Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day

Today we remember with honor those men - mostly - and women who gave their lives to defend our freedom. Freedom of speech and the press are preserved by men in uniform, not by cynical journalists and civil libertarians. Frank Schaefer's book Faith of Our Sons: Voices from the American Homefront -- The Wartime Diary of a Marine's Father is very appropriate today. Schaefer raised his son in a comfortable Boston suburb where kids go to top colleges. Schaefer was stunned when his son decided to become a Marine. Available at Amazon From Publisher's Weekly:
In this follow-up to Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps (2002), which Schaeffer coauthored with his son, Corporal John Schaeffer, Frank and his wife confront the reality of their son's deployment to Iraq in February 2003. Although the third sentence of this "Diary of Deployment" is "I'm elated for my boy because he sounds happy," the fourth is "I'm elated in the same way one is 'elated' by looking over a cliff." Over the ensuing months, Frank and Genie work to calm their nerves, get and share information from and with other parents, and help parents whose children are killed in battle cope with their losses—some of whose letters are included here, as are letters from John, who returns to his U.S. base safely in December. Schaeffer is unflinching in recounting day-to-day dreams, fears and coping mechanisms, and in registering his own, and others', reactions to the politics of the war. Although most parents of soldiers don't write Op-Eds for the Washington Post or appear on Oprah, Schaeffer is careful to try to give voice to "ordinary" parents and soldiers from all branches of the service, and that care is what makes this volume a valuable resource for other parents of military personal. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Via Laura Ingraham

"Trail of Fears" battle in Lake Forest Park

There is a big battle over the popular Burke-Gilman Trail, which traverses Lake Forest Park near Lake Washington from NE 145 St. to Logboom Park at the north end of Lake Washington, less than 3 miles in length. This section is in bad shape and the LFP City Council has resisted the efforts of King County to repair and improve it. Even though LFP is an incorporated city the trail is a County park. I posted the full story at Sound Comments started arriving within 10 minutes.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

China modernizes for 2008 in the Communist way

China is getting ready for the 2008 Olympics. I think they are doing the right thing by buying Boeing 787s to have in service for the Olympics - only 3 years, hurry, Boeing! China has encouraged business entrepreneurship and investment - part of capitalism. But they have remained resolutely Communist in their government and civil institutions. To properly host the Games they are building the infrastructure necessary - stadiums, pools, who knows what else? - team handball courts and cricket pitches. Highways to get people to the venues, etc. But they want more, much more. The Communists want Beijing to be an attractive, spacious city in 2008. Now word is getting out that they are improving their capital by the usual Communist methods. Evict people from their homes and businesses without providing any aid for resettlement. And if they give you trouble put them in jail, make them disappear so their family can't contact them. They know no other method. The Times of London Thousands of homes destroyed to make way for Olympic tourists
YE GUOZHU used to own two restaurants in Beijing. Both were razed in 2001, as was his home in the Yongdingmen district of the city two years later, to make way for parks to beautify the Chinese capital for the 2008 Olympics. Last year Mr Ye sought permission to protest against such forced evictions. He was arrested for "disturbing social order" and sentenced in December to four years in jail. His family have not seen him since and do not know where he is held.
I enjoy the Olympics. But it will make me sick to watch the Communist leaders of China bask in the world's acclaim in 2008 when they earned it in this fashion.

Squatters make parks unattractive to visitors - Hawaii

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin published a letter of mine on May 3. They didn't contact me to verify that I sent it, like the Seattle Times does. It was a quick write, less than the effort I would put in if I was aiming to be published. More like "they better get some letters on this..." Squatters make parks unattractive to visitors (scroll down)
If Hawaii repeals Act 50, the "squatter law," then you will allow people to live in parks and on beaches. Don't say it's because people have no place to live. If necessary they will provide for themselves. But you are going to provide the parks and beaches. I have been to Hawaii about 20 times, lived there two years, and been there five of the past seven years. So I have seen the problem. The beach I have walked a hundred times had people sleeping in cars when we were there in February. If you give the beaches over for people to live, where should tourists like me go? Ron Hebron Seattle, Wash.
The story I was referring to: Repeal of squatters law advances at Legislature As I said: the resort on Maui we have stayed at at least 15 times - lost count - is on a great beach - fine sand, 3 miles long. When we are there I take a one-hour walk starting before sunrise every day and most days do anther walk of at least 30 minutes. A highway runs parallel to the beach for about a mile. And people spend the night in their junker cars and trucks - I see them at sunrise! Now, I know that fishermen want to get an early start and some do it by sleeping in their cars; I would too. But most are not fishermen. I think Hawaii's squatter law applies to people who set up residence in parks and on beaches, not to people who drive up and spend the night. But, still, their presence and their way of living junks up the place. I hope I can walk "Sugar Beach" many times more. It is the beach all the way across Maalaea Bay - the bay on the south side of Maui that defines the island's shape. Google Satellite photo The image you see depends on the size of your monitor. On this map it runs from Maalaea to Kihei at the "A." MapQuest Maui

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Legendary George Dantzig

George Dantzig is the number one hero in my field of operations research; he passed away two weeks ago at age 90. Photo Dantzig invented the key method of optimization, which is both still widely used and is the foundation for other optimization methods. Dantzig was a chief analyst in supply planning for the Army Air Forces during World War II. His interest in the huge problems they had, first, led him to formulate the planning as mathematical equations. Then he had to have a way to solve the equations. In about 6 months in 1947 he devised the most important mathematical algorithm of the past 50 years - the simplex algorithm. The textbook he wrote on it, Linear Programming and Extensions , published in 1963 is still in print 42 years later. He was professor at UC-Berkeley, then at Stanford University for the rest of his career. He proposed that Stanford begin a cross-discipline program in operations research. You have probably heard the mythical story of the student who, thinking it was a class assignment, solved a problem Einstein couldn't solve. Even Snopes, the debunker of urban legends, has it. The student was George Dantzig in 1939.
During his first year as a doctoral student at the University of California-Berkeley, Dantzig arrived late to the class of Jerzy Neyman, one of the great founders of modern statistics. On the blackboard were two problems that Dantzig assumed to be homework. "A few days later I apologized to Neyman for taking so long to do the homework—the problems seemed harder to do than usual," Dantzig once recalled. Six weeks later on a Sunday at 8 AM, Neyman excitedly awoke Dantzig and his wife to say he had written an introduction to Dantzig's paper. "What paper?" It turned out that Dantzig had found solutions to two famous, previously unsolved statistical problems.
Notice that Einstein is not mentioned in the version of the story from the original source. Thanks go to Rev. Robert Schuler of the Crystal Cathedral, who embellished the story considerably to encourage possibilityy thinking." Schuler both demoted the mythical student and elevated his accomplishment, neither of which was necessary. Dantzig's solution to those two problems comprised his PhD. dissertation! News release from INFORMS, my professional society. Obituary at Stanford University's website

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Eagle by (near) Bill

Riding my bicycle to work I pass below the main Microsoft campus. It's up a 150-foot hill and not directly accessible. I passed, then I had gone about 3 blocks on West Lake Samamish Way, approaching Lake Samamish, when I heard the now familiar "Skree-ee." I looked up and at the very top of an 80-foot fir tree was a bald eagle! This is a nice suburban area and I was on a street that carries quite a bit of traffic during commute time. For two other suburban eagle sitings see (For some reason Blogger wants to pollute my URL by appending the blog URL. So you might have to copy and paste the link. I will solve this later.)

Welfare State Stagnation - Sweden

Sweden is cited to show that you can have cradle-to-grave welfare for all and high taxes, but still have a dynamic economy. Not so, say JACOB ARFWEDSON and JOHNNY MUNKHAMMAR, researchers in Sweden. Sweden is a model for growth of government. The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required) shows the true situation. Growth is 3.5%, respectable, but not a leader.
In fact, Swedish growth has been declining for 50 years. Currently, Swedish growth is well below that of the countries of Eastern and Central Europe, but also lower than that of, for example, Britain, France, Spain and Denmark. In terms of per capita private consumption, Sweden is 19th among the 30 OECD countries.
And they claim employment is high.
The true picture is totally different, however. The largest trade union, LO, a strong supporter of the Social Democrats for more than 100 years, recently admitted that real Swedish unemployment is closer to 20%-25%. Of the Swedish population of working age (5.8 million), 2.2 million belong to the category "not at work," of which 1.4 million live off government handouts. In 2004, this amounted to 39% of the population of "working age" -- that is, almost four out of 10 people of working age don't go to work.
The conclusion of these Swedes:
The Swedish welfare state is a model for growth -- but only growth of government. With an annual growth of 3.5%, GDP doubles in 20 years; no amount of government redistribution can match this in terms of prosperity. We need market-based reform, drastic tax cuts and deregulation of state monopolies. And if the new EU Constitution offers a possibility of escaping the so-called European Social Model, Swedes and other EU citizens alike should make use of it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

New Leadership for King County - Irons

The Washington election mess that is in national news today is the result of the mismanagement of Ron Sims. Sims is the King County Executive - the elected executive of the 12th largest county in the US. Sims is pleasant in person. But he rules with an iron fist. He doesn't work things out. He dictates. But now we have a good challenger for the election in November. David Irons is a career businessman; an entrepreneur who has started three companies. Irons was on the Issaquah school board, then was elected to the King County Council 5 1/2 years ago. Irons is a proven administrator and leader with his business experience. And he works across the aisle with willing Democrate. He can end the eternal tent city of homeless; help them be no longer homeless. We have the chance to clean out the election mess from the top.

David Irons for King County Executive

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Offline - Paparazzi

I was offline this weekend. At our beach cabin I use the neighbors' wifi internet access, with their permission. But it was offline this weekend. -- Note the scar at the left - a recent slide. It dropped many tons about 60 feet. Could have killed a bunch of unlucky people.


Friday I was riding my bicycle to work and ran into a friend from my neighborhood and our former church who is a network admin at Microsoft. Riding with him and a coworker, as we approached Red Hook and St. Michelle winery, the coworker said "that's where the paparazzi wedding is going to be."The what!?" "Mary Key Letourneau" - shame - who spent 7 years in prison for raping her 6th grade student and getting pregnant. The coworker had gotten email from the UK saying the wedding would be at a winery in Woodinville. On my ride home I saw temporary tents set up. But the wedding was at 10 pm that night at the other winery nestled next to both St. Michelle and Red Hook brewery - Columbia Winery.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Mt. St. Helens 25 Years Later

Mt. St. Helens in southwest Washington blew up 25 years ago today. Now it is a National Monument and a world-class tourist destination. We visited three months later in Aug, 1980. Houses were destroyed; houses were filled with fine mud. The trees along the highway had light beige dry mud on them above your head! In 1987 we did the approach to Windy Ridge on the NE side of the mountain, going south from Randall, WA. Road construction closed the higher closer road and view points. So we did a hike along the new Spirit Lake. In 2002 we had the opportunity to Hike across the crater. A group arranged to split the party in half so we could hike one-way, then use the vehicles left by the other half of the party to return. It was at least 8 or 9 miles. Rough country - in the open devastation the entire route. Approaching from Interstate 5 to the west you drive up the valley of the Toutle River. There are signs of the devastation before you leave I-5. There was so much debris and mud in the river that they had to dredge it and piled up huge mounds where it crosses I-5. But I haven't been past there lately to verify that the mounds are still huge. And along most of the route the river is in a wide bed of mud or hardened mud. Google satellite photo of the Toutle River approach. Scroll right to see Mt. St. Helens. The crater with Windy Ridge and Spirit Lake to the Northeast. Continuing on the Toutle River there is a string of viewpoints and visitor centers. Here is a highway guide that also includes some tourist-service businesses. There are two private ones where you get a good view - Hoffstadt Bluffs and Wyerhaeuser. Of course the last ones are the closest. It's world-class. Go see it for yourself. The I-5 exit is less than 60 miles north of Portland, Oregon. From Seattle it is a very, very long day trip.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Nobel Economists Support Social Security Reform

Andrew Roth of Social Security points out that Cato Institute published an ad with 450 economists calling for the nation's troubled Social Security system to be reformed by giving workers the option of shifting all or part of their payroll taxes into privately invested accounts. There are 5 Nobel prize winners:
  • Edward C. Prescott, Arizona State University, 2004
  • Vernon Smith, George Mason University, 2002
  • Robert Mundell, Columbia, 1999
  • Robert E. Lucas Jr., University of Chicago, 1995
  • Milton Friedman, Hoover Institution, 1976
The economists argue that any solution "must uphold the time-honored principles of ownership, inheritability and choice." Roth says that the leading newspapers are unanimous in ignoring this important news. See the entire list for yourself.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Islamic Sensitivity and Newsweek

Newsweek got itself in a mess by publishing the half-checked story alleging that US guards at Guantanamo Base in Cuba flushed a Koran down a toilet. The story spread and Islamic leaders called for anti-US action which resulted in riots that have killed about 20 people. 20 deaths for printed pages being desecrated. The Muslims are so sensitive. Except when they are not. In April, 2002, Palestinians occupied the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Being so sensitive about religious symbols and artifacts how did they act?
On April 24, [2002] the Jerusalem Post reported on the damage that the PA forces were causing: Three Armenian monks, who had been held hostage by the Palestinian gunmen inside Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, managed to flee the church area via a side gate yesterday morning. They immediately thanked the soldiers for rescuing them. They told army officers the gunmen had stolen gold and other property, including crucifixes and prayer books, and had caused damage.... One of the monks, Narkiss Korasian, later told reporters: “They stole everything, they opened the doors one by one and stole everything....They stole our prayer books and four crosses...they didn’t leave anything. Thank you for your help, we will never forget it.” Israeli officials said the monks said the gunmen had also begun beating and attacking clergymen. 41 When the siege finally ended, the PA soldiers left the church in terrible condition: The Palestinian gunmen holed up in the Church of the Nativity seized church stockpiles of food and “ate like greedy monsters” until the food ran out, while more than 150 civilians went hungry. They also guzzled beer, wine, and Johnnie Walker scotch that they found in priests’ quarters, undeterred by the Islamic ban on drinking alcohol. The indulgence lasted for about two weeks into the 39-day siege, when the food and drink ran out, according to an account by four Greek Orthodox priests who were trapped inside for the entire ordeal.... The Orthodox priests and a number of civilians have said the gunmen created a regime of fear. Even in the Roman Catholic areas of the complex there was evidence of disregard for religious norms. Catholic priests said that some Bibles were torn up for toilet paper, and many valuable sacramental objects were removed. “Palestinians took candelabra, icons and anything that looked like gold,” said a Franciscan, the Rev. Nicholas Marquez from Mexico.
Source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs via Newsweek should recall its story, not just say they are sorry people took it wrong. Update.Newsweek did retract the story on Tuesday. But I don't blame the deaths on Newsweek. The response came from the leaders of Islam, so they are responsible. Update 5/17 The Strangest Take. The Los Angeles Times manages to put the blame on Bush.
Selective Outrage - According to chaos theory, the flapping of a single butterfly's wings can trigger a hurricane halfway across the globe, a phenomenon known as the "butterfly effect." Now the Bush administration thinks it has detected something that might be called the "Newsweek effect." It says the magazine's publication of an item in its May 9 issue, alleging that U.S. guards flushed the Koran down a toilet in order to humiliate prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, was a cause of riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan last week that left at least 14 people dead.
You saw it. The LAT can't imagine a connection between the Newsweek false report and the rioting. But Bush and his people say there is a connection. The rioters, when asked, said the Koran-flush story was their motive. So why is it another strike against Bush say the same? The LAT just sees the deaths as ammunition to use against our president.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Risky Investments and SS

In West Virginia the Democrats are ahead of President Bush. Don Surber of the Charleston, WV, Daily Mail reports:
With their $5.5 billion pension bond proposal, Democrats in West Virginia are promising voters that Wall Street will average better than 7.5 percent returns annually for the next 30 years. Most of that money will be used to shore up the teacher pension plan. If Wall Street is good enough for their teachers, then it should be good enough for my kids, who will face 30 percent cuts in their Social Security when they retire. President Bush ought to visit West Virginia and endorse this pension bond plan -- and double-dog-dare Sens. Bob Byrd and Rockefeller to denounce the $5.5 billion pension bond as a "risky scheme."
If retirement funds invested in stocks is good enough for the public employees of Virginia why can't my kids have option of doing the same? Plus personal accounts prevent the Ponzi politcians from spending the money this year on pork to get them reelected. Tip: James Taranto - Best of the Web Today

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bush pushes democracy in Georgia

Monday President Bush gave a great push for democracy in Eastern Europe and took on Russian President Putin directly. First in his joint meeting with the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in Riga, Latvia, he accused FDR and Churchill of having agreed at the Crimean summit at Yalta in 1945 to abandon Eastern Europe to Soviet communism. Later the same day he gave support to the republic of Georgia, an ex-Soviet state. He implied to the Georgians that he would call Putin on their behalf regarding two renegade provinces that Russia has been helping. This is a complete turnaround from the policies of his father, the first Bush President. Bush I just wanted stability. Democracy was a luxury to Bush I. But George W. is saying that freedom and democracy are above all. And he is willing to take a risk by pushing them. I like that kind of leadership. AP at Yahoo

Monday, May 09, 2005

AARP Opposes Social Security

I keep seeing that AARP is opposing anything being done to save Social Security. AARP used to be the American association of retired people, but now it means nothing. Truly, I heard their spokesman say so in an interview. So I wrote this letter to the Washington branch: AARP, I have been seeing in various places that you are opposing fixing the problems of Social Security. The first problem: Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. What I have been paying for 44 years went to fund dead-end freeways named after Congressmen, and some for benefits. Second, Social Security does not grow the taxes we pay into it. So it will underperform. It cannot meet the benefits promised to people currently paying into it. Something has to be done. Our choices are to (1) increase taxes, (2) decrease future benefits, or (3) increase the growth. President Bush has proposed decreasing future benefits to the higher income people and allowing increased growth. Bush has taken a great political risk and proposed a solution. You oppose him, but you don't offer another solution. I read the article by Ed Singler, AARP Washington State President, on your web site. His facts are wrong. For example: "Social Security is the most successful domestic program in our nation's history." Social Security at present returns about 1% on what we pay in. That is not a successful program. Anyone can earn more over the long haul, despite ups and downs. He vigorously opposes allowing my son and daughters to have some of their SS tax money go into a personal account. When my daughters are able to have personal accounts they will grow a nest egg that they can use or give to their children. I paid for 44 years, but if I die today someone gets one small check and the black hole of the government gets my 41 years of sweat. [This is true if my lovely wife dies the same day.] [When I read this I start getting mad.] Question: Do you oppose the current practice of using today's payroll tax collections to pay for whatever politicians want to spend on? It's a Ponzi scheme. Anyone who says to do nothing appears to support this corrupt practice. Question: If accounts invested in stocks and bonds are fatally risky, why do you recommend your members do the same with their personal savings? ("AARP encourages Americans to plan, save and invest for their retirement years....") Ron Hebron Lake Forest Park, WA Update.Those who regard Prof. Paul Krugman a reliable authority on Social Security should read his correction department. Donald Luskin exposes the two inaccuracies that Krugman based Monday's column on. First, Krugman ignores the second part of the President' proposal, so he can say that benefits are not increased for low-income people. The change in indexing leaves the benefit unchanged. But guaranteeing that no one will receive less than the poverty level is an increase. Second, Krugman says that Bush is wrong to say the largest benefit reduction will be for the high income people. Krugman finds it to be at $60,000. But Krugman should redo his calculations and correct his error. Luskin cites 3 ways of calculating the change which all find the largest per centage reduction at 90,000. (The SSA's is reprinted here.) The New York Times, where Krugman is published, on May 1, prints charts that show the reduction. And it is largest for those now making $90,000. Will Krugman print a correction?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

V-E Day - 60 Years

World War II was a terrible war and the victory was an incredible accomplishment. Evil was allowed to gain a foot hold. When France folded and Great Britain was humiliated and other countries fought, but were overrun, the United States harnessed great resources both at home and on the military fronts. The nations of Europe with the US regrouped and fought until they cornered and defeated Hitler. The USSR had huge losses. WBUR, Boston's public radio station has a radio program online - "On Point - 60th Anniversary of V-E Day." Very interesting coverage. Historian David Kennedy, Stanford University... "... there is still a seemingly unlimited amount of evil in the world!" They interviewed Walter Elers of California, Medal of Honor recipient... "I wanted to stay alive..." - "I was doing my job..." - "We were fighting to defeat the Nazis... for freedom. The US always fought for freedom..."

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Constitutional Option for Judges

When the Republicans in the US Senate vote to end all filibusters of president's appointment of judges they will be returning the process to the US Constitution. Before 2001 the was no filibuster to block the president's appointment of judges. The one exception proves the rule: Abe Fortas was appointed to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. They discovered a background flaw near the time for the vote. So the purpose of the filibuster was so additional investigation could be done. That's the purpose - to extend the time to debate. And it was bipartisan. It lasted less than 2 days. Fortas's situation was so bad that he removed himself from the nomination. There was not a second filibuster of a judicial nomination from 1878 to 2001. So what the Democrats are doing is without precedent. The Republicans are going to clarify the Senate rules to be what they have always been. No filibusters against Presidential appointments. Three reasons why this is the right thing to do: 1- The purpose of filibuster was to allow time for debate; it was never intended to completely block anything. The intent was to avoid the following: just as they are starting to discuss a bill someone says "I call for the vote", then the majority votes "Yes" and the bill passes without any discussion of its merit. That is the reason to extend debate. I have been in situations where this was done and it was very frusterating. 2- Filibustering presidential nominees to death violates the balance of powers of the 3 branches of our government - legislative, executive and judicial. A judicial nomination is not the Senate's business. It originates from the president in the executive branch. The nomination and approval is the team effort of two branches. So it is appropriate for the Senate to go through its committee process and vote. 3- This is majority rule. The Democrats lost and want minority rule. No. The majority rules. The majority runs the committee. If the majority of the committee opposes the nominee then she is out. But the minority can't rule the process. Poor Tom Daschle lost his prestigious Senate seat over this. And a side note: We could call what the Republicans are going to do "the Byrd option." Because when Robert Byrd was the majority whip (did you hear about his dog Billy?) a filibuster required 67 votes. Even with the majority he couldn't get enough votes to block something. So Byrd changed the rules - by a majority vote - to reduce the filibuster from 67 to 60 votes. The Republicans should bring up Janice Brown of California to the floor so everyone can see that President Bush nominated a black woman who has been elected in liberal California - by a comfortable margin. Then have the vote. Update. Senator Carl Levin was caught Sunday telling the truth - that the Democrats expect their minority to rule:
Levin declared that "we should not give up on the principle" of the right to filibuster judges, including Supreme Court nominees. He said that it was "important to have the power of minority rule." He quickly corrected, "Not minority rule." He added that "we should not throw out the rule book."
Red - Scroll down to "CARL LEVIN AND CHUCK HAGEL ON TW." Some bloggers have the definitive news source for the status on the judicial battle: Confirm

Friday, May 06, 2005

No New Gas

I posted a story about the swell of opposition to the 34% "emergency" increase of the Washington tax on gasoline at:
Sound Politics

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Iraq - this is the big one

Are we making progress in Iraq? Thomas Friedman of the New York Times is very knowledgeable about the Middle East. In his column today he addresses the scope of change that is now taking place. First:
In part the Arab-Muslim world is reaping something it sowed. Way too many Arab intellectuals and religious and political leaders were ready to extol suicide bombing when it was directed against Israelis. Now they are seeing how this weapon of nihilism - once sanctified and glorified - can be used against their own societies. It was wrong when it was used against Jews, and it is wrong when it is used against Muslims. You can't build a decent society on the graves of suicide bombers and their victims.
Second: This is the big one. The current struggle in Baghdad, Cairo and Riyadh is the modern incarnation of several deeply rooted and interlocking wars.
In the modern incarnation of each of these struggles, members of the Sunni-Traditionalist-jihadist minority are losing. And the more that becomes evident, the more violent they will become - because their whole vision is in danger of being repudiated by fellow Arabs and Muslims.
And since they see they are in present danger of losing, they are becoming unhinged.
Having lost the argument with their own community, and unable to offer any program, the Sunni-Traditionalist-jihadists seem to have become totally unhinged, with people becoming suicide bombers at the rate of three and four a day. The jihadists "know that if democracy comes to this part of the world, the Zarqawis and their ilk are done..."
Most people want nothing of this.
"Because the majority of people do not buy their methods or most of their message. They don't want to live like the Taliban. If democracy manages to spread in the Arab world, it will not necessarily be pro-American, but it will definitely be pro-living, not pro-suicide. It will not be a cult of death, but a culture of life." A recent cover of a popular Egyptian magazine, Rose el-Youssef, Mr. Stock noted, shows two well-known female Arab pop singers under the headline: "Stronger than Extremism." So yes, this is a big, deep struggle in Iraq. Yes, the forces of decency and pluralism are slowly winning. But it is not over - not by a long shot.
New York Times Free registration is required

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Military Recruiters - Bogus Court Case

31 college law schools have gone to the Supreme Court to keep military recruiters off their campuses. The Solomon Amendment, passed in 1994, requires them to give the military full access. They say that the military is bigoted because it does not recruit open gays. And that they have free-speech rights to not allow anyone who holds such a position. Since the Solomon Amendment forces them to host the military, it violates this free-speech right, they claim. Wrong. The law schools' free speech is intact, because they don't have to host the military. They can tell the military to get lost. But to do so they have to give up their federal funding. And they depend on the taxes you pay, so they can't do that. They are addicted to your tax dollars. So it is not a free-speech case; they are just protecting their funding. Don't feel sorry for Yale, Vanderbilt and Southern Cal. They have to make their own decisions. Do they want the funds or to follow their conscience? President Bush is not interfering with their consciences. Particularly since the military does recruit gays, just not open ones. This case never should have gone to the Supremes. The circuit court should have said "get lost." Seattle Times

Update. Law Prof. Marci Hastings says the Supreme Court should and will overturn the 3d Circuit Court and uphold the Solomon Amendment. She thinks they accepted the case in order to overturn it. Find

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Social Security Debate in Cartoons

These cartoons capture much of the debate. We have seen before that the Democrats would rather have a problem get worse than have George Bush get any credit for improving (solving) it. The next two are larger images, so I am linking to them. This sums it up very well. With personal accounts you will be able to save a nest egg that you can will to your children or someone. Chuck Asay Comparing retirement plans I have verified that in 1983 when the US Senators and Congressmen had to give up their own plan and go into Social Security with the rest of us that Congressman Harry Reid introduced a bill to stop it. He tried to stay out of Social Security. Now he says he thinks it's perfect. But this is the action he took then. BobLang - DingyHarry's buried trunk Thanks to for the links.