Saturday, March 18, 2006

Deficits Smaller Than Forecast

From Over the near term, if stronger-than-forecast economic growth continues, it is entirely possible that we could see surpluses before the President leaves office. Yes, even with massive spending increases. Must-see chart, too.

And, with that, it's been realsies. I thanks RWS for giving me the chance to mess up her blog, and to shamelessly post stuff like this:

John blogs at, and a bunch of other places, too, and will now sink back into obscurity.

Honestly, been fun, and I'll miss the whole "people commenting on my posts" deal, but I'm used to that at MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. And with that, I've signed my own death warrant from a certain Alabama blogger - it was nice knowin' ya, folks.

Those who can't, Teach. Those who don't know much, "Report"

Swarmer & Media Coverage

The reporting on Operation Swarmer is a microcosm of the sub-par reporting on the Iraq war. Events are immediately placed into a political context. Commentary is often mixed in with reporting. There is little understanding of operational intent or how the military even works. Operations are viewed as individual events, and not placed in a greater context. Failure and faulty assumptions are the baseline for coverage and analysis. Success is arbitrarily determined by a reporter or editor's biases. The actions of the U.S. and Iraqi military are viewed with suspicion and even contempt.

to wit:

On Scene: How Operation Swarmer Fizzled

Permanent Tax Cuts for the Rich

President Bush proposes we make his tax cuts permanent. I happen to agree, being wealthy myself, since they only benefit me.

But I am willing to consider other points of view, from the left and the right. So I have a couple of specific questions for everyone.

Specific answers please. If you want to rant, we have Open Threads.

1. Do you believe the tax cuts in effect today should be made permanent?

2. Do you believe they benefit the "wealthy" only, or do other taxpayers benefit, i.e. those who are not "wealthy"?

3. Define "wealthy". I'll take annual income or net worth. Set the bar.

4. If you believe the Federal Government should be spending more than it does on some particular thing, tell me what it is, how much more we should spend, and what we are spending now.

To get us started I will say I am done paying into Social Security for the year, but only just recently, and I do not consider myself "wealthy". I recognize this is a subjective definition, so tell me what it means to you.

I am stupid and I want to die, please kill me

And you thought jandrew was crazy.

Put the survivors on suicide watch. They seem to have some, issues.

Jobs Protests in France Continue

One student says "we don't want jobs"!

Another replies, "I don't know what we're yelling about! Loud! Noises"!

Unions are going to suck the life out of the French economy, if the government is unwilling to stand up to them. Thatcher did it 20 years ago. It can be done.

If they have the will.

A key provision of the proposed government contract is that employers can fire a worker under age 26 within 2 years without explanation.

Yes we could get all wrapped up in the "age 26" thing, I suspect this is a half measure to get it through.

But consider that. "At will" employment is a concept that is as foreign to them as McDonald's.

They're already Socialists. And they're at the crossroads.

Where have all the protesters gone?

Thousands protest.

Well, 15 thousand.

But one hundred thousand were expected.

What's up with that? Don't they care anymore? How are you supposed to get Tony Blair's attention with 15 thousand Brits in Trafalgar? That place is frickin ginormous! He would be like, driving by and say something like "call the Ministry of Tourism and find out why nobody is here this weekend! Tell Virgin Atlantic to offer discounts! Hurry man, hurry"!

Dave Bones, get out there with a camera crew and start something. The antiwar message is being drowned by the sound of street vendors selling Cat in the Hat headwear with a Union Jack on it.

Friday, March 17, 2006

NYC Watch - Last Day

Yep. It's a crazy place.

Dang we had a good time.

As far as I know, they don't ever turn these lights off.

Oh yes, I was wearing my UT - National Champions t-shirt that evening. You would not believe how many people I ran into who were from Texas.

Hook em Horns.


How a black-sheep Guard unit returned heroes

When the 685 men of a proud California Army National Guard battalion were mobilized more than a year ago for duty in Iraq, they expected to tangle with insurgents, and they did

But these citizen-soldiers didn’t expect a series of scandals and criminal charges on top of heavy casualties that nearly crushed their fighting spirit. They were investigated for abusing Iraqi detainees and lost two leaders in back-to-back roadside bombings — one being one of the highest-ranking U.S. officers killed in Iraq.

From late 2004 through October 2005, the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment — nicknamed “The Night Stalkers” — was saddled with a reputation as the Bad News Bears of the U.S. military. The hard-luck battalion came home Jan. 16 with a welcome from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who called the guardsmen “true action heroes.” They’ve resumed their civilian jobs as police officers, teachers and business executives after their 18-month tour. They now explain how they redeemed their reputation and point to a string of commendations as proof of heroism.

Friday Quote

"Americans have the will to resist because you have weapons. If you don't have a gun, freedom of speech has no power." - Yoshimi Ishikawa, Japanese author, in the LA Times 15 Oct 1992

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sir Linkalot

Several links with no particular theme.

The Fallaci Code - The real war
h/t LGF whose excerpt I can't beat.

A Defensive Culture - "President Bush needs to win hearts and minds in the Pentagon too"

There are no men in black here - Thank you American Soldier. Get well, soon.
h/t Dave Bones

U.S. Allies Bring Little to Table in Iraq, Afghanistan
I agree in many cases, some nation's troops such as El Salvador whose contingents are small, but punch above their weight.

Running Out of Oil? History, Technology and Abundance

Liberian leader wows US congress - Damn right she did! I heard her remarks on C-Span. She was concise and pointed, emphasising personal responsibility and rejecting dependancy. I suppose I shouldnt' give the BBC top link billing as the VOA has more of what she actually said to congress.

Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents first batch has been released. the Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes took a crack at them.

NYC Watch, Day 4

We are staying in a hotel in mid-town, room number 911.

Irony is so, what's the word...


Yes, that's it.

News..... of the Weird

Pub has to pay a fine for murder from 1664

Auditors discovered the long-forgotten penalty for The Swan in Ipswich, Suffolk, while balancing the books for the towns St Mary Le Tower Church Charities.

The annual bill of 40 shillings, equivalent to £2, seems to be a punishment for a killing in 1664 when Charles II was king

The fine is supposed to be given to the poor specifically to buy coal for them. It continues:

Simon Trenter and Pam Wilson, who run The Swan, have agreed to pay the fine, which includes backdated payments to 1999, when the bill was last paid. Ms Wilson said: We are all intrigued. We like being part of history. Little is known about the murder although it is mentioned by guides who conduct tours of Ipswich.

1999? They were paying it up to that point? I suppose I would pay it NOW, makes a good story for tourists. Cheap publicity and all.


Schools of Education - They’re not the place to get one

...Schools of education mis-prepare would-be teachers in many ways. They deprive those would-be teachers of the opportunity to learn more important, substantive things during their undergraduate years; they require students to take hugely time-consuming courses of dubious intellectual value; and they inculcate would-be teachers in the educrats’ pernicious ideology. It’s an ideology that insists that virtually all of America’s social problems derive from institutionalized prejudices; that most knowledge is “socially constructed;” and that children are best taught by allowing their natural creativity to flourish, rather than by actually trying to teach the habits of self-discipline and mindfulness. Substantive knowledge and real skill in areas like mathematics, reading, and writing are clearly tertiary concerns at best for most teachers, because they are less than tertiary concerns for SOEs.

I can hardly believe it! An college administrator takes a principled stand on education by closing down his school's bachelor’s degree program in childhood education.


Senate Votes to Raise Debt Limit

Spend less, d****t!

Open Thread

A glance at the Comments and its clear that a new Open Thread is in order.

Random Jefferson Quote: "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." --Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, 1791. ME 8:276

Hey, Mac!

MacStansbury: Were you just mentioned on Rush Limbaugh's show?

U.S., Iraqis Launch 'Operation Swarmer'

From ultra-right-wing ABC News:

U.S. forces, joined by Iraqi troops, on Thursday launched the largest air assault since the U.S.-led invasion, targeting insurgent strongholds north of the capital, the military said.

The U.S. military said the offensive dubbed Operation Swarmer was aimed at clearing "a suspected insurgent operating area" northeast of Samarra and was expected to continue over several days.

"More than 1,500 Iraqi and Coalition troops, over 200 tactical vehicles, and more than 50 aircraft participated in the operation," the military statement said.

We all know this is just a ruse to get the crappy economy the ports deal Monica Lewinski the censure resolution THE POLL NUMBERS off the front page.

John blogs at and wonders how this will affect the polls

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

NYC Watch, Day 3

Tickets to these "shows" they call them, they are expensive.

I'm just sayin.

NYC Watch, Day 2 - S'mofo butter's layin me to the bone! Jackin me up! Tight me.

And people think I talk funny.

Is our children edumacated?


Competition Works. Let it Help Our Schools

Take education. Bureaucrats like to say, you will go to this school, because we said so, and you will be taught according to this program, because we said so and we know best. Those of us with confidence in markets think you could do better deciding for yourself. Neither the bureaucrats nor the freedom lovers can judge what's in your interest better than you can. One big difference is, we know what we don't know, while they think they know everything.

We do know that competition works. It works because it gives people the chance to be creative. Educational experts, freed from the massive regulations that snarl the public schools, can come up with new and better ideas for teaching. Competition works because it gives people incentives to produce -- it inspires them to work constantly at trying to find better ways to please their customers. The bad producers lose their jobs -- but the best ones gain new customers. Bad schools will close and better schools will open.

This isn't even debatable.

This winter's Florida court ruling against school choice came after former teacher Ruth Holmes Cameron brought a suit. "To say that competition is going to improve education -- it's just not going to work," she said. "You know, competition is not for children. It's not for human beings, it's not for public education."


I am only half joking.

In 2001, Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby found that Milwaukee's private school vouchers made the nearby public schools (which were competing for the same students) change. "[Public] school principals were allowed to have a lot more autonomy," she said, "They counseled teachers out of teaching altogether who really weren't performing or showing up on the job -- they put in new back to basics curricula in some primary schools that really needed that so that reading skills and math skills would go up." Test results at those public schools went up by 7.1 percent in math, 8.4 percent in science, and 3.0 percent in language. Scores went up in voucher schools, too.

Competition worked -- for human beings, and for public education.

The Inescapable Facts on Public Education

I'm sorry that union teachers are mad at me. But when it comes to the union-dominated monopoly, the facts are inescapable. Many kids are miserable in bad schools. If they are not rich enough to move, or to pay for private school, they are trapped.

It doesn't have to be that way. We know what works: choice. That's what's brought Americans better computers, phones, movies, music, supermarkets -- most everything we have. Schoolchildren deserve the joyous benefits of market competition too.

Unions say, "education of the children is too important to be left to the vagaries of the market." The opposite is true. Education is too important to be left to the calcified union/government monopoly.

Answering the Teachers Unions - Stossel answers teachers critical of his show.

Hard to excerpt a summery of the points made in this article, so I will take the point that tickles me the most:

And I was especially surprised by one history lesson they taught me: "Public schools are what distinguish democracies from every other system in the world," and a country without strong public schools "lends itself to authoritarian thinking."

Fascinating. I guess the Communists all went to private school...

Heh heh!

Stossel focuses on the value of open markets and competition, and the failures of bureaucracy. Sowell points out that the bureaucratic stranglehold on public schools is also ideological.

Academic Freedom and Classroom Brainwashing

All across the country, from the elementary schools to the universities, students report being propagandized. That the propaganda is almost invariably from the political left is secondary. The fact that it is political propaganda instead of the subject matter of the class is what is crucial.

The lopsided imbalance among college professors in their political parties is a symptom of the problem, rather than the fundamental problem itself.

If physicists taught physics and economists taught economics, what they did on their own time politically would be no more relevant than whether they go swimming or sky diving on their days off. But politics is intruded, not only into the classroom, but into hiring decisions as well.

Even top scholars who are conservatives are unlikely to be hired by many colleges and universities. Similarly with people training to become public school teachers. Some in schools of education have said that, to be qualified, you have to see teaching as a means of social change -- meaning change in a leftward direction.


RealClearPolitics linked this article on their Opinion/Buzztracker section. It occurs to me that I should have specifically linked RealClearPolitics in my original post, especially because I linked three of their John Stossel articles in a row.

Open Thread

By request, an Open thread....

GOP Bloggers 2008 GOP Primary Straw Poll

And, after all that tough talk on polls, and how they mean nothing...I present...a poll.

I'm so two-faced.

From GOP Bloggers.

UPDATE: Installing the 2008 GOP Staw Poll in Blogger

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

NYC Watch

Been riding the subways all week.

Some guy with a backpack and a cell phone looked at me funny, so I decked him. Turned out not to be a jihadist after all.

I feel badly about that now.

More cartoons Jihad

International cartoon contest-Holocaust

Have fun with this contest, guys. The difference is that no one HERE will burn embassies or riot over some cartoons. You see, we are civilized

More Cool Stuff

Black holes: The ultimate quantum computers?

Nearly all of the information that falls into a black hole escapes back out, a controversial new study argues. The work suggests that black holes could one day be used as incredibly accurate quantum computers – if enormous theoretical and practical hurdles can first be overcome.

Samizdata has a good critque of the Space Shuttle and how much it sucked from inception:

NASA got the spaceplane design so badly wrong on the Space Shuttle one hardly knows where to start. Mike shows the science behind some of those truly awful design choices. First off is wing loading. Virtually everyone in the business knows high wing loading on a manned re-entry vehicle is not just a bad idea, it is almost criminally insane. Once you go down that route you are forced into ever more dangerous and ever more marginal design decisions. High wing loading means there is a lot of vehicle weight per square foot of wing. It means more kinetic energy has to be dissipated over a smaller area. It means the re-entry interface happens much deeper into the atmosphere. It means you cannot skip and bleed off heat. It means you need heavy thermal protection systems... and on and on.

Linked is a more facinating article about high-density Borum-gel fuels.... Which we may need if we are to build a Space Elevator:

For the 2006 midterm elections, Republicans should propose an idea so big that it stretches to the stars. Republicans should commit the government to building a space elevator by 2020.

A space elevator would essentially be a 62,000-mile cable stretching from the earth's surface out into space. Because one end of the cable would be in high orbit, gravity would prevent it from falling back to earth. Once the cable was in place, space travelers would board an elevator-like device and ride up the cable.

The 62,000-mile cable would endure tremendous stress from supporting its own mass, so the primary challenge in building a space elevator lies in constructing the cable out of material strong enough not to break. Fortunately, scientists have determined that carbon nanotubes, which are over one hundred times stronger than steel, could be used for the cable. Unfortunately, no one yet knows how to fashion mile-long strands of carbon nanotubes — but we are close.

This idea has been around awhile. Now, its feasable. With Bush Mars initiative and a space elevator, the USA can stop twiddling around with low-orbit High-School experiments and regain the initiative in exploration.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Cool Stuff

The World's Toughest Bus

If you're traveling one of the toughest bus routes on Earth you might want to be in a vehicle tough enough to take everything thrown at it. That bus is called a Rhino Runner and it's a cross between a local metro bus and a tank.

FOB McHenry has Sniff Support

Despite the headline, its a nice article about a military canine, Zeko.

Abandoned Russian town

One of the major problems of the old Communist system in the USSR was MIS-development. Ideology and central planning resulted in crazy forced development in areas that no rational system would build communities.

Bush approval rating hits new low

From USA Today:

President Bush's "approval rating" has sunk to a new low according to a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll released Monday.

The latest results show only 36% of those polled saying they "approve" of the way Bush is handling his job. Bush's previous low was 37%, set last November.

Luckily, another poll said that President Bush's approval rating was at, oh, 65%, that sounds good. I dunno, sounds good to me. Nothing like some pretty useless numbers.

Now, if the President's approval numbers where incredibly high, do you think I'd care? Nope. I don't live by a poll. I don't live my life by what people who hate my guts think. I never will.

This will get a lot of play from - amazingly - the people who just can't stand President Bush. Keep on, people, keep on telling us about the crappy poll numbers. Hide behind the numbers.

You know how he could improve the numbers? By abandoning his beliefs, and pandering to the people who keep losing elections, defying the will of the majority. That's how you run your administration by the poll. That's why we don't care much for people who always ask other people what to do.

I keep having fun with my whole "blog-warming" line, but that's really what I'm doing. I'm making sure that I just keep things going, as you're all here for what RWS thinks; she's the leader. Considering how hard it is to get all the pink out of here, you think you'd respect her more if she started agreeing with all of you? How would that look?

Person A: I think that's dumb
RWS: I agree
Person B: I think it's great
RWS: I agree
Person A: Wait, you said you agreed with me
RWS: I did
Person A: But, then you said you agreed with him
RWS: I did
Person B: So which one is it?
RWS: I agree with you all
Person C: You didn't agree with me
RWS: Oh, sorry
RWS: I agree with you too
Person C: Gee thanks!
Person C: Rightwingsparkle is the awesomist!
RWS: Vote for me!

Okay, that's just silly. Or is it?

John doesn't run by listening to polls

Many Links

The apology used to show character

Edited for extreme brevity:

First, there is no reason to apologize repeatedly — especially when one has done nothing wrong
Second, don't apologize for the sins of others long past
Third, money or personal enhancement should not factor into public acts of contrition
Fourth, it is a bad idea to apologize for one's country while overseas
Fifth, war is the wrong time to start apologizing

I have been cogitating on this theme for some time, and here VDH comes around and sums up my thoughts in one article. Curses! :-) This is a must read.

Media shockingly ignorant of Muslims among us

I would substitute the word "Willfully" in that headline.

Canadian held for deserting U.S. marines in 1968

Allen Abney, who was born in the United States but became a Canadian citizen in 1977, was arrested at a border crossing on Thursday while trying to enter Idaho from southeastern British Columbia.

He has probably crossed the border before, but now networked databases identified him.

He is the third marine from the Vietnam era to be arrested this month, and Toronto lawyer Jeffrey House believes the marines are trying to make examples of deserters to discourage those who might think of avoiding the Iraq war.

"They've got 8,000 deserters from the Iraq war, those are the official numbers, and my take on it is they are trying to send a message to marines who are actually in the forces now that they will never be forgiven," he said.

True, but incomplete. There are always desertions from the military, and the rate of desertion is down since the war started. Given that retention is up, recruitment is up, service is voluntary and morale is high, I find it disengenuous to make claims like these. Also not mentioned is that Jeffrey House is the lawyer for Jeremy Hinzman, a fact which CBC is well aware.

Marines are an all-volunteer force, and have been since before the Republic was founded. The Marines are also very aggressive and almost certain to see combat even in 'peace'. Why would anyone join the Marines only to desert before deployment? I think there is more to the story than simple unwillingness to fight.

Landlocked navy prepares to put to sea

Cute story. Bolivian navy, which has no access to the sea, practices in case the new socialist president of Chile agrees to give land to Bolivia allowing access to the sea. Here s the real meat:

"A railway gives Bolivians access to the sea, but only under the close supervision of Chilean customs officials."

Shazaam. The REAL reason Bolivia wants access. They want to export drugs more easily.


I took the test, and came up with Independent Analyst.

Run, Tommy, Run!

Daschle May Run for Prez in 2008

Oh, that'd make it easy for the Republicans. We need to send this man lots of cards and letters of encouragement...NOW!

John acts like he has a life at, but we all know that's just not true

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Transformed by tragedy

A real tear-jerker: Once unhappy, a woman lives with renewed purpose after comforting a dying stranger.

From Uzz

Republican Straw Poll

What the heck they're polling straw men for is beyond me. I thought straw men were bad things? I dunno, but I figured is was 'cause people like that have no heart.

Anyways, Drudge reports that John McCain wanted us to vote for President Bush on the straw poll deallie. I have decided myself, personally, to not vote for George Bush this next upcoming election, seeing as how I have done not liked him anymore. We need somebody new in the White House...a Republican for a change...

That's why I was mildly pleased when I had seen that Blogs for Bush copy and pasted the breakdown from The RCP Blog that said that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist won, in a totally clean election. Even with over half of the votes (52%) coming from Tennessee. No, no bias for Majority Leader Bill---Wait, the Republicans are in the majority? Really? When did that happen?

Shouldn't they, like, be doing something with all that power? Like, making laws and stuff?

Anyways, it's always interesting to hear about how Cereal-Americans are going to vote in the 2008 elections. Now, if some genius could figure out a way to poll us Human-Americans for the 2006 elections, I'd like to hear about that, too.*

*Note: if Blogger had categories, this would go under "silly," as I was having a little fun with an otherwise serious subject. Just blog-warming, you see.

On a related note: The Moderate Voice has a ton of links, including why this is bad for the Republicans. I totally glossed over the McCain angle of "vote for Bush" when I first published this story as nobody knows what to make out of it. It's probably because McCain knew he was losing ground with the people who would actually attend this conference, thus he wanted to make sure it looked like he didn't care. It's yet to be seen wether or not McCain has national influence.

Curiouser and Curiouser: Ankle Biting Pundits points out more freakiness in the poll than I originally thought.

According to my sources, the Hotline folks have colluded with representatives from Sen. Bill Frist's organization to alter the straw poll ballots to allow attendees at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference a second choice. Why? Because the “write in Bush” vote of confidence campaign had apparently gained so much momentum that it became clear a majority of voters would indeed write in the president’s name.

According to my sources, Frist’s team approached the Hotline people with the idea to rejigger the ballots because, as we have reported, Frist has a whole lot riding on this straw poll victory. Frist’s organization VolPAC spent over $100,000 bussing in, boarding, feeding, and entertaining over 930 “ringers.”

And, now the Hotline says Frist "was encouraged by the show of support, but added that he would use it to boost those Republicans up in '06, and particularly those vying to replace him in the Senate," and "that the delegates did want to support their President, but noted that many of them had "driven 6 to 8 hours" to participate and wanted to take part in choosing their party's next WH nominee."

On Mitt Romney's second-place finish, Romney very quietly, worked with some Volunteer state supporters to bring in some college students from Union University. The school, which, btw, is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, is in Jackson, TN, in between Memphis and Nashville. Also note in the story, the efforts of Romney's Southern [Baptist] backers to cast him as the best candidate in the field for evangelicals.

Wow, and I thought I was just gonna be silly all day! Turns out there's a ton more drama goin' on that I thought possible.

John blogs at and does really know what Straw man means

Something about yourself

Keeping things going with macstansbury's "tell me something about you" theme,

Here's one, I'm interested in your responses. I'll call it "A Severe Mercy", with apologies to C.S. Lewis.

Your moron puppy, who has been tormented by squirrels in the back yard, finally bags one who doesn't get to the tree in time. You manage to get idiot dog off of it, and a brief examination seems to indicate Mr. Squirrel ain't long for this world, however you are no doctor and it's possible he could pull through. You just don't know.

What do you do?

a) pull the dog inside and wait for Mr. Squirrel to join the choir invisible
b) let the dog finish him
c) call a vet and spend an afternoon saving a squirrel
d) send him across the river Styx with a .38 and a penny in his paws