Saturday, February 26, 2005

2010 Cenus Forecast:More electoral Votes for Red States

A projection by Polidata, a Republican-oriented political mapping and redistricting firm, shows population trends will make Republican-dominated 'Red' states more influential in winning presidential elections and determining control of Congress after the 2010 census.
The new study forecasts that 'Red' states will pick up a net six electoral votes, with Florida and Texas gaining three each. The 'Blue' states carried by John Kerry, according to Polidata, will lose a net six electoral votes, led by New York's loss of two. Under this distribution of electoral votes, George W. Bush could have been elected last November without carrying Ohio.
This projection points to probable Republican control of the White House and the House of Representatives far into the future. "

Friday, February 25, 2005

Strangeness Surrounded Hunter S. Thompson

"ASPEN- Hunter S. Thompson heard the ice clinking.
The literary champ was sitting in his command post kitchen chair, a piece of blank paper in his favorite typewriter, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot through the mouth hours earlier. "

But a small circle of family and friends gathered around with stories, as he wished, with glasses full of his favored elixir — Chivas Regal on ice."

"This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure," Anita Thompson said by phone, recounting that she was sitting in her husband's chair he called his catbird seat in the Rockies.

She added: "He lived a beautiful life and he lived it on his own terms, all the way from the very beginning to the very end."

Anita Thompson, like her husband's other close relatives, understood how Hunter Thompson wanted to make his ultimate exit.

"I always knew that Hunter was going to die before me," Anita Thompson, 32, said of her 67-year-old husband. "I'd accepted that. I just did not know it was going to be like this."

All these years I believed Wild Turkey was Thompson's drink du jour.

VDH on War

Victor Davis Hanson on War : "It is wise to cite and publicize our errors and there have been many in this war. Humility and circumspection are military assets as well. And we should not deprecate the danger of our enemies, who are cruel and ingenious. Moreover, we should never confuse the sharp dissent of the well-meaning critic with disloyalty to the cause.
But nor should we fall into pessimism, when in less than four years we have destroyed the two worst regimes in the Middle East, scattered al Qaeda, avoided another promised 9/11 at home, and sent shock waves of democracy throughout the Arab world so far at an aggregate cost of less than what was incurred on the first day of this unprovoked war. Car bombs are bad news, but in the shadows is the real story: The terrorists are losing, and radical reform, the likes of which millions have never seen, is right on the horizon. So this American gloominess is not new. Yet, if the past is any guide, our present lack of optimism in this struggle presages its ultimate success.
A final prediction: By the end of this year, formerly critical liberal pundits, backsliding conservative columnists, once-fiery politicians, Arab 'moderates,' ex-statesmen and generals emeriti, smug stand-up comedians, recently strident Euros- perhaps even Hillary herself - will quietly come to a consensus that what we are witnessing from Afghanistan and the West Bank to Iraq and beyond, with its growing tremors in Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, and the Gulf, is a moral awakening, a radical break with an ugly past that threatens a corrupt, entrenched, and autocratic elite and is just the sort of thing that they were sort of for, sort of all along, sort of..."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mississippi Gov on Howard Dean

"Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, had an interesting observation when asked about Dean's new job.

Noting that Republicans weren't making a big issue of it, Barbour recalled a phrase attributed to Napoleon: 'Never interfere with your enemy while he's in the process of destroying himself.'"

From Charlotte Observer editorial Democrats still don't get it about the South.

Remember US Open at Pinehurst June 2005

Golf-Payne at Pinehurst Posted by Hello

Pinehurst - U.S. Open Golf Tournament : "The 2005 U.S. OPEN Championship: A Return to PinehurstFrom June 13-19, 2005, Pinehurst will once again have the honor of hosting the U.S. OPEN Championship. The resort became a part of American golf history when Payne Stewart captured this same title in Pinehurst in 1999. Stewart's 15-foot putt on the final hole secured his 2nd U.S. OPEN title and marked one of the most dramatic and memorable moments in U.S. OPEN history. The 2005 U.S. OPEN represents the quickest turnaround to a host site since 1946. "

Nordlinger Comments on Bush in Europe

Here again Jay Nordlinger's: "Can I grin over the president, just a little even though the topic is quite serious (a nuclear Iran)? In Brussels, he said, 'This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. Having said that, all options are on the table.'"

[Bush,] You know, on this journey to Europe, I follow in some large footsteps. More than two centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin arrived on this continent to great acclaim. An observer wrote, "His reputation was more universal than Liebniz or Newton, Frederick or Voltaire, and his character more beloved and esteemed than any or all of them." The observer went on to say, "There was scarcely a peasant or citizen who did not consider him as a friend to humankind."
I've been hoping for a similar reception. But Secretary Rice told me I should be a realist.

Together, we must make clear to the Iraqi people that the world is . . . with them, because they have certainly shown their character to the world.
An Iraqi man who lost a leg in a car bombing last year made sure he was there to vote on January the 30th. He said, "I would have crawled here if I had to. I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today, I'm voting for peace."

Every vote cast in Iraq was an act of defiance against terror. And the Iraqi people have earned our respect.

Some Europeans joined the fight to liberate Iraq, while others did not. Yet all of us recognize courage when we see it. And we saw it in the Iraqi people."

Read the entire column if you can.

How Many Prepositions Can You End a Sentence With?

Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus on National Review Online: "'Remember the old sentence that ends in not one but five prepositions? A kid sends Mommy downstairs for a bedtime reading book. She gets the wrong one, so the kid says, 'What did you bring that book I don't want to be read to out of up for?''"

WSJ Opines on Freedom for Lebanon

"The task for the Bush Administration is to support this exercise in people power by raising the political, economic and diplomatic price Syria must pay for the occupation..."

"We cannot say whether these measures will suffice to dislodge Syria from Lebanon, but at least they're a start. What we can say is that if there was ever a moment to make an ally of the Lebanese people in their quest for freedom, this is it."

Slate: Daily Column on Blogs

Slate's new feature By Bidisha Banerjee that describes "Today's Blogs The latest chatter in cyberspace."

Peggy Noonan proposes Internet Saint

Peggy Noonan: "Why is St. Joseph Cupertino the obvious patron saint of the Internet? Because he flew through the air, lifted by truth. Because no establishment could keep him down. Because he empowered common people. Because they in fact saw his power before the elites of the time did. And because it could not be an accident that the center of the invention of the Internet, ground zero of Silicon Valley, is Cupertino, Calif., named for the saint centuries ago. "

Peggy Noonan on Harvard's President

Peggy Noonan: "His [Summers'] mistake was stepping on the real third rail in American cultural politics. It's not Social Security. It is attempting to reconcile the indisputable equality of all people with their differentness. The left thinks if we're all equal we're all alike. Others say we're all equal but God made us different, too, and maybe he did that to keep things interesting, and maybe he did it because each human group is meant to reflect an aspect of his nature. Our differentness is meant to teach us his infinite variety and complexity. It's all about God.
But what the Summers story most illustrates is that American universities now seem like Medieval cloisters. They're like a cloister without the messy God part. Old monks of leftism walk their hallowed halls in hooded robes, chanting to themselves. Young nuns of leftist deconstructionism, pale as orchids, walk along wringing their hands, listening to their gloomy music. They become hysterical at the antichrist of a new idea, the instrusion of the reconsideration of settled matter. Get thee behind me, Summers."

More on Internet Co Deals and more Tips on Free Gems

First some numbers on the NYT deal, NYT deal makes sense but looks rich: "(MarketWatch) - The New York Times Co.'s $410 million buy of is a good strategic move into a growing Internet advertising market, but analysts said the publishing company paid a high price. 'Positives of the deal include exposure to higher growth Internet business and a much more diverse advertising base, and a younger demographic,' Bear Stearns analysts said Friday morning. 'Negatives include the very high price of the deal., with about 22 million unique visitors each month, provides information on thousands of topics led by a network of 500 experts called 'guides.'

The deal comes nearly one month after Dow Jones & Co. (DJ: news, chart, profile) completed its $528 million acquisition of MarketWatch Inc., the publisher of this report. Weeks earlier, Washington Post Co. (WPO: news, chart, profile) agreed to acquire the online magazine Slate."

The other great free services I use now come from Google after their purchase of the groups that developed the desktop search capability that I have bragged on in an earlier post and the purchase of Picasa which provides fantastic photograph editing (better than MSN's Photoshop 7 which costs $) and other web photo manipulation tools. You may download the latest versions of Picasa 2 and Hello from Picasa through Google.

Another Internet Co Buy-out and Tips on What You Should be Using for FREE

The NYT Company purchased a division of Primedia called '' and was just another small deal that I read about (puns are too easy with this) until this week I realized that the target company was a source I was actually using. is a great free source for all kinds of free information and free courses. If you are reading this you know that I am new to blogging; to learn more I have been taking a tutorial from (CSS which is Cascading Style Sheets...) so I have renewed interest in the deal in hope that NYT won't start charging for the great programs.

For your information here's about About - About U.: "About U.
Welcome to About U. , a collection of free online courses from
Each online course is sent to you via email on a daily or weekly basis and is designed to help you learn a specific skill or solve a particular problem. There are no grades or degrees, only a whole lot of free online learning.... [Topics included for free are]
Arts & Entertainment Automotive Business Cities & Towns Computing & Technology Education Electronic & Gadgets Food & Drink Health & Fitness History Hobbies & Games Home & Garden Homework Help Jobs & Careers Money News & Issues Parenting & Family People & Relationships Religion & Spirituality Shopping Sports & Recreation Style Teens Travel "

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bush: Political Courage to Grab Third Rail

From the New Hampshire Portsmouth Herald Editorial: Bush shows political courage in putting Social Security on table: "As we all face a new era of escalating Social Security costs, and a declining ratio of workers to retirees, it is now prudent to re-evaluate the real numbers, analyze these facts, and adapt Social Security to our changing times. Just as Social Security provides a financial shield for millions of Americans today, we must also be mindful of its solvency for future generations.

Bush's plan is bold. Whether you agree or disagree, he deserves credit for taking the political risk and the political heat for putting Social Security on the table and challenging our elected officials and the American public to engage in this national debate. "

"Freedom? Why Europe's not bothered"

More editorial opinion from The Daily Telegraph : "the European philosophy of government - shortly to be permanently installed under the EU constitution - is paternalistic. At worst, it is arrogant and authoritarian.
But whatever it is, it no longer has a belief in real democracy of the kind that Americans recognise - government of the people, by the people and for the people - at its heart.
That is why Jacques Chirac - the very embodiment of corrupt European political cynicism - and George Bush can never, ever find true common ground. When the President tries to give credit where it is due - to the European authorship of democratic revolution - it sounds faintly sarcastic.
I have written before on this page that European hatred of the United States has a great deal to do with jealousy of American self-belief. But there is an element of shame there, too. Because Europe knows that it has sold the pass. It has traded liberty for security: the safety of consensus, the reassuring unfreedom of bureaucratic control and an over-regulated economy..."

"...Europeans have found something better, and more readily controlled, as a substitute for personal liberty. They have found wealth: mass prosperity and the kind of government-subsidised economic security that their countries, traumatised by generations of war and unrest, have never known. Since the Cold War ended, they have been able to consolidate the post-war economic miracle with a 'peace dividend': all that money that used to be spent on arms could go into more and more generous welfare and pension arrangements. So now they are not even fit to defend themselves, or to sort out a mess in their own Balkan backyard. Why should they join in any crazy scheme to bring peace to the rest of the world?"

This is an echo of Steyn's piece but not quite as gut wrenching.

David Ignatius on the Middle East

Ignatius with positive comments about Lebanon and Iraq. Beirut's Berlin Wall (
"BEIRUT -- 'Enough!' That's one of the simple slogans you see scrawled on the walls around Rafiq Hariri's grave site here. And it sums up the movement for political change that has suddenly coalesced in Lebanon and is slowly gathering force elsewhere in the Arab world. "

"The leader of this Lebanese intifada is Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud. The old slogans about Arab nationalism turned to ashes in Jumblatt's mouth, and he and Hariri openly began to defy Damascus. "

"'It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq,' explains Jumblatt. 'I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world.' Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. 'The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it.' "

Anecdote Suitable for Multiple Uses

David Frum: "an old and surely apocryphal anecdote about the changing headlines in the official French newspaper Le Moniteur in 1814:

'The monster has escaped Elba!'
'The tyrant has landed at Cannes!'
'Bonaparte meets the troops.'
'Napoleon approaches Paris.'
'His Imperial Majesty has entered the capital.'"

The first parallel to my mind was President Bush and the Middle East situation in a few years.

Mark Steyn on Europe

Steyn in a rather negative forecast about the future of Europe in general and reminding America to forget about help in international problems as the EU can't take care of itself let alone the problems of others.

Telegraph Opinion Atlanticist small talk is all that's left: "Nato will not be around circa 2015 - which is why the Americans are talking it up right now. An organisation that represents the fading residual military will of mostly post-military nations is marginally less harmful than the EU, which is the embodiment of their pacifist delusions. But, either way, there's not a lot to talk about. Try to imagine significant numbers of French, German or Belgian troops fighting alongside American forces anywhere the Yanks are likely to find themselves in the next decade or so: it's not going to happen.
America and Europe both face security threats. But the difference is America's are external, and require hard choices in tough neighbourhoods around the world, while the EU's are internal and, as they see it, unlikely to be lessened by the sight of European soldiers joining the Great Satan in liberating, say, Syria. "

Not positive but makes one appreciate how good things are here compared to Europe contrary to what some people believe.

Walter E. Williams: "Social Security Deceit"

Walter E. Williams: "Vital to any Ponzi scheme, like Social Security, is the ability to recruit as many suckers as possible. In 1999, a little noticed part of President Clinton's plan to 'save' Social Security was to force 5 million previously exempted employees into Social Security. If they were forced into Social Security, it would have created billions in additional revenue. Guess what. Twelve senators, including five Democrats -- Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) -- descended on the White House to demand that President Clinton not support forcing 5 million of their constituents into Social Security. They warned of the adverse impact on employees in terms of lower rates of return and lost flexibility.
Isn't that great? These are the same politicians who are now resisting President Bush's call to allow Americans to take a part of their Social Security taxes to put into private retirement accounts. If they'd go to bat for those 5 million workers to remain out of Social Security, to avoid the adverse impact of lower rates of return and lost flexibility, why would they fight to deny tens of millions of workers a right to use a portion of their taxes to do the same?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tom Wolfe on Hunter Thompson in WSJ

Those three terms, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, Wall Street Journal, do not seem easily to roll out together but nevertheless see today's OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts:

"Hunter's life, like his work, was one long barbaric yawp, to use Whitman's term, of the drug-fueled freedom from and mockery of all conventional proprieties that began in the 1960s. In that enterprise Hunter was something entirely new, something unique in our literary history. When I included an excerpt from 'The Hell's Angels' in a 1973 anthology called 'The New Journalism,' he said he wasn't part of anybody's group. He wrote 'gonzo.' He was suigeneris. And that he was.
Yet he was also part of a century-old tradition in American letters, the tradition of Mark Twain, Artemus Ward and Petroleum V. Nasby, comic writers who mined the human comedy of a new chapter in the history of the West, namely, the American story, and wrote in a form that was part journalism and part personal memoir admixed with powers of wild invention, and wilder rhetoric inspired by the bizarre exuberance of a young civilization. No one categorization covers this new form unless it is Hunter Thompson's own word, gonzo. If so, in the 19th century Mark Twain was king of all the gonzo-writers. In the 20th century it was Hunter Thompson, whom I would nominate as the century's greatest comic writer in the English language. "

The entire article is an honest tribute to Thompson's oddities and talents.

BTW, I heartily recommend (except for parents with kids in college) Wolfe's latest I Am Charlotte Simmons.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Speaking of Biographies...

To follow the previous post about presidential biographies I was reminded of a couple of remarks I recently read (and thanks to Google desktop search, which I hope you use just to be again amazed at technology) about Predident Clinton's My Life.

The New York Times: "...when the 41st, 42nd and 43rd presidents, on stage after the dedication of the National World War II Memorial on the Mall in Washington, shared private laughs. At one point, George H. W. Bush gave Mr. Clinton a playful but vigorous shove as a reaction to something Mr. Clinton had said. Aides could not recall this past week what it was, but one person did say the current president joked at the time that Mr. Clinton's biography, 'My Life,' was so long that he would have to read one half and his father the other."

And from Roger L. Simon: "Clinton, who certainly had the gift of policy gab, produced a book that no known person has read through. (Maybe his editor.)"

Washington's Birthday

Officially today is/was a holiday federally designated as Washington's Birthday which has morphed into President's Day. A California lawyer is fighting for the public return of Washington's Birthday. Courtesy of The Corner on NRO here's the story. I personally prefer the day remembered for our first president. I have just started reading His Excellency George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis. Over my recent equipment swaps I read David McCullough's John Adams which was very good although I must admit biographies of people one should recall quite a bit about aren't as enjoyable to me as those of people I know very little about. Not many surprise endings on famous personalities I suppose. When I have finished slogging through His Excellency I 'll give an opinion.

Gary Becker on Social Security Reform

Those of you who receive The Wall Street Journal on dead tree throughout the week should note that the paper often posts editorials online on Saturday and Sundays too. Dr. Gary Becker, a Nobel winner had excellent comments on social security reform. [The bold is mine.]

OpinionJournal: "Republicans and Democrats are arguing passionately about the future of Social Security, and the argument, at its core, is about privatization. It is true, as some critics observe, that there is no magical gain in privatizing Social Security, since all systems have to provide incomes for retired persons. By that token, however, there's no gain in privatizing a government steel plant either, since steel still has to be produced, too. Yet there are very good reasons--with roots in political economy--to privatize steel. And as with steel (and the like), there are excellent reasons for a privatized individual-account Social Security system..."

"...There is no guarantee that government interference would not increase further in such a privatized system since the retired would continue to press for additional benefits. But experience shows that governments interfere less when an industry is privatized, especially in access to capital and financing of budget deficits.

So the really strong arguments for privatization are that they reduce the role of government in determining retirement ages and incomes, and improve government accounting of revenues and spending obligations. All the other issues are really diversions, because neither advocates nor opponents of privatizing Social Security generally answer the most meaningful question: Is there as strong a political economy case for eliminating government management of the retirement industry as there is for eliminating its management of most other industries?

My answer is "yes."

[Mr. Becker, a Nobel laureate in economics, is a professor at the University of Chicago and a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.]

The entire article is well worth a read both for those opposed to private accounts and those in favor such as me (strongly.)

Schwarzenegger is Correct on Gerrymandering

Schwarzenegger is right in his efforts to end political gerrymandering in California. I hope he succeeds and that the result becomes models for the rest of these United States. I know it is a pervasive problem in North Carolina and Texas and I suspect most states as well.

Jeff Jacoby: "The beauty of redistricting reform is that there is nothing partisan about it. It doesn't empower Rs at the expense of Ds, or Ds at the expense of Rs. It empowers voters at the expense of politicians..."

"...An end to gerrymandering would be an extraordinary shot in the arm for American democracy, once again making legislative races exciting and responsive. This is the very best kind of government reform -- the kind that can unite conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats. No, honest redistricting won't turn real-life politics into a ninth grade civics class. But it will make it a lot more interesting and democratic than the farce we're stuck with now."

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Spectator on President Bush to Europe

The "When George W. Bush arrives for his European visit next week, a special ceremony will be laid on in Brussels: the discreet burial of hatchets. Dinner with Jacques Chirac will start the rapprochement with Old Europe while other leaders wait in line, olive branch in hand. But there is one politician the American President certainly won't be meeting: Michael Howard. Even if the Conservative leader was at the European Union summit, he's unlikely to have been granted an audience; he languishes, unforgiven, in a special kind of purgatory.
Four months ago, before Bush's historic victory, Howard was parading his credentials as a man who would take on the Bush administration by attacking Blair over the war. "If it displeases those in the White House, that's tough," he said. With those words, a nuclear winter descended over relations between the one-time Cold War allies. The Bush administration saw an ally in Blair; in Howard, it saw a turncoat. The President can forgive hostility, but never forgets disloyalty.... "

"...Personal loyalty matters to President Bush above all other things, even party politics,’ says one senior Tory MP, well connected in Washington. ‘That’s how he works, that’s his foreign policy and it has served him well. So he takes loyalty very seriously. At the moment, I’d say relations now between our two parties are at their lowest ebb since Suez.’ And by no means all Conservatives are distraught. Several Tory MPs spent last year admiring John F. Kerry — as George Osborne, the Tory’s shadow treasury secretary, explained in this magazine a year ago. ‘It pains me to report,’ he wrote, ‘that we Bushites are a minority.’

This rift, ironically, has opened at a time when British conservatism is at a new peak of influence in the White House. After revolutionising America’s foreign policy, the Bush administration is using 1980s Britain as a blueprint for a domestic revolution. The White House’s ‘ownership society’ agenda is explicitly modelled on the Thatcher government’s policies with council houses in the 1980s: use ownership to transform people’s lives and mindsets. The aim is to move from state-dependency to empowerment.

The White House wants to sprinkle this magic on US social security: allowing workers to control part of their personal pension investments, rather than have retirement funds managed by the state. Thatcherism has never been more fashionable...."

I don't begin to understand UK politics, particularly the real opinions of the Conservatives, Tories, Labour but I find amusement in our US Republican party with the Tories and our (our as in I am a US Republican although quite liberal in my positions) new found relationship with Labour. I am particularly enamoured (I use the "u" when I am discussing international political economics) with Tony Blair in his political abilities, his courage, and his steadfastness in spite of opposition; traits I believe he shares with our own George W.

Mark Steyn: "US policy on Europe? No giggling"

Two of the people I most love to read at present are (as you may have gathered or soon will) are Victor Davis Hanson and Mark Steyn. VDH for his perspective and background and his clear writing and Steyn for his brashness, impudence, and erudite remarks.
Steyn's latest: "...the official State Department briefing paper on the European Rapid Reaction Force, the European Constitution, the European negotiations with Iran, etc. ('When these subjects come up, US policy is to nod politely and try not to giggle... "

"...In Prague in 2002, the President told fellow Nato members: "We share common values – the common values of freedom, human rights and democracy." In a post-Communist world, these are vague, unobjectionable generalities to everyone except the head hackers in the Sunni Triangle. It's when you try to flesh them out that it all gets more complicated. The reality is that Europe's very specific troubles – economic, demographic, political – derive from Europe, not America. And, if the member states of the EU are determined to enshrine constitutionally and Continent-wide the "rights" that have proved so disastrous for them as individual nations, there's not a lot America can do about it except stand well clear. Or as Mr Bush put it in his Telegraph interview yesterday: "No, I'm not going to comment [laughter]" – evidently still having trouble with the "no giggling" rule."

Always read all of Mark Steyn as you learn and usually laugh out loud. Like VDH he is published everywhere so here is Steyn's homepage. He bills himself as "The One-Man Content Provider" and actually he is almost.