his time responding to this nonsense.
Michael Moore = Pat Buchanan = David Duke = Ralph Nader?

Stephen Zak has assembled an interesting series of quotes.
More On Global Warming

We'll be hearing that this guy is an oil industry shill in T-minus 10, 9, 8....

Their reconstruction (see figure 2) has two very important implications on our understanding of contemporary climate. First, the "great" climate shift of the late 70s that sent climatologists ballistic pales in comparison to many of the changes observed over the past 1000 years or more. Based on this graphic, the PDO is diving and leaping more than an Italian midfielder during the World Cup. It's awfully hard to see any evidence of global warming in the last 150 years of that record.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
The Best Damn Hunting Show, Period

Chris isn't impressed with the competition, but he obviously likes the Motor City Madman's.
York Delivers a Crushing Blow to the Head of Lampley! Down Goes Lampley! Down Goes Lampley! Down Goes Lampley!

Hehe, nice to see one of the smart guys on our side really deliver a full-on Fisking.

Read it all, but I loved this part:

Finally, one question -- and this is not directed just at Jim Lampley, who refers to my "typical neocon disingenuity." Why is it that some people routinely refer to conservatives these days as "neoconservatives?" Is there a neoconservative position on the Ohio vote count that differs from the conservative position? If you know, please tell me. And now, I have to get back to work.

The answer is that those people don't have a clue what neoconservatism is; they've just latched onto it as a synonym for Republicans they don't like. Many, many, libs think Bush is a neocon, which is hilarious.
Amazing Race Update

Lorie Byrd is happy that Uchenna & Joyce won. I agree, their upbeat and cheerful demeanor and of course the drama of the episode where Joyce had to have her head shaved won me over.
Where I Stand

Abortion: I basically agree with nobody on this issue. It should be legal, but states should have the right to ban it. I want Roe v. Wade overturned. My rationale on keeping it legal is that most proposals to ban it include exceptions for rape and incest; I foresee a sudden jump in false rape claims. In addition, I do think that if abortion is really murder, then why aren't we talking about putting the women who have them in jail for a long time? Could it be that it really isn't murder? That's not to say that it's not morally wrong, because it is in my opinion.

Capital Punishment: Basically in favor, but somewhat concerned about giving the government the ultimate power. And I'm concerned that the deterrent effect is diluted by the length of time it takes to execute someone. Just recently I heard on the radio that an inmate in Texas was about to be executed for a murder committed in 1996, and my reaction was, "Wow, that's quick!"

Censorship: I'm fine with TV and radio the way it is now, with mostly family friendly stuff on over the air and more racy stuff available on cable or satellite. Unlike some good friends of mine, I'm generally in favor of getting rid of or toning down the raunchier stuff on radio like Howard Stern, or at least putting it on at a different time.

Economics: Generally a free market believer with protections against genuine fraud. Very happy with the Federal Reserve, but I don't think that's an issue anymore except for the kook fringes on both sides. Certainly a believe in lower taxes breeding greater economic activity, although I'll admit that with marginal rates where they are it's hard to argue they're much of a brake on the economy anymore.

Global Warming: May be happening, but may not be human caused. The biggest problem the scientists have in convincing me on this is that the non-scientific folks who are pushing this have zero credibility.

Government Spending: I believe in a minimalist government that provides the necessary infrastructure and defense, and then gets the heck out of the way. Education is a necessary part of that infrastructure, but should be funded and managed largely on the local level.

Health Care: I don't think we have any real crisis in health care, and I certainly don't buy promises of billions of dollars of savings if we nationalize it. I was on the National Health in Britain for three months in 1976, and had to wait 8 hours to see a doctor for a blood clot in my leg. No thanks.

Social Security: The best reason for privatizing it to a large degree is that until we do that, it will always be a political football and a Ponzi scheme.

Stem Cell Research: I'm suspicious of the miracle claims for this. Anybody remember fetal tissue research and the similar hubub?

I'd characterize myself as more of a Republican than a conservative, although I agree with conservatives on most issues. I vote solid Republican at this point in my life, although I'd be willing to vote for a Democrat if I knew they were reasonable and capable. Can't think of anybody on the national scene who'd qualify at this point; maybe Zell Miller if he were younger.

Any other general issues you'd like to hear my views on?
Moron Arthur Miller

I wrote a fairly critical post on Arthur Miller after noting the phenomenal coverage that his death received. Turned out I wasn't the only one who had not been bowled over by his intellect.

Well, they had a little memorial service for him and Edward Albee had a cow over the New Criterion piece linked above. But the New Criterion gets the last laugh:

It's swell that Mr. Albee and his pals get together and congratulate themselves on their good taste, their celebrity and the good taste and celebrity of their friends. And no one would claim that memorial services are distinguished by their adherence to truth in advertising. But really, there are limits. Before Mr. Albee started tossing around words like “vile” and “sniggering” he ought to have reflected on the vile smugness of a playwright whose career owed much more to his radical-chic political posturing than it did to his virtues as a writer. As for “sniggering”, well, Mr. Albee concluded his remarks with the observation that “Arthur Miller was a writer who mattered. A lot.” Now that's worth sniggering about.

Incidentally, I reread Death of a Salesman last month (well after writing my post) and I have to admit, it was quite a bit more nuanced than I had remembered. Although liberals love Willy Loman for supposedly revealing the sick heart of the American Dream, in fact Willy never really buys into the American Dream of hard work and integrity leading to success. Instead he buys into the American Dream as viewed by liberals; that it's all about being well-liked, that morals don't matter, that integrity doesn't matter. His failure is the failure of a guy who tried to coast through life without making the right decisions, who wants to know why it didn't result in the happy ending of the fairy tales.

Hat Tip: Power Line
Lampley Posts Around the Blogs

The story seems to be getting some attention.

QandO makes the same point as I did originally on the story, that there were consistent signs from other markets that President Bush was going to win the election. Lampley wants to look at one moment in time, 5:00 PM eastern on election day (which was the time that all the liberals were swooning, thinking they'd won).

Tim Hoy says Lampley's a moron. I wouldn't go that far. He's just a buffoon.

Don't Let Me Stop You references Lampley's boxing announcing work and says that he took too many blows to the head.

Laurence Simon dubs Lampley the idiot of the day.

In the end, what it all boils down to is that the liberals were convinced they were going to win this election. Like Pauline Kael, they didn't know anybody who had voted for the Republican, so therefore the election must have been stolen. Lampley probably knows that the exit polls have been debunked, so he tried to move his analysis one step away from the exit polls, but when caught out by York switched back to the ridiculous "time-honored exit polls". And as Robert George noted, he also accused York of engaging in a little "typical neocon disingenuity". I don't know if York's actually a neocon, but we all know (David) Brooks' Law says that whenever a liberal uses the word "neocon" in a sentence, the rest of the sentence is false.
Lampley Ignores the First Rule of Holes

And keeps digging. His first post over the Huffington blog got smacked down by Byron York.

At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, May 7, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and to see the odds as of that moment on the Kentucky Derby. Bellamy Road was a 5-to-2 favorite. You can look it up.

People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted horse racing experts and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that Bellamy Road would win the Derby.

And he most certainly would have, at least if the race had been run fairly and legally. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, with the 50-to-1 Giacomo winning the race, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

Lampley comes back with:

In an attempt to refute the logic of my previous post about the stolen Presidential election of 2004, Byron York compares the handicapping of the Kentucky Derby to oddsmakers' responses to the exit polls which demonstrated John Kerry was the actual winner on November 4. This is typical neocon disingenuity, a shunt designed to ignore the real question.

Handicapping a horse race is sophisticated alchemy, the highest form of tea-leaf reading but tea-leaf reading nevertheless. To compare the data in the Daily Racing Form directly to the kind of scientifically disciplined information that comes from time-honored exit polls is intellectual garbage and York knows enough to know that.

Except of course, that York was not comparing the exit polls to the Kentucky Derby, but the betting in the online sports books on the election to the Kentucky Derby. Which means it's an excellent comparison. Remember, Lampley started the whole argument by saying that the online sports books showed Kerry winning:

At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite.

And the part about the time-honored exit polls is foofaraw. They projected Gore the winner in Florida in 2000; which did not turn out to be the case. They initially showed the Republicans losing horribly in 2002; at the end of election day the Republicans had regained their majority in the Senate with seats to spare.

Lampley closes with a bit of bluster:

Byron York won't scare me off. Not with lightweight stuff like that.

Jim Lampley calling Byron York a lightweight? Oh, that is rich.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Live-Blogging the Amazing Race

Good recap of the season so far. I realized that I must have come into the show a week or two late, as I don't remember the bikers.

Start in London, but the first task is to fly to Jamaica mon. No sense that anybody made a real effort to try to find an alternate to the Air Jamaica flight, although Rob did check on the internet quickly.

Lots of relationship stuff with Ron & Kelly. She's been something of an annoyance the whole race and now the tears start to flow as she tries to wheedle Ron into marrying her.

In Jamaica, the girls all do the limbo to see who will leave earliest. The cameraman gets a great angle on Ambuh's boobs. In the end, Ambuh & Kelly tie for first, with Joyce fifteen minutes behind. Fortunately, the next morning there just happen to be a couple cabs at this (apparently) deserted beach.

The roadblock is to either paddle a raft 8 miles down a slow-moving river, or to construct a raft and pole across that same river about 100 feet. Everybody makes the obvious calculation. Uchenna and Joyce catch up by constructing their raft a lot quicker than anybody else, and cross at the same time as Rob & Ambuh. After that, it's a cab race to the finish line.

Hilariously, at one point all the teams are all in one gas station nearly simultaneously. In a sequence that seems a little too perfect, Rob & Ambuh are in second place, but they get pulled over by the cops for a "random" stop. Rob remarks that this might cost them a million bucks. Then Uchenna & Joyce's cab has a flat (the other teams have both noticed the tire deflating slowly).

At the end it's not quite as much of a dash as they play it. Ron & Kelly arrive first, with Team Survivor not far behind. Joyce & Uchenna bring up the rear, but predictably this is a non-elimination leg and they live albeit with no possessions and no money.

Next day, the first task is to pick up onions and chop 50 of them at a restaurant. Joyce & Uchenna have no money to hire a cab but they manage to bum a ride to the airport where they start begging. This part is pretty embarrassing, especially since the folks turn them down. The only thing worse than begging for money is begging for money and not getting any. Fortunately they eventually get it, but by then the other two couples have finished their task and are on the way to the next one.

This time it's golfing or horse-swimming. Predictably, Rob chooses the golf. I recall an episode of Survivor All-Stars where he won a reward challenge trip to a yacht, where (among other things) they hit golf balls off the back, and Rob made some sort of comment about being on his high school golf team, just before exhibiting a horrific swing. Today, his golf game seems no better as he hooks his first shot. Still he gets one on eventually, while Kelly, who mentioned taking lessons, does the same for Team America.

Rob & Ambuh miss a flight barely at the airport to San Juan, but they still get the first flight out, while Ron & Kelly are on the next one, and Uchenna & Joyce bring up the rear. However, in San Juan it turns out there's a bottleneck, as the sugar mill they must go through is closed for the night. Team Africa, after seeming far behind is even.

In the morning the three couples race through the old mill (love to see the waivers CBS's lawyers got on that stunt). Then there's a roadblock. One member of each team must jump off a pier. Amazingly, Rob & Ambuh dash out of the mill without realizing the steps down to the pier were right next to them. Ron finishes the task, followed by Uchenna and Ambuh. Then it's off to the airport for Miami.

Hilariously, Kelly misses the turn, yelling, "Left!" when of course she meant "Right!" Worse still, she tries to deny it and won't apologize for blowing it. Rob & Ambuh somehow manage to snake their way onto an early flight, but then the door opens and Uchenna and Joyce get on. Ron & Kelly take the second flight, effectively dooming them.

Rob & Ambuh get the first clue in Miami, under a causeway, with Uchenna & Joyce close behind. However, Uchenna & Joyce's cab driver realizes that the King of the Havanas is the same as "El Roy de los Habanos" and they take the lead. Eventually Rob & Ambuh find the cigar shop. Uchenna & Joyce seem to have it wrapped up, but they don't have enough money to pay the cab driver and so they're reduced to begging only yards from the finish line, which they apparently can't cross owing money. Although the editing makes us thing Rob & Ambuh are right on their tail, they manage to bum $45 from passersby without getting caught and in the end they jog past all the teams that had been eliminated. Emotional moments ensue.

Overall, I really enjoyed the season--lots of exciting moments, lots of colorful scenery. As I indicated above, there were parts that seemed just a little too good--the cops pulling over Team Survivor, followed by the flat tire on the cab. It seemed to me as if a little drama was added that didn't affect the overall finish.

BTW, fairly early in the season I read an article that indicates that some folks knew that Uchenna and Joyce had won, and tried to make money on Tradesports, so the game was taken off the board. Interestingly, the bets supposedly came from Massachusetts and California. Gee, do we know anybody from Massachusetts?

Viking Pundit has his usual excellent recap here, with a hilarious observation on the phrase Boston Rob used all night long.

Kris at Dummocrats reflects on one of the best roadblocks ever (My knowledge of TAR is only from this season, but I agree, it was very unique), and plans to watch the wedding. There was an ad for the wedding that talked about all that planning and showing Rob moaning, "There's so much to do!" And wait till we see the dress! Yeah, sounds like loads of fun! ;)
More On Wisconsin Vote Fraud

This topic got a little attention back in January, but John Ruberry has some updated information.
Around the Horn

Lou Minatti (if he were sick, would he be the ill Lou Minatti?) takes a cleaver to Meathead. Spotted at Roger L. Simon's.

GOP & the City has another one of his caption/photoshop contests, which are always good fun.

Lorie Byrd mourns that there are only two more episodes of '24' left this season. Of course there is only one more Amazing Race episode and that's tonight.

I'm melting, melting! Kitty comes up with the perfect picture again for John Podhoretz's latest column.
Kerry's Extreme Makeover

Neo-neocon looks at the latest John F. Kerry incarnation as an outsider. Outside the realm of possibility, maybe?

While we're on the subject, it's now 100 days, Senator Kerry. Do you know where your Form 180 is?
New to the Blogroll

Sheesh, I'm a little embarrassed to discover that I didn't have Pam Meister's blog on my list. She's been blogging with us over at Lifelike. Her writing style is very similar to mine (you can decide whether that's a compliment). I always enjoy reading her posts, like this one on Arianna Huffington's blog.
War With North Korea?

That's the title of Aaron's excellent essay over at Lifelike. Highly recommended
Huffington Post: A Second Look

A lot of people are linking to this article on the Huffington Post. It's kind of a romp for those who see Airiheadda's venture as bound to fail, and the points raised about financing in the article do make me wonder whether the venture is adequately capitalized.

But as a blogger, I'm kind of enjoying it. There's certainly no lack of idiotic posts to critique, as in this one by former Monkey Business first mate Gary Hart.

If the goal of the Project for a New American Century, as it thereafter became the Bush administration, was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, install a friendly government in Baghdad, set up a permanent political and military presence in Iraq, and dominate the behavior of the region (including securing oil supplies), then you build permanent bases for some kind of permanent American military presence. If the goal was to spread democracy and freedom, then you don’t.

Question for Mr Hart: Did the US build permanent military bases in Japan and Germany after World War II? Does this mean that the goal was not to spread democracy and freedom in those countries?

See what I mean? It's like somebody gathered a whole bunch of fish in a barrel for us to shoot at.
Jim Lampley's Odds

Here's one of the lamest analyses I've ever read.

At 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Election Day, I checked the sportsbook odds in Las Vegas and via the offshore bookmakers to see the odds as of that moment on the Presidential election. John Kerry was a two-to-one favorite. You can look it up.

People who have lived in the sports world as I have, bettors in particular, have a feel for what I am about to say about this: these people are extremely scientific in their assessments. These people understand which information to trust and which indicators to consult in determining where to place a dividing line to influence bets, and they are not in the business of being completely wrong. Oddsmakers consulted exit polling and knew what it meant and acknowledged in their oddsmaking at that moment that John Kerry was winning the election.

And he most certainly was, at least if the votes had been fairly and legally counted. What happened instead was the biggest crime in the history of the nation, and the collective media silence which has followed is the greatest fourth-estate failure ever on our soil.

Now, it is probably true that the sports books had Kerry as the favorite at that point in time. But of course, like everybody else (including the gamblers), they were reacting to the exit polling which we know was flawed. Even the people who did the polling admit that it was flawed.

What about all the polling prior to the election, which found Bush favored by 3-5 points? What about the fact that John Fraude Kerry had not led in the Iowa Electronic Markets from September on?

Oh, and Jim, when you say, "You can look it up," it's customary in the blogging world to include a link.
McCartney Sisters to Get Funding from EU for Civil Suit?

This is rather interesting:

The European Parliament today called on the European Union to help pay for a civil suit planned by the family of a man killed in Northern Ireland against the Irish Republican Army members they say are responsible for his death.

Now, I've been very supportive of the McCartney sisters, but this is pretty difficult. If Fred Goldman had approached the US Congress to fund his lawsuit against O.J. Simpson, I would have said no, and after thinking about it for awhile, I would have said hell, no! Although the EU is a different animal, I cannot imagine that having the government fund a private lawsuit is a good thing, however just the cause.

Richard Delevan has lots of coverage. Just keep scrolling. Note particularly this part on the names of the people involved. These names do not match the ones I have posted in the past based on an earlier newspaper story.
Canadian Cynic Takes Exception to My Calculations on Social Security

I'll avoid returning the nasty names he calls Tim Worstall and me, and get right to the point:

Why, yes, let's make some thoroughly unworldly assumptions, shall we? Let's first assume that, if Mr. $60K were to get a windfall of $1,000 per year, why, he'd be able to invest the whole thing -- every penny of it. It's not as if $60K is such a stunning salary that he wouldn't, perhaps, use that money to pay off credit card debts, maybe do a little home renovation, conceivably use it as a down payment on a larger family vehicle now that he has three kids and needs a second car or anything, or even for that unforeseen medical emergency for which he's almost certainly underinsured, medical insurance in the U.S. being outrageously expensive and all.

Well, if he uses it to pay off credit card debts, he gets a heck of a lot better return than 5% (most credit cards carry a higher interest rate), so the analysis still holds. And this part is hilarious:

But let's simplify things to where even Mr. Worstall might be able to understand it. Ignore entirely the possible returns on investing. Look simply at the numbers. In the case of Mr. $60K, his $1,000 per year tax advantage is, on a yearly basis, more than offset by his reduction of $6,500 per year in Social Security benefits. Please tell me you understand that -- that $6,500 is a larger value than $1,000.

Look, Mr Cynic, here's a deal I'll offer you, since $6,500 is a larger value than $1,000. If you give me $1000 a year for the next 40 years, I'll give you $6,500 per year for the next three years after that. What's that? You'd be giving me $40,000 and I'd only be giving you $19,500? But I thought $6,500 was a larger value? Or is there another variable in this equation, like the number of years? Very few people have a longer retirement than their working life. And that "ignore entirely the possible returns on investing," is a classic dodge. Yes, if you assume that the person puts the money under the mattress, you can disprove that just about anything that takes into account the time value of money.

As for this:

That's right -- Pat suggests that it's not fair to compare the reduction in SS benefits in light of the tax cuts since, well, the tax cuts already happened and the SS stuff is still pending, therefore they can have no relation to one another.

Ignore, of course, that that very same tax cut is being used as a defense of reductions in SS benefits. Ignore that Pat, in his very next paragraph, writes glowingly of Tim's analysis which used those very same tax cuts to show how Mr. $60K was getting a "pretty good" deal. And ignore the fact that Pat himself, over here, at the hideously-misnamed "Brainster" blog, produces his own table incorporating the very same tax cuts he just described as being irrelevant to the discussion. No, I am not making any of this up. Follow the links, and gaze in awe on mathematical stupidity and/or duplicity taken to a whole new level.

I'd just like to see where he gets the impression that the tax cut is being used as a defense of the reductions in SS benefits. Anybody? Bueller? There's no link from this remarkable statement, it's just stated as settled fact.

Nobody is using the tax cut to defend the Social Security benefit cuts, because they're completely unrelated. Social Security is not funded with income tax receipts, it's funded with FICA taxes. Now it's true that I did some calculations as if they were related, but it was solely to prove that even granting Krugman's illogical point, the deal for the $60,000 worker was better than it might seem at first blush.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Minority Rule?

Mr Right has the goods on Democratic Senator Carl Levin.
Looking for DePaul University Free Speech Defenders!

John Ruberry is looking for current DePaul University students who are willing to support embattled Professor Thomas Klocek, who has been suspended for debating with pro-Palestinian students at a demonstration. John has a summary of the Klocek case here.
Some Great E-Mail Stock Tips

I've been getting deluged with email over the last month and a half or so with "h0t" tips on stocks that are "b0und t0 s0ar". The hottest of the hot (judging from the amount of email I've gotten) is Wysak Petroleum. The interesting thing is that these tipsters usually include the current share price with their recommendation, and Wysak has nosedived since the first "reports" were emailed to me on this . They were at $0.24/share about 45 days ago, and now they're at $0.10. I'm wondering if there might be some money in shorting the stocks I get from these anonymous tipsters.
Funniest Bit of the Week

Our buddy Mr Right from In the Right Place pointed us to this hilarious post. Who says accountants don't have a sense of humor?
High School Bullies All From Red States?

Instapundit links to this post at Salon (brief ad watch required).

Jones asked the crowd of several hundred filling the Swedish American Music Hall on Market Street -- who'd also come to hear from the likes of George "Framing" Lakoff and co-founder Wes Boyd -- how many of them were born and raised in San Francisco. A handful of hands went up. How about born and raised in California? More hands. But not that many.

Jones, who grew up in Tennessee, told the crowd that he'd felt out of place as a kid -- like many of them probably did -- and moved away. But over the years spent in more liberal places like the Bay Area, he somehow forgot how to talk to folks from his old hometown. He said that when he goes back to Tennessee for Thanksgiving and launches into a 10-minute monologue about politics, he's met by embarrassed silences from his relatives, the very kindest response being: "Well, that was a mouthful."

"How long are we going to let being bullied in high school run our lives and run our movement? It's time for us to have some kind of homecoming," he said, to vigorous applause from an audience apparently now eager to connect with long-lost red-state brethren.

Fellow panelist Adam Werbach, the former President of the Sierra Club, who now sits on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, offered this rallying cry: "We will dissolve junior high!"

Now of course, the irony is that far more people are moving to Red States than from them. And as a Red Stater who grew up in what is now a Blue State, I can tell you that bullies are quite common even in the most liberal areas. Beyond that, I don't quite get the anecdote--is Jones suggested something different than a 10-minute monologue (which, as Glenn points out, nobody particularly enjoys no matter what the subject)? If so, then what does the bullying point have to do with anything? Is the argument that having been bullied, lo those many years ago, makes one give monologues rather than let someone get a word (or a punch) in edgewise?

Of course, the anecdote reminds me of nothing so much as this (unintentionally) hilarious Maureen Dowd column.
Huffington Blog Allowing Comments & Trackback?

Oddly enough, it appears to be only on responses to their blog items & news stories. And they mention that the comments are moderated:

We read every comment submitted but only publish comments that are on topic and have the potential to interest other readers.

I'm going to test putting a trackback on their Jeff Gannon story.

Update: It works! Still no comments or trackbacks on the individual blog posts.
Walter Cronkite's First Post

I suppose it's unkind to chastise a 150-year-old man, but here's the significant part of his post:

I've got some other exceedingly interesting pieces up my sleeve, like a proposal that the Democratic Party organize a convention this year to debate and resolve a platform that would provide the confused electorate some idea of what the party stands for?a regretfully missing ingredient in the politics of the moment.

We'll decide how exceedingly interesting those pieces are, Walter, and it's "regrettably", not "regretfully", and the ellipsis is intended to represent missing words, not to cover up the fact that you were about to end a sentence with a preposition. That said, it would be nice to hear from the Democrats as to what they stand for....
Horn Dog In Chief

Kitty posted a link to this article about Bill Clinton hitting on actor Brandon Fraser's wife:

"My wife was wearing a red dress and has certain endowments," Fraser tells Elle magazine. "I introduced her in the receiving line, and he said, 'Hell-ooo, Afton.' The Secret Service was prodding people to move along, but I saw Clinton make this hand gesture like, 'Back off for a second, guys.' " Clinton immediately turned on the charm and began peppering Afton with questions about herself.

Here's a picture to give you an idea of Afton's endowments:

Krugman's Social Security Analysis Flaw

Over at Lifelike I put up a post on Krugman's ridiculous column on Social Security. Here's the key part of Krugman's column:

Let's consider the Bush tax cuts and the Bush benefit cuts as a package. Who gains? Who loses?

Suppose you're a full-time Wal-Mart employee, earning $17,000 a year. You probably didn't get any tax cut. But Mr. Bush says, generously, that he won't cut your Social Security benefits.

Suppose you're earning $60,000 a year. On average, Mr. Bush cut taxes for workers like you by about $1,000 per year. But by 2045 the Bush Social Security plan would cut benefits for workers like you by about $6,500 per year. Not a very good deal.

Suppose, finally, that you're making $1 million a year. You received a tax cut worth about $50,000 per year. By 2045 the Bush plan would reduce benefits for people like you by about $9,400 per year. We have a winner!

As I pointed out, this analysis links two different things; the tax cuts have nothing to do with Social Security benefit cuts; the bills aren't linked, the tax cut is a fait accompli while the Social Security benefits cuts are just being discussed. There is no connection between the two, and Krugman's just engaging in a little intellectual dishonesty here.

And Tim Worstall points out that the deal being offered to the $60,000 a year guy is not too bad. Remember that the $1000 per year tax cut applies to the person's entire working life, while the $6,500 per year benefit reduction comes only after age 65. Further, the $1,000 could be invested to fund the $6,500 loss of benefits years later.

I did a quickie spreadsheet, assuming one started investing $1,000 per year at 5% interest (including inflation) from age 25-64, after which the person would start drawing down $6,500 per annum. Here are the first couple rows of the spreadsheet:

Age Contrib Int End Bal
25 1,000 - 1,000
26 1,000 50 2,050
27 1,000 103 3,153
28 1,000 158 4,310
29 1,000 216 5,526
30 1,000 276 6,802

Skipping ahead:

63 1,000 5,385 114,095
64 1,000 5,705 120,800

So now we've got a $120,000 nest egg to fund the $6,500 in benefits reduction. How long would that last?

Answer: If you keep investing at 5% interest, it would last until you are 118 years old. If you die at age 80, you'd still have $110,000 sitting in your account. If you died at age 90, your heirs would be splitting $97,000.

So by Krugman's own account, the deal is a pretty good one for the middle class.

Update: Tom Maguire has more, including a hilarious bit on Krugman as a three-card monte dealer.
The Triumph of Yalta

Arthur Schlesinger wants us all to know what a success it was:

But FDR managed to extract an astonishing document – the Declaration on Liberated Europe, an eloquent affirmation of "the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they will live." Molotov warned Stalin against signing it, but he signed it anyway. It was a grave diplomatic blunder. In order to consolidate Soviet control, Stalin had to break the Yalta agreements – which therefore could not have been in his favor.

And the people of Eastern Europe were free to choose the form of government under which they lived. As long as it was a communist government.

Sheesh! This is one of the deep thinkers at the Huffington Post!
A Quick Surf of the Huffington Post

Well, after all the ballyhoo and foofaraw, the Huffington Post is finally here.

Showing that she's hip to the latest breaking news, the front cover has a Jeff Gannon story. But it's us Republican bloggers who are obsessing on that story, right? Actually it's a link to a Vanity Fair roundtable on L'affaire Gannon.

John Cusack reports on his trip to Hunter Thompson's funeral.

The sun was shining and gunfire echoed as friends and family gathered and shot targets on the lawn. Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” booming. Books, notes, numbers, pills, bullets, totems and talismans everywhere. Outside his wife offered liquid acid to people in the driveway. In the kitchen where he took his life, a huge American flag overlooked his suicide. He was looking right at it.

Sounds like the '70s never left us.

Ellen Degeneres has a cause.

Late last year, Congress did away with a 34 year old regulation banning the government from selling any of the 37,000 wild horses running free across America’s western plains. Since the new rule was adopted, the Bureau of Land Management has sold over a thousand horses to private parties. At least 41 of them have been slaughtered and turned into dog food.

There are a couple of non-left bloggers over there. But mostly the posts are about the trivial, as with Degeneres' piece. Hillary Rosen bitches about I-Pod not working with other music services than I-Tunes. Richard Bradley wonders why Hillary Rosen's upset. Greg Gutfeld asks for help with his recipe for lemon squares. Marshall Herskovitch wonders why there wasn't a bigger protest against "film sanitizing". There's nothing there that I would classify as must-read.

Update: One post in the last two hours. Sheesh, 250 bloggers and they're out of new content after 11 hours? Things are so bad that the Cusack and Degeneres posts are two of the four "Featured" posts!

One obvious problem (that needs to be fixed if the Huffington Post blog is going to succeed): No links to other blogs in the posts as yet. They do have a blogroll, but, perhaps predictably, it's skewed left and where they do have righty bloggers it's all the ones you'd expect: Power Line, Captain's Quarters, Ace of Spades, etc. All high-traffic blogs.

Other Voices:

Pam Meister at Lifelike jumps for joy.

Buttermilk & Molasses hopes Arianna hires an editor.

Laurence Simon has a blog that is all Arianna, all the time, called Huffington is Full of Crap.

Michelle Malkin thinks that it will succeed. The question is, succeed in what sense? If success is measured in eyeballs, I have no doubt that Michelle's right. But if success is measured in terms of changing the debate, of challenging the tired old left/right dichotomy, I doubt it. Yes, it will get eyeballs, just as that kid who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek TNG gets eyeballs. It's got celebrities (although mostly ones who've slipped to the "B" and "C" lists). The question is whether the eyeballs will be enough to keep 250 celebs interested.
How Do We Protect The Journalists Without Saving the Bloggers?

William Raspberry on the conundrum created by the Valerie Plame case, which may result in two journalists being sent to jail:

One way out would be for Congress to enact specific protections for journalistic confidentiality, and, in fact, several attempts are being developed. But their enactment would open the door for all manner of occasional bloggers and ether-pamphleteers to claim protection for presumably less reliable sources -- or force either the courts or Congress to decide who is a journalist. And who isn't.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Right Wing Nuthouse on a Roll

Killer post by Superhawk on blogs and blogging.
Stop Hill!

Joe Klein signs onto the Stop Hillary Bandwagon with an article that is, quite frankly, as naive as it gets from a political "expert".

He raises all sorts of objections to her candidacy, but most of them are objections that will resonate with moderates and Republicans in the general election.

Senator Clinton's supporters will say she is that candidate. And it is true that Clinton has far more leeway to run as a moderate than almost any other Democrat. Her repositioning on social issues has been overrated—she will have to do more than merely "respect" those who oppose abortion; she will have to propose creative compromises.

Yes, if she wants to get elected. But to get nominated she just has to keep the pro-abortion extremists in her party in line. She can do that easily.

Hilariously, he brings up Dean as the example:

My guess is that Hillary Clinton would roll into Iowa with an incredible, Howard Dean-like head of steam in January 2008, and then the folks—yes, even the Democratic base—would give her a very close look and conclude that a Hillary presidency would be slightly dodgy.

She'll have that Howard Dean-like head of steam alright. She'll also have the party apparatus behind her. There will be no "moderate savior" because all of the other ninnies running for the nomination are competing for the Move-On seal of approval. Evan Bayh? Please! The Move-On crowd may not be strong enough to run the party, but they are plenty capable of torpedoing a real moderate--see Joe Lieberman for President 2004, or any of the guys opposing Howard Dean for DNC chair.

He even trots out the dynasty argument:

There is something fundamentally un-American—and very European—about the Clintons and the Bushes trading the office every eight years, with stale, familiar corps of retainers, supporters and enemies. Bill Clinton was a good President. Hillary Clinton is a good Senator. But enough already. (And that goes for you too, Jeb.)

You may not like it, Joe, but the fact is that the Democrats will not be asked to vote on whether we should allow the Clintons and the Bushes to alternate running the country every eight years. They will be asked to decide on whether Hillary is right for them in 2008.

Write it in stone. Hillary's running and she will get the nomination.


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Brainster in the Media

Howard Kurtz's Media Notes: May 27, 2005

Slate Today's Blogs:

March 16, 2005

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Cited for Breaking the Christmas in Cambodia story (at Kerry Haters):

Hugh Hewitt: KerryHaters was on this story a long time ago. How could the elite media not have asked these questions before now?

Ankle-Biting Pundits: Our friends Pat and Kitty at Kerry Haters deserve the blog equivalent of a Pulitzer for their coverage of Kerry's intricate web of lies regarding Vietnam.

The Weekly Standard

Les Kinsolving

Greatest Hits

What If the Rest of the Fantastic Four Were Peaceniks?

Lefty Bloggers on Gay Witchhunt (linked by 16 blogs including Instapundit)

Kitty Myers Breaks Christmas in Cambodia

Brainster Shows Brinkley Says No Christmas in Cambodia

Explanation of the Blog's Name

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