Saturday, June 04, 2005

Edwards Running Hard

""I have a range of interests now," Edwards told the Observer in a phone interview Wednesday. "I feel like I'm staying busy, but busy in a good way, working on things I really care deeply about and spending time with my family."

Edwards, 51, has visited at least 15 states since January. Saturday he speaks to Tennessee Democrats in Nashville. He'll visit at least eight more states in the coming months. He declined to say if he's running for office, only that he's doing things and "We'll see where that leads."

Edwards' whirlwind schedule does little to dampen speculation that he's in full sprint toward a 2008 campaign for the White House, an office that eluded him as both a presidential candidate and Sen. John Kerry's running mate last year."
In NC strong speculation exists over whether Edwards will challenge Sen. Dole in 2006 as noted in this blog previously. Sen. Dole is already using that idea in her money raising effort. I personally think Edwards will stick to his national ambition; I also think Edwards would have a rough go of it against Liddie Dole here in NC in a bid to regain a seat in the US Senate.

Edwards: The Skeptics

And this from The John William Pope Center for Higher Education , a conservative think tank in NC, in an email piece offered through the John Locke Foundation, available through Carolina Journal listed in my favorites list on this blog - since that's so confusing here it is in full:

"All right, you skeptics, just why is it so hard to believe that John Edwards' center at UNC Law isn't really about solving poverty? Why don't you believe all those statements about how Edwards' interest in the center is not political? Why do you continue to think it's simply about giving Carolina publicity and Edwards an issue for 2008?

Is it because of the timing of the center's creation? Is it because no one'd heard a peep out of Chapel Hill about a poverty center until the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity was announced in early February? Does it have anything to do with the fact that shortly after Edwards lost in November, UNC Law School Dean Gene Nichol openly talked about his desire to get Edwards into UNC Law? Could it be that you're suspicious over the center's whirlwind creation in a matter of weeks without input from lawmakers or the public? Did all that make you think UNC's real interest was in rescuing a darling of a desperate politician on the brink of political irrelevancy?

Or is it also because Edwards announced his new directorship not in Chapel Hill, not in Raleigh, not anywhere between Murphy and Manteo, but in New Hampshire, site of the first presidential primary of 2008, at a Democrat fundraiser?

Is it because the poverty center was created within the school of law, despite being obviously outside the discipline's scope? Is it because it was not created somewhere else, say, the economics department? Is it because Edwards keeps talking about governmental "solutions" to the problem? Does it have anything to do with Edwards' recent speech at a Democrat fundraiser in South Florida, where he advocated such ways to fight poverty as raising payroll taxes to support Social Security, raising taxes via "roll[ing] back tax cuts," raising the minimum wage, expanding the earned income tax credit, and in his inestimable words, "doing something about inner city schools"?

Did rehashing those worn-out socialist notions increase your skepticism about the program's promise of "innovative and creative" solutions to poverty? Do you wonder whether an economics-based approach to alleviating poverty would seek to scale back rather than increase governmental interference with the economy? Do you think a center truly focused on helping the impoverished -- and completely independent of Democrat Party politics -- would instead suggest ways to reduce regulation, cut bureaucracy, and otherwise favor a more hands-off approach toward people's incomes and decisions? Is that because you think having government dictate people's financial decisions tends to increase all kinds of societal costs that disproportionately harm those in poverty? Do you think it makes it harder for people in poverty to find employment, buy affordable goods, and receive charity from concerned individuals?

Is your skepticism also because Edwards and UNC officials appear to use the terms "poverty" and "poor" interchangeably? Does that concern you because it's not the sort of mistake serious academics make? Is it because you know that "poverty" is privation, the lack of basic necessities, but "poor" is a relative marker that does not necessarily mean living in poverty? Is it also because statistical measures of people in poverty in America generally exclude all current government services (food stamps, housing aid, etc.) they receive? Would that not mean that the poor in America are generally not in poverty, and even those who are, still aren't as left out as Edwards and UNC imply? Do you worry that Edwards' confusion over the distinction between the poor and the impoverished denotes not scholarship on his part, but demagoguery?

Does Edwards' consistent call for raising the minimum wage make you more doubtful about the seriousness of the center? Is that because you know the minimum wage hurts the poorest the hardest? Do you wonder why the man who was the only choice to lead UNC's poverty center doesn't seem to know the effects of wage floors on the least employable? Are you amazed he would actively seek to make the poorest people harder to hire -- in the name of helping them? Do you sometimes wonder how basic truths of economics could evade a supposed scholar seriously intent on studying poverty?

Is that why you think scholarship isn't engaged with the "Edwards center," that it's all about politics? Is that why you find UNC's interactions with the Edwards campaign extraordinarily shameful, like institutional prostitution? Are those all your reasons, or are there more?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Times of London: Europe's Challenge

Opinion - Gerard Baker US Editor Times Online:"European civilisation has sown the seeds of its own decline and fall": "This week, voters in France and the Netherlands sounded the alarm. Characteristically, while the Dutch seem to have got the message about the social costs of its ruinous ultra-liberalism, the French have got the wrong end of the stick and want to escape from globalisation behind high walls of social protection.

But the challenge is now upon Europe. The longer it puts off the inevitable reforms - economic, social and political - the harder it will get. And if it chooses to defer a real response for ever, the greatest civilisation in the history of the planet will simply continue to sink beneath the waves of its own economic irrelevance and moral ennui. "


Victor Davis Hanson on the War on Terror on National Review Online: "The three-year-plus war that began on September 11 is the strangest conflict in our history. It is not just that the first day saw the worst attack on American soil since our creation, or that we are publicly pledged to fighting a method -'terror'- rather than the concrete enemy of Islamic fascism that employs it.

Our dilemma is that we have not sought to defeat and humiliate the enemy as much as wean a people from the thrall of Islamic autocracy. That is our challenge, and explains our exasperating strategy of half-measures and apologies — and the inability to articulate exactly whom we are fighting and why.

For now Islamic fascist strategy is to make such horrific news in Iraq that America throws up its hands and sighs, “These crazy people simply aren’t worth it,” goes home, snoozes — and thus becomes ripe for another September 11. "
Read it all.

John Edwards Candidate John Edwards appears to be vying for party's nomination: "John Edwards says he hasn't decided whether to make another bid for the presidency, but the former Democratic candidate for the nation's top job appears to be campaigning hard for his party's nomination in 2008.

Edwards, a one-term North Carolina senator who was Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, stressed his familiar “two Americas” theme in a speech Thursday to about 2,000 liberal Democratic activists.

“I have no doubt he’s running for president,” former national Democratic Party chairman Don Fowler said in a telephone interview from South Carolina.

Mike Munger, a Duke University political scientist, is convinced that Edwards will run for president. If Edwards didn’t want to be president, Munger said, he would have returned to his law practice after the elections. “He has a think tank and a political organization and is giving talks all over the place,” Munger said via e-mail. “This is costing him $10 million a year, at least, in lost legal fees. So, he is serious.”

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The EU and America's Liberals

Fear and Rejection - New York Times: "Forgive me for making a blunt and obvious point, but events in Western Europe are slowly discrediting large swaths of American liberalism.

Most of the policy ideas advocated by American liberals have already been enacted in Europe: generous welfare measures, ample labor protections, highly progressive tax rates, single-payer health care systems, zoning restrictions to limit big retailers, and cradle-to-grave middle-class subsidies supporting everything from child care to pension security. And yet far from thriving, continental Europe has endured a lost decade of relative decline. "
Since Brooks' column I have read dozens making the same point including Freidman who was most eloquent so as not to offend the NYT base.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Note of Irony on Felt

Felt Broke Rules by Sharing Information : "When Felt was on trial for authorizing illegal break-ins during the 1970s at homes of people associated with the radical Weather Underground, Nixon testified on his behalf.
And after Reagan pardoned Felt in 1981, he received a bottle of champagne and this brief note from the disgraced former president: ''Justice ultimately prevails

80th Wedding Anniversary

Secret of longest marriage is saying 'sorry' : "LONDON (Reuters) - A British couple who hold the world record for the longest marriage said Wednesday their success was down to a glass of whisky, a glass of sherry and the word 'sorry.' Percy and Florence Arrowsmith married on June 1, 1925 and will celebrate their 80th anniversary Wednesday.

The Guinness World Records said Tuesday the couple held the title for the longest marriage and also for the oldest married couple's aggregate age.

"I think we're very blessed," Florence, 100, told the BBC. "We still love one another, that's the most important part." Asked for their secret, Florence said you must never be afraid to say "sorry."

And from the New York Times: "A British husband and wife revealed the secrets of the longest marriage of any living couple on Wednesday as they celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary -- don't sleep on an argument, always share a kiss and hold hands before going to bed... The Arrowsmiths, who have three children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, claim the key to their long marriage is not to go to sleep on an argument. They say they always kiss each other and hold hands each night before going to bed. ''He can't settle down if I'm not holding his hand,'' Mrs. Arrowsmith was quoted as saying last month. The couple's daughter Jane Woolley said her parents were both ''very perky.'' ''She (Mrs. Arrowsmith) says she can't dance any longer but it feels good to have been married for 80 years. She says she can still have a drink,'' Woolley said. Guinness World Records said the pair held records for the longest marriage for a living couple and the oldest aggregate age of a married couple.

"You must never go to sleep bad friends," she said, while Percy, 105, said his secret to marital bliss was just two words: "yes dear." The couple have three children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and are planning a party soon. "I like sherry at lunch time and whisky at night and I'm looking forward very much to my party," said Florence."
My parents celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary June 14.

Tutors: High Test Scores High Fees

New York Times: "A slender fellow with a goatee and a mass of curly hair, Mr. Fisher, 34, still tutors students. Only today his students are seeking higher test scores - and his tutorials cost $375 to $425 an hour. Mr. Fisher is among about 100 tutors working for Advantage Testing Inc., an Upper East Side test preparation firm. He joined nine years ago, with no formal teaching experience but a master's degree in music from Juilliard and a Harvard physics degree, and is now one of the firm's most senior tutors...

Steve Feldman, a 23-year-old Manhattan resident, said that the three months Mr. Fisher tutored him for the law school exam prepared him well for the mental rigors of the law. Originally scoring in the 16th percentile, Mr. Feldman ended up in the 85th percentile. He was accepted to his first-choice school, Tulane University, and credits much of his success to his tutor's method and disposition...

"He knows the LSAT inside and out," Mr. Feldman said. "He would sit and watch me take a practice test and figure out, just by watching me, what I was having trouble with. Then we'd work on that until I had it down."
Though Mr. Feldman estimates that his two months of tutoring twice a week cost him "three-quarters of a year's tuition" (Tulane Law charges $33,000 a year in tuition and fees), it was worth it, he said.
"This was an investment in my future."

Poll Shows Support for PRAs

Social Security plan backed in new poll : "Most likely voters continue to support President Bush's proposal to let younger workers invest some of their Social Security payroll taxes through personal accounts, a new survey finds.

The poll by independent pollster John Zogby for the Cato Institute, which is being released today, found that when voters understood the benefits of personal investment accounts, including a better financial rate of return than the current system, the Bush plan was supported by 52 percent of Americans and opposed by 40 percent.

Among supporters, the most popular reason for supporting private accounts was, "It's my money; I should control it," Mr. Zogby said. "This was true for every group except African-Americans, who chose inheritability as their biggest reason for supporting accounts." The poll's results suggested that Mr. Bush's proposal would be much more popular if he focused "on the points in this poll," Mr. Zogby said in an interview.
"Nobody can understand or relate to the system's insolvency in 2043. But it wins a majority when the issue is raised as a matter of choice and as a positive opportunity," he said. "If it's pitted as just Social Security reform because it is becoming insolvent, that's not enough."

College Vouchers in Colorado

College vouchers put a face on funds in Colorado -- The Washington Times: "Recruiters for Colorado's state colleges are hustling to sign up current students and high school graduates as the nation's first market-oriented tuition-voucher system begins this fall.
Colorado is the first state to abandon direct funding to its 13 community colleges, three state universities and six other public colleges -- currently, $500 million a year -- in favor of a $2,400 tuition voucher to each enrolled college student.
'It's going to drive changes and force reform, which is what we want,' said Richard F. O'Donnell, executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE). 'Students have ownership over their tax dollars in an explicit way, which we think will motivate those changes.' "

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Democrats Getting Religion

Columns: Finding religion on the left: "Listening to a Democratic meeting or political rally these days can be like attending church service. At Our Lady of Perpetual Defensiveness.

"...Howard Dean, who since becoming Democratic National Committee chairman has developed a zeal for Bible verse.

"I didn't see it in the Republican platform anywhere, but I saw in the Bible that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," Dean told southwest Florida Democrats recently. "It is a moral value to walk with the least among us. Those moral values are consistent with Democratic values, with American values, and they are sorely lacking with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who preach one thing and are hypocritical. We need to kick the money changers out of the temple and restore values to America again!

Awkward as it may be at times (especially for someone such as Dean, who once called the Old Testament story of Job his favorite book of the New Testament), ...Democratic politicians have become so consumed with religion."

Kerry Still Running The Gainesville Sun Gainesville, Fla.: [At National Head Start Conference in Orlando]
"I went back and reread the whole New Testament the other day. Nowhere in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ did I find a suggestion at all, ever, anywhere, in any way whatsover, that you ought to take the money from the poor, the opportunities from the poor and give them to the rich people,' Kerry said.

Kerry has yet to officially announce whether he's in the running for the 2008 nomination, and he didn't take questions from the media Friday.

But while speaking to the educators and child advocates gathered in a hotel ballroom, it wasn't difficult to imagine his rhetoric, unchanged, being said at a campaign rally.

'We need to enlist and join together in a great cause across the country that puts a simple choice before our fellow Americans. It's a choice that, I think, is based on values,' Kerry said."

C.I.A. in Smithfield, NC

C.I.A. Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights - New York Times: "SMITHFIELD, N.C. - The airplanes of Aero Contractors Ltd. take off from Johnston County Airport here, then disappear over the scrub pines and fields of tobacco and sweet potatoes. Nothing about the sleepy Southern setting hints of foreign intrigue. Nothing gives away the fact that Aero's pilots are the discreet bus drivers of the battle against terrorism, routinely sent on secret missions to Baghdad, Cairo, Tashkent and Kabul.

When the Central Intelligence Agency wants to grab a suspected member of Al Qaeda overseas and deliver him to interrogators in another country, an Aero Contractors plane often does the job. If agency experts need to fly overseas in a hurry after the capture of a prized prisoner, a plane will depart Johnston County and stop at Dulles Airport outside Washington to pick up the C.I.A. team on the way."

Monday, May 30, 2005

France Votes No

The Times of London:
"The milestones in the evolution of Europe are well-known, from the rise of Charlemagne to the Enlightenment to the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and future scholars will agree (eventually) that yesterday's 'non' in France is a defining moment for both that country and the continent. There is something particularly ironic, perhaps unappealing, about the eccentric coalition of Left and Right that proved the campaigning engine for this monumental defeat of the French elite. And yet this unholy alliance is itself a reflection of the fundamental and fatal ambiguities of a constitution that is not worth the hundreds of pages it is written on (the exact length varies with language)...

"Far more importantly, though, the EU proceeded towards a monetary union that has so far produced pathetic economic growth, an appalling lack of competitiveness in international trade, massive unemployment, the revival of protectionism and an atmosphere in which extremists of several stripes can happily flourish. The single greatest condemnation of the EU constitution is that it promised more of the same. This fate can be reversed after this referendum. 'C'est non'is surely clear."

Memorial Day: IBD Comments on Media and Military

Today in Investor's Business Daily stock analysis and business news: "Memorial Day: When President Nixon replaced the draft with an all-volunteer force, anti-war rallies vanished. Now, with only volunteers serving, the anti-war crowd doesn't throw tantrums. It writes headlines.
No question much of the Vietnam era's radical left migrated to the media.

...The pettiness astounds. As President Bush told Annapolis grads Friday, over the last four years the American military has liberated some 50 million people.

But why write a macro-story when a micro-story will do?

If, as the military now fears, there's a looming recruitment problem, the elite media should bear much of the blame."

Larry Kudlow on the 2005 Economy

Larry Kudlow on the 2005 Economy, GDP, and Inflation on NRO Financial: "Actually, we are looking at non-inflationary prosperity for several more years to come. This is a good stock market scenario where the broad indices still look to be 20 to 25 percent undervalued. In policy terms the Fed has done its job by restraining inflation and President Bush�s supply-side tax cuts have reignited economic growth. The results are unmistakably positive."

China to Scrap Textile Export Taxes

China to Scrap Textile Export Taxes: "Commerce Minister Bo Xilai said Washington and Brussels had failed to prove their domestic markets had been disrupted by an increase in Chinese exports since a 40-year-old system of quotas on developing countries' exports of textiles expired on Jan 1.

Bo said China was willing to hold talks, but he was scathing about the "double standards" of rich countries that flew the flag of free trade but rushed to throw up barriers when poor nations started to exploit their comparative advantage of cheap labor.

"The EU and the United States should spend more time on the development of high technology -- Airbus or Boeing airplanes, and advanced modern machinery -- rather than spending time quarrelling with us on issues like shirts, socks and trousers."

Bo was speaking hours after China said it would scrap export tariffs on 81 textile products, making good on its threat to roll back the taxes if the West imposed curbs on its goods.

The tit-for-tat move followed a formal request on Friday by the European Union for talks with China over surging shipments of T-shirts and flax yarn, which have fanned fears of widescale bankruptcies and lay-offs in the 25-member bloc.

...The row over textiles has added fuel to a debate over the value of the yuan, which has been pegged near 8.3 per dollar for a decade. Law-makers and manufacturers in the United States, as well as many independent economists, believe the peg undervalues the currency, giving China's exporters an unfair advantage.

Bo gave no clues as to Beijing's thinking on a shift in the currency, saying only that when the government decides it will consider China's needs and the stability of the global economy. "