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Friday, September 02, 2005

NYT Attacked Flood-Control Project

Showing that no one expected a catastrophe like Katrina, as the NYT employs 20-20 hindsight today, we are reminded of their words from last April (thanks to EURota for the Lexis search):

13 April 2005

Anyone who cares about responsible budgeting and the health of America's rivers and wetlands should pay attention to a bill now before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The bill would shovel $17 billion at the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and other water-related projects -- this at a time when President Bush is asking for major cuts in Medicaid and other important domestic programs.

Among these projects is a $2.7 billion boondoggle on the Mississippi River that has twice flunked inspection by the National Academy of Sciences. The Government Accountability Office and other watchdogs accuse the corps of routinely inflating the economic benefits of its projects. And environmentalists blame it for turning free-flowing rivers into lifeless canals and destroying millions of acres of wetlands -- usually in the name of flood control and navigation but mostly to satisfy Congress's appetite for pork.

This is a bad piece of legislation.

Hurricane Activity Down in U.S. Over Last 3 Decades

Blogger EURota carries the data from NOAA showing the history on hurricanes and their severity since 1851.

Actually, for category 3-5 hurricanes recorded in the U.S., there were 6 in the 1851-1860 decade, 8 in the 1891-1900 decade, 10 in the 1941-1950 decade, 6 in the 1961-1970 decade and 5 in the 1991-2000 decade. The average has been 6 per decade since 1851.

Regarding all hurricanes, while the decade average has been 17.5 since 1851, with more than 20 hurricanes averaged from 1871-1950, since 1961 the average is below 15 per decade.

These are the facts.

Katrina: Someone Saw The Problem 6 Weeks Ago

Don Luskin links to this article by Linda Seebach from the Rocky Mountain News on July 16. It is a primer on the problem that New Orleans faced and a proposed solution (now by the board). She wrote:

Louisiana is washing away into the Gulf of Mexico. From 1932 to 2000, the state lost 1,900 square miles, mostly wetlands, to open water. Without intervention, it could lose another 900 square miles by 2050...

The chief danger to New Orleans is a storm surge. Wetlands attenuate the height of a surge, at a rate of about one foot for three miles. But in the Barataria Basin south of the city, 15 miles of marsh have deteriorated, according to the United States Geological Service. A slow-moving Category 5 hurricane could produce a 19- to 21-foot storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain, higher than the levees that protect the city. New Orleans could find itself under 20-25 feet of water. And because much of the city is below Mississippi River level, you can't just drain the water out, either...

Basically, the Mississippi River was separated from the land along its banks. After the Great Flood of 1927, levees were built along the river so it wouldn't overflow its banks during high water. The river basin drains 41 percent of the continental United States, as well as bits of Canada, and from time immemorial, the river has been carrying bits of Montana and Pennsylvania downstream and dropping them on its delta to make more Louisiana. From time to time, the river would change course and start a new delta while the old one began to erode away.

The cure would "work with nature":

One technique is to create a small back channel from the river to nearby wetland areas, providing both freshwater and sediment to help them recover. As a bonus, the material dredged from the channel can be used to build land elsewhere. Material dredged from navigational channels is also a resource rather than a nuisance. Small enclosed platforms filled with dirt quickly revegetate with marsh grasses.

How much will it cost? The smaller demonstration projects being done or considered now will come to about $2 billion, in a mixture of federal and state funds. By 2050, the goal is to restore about 500,000 acres.


As Luskin advises the cause of deterioration was (it's flood abatement, not over-development).

And we always get to the economist's statement that in a world of scarcity, what costs are expended in what areas. The choices of politicians are usually made to placate some special interest. Clearly per Seebach, $2 billion over a long period of time amounts to a pittance compared to the current roughly $30 billion of estimated loss.

Katrina and Bush Bashers

Reading an email diatribe (and we don't get enough of them these days) blaming Bush for the Katrina event (based upon a Sidney Blumenthal article?), I wrote the following (or just read James Glassman's column in TCS):

1. Place the responsibility for local issues like protecting the citizens from levee breaks, infrastructure integrity and post-disaster actions with the local communities. To help, we cut federal taxes by 50%, then the City of New Orleans like all other municipalities can pay for what they need because they decide what they need.

2. Getting bread from Washington with all of the interests (state, city and special) clamoring for the hand-outs results in misallocation. Perhaps more private enterprise is better than political bureaucracy.

3. What did the New Orleans budget look like over the past 30 years? I bet they could have shored up the "dikes" quite nicely by now.

4. What would Kyoto have done to stop this event? The world began yesterday and this is the first severe storm of its kind in history.

5. I wonder if any responsibility goes to the prior administration. And the one before that and then the prior one as well.

Bomb Snuffers

You have the Harry Smiths and then you've got guys like this (from Michael Fumento).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

SUVs and Guns

I liked this quote from Shannon Love as carried on chicagoboyz:

People in the current disaster zone, especially those in rural areas, who have an SUV and a gun are much better off than those that don't.

The SUVs have higher clearance from floods and can handle unpaved terrain. Guns dissuade looters. Nuff said.

The French Investigate Armstrong

Could not resist posting this one:

PARIS, France -- Lance Armstrong's record setting seventh Tour de France victory, along with his entire Tour de France legacy, may be tarnished by what could turn out to be one of the greatest sports scandals of all time.

Armstrong is being quizzed by French police after three banned substances were found in his South France hotel room while on vacation after winning the 2005 Tour de France. The three substances found were toothpaste, deodorant, and soap which have been banned by French authorities for over 75 years.

Armstrong's girlfriend, American rocker Sheryl Crowe, is quoted as saying "We use them every day in America, so we naturally thought they'd be ok throughout Europe."

Along with these three banned substances, French authorities also physically searched Armstrong and found several other interesting items that they had never seen before, including a backbone and a testicle.

Katrina Blogs Provide Info

Peggy Noonan's WSJ column on Katrina is a good over-view of the political-media-individual issues. She links us to the Times-Picayune blog that has timely articles on up-to-the-minute developments in the Gulf.

Noonan on looters:

People with no food and water who are walking into supermarkets and taking food and water off the shelves are not criminal, they are sane. They are not looters, they are people who are attempting to survive; they are taking the basics of survival off shelves in stores where there isn't even anyone at the cash register.

Looters are not looking to survive; they're looking to take advantage of the weakness of others. They are predators. They're taking not what they need but what they want.

The Times-Picayune blog writes about how the people living in the Superdome are being transported to the Astrodome in Houston. A number of buses claiming to be part of the Superdome caravan were actually not from that group. Officials allowed them in anyway as their condition showed they needed help. The Astrodome was to be reserved for more than 20,000 people fleeing dangerous and filthy conditions in the Superdome. How many it will ultimately hold as more "renegade buses" come with people seeking refuge remains to be seen.

There will be stories of good deeds and bad. We should hold off the carping commenst and attitudes until next week sometime?

Harry Smith Is Angry At The Government

I just heard Harry Smith of CBS describe the rescue help due from the government as "A day late and a dollar short". He played people's comments that police did not stop when they attempted to flagged them down for help. Does Smith think that the police were doing nothing in the immediate days after Monday's storm? There have been deaths that could have been averted with some action. But this was inevitable given the sheer size of this incredible storm.

Hey, Harry! Why don't you put down the goddamned microphone and do something, you carping punk!

Give Them Help and Get Out Of The Way

The serious crisis throughout the Gulf area hit by Katrina shows people in need of water, food and shelter. Their situation gets more difficult with every passing day. We hope medical, physical and security assistance gets there soon. The devastating pictures shows destruction of an incredible scale.

And, no doubt people are going through psychological trauma. And that opens the door to the quacks.

Sally Satel and Christina Hoff Sommers discusses the quackery of the shrinks as they descended upon NYC after 9-11 in Reason On Line. Predicting that 2 million NYers would need counselling (or one in four NYers), the mental health industry revved in high gear.

The history of "therapism" (Satel and Sommers defines this as "a worldview that valorizes openness and emotional self-absorption; it assumes that vulnerability, rather than strength, characterizes the American psyche, and that a diffident, anguished, and emotionally apprehensive public requires a vast array of therapists, self-esteem educators, grief counselors, workshoppers, healers, and traumatologists to lead it through the trials of everyday life.") began in Oklahoma City in 1995 and like Greatful Dead groupies follow disasters holding group-therapies and psychological debriefings.

Like in all disasters, mental trauma for victims is not uncommon. But I see the enforced dwelling on the psychic pain as debilitative. The British of WWII survived and moved on. Jews who survived the Holocaust became productive citizens wherever they emigrated. I fear that much of the psychic harm of slavery has been regenerated by the Sharptons over the past 5 decades to produce greater harm upon blacks than likely (read Thomas Sowell on the economic strides of blacks until the Great Society instituted in the 60s).

Concludes Satel and Sommers:

Consider what we know about human response to crisis. Under threat, citizens are ravenous for information and require practical resources. They need a social scaffolding in the form of civic order and some minimal infrastructure to support the bedrock institutions and relationships—families, communities, and houses of worship—that have always served them in times of uncertainty and immense sorrow.

One of the lessons of 9/11 is that therapists must find a balance between offering their services and promoting them too eagerly, between letting people know help is available and suggesting that they need help when they do not. On September 11 the helpers toiled in good faith, powered by genuine concern. But they also endorsed one of the mistaken tenets of therapism: that people are fragile. In their zeal to help, they underestimated our natural fortitude.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rock and Roll Music Comparisons

This was in the Amazon review section for the Stone Temple Pilots. Just some kid opining on music but worth my time:

The equivalent of 90's artists to classic rock artists

Pearl Jam = Led Zeppelin
Soundgarden = Black Sabbath
Radiohead = Pink Floyd
Alice in Chains = the Doors
the Smashing Pumpkins = the Beach Boys
Tool = The Velvet Underground
Nirvana = the Jimi Hendrix experience (in terms of impact, yea, although the guitar playing was obviously much different)
And even though the White Stripes came later, the White Stripes would = the Who
And STP?
Stone Temple Pilots = The Monkees one star band. one star album.
If you can skip the Monkees while searching for great 60's music, you can skip STP while searching for great 90's music...

My Opinion?

Pearl Jam is great but no Zep.
I'll accept the Sound Garden-Sabbath comparison and frankly like SG more.
Don't know Radiohead (though a cool name) but how could they be equal to Floyd?
The Alice-Doors comparison is interesting and I do not disagree on some level. Musically very different but the mood is similar. Actually, Alice is no slouch.
Pumpkins and Beach Boys- not a fan of either but see BB as historically important and saw them twice live and they were great!!!!!!
Tool and Velvet Underground-whatever.
Nirvana and Hendrix- I see it as reasonable in their ground-breaking music and short life exceeded by their influence.
The Stripes and the Who. I've heard something like that but doubt the Stripes measure up in influence and musicality.
The last one. Saw STP and they were very good live. I like much of their music but they are very much copycats. And I hate picking on Mickey Dolenz and Company given their place in my heart. we used to watch their show on Saturdays and play drums on basketballs along with Mickey. I was little in the 60's so they do matter. And their songs were written by pros.

Bosox Serve Somebody

Allen Gorin provides this link to a group of "celebrities" who do care: Boston Red Sox. Reports the Globe:

As the Sunday baseball crowd streamed into the park less than an hour before the defending world champions played their 128th game of the season, a dozen members of the Red Sox -- the largest group of evangelical Christians on any team in Major League Baseball -- joined an equal number of coaches and staffers in sharing a bond of faith that is fast becoming the stuff of national renown among religious figures in sports.

Many people will tell you religion is solely personal and should not be overtly practiced in public. However, they are very wrong. Much of religion's value and strength is the community values it expresses.

Trot Nixon, Mike Timlin, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Curt Schilling, Doug Mirabelli, Bill Mueller, Matt Clement, John Olerud, Mike Myers, Tony Graffanino, Chad Bradford: Each Sox player considers himself an evangelical Christian who believes in the sacred authority of the Bible and the promise of Jesus Christ as his savior.

''In terms of coming to Bible study and chapel, this team has more guys involved than any team I've ever been with," said Olerud, who has played for five teams over 17 seasons in the majors.

No doubt their thoughts and prayers were directed towards the safety of people in harm's way in the Gulf. I am not sure what is wrong with that. Can anyone explain?

More On Katrina

Mike Taylor asks:

Can anyone tell me the difference between these two events?

Do you recall that the Left in the country were outraged, outraged! that “Bush allowed Baghdad to be looted while the US Armed Forces stood by and watched!”. Are we going to hear from the Left this time when the looting is taking place in New Orleans?

Perhaps, the Armed Forces had better things to do in Bhagdad than prevent theft, just as FEMA has better things to do in New Orleans. Like save lives rather than property.

The Stars Have Been Silent About Katrina

Contributor Wayne Alder wonders:

Have they fallen from the sky? It would appear so. After the Asian tsunami Hollywood stars pushed to be at the front of the line to lecture Americans that they should donate money to these citizens of others nations. (Whether the vast majority of themselves donated is a debatable point). As I looked into the black night that is television over the last few days I don't see so much as a flicker of Cameron Diaz or Ben Affleck or the other luminaries that make up entertainment glitterati. Perhaps it is because they believe these victims of this disaster have a fatal flaw that makes them somehow less deserving in their bright and shining eyes: they are American.

Adds Anonymous:

Michael Moore has been too busy scripting Cindy Sheehan to write anything for Affleck, Diaz, Sheen, et al. And, the most Reverend Jesse—who I recently met on a flight to Chicago from LaGuardia, is too busy hugging, kissing and licking Chavez, the Venezuelan “Mafioso.” Until the Michael Moore camp can pin the cause of the New Orleans debacle upon the President and this administration, they will remain scurrying for cover like the vermin and rats of the French Quarter. I imagine we will learn shortly that the cause of Katrina is from global warming policies and the rain forest deforestation; instead of the science of the cycles of the oceanic waters. While addictive as it is to tune in to what is happening in the Gulf, those shoppers carrying TVs and appliances past the check out lines make a case for sending in Eighth Marines.

As reported on the blog of Lady Huffington (linked by Drudge) Robert Kennedy Jr. has accused the governor of Mississippi of causing this hurricane. Writes RFK Jr., we cannot overlook:

the central role that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour played in derailing the Kyoto Protocol and kiboshing President Bush’s iron-clad campaign promise to regulate CO2.

Well, the science is clear. This month, a study published in the journal Nature by a renowned MIT climatologist linked the increasing prevalence of destructive hurricanes to human-induced global warming.Now we are all learning what it’s like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and--now--Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.

He should be on The Today Show and prominently on tonight's MSM broadcasts making teh same accusations.

Iraq and 1776 Connection

Andrew "Skip" March writes:

I recently finished "1776" by David McCullough and hope that everyone will take the opportunity to read it. I was struck by a number of lessons that this story provides us.
Mr. McCullough provided further insight into the founding fathers and leaders of the time in a recent interview. He pointed out that those individuals were students of the classical philosophers and historians for whom duty, honor, perseverance in the pursuit of a greater good were central. The story of "1776" exemplifies how closely these men and women took those lessons to heart.

To Mr. Phenes' fine piece on the Iraqi Constitution, the events and lessons of 1776 and of 1789 and the seven years leading up to that will help us to realize how profoundly historic the recent events and the lessons of Iraq and the Middle East are now. After reading "1776" I was going to comment on how important it is to see the greater good through the darkest hours. But upon further reflection I realized I was becoming a victim of the reported news coming out of Iraq. These hours and days are not dark, they are momentous. Not without struggles, differences and even bloodshed. But the Iraqi's know as did the military and political leaders in 1776, that giving up and turning back would be disastrous for their own lives and that of their fellow countrymen.

Having differences and disagreements is part of the human condition. How and if we move forward with them is what sets one country, culture, society apart form another

Skip

The Iraqi Constitution: Something For Everyone To Love, Hate And Admire

The draft of the Iraqi Constitution (from the Associated Press) has a little something for everyone. For those fearful of an Islamic republic rivaling Iran’s mullahcracy, this constitution overtly embraces Islam as the state religion. For those who prefer libertarian freedoms, especially in a place making a fresh start, this constitution is bound to be a disappointment with state control and entitlements most liberals in America would adopt. For civil libertarians, there are sections that a despot could use to tyrannize a country without abrogation of any of the words.

But for those of us who saw Iraq as a danger to the United States and a human rights disaster to Iraqis under Saddam, are optimistic about Iraq’s future and realistic about what can be accomplished, the document has much to be very excited about. The document does something too many Americans cannot do-face the fact of terrorism and denounce it emphatically. These people have been trying to adjust to normal lives. It is the terrorists that stand in their way.
The constitution mixes clear religious goals with secular aspirations in order to “write down this permanent constitution from the high values and ideals of the heavenly messages and the developments of science and human civilization, and to adhere to this constitution”.

The Preamble makes an emotional start by refreshing everyone’s memory about the spiritual and intellectual background of Mesopotamia as well as the horrific life under Saddam’s rule (get that Michael Moore). Without mentioning Saddam or the United States by name, we note the common suffering by all Iraqis:

“[R]ecalling the agonies of the national oppression in the massacres of Halabja, Barzan, Anfal and against the Faili Kurds; inspired by the tragedies of the Turkomen in Bashir and the suffering of the people of the western region, whom the terrorists and their allies sought to take hostage and prevent from participating in the elections and the establishment of a society of peace and brotherhood and cooperation so we can create a new Iraq, Iraq of the future, without sectarianism, racial strife, regionalism, discrimination or isolation.”

Yes, this is an Islamic country. Article I is clear on this:

“Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation:
(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.
(b) No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy.
(c) No law can be passed that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution.”

However, beyond the rhetoric the document seeks to ensure liberties per Article II-Rights and Freedoms. Iraqis will enjoy “equal opportunity”, “right to life and security and freedom” and most importantly:

“Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex, ethnicity, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief, opinion or social or economic status.”

Courts will be open and the laws will dictate people’s rights and punishments. Torture is eliminated officially as a sanctioned method of interrogation and imprisonment. There is freedom to practice any religion.

Social conservatives will love the following:

“The family is the foundation of society and the state should preserve its (the family's) existence and ethical and religious value.”

There is too much socialism institutionalized in this constitution. Besides the national sharing of wealth from oil, which I understand will allow a sense of common interest and needed income among all Iraqis, there are the following comments that do not square with a free market:

“An Iraqi has the right to ownership anywhere in Iraq and no one else has the right to own real estate except what is exempted by law”. (my emphasis)

“Low-income people should be exempted from taxes in a way that guarantees maintaining the minimum level necessary for a living.”

“The state guarantees social and health insurance… and works to protect them from illiteracy, fear and poverty and provides them with housing and the means to rehabilitate and take care of them.”

“The state guarantees protection and preservation of the environment and biological diversity.”

When the U.S. emerged from our Civil War bloodbath, the Radical Republican’s did not show any of this empathy towards their political enemies. Here, the slaves are the drafters of the constitution. While the Baathist Party is no more (“Entities or trends that advocate, instigate, justify or propagate racism, terrorism, ``takfir'' (declaring someone an infidel), sectarian cleansing, are banned, especially the Saddamist Baath Party in Iraq and its symbols, under any name. It will be not be allowed to be part of the multilateral political system in Iraq, which should be defined according to the law.”), who can blame them for outlawing the organization that enslaved, robbed, starved and tortured the country for 30 years?

There is something for everyone to love and hate regardless of your political persuasion. I recognize this is a draft and a translation. We must all realize where these brave people have been for the past 30 years. That people rising from Saddam’s torture chamber provides such magnanimous liberties to all, including the formerly-favored Sunnis, is a testament to democracy’s blessings.

Wanniski on Krugman

This is Wanniski on Krugman 9 years ago in Mother Jones. It applies today to Krugman and it will apply in 10 years. Save it:

Paul Krugman has had nothing much to say about political economy for the last several years other than the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer. He has written this story hundreds of times, in newspapers, magazines, and books. Unsuspecting editors continue to pay him for plagiarizing his own material. Because he appears in such illustrious publications as the New York Times Magazine and Foreign Affairs, the editors of Mother Jones and no doubt the Ladies' Home Journal are thrilled to see his manuscripts flow over the transom, with yet another exciting exposé about how the rich are getting richer faster than the poor are getting richer. This is a chain letter he writes to himself, his very own pyramid club, the most elaborate Ponzi scheme in American journalism...

Krugman's childish attempts at economic analysis are able to fool Mother Jones' editors only because you have nobody on the staff who is competent to assess his scribbles. Do any of you know the difference between income and wealth?

I know the answer. They do not understand the difference. I have had that conversation before with Krugman-followers. They also equate the budget deficit with low tax rates rather than government spending exceeding revenue. They equate private retirement accounts with gambling while politician spending and worket to retiree demographics creating the government fund's insolvency. They equate prices of goods as a conspiracy of sellers rather than the result of supply and demand. They fear low cost imports harm us domestically while it is comparative advantage pushing low end industry to poorer countries so we can work at higher paying jobs and spend less at the department store. And on and on in economic foolishness.

Thanks to Reason for the link.

Quit Complaining: Build Refineries and Drill Alaska

The U.S. is the world's 3rd largest oil producer, just behind Saudi Arabia at 10.4 million barrels a day and Russia at 9.4 million barrels a day. We come in with 8.7 million barrels a day. Our capacity is curtailed by environmentalist policy that shuts off the ANWR opil reserve and does not allow construction of oil refineries (last one was built 30 years ago in the U.S.).

Economist Walter Williams supplied those numbers and in a column today wonders whether the competitors in OPEC are money contributors to those environmentalist groups. Ity is a sure way to impose a monopoly and increase profits when a competitor has its hands tied behind its back.

What are we saving the oil for exactly? There is ample supply available and its environmental impact is more beneficial than the fuels it replaced. Are we planning on creating a petroleum museum when the its replacement becomes used in our heating and transportation needs. We can put all that conserved oil next to the coal and felled trees exhibits.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Jude Wanniski Dead At 67

I am sorry to report that the brilliant thinker and writer Jude Wanniski is dead at 67. I have carried a significant quote from his website on the Kelo decision and other matters. I always found his economic essays readable (to this dense layman) and his analyses logical. Wanniski was a disciple of supply-side economists Robert Mundell and Arthur Laffer.

From Townhall:

As an associate editor of The Wall Street Journal from 1972 to 1978, Jude Wanniski repopularized the classical theories of supply-side economics. His book, The Way The World Works, became a foundation of the global economic transformation launched by the Reagan Administration.

Wanniski's commentary on Lincoln from a column he wrote 3 years ago is worth republishing here as we consider the great democratic undertaking in Iraq:

Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it, our people have already settled - the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains - its successful maintenance against a formidable attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world, that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion - that ballots are the rightful, and peaceful, successors of bullets, and that when ballots have fairly, and constitutionality, decided, there can be no successful appeal, except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace: teaching men that what they cannot take by election, neither can they take it by a war- teaching all, the folly of being the beginners of war.

Lincoln`s primary purpose throughout the war was to save the Union. But this was incidental to a far more important objective: for as he saw the issue in its broader aspects, upon the fate of the Union hung the fate of world democracy . He must not allow the Southern people to dissever the nation or to renounce the philosophy of human freedom and equality for the false concept of a master race.

The Gas Crisis Needs Immediate Action

Is there any doubt that if there were a President Kerry running things we would have a solution for this expensive gas crisis we are experiencing? No, I am not suggesting he'd nationalize the oil industry like in France or ration it like when he was in Cambodia. I figure that by now there would be a 2% surtax on incomes over $100,000 to ensure that gas cost no more than $1 per gallon. Of course, when the crisis abated, the tax would remain to pay for education, the environment, PBS or more bridges in West Virginia.

Am I off on this one?

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Newest Arrival: Japanese Anti-Semitism

Blogger Riding Sun describes a kids show on Japanese TV explaining the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The host used dolls and maps to "explain" the background. The host said:

The Jews still encountered discrimination all over world, so they thought, "Hey, if we had our own country, we could be safe." So they came back to the area and pushed some of the Arabs out."

In a typical "cycle of violence" shorthand, the host showed warring soldier dolls facing off. As the blogger opined:

It would have been more accurate if it had shown the Palestinians attacking nightclubs and pizza parlors, not Israeli soldiers and tanks.

The security wall looked like something from Berlin. This should help Japanese children develop anti-Semitism in a place where it does not exist. No better way to join the world community.

Canadians Are Bitching Again

The essay by Joseph Nocera touting free trade and lambasting protectionism was carried in the Saturday Business section of the NYT!

Nocera is vacationing with wealthy Canadian businessmen who have another complaint against the U.S. The U.S. has contravened NAFTA in collecting $5 billion in tariffs over the last five years from Canada on softwood lumber imports. The U.S. claims that the lumber industry is unfairly subsidized by the Canadian government. However, the North American Free Trade Agreement arbitrators have consistently ruled in Canada's favor.

First, to see an NYT article supportive of free trade and against government subsidies is one to bronze for its rarity. Only because there is an anti-American slant did it appear at all.

Second, the U.S. position is wrong and I question GW's claimed adherance to free market principles when he does things like this. Mr. President, you must walk the walk. Who cares if we purchase lumber for our construction needs at below cost while Canadians pay the difference? Frenchy, thanks for the discount. Go Canadiens!!!

Last, the Canadians griping about the U.S. is particularly tiring when you consider that these businessmen, all tied into the Canadian national health system, run to the U.S. for all their life-sustaining operations. Let's recognize that Canadians of any means rely on the unrivaled U.S. free(r) market medical industry because their own system cannot provide healthcare to them. (Canada meanwhile undermines our system when they resell drugs back to Americans over the internet).

Canadians are correct on the lumber tariff issue but they should ditch the attitude when their own system is a bloody mess.

Hitchens Refutes The Bush-lied Crowd Again

Christopher Hitchens in an articulate refutation of the Bush-lied crowd:

Childishness is one thing--those of us who grew up on this wonderful Edwardian author [Saki]were always happy to see the grown-ups and governesses discomfited. But puerility in adults is quite another thing, and considerably less charming. "You said there were WMDs in Iraq and that Saddam had friends in al Qaeda. . . . Blah, blah, pants on fire." I have had many opportunities to tire of this mantra. It takes ten seconds to intone the said mantra. It would take me, on my most eloquent C-SPAN day, at the very least five minutes to say that Abdul Rahman Yasin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center attack in 1993, subsequently sought and found refuge in Baghdad; that Dr. Mahdi Obeidi, Saddam's senior physicist, was able to lead American soldiers to nuclear centrifuge parts and a blueprint for a complete centrifuge (the crown jewel of nuclear physics) buried on the orders of Qusay Hussein; that Saddam's agents were in Damascus as late as February 2003, negotiating to purchase missiles off the shelf from North Korea; or that Rolf Ekeus, the great Swedish socialist who founded the inspection process in Iraq after 1991, has told me for the record that he was offered a $2 million bribe in a face-to-face meeting with Tariq Aziz. And these eye-catching examples would by no means exhaust my repertoire, or empty my quiver. Yes, it must be admitted that Bush and Blair made a hash of a good case, largely because they preferred to scare people rather than enlighten them or reason with them. Still, the only real strategy of deception has come from those who believe, or pretend, that Saddam Hussein was no problem.

The Money Must Go To America- There Is No Other Place

Political partisans can say this and that and their fans swoon while their facts, conclusions and predictions are contradicted by reality. Capitalist investors cannot treat facts as faciley. An investor who gives in to his own politics at the expense of his clients loses a lot of money and gets sued. Unlike politicians and pundits, banks and investment houses look coldly at the facts and invest accordingly. Otherwise, you end up looking like the EU or CBS News.

Today a number of sources are providing us with the investment assessment of Jacques-Henri David, President of the Deutsche Bank Group in France. David gives Europe a thumbs down and the U.S. a big thumbs up.

In 2020, the United States will remain the world superpower, with a total GNP of approximately $17 trillion to $18 trillion. Thanks to its dynamic demographics (1% annual population growth), a productivity and a competitiveness amongst the best in the world (currently second in the world and far out in front of Germany (13th) or France (26th) according to statistics from the World Economic Forum), and thanks also to its constant drive to create and innovate, and with flexibility due to the mobility of its labor force, the United States will maintain a clear advantage over China and India and will widen the gap with Europe. With average per capita salaries of approximately $55,000, the income of the average American in 2020 will be 1.5 to 2 times greater than that of a European; five times higher than that of a Chinese and nine times more than that of an Indian (approximately $6,000 per capita).

As for Europe, David nicely says that their demographics do not support growth. With everyone retired or, for those with jobs, semi-retired, there just aren't enough workers to pick up the social tab or work their way into the economic World Series. I liken Europe to being the small market KC Royals with George Brett, Amos Otis and John Mayberry still on the roster. At 55, those guys cannot compete with today's Yankees and the Red Sox.

David has good words for the U.S.:

There is, first of all, some good news: the resilience and performance of the United States. Indeed, a major concern about economic and financial conditions today are ballooning American deficits and fear that the monetary system will implode as the fall of the dollar accelerates, which would lead to a grave global crises.

Actually, because the United States will remain the world’s superpower for the next two decades, the dollar still has some beautiful days ahead of it, remaining the key international reserve currency, so American budget deficits should remain under control, can be financed, which should avert a major international crisis.

If you have some money left after the government has taken its unfair share, this banker is saying "Buy American". No rhetoric, maam. Just the facts.

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