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Saturday, April 20, 2002

Jewish moves to the Right-A MSNBC piece on Jewish voters moving to the right with the current issues in Israel has a mixed response. Christopher Johnson chimes in with "If this is even partly true, the Democrats are in serious trouble." Joshua Treviño disagrees.
there is no inherent contradiction between American leftism and pro-war sentiment. Heck, there's no contradiction between leftism in general and violence as a whole. Stalin? Mao? But to pull back from the ridiculous extremes for a moment, the close identification of mainstream leftism with anti-war sentiment is a comparatively recent development in our history. American liberals traditionally do not mind using force to crush America's enemies: if anything, they've proven more ready to do so than American conservatives. Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ -- all were vigorous advocates and practitioners of war on the perceived behalf of their nation. In more recent memory, Bill Clinton wielded our military power far more often (if far more ineptly) than his two conservative predecessors.
First off, Treviño doesn't understand the difference between social democrats and Communist thugs, as somehow Stalin is slow-dancing with Cynthia McKinney. Leftist pacifism is about a half-century old as socialists/communists were reluctant to go against their Soviet buddies in the Cold War. The larger generation of 60s anti-war leftists were moral relativists who saw it as a raw power struggle between equally corrupt elites and not a good-versus-evil fight. You have to see an enemy in order to want to crush it. The four presidents Treviño listed had a well-honed sense of right and wrong and would fight to defeat wrong. The modern secular left is too caught up in understanding the root causes of the evildoers to want to fight evil. Clinton was slow to act in Bosnia and had no guts in Somalia. In Bosnia, Clinton failed to understand the psyche of the Serbs, who weren't interested in diplomacy and really wanted to wipe the local Muslims off the map if they could get away with it. Only when Clinton realized that the best diplomatic message was delivered by laser-guided bombs was the Dayton agreement feasible. The secular left doesn't understand that Arafat and company want to wipe Israel off the map if they can get away with it. They will look at the IDF's attacks on Fatah and Hamas strongholds as equivilent to the Palestinians autoboomers attacks on buses and restaurants. They don't appreciate the hatred that comes not from poverty but from a culture that treats Jews as a mortal enemy. The secularist assumes that if the Palestinians needs are met, they will be able to live in peace with us. However, some people just aren't interest in playing nice. All but the most ardent left-winger was on board after 9/11. The attack was against western values that almost everyone shares. Liberals had a wake-up call as evil showed up and killed thousands. Israel isn't as easy a sell. The attacks and counter-attacks can bring the people who assume moral equivalence that they don't have a dog in the fight and will be willing to sell out the Israelis if it means better relations with the larger and richer Arab oil nations. Going after Al Qaeda, who has it in for the US, is different than going after Hamas or Fatah, who haven't done much against the US lately. The Democrats are torn between the Jewish lobby, who want a strong and secure Israel, and the non-Jewish secularist, who aren't interested in helping Israel if it means damaging good relations with Arabs. In Jewish territory, such as New York, the Democrats will lean in that direction, but they might not do so on a national basis if being hawkish on Israel will cost them the Green-leaning vote. If you look at the Republican party as presently constituted, it is fairly good for Jews who aren't cultural liberals. The biggest stumbling block to Jewish membership in the GOP, Pat Buchanan, left two years ago. The evangelical wing of the party supports Israeli and the Neocon wing has a large Jewish contingent, including David Brooks and the Kristol family. The New Deal era mentality that the GOP was the WASP party and that the Democrats were the party of the Huddled Masses is gradually going away. If liberals start supporting Arafat, some Jews may decide to vote with their feet.

Bedtime Musings-Just got back from a day trip to Rockford, MI (a Grand Rapids exurb) for Eileen's great aunt and uncle's 60th wedding anniversary. Thus, I'm just now checking to see what happened-I'll process the news in real time as I browse. Feeling A Draft -First news out of the gate-Joey Harrington is coming to Detroit. Mike McMahon, who was showing some promise as a starter at the end of last season, might wind up playing the regent, ruling the kingdom while the young king prepares to take charge. I still see that name and think of 70s starlet Joey Heatherton, just like I couldn't think of defensive end Tracy Scroggins without thinking of starlet Tracy Scoggins. I've been busy being engaged and blogging to try and be Mel Kiper III; I haven't been following the candidates for the draft too well. T.J. Duckett should give the Falcons their replacement for Jamal Anderson. My new home team, the Bucs (feels weird putting it that way) got Marquise Walker in the third round, and should do well with him. Carolina may have got a sleeper in DeShawn Foster in the second round. He may be a head case, but falling that far might make it worth the risk. He went from being a Heisman finalist to a second rounder in a hurry. The question will be whether he's Randy Moss or Lawrence Phillips. The Panthers may have the best athlete in the draft with Julius Peppers. A 6-6 rushing monster out of North Carolina, he was quick enough to play on the basketball team at UNC. I'm a bit behind the curve on this guy, but I'm remembering another UNC grad, the Monster of the Meadowlands, Señor LT. NBA Playoffs Day One-The Pacers took Game One from Joisey, 89-83. Quote from Thursday-"If the added talent that the Pacers picked up in the Rose trade meshes, the Nets will have their hands full." Artest-12 points 4 steals, Brad Miller 18 points 12 boards. Sacramento and San Antonio held serve and Orlando is about to break serve on Charlotte as we go to press. Anarchoidiots are fairly peaceful in DC The IMF came to Washington this weekend and wherever they go, the loonie tunes on the left follow. These folks have been laying low since 9/11, as a World Economic Forum shindig in New York got little protestors. Pro-Palestinian protestors added to the numbers, but this doesn't look like Seattle or Genoa.

A Quick Meditation On Constitutional Democracy- A lot of people were upset about the abortive coup in Venezuela last week, pointing out that Chavez was popularly elected President. Chavez's authoritarian behavior underscored the strength of the American constitution and why many of the Founding Fathers were leery of direct democracy. A pure democracy will allow 51% of the populous to rape and pillage the other 49% without safeguards. Chavez got the Venezuelan people to vote him near-dictatorial powers; they then lived to regret it. The advantage of the American system is that it takes a lot of time and consensus to get structural changes made in the system. A two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the states are needed to pass a constitutional amendment, which we do about once every 15 years or so once the first ten were passed en masse. This makes the system less subject to quick changes. Even run-of-the-mill laws have to have a majority of the house, 60% of the Senate (if it's contentious enough to warrant a possible filibuster) and the president and the Supreme Court to sign off on it. Our system of checks and balances is designed to slow things down and to protect minorities. Political systems with a streamlined structure can be quicker to make changes, but those changes need not be good. Political systems without checks and balances can lead to an unpopular dictatorship and need to resort to coups to correct bad leaders who want to grab power at the expense of the public. An American Chavez (Huey Long comes to mind as the closest analog in history) wouldn't be able to pass a constitutional overhaul if a third on one of the houses or 13 states got in the way. The Supreme Court would block some of the more egregious uses of police-state powers and a history of respecting individual liberties (yes, it's not perfect but darn good) would stop a lot of the goonishness before it started. A determined majority with a friendly Supreme Court majority could push through an autocracy in the US, but there are a much larger set of hoops to jump through in the US. Is it right to overthrow a "popularly elected government" if the leaders are running the country into the ground? We've seen in Russia and Peru cases where presidents got rid of the current legislature and ruled by decree until a more friendly body could be elected. Leaders were forced out by popular uprisings in the Philippines, Argentina, Serbia and briefly in Venezuela. Musharref kicked the corrupt elected leadership in Pakistan aside and rules as a somewhat benevolent dictator. In all but the case of Argentina, the irregularly-installed government was an improvement from the replacement. Working within the system is good, but it the system is so dysfunctional to be unworkable, then it might be time to use extralegal means. The original Constitutional Convention was supposed to modify the Articles of Confederation; they ignored their mandate and started from scratch. Would a really strict constructionists say that the Constitution itself is bogus because of this? Open question for my blogmates to ponder-if the change is good for the country at large and helps the populous to achieve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, is a little rebellion now and then a good thing?

A Little Good News-It isn't offen that I can link to a news item on one of my friends, but Rose got a front-page article in the Midland Daily News for her ESL tutoring.

Quip du jour-"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."-Winston Churchill Edifier du jour- "Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."-John 6:68-69 Dafinition-"Tridentine"- recently announced merger between gum brands Front Page Haiku Robert Blake busted "If you cannot do the time, do not do the crime"

Friday, April 19, 2002

Check out Megan's takedown on proposed changes to copyright law, tacking on an additional 20 years to the life of the copyright. That adds less than 6% of the present value of a copyright and keeps things out of public domain for an extra two decades. I might use this example in my finance class in the fall.

Posse Candidate Down Under?-Andrew Dodge, against his better judgement, gave a like to Martin Roth, a Aussie Christian. He's got some promise as he gives a through raking over of Australian liberals.

Nickname Realignment-Kevin James has a series of modest proposals to return nicknames to their rightful places and to banish some rather lame ones. I was going to send one of the spares to the CFL, where both Ottawa and Saskatawan had Rough Riders, but Ottawa switched to the Renegades.

Greetings to the Silicon Investor Crowd- someone posted a quip of mine from February on the lack of veteran suicide bombers. Stick around for some good commentary delivered with a quirky sense of humor.

A Short History of the Chatty-Ring-Kevin James pointed out that I'm "the only person I know of who uses the phrase "pull my chatty-ring." He's right. I googled "pull my chatty-ring" and got a Googlewhack. Here's a site that used the phrase in the past tense. It comes from the talking dolls or Fisher-Price talking toys of the 60s and 70s. They would have a plastic cord that would activate the recordings inside, with an action a bit like starting a old lawn mower. At the end of the cord, instead of a handle, was a finger size ring to pull on. One popular model was Chatty Cathy(I think my sister Kathy had the blonde one), thus the Chatty Ring. Here's an older example of a chatty-ringed doll. In my family, the phrase got use when someone got a bit too loquacious-"Who pulled your chatty ring?"

Just Another Little Berg- Kaus caught Sullivan in a braino.
Andrew Sullivan worries that Tony Blair's Labour government will soon echo "the Shrum-Goldberg-Brown-Gore line." Shrum is consultant Bob Shrum. Brown is Gordon Brown, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer. But who's "Goldberg?" Whoopi?
I almost sided with Sullivan, thinking that it was Democratic polling guru Stan Goldberg. Quick Google to check- Stan Goldberg is a cartoonist. Stan Greenberg is the pollster.

Rantburg's back up at Rantburg.com. His ISP went down on him. Thanks to Rand Simberg for having the new link

Morning Musings-Is the ring of Hell just above that reserved for tailgaters and telemarketers earmarked for the people with those annoying car alarms? My office is just across from the parking ramp, and one of those beasties goes off about every hour. At least I'm far enough away that it doesn't curl my hair or soil my pants. More Church Music-Louder Fenn chimed back in on the guitar-in-church issue. As a metalhead, he's not opposed to the guitar, but for him, it gets in the way of sanctity of the Mass. When songs I've grown use to hearing on Christian radio find their way into the worship service, I find myself being a critic rather than a worshiper. I wind up comparing the church band's performance with the profesional praisemeisters (often favorably, Joanne and the gang do a great job) and I'm taken somewhat away from worshiping God. After a few times in the rotation, the song becomes part of church and not an interloper from the radio rotation. I don't think a guitar is a "frivolous" instrument. It sure can be used in a frivolous manner, but isn't unsanctified in and of itself. I was reminded of the story of Silent Night, where the origional arrangement was for guitar. A well-played guitar doesn't drive God's Real Presence out of the building any more than a well-played piano or organ will. The music should be properly worshipfull and be designed to bring people into God's presence. A lot of modern praise music is too fluffy to do that well, but some of the better stuff could easily sub for the classic hymns. The music director and the pastorate need to choose their music wisely and not be contemporary for the sake of being contemporary. Personhood That's been an ongoing discussion in our corner of the Blogosphere, with Ben and Louder among others chiming in. I'm on board with the idea that personhood begins at conception. I most definitely think it happens before birth. Where before birth is the good question. I'm not sure but I know that erring on the side of life rather than destruction is the more godly option. If it isn't at conception, there isn't a good alternative starting point to hang your hat on. Thus, I'm going with conception as the least illogical alternative. "I'm a Cucumber, and I'm here to help"-Jude Wanniski has become more crankish over the years, and I don't read him much anymore. He used to be a regular read in the late 90s. However, I clicked on his bookmark by accident and found a good essay on the lack of family programming that can be clean enough for post-kndergardeners but interesting enough for parents to watch with their kids. Increasingly, you have to move to videos to do that these days. I'll put in a plug for Veggie Tales, a well-done cartuon series of Christian-themed stories that are (like some secular classics like Bullwinkle) funny on both the children's and adult levels while having a light-enough touch to not scare off the non-believers in the crowd. There's a Veggie Tales movie due out this fall. This one will likely catch a lot of secular media people with their pants down, as it may well be the "suprise hit of the fall". The built-in evangelical crowd will flock to see it, then the media will catch on and a flock of new fans for Bob and Larry will be born. When this does happen, you can say "Yeah, I was reading about that this spring."

Chinese Wall?-It's been a well-known fact for longer than I've been following finance (thus at least the mid-80s) that brokerages have been notoriously quick to issue buy recommendations and equally slow to give sell recommendations. They make their money on commissions and can't make much money telling people to sell stock. That would assume (barring a short-seller) that the clients that you gave the sell sign to were the ones who bought your buy recommendation in the first place. Everyone's a potential sucker beneficiary of a buy recommendation. Add that to the fact that the investment bankers want to do underwriting business (being the middle-man for their new stock and bond offerings) with companies, and thus erring on the Pollyanna side will avoid getting a CFO POed and thus losing an IPO. I'm always a bit skeptical about Democratic state AGs, since they have a nasty twelvedency tendency to want to be Ralph Nader Jr. and do some serious corporate-bashing in the name of consumer protection. Elliot Spitzer, the New York state AG, has got Merrill Lynch to try and clean up its act. Merrell insiders were stating in internal e-mails that a lot of their buy recommendations were suitable for use as fertilizer. As part of the agreement, Merrill Lynch will mention in their stock analysis if they have underwriting business with the company. Spitzer's right on this one, such reforms are well overdue. However, he'll likely use this and comparable agreements with other brokerages to justify the rest of his liberal agenda. I feel like my Reagan-bashing friend Dave when he didn't like the invasion of Grenada. He supported getting rid of the Marxist thugs who had taken over, but didn't like it since "it made Reagan look good." I've got much the same feeling about Spitzer; it's a fair case but makes a member of the Dark Side look good. I had to wince at the NPR piece this morning, where they stated that Spitzer was "shocked" at Merrill's behavior. Either Spitzer's clueless (you usually don't get to be state AG and be that dumb) or he's just pinned the claudometer with a classic bit of demagoguery. Keep an eye on this guy. After his run-ins with crisis pregnancy centers earlier this year, I want to put my New York blogmates on alert to keep this guy in check.

Caribou Safe for Now- A proposal to open up ANWR for drilling went down 46-54(Is it just me, or has the WaPo started to go overboard with the pop-under ads?).Eight Republicans voted against it, with five Democrats voting for it. No Republicans-Chaffee, Collins, DeWine(?), Fitzgerald, McCain, Snowe, Bob Smith(?), Gordon Smith Yes Democrats-Akaka, Breaux, Inouye, Landrieu, Miller. This was an interesting coalition. The two Democrats from Hawaii voted yes-more oil from Alaska would mean cheaper oil coming straight down the Pacific. The two Louisiana Dems are in the pocket of the oil companies as a general rule. That leaves Miller, the true renegade Democrat. How long until he's called a DINO (Yi-Yi-yi-yi-yi-WILMA!)? Actually, Margaret Carlson and a few others beat me to it, but "Zell Miller" DINO is a single-page Google. Most of the no Republican votes are from the RINOs. Gordon Smith was a slight surprise, but he's likely covering his backside in an election year in eco-friendly Oregon. Mike DeWine has some centrist tendencies, but it seems a bit out-of-character. Bob Smith, generally a hard-core conservative, seems weird, but he seems to have been anti-ANWR drilling from well back, not an election-year convert. [Thanks to Mr. Carver for catching typos on Inouye and Landrieu]

Quip du jour-" A little revolution now and then is a good thing; the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."-Thomas Jefferson Edifier du jour-"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. "-Psalm 18:2-3 Front Page Haiku
"Don't you dare look there!" Dems worship caribou land No ANWR drilling

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Pepe Le Pen?-Spinster Gena noted that President Jacques Chirac (doesn't that sound like a Loonie Tunes character?) could easily beat PM Jospin. This BBC piece points out that Jospin may not get past the first round on Sunday, as nativist candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen is closing in on Jospin for second place and a spot in a run-off. The rash of Arab-on-Jewish violence may help the anti-Arab Le Pen get into a run-off.

Iron Sharpens Iron-Yesterday, I was advising the Tories to sharpen their knives on how to take advantage of the Labour payroll tax increase. Guys, go see Nats the Ginsu Lady.

What's up with Rantburg? His server's been down for the last two days. Has anyone put out an APB on him, like they did for Vodkaman?

An Accidental Plane Crash? A small plane flew into the Pirelli skyscraper in Milan. Early signs point to an accident, but some people are wondering if it's a terror attack. Being in Italy, it could be a leftist thing, as they killed a leading government advisor on reforming labor laws.

Sports Roundup-Glad I didn't stay up to see the OT- Vancouver beat the Red Wings 4-3 last night. Those 11 Olympians weren't enough. However, it is a best of seven. The other home teams, Carolina, Philly and San Jose, won last night. The Pistons ruined Milwaukee's playoff hopes with a 123-89 vivisection. The stat of the night-15 for 24 in three-pointers for the Pistons, 55% overall shooting. That puts Indiana and Toronto into the last two playoff spots. Detroit gets Toronto starting Sunday and Indiana gets New Jersey starting Saturday. There are a number of good first-round matchups, and not just the 4-5 matchups. Sacremento-Utah will be interesting. Having to take out Stocktontomalone in a best of five won't be easy. It wasn't that long ago (98?) that these two teams met in the first round and the Kings suprised everyone by taking the Jazz to five games. Now the Jazz are the underdogs. I don't see Seattle of Portland advancing, but Minnesota's got a shot against Dallas. Indiana-New Jersey could be fun. Will Spike cross the Hudson to heckle Reggie Miller? If the added talent that the Pacers picked up in the Rose trade meshes, the Nets will have their hands full. Boston-Philly is a throwback. Have these two met in the playoffs since the Bird and Dr. J era? If the Sixers are healthy, there could be an upset here. I don't see a Carterless Toronto getting past Detroit and don't have a feel for how Orlando-Charlotte will come out.

Linkorama- Added Kevin James, Emily Stimpson and Peter Nixon to the Posse. Emily works at Franciscan U in southern Ohio, and is a faithful [:-)] Catholic lady. James is a Georgia based Catholic lawyer (we've got quite a few lawyers 'round here-Penny, Sulik and of course Papa Blog) and sports nut. Nixon's blog, Sursum Corda has as its cornerstone a daily commentary on the Catholic daily readings that are used for Mass around the country (Thank you, Peter, for answering my E-mail and confirming what that was). His site may prove to be Theology Central the way things are going, giving Veritas a run for its money a partner in the mission field.

The Check-Out Lane Byran Preston has a good, pay-worthy, essay breaking down the Middle East like a pro. Newbie Kevin James has a good case for sending the Expos south-to San Juan! He's a Catholic sports nut, so he should fit into a couple of popular ecosystems of the blogosphere. A part of good posts on Right Wing Dorks by Ruffini and Domenech, who bounce off this Matt Welch piece. What the diference between a wonk and a dork? A wonk's life revolves around public policy, but a dork's life revolves around public policy and he likes it that way. Ben also has a good post on personhood in regards to the Clone Wars. Airstrip one has an interesting essay on the role of geographic proximity in history and geopolitics.

Quip du jour-"There are three roads in America politics: Democratic, Republican and Oblivion"-Pat Paulsen(?) Edifier du jour-"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love." 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Groaner du jour-"Visualize Whirled Peas"- bumper sticker Front Page Haiku
Sorry! Friendly Fire GIs take out four Canucks A friendly border?

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Current Events Haiku-Eve Tushnet has a call out for current events Haiku. I'm in the mood. Yasser Arafat Bad case of cabin fever "Please let me out, guys!" John McCain fan club "Time to leave the GOP?" Just wishful thinking Arial Sharon Captures Al Asqa biggie Can you say "torture?" Mister Eric Blair Can't spell, can't write, can't think straight Can catch lots of flak John Ellis Golf Team All six in the top eight guys Psychic Hotline works?

We're McCainiacs, and We're Zany to the Max-A lot of the blognoscenti, including Mickey Kaus, Orrin Judd and Ben Domenesh and have chimed in on a piece by Jonathan Chait's backing a McCain switchover to the Dark Side Democratic Party. This boomlet is a case of what one of my PoliSci profs at CMU would call "Jack Daniels Talk"- shooting the bull on the back porch with a cold beverage of choice playing out scenarios with a chance of happening that rounds to zero to four decimal places. McCain's not a good fit as a Democrat; he's a populist with a slight right-of-center tilt on balance. There's a long tradition, especially in fly-over country, of populists of either party being for the little guy and against the big corporations. While his backers tend to equate McCain to Teddy Roosevelt, another guy from the turn of the last century, William Jennings Byrant, comes to mind as a better analogy. The "prairie populist" world-view that Bryant represented is more egalitarian than it is socialist, seeing the small businessman and the farmer as honorable outlets for industriousness, but is distrustful of concentration of power, either via government or big business. The stock option taxation, CFR and anti-HMO proposals are populist whacks at big business power. Despite his run-ins with more orthodox Republicans in the last year, he's far too conservative to be nominated by the Democratic Party as we know it. I'll beg to differ with Orrin Judd in that he's not on board with the majority of Democratic issues. If he were to kowtow to the minions of the Democratic party sufficiently to be nominated, his credibility would be shot. His patriotism would run afoul of the anti-war, Blame America First crowd. His "gaydar" cracks will make him persona non grata with the pink triangle crowd. He's too much the war hero to have feminists comfortable with him and hasn't done much for unions other than CFR. He hasn't come close to playing along with identity politics, so he's not going to be slow dancing with Al Sharpton anytime soon. The only way McCain could get the Democratic nomination, assuming he doesn't do more liberal flip-flops, is if the liberal vote is split two or more ways and he can win the New Democrat vote and gain a 35-40% plurality. I don't see him getting a majority of the Democratic primary vote as the party is presently constituted. He would have to bring the left wing of the Republican party over with him, with massive party registration switches enabling him to get a majority in the reconstituted Democratic Party. McCain's a good politician, but he's not so good that he could bring the 15-20% of the registered Republicans over with him to pull off the takeover of the Democratic party.

I was talking about an artifical neutron star this morning, and Kevin was scratching his head about Bose-Einstein Condensates. It's a weird state of matter at near absolute zero, where atoms become so simular due to lack of motion that they lose their individuality and merge together, becoming essentially a super-atom. This is compaired on this U of Colorado site to the identical photons in a laser beam.

Hang in there, Berlusconi -The big labor unions called a general strike in Italy, protesting the proposed roll-back of some very generous "jobs-for-life" employment policies. Millions took the day off, but Prime Minister Berlusconi is sticking to his guns on the issue. Note that all the people who took the day off aren't ardent leftists, they might of stayed away in fear of being picked on or killed by leftists if they didn't go along.

Blair Necessities? The British government's announced a 1% increase in payroll taxes to better fund the National Health System. This will be something that could become the undoing of the Blair's rule. NuLab had better put that extra tax money to good use, improving services instead of making the current services better paying for the providers, or the Tories will have a field day. This will hit everyone making more than $6650 a year, thus giving the lie to the idea that Labour won't raise taxes on the little guy. I'm sure the poll questions, "Would you pay a bit more in taxes if it improved health care?" came out positive, but if the money is mismanaged (good possibility), Blair could be in trouble in 2006. Pity that we'll have to wait until then, as they have a five-year (or less if the government wants to, or is forced to, call an election early) term of office and they held elections in 2001. You've got four years to sharpen your knives, Tories.

Poor Booby! Yasser's Got Cabin Fever. Three weeks into his office-arrest in Ramallah, Arafat's starting to sound less defiant and more, well, desperate. "I have to ask the Bush administration, the international community, is this acceptable that I cannot go out the door?" Yep.

Blame it on the Bosenova- Louder Fenn links to this NASA piece on some quirky properties of Bose-Einstein Condensates. Scientist have been able to create mini-neutron stars from BECs, dubbing them bosenovas. If they have only one of them, is it a sole bosenova?

The Future of Blogging- Sgt. Stryker has appearantly given up blogging for the time being, going out on a bitter note. He had this take on the future of blogging.
Blogging's a flash in the pan. The better writers will get hired by traditional sources to write on the web or in print. More and more journalists will start up "blogs", and soon everyone else will hop on the bandwagon. Those blogs will be bland because they will want to have broad appeal. Most everyone else around right now will soon get bored, get jobs or get jiggy doing something else.
I'm in the mood to do a classic deconstruction of this bad-boy paragraph.
Blogging's a flash in the pan.
A lot of the triumphalist rhetoric about how blogging will change the news industry's overblown, as is any coverage of the "next big thing." However, there is a market/desire for people to express their opinions in their own one-man op-ed page. There's also a modest market for people wanting to read these on-line commentary journals known as blogs. My hit numbers are going up slowly, about 2-3% a week as more people find me. If they start to level off and recede, then I'll buy into the Sarge's thesis. In the meantime, I expect the blog to gradually seep into the news culture. There's a limited audience for political and cultural commentary, but it is a important one. Sunday Talking Heads don't get a big viewership, but it is the political activists and junkies that watch and then inform the unwashed masses. There might only be one person in an office complex that's hanging out in Blogistan, but he'll be bringing our insights to the water cooler with him.
The better writers will get hired by traditional sources to write on the web or in print.
Many of the big-name bloggers are better-described as free-lance pundits. Virginia Postrel, Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan were noted writers before going solo, and still keep free-lancing for other outlets. The bridge from the "MyName.com" professional journalist's site to the "love of the game" blogs like mine are the semi-pros, like Glenn Reynolds (he's almost up in that first class), James Miller and Ben Domenech, who have a day job (or day schooling) and write occasional paying columns. I've yet to see a writer who wasn't a free-lancer pre-blog to start a writing career, but I think we'll start to see it in the months to come.
More and more journalists will start up "blogs", and soon everyone else will hop on the bandwagon.
Only if they have something to say. Not all reporters are witty and insightful enough to want to start a blog. In addition, an opinionated blog might make a reporter's job harder, since his biases will be on the table for all to see. Some columnists might start up blogs to give them avenues to vent that don't quite fit their standard column. James Lileks is a great example-he has a day job as a newspaper columnist, but has his own web site on historical pop culture and keeps his Bleat there as well. John Ellis is a pro writer that keeps a blog to talk politics and golf outside his business journalism milieu. We'll see more of those If I may go back to the analogy that the blog is a one-person op-ed page, not everyone writes letters to the editor. In a smaller-town paper, you tend to see the same "cranks" on a monthly basis venting. You're looking at a small number of people with the desire and ability to write well and the knowledge base to make a blog interesting.
Those blogs will be bland because they will want to have broad appeal. Most everyone else around right now will soon get bored, get jobs or get jiggy doing something else.
An in-house blog could very well be boring, but there could be keepers as well. Bob Talbert's daily dead-tree column in the Detroit Free Press (he died three years ago) was a proto-blog, especially his Monday Moanin' session, where he rattled off a couple dozen short takes on whatever was on his mind at the time. He'd be a-bloggin' if he were with us. NRO's The Corner is a good in-house blog. ABC's The Note is another good political summary page/pseudoblog. Good amateur blogs will stay in place as long as Blogger or some other low-cost HTML-For-Dummies outlet is there to help. The boring ones will be ignored. Some bloggers will fall away, as the Sarge is apparently doing, but others will step in. Jobs, spouses and other "distractions" will reduce blog time, but other people will find greater free time to blog. I may have more time to blog as a college professor. My listed office hours will likely be my blogging time, as I can't count on prepping for classes in the time I'm expecting students. If they're not there, I'll likely be surfing and blogging.
Blogs as we know them will probably morph into something else and people will look back on these things like they do the old 'zines.
I think there will continue to be idiosyncratic political and cultural commentary on the Web. Blogs are simply an easy way to make your own commentary web site without being a geek (although being a geek helps). I don't see it becoming a major cultural phenomena, but I think it, or something very much like it, will be around for a while. We may not be calling these commentary sites blogs in 2020, but they will be around in some form.

Blogger Burnout-Per Ben's link, it looks like the Sarge is hanging up the mouse. I don't agree with his take; he must of took a quadruple dose of his curmudgeon pills yesterday. Be back with more when I'm in at work.

Quip du jour-"Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." -Samuel Johnson Edifier du jour-"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear. "-Proverbs 25:11-12

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Baseball Nightmare Over, Basketball Dream Begining-Leno will need to start picking on Arafat; the Tigers are 1-11 after a 9-3 win over Tampa Bay this evening. The Pistons locked up home court for the first two rounds of the playoffs with a 103-98 win at New Jersey. The Pistons now can rest some people tomorrow night against Milwaukee. Tomorrow will be a big scoreboard-watching day, as Toronto, Indiana and Milwaukee are all 41-40. However, there can be only two;Milwaukee can win in Detroit tomorrow and stay in town for game one of the playoffs or lose and fly back to Cheeseland for the summer.

Nativity End-Game- I'm not sure if any bloggers or pundits have looked out at what the siege at the Church of the Nativity is going to look like as the weeks and months go on. The Israelis aren't going to let the gunnies go and the gunnies aren't going to surrender. Even though Israel's going to do what is in their best interest and give the middle-digit salute to world opinion when needed, they're unlikely to storm the building and take the wrath of the international community if they have the option of waiting them out. Then, what we have is a siege that reminds me of Waco or the Montana Freeman standoff of 1997. The Freemen standoff lasted 78 days while Waco lasted 51 days. The first ended with the torching of the building and the second ended peacefully. The Branch Davidians and the Freemen had an advantage I don't think the al Asqa crew has; they were being laid siege to in their own compound with their stash of food and ammo. The Palestinian gunnies would likely have much less ammo and food. There hasn't been any food brought in since the siege started two weeks ago. What happens when the people in the church start to starve? Do the Palestinians sit there and die a slow death? Do the priests and nuns in the building give up their rations sacrificially and die first, having their bodies carted off for all the world to watch? Do the devout Muslims open up the Nativity Cafe ("Donner-party of five. Donner, party of five")? Do the Israelis have the stomach to pull off the two-month siege that would drive the gunnies to give up or die of starvation? Do we Americans have the stomach to watch and not step in? Once the other parts of the West Bank are subdued, the attention of the media will return to Ramallah and Bethlehem. This will get very ugly and will test the character of a lot of people to follow their convictions to their very nasty and distasteful conclusions.

Beware the American StreetGo thou and readest today's Best of the Web lead article.

Loonie Tunes- The Bank of Canada raised its overnight rate (the equivilent of the Fed Funds rate) by a quarter-percent, citing increased inflation presures. This was the first time in five years that the BoC raised rates independently of the Fed. This might be a bit premature, but it will be a confidence boost for the Liberals that the recovery is strong enough to warrent a slight tightening in the money supply. It will also help the Loonie in the short term, but it may well be a dead-cat bounce if the Canadian economy doesn't continue to grow as it has in the last quarter.

Raise Your Steyn-Another keeper from our favorite Polar Pundit on Ugly Europeans.

Run Through the Border-Good economic news, as a new system of electonic verificaiton of shipments will allow trucks from major manufacturers to bypass customs on the US/Canadian border, thus releving a lot of the bottlenecks at the border crossings between Ontario and Michigan. A lot of auto parts flow both ways between the two countries, which will make the auto industry run more smoothly.

No New Carrs in Motown-The expansion Houston Texans have (per ESPN) signed Fresno State QB David Carr as the first pick in the draft. I was hoping he'd slide to #3 so the Lions could snag him and have puns galore.

Raw linkage- Got cited by former Lakeland denizen Amy Welborn on my essay on Lake Wales. I'll have to politely ask to pick her brain on things Lakeland, like good places to shop, eat, good parks and all those other little non-national-brand things that make each town unique. Since Lake Wales doesn't have much decent rental property, Lakeland might be a possible home. The nearest Vineyard is in Lakeland, I managed to find it while exploring Polk County Saturday. I got a bit off track and was driving on the south edge of town and drove by and stopped in, chatting up the cleaning lady and grabbing some church literature. Thanks to Andrea Harris and Integrity (another of the Mongolian Horde of good Catholic theological bloggers) for the permalinks.

What's Powell Up To?- There seems to be some movement towards some sort of cessation of hostilities, but we got the classic Alphonse and Gastone routine of disengagement. "After you, Ariel." "No, after you, Yasser." Israel can't back off until he gets a credible and sustained stop to the autoboomers and Arafat can't back off unless he gets the IDF to withdraw from the cities they barged into in the current offensive. Maybe Arafat's best position for negotiations is to be backed into a corner. However, he can't control Hamas too easily and that might do the whole shooting match in.

A pair of eulogies- Heard that Robert Urich died this morning. The Fox headline had him as one of those male thespians that Rush likes to talk about. He'd been fighting cancer gamely for years. While I wasn't a big fan of Vegas or Spencer, he put out an above-average job as a leading action man. In the later years, his last name became important, as my brother-in-law's (and now my sister's and niece’s and unborn unit's) last name is Eurich. It's likely the same name and Robert's forebears lost the E at Ellis Island. I found out this morning that he was a fellow Spartan, getting a master's from MSU. Speaking of name-changes, my forebears up the Y-chromosome were Scots named Barron, which got anglicized to Byron. Byron (don't call me Whizzer) White died yesterday, a classic liberal with a respect for both morality and the little guy. We could have used him on this psuedo-child-p0rn case that just went down. Thomas was concurring with the majority? I'm temped to say something about his current video habits, but other bloggers can take that straight-line and run with it.

Conservative Theology and Contemporary Liturgy-First off-my complements to yet another good Catholic blogger, Emily Stimpson's Fool's Folly. Belated happy birthday. It's good to see a growing list of theologically orthodox bloggers. We're getting "overrun" with these whipper-snapper mackerel-snappers. She's given me a permalink entry in the "Also Playing in Catholic Blogland" section. I'm not a Catholic but don't mind being associated with that bunch of solid theological writers in that block. Emily doesn't care for the use of conservative and liberal to describe theology,
The English language is a wonderful thing. It gives us so many descriptive words, which when used with precision help us to communicate with clarity and power. Words like “traditional” and “contemporary” work well when used to describe very different but permissible liturgical styles. “Faithful” and “orthodox” are more clear than “conservative” when describing Catholics who submit to the teachings of the Church. Likewise, “unfaithful,” “unorthodox,” “dissenting,” and “heretical” accurately depict the views of those within the Church that oppose her teachings.
There are pitfalls in a lot of those words. Orthodox can sound like traditional, and also creates problem if the big-O Orthodox church is in the mix, while unorthodox will have the secular meaning of novel or quirky rather than theologically different. For instance, Robert's Bauer's new church is unorthodox in their charismatic-style worship but appears to be biblically-solid. Another dichotomy is Emily's family who are liturgically conservative but theologically liberal. Faithful and unfaithful have their problems as well. Emily's parents might faithfully show up for Mass on Sunday but have the message go in one ear and out the other. The intent of the usage is faithful to God (and from a Catholic perspective faithful to the earthly Body of Christ that is the Church) but the synonym of diligent can cloud the issue. Dissident doesn't work too well, either. In our small-l liberal culture, dissent is honored, as (at least in my mind) it conjures up images of Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn and thugs unjustly torturing the opposition in Latin America more than it brings to mind bad theology. The word heretic has a bad rap, as plenty of the good guys in history were heretics to the current order. Galileo and Luther were heretics in the eyes of the Church of their day, as were good Catholics such as Thomas More that stood up to early Protestant zealots. For evangelicals, biblical can be used as a synonym for theologically conservative; however, the Catholic emphasis on the Church takes that somewhat out of play for their nomenclature. If one is going to use conservative, use the prefix theological to give differentiation from political conservatism. Conservative as in liking the status-quo of a basic, traditional doctrine, the "Faith of our Fathers." There are a few other areas where the status-quo is often at issue. Clothing is an issue. Some people, including Louder Fenn, want to put on their "Sunday best" in order to show proper respect to God's House. This attitude often goes hand-in-hand with a desire for liturgical stability, having the service done the same way with the same set of songs and the same basic liturgy. Louder points out that
In the long run, jeans, guitars, and all the rest are corrosive of orthodoxy. Okay, maybe that's the curmudgeon in me talking; but it's not unlike the erosion of courtesy in the larger society. Is the civil order served by crude behavior? Is the spiritual? Discipline in demeanor, dress, and music are not matters of indifference.
I've gone to church in dress slacks and a tie and been there in a polo shirt and shorts; God takes us as we are, regardless of our clothes. A more casual attitude towards attire at church will allow people to be comfortable in worship rather than have to check out who has the snappier suit or the nicer dress on. True, if the sartorial sloppiness is an outgrowth of a general trend of crude behavior, then it is a threat to orthodoxy. However, if it allows the parishioner to be himself rather than what he wears, it's a positive. Clothes don't make the man, the transforming of the Holy Spirit does. Music is designed to bring the individual into communion with God, breaking down the worries of the day and making the person more in tune with the Holy Spirit. Paul tells the Colossians to "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." Note that organs and pianos (or guitars) weren't yet invented when Paul wrote that. It should be up to the church of the day as to how to go about choosing the hymns and spiritual songs. Charles Wesley borrowed from bar tunes of the era [Update 8/21 or at least that's the legend--Luther really did do so] to provide the music for his hymns, yet they sound a bit stodgy in the hymnal two centuries later. We shouldn't use contemporary music just for the sake of being contemporary, but if it brings the worshiper closer to God than a old-fashioned hymn, that's what should be used. Churches that have multiple services have tended to have two services, one with a more traditional liturgy and another more contemporary service. When I was at Kent State, Grace Baptist had a contemporary first service and a traditional second service. The Sunday School class that I liked was in the first service, so I would up going to the second service. Musically, I'd prefer the more contemporary, but I can be moved by God's manifest majesty by How Great Thou Art as well as by God of Wonders. I can be moved by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross by The Old Rugged Cross or Above All. Musically styles change, but the Word of God stays the focus, whether the instruments are harps and lyres, organs and pianos, or guitars, electronic keyboards and drums. Change can be either good or bad. Many people fear change because it might not be good. 1 John 4 has a good rule
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.
If the music or attire change is of God, it will show itself by a godly presence. If it is both different and ungodly, then you get rid of it pronto. [Update-while I was working on this, Emily chimed in on Louder's post as well]

"10-40, Good Buddy. Looks like we got us a Mission Trip"- Relapsed Catholic does a quick take on this site on the 10-40 window, stating "this just has to be Protestant." Yes, Ma'am, it is. That's been missiology shorthand for the most underreached areas around the world, the area from 10 to 40 degrees north latitude. It includes most of the Islamic countries, China, India, and Central America. That term has been around for over a decade in evangelical mission circles. The window does touch on some Catholic turf in the Phillipines and Latin America, but isn't designed as an anti-Catholic endevour.

Quip du jour-"No one’s life, liberty or prosperity are safe while congress is in session." Mark Twain Edifier du jour-"Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly."-Proverbs 17:12 Groaner du jour- "Can't get Frodo to talk?""Nope. He's a hard Hobbit to break."

Monday, April 15, 2002

The Rich are Just Like Us, Only More So-Kevin Holtsberry e-mailed this Plain Dealer piece and wanted some feedback. It is true that most people pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes, since they pay 7.65% for FICA (Social Security) and Medicare taxes from dollar one. Since the bottom tax rate is 15%, single people making under about $25,000 will pay more in payroll taxes than they pay in income taxes. The article points out that "two-thirds of families paid more in payroll taxes in 1999 than they paid in federal income tax, while only 44 percent of families did so in 1979." That's due to the high income tax burden on the working poor prior to Reagan's tax cuts and the fact that payroll taxes were 6.13% in 1979. In 1979, the zero bracket was $2300, with a 14% marginal rate on the first 2000 and going up from there. The raising of zero brackets and increase in payroll taxes has made payroll taxes a bigger part of the lower income person's tax burden. The rest of the piece is income-redistribution boilerplate. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a left-leaning think-tank and could be expected to crow on the lack of progressively in modern taxation. They are correct in that many states have shifted away from income taxes and towards sales taxes which are more politically attractive. In Michigan, we saw a shift a decade ago from property taxes to sales taxes as a school financing tool. That does shift the tax burden a bit more downscale.
A regulated capitalist economy is the best economic system that man has thus far concocted, as it can lead to great societal wealth and well-being. But, by its very nature, it can also lead to great concentrations in wealth and income, which can lead to plutocracy and damage democratic values. The increased tax burden on the middle class and decreased tax burden on the wealthy over the last 20 years have occurred while both wealth and income concentration have reached levels not seen since 1929.
Is the American system less democratic today than it was in 40s and 50s? The author implies plutocracy (rule by cartoon dogs the rich) but it is a Mickey-Mouse allegation. The wealthy have always had more influence than the poor, but I think we have a lower percentage of aristocrats in Congress today than in the first have of the 1900s.
For example, the top 1 percent owns about 40 percent of private assets in this country, more than double the 19 percent it held as recently as 1976. Chief executives, on average, earn 475 times as much as the average factory worker today, up from 42 times in 1980. Between 1983 and 1999 - the period that coincides with substantial increases in the payroll tax burdens on the labor income of the poor and middle classes - the richest 1 percent enjoyed 53 percent of the total gain in marketable wealth, while the bottom 80 percent enjoyed a mere 9 percent.
The last two decades has seen the growth of technology that has increased the ability to leverage brainpower and intellectual capital. The smart information-age worker can use his talents on a world-wide basis, as telecommunications, computers and increased efficiency of transportation systems have allowed people to take a good idea worldwide in short order. Such leverage doesn't exist to nearly the same extent to physical labor. It is this leveraging of intellectual capital that has boosted the income of the rich, but it is due to new technology being able to take better advantage of that brainpower.
Perhaps it is not unfair to ask those who disproportionately benefit the most from our regulated capitalist system to disproportionately pay the taxes that are necessary to support such a system. In other words, the right question to ask might not be how taxes should be distributed across income levels but rather how taxes affect the distribution of after-tax discretionary income.
Perhaps. He begs the question that the tax rates are unfair to the rich. He also assumes that the wealthy would work as hard and invest as much if taxes were raised. The right question to ask is to look at the overall wellbeing of society. We could give everyone in the country a $10,000 salary. We'd all be poor, but we'd all be equal. In a free-market system, people with more skills and talent will make more money. We tax the well off to help the poor in order to create a system that maximizes happiness, not minimize income inequalities. Yes, it will be easier for the rich guy to get his bottle of good wine than for Joe Sixpack to get his 10-ounce curls in. However, with lower taxes, the rich guy might be investing his money in Joe's plant rather than buying a bigger yacht, thus giving Joe the factory in which to earn a living. More modest tax rates will encourage the talented and wealth to work hard and to invest, making jobs for other people in the process.

Supply-side Econ Textbooks?- I looked over the Macroeconomics textbook for my class this fall, and find it hopelessly Keynesian. I'm not in a position to change textbooks for this fall, but for future sections, I'd like some suggestions for good introductory macro texts that give classical/supply-side econ a fair shake. Paging James Miller, James Haney, Megan McArdle and anyone else who's got a handle on conservative economic pedagogy.

Flat Tax Economics- Doug Turnbull had a good Tax Day piece on a flat tax and wondered about the economic effects of a flat tax. Megan's pager's off, so I'll give it a shot. If we assume that the flat rate is less than the current tax rate for most people, it would encourage hard work and investment for people whose current marginal tax rate is higher. If you have higher take-home pay as a result of lower marginal tax rates, the opportunity cost of leisure just got higher. Likewise, the flat tax will encourage investment, as the opportunity cost of spending went up as after-tax returns on investment will have gone up. The fewer the deduction, the lower the flat tax can be. The overall effect of a flat tax will depend on how many deductions will still be there. For instance, if the mortgage interest deduction was taken away, there would be less money borrowed to buy houses.

Towards the end of the WaPo piece on Barhhouti's capture, I saw a neat Israeli blast from the past in the name of the National Security Council head Uzi Dayan. I remember Moshe Dayan, the eye-patched Defence Minister in the 60s and 70s, and wondered if Uzi was a son or grandson. Close, Maj. Gen. Dayan is the nephew of Moshe.

"OK, Al Asqa Out To Lunch"-Marwan Barghouti, an Arafat aid and alleged mastermind of the Al Asqa Brigade, was snagged by the IDF near Ramallah. OOOGA, OOOGA! Inteligence goldmine walking. OK, boys and girls, can you say "mod-er-ate phys-ic-al press-ure?" I thought you could.

"A Liberal, by any other name, is just as statist"- Many people over the years have pointed out that the media will lable conservatives more often then they label liberals. Cut on the Bias gives a run at the issue today. If one factors in the special-interests on the left are more numerous than the conservative ones. Let’s take the following sentence. “Feminists, Black, Hispanic and civil libertarian groups are opposed to the conservative proposals.” There are four liberal groups but just one conservative group. On moral issues, a coalition of abortion advocates, liberal women’s groups, homosexual advocates and civil libertarians will be opposed by a single group of “religious conservatives.” This makes the liberals look more diverse even if all four of these liberal groups have the same constituency and board members. Minorities, environmentalists, homosexual activists and women’s groups are assumed liberal unless given a conservative modifier. NOW is a “women’s group” while Concerned Women for America or the Independent Women’s Forum are “conservative women’s groups.” Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are black activists, while J.C. Watts is a black conservative. “Grass-roots”, “activist”, “public-interest” and “reformer” are other good modifiers to avoid the L-word, on top of the classic “progressive.” The other tendency that doesn’t get expressed much is the love of the word “center-left” to describe liberals/socialists. One has to be unrepentant Communists before a lot of writers will use “left-wing.” My favorite was then the socialist PRD in Mexico was referred to as center-left. Guys, the PRI is center-left. The PRD is just plain left. This may stem from the reporter assuming his own milieu defines what is centrist. If the people he talks to are 60% PRD, they’re now center-left in his universe.

Adlai Gore in 2004-Patrick Ruffini has a nice breakdown of Gore’s Florida speech and a solid analysis of his prospects for 2004. What I heard of Gore's speech was fairly well-delivered Democratic red meat. I can't testify to the short-sleeve part. In a comment in that post, I posited three questions
(1) How many Bush 2000 voters would vote for Gore in 2004 and why? Rephrased-what has Bush done to cause his voters to desert him?
Answer-not a heck of a lot. He has steered a fairly mainstream right-of-center tone in his first 14 months in office. If anything, he’s ticked off the conservative wing more than the moderate wing of his supporters, with a splitting-the-difference approach to stem cell research, a too-moderate education plan and not fighting hard for conservative judicial nominees. For moderate Republicans, he has been about as expected; he’ll lose few votes on the left. The deficit might be a leverage point for Democrats, if the red ink is still in place for FY2004. In theory, he has sided with the cultural conservatives on most issues, and thus he’ll get little in the way of a right-wing protest vote to a Howard Phillips or Pat Buchanan type of fire-breather in 2004 as things presently stand.
(2) How many Gore voters would vote for Bush in 2004 and why? Rephrased- what has Bush done to bring some Gore voters over to his side.
Answer- solid, honest leadership with more intelligence than people expected, a simple tax cut that put money in people's pockets. The $300 rebate checks, coupled with more take-home pay in 2002 has given average Joes more money in their pockets. That’s going to help with blue-collar voters who will vote Republican if given a good reason to do so. He has handled foreign policy with a much better grasp of the big picture than the caricature of the West Texas Dufus the media was spinning 18 months ago. A good chuck of the Gore swing vote was looking at Gore’s alleged superior intellect as a reason to vote for him. He won’t have that advantage in 2004.
(3) Has Bush gained more Gore voters than he's lost to Gore?
Answer-Oh, Yeah! This begs the fourth question-what does Gore have to do to win them back? If the economy is in good shape and the budget is in the black by FY2004, then Gore has to pray for a political miracle, like a big scandal in the administration or a severe mistake in anti-terror policy. If the economy is so-so in 2004, with a modest deficit still in place, then Gore will try to run as Mondale Lite, playing the deficit hawk and rolling back upper-income tax cuts (translation-tax increases) to “shore up Social Security and Medicare.” The Democratic voter will ponder the wisdom of backing their standard bearer of 2000, who would be president if it weren’t for some legal quirks in Florida. They might see the polls showing that Bush has won over a lot of swing voters and that someone other than Gore would be the man to bring them back, but their heart may overrule their head and offer up Adlai Gore in 2004. Gore backers should be reminded that, like Stevenson (who lost to Ike in ’52 and ’56), having every thinking person (translation-liberal) vote for you isn’t enough; they need a majority of the Electoral College. If Gore looks weak enough, a good outsider, like John Edwards or John Kerry, might come in and take the nomination away from him. However, if Gore wants it, it’s his to lose at this point. The institutional inertia of Gore being the ranking Alpha Male of the party will be hard to overcome, especially if he was as juiced as he was in the excepts of his Florida speech. However, they’ll lose, since the Democrats can’t win if their candidate is seen to be liberal and the Republican is seen to competent and somewhat centrist

Quip du jour-"When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."-C.S. Lewis (The secret to being an adult is knowing when you don't have to be.) Edifier du jour-Matthew 18:1-5
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me."

Sunday, April 14, 2002

The World Council of Center-Left Churches-Mr. Johnson, you pulled my chatty-ring with this post on the World Council of Churches' pile of fertilizer on the Middle East. The media would like you to believe that the WCC and their US subsidiary, the National Council of Churches, speak for Protestantdom. They speak for the non-evangelical half of Protestantdom. I can't think of a theologically-conservative denomination that is in the NCC. For instance, the Southern Baptists aren't in the NCC, while the more centrist American Baptists are. The conservative Missouri and Wisconsin Synod Lutherans are out while the center-left ELCA are in. The conservative Presbyterian Church in America is out while the center-left PCUSA is in. This gives the NCC and the WCC a left-wing slant in their theology and politics. They are more willing to accept sexual behavior outside of marriage, are more interested in inter-faith dialogs rather than defending their own and tend to have a more socialist and pacifist attitude. This tendency is more pronounced the higher up the denominational chain you go. The higher level bureaucrats will have more a secular-oriented education rather than just a seminary background and the bureaucrats will tend to be prized for their ability as bureaucrats rather than as theologians. This leans the more hierarchical denominations to the left. There is a common trend for the higher ups to present a liberal change, watering down doctrine, for a vote of the governing body and have the vote defeated by the more conservative rank-and-file. This is a "steaming pile," to be sure, but this isn't the first time the WCC has left a comparable "calling card" on the world's front lawn. Nor will it be the last.

Bedtime Musings- ¡Viva Emergency Exit Seats!-Flew back from Florida today, and bless the ticketing guy who put me in the Emergency Exit row. I'm 6'5", and that extra leg-room comes in real handy. I'll remember to ask for it my next trip. Got back to Midland by 3:45 and spent the rest of the day going with Eileen to our Friends Group (Bible study, singing, praying and goodies afterwards) then had a long discussion with Eileen about our future in Florida. I got some leads on some college and high school teaching jobs for her for the fall while I was down there; things are starting to come together. Master Woods Does it Again- Is Tiger looking to corner the market on Green Jackets? He bagged his third this afternoon. Oh, give John Ellis his money. His six-man team were all in the top 8. Can't beat that with a stick. Mideast Peace Conference? Again?- Now the Israelis are plugging a regional peace conference. Are they doing this for PR cover as they finish the job on the West Bank? Methinks so, but I'll have to look at the details. Funky Characters-This is a good link giving the HTML codes for the nonstandard characters. The pattern is to use "&#" then the code number, then a semicolon. For instance, the inverted exclamation point, ¡, is code 161, 191 is the inverted question mark ¿. That will let you do that Español (241 for the tilda'd n, pronounced ny, so canyon is cañon en Español) thing, since Spanish puts those inverts at the beginning of a question or exclamatory statement. The funky spelling for Bjørn Stærk uses codes 248 and 230 for the slashed o and the skunched ae respectively. We're now dangerously international.

Counter-Coup-This wasn't a good weekend to have a media brownout- Chavez got placed under house arrest and a new government installed, then had loyal members of the military and civilians stage a counter-coup, putting Chavez back in power. Chavez is talking sweet, but he talked sweet after a near-coup in February, too. Let's see how long he scabbards his sword. The nearest comparison that comes to mind is 1991 USSR, where Gorby was under house arrest in the Crimea (IIRC) then Yeltsin staged a counter-coup. However, Boris came out in power at the end, not Gorby.

Quip du jour-"The greatest comeback since Lazarus" -numerous (move over, '99 Ryder Cup, Chavez's coming through) Edifier du jour-Joel 2:25-29
I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great army that I sent among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
I sometimes wonder why I've traveled some strange roads to get to where I'm at today and have a lot of "what if I had done..." questions. I can see where the lean years, both financially and emotionally, are being replaced with a bountiful life. Thank You, Lord.

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