Friday, January 28, 2005

The blog has moved

Visit my new blog at

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Should I move the blog to Typepad?

I was looking into moving the blog to Typepad. I spent two hours or so playing with Typepad. It seems easy enough to use. Does anyone have any comments about whether this would be a good or bad idea?

Eliminate HUD and lower the cost of housing

The New York City Housing Authority complains that the federal government is providing "$50 million less than what the agency needs." NY Times.

(1) Housing should be a local issue and not a federal issue. Eliminating the entire federal Department of Housing and Urban Development would help reduce the budget deficit by $31.3 billion.

(2) Housing can only be made more affordable by increasing supply or by reducing demand. Basic economics.

(3) Housing vouchers make housing less affordable because they increase demand by increasing the amount of rent that voucher recipients can afford to pay. Voucher recipients wind up bidding against each other for a fixed supply of housing resulting in higher prices.

(4) The economically sensible way to help poor people is to increase supply, which can easily be done by changing zoning laws and reducing other regulatory impediments to residential construction. And the best part of this solution is that it doesn't cost the taxpayer any money at all.

Red light cameras

Big rant at Classical Values about red light cameras (hat tip: Instapundit).

Unlike speed limits which are arbitrarily set too low (and you know they are too low when nearly every single driver is disobeying the posted limit), traffic lights are necessary to regulate traffic flow when there is actually traffic at an intersection.

On the other hand, enforcement of laws via camera is a whole new world of big brother watching you. But in theory, the camera doesn't see anything that a cop hiding near the intersection wouldn't have been able to see. I'm sure thats what the courts have held.

This issue has brought up a lot of libertarian debates and is similar to the drug sniffing dog and national ID card issues I recently posted about.

Technology allows better enforcement of existing laws. Enforcement of just laws is good (like red light running or murder) but enforcement of unjust laws (like speed limits or drug possession) is bad.

But the thing to fear is that the government could uses its new powerful information gathering ability for bad purposes such as rooting out and arresting people for speaking out against the government. The reason why the Second Amendment was placed into the Constitution was to give ultimate power to the people in case they needed to rebel against the government. Technological law enforcement, like removing people's weapons, makes a future revolution that much more difficult if not impossible.

Unfortunately, the technological genie is out of the bag and can't exactly be put back in. I predict an ever increasing use of cameras and other technology with only a tiny percentage of people complaining about it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Irrational Exuberance in the housing market

Must read article about the real estate bubble.

About the huge budget deficit

$427 billion is predicted for the current fiscal year.

Democrats will blame Bush and the Iraq war exclusively. At $105 billion for the current year, the Iraq war is certainly contributing the the deficit, but take away the $105 billion and it's still a pretty huge $322 billion.

I blame the culture of big government and big spending. Bush's domestic policy is about new and unnecessary programs and not eliminating existing programs.

Clinton was lucky that he was president during the time of the stock market bubble, when capital gains and corporate incomes were at an unsustainable cyclical peak. Bush doesn't have such luck, so he must reduce the budget deficit through spending reduction.

School administrator was drug money launderer

Washington Post:

A high-ranking Prince George's County school administrator has been arrested in connection with a multimillion-dollar drug ring based in Virginia that distributed large amounts of cocaine and marijuana, law enforcement authorities said yesterday.


Hornsby hired [Pamela] Hoffler-Riddick in September 2003 to run one of the school district's five regions at an annual salary of $138,244.

And who said school teachers don't make a lot of money?

Hoffler-Riddick, 43, is accused of using proceeds from the drug ring to pay off loans for a car and two homes.

I guess $138K wasn't enough for her.

Hoffler-Riddick was born in 1961 in the South Bronx, the eldest of three daughters to a single mother who sometimes had to rely on public assistance.

To rephrase that in less politically correct terms, she's a black woman from the ghetto, born to a welfare mother. It's interesting that she made it to such a high paying job at the age of 41.

"She was a little rough around the edges. In Montgomery County, you have to use more diplomacy than an in-your-face style," said a former colleague who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the charges in the indictment.

To rephrase once again in less politically correct terms, she still had a ghetto attitude about her.

One has to suspect that there's some sort of affirmative action going on here to explain her rise to such a high level position.


By making a highly desired vice illegal, a black market is created where drug rings can make tens of millions of dollars. Such a huge amount of illicit money creates the potential to corrupt those who would have otherwise been law abiding citizens.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Condi Rice and former KKK Kleagle Byrd

Glenn Reynolds linked to this post at Power and Control detailing Senator Byrd's connection to the KKK.

Is there a story here? Yes, because Democrats would be all over a Republican former KKK member. Democrats have made David Duke a household name even though he's a very minor political figure only elected to a single term in the Lousiana legislature. This story demonstrates how Democrats are full of hypocrisy.

Clark wrote in a comment, "Dr. Rice has no other qualifications other than her race and sex, as that is all that right-wing Republicans can mention." He has a followup post at his blog.

Actually, I've never mentioned Condi until today, but maybe that's because I'm a libertarian and not a "right-wing Republican."

Did her being a black woman have anything to do with Bush picking her? Possibly. Bush is always trying to out-liberal the liberals. It's a waste of time because he's not going to pick up any votes even if every single member of his cabinet is black.

But the race issue is always a big deal to Democrats because you can be sure that, if Bush's cabinet were made up entirely of white men, the Democrats would be saying, "look Bush is racist for only picking white men."

Social mobility in the 21st century

David Brooks, my favorite NY Times columnist, writes today about social mobility. His hypotheis is that social mobility is on the decline:

[T]here are some indications that it is becoming harder and harder for people to climb the ladder of success. The Economist magazine gathered much of the recent research on social mobility in America. The magazine concluded that the meritocracy is faltering: "Would-be Horatio Algers are finding it no easier to climb from rags to riches, while the children of the privileged have a greater chance of staying at the top of the social heap."

I am not entirely convinced this is true. But the following paragraph, I think, contains important insights:

At the top end of society we have a mass upper-middle class. This is made up of highly educated people who move into highly educated neighborhoods and raise their kids in good schools with the children of other highly educated parents. These kids develop wonderful skills, get into good colleges (the median family income of a Harvard student is now $150,000), then go out and have their own children, who develop the same sorts of wonderful skills and who repeat the cycle all over again.

If social mobility is really declining, then the preceding paragraph provides a window onto the two most important reasons.

(1) The de-urbanization of America has led to less comingling of social classes. Prior to the 1950s, the middle class and upper middle class lived in cities and raised families in cities. But after forced desegregation of schools, and other leftist policies that ruined the cities, today only the very poor and very rich (who don't mind paying for private schools) raise families in cities.

Today, the middle class and upper middle class with children live in class-homogeneous suburbs defined by school disctricts.

(2) The increasing percentage of Americans graduating from college has, paradoxically, led to decreased social mobility. When few went to college, lack of a college degree wasn't the least hindrance to entering most career ladders. And furthermore, when fewer people went to college, college meant something.

Today, with so many graduating from college, the mere fact that one has a college degree is close to worthless. Instead there has arisen a complicated pecking order of colleges with expensive private schools for the rich on top. The new order favors the rich and well connected to a greater extent than the old order.

The Left Coaster wrote about the David Brooks column today, and predictably blamed Republicans for the problem. But, if he reads my post, he'll learn that it's really leftist policies that have caused the problem.

College vs. trucking school

Grumpy Old Man recommends trucking school over college:

If college costs $50K a year, the college-bound will cost $200K in four years (and it often takes longer). Meanwhile, the truckers will be earning, say $50K a year. At the end of four years, your trucker kids will be $400K ahead. And at the end of four years, most college kids will either be (a) going into occupations with mediocre pay, like teaching; (b) going to graduate school; or (c) going into rehab.

Can you really earn $50K a year right out of trucking school?


The comments point out that Gumpy Old Man used a best case scenario for the salary of a trucking job and a worst case scenario for the cost of a college education.

But a teaching salary is typical of the type of starting pay a college graduate might get. His point, that you have to pay a lot of money to get a college degree which doesn't lead to a starting salary any greater than you would make driving a truck, is a valid one.

The UNLV guy makes a valid point that the trucker lifestyle may be so bad that it's not worth the extra money. On the other hand, some truckers may be glad they don't have to have a boss looking over their shoulder all day micromanaging their job, and glad they don't have to deal with other annoyances of yuppie jobs like commuting and wearing uncomfortable shoes.

Ant-semitism on the rise in Russia

Joe Gandelman has a detailed post this morning about anti-Semitism in Russia.

Considering how it's the Muslims blowing everything up all over the world, it's kind of surprising that so many people still hate the Jews.

Probably, its because if you dis Islam, they come and kill you and your family. But no one fears the Jews. Anti-semitism is like school children beating up on the little kid who looks different and doesn't defend himself (I feel so bad about doing stuff like that when I was in elementary school).

Monday, January 24, 2005

Police can stop any car and sniff for drugs

"The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that in making a routine traffic stop, the police can permit a trained dog to sniff the car for drugs without the need for any particular reason to suspect the driver of a narcotics violation." NY Times.

Because on most highways every single car is driving faster than the speed limit, this decision gives police the power to stop any car they feel like and then use a dog to sniff for drugs.

This decision seems to violate the spirit of the Fourth Amendment. Merely driving the same speed as everyone else should not give police probable cause to search you and your car for drugs.

Pete Guither predicts that "this ruling is likely to result in a massive increase in the use of drug-sniffing dogs."

Does suck?

On Thursday I sent an email to support complaining about the slow responsiveness of the site, including the slow responsiveness of the commenting feature. Today they wrote back:

Hi there,

Errors like this are generally due to temporary problems with our servers, and if you wait a little while before trying again, Blogger should work normally. If you continue to have trouble with it, please try clearing your browser's cache and cookies before logging in again. We apologize for the inconvenience, and we are constantly working on making our servers more reliable.

Thanks for using Blogger!

Blogger Support Team

Is it just me, or do their severs have a lot of "temporary problems"?

Maureen Dowd and SpongeBob

I am totally confused by Maureen Dowd's latest column. She goes from SpongeBob to Bush to Iraq and I don't see the connection at all. Her inability to write a logical column is a real embarassment to my gender.

And yes, of course SpongeBob is gay, everyone has known that for years. That the Christian groups have only figured this out now shows how out of touch they are with popular culture.

Freedom to publish and Osama bin Laden

I agree with this post at Brainwash.

A New York Post editorial says that a publishing company shouldn't be allowed to publish translations of the writings of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. I agree that this is an incredibly dumb editorial.

(1) We live in a country where there's freedom of speech.

(2) It costs money to hire translators to translate the writings and it costs money to put a book together. In a free market like we have here, you're entitled to profit from your investments.

(3) There's nothing wrong with people knowing how our enemies think. Publishing their writings can only add to the quality of public discourse.

Professor Bainbridge declines AARP membership

Professor Bainbridge will not be joining the AARP because he wants no part of a liberal special interest group.

Unfortunately, few people old enough to join share the professor's views.

New York Times reports on differences between sexes

The New York Times has a big science article today about differences between the sexes in math ability.

This article does not say that "everyone knows" that there's no difference between the sexes. Instead, the article hesitatingly presents evidence that such differences exist. Hesitatingly because it's considered politically incorect to suggest that every human brain does not have exactly the same potential.

"We can't get anywhere denying that there are neurological and hormonal differences between males and females, because there clearly are," said Virginia Valian, a psychology professor at Hunter College.

We begin with a supporting quote from a professor.

[N]ew brain imaging studies from the University of California, Irvine, suggest that men and women with equal I.Q. scores use different proportions of their gray and white matter when solving problems like those on intelligence tests.

You read about that here first.

Nor is the masculine edge in math unique to the United States. In an international standardized test administered in 2003 by the international research group Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to 250,000 15-year-olds in 41 countries, boys did moderately better on the math portion in just over half the nations.

The difference is not unique to the culture of the United States but is worldwide. What the article doesn't mention is that, math excepted, girls are better students than boys.

Interestingly, in Iceland and everywhere else, girls participating in the survey expressed far more negative attitudes toward math.

It's a worldwide thing that girls don't like math. Once again, a sex difference not specific to U.S. culture. But note that just because people don't like a subject doesn't necessarily mean they do poorly in it. Girls in Iceland obviously have very good study habits.

But when it comes to selecting a career, obviously girls who don't like math will not choose a career that's math intensive.

[T]he overwhelmingly male tails of the bell curve may be telling. Such results, taken together with assorted other neuro-curiosities like the comparatively greater number of boys with learning disorders, autism and attention deficit disorder, suggest to them that the male brain is a delicate object, inherently prone to extremes, both of incompetence and of genius.

The meaning of the previous paragraph should be obvious if you understand statistics.

In many formerly male-dominated fields like medicine and law, women have already reached parity, at least at the entry levels. At the undergraduate level, women outnumber men in some sciences like biology.

This is a very important point. In all prestigious fields previously considered to be "male," women have now achieved parity in numbers, with the exception of math heavy careers. In fact, law and medicine both have greater prestige than engineering or computer programming!

The politically correct theory, that girls shy away from masculine activities in school because they are afraid that boys won't go on dates with them, makes absolutely no sense. (1) Math isn't especially masculine, no boy wants to do well at math so he can impress girls, trust me. (2) In every prestigious non-math field previously considered masculine, women have reached parity.

I think it's unfortunate that women have less aptitude with math (or maybe just a biologically influenced dislike of math), but we should take pride in those subjects in which we have greater aptitude than men instead of whining about non-existent discrimination in math intensive fields.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Roe v. Wade

Yesterday was the 32nd anniversay of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade. Roe was a great libertarian decision, but unfortunately inconsistent with the Supreme Court's other decisions which, since the 1930s, have generally held that both states and the federal government have the power to make any law they want.

It's too bad that liberals only praise libertarian principles with respect to matters about sex. Another great libertarian Supreme Court decision, Lochner v. New York, is today viewed as an example of bad jurisprudence.


Christy wrote an interesting post about seniors:

While there is nothing wrong with respecting seniors and what they have accomplished, and their wisdom, I do believe that there is something wrong with the belief that they are entitled to something simply because they have not died.

I agree. Lots of seniors think they are entitled to stuff because they are old. This poses great dangers to our democratic society, because with our low birth rate and people living longer, seniors are predicted to become an ever larger percentage of the population.

Seniors are already a powerful voting bloc because they vote with greater frequency than any other age group. With their increasing numbers and their attitude that they are entitled to stuff, an easy prediction is that in the future seniors will vote for higher taxes to pay for their social security benefits.

As much as I might like it, I don't think I should get a discount simply because I have reached the elite height of 5'11".

Not fair, she's taller than me!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Civil War was about slavery

Duh! Of course it was about slavery! Didn't anyone bother to read Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address? Charles Oliver at Reason Magazine wrote an article with greater detail than I can write here explaining that the Civil War was about slavery.

Unfortunately, people never let the obvious stand in the way of their politics. So subsequently, we have a strange alliance of political bedfellows revising history and telling us that the Civil War was not really about slavery.

And strangely enough, my little remark about the Civil War and slavery in my post about Bush's inaugural address inspired several readers with their own blogs to post about the Civil War and slavery: some links to posts by Old Blind Dog, Stephen VanDyke aka Hammer of Truth and dadahead (by the way, Dadaism and modern art are leftist movements based on the left's hatred of achievement and Western culture). Also, "ranger" at ess.r.squared sent me an email about the topic.

It's easy enough to explain why leftists want to revise history. I previously explained in my post the liberal mind that leftists hate America. Leftists want to believe that America is an evil country. Slavery, of course, was evil. But if we fought a Civil War to end slavery, and hundreds of thousands died fighting that war, this eradicates any collective guilt we might otherwise have. Leftists would rather believe that the Civil War was a fight about tariffs, turning a noble cause into a greedy war about nothing but money and allowing leftists to wallow in guilt about being American.

Paleo-conservative southerners also want to revise Civil War history. These types want to revel in the supposed "glory" of the Old South, and there's nothing glorious about a Confederacy that existed for nothing except slavery. So they made up the story that the South was about noble things like states' rights. Yet, in fact, the Confederacy was about nothing but slavery. The "states' rights" argument is bogus. The only "right" that was at issue was the "right" to own slaves, which is a right that no state should be allowed to have.

The South didn't have any problem with its rights being trampled. In fact, the opposite was true. The South had disproportionate political power on account of the less populated southern states having equal representation in the Senate, and also on account of its slaves counting for three-fifths of a person for purposes of federal representation when they shouldn't have counted at all because they were not citizens and couldn't vote.

The real history of the Civil War is that people in the North got fed up with allowing the barbaric practice of slavery to continue. The Republican Party was formed to be an anti-slavery party. The South seceded because with the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, they saw that slave states would no longer be admitted to the Union and eventually there would be overwhelming political support to abolish the practice entirely.

Much of the "evidence" that the Civil War was not about slavery is based on out of context statements by Lincoln and other anti-slavery advocates that might seem "racist" by today's standards. But that has nothing to do with the fact that there was unanimous agreement that using human beings for slave labor was an immoral and barbaric practice that needed to be stopped.

Breast implant tax revisited

Micha Ghertner at Catallarchy wrote a well thought out post in response to my post endorsing a tax on breast implants.

Although many have linked to my post, only Ghetner seems to have understood my argument that breast implants create a net negative for society. He compares it to the problem of people standing up at a concert:

This is a familiar problem in economics and in everyday life. It happens everytime we go to a concert or a sports arena. Inevitably, someone stands up to get a better view. But this blocks the view of the people in the row behind, so they stand up as well. Pretty soon, the entire stadium is standing to get a better view, even though we would be better off if we all sat down instead. (Same view, less leg strain)

Ghertner also makes a comment I'd like to respond to:

Women get breast implants not merely to attract men, although that may partially explain some women’s motivation. Rather, most women say that they get implants to increase their own self-esteem.

I'm sure women pretend it's about "self-esteem" because it's a politically correct answer. Just like people say they go to the gym for the "health" benefits, when in reality people go to the gym to improve their physical appearance. I shamelessly admit that I go to the gym to have a better looking body and not for the health benefits. But at least going to the gym might provide some health benefits. Unless the gym-goer is enhancing his results with steroids, in which case he'd probably be healthier just sitting home and watching TV.

If women with breast implants have higher "self-esteem," it's only at the expense of other womens' self-esteem which surely goes down when their breasts become smaller when compared with surgically augmented women.

Going back to steroids, they're comparable to breast augmentation surgery. Steroids give the user a short-term advantage of bigger muscles at the expense of long-term health problems (and premature baldness). This is why society has chosen to ban steroid use for muscle building purposes. But despite the ban, there exists a thriving black market.

Why is breast augmentation surgery treated differently than steroids? Probably because these rules are made by men--old out of shape skinny men who do not want other men building bigger muscles making themselves seem even scrawnier by comparison. But they don't mind if womens' breasts get bigger. They probably get excited thinking about it.

(For the record, I think that out of shape skinny men are cute too, especially if they're smart, libertarian and rich!)


Another on topic post by Patri Friedman of Catallarchy. Because Catallarchy seems like an excellent blog, full of free-market goodness, I added them to my blogroll.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Social Security is not a pension system

Economics professor David Tufte writes that Social Security is not a pension system:

Much of the criticism being leveled at social security revolves around the idea that - when compared to a pension system - social security performs poorly.

Duh! Everything performs poorly when compared to an inappropriate metric. A social security system is based around transfer payments, and should be compared to other transfer payments schemes like unemployment insurance - not against pension systems based on investment.

I think it's a very enlightening post. As an aside, David Tufte wonders if he might be a Libertarian. My message to him is to come to the light. You can begin by taking the Social Security post to the next step and pointing out that government shouldn't be allowed to steal from some to give to others with more voting power.

I have previously written in my blog that I am opposed to "privatizing" Social Security.

Only teens not allowed to use cell phones

In case you're tired of reading about Bush's inaugural address, let me comment on this Washington Post article about a proposed Virigina law that would prohibit only teenagers from speaking on a cell phone, even with a hands free kit, while driving.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. There's no evidence that there's a rash of traffic accidents caused specifically by teenagers talking on cell phones. Why not ban everyone? Or raise the driving age to 18 if those under 18 aren't mature enough?

This is a law that's impossible to enforce. Is a police officer going to pull over a car with a driver using a cell phone to see how old the driver is? No!

Unenforceable laws only lead to disrespect for the law in general.

Peggy Noonan says too much God in speech

Peggy Noonan agrees with me that there was too much God in Bush's inaugural address:

The president's speech seemed rather heavenish. It was a God-drenched speech. This president, who has been accused of giving too much attention to religious imagery and religious thought, has not let the criticism enter him. God was invoked relentlessly. "The Author of Liberty." "God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind . . . the longing of the soul."

Furthermore, to expound upon my previous post, Bush said that self-government requires character, and character requires some kind of religion, even the Islamic religion. It was not a statement about freedom of religion, it was a statement that a country will have a lousy government unless its people believe in God. Bush once again tells us that atheists aren't welcome in the United States.

It's a pretty demented statment that a country of Muslims will produce a better government than a country of atheists.

And its not a statement born out in fact. In all cases I can think of, democratic movements have been secular, not religious. Our Constitution was not written by Christian fundamentalists, it was written by secular Deists.

Links to other blog posts about Peggy Noonan's column: Professor Bainbridge, No More Mr. Nice Blog, BrothersJudd, Outside the Beltway, Pandagon, Belmont Club, PrestoPundit, Sunny Days In Heaven, PunditGuy, and Inklings. People sure have been pretty busy blogging about her column!

Bush plugs the Koran

Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people.

In his short post on the inaugural address, Glenn Reynolds picks up on George W. Bush plugging the Koran.

What's the Koran doing in there? It's bad enough that every inauguration speech has to be plugged full of talk about God, why do we now have to plug a religion that that wants to convert us via a holy war?

Either Bush or his speechwriter was hoping that Muslims listening to the speech would think, "America is a great place because Bush reads the Koran. Let's all support American foreign policy."

I don't see how the words of the Koran have anything to do with "self-government." The more devoutly Islamic the nation, the less self-government it seems to have. Only Turkey has democracy, and they practice a secular form of Islam there. And I don't trust the Islamist AKP party that's now in power there.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

It's interesting that George W. Bush invoked Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural Address today. Because just this morning I was thinking about Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.

In 1865, Lincoln addressed only half the nation, which was fighting a war against the other half. The purpose of the war was to free the slaves. (Despite what hate-America leftists say, the Civil War was about slavery.) Abraham Lincoln's message was to stay the course because we were doing the right thing.

Today our soldiers are in Iraq, and Bush, like Lincoln, is saying that we need to stay the course and continue to do the right thing. In both cases, the goal is to free people who otherwise would not be able to free themselves.

People complain about the cost of the Iraqi occupation. Compared to the cost of the Civil War, which exacted a terrible price on our nation, the Iraqi war is comparatively inexpensive. But slavery was our fault, and as Abraham Lincoln explained in his Second Inaugural Address, we deserved the price we paid in the form of the Civil War on account of our moral guilt. On the other hand, the plight of peoples in the Middle East is not our fault (although hate-America leftists think all of the world's problems are our fault). If we have any blame, it's because we have not been aggressive enough in pursuing military options to promote freedom (the opposite of the pacifism preached by leftists).

There is a less expensive way to remove anti-American dictators from power. We can replace them with pro-American puppet dictators. Surely we could have found a general in Saddam's army who would have been willing to play ball with us in exchange for being made the new dictator of Iraq.

Which way is right? Should we be responsible for establishing democracy in every nation we attack in self defense? Why not just look out for our own interests, preserve our own security, and not worry about whether the new government is any more democratic than the old government?

Whichever path we follow, both are better than doing nothing and allowing militant Islam and anti-American totalitarian governments developing nuclear weapons to flourish unopposed.


George W. Bush's Second Inaugural Address.

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.

The Moderate Voice - links to some other posts about Bush's Second Inaugural Address.

Maureen Dowd and bias at the NY Times

Today's Marueen Dowd column contains nothing but vicious mean spirited attacks against Bush Administration members, basically calling all of them stupid but without offering any sort of intelligent analsysis or commentary.

David Brooks, the lone conservative columnist at the NY Times, would never devote a whole column to nothing but insults. I don't even think he could get away with it if he tried.

We have here yet another example of bias at the NY Times. To balance out Dowd they should bring in a Rush Limbaugh-like columnist to insult the left in the manner that Dowd insults the right.

The British do it too

"Photographs that appear to show British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners were published Wednesday by newspapers in Britain." Washington Post.

Isn't it nice to know that Europeans, whom the left look up to as paragons of moral virtue (Nazi Germany notwithstanding), behave the same as Americans?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Lawrence Summers and bias at the New York Times

The followup article in today's NY Times demonstrates the paper's left wing bias. Today's article exclusively focuses on the negative reaction to Harvard president Lawrence Summer's remarks. By not including an interview with a single person supporting Lawrence Summers, the NY Times suggests that there is universal condemnation where such is not the case.

Are there innate differences between men and women? Of course! Women are actually superior to men, but just not in math. It's well known among educators that boys and girls do equally well in math until puberty. Obviously something happens in puberty that causes girls to fall behind in that one particular subject.

Boys and girls are also equal in height until puberty, and no one suggests that anything other than biology is causing girls to suddeny stop growing. (But Mother Nature exempted me. I'm taller than half the men in DC. I'm also pretty good at math.)

Meanwhile, it's less often reported that girls do better overall in school than boys do. Unfortunately we can't be superior in all academic subjects, so boys get their one little area in which to shine. It's nothing to get all jealous about.


This article (hat tip: GNXP) shows that women and men use different areas of the brain:

This, according to Rex Jung, a UNM neuropsychologist and co-author of the study, may help to explain why men tend to excel in tasks requiring more local processing (like mathematics), while women tend to excel at integrating and assimilating information from distributed gray-matter regions in the brain, such as required for language facility.

White inauguration

It's snowing outside! With weather forecasts predicting 1 to 2 inches today and maybe some additional snow tomorrow, it looks like we're going to have a white inauguration.

Washington DC rent control: bad economics

DC's rent control law will expire this year, but will likely be renewed. Washington Post.

The DC City Council's love affair with rent control demonstrates how you don't need the least understanding of economics to become a city council member.

Prices for apartments are determined by supply and demand. Prices can only be lowered by increasing supply. But instead of issuing a lot of building permits allowing more apartments to be built, the City Council passes laws restricting building owners from doing what they want with their property. Rent control laws are not only offensive to property ownership rights, they also scare away developers from building new apartment buildings and in the long run cause rental prices to rise, the opposite effect of its stated purpose.

Also in the blogosphere: at A Constrained Vision, Katie wrote yesterday about how rent control increases prices in the California housing market.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Housing bubble plus dumb Bush program equals trouble

According to this article, The Housing Market's Dangers (free link):

One issue on which Republicans and Democrats agree is that more people should own their own home. It is part of President Bush's "ownership society" initiative. Homeownership has risen to a record 69% of all households, from 67.5% when Mr. Bush took office in 2001, despite persistent unemployment.

If Republicans and Democrats agree on something we should watch out. Why is it such a good thing for people to own their own home? We should let the free market decide if people prefer to own or rent. Renting has many advantages, most significantly the ability to move easily without having to deal with steep transactions costs associated with buying and selling a house. There is also less risk because you don't have to worry about the value of your home declining. And I love the covenience of having the apartment building's maintenance staff fix my broken sink while I'm at work!

Low interest rates get most of the credit, but Mr. Bush would like to nudge it along. His American Dream Downpayment Initiative, signed into law in 2003, offers as much as $200 million a year to subsidize first-time home buyers' down payments, especially for low-income and minority families. He has instructed his tax-reform panel to preserve tax breaks for homeowners. At the same time, he has tried to curtail rent subsidies.

Yet another wasteful government program spending the taxpayers' money based on a dubious social theory. And why do we need tax breaks for homeowners, a wealthier than average group that doesn't need a special tax benefit? Tax reform should be about simplifying the tax code and eliminating all of the complicated and unnecessary special tax breaks that make filling out a 1040 so time consuming.

But are these policies wise? Housing prices, adjusted for inflation, are up 36% since 1995, the steepest boom in at least 50 years, according to Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. "This is a particularly bad time to be promoting homeownership among young people," Mr. Baker told a media briefing last week. "A lot will see substantial losses in home value as a result of that bubble, which will be ending soon."

Since I don't own a home, I'm looking forward to the collapse of the housing bubble! Because there's no way I'll ever afford a house at these high prices unless I marry a rich husband (hmmm, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea).

But the point of the quoted paragraph, that a peak in housing prices is the worst time to promote home ownership, sounds like common sense to me.


Some other interesting posts I found on this topic: Accidental Verbosity and PrestoPundit.

Harvard chief says men better at math than women

Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard University, suggested last week that "innate differences in sex may explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers." NY Times.

Dr. Summers cited research showing that more high school boys than girls tend to score at very high and very low levels on standardized math tests, and that it was important to consider the possibility that such differences may stem from biological differences between the sexes.

How do I feel about being a member of the sex that's not as good at math? Not happy about it. But this wouldn't be my reaction:

Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who once led an investigation of sex discrimination there that led to changes in hiring and promotion, walked out midway through Dr. Summers's remarks.

"When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill," Dr. Hopkins said.

I don't see how getting "physically ill" makes us women look any better. Nancy is just reinforcing negative gender stereotypes that women are too emotional.

If there are innate biological differences in math aptitude, then it's wrong to suppress the truth, otherwise we'd just be whining until the end of days about sexual discrimination causing these difference where such discrimation actually doesn't exist.

Luckily for American women, math intensive work like engineering is of declining importance to our economy because such work can be exported to low wage countries like China and India.


Some enlightened commentary in the blogosphere: The Last Renaissance Man, Lubos Motl's Reference, Joe's Dartblog, and Balloon Juice.

DC Metro Blogmap

I just discovered that I was added to the DC Metro Blogmap! But I live at the most bloggish station so my blog will probably be lost in the crowd.

The real history of the crusades

Old Blind Dog left a link in a comment to this interesting article written by Thomas F. Madden, a medieval history professor and co-author of a book about the crusades.

So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword.

I guess the whole "Christianity is evil, look at the Crusades" mantra is actually another example of liberal self-hatred for Western culture.

Monday, January 17, 2005

"Judgment" is not spelled with an "e"

"Judgment" is one of the most misspelled words in the English language. What's even worse is that many dictionaries list "judgement" as an alternate spelling. This list of the 100 most misspelled words spells "judgment" wrong! That should teach you not to believe everything you read on the internet.

Only people from England are allowed to spell it "judgement." If you're an American, please use good "judgment."

Scoring the new SAT essays

The Sunday Washington Post featured an article about grading the SAT essays. After being strictly a multiple choice test for so many years, the SAT is now adding an essay.

I don't think adding an essay makes any sense. This doesn't mean I don't think writing is important. I just don't think there's a practical way to accurately judge a person's writing ability based on only a single essay.

The wonderful thing about the SAT is how accurately it measures a person's ability. So many people retake the SAT only to get a new score extremely close to their last score. Maybe it went up by a few tens of points if they prepped really hard for the retest. But that's about it.

Why can't colleges judge applicants' writing ability by looking at their grades in high school English classes? Don't high school grades mean anything? The SAT is supposed to add to high school grades by creating a score that's standardized across all high schools. It's not supposed to replace your entire high school record.

I suspect that unlike the multiple choice sections of the SAT, the essay section will be strongly influenced by test preparation. Students with rich parents will take the expensive test prep courses and learn the proper way to write for the SAT essay.

And what about this statement that the Washington Post managed to slip in:

Bremen, an English professor at the University of Texas at Austin, notes that the writer provides only one real example. Nevertheless, he says, the writer displays "a clear chain of thought" and should be rewarded, "despite his Republican tendencies."

That should raise people's alarm bells! Of course, proper test preparation will teach students to never write anything political, but the English professor was commenting on an essay about squirrels hording food supplies; I don't understand how in the world it could be construed as "Republican."

Somehow, the change to the SAT seems like change for the sake of political correctness. Liberals hate the SAT because it demonstrates quantitatively that people differ in intelligence, and they also hate it because the average black score is significantly lower than the average white score; the difference [possibly] exceeds a standard deviation. (I took statistics in college, I knew it would be useful someday!) [See comments for additional statistics.]

Also in the blogosphere, Betsy complains about the lack of feedback students will receive regarding their essay scores.

New Jersey family slain by Muslim terrorists?

Fox News is pushing this story about a NJ family of four, all found stabbed to death in their house.

Hossam Armanious, a Coptic (Egyptian) Christian, posted anti-Muslim statements on the internet and received death threats because of it. You don't have to be a genius to figure out that this isn't just a robbery but a religiously motivated slaying.

The other news sites seem to be ignoring the story (although it appears in the NY Times as a New York region story). Probably because it contradicts the "Islam is a religion of peace" mantra that apologists are trying to promote.


Not a big deal in the MSM but all over the internet: My Side Of the Couch, Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin, Power Line, Heroes From the Past, Secure Liberty, Back Of the Envelope, Outerific, Smooth Stone, Dawn Patrol, Relapsed Catholic, Key Monk, Fladen Experience, Crossing the Rubicon, Dreams Into Lightening, Jihad Watch plus many more. Good thing we have blogs to keep the MSM honest.


I can't believe that this story about a dead baby makes CNN's front page while the much more important story of a massacre commited by Islamic extemists in our own country is ignored.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

About the post about last night

The funny thing about the internet is how people will write stuff that they would never say directly to someone's face. I know what people have been saying about me at other blogs. So I know how people have been calling me "stupid" and "mental" and "clueless" and that my posts are "embarassing to read."

I've ignored this stuff until now, but some people have sunk to a new low with respect to certain comments written to my second previous post. I thought about removing the whole post with all of its comments, but I decided to keep it so there's a permanent record of how some men are misogynists still living in the 18th century, or maybe they wish they were living in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia where their attitudes towards women would fit in fine.

I don't think anyone would have had any complaints about my post had I ended it by giving the guy a chaste peck on the cheek and then removing my virgin self from his presence. Well sorry, that's not what happened. And I doubt he'd care very much if people found out I wrote about him. His buddies would probably congratulate him on his "conquest" and they'd make a bunch of gorilla noises and go drink some beer.

If I were a guy and wrote about "getting lucky," no one would call me a "slut." If anything, people would get mad at me for "bragging."

People have accused me of trying to be this person or that person. Well I'm not trying to be anyone other than myself. And if you don't like the way I am then that's too bad for you. If you don't like me then don't link to me and don't read my posts. If the only women you want to link to are virgins until they get married, then fine go ahead and do that, but good luck finding any.

I was going to write a post about the new SAT but there's no more time today for that. Tomorrow I'll get back to politics blogging.

Is the Social Security Administration pushing Bush's political agenda?

The front page story in today's New York Times has the headline: Social Security Agency Is Enlisted to Push Its Own Revision.

Over the objections of many of its own employees, the Social Security Administration is gearing up for a major effort to publicize the financial problems of Social Security and to convince the public that private accounts are needed as part of any solution.

If true, that Bush is going to have the SSA spend taxpayer money to lobby for private accounts, which is Bush's political agenda, then we have yet another outrageously wrong use of public funds.

But after reading the entire article, I am just left confused with respect to what exactly the SSA is supposed to promote.

The agency's strategic communications plan says the following message is to be disseminated to "all audiences" through speeches, seminars, public events, radio, television and newspapers: "Social Security's long-term financing problems are serious and need to be addressed soon," or else the program may not "be there for future generations."

The plan says that Social Security managers should "discuss solvency issues at staff meetings," "insert solvency messages in all Social Security publications" and spread the word at nontraditional sites like farmers' markets and "big box retail stores."

If the plan only calls for the SSA publicizing the fact that benefits promised exceed the amount we can afford to pay, then I think that's completely appropriate. But if the SSA is also pushing for a particular political agenda, the creation of "private accounts," then that's clearly wrong. But the NY Times article just isn't clear.

I am opposed to private accounts. I've thought about the issue since my last Social Security post.

The correct way to "privatize" Social Security is to simply lower taxes and benefits and let people do whatever they want with their money!

I don't see how a complicated new government program has anything to do with privatization. Just the opposite, these "private accounts" seem like yet another new federal intervention into the private sector. The new plan will surely have strict guidelines with respect to the types of investments which may be made, meaning that government bureaucrats will be directing the investment of hundreds of billions of dollars. Giving government control over such a huge amount of "private" funds sounds like socialism to me

About last night

When I first met him, I called him fratguy because even though he's out of college he still had a sort of fraternity guy behavior about him. But once you get him away from a party with beer, he's less fratguy and more preppyguy trying to become yuppieguy. And yes, he went to an Ivy League college but I don't think he's all that bright. He probably got in with the minimum SAT scores, helped by his father being an alumni and his skill at playing lacrosse. Remember, the Ivy League schools aren't looking for the brightest students but the students most likely to be future leaders! He's probably working for a congressman in DC because his grades weren't high enough to get a job in investment banking (he says he's interested in politics), and his parents probably give him money to support his lifestyle. He says he applied to law school and is waiting to see where he's accepted.

He did talk about his work a lot, which normally is a big faux pas, but it's something I encouraged because I'm genuinely interested in hearing about what really goes on behind the scenes on Capitol Hill. (But if you have a boring job like computer programming, please don't tell me about it, I don't want to know!)

He has a cockiness about him that says "hey I'm God's gift to women," which I find to be simultaneously annoying and endearing. Of course he was eager to get me to go back to his apartment with him, and I decided to accept the invitation. His apartment is his biggest character flaw, it looks more like a college dorm room than living quarters for an adult. Yuck!

He's really good after hours, I can tell that he's had quite a bit of experience in the bedroom. This was probably just a one night thing, in a long term boyfriend I was hoping to find someone really intelligent and he's not. But it wasn't a bad one night thing.

I shouldn't really bring politics into this, but it's kind of hypocritical how he works for a conservative "pro-life" "family values" Christian congressman (not that I ever heard of the guy before, I looked him up on the internet), but he's all into having casual sex. Do the congressman's voters know what kind of un-Christian morals his staff has?


My response to these comments.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Abu Ghraib defendant Charles Graner convicted

Charles Graner, the defendant in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal court-martial, was convicted by the jury yesterday. Here's the Washington Post article.

The blogger at American Street says in this post that Corporal Graner was a scapegoat, which is in agreement with what I wrote in my previous Abu Ghraib post.

However, you should read the post at American Street because he makes an excellent case for how the trial judge incorrectly excluded exculpatory evidence from the trial.

Let's examine a few interesting points made by the Washington Post article.

No officer at Abu Ghraib, and no one higher in the chain of command, has faced criminal charges to date.

There is far too much evidence that higher ups knew what was going on to believe that not a single higher up is also deserving of a court-martial.

Between 80 and 100 of the toughest prisoners, including insurgents arrested for attacking Americans, were held in a cellblock called "Tier One-Alpha." Graner, who had been a corrections officer in Pennsylvania, was in charge of the night shift on that block

The previous quote shows that this was not just any random prison block containing innocent Iraqis, but rather the cell block where the toughest insurgents were held. This is further evidence Abu Ghraib was not about a few rogue sadistic enlisted men, but rather was a coordinated attempt my military intelligence to soften up the prisoners most likely to have information.

Graner and other guards e-mailed the photos to family and friends, a practice that drew conflicting explanations at the trial. The prosecutor, Capt. Chris Graveline, said that displaying the photos showed just how "cold" the enlisted soldiers had been. Womack, the defense lawyer, responded that Graner's sending the photos to friends proved "he was sure he was doing exactly what the chain of command wanted him to do."

I agree with the defense lawyer, but would like to add that people become desensitized to things. For example, the average person sees a dead body and gets all grossed out. But to the forensic pathologist, a dead body is no big deal, just part of doing the job. This is how it seemed to the soldiers when they took the photos.

The angry global reaction embarrassed the White House. President Bush summoned Arab reporters to assure them that Abu Ghraib "is a stain on our country's honor." The president and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have said that the abuse was strictly the fault of a small group of "rogue" soldiers at the prison.

This explains the real reason for the court-martial, which has nothing to do with justice. The purpose was to prove to the Muslim Arab world the false explanation set forth many months ago by Bush and Rumsfeld.


This post by Jeshua Erickson, points out that the soldiers wouldn't have taken photos if they thought they were doing anything wrong.

Should we be worrying about bloggers on the payroll?

Since the Armstrong Williams scandal broke, there has been a lot of talk about ethics in the blogosphere and paid blogging. For example, this post from yesterday at Slant Point.

I really don't think that paid blogging is the big problem that some people are making it out to be. There are only a tiny number of blogs that have enough readership to make it worth anyone's while to actually pay them money to blog something.

Is anyone going to pay me money to reach my 300 visitors a day? I think not.

If you want to be sure that you're reading unbought opinions, then read small blogs like mine instead of big blogs like Instapundit or Power Line.

David Brooks says women should marry and have children

NY Times columnist David Brooks writes today that women should marry early and have children in their twenties during their "most fertile years," then move into a career in their mid thirties. Instead of the way its currently done where women interrupt their careers in their mid thirties to marry and have children.

David Brooks' suggestion may be logical, but the problem I have with it is that I don't want to get married and have chidren right now.

He also seems to be suggesting that we need goverment programs to encourage women to marry earlier, but I think we already have too many government programs and we would be better off eliminating those we have instead of piling on new ones.

Over at Rising Hegemon (a blog with a political viewpoint I don't think I'd agree with), the blogger Attaturk (who describes himself as "a man, not unlike other men, except for my womanly manner") writes that David Brooks' suggestion is creepy. "The guy is really creeping me out about the need for women to have babies," he says.

Pamela Leavey at Light Up The Darkness seems to be very mad at Brooks for his suggestion. She accuses him of saying that women should just be wives and shouldn't have careers. I'd be mad at him too if I thought he was saying that, but it's pretty clear to me he was saying that women should just change the order in which they do things.

However, I think that if women followed Brooks' suggestion, they would set themselves up for a huge failure. No one would want to hire a woman first entering the labor force in her mid thirties, and she'd never wind up having any sort of serious career.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Yet another stumbling block to getting married

Maureen Dowd in yesterday's New York Times writes:

A new study by psychology researchers at the University of Michigan, using college undergraduates, suggests that men going for long-term relationships would rather marry women in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors.

As Dr. Stephanie Brown, the lead author of the study, summed it up for reporters: 'Powerful women are at a disadvantage in the marriage market because men may prefer to marry less-accomplished women.' Men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them.

I guess if I ever get a real job instead of the pretend job I have now, that would condemn me to not getting married.

Do shoppers really care what Walmart pays its employees?

Mad anthony offers some interesting thoughts on whether criticism of Walmart's labor polices has caused people to shop elsewhere. His post is based on a Bloomberg article in which a Wall Street analyst told Bloomberg that "consumers may also have turned to other retailers after reading criticism of Wal-Mart's labor issues."

Remember, Wall Street analysts told us how great a buy the NASDAQ was in 2000, so we should be careful about believing what they say.

I tend to agree with mad anthony on this one. Not only do I think that people don't care about the labor practices of companies they purchase from, I also think that most people don't pay attention to the news so don't even realize there's a controversy.

Most companies operate on the principle that they want to pay their employees the lowest amount of money that the market will bear. Walmart is far from unique. Mad anthony writes:

Does Target and Kohls pay all their employees $30 an hour with full benefits? I doubt it. So it seems unlikely that customers are going to pass up Walmart to shop at Target for moral reasons. I think the impact that Wal-Mart felt is a reaction against Wal-Mart's quality and shopping experience, not against their employee benefits.

I personally would never shop at Walmart, it's a pretty awful store and there aren't any in DC anyway.

Why the invasion of Iraq was justified

I previously explained why opposition to the invasion of Iraq is not based on on Libertarian principles. But with my last post being about Abu Ghraib, this is probably a good time to put in writing my additional thoughts on Iraq.

The way I see it, we didn't start a war in 2002. We were continuing a war that was started in 1991. Instead of finishing off Saddam back then (a bad decision), we agreed to a truce where Saddam Hussine would only be allowed limited sovereignty over his country. Between then and the beginning of the invasion in 2003, our military was patrolling the no-fly zone, and our planes were constantly attacked by Iraqi ground forces. So in response to people who say we "started" the war and that Hussein hadn't attacked us, that's a lie. He started the war when he invaded Kuwait back in 1990 and has been attacking us ever since.

Furthermore, Hussein also reneged on his agreement to allow weapons inspectors access to Iraq. A lot has been made of the fact that our troops didn't find any weapons of mass destruction. But I don't think that's the key issue. How were we supposed to know if he had them or not if inspectors were denied access to the country? I think that, even though Saddam didn't have any WMD, he wanted the world to think he had them so that he'd appear to be a bigshot.

How could we prevent other nations from aquiring WMD with Saddam thumbing his nose at us?

Furthermore, the coalition to contain Saddam Hussien would have crumbled in a few years if we didn't do anything. The status quo wasn't maintainable. From recent news stories, we know how big of a disaster the oil-for-food program was. And our European "allies" like the French were expressing greater interest in doing business with Saddam than containing him.

Bush has also been accused of invading Iraq in order to protect Israel, as if this were a bad thing. If our invasion helped our only true ally and the only Western oriented democracy in the region, then that's yet another benefit.

Clearly the Bush administration made a huge mistake in trumpeting actual possession of WMD as the only reason for the invasion of Iraq when there were a whole host of different reasons. But just because the Bush administration was incredibly stupid doesn't mean the invasion wasn't justified.

The invasion of Iraq was an amazing success. With only minimal U.S. casualties and in only a short amount of time, we ousted Saddam and took control of the country. The post-invasion occupation of Iraq hasn't been quite the success, but that I'll leave for a future post. This post is only about why the invasion of Iraq was justified.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Abu Ghraib kangaroo trial Defense Rests in Abuse Court-Martial.

I feel sorry for the soldiers being prosecuted because of the Abu Ghraib incidents. They are being made scapegoats in order to prove something to the Muslims, like we really need to prove anything to them.

According to the testimony, senior military intelligence officers knew about and encouraged the behavior, but it's the soldiers following their orders being court-martialed.

I believe that the highest levels of military intelligence condoned these types of tough questioning tactics, and these tactics were taught at the top secret military intelligence training school at Fort Huachuca, AZ.

Furthermore, I don't understand why it's OK to drop bombs on the enemy and kill them, but it's suddenly a big violation of the rules of war to make them wear underwear belonging to the opposite sex.

Men who like women with muscles

I noticed a spike in my website traffic today, and discovered that the source was a post linking to me from a blog named Transvigor.

Transvigor is a blog for men who like women with muscles. The blogger apparently discovered the post where I mentioned that I lift weights.

Having pretty big muscles for a girl (which I kind of enjoy), I know firsthand that more than a few guys get turned on by that, but it's pretty humorous to discover a whole blog devoted to the subject!

Andrew Sullivan's suicidal religious beliefs

And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

Remember, I'm an atheist, so obviously I don't believe anything in the Bible represents the word of God. But Christians like George Bush believe it, and that's why I find Andrew Sullivan's statement today, "I share Bush's faith, admire it, respect it," to be incomprehensible.

Andrew Sullivan is gay. How can he share faith in a religion that says he should be put to death?

And why do so many other openly gay people also want to be part of that religion?

Alan Greenspan has driven world to the brink of ruin

I don't want to be one of those bloggers that just copies some text from a news story and calls it a blog post (that's mostly what Michelle Malkin does), but I don't have much time to write a big post right now, and this is pretty interesting stuff.


Stephen Roach, the chief economist for Morgan Stanley & Co. (nyse: MWD), one of the most powerful investment banks and one of the 50 largest companies in the world, says Greenspan has "driven the world to the economic brink."

Writing in an upcoming issue of Foreign Policy, Roach says that when Greenspan steps down as chairman of the Federal Reserve next year, he will leave behind a record foreign deficit and a generation of Americans with little savings and mountains of debt. Americans, Roach says, are far too dependent on the value of their assets, especially their homes, rather than on income-based savings; they are running a huge current-account deficit; and much of the resulting debt is now held by foreign countries, especially in Asia, which permits low interest rates and entices Americans into more debt.

Underreaction to Bush's religion interview

Searching Google News, I haven't found a single domestic newspaper picking up on George Bush's Washington Times religion interview. Just a few foreign news sources, for example the Telegraph which offers the following analysis:

His comments were none the less sure to prompt renewed outrage from those in America and abroad who see in Mr Bush a Christian fundamentalist let loose on the Oval Office and pandering to the powerful Evangelical movement in the country.

Given the lack of attention being paid to to this story so far, I don't see there being much outrage. The next comment in the Telegraph story, perhaps, explains the lack of outrage:

But professions of religious faith are nothing unusual from occupants of the White House. Jimmy Carter preached in church while in office and Bill Clinton regularly took part in religious services.

I mentioned in a comment a while ago that Europe is cooler than the United States. One of the reasons why is because it's common for Europeans not to believe in God, but depending on which survey you believe, 79% to 95% of people in the United States believe in God. (With such a huge difference between "surveys," the exact percentage of God believing Americans is a mystery. All we can say is that it's a large percentage.)

In the United States, people fear being branded an atheist, so maybe people are keeping their criticism of Bush's religious statment to themselves. Certainly none of the hypocrites on the left had much criticism of Bill Clinton's public demonstration of his religious faith (in between Oval Office shenanigans).

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

And about fratguy from the New Year's Eve party

In case you're wondering about what happened to "fratguy" who I met at the New Year's Eve party, I'm going out on my first date with him on Saturday. Whee!!

Bush, the religious extremist

The Washington Times has an exclusive interview with George W. Bush in tomorrow's paper (already available this evening on the internet). Bush has totally destroyed any credibility he might have had with people like myself who don't believe in God.

"I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person," Mr. Bush said. "I've never said that. I've never acted like that. I think that's just the way it is.

So you're not a patriotic American if you're not religious?

"I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit," Mr. Bush said. "That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have or one of the greatest freedoms is the right to worship the way you see fit.

"On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with the Lord," he said.

Bush is saying that only Christians should be president?

These Bushisms really disgust me. Bush is trying to lead the country towards a religious theocracy and away from the country of religious freedom that our Founding Fathers envisioned. We think we live in a modern age, yet the leaders of our nation in the 18th century were the rational thinkers while today we have a leader beholden to primitive supersitions.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan's take:

To restrict the presidency to a particular religious faith is anathema to this country's traditions and to the task of toleration. The president surely needs to retract the statement.

Bush certainly owes a lot of patriotic Americans a very huge apology. But somehow I don't think we will be getting one.

You may wish read Right Hand Thief; he has written some worthwhile thoughts about the issue.

Sexist double standard in the blogosphere

Says Uncle accused me of not being a girl. And he refers to an online gender calculator which supposedly can determine if you are man or woman by counting how many times you use words like "the."

This seems like a pretty unscientific way of determing someone's sex. I assure you that my girly fingers can type "the" just as easily as a man's, if not more easily. The the the the the -- oooh now I feel like wasting a whole Sunday watching football.

(1) Even if there's some validity to it, a program like the Gender Genie isn't going to work for testing the sex of political bloggers because we have a relatively closed community in which bloggers will tend to imitate the established writing style. With nearly all the top political bloggers being men, female bloggers will wind up modeling their blog writing after men.

Michelle Malkin, the only woman with a top political blog (I don't really consider Wonkette to be a politics blogger), writes in a manly style according to the Gender Genie.

(2) There is a sexist double standard here. When a man starts a blog, no one says "hey, maybe this person isn't a man" But I've only been blogging for two weeks and suddenly someone accuses me of not being a woman.

Gary Condit lies under oath

Following in the footsteps of Democrat Bill Clinton, Gary Condit, also a Democrat, seems to be an incorrigible liar. The Washington Post reports that, in a pretrial deposition as part of a defamation suit he filed against Vanity Fair columnist Dominick Dunne, Condit denied having a "romantic relationship" with Chandra Levy.

Anyone who has followed the original story in the newspapers knows they were having a sexual relationship. And that some of the sex was pretty kinky. Not that there's anything wrong with kinky sex.

The inconsistency was pointed out by the article:

privately, he told investigators that he had an affair with Levy, law enforcement sources familiar with the case reiterated yesterday.


Condit's testimony drew a sharp rebuke from Chandra Levy's aunt. Linda Katz, formerly Linda Zamsky, has said that Levy told her about a love affair with Condit.

"I don't know what he's hiding. . . . I only know he lied," Katz said.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Rathergate forged documents

If you think my last post was long, check out CBS Ignores Typewriter Expert at Wizbang. There is some incredibly detailed analysis.

If you've been following this story, you know that CBS has still refused to say that the documents were definitely forged, even though the evidence seems rock solid that they were indeed forgeries.

The Liberal Mind

In my previous post on Iraq, I mentioned that liberals hate America.

The liberal sympathizes with the weak and hates the strong. If a libertarian/objectivist like myself sees a man who has become rich because of his hard labor and intelligence, we think that there is someone to be admired. But the liberal sees such a person and hates him, and desires to equalize society by stealing his justly earned wealth and giving it to the poor.

Nearly all liberal policies are about equalizing society. Liberals support high taxes to take from the rich, with huge welfare programs to redistribute that money to the poor. Liberals support trial lawyers because they see the tort suit as a way to take money from the rich and give it to the undeserving but poor plaintiff. Liberals support any program to take from whites, who they see as the strong race, and give to who they see as the weaker races. Liberals support animals because they are seen as weak compared to humans. Liberals hate testing in schools because it exposes that some of the students have superior skills; liberals prefer the illusion that all students are equal.

Liberals base their foreign policy beliefs on these same values. The United States is the strongest country in the world, which is why Liberals hate our country. Liberals favor the underdog nations of the third world. Liberals desire open immigration because they see that as a way of equalizing the world, by making the United States more like a third world nation. And they support generous foreign aid to redistribute money from the rich nations to the poor nations. They don't care if the poor nations are poor because of their corrupt governments and lack of free markets. Liberals hate free markets because free markets allow the intelligent and industrious to prosper at the expense of the unintelligent and lazy.

Liberals are always opposed to war because war tends to make the people patriotic, and patriotism is anethema to the liberal. Furthermore, liberals like the fact that weapons of mass destruction are spreading throughout the world, because it equalizes the power of the nations.

Of course not all liberals are so extreme in their views, but in all cases, the core of liberalism is based on the desire to hurt the strong and help the weak.

A dumb Michelle Malkin post

This post is incredibly dumb.

So Miami Beach has a regulation against roadside vendors (and for purposes of this post their shall be no discussion of whether or not such a regulation is a good idea). Someone calls up and asks how to sell stuff on the roadside. Person answering the phone says you can't.

But Michelle Malkin says the regulators are "boneheaded" because they should have seen how deserving the caller was of being given an exemption.

I say Michelle Malkin is the boneheaded one. Why do we want our government workers to have the arbitrary power to decide upon whom to bestow a valuable government benefit? A just system of laws require that they apply the same way to all people.

Financial impact of Rathergate

The Washington Post reports on the financial impact of Rathergate.

CBS Evening News is down in the ratings. But we learn that CBS Evening News doesn't make much money anyway:

Ad revenue from the "Evening News" accounts for only about 10 percent of the total revenue of the CBS News division, Moonves said.

CBS Evening News dates back to a time when there were only three major networks and their news reporting mattered. Today, we have all news cable channels like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. I personally never watch any network news. I'm strictly a cable girl.

One wonders if it makes economic sense for Viacom to continue its commitment to CBS Evening News? I predict that Viacom will dump the Evening News and just stick with its more profitable magazine style shows like 60 Minutes.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston

I always wonder why anyone cares about Hollywood marriages at all! What possible difference does their relationship make to anyone’s life—except, of course, those who are acquainted with the couple? Why is the Associated Press even covering it?

So asks a commentor at Outside the Beltway regarding the news that Brad and Jennifer have broken up. I think it's just a hypothetical question which I'm not supposed to answer.

Last time I saw Brad Pitt was in the movie Troy. His muscles were so huge he was freaky looking. Muscles that big are a turn off. I believe the rumours that he took steroids.

Monday, January 10, 2005

I support Michael Newdow

Michael Newdow was the plaintiff in the lawsuit to take "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. His original lawsuit was rejected by the Supreme Court because they said he lacked standing, but he's back with a group of plaintiffs who have standing.

I'm writing this post because I feel he needs some support. I searched the blogosphere for posts about him and found nearly unanimous hatred.

I respect what Newdow is doing. Being an atheist, I find the Pledge's "under God" clause to be extremely offensive. I feel like I'm being told that I'm not a real American unless I believe in God.

The best pro-Newdow post I could find was this post written by John P. Hoke. I don't think that Mr. Hoke and I would agree on many other issues. His Newdow post contains an unfortunate jab against Republicans. But where is the Democratic party on this issue? Democrats are silent. Democrats and Republicans have united against rational people like myself. We think religion is stupid and we don't want our children indoctrinated in the silliness.

Also, this post at S.I.M.U. offers a brief word of support for Newdow.

Libertarianism and Iraq

Some people think that being a libertarian means that you should have opposed the war in Iraq. Such was the official position of the Libertarian Party.

I believe that national defense is one of the key functions of government. I get mad when I think about things like the No Child Left Behind Act or authoritarian "just say no to drugs" laws. But hearing that we have a military, and our military attacked another country, doesn't by itself make me mad about anything.

Most of the opposition to the war in Iraq came from liberals who hate the United States and think our country is so bad and evil that we have no moral authority to take any military action. Liberals think we're really not much better than Iraq.

I disagree strongly with the liberal "hate the United States" viewpoint. Although I am extremely disappointed with our nation's increasingly authoritarian and socialist agenda, we are still a nation of freedom, and our nation was founded on freedom. Through freedom and free market capitalism, not by conquest or evil, we became a great superpower.

With the philosophical stuff out of the way, analysis of whether we were justified in invading Iraq rests on a practical analysis of Saddam Hussein's behavior and the threat he might have posed to us. This is too huge a topic to blog about completely in one post, so I will leave further discussion of Iraq to future posts.

No more free New York Times?

The New York Times is considering making its internet site a pay service. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

From the Business Week article:

The New York Times, like all print publications, faces a quandary. A majority of the paper's readership now views the paper online, but the company still derives 90% of its revenues from newspapering.

The New York Times really does face a big problem, because paying subscribers will keep converting to free internet readers. Why pay money when you can read the same articles for free?

The Wall Street Journal also charges money, but there's a big difference. The Wall Street Journal has unique content that can't be read anywhere else. The New York Times mostly contains the same news that you can read at any other news site. Yes, people consider the New York Times to be the very best U.S. newspaper. But is it really so much better than everything else that enough people will pay for it?

If the New York Times website becomes a pay service, bloggers will stop linking to it and its reputation for being the newspaper of record will decline. I already prefer to link to the Washington Post (which observant readers of my blog know) because Washington Post articles stay online longer.

Liberal talk radio

Howard Kurtz's Media Notes column profiles Ed Schultz, a "prairie-dwelling, red-meat-eating, gun-toting former conservative" liberal radio talk show host.

The show was developed with $1.8 million from Democracy Radio, a New York nonprofit run by Tom Athans, the husband of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), with a board composed of three Clinton administration veterans.

And people were mad about Armstrong Williams being paid $241,000 by Bush. I guess liberal radio doesn't stand up by itself without massive funding from party insiders. How can anyone respect the guy's opinion after receiving such huge backing from partisan sources?

He also opposes abortion but doesn't talk about it on the air, calling it "a lousy talk radio topic."

Or maybe he doesn't want to offend his backers? It's a shame he's anti-abortion, that's one of the few issues where I agree with liberals.

Why do we need another liberal radio show anyway? Liberals already have NPR, all liberal all the time, and conveniently funded by the taxpayer.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Did Glenn Reynolds really comment on my blog?

In my previous post about Glenn Reynolds, a commentor named "Glenn" wrote the following:

Er, try reading my FAQs before you call me a hypocrite, next time. OK?

I wrote the following comment in response:

I'm sure the real Glenn has been called a lot worse then a hypocrite, and he's not going to waste his time with semi-anonymous comments on my unknown blog.

I have since received an email claiming to be from Glenn, which I feel I can publish since it doesn't say anything he wouldn't want published:

That actually was me commenting on your blog. And the point was *undisclosed* payments. They're disclosed in my FAQs.

Unfortunately there's no way of knowing if the email really came from Glenn. He used a Gmail account. There were no IP addresses in any of the email headers from Tennessee or anything, so it could be Glenn or it could be an elaborate ruse. Who knows?

When I did a Technorati search for, my post came up pretty prominantly, really screaming for attention. Glenn probably uses Technorati to see if he's being blogged about, so I guess he really did read the post, and probably he did leave the comment.

So let's look at Glenn's FAQ:

Are you as good-looking as your picture?

No. Unlike Rachael Klein, I am not as good looking as my picture.

Oops, wrong issue. Glenn didn't have any complaints about my comment that he was handsome. I think it's this that he was referring to:

Why do you link to Amazon so much?

Amazon's not just a bookstore, it's a major source of information, with reviews, etc. Plus, since Virginia Postrel browbeat me into it a while back, I started putting my wife's referrer code in the links (when I remember) which makes her a little money. And I like Amazon -- I buy a lot of stuff from them -- so I like to support them.

This comment from the FAQ doesn't really address the point of my post. I never said his affiliate links were hidden. They were obvious to me. The exact words from my previous post:

Glenn Reynolds might point out that it's transparent he's getting a kickback from the percolator, because anyone can tell by examining the link. And he would have a point, but I think that the majority of web surfers don't realize the true nature of affiliate links and they think Glenn is just enthusiastic about a percolator.

I should also add that the majority of web surfers have not bothered to read the FAQ.

But I also said that I don't have a problem with people making money from their web traffic. Glenn puts a lot of effort into his blog and he's entitled to reap some monetary rewards!

"Hypocrite" is probably too strong of a word considering that Armstrong Williams made a vastly larger amount of money from shilling for Bush than Glenn made from his percolator post. And it's true that Glenn's links are semi-disclosed.

But am I really the only person on the whole internet that doesn't see the irony of Glenn trying to make some money by posting about a percolator on the same day he complains about someone else writing for money?

I guess now that I'm on Glenn's enemy list, no Instalaunches for me. I'm going to cry :(


Well, it was definitely Glenn, because he responded to my reply which went to the email address posted on his blog. He claims he wasn't really trying to sell the percolator. :)

Adam's take on libertarianism

Adam at My Side of the Couch writes a post about libertarianism where he very nicely lends me support on the issue of being a libertarian and working for the government.

He has an interesting comment about libertarianism and the "War on Terror":

I started this post mainly because I consider myself Republican with libertarian leanings. I was full-on Libertarian until the party went all moonbatty on the War on Terror. This is one area I disagree with the Libertarian Party. I want terrorists crushed, and I want governments supporting them crushed.

I agree with him if he is talking about our invasion of Iraq. Our government's job is to protect us from enemies, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq was an enemy. George Bush should be given credit for going in there and successfully defeating the Saddam Hussein regime.