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Saturday, January 19, 2002

Basketball Jones- Get to go to the Pistons game tonight. Alan, my second-in-command at the computer store, got a pair of ducats to see the Celtics as a Christmas gift and, lacking a lady friend, he invited me. If only he'll get off wanting to "correctly" refer to the team as the "Kell-tics." He's a smart libertarian-leaning guy who can more than hold his own in a political conversation. I E-mailed him my blog address this week-we might have some interesting conversations tonight. I found the Almanac of American Politics on line via a Google search. I'm not a subscriber, but this link seems to work. It came in handy for background on the Colorado piece.

Introduction to Dr. Mark Byron (updated 4-12-02) Schooling - B.S. Major: Political Science, Minor:Economics- Central Michigan University (1982) B.B.A.-Majors: Finanace and Accounting (double major) Minor:Computer Mathematics -Saginaw Valley State University (1988) M.B.A- Major:Finance-Michigan State Univeristy (1990) Ph.D.-Business Administration- Major-Finance Minor-International Economics- Kent State University. (1996) Recent Employment- After graduating from KSU, my father and I started up a computer store; I taught at SVSU and Great Lakes College on the side. It lasted 2.5 years when we ran out of working capital and sanity at the same time. Shortly thereafter I started working in the finance department of Flint's Hurley Medical Center, where I've been for three years. I will start work in July as an Assistant Professor of Business at Warner Southern College. Political Philosophy- I'm generally a free-market, dynamist neoconservative. I'm not a fan of the death penalty, term limits or balanced budget amendments, but otherwise, I'm a fairly typical neocon. My dad, Tom, was a Democratic activist, (State Rep nominee '70 and '72, Midland country chair '76, briefly a Congressional candidate '81) who's become conservative over the years. I grew up as a neolib, card-carrying Democrat, but a combination of being "born-again" in '85 and going to business school (more the latter) turned me into a conservative. As an spiritual agnostic, I was surprisingly conservative on social and foreign policy issues, but voted for Mondale in '84 on economics. Business school showed me that businessmen weren't any more evil than the rest of us, and voted for Bush pere in '88. I have voted for just one Democrat since then. My studies of economics (check out the Quantum Econ posts) in graduate school reinforced this Personal Status/Testimony-I was fighting depression after getting my BS, having little to show on the resume for three years after graduation but failed attempts at grad school. In 1985, my dad who went from being a aloof agnostic to being a on-fire, spirt-filled born-again Pentecostal. He presented when I didn't get as a Methodist kid-that we're imperfect sinners, that God is perfect and that he send a subset of Himself (not just the Son of God but part of God), Jesus, to die and bridge that gap. He also showed what the Holy Spirit could do; taking a curmudgeon and making him the loving dad I never really had growing up. That summer, I said "I'm not doing anything with my life, Jesus, you take it and run with it.” I went back to school, got active in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on campus and gradually put my depressive past behind me. Eleven years later, I was Dr. Byron. Theologically I'm a Bapticostal, (half Baptist, half Pentecostal) . I'm currently going to New Life Vineyard Church in Midland. Never married, no kids, engaged to the lovely and gracious Eileen, who I met through a young-adult group at the Vineyard. July 6, 2002 is the wedding date. I’ve found a soul mate; a fellow intellectual and soft-heart with a B.A. in English and a Masters in Christian Education, we get along all too well. Having her in my life is the second most important thing in my life. With Eileen in the picture, 2001 was the best year of my life. My new professor position, the promice of a lovely wife and the friends I've made via blogging are making 2002 look to be even better.

Slow posting today. I started a companion blog, Blogistan Political Journal, to cover politics in a way I would like to see done. I'm covering each state, giving the governor, senate and congressional races. By the end of next month, in time for the first primaries, I should have the country covered. I'm starting in the Rockies and heading west, then to the South. It should be fun.

Groaner Du Jour-"Croatia is free", Tom said acerbically. Quip Du Jour-"No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."-H.L. Mencken (Any doubts-just check prime time network TV) Edifier Du Jour-"Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth"- Proverbs 10:4

Friday, January 18, 2002

He Used to Suck-and Now He's Gotten Worse-I didn't know Tim Cavanaugh's history when I read the blog-instafamous "Let Slip the Blogs of War", giving him the 15 minutes of blog fame that Mr. Antiwar got yesterday. I remember linking to an article or two in Suck and wasn't impressed-the name itself implied a perniciously cocky attitude that grates on my sensibilities. The blog piece actually is fairly good if a bit acerbic-if I were introduced to blogs by this piece, I'd try a few links to see what was there, and gotten hooked. I checked the Blogs folder in my bookmarks file and saw Instapundit dated October 20; I remember linking from one of Reynolds' paying jobs (either Fox or NRO), and gradually broke out across Blogistan. Less than three months later, I'm starting my own. Blogs allow the inner pundit to get out and have some fun. In the past, if you heard a story that got your goat of gave you a chuckle, you were often left talking to yourself, daydreaming of writing a column or having a chair on a pundit show. Now, you have an outlet for your thoughts, and, occasionally, people read it. I've already had article links from four sites that I know of and have made the permalink list on two. Seeing your name in print, even if it's another blogger, is fun. Getting positive E-mail (no hate mail yet) is enriching. There is a concurrance of opinion from most bloggers, which leans generally right-of-center with a strong libertarian bent. However, I think that there is also a broad variety of opinion within Blogistan within that framework, with neocons and libertarians having ongoing food fights. The global nature of the Internet is another element in the richness of Blogistan. I'm E-mailing Croatian libertarians and Canadian humorists, and laughing at/with an English mom and a Australian satirist. Reading Canadian blogs was helpful in understanding the recent cabinet shakeup-you get background and history links that the mainstream press doesn't give. The European bloggers give perspective on international affairs and economics that American or European media doesn't give. Blogs can cut to the chase, machine gun herds of sacred cows and give incisive commentary not found elsewhere. You'll also get more than a bit of attitude and occasional venom, but that flavors the international gumbo of opinion. ByronBlog recipe-start with a BS in Political Science, add a MBA, a masters-degree-level background in Economics and a Ph.D. in Finance, season with sixteen years of Bible studies and Sunday School classes, spice with a lifelong interest in sports, history, music and geography/culture and wrap in a punny well-written style. Blogging allows all those skills to come together, talking about Steve Spurrier one minute and geopolitics the next. I hope I can shed some light on a subject or two, tickle a funny-bone or generally make someone's day a little bit better. I think this blog is a net joytron producer, and that's all I can hope for. Kevin Holtsberry has a good piece bouncing off of Cavanaugh, "Why I Blog"

If you go over the top-prepare for the machine gun fire. The Junkyard Blog, Bryan Preston, has done so by rhetorically sending the Turkish army Riyadh-bound. Here comes my loving (I do like the guy) AK-47 fire. First, give them to Jordan, not Turkey; the Hashemites were the traditional keepers of the holy cities. Second, I'm not quite on-board with "the Saudis have been behind UBL and Sept 11th all along." If you take the "the" out, and make it "Saudis have been behind", you are most likely right; high level clerics and members of the huge royal family were (probably) giving support to al Qaeda. Whether the collusion reached high enough to justify an invasion is a good question. I'd like a little more concrete evidence before justifying an overthrow but it's getting mighty close.

Penny for my thoughts- Just noticed that I have been spelling our favorite Newfie's last name "Perry" when it's "Penny." Caught that while reading this blog-critical piece linked from MCJ. The article trashes, or at least makes fun of, half of my reading list. I'm encouraged that people who are linking to me are being slammed/cited by non-blog on-line media. Since I'm only one or two degrees of seperation away, I may be next. En Guarde!

With friends like these .....- The Saudi's are talking about kicking the US military out of the country. Sen. Carl "Apollo" Levin stumbled into a good line: "The Saudis actually think somehow they are doing us a favor by having us be there helping to defend them." Quite a few pundits, to me most notably Rich Lowery from NRO, have called for giving the Saud line the heave-ho and let the Jordanians run the place, since the Hashemite dynasty traditionally had custody of Mecca and Medina. The Wahhabi wing of Sunni Islam is the intelectual swamp that a lot of the al Qaeda people came out of. The Saudi's sponsor Wahhabi schools around the world. While I'm leery of the precedent of going to war with a denomination, the perfectionistic Wahhabi brand of Islam, coupled with an inferiority complex towards the West (the infidels are better off then we are, we'll teach them) is a very potent and combustible brew. If they continue to preach a no-holds-barred war against the non-believer and the less-devout Muslim, we're going to have to concider them, and the people who finance them, persona non grata. The church, giving strength, comfort and vision to a people who needed it, was the cornerstone of the Civil Rights Movement. If Jesus was preaching jihad against the Romans rather than "turn-the-other-cheek" and "give to Caesar what is Caesar's", we'd have more Black Panthers and less peaceful civil disobediance, the radicals thinking they were doing God a favor by killing whites. With Wahhabism, you have just that mix of devotion and call to jihad. If we can tweak that into focusing the spiritual energy into improving ourselves first, for the "greater jihad" of battling sin, it could be domesticated. Otherwise, we'll have to fight it.

Fox News has this piece on diversification of 401K portfolios which goes nicely with my post on Monday. The Fox piece shows that Enron's not the only company loading up the retirement plans with company stock. Reporters, get out the template and find a sweet retiree who just lost her nest-egg. This is something that might need to be (gasp!!) regulated, and I believe that even more than I did on Monday. “You can't tell me what to do with my money!" Chill, regulating this will protect less-savvy workers from being pressured into loading up the retirement plan with company stock. If we're giving tax breaks to encourage desired behavior like saving for retirement, might we also put a small string attached to require people to diversify?

We do Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs- Palestinian terrorists shot up a bat mitzvah (girl's counterpart to bar mitzvah for Reformed Jews) killing either 6 (per above link) or 7 (NPR a few minutes ago) people. This after five people were killed at a wedding by the wascally wadicals yesterday (thank Mr. Perry for second link). What peace process!?! Interesting note- the terrorists tend to attack Westernized places, like pizza parlors and discos. Tom Friedman made this point back in September. Orthodox Jews won't either pork or things with both meat and cheese in it, so they're not likely at the pizza joint (or the disco). The bat mitzvah (daughter of the covenant) is a Reformed (most theologically liberal of the three American Jewish traditions) invention to give pubescent girls an initiation into the fellowship like the boy's bar mitzvah (son of the covenant). Orthodox Jews ain't there either, people with American roots (Reform is a nearly uniquely American thing) would be.

Quip du Jour -"You can get more with a smile and a Smith and Wesson than you can with just a smile"-Anon. (Yasser, that's my baby!) Edifier du Jour-"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."- John 16:13

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Tranquility Base Here-the Liberal has Landed- I just called my senior senator Apollo Levin. I was just on a Rocky riff, but that's good .

Here's a quick and dirty attempt-with about four hours of work bopping over a few political web sites and candidate pages, to predict the US senate races for 2002. The nominees are the most likely given the basic research over the evening.The ending rating is the chance of it going Republican-sorry for the poor formating-I'll need to figure out how to get an Excel sheet into HTML and get it to look right. Of course, they'll be things I probablly missed and will most likely have my gluteus maximus fact-checked. Bring it on, ladies and germs. Alabama---Sen Jeff Sessions VS Susan Parker---( .9) Alaska---Sen Ted Stevens VS Tony Knowles---( .9) Arkansas---Sen Tim Hutchenson VS Mark Pryor---( .7) Colorado---Sen Wayne Allard VS Tom Strickland---( .8) Deleware---Ray Clatworthy? VS Sen Joe Biden---( .1) Georgia---Saxby Chambliss VS Sen Max Cleland---( .5) Idaho---Sen Larry Craig VS Alan Blinken---( 1) Illinois---Jim Oberwies VS Sen Dick Durbin---( .25) Iowa---Greg Ganski VS Sen Tom Harkin---( .6) Kansas---Sen Pat Roberts VS ???---( 1) Kentucky---Sen Mitch McConnell VS Lois Combs Weinberg---( .9) Louisiana---John Cooksey VS Sen Mary Landrieu---( .5) Maine---Sen Susan Collins VS Chellie Pingree---( .8) Massachusettes---??? VS Sen John Kerry---( 0) Michigan---Andrew Raczkowski VS Sen Carl Levin---( .35) Minnesota---Norm Coleman VS Sen Paul Wellstone---( .55) Mississippi---Sen Thad Cochran VS ???---( .95) Montana---Mike Taylor VS Sen Max Baucus---( .5) Misouri---Jim Talent VS Sen Jean Carnahan---( .4) Nebraska---Sen Chuch Hagel VS ???---( 1) New Hampshire---Sen Bob Smith VS Jean Shaheen---( .4) New Jersey---Jim Trefflinger? VS Sen Bob Torricelli---( .25) New Mexico---Sen Pete Domenici VS Gloria Tristani---( .85) North Carolina---Elizabeth Dole VS Erskine Bowles?---( .9) Oklahoma---Sen James Inhofe VS David Walters---( .8) Oregon---Sen Gordon Smith VS Bill Bradburry---( .5) Rhode Island---Lincold Almond VS Sen Jack Reed---( .25) South Carolina---Lindsey Graham VS Alex Sanders---( 1) South Dakoda---John Thune VS Sen Tim Johnson---( .5) Tennesee---Sen Fred Thompson VS Harold Ford---( 1) Texas---John Cornyn VS ???---( .85) Virginia---Sen John Warner VS ???---( .9) West Virginia---Jay Wolfe VS Sen John Rockefeller---( .15) Wyoming---Sen Michael Enzi VS ???---( 1) Of the seats above, the Republicans have 20-I'm projecting 22.05, getting them to 51 seats. Here's a quick-n-dirty on the more-contested ones. I'm linking to the challengers, and letting you get info on the senators. Arkansas- Attorney General Mark Pryor, son of former senator David, will give Sen Tim Hutchinson a run for his money. Georgia- Cleland didn't win by much last time, and could be taken out with a solid campaign by Congressman Chambliss. This one may go to a run-off. Illinois-Jim Oberwies will be an underdog, but the dairy owner and financial journalist might have enough charisma to oust Dick Durban, assuming he gets the nomination. Iowa- I'm predicting an upset here, for moderate Congressman Greg Ganski to beat Tom Harkin, but Ganski will have to bring his A game. Louisiana- Let's talk squeakers, shall we-Landrieu got in by the skin of her teeth last time, and a good campaign from Congressman Cooksey or Public Service Commissioner Jay Blossman could carry the day. Maine- Sen Susan Collins would seem to be a lock, but I have a feeling that former state senate leader Chellie Pingree will make things interesting. She seems just spunky enough to catch fire with quirky Mainers. Michigan- State Rep. Andrew "Rocky" Raczkowski, a 32-year-old Army Reserve officer is the favorite to take on Apollo Levin. Uncle Carl's hard to beat when he puts on his avuncular Pentagon waste-trimmer persona, leaving the challanger with just calling him "too liberal" and sounding shrill-but Rocky's got a slugger's chance. 35% might be wishful thinking after a quarter-century of Levin as my senator, but I think this guy might do it. Minnesota-Moderate former St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman should be able to beat Paul Wellstone. Coleman fits the Dave Durenberger mold of moderate Republicans that Minnesota has sent to Washington when the DFL isn't on it's game, and Wellstone is vulnerable if Coleman can get some spark. Coleman's downside-dull. Montana-Sen Max Baucus is a Democrat in Republican territory. State Sen. Mike Taylor is the expected foe. Doesn't he look like TR 2.0? Works as a motivational speaker and rancher. Right out of central casting for a candidate for Big Sky territory. I'll call it a toss-up for now, until I hear more about Mr. Taylor in action. Missouri-Former congressman Jim Talent will try to make Sen. Jean Carnahan's stay in Washington brief. It was a squeaker last time, and she's be running as Senator Carnahan not Widow Carnahan, to her disadvantage. It should be a squeaker again, and I'll give her the edge for now. New Hampshire-Sen Bob Smith will have two battles to stay in Washington, beating Congressman John E. Sununu (the former governor and White House chief of staff's son) in the primary and then getting past governor Jean Shaheen in the general. If Sununu gets the nomination, he's stand a even shot of beating Gov. Shaheen, but I'd have to make Smith an underdog in the general. New Hampshire isn't the old "Live Free or Die" state; its got too many Taxachusettes refugees tilting the state centrist. New Jersey- Torchdown?- Essex County Exec Jim Trefflinger, a ally of gubernatorial nominee Bret Schundler, is the frontrunner to take on Sen. Bob Torricelli. Torricelli's supply-side liberalism will be hard to beat, but if Trefflinger can make the corruption stuff stick, he'll have a shot. Oregon-Got a bad feeling about this one- Secretary of State Bill Bradburry is the kind of eco-freindly liberal Oregon has a taste for, while Sen. Smith might be a bit too conservative for a liberal-leaning state. My hope is that Bradburry runs too liberal and decency and incumbency will prevail. Rhode Island-I may be a nut , but Gov. Lincoln Almond might just be in the Chaffee mode of electably moderate Republicans. Still I'm picking Sen. Jack Reed to hang on here. South Dakota- The state's lone congressman, John Thune will have a death-cager with Sen Tim Johnson in a proxy-referendum on Daschle. Blood and money on the floor. Texas- State attorney general John Cornyn looks to be the favorite for the Republican nomination. A five-way Democratic nomination could get funky. Hope this is an early heads-up on some of these races-it was a fun evening doing some serious Googling.

Man bites Dog - The Japanese Diet (legislature) is about to cut their salaries by 10%. That on top of deciding to back out of the Kyoto Protocol late last month means that they may be on a roll and ready to recover from a yucky 90's.

BraveLaw- Three law students subdued an armed former student after he killed three people in Virginia. This is a sign of the "Let's roll" mentality from 9/11 going into non-aviation situations. It signifies a growth of a communitarian spirit, where more people will put their lives on the line for the common good rather than running for the nearest exit. Even though three people died in this incident, it's a warm fuzzy in that you can see an improved America. It may be heterodox to say so, but I think we're a better off as a country because of 9/11. True, we lost many lives that day, but we saved even more in Afghanistan by kicking out the Taliban and getting better food aid to a troubled people. The bad guys are on the run as never before. In addition, people have more respect for the military and public safety officers, more respect for God and have brought "evil" back into the vocabulary.

Kevin points out an excellent article from John Derbyshire (he would be a interesting diner guest) on guns. He gives four possible levels of gun control:(1) Everybody has a gun.(2) Nobody has a gun.(3) Criminals have guns but law-abiding people don't.(4) Law-abiding people have guns but criminals don't. Short of a police state, #2 impossible, and so is #4 since criminals will steal guns. Britain is trying #3 and Derb lays out facts on the increasing crime rates in his soon-to-be-former country (he's up for U.S. citizenship shortly). That leaves us with #1. If rephrased, "everyone can have a gun", I'm with you. I'm not an NRA member and haven't fired anything with more kick than a BB gun, but I feel safer knowing that a few of the good guys are packing heat.

Four-Peat in the Great White North- Chretien took a "walk in the snow"- a phrase Trudeau used in his retirement speech describing when he decided to quit-and decided to stay. A major cabinet shuffle also took place, with John Manley becoming deputy PM, retiring old deputy PM Herb Gray to the US-Canada Great Lakes pollution-control board. Fellow Newfies are baffled over former provincial premier Brian Tobin's retiring from parliament at age 47 for no apparent good reason other than the stock "to spend more time with his family". The speculated explanation is that he was wasn't going to get past Paul Martin to succeed Chretien. The Happy Fun Pundit has extended coverage, but they passed on an obvious line on ethically-challenged public works minister Alfonso Gagliano being appointed ambassador to Denmark. If there isn't something rotten in Denmark now, there will be shortly.

Quip Du Jour-"America and Candada-Two countries seperated by a common culture" ( I thought I made that modification myself, but a DrBanks.com had the same idea.) Edifier Du Jour-The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." -Psalm 14:1

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Tuna Fishing in Tampa Bay- Bill Parcells appears to be headed to Tampa Bay. The Bucs fired Tony Dungy, the winningist coach in their history, on Monday. Dungy handed his firing with the quiet class he has shown all through his tenure. Indianapolis, Carolina and San Diego are supposed to be possible stops for Dungy. Whatever team hires him will have a new low-level fan in me.

Haley's comet just flamed out- Turns out that Roots was in large part a work of fiction, and a plagiarized one at that. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Alex Haley is dead, so he can't be punished for what he did. The story, while false in detail, may still give a "true" rendition of the slavery era. Saving Private Ryan might represent D-Day better than archival footage, even if it might have fudged some details. With Haley gone, we can enjoy and be moved by Roots as a piece of literature. However, if we catch your goof while you're living, you'll face the consequences. Nobel Peace Price winner Rigoberta Menchu fudged her autobiography, taking horror stories from other indigenous women in Guatemala and passing them off as hers. Defenders of her battle to help the natives against the land owners and Eurocentric government would point out that, like I just did with Roots, that the metastory is true, even if it didn't happen to her. Only God can deal with Alex Haley; we can deal with Menchu, Ambrose and others that lie or plagiarize by knocking their prestige down a peg or two and fact-checking their derrières until they've regained our trust. Thanks to Relapsed Catholic for the Roots link.

Speaking of Pitchfork Pat, his favorite organization, the WTO, has shot down the US's Foreign Service Corporation code as a unfair trade subsidy. Since it cuts taxes on exports only, a company's export business is taxed lighter than domestic business. When the WTO was established, I figured that the US would win more than it lost, and would deserve to lose most of the ones it did lose. We deserved to lose this one, and Bush is looking into bringing US tax law into compliance rather than accepting big tariffs that the European Union is allowed to impose under this ruling. Eight years into WTO, it looks fairly good. Dale Amon of Samizdata, who supplied the above link, points out that the US is the only country who taxes its citizen's income regardless of where it's earned. Way to wail, Dale. I've got a good article in me on that topic, but not tonight.

Ad-Hominem-on-a-Stick-Mr Antiwar, -Justin Raimondo, seems to have spammed the more popular bloggers. I'm a newby at this and haven't said much about the war, so I can come at this with some objectivity. This guy needs some prayer and/or an attitude transplant. He seems to be the archetype of the "angry white male" of the mid 90s with a triple dose of anti-establishmentism. Damian Perry notes that he has ties to the Buchanan campaign, which would explain the extreme Israel-bashing: "There is no place for bigots and anti-Semites in the Buchanan campaign- we filled those positions months ago."

Larry King's about to re-up with CNN, says the NYT. It makes sense. MSNBC made a run, but I don't see him moving there, unless they gave him some combination package with NBC to do Baba Wawa style prime-timers. Fox doesn't make too much sense either; I don't see O'Reilly as a good lead in for King. The Factor's heading for radio-Bill's starting a noontime syndicated show this March.

Majoring on the majors- Kevin's post of this morning nails the point. We need to present our arguments "with humility and character not arrogance and disdain"-nothing turns off Jane Undecided more than the brimstone-merchants that would set up shop on the commons of almost every campus I've been on. I'm reminded of an old Huey Lewis song, "Jacob's Ladder," where a verse goes something like this: "It's coming over the airwaves. The man says I'm overdue. Sing a song, send some money, join the chosen few. Mister, I'm not in a hurry, and I don't wanna be like you!" We need to present the Gospel in such a way that songwriter Bruce Hornsby will want to be like us. He notes that "some of the doctrinal issues Mark noted (dispensationalism, eschatology, etc) have a greater temptation towards isolation, resentment, and conflict, [and] can lead to a Gnostic belief that you alone have the answers." Gnostic theology and fundamentalist theology, while distinctly different, do have the tendency for giving a nasty pride in knowing more than others do. Also, he more you dwell upon more minor theological points, the less time you spend on the important ones. I'd rather have a visiting agnostic get a good sermon on the divinity of Jesus and his substitionary death than a second of a five part sermon on the end-times. Good job, sir. My apologies for the harshness. Thanks for the permalink on the side.

Blue-Light Blues- K-Mart is on its last legs. My personal experience shows their downfall; Wal-Mart has equally good prices while having a good selection of cheaper in-house brands while Target does mid-brow with class. In the last year, I only remember going to K-Mart once this last year, to get my sister Point of Grace and Avalon CDs for a last minute birthday present on my way home from church, and only went there because K-Mart was on the way home. K-Mart was a good place to get basic in the past, but they didn't modernize their stores and seem like period pieces from the late 70s.

The top five men's seeds are gone at the Austrialian Open. It's a bad sign for men's tennis when the #5 seed, Sebastien Grosjean, came up "file not found" in my memory bank.

Transterrestrial Musings eviscarates Kucinich's Space Preservation Act of 2001 from toe to tonsil and plays with the entrails. Good read.

Yee-haw, the Happy Fun Pundit rides again- A nice piece on Peggy Noonan. She's someone you'd like as a neighbor, whom I had a platonic crush on for years. If you're felling bad on Friday, bop over to the Opinion Journal and get a good, intelegent warm fuzzy. They also give a good line from Crossfire's Bill Press- Prince Harry as "Your Royal Highness."

Sir, I'm sorry to say you've tested posititve as a Political Junkie. "25 POINT BONUS. Fearing a federal bank probe into his Lincoln Savings & Loan, Charles Keating contacted five of his political allies in the US Senate, asking them to intervene in the matter. These Senators became known as the "Keating Five." For 5 points each, name them. A: Dennis DeConcini, John McCain, Alan Cranston, Donald Reigle, John Glenn "Wright was forced from office in 1989 for accepting royalties on a book that he did not write or for that matter sell through normal channels -- lobbyists bought it in bulk. It was a scam to avoid House rules. He also had his wife on a bogus payroll -- and there was something about her relationship with a Fort Worth developer" Not bad. Not bad at all. I said I wasn't sure about Keating's first name and how to spell DeConcini.

"Hi. My name is Mark, and I'm a, sniff, Political Junkie"- Just read Papa Blog's Fox piece on Enron and got to the following line. "In five years, no one will remember this. Well, no one except political junkies, and even they will have trouble keeping the details straight. (Don’t believe me? Try naming all 5 of the “Keating Five” and explaining what they were supposed to have done wrong; explain the Jim Wright scandal; tell me what the prosecution of James Beggs was about and why he was acquitted. No fair using Google.)" Scout's honor, went straight here-here's what's in the memory banks. Keating Five- John McCain, Dennis Deconcini (sp?)(D-Arizona), Alan Cranston (D-California), John Glenn( D-Ohio) and Don Reigle (D-Mich). John(?) Keating was a S & L owner in Arizona whose institutions cratered in the late 80s, the five senators intervened (to various degrees, McCain the least, speculation at the time it should be the Keating Four, but they wanted a Republican) with FSLIC regulators to try to get them to go easy on his thrifts. Jim Wright-wrote lame book of anecdotes that institutional supporters (like unions) bought in bulk to send royalty money his way. Also, he arraigned a cushy, little-work. patronage job for his wife in Washington. I'm drawing a blank on Beggs, but I think my addiction has been identified.

"The Swamp Weasels need a team physician, and he is in town." I was a bit harsh just below when I made Dr. Walks the poster boy for unduly crying racism. I don't know the guy well enough to call him a scoundrel. However, there are plenty of other people (yeah, you, Al and Jesse) who fit the description of a black scoundrel crying racism. Any minority (count women here, too) can play the game. I remember this trailer for "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill" Gless-"You don't like me because I'm a woman" Asner-"I'm a card-carrying member of NOW. I just don't like you." We don't have to be racist to dislike Sharpton, who's only visible redeeming quality is that he makes Jesse Jackson look good. Jerks and demagogues need to be called out regardless of their gender or ethnicity. We do minorities a disservice by giving the bozos in their midst a pass on bad behavior.

Quip Du Jour-"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"-Samual Johnson (Unless he has African ancestors. Then, crying racism is his last stop) Edifier Du Jour- "God made you special, and he loves you very much."-Bob the Tomato Groaner Du Jour- Guy opens his fridge to find a rabbit sleeping inside. Rabbit sleepily asks, "Is this a Westinghouse?" "Yes, it is." "Good, I'm just westing." I could use a little west, that history of fundamentalists kept me up too late.

Your friendly sponsor of this site, Kevin Holtsberry, sited my piece from this morning on mainline-versus-evangelical and continued on a riff on fundamentalists and evangelicals, where fundamentalists are the bad guys who "demagogue and pound their fists acting as if God speaks directly to, and only to, them" while evangelicals are those who "believe in things like the inerrancy of scripture, the historical accuracy of the Bible, the requirement of salvation through faith and faith alone but who live their lives with caring and dignity." I hope my walk is more like the latter than the former, but I think Kevin's got a little bit of a straw man on his hands in his description of a fundamentalist. A bit of history is an order. The turn of the last century saw fights in many denominations on whether to hold fast to Biblical principals or to put stock in Darwinism and liberal criticism of the Bible's authenticity. A series of paperbacks defending biblical Christianity called "The Fundamentals" was published in from 1910-15, becoming the Federalist Papers of the conservative movement. By 1920, the term "fundamentalist" was coined to describe the people willing "to do battle royal for the Fundamentals." The fundamentalists tended towards anti-intellectualism, as the academy was where all the attacks on the Bible seemed to get their start. The Scopes "Monkey Trial" in 1925 (at least the "Inherit the Wind" take of it) was the quintessential dissing of fundamentalists, as Darrow was seen to get the better of Bryant's awkward defense of the Genesis account. As the conservatives started their own institutions and withdrew from more liberal denominations, the movement took on some theological quirks. Eschatology (end-times-ology) was one focal point, as a premillenial (Jesus’ second coming is before the thousand-year reign), pre-tribulation (the Rapture of the believers happens before a seven-year Antichrist era) view was often a requirement. That is the end-times take of Lindsay’s The Late Great Planet Earth from the 70s and the current Left Behind novels. Dispensationalism was another trademark, where different verses are relevant only for certain eras of history. Separatism is the third distinctive; they will at minimum not fellowship with people who don't have the right theology, or in the more virulent version, not fellowship with people who, while having proper doctrine, are in fellowship with undoctinaire folks. By WWII, some conservatives, who were chaffing at the constraints of fundamentalism, reclaimed the term "evangelical." This group wanted to have a more intellectual approach to their faith without giving up the Bible as the Word of God. The most prominent of these was Billy Graham. He started his college career at Bob Jones U., who later disowned him when he started to allow mainline churches to help in his crusades, thus violating second-order separatism. By the 70's the term Evangelical had come along as the term used for born-again Christians, reserving fundamentalist for those people who had the theological quirks listed above. The Ayatollah Khomeni threw a monkey-wrench into our nomenclature. Fundamentalist became used to describe the Shiite radicals in Iran who rebelled against modernism, as foreign affairs writers made the connection between Shiite and Protestant anti-modernists. Later, the term described anyone of any faith who took their faith "too seriously." My favorite is when the Moonies were described as fundamentalists. OK, Moon thinks he's the second incarnation of Christ and he's going to be welcome at Bob Jones? Oopsy, wrong definition. You can be a fundamentalist and not be a jerk. I've known quite a few people who fully swallow all three quirks and are nice people to be around. However, if one insists on each and every quirk of theology before you can be on friendly terms, you're going to scare a lot of people off. It reminds me of the old heaven orientation joke, "Be quite, they think they're the only ones here." The Lamb's Book of Life will make interesting reading. It is the higher orders of separation that make the jerks that Kevin is whomping on. I got a lot of the information in this post from InterVarsity Press's Dictionary of Christianity in America. I ran the bookstore at InterVarsity's Cedar Campus conference center for the summer of 1990 between my MBA and doctoral programs and got a lot of big reference books at wholesale cost as summer crew.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

All My Systems are Fully Functional- Added the Archive Section, so you can see "Byron, the Early Weeks." Here's my Tuesday Morning Quarteback football Haiku for the Swamp Weasel. Spurrier-Snyder "Couch, will you look like Rams?" "Yes! Two Males Butting Heads."

Tuskegee Airheads- Postal workers in DC where the anthrax letter went through are being offered vaccines after the fact, a novel and experimental treatment. In describing the anxieties of many postal workers, DC health department director Dr. Ivan Walks noted that "the 1930s 'Tuskegee experiment' - in which government doctors allowed black Alabama men to go untreated for syphilis so they could study the disease - is still fresh for many blacks." When I heard a comparable line stated on NPR this afternoon, I was in Defcon 1 mode. The audio is embargoed until 10PM, you can go back then and check if it's the same guy. How does a hopefully positive treatment for anthrax get compared to this. This is like a Jewish postal worker making allusions to Mengele. True, the Senate people got better treatment, but Dr. Walks just went over the line, taking race-bating to a new level.

Just Another NORML Day- I've tried Wacky Tobaccy a handful of times as a college kid as well as participating in a few megakeggers, and in my opinion, DWS is worse than DWI. The statute of limitations are well over for both cases (early 80's). I do recommend that marijuana laws stay on the books. The numbing effect of pot slogs down too many lives for me to favor legalization. I'd be softer on early offenders, looking more at rehab than jail time, but keep it illegal. Call me a statist nanny, call me a prude, call me late to dinner. On the drug rehab front, Teen Challenge does a good job with a evangelical rehab framework. It's one thing to have the generic 'higher power" in a 12-step program; TC (open to 20+ people despite the name) names good-ol'-Yahweh as that higher power. works on bring the client closer to God and making the Holy Spirit the best drug councilor in the universe. If the addict isn't of a religious bent, this won't work well, but it does have a much higher success rate than secular programs. I am willing to look into marijuana as a anti-nausea drug, if it can be shown effective and safe in clinical testing, rather than relying on anecdotal "munchies" evidence. Also, no off-label prescriptions from Dr. Feelgood.

DWS's in Idaho-Seem that driving while stoned is legal in Idaho-they never bothered to include marijuana in their DWI law. Now, what level of THC should we set as the intoxicating level? Note, this was the liberal 9th Federal Circuit that made this ruling, which (if memory serves) is the most overturned appeals circuit. As in the Casey Martin case, I think the Supreme Court would back up the 9th on this one. It should be illegal, but until there's a law, its legal.

I Say "Potted", You Say "Pothead"- The tabs are having fun at Prince Harry's expense ( for example, "Harry Pothead and the Philosopher Stoned), and the Queen ain't pleased. They haven't had this much fun since they caught his mom topless.

Praying Out Loud. I struggle with my appreciation of crude humor that is funny but not edifying. For instance, Random Jottings had a ROFL (my boss happened to be coming in to my office at the time) joke in his posting. However, the punch line invoked the image of an auditorium full of human feces. I blogged a link and then deleted it, not wanting to encourage it. I'm not prudish, but I try to keep the conversation above gutter level. "In the world, but not of it" is the ongoing struggle. I'm hoping to be a good influence on Blogistan while avoiding being negatively influenced by some of the courser elements. That being said, Blogistan is a fun, rocking place. I'm happy to be a citizen.

Ms. Breen gets out her tool kit and nails psuedo-feminist weenies to the wall. A bit profane, but she gives a stirring defense of marriage as a functional partnership and not a patriarchal trap. You go, girl!

Your Spiritual Mileage May Vary-On my way in to work, it dawned on me that I had just trashed at least four big denominations, and would like to clarify a little. There are good pastors and good churches in lame denominations. For instance, the United Methodists, as a denomination, are left-of-center theologically. However, my dad, my friend Rose and our friend Dubya are born-again Methodists. The president chooses to drive a bit further in DC to find a more theologically conservative Methodist pastor. My sister's in-laws go to Ames Methodist in Saginaw; pastor Mark Karls is as biblically-sound as they come and is comfortable visiting the very spirit-filled Shield of Faith church for Friday night special speakers. You can find the Gospel in a mainline church, you just can't count on it.

Jeff Jarvis has a interesting rant in his blog that begs to be responded to. “For a long time -- back to my days as a TV critic -- I have had a running fit about mainstream religion conceding the pulpit of popular culture, media, and the masses to the nuts of fundamentalism. We do not see mainstream preachers on TV in this country; we see the edge of religion. Mainstream religion sees TV and the masses it represents as beneath them. Big mistake. “ I’ll assume that we’ll translate “fundamentalist” as someone who take the Bible at face value and “mainstream” as someone who does not. For many center-left denominations (United Methodist, Presbyterian (PCUSA), Episcopal, Lutheran (ELCA), etc.) that would be considered “mainstream” or “mainline”, there has been a gradual drift away from taking the Bible at face value. If the Bible and modern culture are at odds, the “mainstream” church will fudge towards the culture. The mainstreamer will say, “The Bible was written 2000 years ago, it needs to be modified to speak to today’s culture.” Rather than show where the culture has go astray, the mainstreamer will modify the church’s theology to be easier on the ears of the parishioners. If people are offended that they are sinners, don’t mention it. If staying celibate before marriage isn’t going over well, chuck those fornication passages. If “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father but through me” is too divisive, we’ll leave that out, too. Thus, there won’t be much difference between a mainstream sermon and an Oprah show. Since she does a better job of speaking to the masses, why should they listen to some stodgy sermon? If the church starts to reflect culture rather than critique it, it becomes irrelevant. There is a reason that mainline denominations are losing people and evangelical churches are adding them. If you have multiple ways to spend your Sunday morning, you’ll only spend it in a sanctuary or Sunday School classroom if you get more out of church than playing Nintendo or watching Sam and Cokie. Evangelical churches are less fearful about offending people. They know that they’re not perfect, that God is and that Jesus died to bridge that great divide. They preach Jesus as an is, not a was. They give what Oprah doesn’t, a living God whose Holy Spirit is “in the house,” comforting and guiding us through the rough patches. It’s true that a lot of televangelists leave a bit to be desired, especially some of the “name-it-and-claim-it” prosperity gospel guys, who try and weld the American Dream into the Kingdom of God. However, they are presenting a hands-on God who makes a difference in people's lives, rather than the distant psuedo-deist God of the mainliners.That's why they're on TV and the mainliners aren't

Quip Du Jour- Yonan's Law of Financial Arbitrage-"Free lunches are quickly devoured." Edifier Du Jour-"Humility starts with knowing who you are, knowing who God is, and carefully noting the differences." (I think that's original, but the thought must have been had by others as well) Groaner Du Jour- Giant snail goes into to used-car lot, falls in love with old Chrysler K-car. He’ll buy it if the dealer takes the K emblem off and puts an S on instead. The snail’s paying full sticker, so the dealer tracks down an S-emblem. The tires squeal as the snail happily drives off. Dealer says, “Wow, look at that S-car go.”. Yes, I'm up early.

Monday, January 14, 2002

SermonWatch- "The Kingdom of God may be within me, but the American Dream distracts me"- that was my serious sound bite gleaned from Pastor Milton's sermon yesterday. Don't let the little things get in the way of seeking God. The other point was from Philipians 3:13-14, "But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." He started with the carrot-on-a-stick metaphor for psyching farm animals into going forward, then he noted that carrots aren't that appetizing to him. He's a chunky guy who just had quadruple-bypass surgery in November and is now on a strict diet. Cue the PowerPoint slide, "Ding-Dongs on a stick", cue the prop of a fishing pole with a box of Ding-Dongs as bait. Pan to crowd howling with laughter, getting his point all too well. Chris Rice's next hit single-"Heaven is a Ding-Dong."

You've got blogs- Eileen's new AOL account is up and running. She inherited my dad's K-6 machine when he got himself a new Pentium 4 screamer for Christmas (he was a very good boy). It beat the heck out of her ancient laptop she was using; she'd check e-mail at work or at the library or at my house until now. Don't be surprised to see her by-line in the near future.

"Let's have a big capital welcome for your Beltway Swamp Weeeeeez-als!"- In regards to Spurrier, Christopher Johnson at MWCJ retorts-"Even swamp weasels serve some ecological purpose. And they never humiliate other swamp vermin." Well said, sir.

Enron Endgame II- Trashing the War Hero I don't want to unduly start up the usual elite media-bashing game, but I sense that a lot of reporters are tired of saying nice things about President Bush. Much of their criticism of the president was muted, magnifying little linguistics issues and being too pessimistic about the war prospects. Now that there is a lull in the war, the Washington media are saying to themselves, "Being nice to Dubya's no fun, you don't get Pulitzers for sucking up to a Republican. What can we do that's fun and a good career move? OH YEAH, Enron! Target acquired, canards locked and loaded!" I'm going to try to identify a few of these canards. 1: Deregulation caused the Enron crash and Republicans are to blame for deregulation. Last I checked, the Democrats ran things from '93-'00. Granted, there was some key deregulation at the end of Bush pere's administration. NPR made a big deal last week of Wendy Gramm pushing through energy futures deregulation as she left in '92, only to show up on Enron's board. However, I haven't seen anything that suggests that deregulation caused the Enron collapse. The S&L industry in the 80s was much more regulated than Enron, yet there was a large amount of economic carnage in that industry. Regulation of an industry doesn't necessarily protect firms. It was overleveraging and actionable fraud that brought Enron down, not deregulation. 2: Enron contribution to Bush got Enron special access, thus corrupting the process. Not in this case. The Bush team seems to have ignored pleas to help. Even Robert Rubin, a Clinton Treasury secretary, was calling on behalf of Citigroup, his new employer and major Enron debt-holder, trying to cover their assets. 3. Contributions=Corruption. There are two ways donations can be seen. The first is for donors to give money to candidate who support their views. The donor doesn't want the candidate to change what he's doing, but wants the candidate to have a better chance to convince voters that they're the person for the job. The second is a de facto bribe, getting a politician to change his position on an issue in order to get campaign money, or at least insure that his calls are returned. The liberal thought is this- Enron wants deregulation, donates money to Republicans (reality check:Democrats too) causing them to want deregulation. The alternative thought is that Republicans want deregulation and so does Enron, so Enron gives to Republicans (or friendly Democrats) to help get a pro-deregulation guy elected. None of these three will stick for long, but our buddies in the fourth estate will give it a shot. It could be a slimy spring.

Pray for Pay- "This year's Quantum Economics is brought to you by Kevin Holtsberry. Holtsberry, the sensible blogger." I had e-mailed him last week, saying I was praying against the "crud" he said he had last week, while complementing him on his site. He was then gracious enough to buy off the banner ad, thanking me for the prayers. Thank you, sir. "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6

"Antichrist Finds Job" is the MWCJ's take on Spurrier. He deserves a little more respect. How about "Swamp Weasel Finds Job." By the way, thank you, MWCJ, for the permanent link on the side, right below Ms. Breen.

I was starting to think the India-Pakistan saber-rattling wouldn't lead to war, but now I'm starting to wonder if India might be overplaying its hand. Musharraf seems to have been doing everything he could logically do without looking like he was on their payroll. India is waiting to see if Musharraf will back up his pledge of cracking down on Pakistan-based Kashmiri terrorists. This will be a test of how much Musharraf is in charge; if cross-boarder raids don't slow down significantly then it will appear that the al Qaeda crowd is running things, not Musharraf, and a war will be likely given high-charged rhetoric coming from New Delhi.

Arrogance on the Potomac- Steve Spurrier is heading for the Redskins. Get your money upfront, Steve, this is Dan Synder's third permanent coach in 3.5 years as owner, and he has an ego as big as yours. The Redskins may look like the Rams in that Spurrier with bring a wide-open passing style and that he and Snyder will butt heads on a regular basis. One more reason not to like the Chesapeake Watershed Indigenous Persons.

One big item from Enron worth looking into is putting employee pension money in company stock. If the company craters, you're not only out of a job but your pension just got nuked. Companies will encourage employee ownership to give employees a bigger emotional stake in the company and, in theory, work a bit harder. However, if the company stock makes up nearly the entire pension, the pension manager is not living up the the "prudent man" investing rule required by ERISA. Most of us learned "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" as kids. One lawsuit is already been filed on exactly this issue. This is one area the Democrats will crow about. Dubya should get in front of this and look to limit the percentage of pension investments that can be put in company stock. Otherwise, the Dems will look good and actually be right at the same time.

"Companies Come and Go"-Good thinking from Treasury Sec. O'Neil yesterday on Enron day on the Sunday newsies. The last two paragraphs in the article give him a six month free pass from me; before this he seemed to be the lamest cabinet member. He nailed the essence of free markets that businesses need to be allowed to fail. Functioning Capitalism is "creative destruction" per Shumpeter; Enron was just a very spectacular cratering. Would someone hit Lieberman with a clue stick, please. "Cold-hearted... 18th Century [economics]." Too much of Gore rubbed off, and/or he's developing his populist streak for a '04 presidential run.

Harry Potted- Prince Harry, third in line for the British throne behind his dad and brother William (Will's the heir, Harry's the spare), admitted to underage drinking and smoking marijuana and was briefly in rehab. I know people want the royal family to show a common touch, but this is overdoing it.

The Dog That Didn't Bark. Someone bought off my header ad. Thank you, fellow Blogistani, thank you. $12 of lovin' sent my way. FCYA- Will Warren notes a boo-boo in my Largent '08 piece -JQ Adams was in the House after he was president, not before, and that Garfield (1880) was the last House member to be elected president. Busted! Teaches me not to blog just before going to bed. This does confirm the underlying point that it's hard to get elected President from the House.

A number of good Canadian letters over at Midwest Conservative Journal. I tried to post this item last night but Blogger was on the fritz. I've been a bit of a Canadaphile most of my life, growing up in Michigan and getting Canadian radio stations from Windsor (big boomer CKLW), Chatham and Leamington making it up to Midland (~100 miles NNW of Detroit). There's a bit of alternative universe-ness about watching Canadian politics and culture-it's American but it isn't. Anglophone Canada isn't a foreign culture; they may spell funny and the roadsigns are in kilometers, but it's the same basic metaculture. It's America without the South. Without a slavery history, Canada doesn't have as nearly as much of a black/white mess. Also, without the South, Canada doesn't have as big of a Bible Belt, thus their politics lacks the conservative tilt from the South. I'm probably going to have Canadian politics as an ongoing part of my blogging, as our neighbor to the north will be a increasing factor in American politics as the two countries will become more intertwined as the years go by. With that in mind, I'll lay out a quick history of modern Canadian politics for future reference with American readers in mind. Canadian politics got turned upside down in 1993. Traditionally, the two main parties were the Conservatives (officially Progressive Conservatives, having swallowed the Progressive party decades back) and the Liberals, with the labor-socialist New Democrats winning a few blue-collar ridings (parliament districts). Three things then melted down the political landscape. The first was a growing disenchantment with Prime Minister Mulroney, who had been PM for 9 years. Seeing his popularity go in the tank, he handed over the job to a cute MP (member of Parliament) from British Columbia, Kim Campbell. In a parliamentary system, you can change PMs without having an election, as the leader of the majority party is named the PM. For instance, Margaret Thatcher handed over the reins to John Major when her popularity within the party got too low. The second change was that the Parti Quebecois, the francophone separatist party, fielded candidates for the federal parliament for the first time. Voters who voted PQ on the provincial level used to vote Conservative for federal parliament. The Conservatives went from going toe-to-toe with Liberals in Quebec to getting two seats in the province, with the Bloc Quebecois (the federal incarnation) getting much of the old Conservative seats. The third change happened mostly out west, where small-c conservatives were tired of the centrist Mulroney and Campbell and formed the Reform party. The Reform party was more Reaganesque than the old Conservatives which were more of a New England moderate-liberal Republican bent. The two seats in Quebec were all the Conservatives got. PM Campbell lost her seat while the Liberals led by Jean Chretien swept to victory. Chretien has no good American comparison; he's very confident and rather arrogant with a nasty-effective cutting wit, equal parts Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank (just rhetorically, Jean seems to like women) and Pepe LePew. The BQ just nudged out Reform for second place in Parliament. Reform did well in the west, under the no-nonsense, mildly arrogant leadership of Preston Manning, but got no seats east of Manitoba. 1997 saw the Conservatives make some headway. Former Prime Minister Joe Clark won a seat in Alberta and the party won back some seats in the Maritimes where the New England liberal Republican style went over well, but only up to 20 seats in a 301-seat parliament. The Liberal's majority dwindled to 155 seats, with losses to the New Democrats and Conservatives. Reform still was shut out east of Manitoba, with the Liberals owning Ontario, getting all but two of the province's seats. With the Conservatives winning back some Quebec seats from the BQ, Reform became the official opposition with 60 seats. On the provincial level, the Conservatives had more success. In 1995, an American-style fiscal conservative named Mike Harris lead the Conservative party to power in the Ontario legislature. The new provincial premier's "Common Sense Revolution" trimmed provincial government and cut taxes. The Reform party was frustrated by their lack of success in Ontario. After the 1997 election, Manning started to campaign for a "United Alternative" right-of-center party. I had thought to myself at the time, "If only the Harris guys in Ontario could hook up with the Reform party." Some Canadians were thinking along the same lines. Many Bay Street (Toronto financial district, the Canadian "Wall Street") backers of Harris and a few Conservative federal MP got together with the Reform party in 2000 to form the Canadian Alliance party. However, the new party pushed Manning aside, electing fellow Albertan Stockwell Day, a Pentecostal provincial finance minister, to lead the new party. Day reminds me of a slightly-more-animated Steve Largent, a young, attractive, earnest and honest conservative, whereas Manning is a bit crusty and had (I'll use past tense, haven't seen much of him since 2000) a cockiness that reminded you of the American Reform party founder Ross Perot. Chretien decided to call an early election later in 2000 to catch the new party before it could get its sea legs. In both British and Canadian systems, their has to be an election at least every five years, but the government can call an election before its five-year mandate is up (dream on, Dubya) if it wants to. Day was a bit awkward as a campaigner, and the Canadian press was not friendly to a Bible-believing evangelical, goaded on by the secular Chretien painting Day as out-of-the-mainstream. The link-up with the Harris crowd earned a rousing two seats in Ontario for the Alliance and none further east. While the Alliance gained seven seats to get to 67, the Liberals took seats from the NDP, BQ and Conservatives to move its majority up to 172. The Conservatives got exactly the 12 seats needed to be recognized as a party in parliament. The last 15 months haven't been kind to Stock. A handful of Alliance members have quit the party and formed a de facto partnership with the Conservatives. The remaining Alliance MPs grumbled enough to make Day resign as party leader and call a new party leadership election for March 8th in which he will run to get his job back with a fresh mandate from the party rank-and-file. This should be a decent knowledge base to link to for future reference. Canadian Blogistanis are welcome to critique my analysis- reading the National Post and sporadically getting "The National" CBC 10PM news on my local cable are my primary sources, so I'm not the best connected.

Quip Du Jour-"I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people's accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man's failures."- Earl Warren Edifier Du Jour:"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked." "- Psalm 84:10(NIV)

Sunday, January 13, 2002

I would think that most bloggers are trying to make the world a better place. For me, John 10:10 is a focal point-“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” If we’re supposed to be advancing God’s kingdom and He wants people to have an abundant life, how then do we then set up our political economy? Recent history has shown that socialism doesn’t work very well; it is not well designed to create wealth. A modest amount of wealth transfer may be desirable in maximizing the overall joytron count, but free markets, where prices will clue self-centered humans where to focus their endeavors, is the best framework to base an economy on. I take two key Biblical factors into thinking about political economy. The first is that man is sinful (feel free to substitute greedy or selfish) by nature. Socialism doesn’t take into account the sinfulness of man. You don’t have to be a Bible-thumper to agree than people are naturally selfish. If people aren’t rewarded for their labors, they will be lazy and take their creative energies into unproductive and anti-social areas. Gordon Gecko was too long winded-the better statement is “Greed is”. A free-market system puts greed to good use. The second principal is that we are commanded to look after the poor. Libertarians may grumble that Jesus was a Jewish liberal. He said many less-than-flattering things about rich people, the most telling being “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Helping the poor is a recurring theme in scripture. One that come quickly to mind is the story of Steven in Acts. He was put in charge of welfare for the widows in Jerusalem before giving a stirring defence of Christ and getting stoned (no, he's not the founder of NORML) for it. Curmudgeons will misapply “The poor you will always have with you,” (Mark 14:7) ignoring the rest of the verse; “and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.” Jesus was encouraging worship (being bathed by a woman with expensive perfume) rather than discouraging charity. Liberals will want to stress this side of the Bible; a lot of theologically sound Christians, espeically minorities, will lean towards socialistic economics. The trick is to then balance helping the poor with the fact that mankind is selfish. The first asks for socialist attitudes, the second capitalist attitudes. The question is then, what level of government creates the most abundant life for the country, which set of policies maximizes the joytron count. We come back to our quantum economics question- does the joytrons generated from a program outweigh the bogons generated by the taxes and regulations stemming from it. A lack of understanding the bogonic effects of taxes and regulation causes liberals to ask for more government than is optimal. Our mission, if we chose to accept it, is to inform the voting public about quantum economics and allow them to make a more informed choice as citizens

Who Remembers NRO's GIGO? It was a fun editorial site, with a number of protobloggers ( I was just a lurker) having an ongoing debate over the issues of the day. NRO took it down about three years ago. It was a must read for me back in '98-'99. It'd be fun to see if any of the vets of GIGO are blogging- the Mighty Faalvag (sp?) and many others would be primo bloggers. Another dearly departed is Intellectual Capital. Pete DuPont's site was the best public policy site I've seen, with thoughtful commentary across the political spectrum, with a right-of-center leaning. It got merged in with another public policy site and seemed to die shortly thereafter. Jonah has a good column on blogging. I think a lot of bloggers were influenced by his early columns, both in their quick-take style and shoot-from-the-lip demeanor. He'd have more than one entry in the index of my book on online commentary. Off to church, got some goodies for you later in the day.

International Economics R Us- “It’s better to free trade a year too early than a year too late” I noted while talking about Traficant yesterday that I haven’t blogged on free trade yet. This will be a hot issue for years to come. Free trade allows countries to do what they do best, with the global business flowing to the seller which can produce products at the lowest cost. It the U.S. is more efficient at making computers than making sweatshirts, import the sweatshirts and export the computers. The chorus against importing the sweatshirts will be led by U.S. textile workers, U.S. textile companies without overseas operations and people philosophically uncomfortable with globalization. For the moment, assume that widgets are low-tech products vulnerable to imports while jointroints are high tech products (just avoid sidewhomping) that the U.S. has a competitive advantage in making. Winners in free trade (1) Consumers. If we can choose to buy foreign goods, we get extra joytrons from saving money that would otherwise go to higher-priced domestics goods. (2) Domestic jointroint employees. Getting access to foreign markets means more business >more work >more money> more joytrons. (3) Corporations (<> terrorists) with a global reach. Multinational companies want to make goods where it’s the most economically efficient. Free trade allows them to do so. Note-that could easily be in the U.S. (4) American jointroint companies without foreign operations. If a company doesn’t have the size to have facilities in other countries, this takes down the trade barriers that hindered them from selling overseas. (5) Jointroint towns. Booming business at the plant means more money for the local service sector. Congressmen from jointroint districts will tend to be free traders, even if they’re Democrats. Losers in free trade (1) Widget workers. They can smell the bogons. They’re either going to have to get a new job or take a pay cut to get the paycheck/widget ratio competitive with their international brethren. The poster boy for protectionists is the 45-year-old factory-rat dad who’s too young to retire and too old to easily start over. (2) Small domestic widget makers. This move gives them bogons by the truckload. They’ll either have to play serious hardball with their workers to lower costs or write a new chapter in the company history, Chapter 11. This assumes that moving production overseas isn’t an option. (3) Unions. The jointroint industry is less unionized than the widget industry. Even if the jointroint industry pays better, it craps on their institutional turf. This might cause some friction in the future, as service, government and other workers who don’t make widgets make up a larger chunk of the AFL-CIO. It’s conceivable that a widget-workers branch might split off as free-trade becomes more acceptable to the non-widget-making rank-and-file. (4) Widget towns. Bogons R Us. When the plant closes, so does the town. Last one out, turn out the lights. Widget town congressmen make the most over-the-top protectionists. Traficant is a great example, as Youngstown is the quintessential widget town. If you have some heart left, you do feel for the shop-rats that are being let go and get a relapse of bleeding-heartitis when you see the town boarded up. (5) Localists- The people who like their small town world as is and don’t want to change, who would rather see Zenith than Mashushita on the box. This has a left-leaning folk-art gallery version and a right-leaning, lightly xenophobic, Uncle Charlie and Aunt Lorraine version. (6) Anarchosocalists- the protestors at any international gathering these days (and their supporters at home) that have a distrust of big corporations and institutions in general. To them, the current combination of free markets and modest government help for the needy isn’t working for the little guy. They aren’t at all coherent about what to replace the current mess with, but they are mad as hell and want the world to know. If you’re not in one of the six loser groups, you’re a candidate for being a free trader. Everyone is a consumer, so the default value should be to be in favor of free trade. That makes up the majority of Americans (or citizens of any country). Convincing the average voter of that is the trick, to drown out the pleas of the widget-centric labor Democrats. The problem is that all the groups in the loser class (except possibly #2) are Democratic constituents. Given that some Republicans will be from widget towns, we need to pry loose some Democratic support for free trade. Democratic Congressmen and Senators whose electorate is not widget-dominated are candidates for our votes.

Good Sunday morning- "... and on the seventh day, he rested and blogged." Quip du Jour-"[It’s better to] trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late."-Branch Rickey Edifier Du Jour- “ A man’s got to know his limitations.”-Dirty Harry/John Milius (However, we do occasionally need to test what those limitations are)

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