Saturday, March 19, 2005

NYT Editorial on The Schiavo Case

The New York Times > Opinion > Editorial: The Schiavo Case:
"Meanwhile we can only lament the Republicans' theatrical effort to expand their so-called pro-life agenda to include intervening in a case already studied and litigated exhaustively under Florida law. Congress's rash assumption of judicial power and trampling on established state and federal constitutional precedents in 'right to die' cases is nothing short of breathtaking."

I will save my disgust for this opinion until a more calm moment.

On Corporate Blogs

"Web logs -- or blogs -- started as a way to talk about new technologies, vent about life and interact in a no-holds-barred forum. Since blogs became the next big thing, an increasing number of companies have come to see them as the next great public relations vehicle -- a way for executives to demonstrate their casual, interactive side.
But, of course, the executives do nothing of the sort. Their attempts at hip, guerrilla-style blogging are often pained -- and painful. "
Schwartz railed in a November entry titled "Stranger Than Fiction" against the have-someone-else-blog-for-me practice some executives use. "Who would've thought the world would come to this? Funny. My view, it's not a blogger that makes a blog effective. It's authenticity. Everything else is just along for the ride," he wrote, with a link to an eBay auction that ended in December that offered "Blogger for Hire -- Start or Improve Your Blog." It continued, "Hire a Successful Blogger for your Company." There were 30 bids, the winner grabbing the service for $3,350.
"I think it's going to be a while before we see actually that real honest transparency in public facing corporate Web logs," said Meg Hourihan, co-founder of Blogger, a software that allows people to create and host their own blogs. Google bought the company in 2003. "It would be nice if you could find a way to do it so it's not sanitized. Just sticking press releases on the front of the blog just doesn't cut it."

Friday, March 18, 2005

It's Friday & VDH Wisdom

Victor Davis Hanson :
"At some point a Gore, Byrd, or Soros has a moral responsibility not to employ Nazi analogy, if for no other reason than to prevent unleashing even greater extremism by the unhinged. No doubt Abu Ali's lawyer one day soon will say that his disturbed client's 'musings' were no different from what he read from Knopf or in the Guardian - or that he simply fell under the influence of and thought it was his duty to remove the Bush/Nazi threat that even U.S. senators and presidential candidates had identified and warned about.
The final irony? The president who is most slandered as Hitler will probably prove to be the most zealous advocate of democratic government abroad, the staunchest friend of beleaguered Israel, and the greatest promoter of global individual freedom in our recent memory. In turn, too many of the Left who used to talk about idealism and morality have so often shown themselves mean-spirited, cynical, and without faith in the spiritual power of democracy.
What an eerie and depressing age we live in."

As always with Hanson read it all.

Roger L. Simon: Invade Europe

Roger L. Simon: Mystery Novelist and Screenwriter:
"61.5% of post-war Iraqis now feel their country is headed in the right direction as opposed to 23.2 thinking negatively, a stunning differential of nearly 40% which dwarfs any similar polls I have ever seen about America and Europe. The only conclusion we can draw from this is perhaps we should have invaded Europe. It would have cheered them up."

What's Left? Shame. WaPo on Middle East

What's Left? Shame. ( "Those who claimed, with great certainty, that Arabs are an exception to the human tendency toward freedom, that they live in a stunted and distorted culture that makes them love their chains -- and that the notion the United States could help trigger a democratic revolution by militarily deposing their oppressors was a fantasy -- have been proved wrong. "

...The international left's concern for human rights turns out to be nothing more than a useful weapon for its anti-Americanism. Jeane Kirkpatrick pointed out this selective concern for the victims of U.S. allies (such as Chile) 25 years ago. After the Cold War, the hypocrisy continues. For which Arab people do European hearts burn? The Palestinians. Why? Because that permits the vilification of Israel -- an outpost of Western democracy and, even worse, a staunch U.S. ally. Championing suffering Iraqis, Syrians and Lebanese offers no such satisfaction. Hence, silence.

Until now. Now that the real Arab street has risen to claim rights that the West takes for granted, the left takes note. It is forced to acknowledge that those brutish Americans led by their simpleton cowboy might have been right. It has no choice. It is shamed. A Lebanese, amid a sea of a million other Lebanese, raises a placard reading "Thank you, George W. Bush," and all that Euro-pretense, moral and intellectual, collapses.

Andrew C. McCarthy on Terri Schiavo- Important!

Andrew C. McCarthy on Terri Schiavo : "...there is, of course, no greater iniquity than treating two unequal things as if they were the same. The Washington Post's editorial board should find another line of work if it cannot discern the difference between, on the one hand, a murderer who stands convicted despite having had had rich resort to various state and federal tribunals including a jury of his peers with the advantage of every legal and factual presumption our system can offer, and, on the other hand, an innocent woman who is alive and responsive to stimuli, who has parents ready and willing to care for her, and who is about to be subjected to two weeks of torture, starving and dehydration that the Washington Post would have a cow over if it were applied, say, to interrogate Khalid Sheikh Mohammed."

The right of the innocent to live isn’t contingent on the good will of governments and courts. — It derives from a higher law, as does the obligation to defend it. That there is such a higher law is not just an American principle (see the Declaration of Independence), a conservative principle, or a Judeo-Christian principle. When those defending Terri Schiavo’s right to live reject the state of Florida’s antinomian determination that she may be slowly starved to death, they echo Sophocles’ Antigone, facing down King Creon, across the millennia:

For me it was not Zeus who made that order.

Nor did that Justice who lives with the gods below

mark out such laws to hold among mankind.

Nor did I think your orders were so strong

that you, a mortal man, could over-run

the gods’ unwritten and unfailing laws.

Not now, nor yesterday’s, they always live,

and no one knows their origin in time.

So not through fear of any man’s proud spirit

would I be likely to neglect these laws,

draw on myself the gods’ sure punishment.

If the Post and others cannot see that, our answer must be Antigone’s:

And if you think my acts are foolishness

the foolishness may be in a fool’s eye.

George F. Kennan Dies at 101

The New York Times > Washington > George F. Kennan Dies at 101; Leading Strategist of Cold War: "George F. Kennan, the American diplomat who did more than any other envoy of his generation to shape United States policy during the cold war, died on Thursday night in Princeton, N.J. He was 101.
Mr. Kennan was the man to whom the White House and the Pentagon turned when they sought to understand the Soviet Union after World War II. He conceived the cold-war policy of containment, the idea that the United States should stop the global spread of Communism by diplomacy, politics, and covert action - by any means short of war. "

If you don't know about Kennan and you have any concern about foreign policy a legand you need to know, understand and admire.

Bob Dole - His Pain

Recent injury puts Dole in an all too familiar spot : "Mr. Dole who represented Kansas in Congress for 35 years has been coming to Walter Reed for physical therapy three times a week since a fall in January left him with a badly injured left shoulder and paralyzed left arm.
Finished with therapy for the morning, he slowly puts on his navy blue blazer and heads for the elevator, on his way back to his office downtown. Mr. Dole is special counsel for the law firm Alston & Bird, where he recently recruited former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, to join him.
As for the war in Iraq, Mr. Dole supports it.
"I think we did the right thing. ... I think President Bush has a vision of democracy that's going to materialize. But you don't like to go up there and see these guys. But I don't know how you avoid it. Most of these young guys are ready to go back. And you know, their mothers are there. Just like in World War II."
Asked how he would like his epitaph to read, Mr. Dole doesn't miss a beat: "Honor. Duty. Country."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Jokes for Saint Patrick's Day

Wet Miranda: "A young Irish girl goes into her priest on Saturday morning for confession.
'Father, forgive me for I have sinned.'
'You've sinnned?'
'Yes, I went out with me boyfriend Friday night. He held me hand twice, kissed me three times, and made love to me two times.'
'Daughter! I want you to go straight home, squeeze seven lemons into a glass, and drink it straight down.'
'Will that wash away me sin?'
'No, but it will get the silly smile off your face.'"
An Irishman finds a Genie lamp and rubs it. Out comes the Genie and asks "Master you have released me from the lamp and I grant you three wishes, what would you like" Irishman scratches his head, then answers "A bottle of Guinness that never gets empty. "Granted master" retorted the Genie and
produced the bottle. The man was delighted and got drunk on this one magic Guiness bottle for weeks then he remembered that he had two other wishes. He rubbed the lamp again and the Genie appeared. "Yes master, you have two more wishes, what would you like?" "You know that magic, never ending Guinness bottle" he asks the Genies. "Well, for my final two wishes, I'd like another two
of them"

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Byron York on Polling and Social Security

Byron York on Polling and Social Security : "'What people have been doing is judging Bush on things he hasn't been doing,' says the Republican pollster David Winston. 'Bush has just wanted to establish that there is a serious problem with Social Security, and he's done that. He hasn't really been trying to engage, the 'what's the best solution' question, although I think you're seeing him enter that phase now. But they want to judge him on how well people like his plan, which doesn't yet exist.'
That judgment leads to the assumption that the president is faltering. While that might ultimately prove correct, at the moment it seems safe to say that the president's position is as valid as that of his critics. For example, while the Post's print-edition story on its poll began, 'Three months after President Bush launched his drive to restructure Social Security by creating private investment accounts, public support for his program remains weak,' it might just as accurately have begun, 'Three months after Democratic leaders launched their drive to stop President Bush's plan to restructure Social Security by creating private investment accounts, public support for those accounts has risen to its highest level in four years.' Which interpretation more accurately describes what is going on?"

"...on the question of Social Security, the Times, like the Post, found substantial belief that the public supports some sort of action in the near future. For example, 68 percent of respondents told the Times that they believed the Social Security system was either in crisis or in serious trouble. And then 55 percent said that the system's problems are so serious that they must be fixed right now.

That sort of feeling is exactly what the White House wants to hear. It's not making it into the headlines, or the lead sentences, or sometimes even the entire stories, in the newspapers and network accounts of the Social Security battle. But it is going on, and the White House will be counting on it in the next few months."

More Scalia

Scalia Showing His Softer Side ( "Scalia made the case that his 'originalist' jurisprudence should be welcome to all -- even liberals. 'I have my rules that confine me,' he said. 'When I find it, the original meaning of the Constitution, I am handcuffed.' He said that's why he allows flag burning 'even though I don't like to' and strong jury-trial guarantees. 'Though I'm a law-and-order type, I cannot do all of the mean, conservative things I'd like to do to the society,' he said.
Scalia's message to Democratic senators: Hold your filibuster.
The justice made a point of showing that he can be crosswise with conservatives, even on a matter involving sexual orientation. 'Conservatives are willing to grow the Constitution to cover their favorite causes just as liberals are,' he said."
In his talk yesterday, Scalia acknowledged a certain notoriety. He expressed amusement that he is often asked " 'When did you first become an originalist?' like it's a weird affliction that seizes people, like 'When did you start eating human flesh?' " And he observed, with some pride: "My most important function on the Supreme Court is to tell the majority to take a walk."

He also showed there is no danger of him succumbing to the whims of political correctness. Discussing a case about the BMW painting process, he surmised that the vehicles' coating is "baked seven times in ovens deep in the Alps by dwarves."

But Scalia suggested that he is a last voice of reason and sanity at a time when much of the nation has been tempted into a nihilist theory of the Constitution as a "living document" capable of being stretched to fit whatever a judge wants. By contrast, he acknowledged that he is dispensing some "tough medicine" in leading people away from the "lovely fields" of former chief justice Earl Warren.

When it came time for questions, the newly visible justice made reference to his customary secrecy. Asked whether he'd like to answer on the dais or from the lectern, Scalia chose the latter. "I like to hide behind something," he said."

China Goes Nuclear to Combat Emissions

From "MarketWatch e-letter: Before The Bell" this morning:

"Liu Jiang, vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said the country plans to rely heavily on nuclear energy to address climate change concerns that stem from its economic and population growth as well as its use of coal. Liu said nuclear energy "will be a priority" for China. He also told a gathering of energy and environment ministers in London that China will be one of the largest potential markets for nuclear development in the next 20 years."

This is a strategy I support for the United States as well. MarketWatch is a great business resource - all free with registration.

Zogby: The Investor Class

John Zogby today in the WSJ discussed social security reform in terms of what he and his firm sees as the most important political demographic: The Investor Class. Zogby says,
"...Do you consider yourself to be a member of the investor class?"--is a far greater determinant of how they will vote and how they see their world than income, religion, race, marital status, or size of individual portfolio."

Here are his results:
" Investors Noninvestors
Bush Kerry Bush Kerry
All voters 61% 39% 42% 57%
Union members 57% 42% 36% 63%
18-29 years old 52% 47% 30% 67%
Women 55% 45% 37% 63%
Hispanics 60% 37% 43% 56%
$50-75K income 64% 36% 45% 55%
Single 45% 53% 25% 73%"

And Zogby's conclusion: "To the president and Republicans: You may lose the battle over Social Security personal accounts, but ultimately you may very well win the war over party realignment. To the Democrats: Just saying no is not a policy and demographics are not destiny. Ignore the "ownership society" at your own peril."

Important material (and with an easier to read chart), the article is here.

Monday, March 14, 2005

The Great Mark Steyn on Bumper Stickers


"The other day I found myself, for the umpteenth time, driving in Vermont behind a Kerry/Edwards supporter whose vehicle also bore the slogan "FREE TIBET". It must be great to be the guy with the printing contract for the "FREE TIBET" stickers. Not so good to be the guy back in Tibet wondering when the freeing thereof will actually get under way. For a while, my otherwise not terribly political wife got extremely irritated by these stickers, demanding to know at a pancake breakfast at the local church what precisely some harmless hippy-dippy old neighbour of ours meant by the slogan he'd been proudly displaying decade in, decade out: "But what exactly are you doing to free Tibet?" she demanded. "You're not doing anything, are you?" "Give the guy a break," I said back home. "He's advertising his moral virtue, not calling for action. If Rumsfeld were to say, 'Free Tibet? Jiminy, what a swell idea! The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday', the bumper-sticker crowd would be aghast."
But for those of us on the arrogant unilateralist side of things, that's not how it works. "FREE AFGHANISTAN". Done. "FREE IRAQ". Done. Given the paintwork I pull off every time I have to change the sticker, it might be easier for the remainder of the Bush presidency just to go around with "FREE [INSERT YOUR FETID TOTALITARIAN BASKET-CASE HERE]". Not in your name? Don't worry, it's not."

WSJ on Social Security & Immigration

Usually two concepts that are unrelated but both are extremely hot and sensitive topics. From the WSJ: "With so much attention focused on illegal immigration, it's easy to forget that most foreigners come here legally. In addition to replenishing our workforce and spurring economic growth, these hard-working individuals help fund benefits for current and future retirees. And according to a new research paper by the National Foundation for American Policy, immigration will continue to affect Social Security regardless of whether Mr. Bush succeeds in modernizing the system with private accounts."

Immigration alone won't close the Social Security funding gap, so the sooner we begin moving away from the current system, the better. In recent House testimony, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan repeated his support for "the general issue of increased immigration" because "it's good for the country," not because it will fix our Social Security problems, which run deeper. That said, immigration both buys us time and ultimately will help make entitlement reform easier. Even under the Bush Administration's proposal to divert a small portion of a worker's payroll tax into a private account, the bulk of the system would remain pay-as-you-go for many years to come.

Thus, a Bush-style guest-worker program, both to regulate the flow of new immigrants and legalize the undocumented workers already in the country, would do more than just improve homeland security. It would also bolster America's economic well-being."
For what it's worth if you didn't already know I am for social Security reform with private accounts but I am against tough new immigration laws and prefer Bush's soft approach much to consternation of many Republicans and even many Democrats. Immigration will become a very devisive issue not easily separated by "red and blue."

My time in the great state of Texas convinced me of the value of workers originally from Mexico now working legally in the US. Also my experience with the assimilation of immigrants into the Catholic Church confirms my stance. More on this later.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tom Freidman on Economics and the Middle East

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: New Signs on the Arab Street: "That is why, beyond Iraq, America's priorities should be to sign a free-trade agreement with Egypt - which would help foster an export-oriented private sector there just when President Mubarak has signaled an end to 50 years of military rule - and get Syria out of Lebanon, which would free the dynamic private sector that already exists there, but has been stifled by Syria. Free Lebanon and free Egypt's economy and they will change the rest of the Middle East for us - for free. "

A must read!