Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bottom 10 of the NY Times for 2006 suffers through the liberal political agenda of the NY Times every day so that we don't have to. They document what the Times is down to. They put together the ten worst cases during the past year. Top Ten Lowlights of the NY Times in 2006 For example: #6 Linda Greenhouse's Liberal Harvard Admission
Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse went to Harvard in June and talked to her fellow alumni about how she broke into tears at a recent Simon & Garfunkel concert and what may have led up to her breakdown -- the perfidy of the Bush administration. "And of course my little crying jag occurred before we knew the worst of it, before it was clear the extent to which our government had turned its energy and attention away from upholding the rule of law and toward creating law-free zones at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Haditha, and other places around the world. And let’s not forget the sustained assault on women’s reproductive freedom and the hijacking of public policy by religious fundamentalism. To say that these last years have been dispiriting is an understatement." Greenhouse, perhaps aware that her boss, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., had made a similar rant in May (see item #2), didn't seem overly concerned about her future with the paper, simply telling National Public Radio: "I said what I said in a public place. Let the chips fall where they may."
And there are 5 that are worse.

Friday, December 29, 2006

War of the World

The War of the World by Niall Ferguson Hugh Hewitt recommends it strongly. From the book:
The hundred years after 1900 were without question the bloodiest century in modern history, far more violent in relative as well as absolute terms than any previous era. Significantly larger percentages of the world's population were killed in the two world wars that dominated the century than had been killed in any previous conflict of comparable geopolitical magnitude. Although wars between 'great powers' were more frequent in earlier centuries, the world wars were unparalleled in their severity (battle deaths per year) and concentration (battle deaths per nation-year). By any measure the Second World War was the greatest man-made catastrophe of all time. And yet, for all the attention they have attracted from historians, the world wars were only two of many twentieth-century conflicts. Death tolls quite probably passed the million mark in more than a dozen others.* Comparable fatalities were caused by the genocidal or 'politicidal' wars waged against civilian populations by the Young Turk regime during the First World War, the Soviet regime from the 1920s until the 1950s and the National Socialist regime in Germany between 1933 and 1945, to say nothing of the tyranny of Pol Pot in Cambodia. There was not a single year before, between, or after the world wars that did not see large-scale organized violence in one part of the world or another. *The Mexican Revolutionary War (1910-20), The Russian civil war (1917-21), the civil war in China (1926-37), the Korean War (1950-53), the intermittent civil wars in Rwanda and Burundi (1963-95), the post-colonial wars in Indo-China (1960-75), the Ethiopian civil war (1962-92), the Nigerian civil war (1966-70), the Bangladeshi war of independence (1971), the civil war in Mozambique (1975-93), the war in Afghanistan (1979-2001), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and the on-going civil wars in Sudan (since 1983) and Congo (since 1998). Before 1900 only the rebellions of nineteenth-century China, in particular the Taiping Rebellion, caused comparable amounts of lethal violence.
It is against that backdrop that Iran's thrust for nukes must be understood. All of the carnage of the previous century was completed with the only uses of a WMD at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Project forward the same level of violence of the last century into the new one, but imagine even four or five of the aggressors or factions possessing WMD, and the picture of what is ahead in the next 93 years is bleak beyond description

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wall Street Journal and the Fools and Imbeciles

Joseph Rago is associate features editor for the Wall Street Journal. On December 20 he subtitled his attack on bloggers with "Written by fools to be read by imbeciles." Hugh Hewitt had him on the radio to defend his inflammatory words, but he wouldn't. See the transcript. And Hugh's blog entry. A short summary: Rago doesn't think he has to defend what he wrote. Hewitt quotes an emailer:
He [Rago] doesn't seem to understand that you have to defend the things you write. The only real check on the power of the press these days is for non-journalists to have a voice. They might be impolite, vulgar or partisan (as if journalists aren't), but they do much to fulfill the intent of the First Amendment of assuring not only reporting of facts those in power don't want to get out (the press having become itself a monolithic power), but by engaging in robust debate over the issues of the day. We had lost most of that, but we're starting to regain it because of the blogosphere.
Shorter summary: Rago can't defend himself. I find this ironic because the first blog I ever discovered was "Best of the Web" by James Taranto on the Wall Street Journal's free website Taranto is Rago's coworker and is a fool, according to Rago.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Man of the Year - Iran

The government of Iran is not popular with the people. Ahmadinejad and his nuclear intentions lost big in municipal elections earlier in December. Iran Election Outcome a Rebuke to Ahmadinejad, Analyst Says And some students are bravely standing up to him. Time Magazine's choice of a mirror to show that "you" are man of the year is pretty poor. When Ahmadinejad spoke at Amir Kabir Technical University, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 11, 2006 the students lit firecrackers and burned his photo. See the photo at One Angry Christian of my nomination for man of the year. I hope and pray that this disagreement will strengthen and spread and disable Ahmadinejad's ability to develop and build the nuclear weapons that he says he will fire at Israel.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Greeting from President - former

"To all Americans I say that loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is not enough- that we as a Nation and as individuals will please God best by showing regard for the laws of God. There is no better way of fostering good will toward man than by first fostering good will toward God. If we love Him we will keep His Commandments. In sending Christmas greetings to the armed forces and merchant sailors...we include our pride in their bravery on the fighting fronts... It is significant that Christmas Day our plants and factories will be stilled. That is not true of the other holidays. On all other holidays work goes on- gladly- for the winning of the war. So Christmas becomes the only holiday in all the year. I like to think that this is so because Christmas is a holy day. May all it stands for live and grow throughout the years." Franklin D. Roosevelt in his Christmas Message, 1942. From American Minute -

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Investment Book by Ken Fischer

My best investment sources recommend "The Only Three Questions That Count," by Ken Fisher. Fisher is a very, very successful investor. Forbes says that he is the only one of their investment adviser/columnists who is on their "400 Richest in the World" list. Donald Luskin reviews it:
There's pretty much no such thing as a great investment book. But here's an exception. Here's one that you're going to want to read. And when you're done, you're going to want to read it again. Unlike most investment books, this one doesn't pretend to give you all the answers. Instead, this one just gives you questions. And that turns out to be infinitely more valuable — because they are precisely the right questions. They cut right to the heart of what it takes to be a serious, thoughtful and successful investor.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Baghdad Economy Booming

Good news. Baghdad is coming alive economically. Will we see this on Ms. Katie's news program? Newsweek International has admitted it. The New York Post reports:
* Real estate, construction and retail sales industries are booming in Iraq. * The number of registered companies in Iraq grew from 8,000 in 2003 to 34,000 this year. * Iraq earned $41 billion in oil revenue this year ... The report also said reduced customs restrictions and fees have made imported goods more accessible and affordable to many Iraqis. Other studies showed a growth of almost 100 percent in salaries for those who have jobs. And Iraqis have even had American-style tax cuts, the report said.
According to studies by World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All the news is not good.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Franklin Raines made Fannie Mae short over $6 billion

I have followed the career of Seattle native star Franklin Raines as in each higher job he performs lower. It was frustrating to hear him as President Clinton's budget chief spout nonsense. Then he got the star job of head of Fannie Mae, the federal "private" mortgage second market maker. It wasn't enough to have high status and high pay; he needed to "earn" millions in bonuses. And "earn" them he did. Not. The board of Fannie Mae fired him in 2004. After he was gone Fannie Mae's profits were recalculated and lowered by $6.3 billion. That's real money, even in D.C. The $6.3 billion in false profits provided Raines with his big bonuses - over $100 million. He was cooking the books to put money in his pockets. It's a crime to rob someone of $10. Isn't it a crime to steal millions? Someone lacks the guts to put him in prison, but at least they are going after the cash. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight is seeking fines and the cash in a civil lawsuit, not with criminal charges. The Associated Press reports:
OFHEO said it is seeking civil fines of $100 million or more against the three former executives and restitution totaling more than $115 million in bonus money tied to an improper accounting scheme. ... Lockhart said the charges "reveal how the individuals improperly manipulated earnings to maximize their bonuses, while knowingly neglecting accounting systems and internal controls, misapplying over 20 accounting principles, and misleading the regulator and the public." "The misconduct cost (Fannie Mae) and shareholders many billions of dollars and damaged the public trust," Lockhart said in a statement. OFHEO, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, last May issued a blistering report alleging a six-year accounting fraud at Washington-based Fannie Mae, the second-largest U.S. financial institution after Citigroup Inc. The regulators said the scheme included manipulations to reach quarterly earnings targets so that company executives could pocket hundreds of millions in bonuses from 1998 to 2004.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Big Storm

It didn't last that long. But in Washington we had the worst wind storm since at least January, 1993, the "Inaugural Day Storm," and probably since the Columbus Day storm of October, 1962. The 1962 storm was an extra-tropical typhoon, basically a temperate hurricane! Heavy rain that caused flooding was chased by high winds. 70 mph in Seattle. 85 mph farther north near Anacortes. 100 mph at Paradise at Mt. Rainier National Park and 113 at Chinook Pass, which is also at Mt. Rainier. We were lucky. Our power was out for only 12 hours. A blessing. Our son David in Kenmore, about 2 miles away was without power for about 40 hours. And around the corner and half a block up they are past 48 and still out. I can hear generators from our bedroom. In that same block one house had a tree on its power line after two days. And one house burned to total destruction - structural failure - certainly unrepairable. They were breeding Maine Coon cats and most were burned, but a few escaped and are missing.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lower Taxes and Lower Child Poverty

In the ten years since Congress passed welfare reform (Clinton vetoed it twice, then signed it and claimed credit) the 50 states have had latitude to take their own route. Some states chose to raise taxes and raise spending; others lowered taxes and controlled spending. The states with lower taxes have lower child poverty, the Christian Science Monitor reports:
Take Colorado. It reduced its childhood poverty rate by almost 27 percent. Meanwhile, Rhode Island's childhood poverty rate increased by almost the same amount. What accounts for those differences? Using data from the Census Bureau, the report found that states with the lowest tax rates enjoyed sizable decreases in poverty. For example, the 10 states with the lowest total state and local tax burdens saw an average poverty reduction of 13 percent - two times better than the national average. The 10 highest-tax states, meanwhile, suffered an average increase in poverty of 3 percent. Some high-tax states, such as California, Hawaii, and New York, suffered catastrophic increases in poverty. As California began to reject the low-tax legacy of the Reagan governorship, the state's poverty rate jumped 13 percent in the 1990s.
Why? Growth:
When a state has a low tax burden, economic growth is stronger. Economic growth delivers more job creation and higher per capita and median family incomes. Economic growth is a powerful means to pull people out of poverty. Although some policymakers justify high taxes for the sake of the poor, the data show that higher taxes and related spending do little to reduce poverty rates. Rather, states with healthy economic climates have much more success in lifting people out of poverty.
The original source is a study from the Goldwater Institute: "How to Win the War on Poverty: An Analysis of State Poverty Trends."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

House rebukes Jim McDermott

My congressman has been rebuked by the US House or Representatives. In 1996 he received illegally recorded tapes of a cell-phone conversation by Newt Gingrich. The people who recorded the conversation plead guilty to wire tapping or something similar. Janel Reno never saw an infraction by a Clinton supporter and let McDermott off. However Congressman John Boehner sued McDermott and won and won on appeal, including the Supreme Court telling the courts to have a trial. The ethics committee didn't have the stomach to get the whole House of 435 members to censure him. There was grounds to, because the standard is "a member must behave 'in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.'" He certainly did that. Anyone who paid attention saw that he lied. He told the New York Times on television that he knew nothing about the tapes that the New York Times received. The House ethics committee did what they could. Seattle Times -
WASHINGTON — In an end-of-year effort to wipe longstanding cases off its agenda, the House ethics committee on Monday rebuked U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott for leaking an illegally taped phone call between Republican congressmen a decade ago. The committee's carefully worded report said that McDermott, D-Seattle, did not violate congressional rules of conduct, which state that a member must behave "in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives." However, the 25-page report said McDermott's actions were "inconsistent with the spirit of the applicable rules and represented a failure on his part to meet his obligations" as the ranking member of the ethics committee at the time. "Representative McDermott's secretive disclosures to the news media ... risked undermining the ethics process," the report said.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cow emissions worse than car emissions

We can lay off the population of the US who drive. Cars are not the biggest problem. Cows? Yes, cows. The Independent (UK): Meet the world's top destroyer of the environment. It is not the car, or the plane,or even George Bush: it is the cow. A United Nations report has identified the world's rapidly growing herds of cattle as the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife. And they are blamed for a host of other environmental crimes, from acid rain to the introduction of alien species, from producing deserts to creating dead zones in the oceans, from poisoning rivers and drinking water to destroying coral reefs. The 400-page report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, entitled Livestock's Long Shadow, also surveys the damage done by sheep, chickens, pigs and goats. But in almost every case, the world's 1.5 billion cattle are most to blame. Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together. Burning fuel to produce fertiliser to grow feed, to produce meat and to transport it - and clearing vegetation for grazing - produces 9 per cent of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. And their wind and manure emit more than one third of emissions of another, methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide. Livestock also produces more than 100 other polluting gases, including more than two-thirds of the world's emissions of ammonia, one of the main causes of acid rain. Ranching, the report adds, is "the major driver of deforestation" worldwide, and overgrazing is turning a fifth of all pastures and ranges into desert.Cows also soak up vast amounts of water: it takes a staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk. Wastes from feedlots and fertilisers used to grow their feed overnourish water, causing weeds to choke all other life. And the pesticides, antibiotics and hormones used to treat them get into drinking water and endanger human health. The pollution washes down to the sea, killing coral reefs and creating "dead zones" devoid of life. One is up to 21,000sqkm, in the Gulf of Mexico, where much of the waste from US beef production is carried down the Mississippi. The report concludes that, unless drastic changes are made, the massive damage done by livestock will more than double by 2050, as demand for meat increases. [end quote]

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Rabbi gets Christmas trees removed at SeaTac airport

A rabbit threatened to sue the Port of Seattle, which owns the Seattle-Tacoma airport if he couldn't display an 8-foot menorah. So the Port trashed the trees on December 9. Now he is afraid that the Jewish committee will be viewed as the Grinch. Right. Maybe not the community, but its leaders like Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky. I do blame him for stopping the public recognition of Christmas, as has been done in this country since the first settlement in 1607 = 399 years. KING 5 News reports in a story titled "Rabbi appalled by airport's removal of Christmas tree" He sued, but it's not his fault. "He's appalled." Right. On the other hand I know some public Jews who support the public celebration of Christian holidays. Michael Medved who has a national talk-radio program from Seattle. Rabbi Daniel Lappin of Mercer Island, who heads Toward Tradition. Dennis Prager who has a national talk-radio show from Los Angeles. These are three of the smartest, most articulate people I have ever encountered. All three speak out that Jews have nothing to fear from practicing Christians. The most Christian nations have been and are the best places for Jews to live.

Reduce CO2 - Nuclear power plant planned

The world-wide concern about global warming has led to the widely accepted the solution of decreasing the emissions of "greenhouse gases" including CO2 and methane. How can we do this? Technical solutions will be coming, but are not yet here. Stopping the economic growth of the US seems popular with Europe. But they are not stopping their own, which will reduce these greenhouse gases. Nuclear power does not emit CO2 or methane. The plants are very cheap to run, once they are built. The waste has to be locked up for the long decomposition process. So let's make more use of it. France gets well over 50% of their electricity from nuclear. A plant is under consideration in Idaho. KBCI TV in Boise, Idaho reports:
A Nevada-based company is planning to build a nuclear power plant outside of Bruneau, Idaho. In a letter of intent, Alternate Energy Holdings announced their plans to have a plant up a running by 2008. In a telephone interview, Alternate Energy Holdings President and CEO Donald L Gillispie told CBS 2 News the plant would produce enough energy to power several cities the size of Boise. Gillispie says it would look like a big air conditioner, the tallest part would be no more than 100 ft high, and it would blend into Bruneau's landscape. Gilleispie estimates it would employ about 500 people.
I support it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Travel by train??

Travel veteran Will Allen III risked a ride on Amtrak's Empire Builder train from Seattle to Minneapolis - and had a great experience. At his blog Allen on travel:
... AND the Empire Builder has the best service. Thanks to years of cutbacks and underfunding, Amtrak has gone to prepared boxed meals on most of its long distance trains--but not on the Empire Builder. It still has a full service, cook-to-order diner that prepares three hot meals a day. On our train the staff was friendly, efficient, helpful, and downright nice. The service was fast and excellent, and the meals were good to very good.
The skiers in Seattle used to talk about taking the train to Whitefish, Montana to ski at Big Mountain. But few ever did it. It's worth a try.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hurricanes, Algore?

Not one hurricane hit the United States this year. Remember how the 2005 hurricane season proved that global warming was hurting us? Does 2006 prove that the globe is getting colder? Tell us, Albert Gore, Jr., please. Yahoo News/Associated Press:
MIAMI - The mild 2006 Atlantic hurricane season draws to a close Thursday without a single hurricane striking the United States — a stark contrast to the record-breaking 2005 season that killed more than 1,500 people and left thousands homeless along the Gulf Coast. Nine named storms and five hurricanes formed this season, and just two of the hurricanes were considered major. That is considered a near-normal season — and well short of the rough season government scientists had forecast.