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Friday, December 09, 2005

Kerry: The Long Run from Iraq

I like Jim Taranto's suggestion on WSJ that Bush buy TV time to play JF Kerry speeches for the American public to see what they could have had as president. Kerry is reported to have said in a speech yesterday, per attendee Ira Stoll of the NY Sun:

He said that holding detainees "indefinitely in a legal no-man's land" was eroding America's "moral authority" in the war on terror. He called for "an international order of mutual respect and cooperation," a "global consensus." ...

In the question and answer session, Mr. Kerry went further, declaring himself "very optimistic" about the prospect of negotiation with Iran, predicting that China is going to be "the preeminent economy of this century," and warning that Greenland's ice shelf is melting, with "devastating consequences" for New York, Boston, and Florida.

Of course, Hillary can also employ this strategy of showing John Kerry speeches to guarantee her nomination.

Here are some snippets from Kerry's speech to the Council of Foreign Affairs:

In the long run -- and we're in this for the long run --the war on terror cannot be won without the successful transformation of the Greater Middle East, and especially its Arab core.

And our strategy must do what it takes to increase the internal demand for change in that region.

That means we are in a war of ideas and ideologies--but ultimately a war that must be fought and won within the Islamic world.

That means we have a huge stake in finding partners in the Arab world who are willing not only to support the transformation of the Middle East, but to reestablish the broad and unchallenged moral authority needed to isolate and defeat terrorists.

And ultimately, that means we must liberate ourselves and the Middle East itself from the tyranny of dependence on petroleum, which has frustrated every impulse towards modernization of the region, while giving its regimes the resources to hold onto power.

Somehow we are going to transform the Middle East without military and without trading with it. Absent purchasing their oil, what trade will there be with the region. Absent trade, what peaceful discussions can there be? Does he mean, our providing eternal foreign aid? Does that make Muslim countries self-sufficient? Or does he seek to impoverish the region in order to win over their hearts and minds?

Now, he is in the war on terror "for the long run". That is the long cut and run from Iraq since he voted for the war. I am sure the war if ideas will be stronger after the Muslims see us turn tail.

Study Economics Or Play The Fool

For us budding economists and/or educated citizens, Alan Reynolds provides his suggested readings in economics. I have read 3 of the 20 or so books on his list (Sowell's "Basic Economics", Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson" and Friedman's "Free To Choose"). No mathematics required. Just an open-mind.

You can begin to understand the waste of resources and human potential from government programs, tax policies, labor policies and entitlements.

And by beginning the study of economics you avoid making comments like this:

"The federal government will be bankrupt in less than ten years- be interesting to see where we go from there."

The writer of this comment cannot be correct because the federal government can always print more money.

However, there is a truth of sorts in the message in that the government's successive deficits can stunt the long-term growth for the economy. I would like to see Congress make massive cuts in their spending programs- energy, transportation, entitlements, education, Katrina and many others.

Economics is trade-offs. For now, I'll belatedly accept the current level of growth that reduces the effect of the deficit rather than the low growth (with smaller deficits) of the socialist powerhouses in Europe.

Responds Mike Taylor, Skip March and Joe Kenner:


... that deficits have two causes: 1. not enough tax revenues and 2. too much spending.

"Can we agree to stop spending on pork barrel projects, prescription drug giveaways, unnecessary projects/programs...?"

Usually, liberals do not even acknowledge that spending contributes to the deficit. So you may just have to shake your head and walk away.

I remember very clearly something that George Stigler (Nobel in Economics - 1981) said in class about twenty years ago:

"Politicians will spend whatever they feel they can get away with. Tax revenues to the treasury have almost no correlation with federal spending. Only public opinion will hold down political spending..."

And I believe that applies to Republicans as well these days, much to my disappointment.


Do I recall one of the tank members providing stats that shows there is no relationship between government revenues and the ratio of deficit of debt to GDP? If so this means that the solution is with spending.... And yes, mike is right that both Dems and Republicans are guilty of irresponsibility on this.


The politicians in both parties spend money like drunken sailors regardless of what the revenues are. We run deficits and they spend and we run surpluses and they spend.

I find it funny in 2000 the liberals and John McCain said that we can't cut taxes because the surplus did not exist since was based on a 10 year projections (the economy was pretty good at the time). Now they say that George Bush spent the surplus.

Remember Who Said What When

This must read article by David Bellavia, a soldier in Iraq, explains how the rhetoric of "The Party of Defeat" is affecting the war effort and morale of the troops.

Former administrations ignored the present danger in this region for years before 9/11, and today we in the trenches pay the price for our past inability to confront our enemies. Each day, the enemy hopes that one more ten-plus death toll inflicted against coalition forces will be the last straw of the American collective will. The actions of Kerry, Kennedy, Dean, et al.—voting against the immediate pullout of the troops and then supporting Murtha’s ignorant remarks on every television program that offers an invitation—constitute a political attack on the troops, an attack that is aiding our enemy.

Though soldiers bleed for the right to dissent, we must remember that at times dissent will embolden our desperate Islamofascist enemy, especially when they read accounts of the growing fecklessness of the American people and her policy makers. Each day, legislators like Murtha move us closer to losing a winnable war and abandoning a worthy ally. Instead of supporting our cause, they stoke the fires of the Islamist faithful, those who would see a pullout in Iraq as a greater victory than the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan.

Like the supposed French "resistance", years from now, when Iraq is a functioning democratic ally in the more democratic Middle East, these politicians and their legion supporters will assume the banner of supporters. We must remember that they are hypocrites who "voted for it before they voted against it." And 2 years from now during a Presidential campaign do not forget who said what when.

But Bellavia has had it with the Murthas and the Kerrys:

Neither Rep. Murtha nor any other Congressional representative has held a position in a skirmish line under fire in Iraq. Nonetheless, they pontificate to the masses about “their” war experience. Not one has borne witness to the extreme close-quarter nature of this fight or commented on the tearful thanks from a deserving and proud Iraqi people who need us to stay the course.

Instead, Rep. Murtha has the audacity to call my fellow soldiers “broken.” But despite such pessimism, amplified by a cynical media, we are not “broken,” On the contrary, we are winning. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian-trained Hezbollah terrorists, as well as Chechnyan, Wahabbi, and local mujahadeen militants have been pacified by our young patriots. It is regrettable that a man like Murtha, who made his career detailing his undisputed heroism under fire, is the first to chip away at my generation’s valor. Nor have we, as Senator Kerry recently claimed, “terrorized Iraqis in their homes.” And while many anti-war Democrats would have you believe otherwise, we are most certainly not “living hand to mouth.”

Thanks to Mike Taylor for the reminder to read the Bellavia article. And who is Bellavia?

David Bellavia is a former Army Staff Sergeant who served in the First Infantry Division for six years. He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor by his leadership, and has been nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross. He has received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York states highest combat valor award) and was recently inducted into the New York State Veteran’s Hall of Fame. His Task Force 2-2 Infantry has fought on such battlefields as Al Muqdadiyah, An Najaf, Al Fallujah, Mosul, and Baqubah. His actions in Fallujah, Iraq were documented in the November 22, 2004 cover story “Into the Hot Zone” by award winning journalist Michael Ware. He is 30 years old.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ha Ha How True!

Some office talk about where Taxi's Latka Gravas was from led me to this link containing a conversation between Latka and Alex Rieger.

Latka: In my country everyone shares everything with everyone.
Alex: Oh, that's nice, Latka.
Latka: Otherwise they shoot you.

Quite a truth told there!

Coulter Explains The Law- CNN Tunes Out

Meanwhile, Coulter in 2 succinct paragraphs sums up the failed mission of "bagging" Tom Delay and explains what a summary judgment is:

Democrat prosecutor Ronnie Earle's conspiracy charge against Tom DeLay was thrown out this week, which came as a surprise to people who think it's normal for a prosecutor to have to empanel six grand juries in order to get an indictment on simple fund-raising violations. Mr. Earle will presumably assemble a seventh grand jury as soon as he locates someone in the county who hasn't served on a previous one.

It probably goes without saying that it is extraordinary for criminal charges to be thrown out by a judge before any jury ever hears the evidence. Juries decide guilt or innocence in this country. For the judge to dismiss an indictment before trial, it means he concluded that – even if the jury finds everything Ronnie Earle alleges to be true – no crime was committed.

Then in another lesson on legal procedure, unlike CNN reporters who report that the remaining charge not thrown out by the judge is very bad news for Delay, Coulter writes:

In fact, all we know as a result of the judge's ruling on Monday is that the remaining charge against DeLay, if proved, would at least constitute a crime.

Judges have limited powers to decide issues. In fact, they are able to only decide the legal issues. Facts are decided by juries. Cases or charges must be dismissed by the judge, and do not have to go to juries for a decision, when all charges made by the prosecutor (or the plaintiff in civil cases) are accepted as true and still do not amount to a breach of law.

That is a limited power but is one we need to clear out personal or political vendettas where there is no underlying crime committed. What remains is the "money laundering" charge that is hanging by a thread.

That is defined as: "To move illegally acquired cash through financial systems so that it appears to be legally acquired."

It seems that if the original charges do not taint the money, then it cannot be laudered. No, CNN. Even this charge may not make it to the jury either. And Coulter is right. When 2 out of 3 charges against you are dismissed prior to trial, you have averted serious peril.

But then the specific CNN reporter, Bill Schneider, per Ann:

According to Schneider, the judge's failure to dismiss the money laundering charges proves "obviously, on at least one charge the judge disagreed" with DeLay's claim that the prosecutor was politically motivated. Schneider's entire understanding of criminal law was apparently shaped during the "Ally McBeal" years.

Schneider would have said more, but he had to run off to file a story about how 4.3 percent growth, 215,000 new jobs, record productivity gains and continued growth in real estate prices were "not good" news for the economy.

Good ones.

Coulter Heckled By Lovers of Free Speech

Ann Coulter was heckled off the stage at a speech at UConn. The yelling by groups such as Against Hate and the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center forced her to leave the stage early.

Here is the Left-Liberal explanation:

Eric Knudsen, a 19-year-old sophomore journalism and social welfare major at UConn, didn't attend the speech.

"We encourage diverse opinion at UConn, but this is blatant hate speech," said Knudsen, head of Students Against Hate.

Sounds very European. Is that is like being for the war except when you are against the war?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Do Not Pre-Judge Spielberg; Pre-Judge Gibson

Already Mel Gibson's newest movie (actually a a four-hour miniseries on ABC) about the Holocaust has critics worried about its content. Will it deny the Holocaust? As reported by the NYT, "Flory" is based on the true story of a Dutch Jew named Flory Van Beek and her non-Jewish boyfriend who sheltered her from the Nazis.

Meanwhile, Time Magazine fawns over Steven Spielberg's expected nuanced movie "Munich". Per the article by Richard Shickel, the Israeli Mossad members who sought to kill the terrorists involved in the 1972 hostage taking and murder of Israeli athletes at the Olympic Village in Munich merely contuinued the "cycle of violence".

Spielberg has said 'The only thing that's going to solve this is rational minds, a lot of sitting down and talking until you're blue in the gills." So talking and negotiations will ultimately work? Like Oslo and the rest?

I will give Spielberg the same benefit of the doubt as I give Gibson.

However, my guess is Gibson's Nazi's will receive less "nuance" than Spielberg's Palestinian murderers. Given Speilberg's script-writer Tony Kushner's past comments (he once said: "I think the founding of the State of Israel was for the Jewish people a historical, moral, political calamity.... I wish modern Israel hadn't been born."), nuance will likely avoid any fatwas.

One blogger suggests the following nuanced movies:

- The Koby Mandell Story: In 2001, Koby and his friend Yosef Ish Ran, both 13, were brutally stoned to death while hiking around Tekoa, their Gush Etzion community. How about an entirely fictional scene, in which just before Koby and Yosef were stoned to death, Koby, Yosef and the Palestinian terrorists meet and talk calmly, with the latter getting a chance to make their case for the creation of a homeland for their people? As Steve Spielberg says, the only thing that's going to solve this is rational minds, a lot of sitting down and talking until you're blue in the gills.

- Maalot: In 1974, PLO terrorists held 100 schoolchildren and their teachers hostage, and ultimately sprayed the kids with machine-gun fire. 26 people (21 of whom were students) were murdered, 66 others were wounded.Boring! How about an entirely fictional scene, in which the schoolchildren and the PLO terrorists meet and talk calmly, with the latter getting a chance to make their case for the creation of a homeland for their people?

That guy is not nuanced enough.

Econs Laws Are Always In Play

While discussing the Kyoto protocols and environmentalisms failure to recognize the play of economics to provide lasting improvement for the environment, Roy Spencer provides his 6 economic principles that apply to all subjects regarding public policy. They are:

1. Wealth is created; it is not static. Russia has immense natural resources, but remains a very poor country. Japan has very few natural resources, yet has one of the world's strongest economies. Why is this? Because what people do with the natural resources, not how many natural resources their country has, is what is important. If a society constantly strives to produce what its people want, maximizing efficiency in the process, then that society will develop a rising standard of living. A society that doesn't, won't.

2. Hard work does not necessarily create wealth. If half of us spent our time digging holes in the ground, and the other half fill the holes up again, we would be doing a lot of work, but we would have a very low standard of living. In a free market, people are paid wages based upon the value of their services and knowledge to other people, balanced against the supply of other people who make the same skills available to the labor pool.

3. Free markets improve the standard of living. When individuals determine what is of value, through purchases of goods and services whose prices depend upon supply and demand, their standard of living will be improved. The interplay of supply and demand is an impressively self-regulating process. While well-intentioned governmental planners have attempted to do a better job than the market, they have been unable. No subgroup of people can be more knowledgeable about what society wants than the people who make up that society (i.e. those involved in each and every transaction.)

4. Profits positively motivate free markets. Profits are good for the economy as a whole. On average, transactions in a free market result in about 10% profit and 90% recovery of the costs of doing business. The hope of sharing in that profit, though relatively small on a percentage basis, is part of what motivates people (and companies) to increase efficiency and develop new products or services that the public desires. If someone becomes immensely wealthy, it is because the public has "voted" through their purchases. That means, the products that the wealthy person produces are more valuable to his customers than alternative products or services they could have purchased elsewhere.

5. Higher prices can spur competition and prevent shortages. No one likes high prices, yet they play a crucial role in a market. When prices rise -- whether due to shortages, the increased cost of raw materials, or increased demand -- free market mechanisms will act in such a way as to reduce those prices. Demand will subsequently go down. New types of materials will be found to replace those that have become too expensive. More efficient production capabilities will be developed. High prices also attract greater investment, which helps to facilitate these changes. If you prefer, call high prices a necessary evil. But they are indeed necessary for the system to work. Government price controls (to prevent prices from going too high) or price supports (to prevent prices from going too low) ultimately hurt the economy. That's because prices have important information in them.

6. Governmental interference in the economy is almost always harmful. Other than preventing either the formation of a monopoly (which is extremely rare) or collusion to fix prices among companies in a particular sector (which is like a monopoly), the best role for government is to simply stay out of the way. Interference with an economy's price mechanism limits the benefits to be obtained from flourishing free markets.

Marxists can live with their famines, poverty and totalitarianism (the final being the goal of its leaders throughout history) but I'll go with individual liberty creating the means of personal fulfillment, a clean environment and wealth.

Point 6 is one to consider as the Chuck Schumers call for confiscation of oil company profits for the "good of the people". As Professor Walter Williams explained while sitting in for Rush 2 weeks ago, the law of supply and demand is like the law of gravity. You may wish to see your folks in Florida more often but you will have to pay for an expensive plane ticket to get there. You may not like paying $3 for a gallon of gas but that is the price. But then you really want that gallon of gas so you should be happy with the transaction.

Oh, I forgot. Gas is a necessity.

Writes Williams:

If I voluntarily purchase the gas, I do so because I deem it better than my next best alternative. Of course, at a high enough price, I wouldn't deem it as such.

But the exchange is totally voluntary. Quoting Williams today:

Here's the essence of what transpires when I purchase a gallon of gasoline. In effect, I tell the retailer that I hold title to $3. He tells me that he holds title to a gallon of gas. I offer to transfer my title to $3 to him if he'll transfer his title to a gallon of gas to me. If this exchange occurs voluntarily, what can be said about the transaction?

One thing we know for sure is that the retailer was free to retain his ownership of the gallon of gas and I my ownership of $3. That being the case, why would we exchange? The only answer is that I perceived myself as better off giving up my $3 for the gallon of gas and likewise the retailer perceived himself as better off giving up his gas for the $3. Otherwise, why would we have exchanged?

Exchanges of this sort are called good-good exchanges, namely "I'll do something good for you if you do something good for me." Game theorists recognize this as a positive-sum game -- a transaction where both parties are better off as a result.

When government gets involved in setting the price there is a loss. And you readers of this blog know about what will happen with the future supply. That lesson is called "unintended consequences". That, however, is something we can control.

Yentl Switches To The NY Post

Mike Taylor on that brilliant lady Barbra Streisand:

Some of you may remember when Barbra Streisand wrote a letter during the 2004 primaries disparaging Republicans and praising a mysterious Democratic anti-war candidate, Dick Gebhart. That missive was fraught with misspellings, factual errors and the usual sky-is-falling-because-Republicans-are-in-charge claims that Babs is now famous for.

Well folks, she's at it again.

This time it's a letter to the editor of the LA Times. Seems that the LA Times is losing readership left and right these days. Babs is unhappy with the sacking of Robert Scheer as a paid columnist for that newspaper and she's canceling her subscription!

Mr. Scheer, for those of you not familiar with his writings, claims that GWB is nothing less than an "imperialist" and that Bush's "talk about security and democracy is all a bunch of malarkey". The LA Times is putting conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg in Scheer's vacated space.

Here's Babs in her letter:

In light of the obvious step away from the principals of journalistic integrity, which would dictate that journalists be journalists, editors be editors and accountants be accountants, I am now forced to carefully reconsider which sources can be trusted to provide me with accurate, unbiased news and forthright opinions. Your new columnist, Jonah Goldberg, will not be one of those sources.

I know that the Williams grads among you have already picked up on La Streisand's misuse of the word "principals". I can only guess that she means "principles of journalistic integrity". (Can anyone in the MSM tell me what those are?)

You would think that a person formerly accused of not using a person's correct name (especially if you want that person to become president) nor using correct spelling would have an occasion to employ the "spell check" function a little more often. Especially on a letter posted at her web site since November 28th.

Now, the main problem I have with Bab's letter is that she can not properly define a "forthright opinion". If you are familiar with Jonah Goldberg's columns in National Review and National Review On Line you would know that he has forthright opinions... just as Mr. Scheer does. Only Mr. Goldberg is funnier, has more facts at his command and doesn't suffer from Bush Derangement Syndrome. Seems like a good switch to me.

After all, as Babs implies in her letter, I think that it's proper that columnists be columnists, and reporters be reporters. The LA Times is known for reporters being columnists... and that may account for their shrinking circulation.

Babs had a choice to make: either read differing opinion columnists and decide whose viewpoint is most coherent... or remain uninformed.

Apparently, Ms. Streisand prefers the latter.

Igorance is bliss, igorance is bliss.

Feel free to cut and paste that last sentence into your web site, Ms.Streisand. It will fit right in and no one will know the difference! I'll wait on the royalty checks...

-- Mike

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Hearts and Minds of Americans

The MSM has been anti-war from the outset, largely informed by the press’ golden years of the late 60’s when they ended the Vietnam War.

The attempt to relive the glory days has included many attempts at showing parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. Such comparisons fail.

As Michael Barone explains, the Iraq war has been one of steady progress. He writes:

[M]any Americans don't have a clear understanding of that strategy or what has been happening in Iraq. One reason is that adversarial mainstream media have insisted on viewing Iraq through the prism of Vietnam and seeing nothing but endless, pointless slaughter.

In fact, as influential blogger Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit.com) points out, Iraq is a reverse Vietnam. The vast majority of Iraqis wants us to succeed and is confident things are getting better; as Sen. Joseph Lieberman put it, this is a fight between 27 million Iraqis and 10,000 terrorists. U.S. military personnel on the ground are buoyant about the progress they've seen, and re-enlistment rates have regularly exceeded quotas.

While the hearts and the minds of the Iraqis have largely been won over, though there is expected anxiousness to assume complete autonomy, the US press has been pursuing the American mind strenuously. The leader of the anti-war pack in the LA Times. While first paging any negative news, the LAT carried the killing of the 3rd ranking Al Qaeda member inside the paper.

Writes David Horowitz:

No sooner had the Times story about the killing of Al-Qaeda's number 3 covered the details of the event, moreover, than its writers sought to diminish the significance of that event. "[Unamed] experts cautioned that the killing was likely to have a limited effect because Al Qaeda is less a hierarchchical organization and more a movement that can carry out missions without directions from top leaders." Oh, like 9/11.

This is a great point by Horowitz.

The continued destruction of the Al Qaeda leadership can only be harming the terrorist threat. Only the control and planning of its leaders could pull off a 9-11. Now, there are leaders shuffling from cave to cave in Afghanistan or being knocked out in hamlets in Iraq. Only suicide and car bombers are left. There will be fewer of those after the 12/15/05 elections in Iraq. The converse of the famous boxing strategy works: Like the Israelis- knock out the head so the body will fall.

Whiplash Defeaticrats

Mike Taylor on Murtha and Pelosi and others who support and honor the military while debasing their efforts:

Just following some links this morning, I came across these Jack Murtha quotes gathered by Mickey Kaus (certainly no member of our vast right-wing conspiracy!). Please note that only John Kerry can contradict himself faster, and in fewer syllables, than can Jack Murtha:

Jack Murtha:

[T]here's a civil war going. We're caught in between a civil war right now. Our troops are the targets of the civil war. They're the only people that could have unified the various factions in Iraq. And they're unified against us. -- ABC's This Week, 12/4/05

[W]hy should I believe what the CIA says about what's happening in Iraq, that there's going to be a civil war? First of all, al Qaeda was wrong. It was wrong on the nuclear stuff. It was wrong on everything they have said over there. So why should I believe that there's going to be a civil war? -- same show, a few moments later.

and then...........................
[T]he military won a military victory. They got rid of Saddam Hussein. ...[snip] ... Now, it's got to be a political win. They have to win this politically. The Iraqis themselves. We'll stay there forever. The Iraqis are never going to say turn it over. We can't allow them to say when it's gonna turn it over.--This Week, 12/4/05

You're gonna see the Iraqis clamoring. Listen, anybody we support in Iraq loses the election. And so they're gonna be clamoring for us to get out. -- same show, a few moments later.

It makes you shake your head so fast that whiplash lawyers can hear your vertebrae cracking from their downtown offices. How do people like this GET elected and STAY elected? How do journalists (the self-appointed cognescenti of today) give these people any credence?

Oh, I forgot, they're Democrats. They don't need to make sense, they just need to wail on George W. Bush. That makes them all right.

I've seen Murtha a few times behind a podium and a few moments in interviews with the press. I don't think he is coherent, and I use that word in its most restricted definition (No need to tell Williams graduates the definition, but we U. of C. grads aren't as verbally facile: co-her-ent -- logically or aesthetically ordered or integrated.)

Here's my suspicion: Nancy Pelosi's strategy has been to line up Bush critics one after another, to take swings at the administration. Her strategy is that we'd all get tired of seeing her botox and rubber banded face and she wants to mix it up with other House Democrats she can convince to be as hard on Bush as they can.

It was simply Murtha's turn at the microphone. If reasonable people listen closely to un-edited interviews with this guy, you can't help but wonder "Is this the best that the Democrats can do? Put forward some doddering old man that can't hold a thought in his head long enough to make a consistent argument?".

Like the hit song "The Macarena" or the band "The Bay City Rollers", sometimes things take off for no apparent underlying reason. Jack Murtha is one of those one-hit wonders.

Or witless, as the case may be.

-- Mike

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blowhard of the Century

Neil Cavuto interviewed Bill O'Reilly who takes most, but not all, of the credit for gas prices going down of late. He says:

O'Reilly: "[Oil executives] "got scared because in my reporting and some other reporting, they said –
CAVUTO: Wait, you’re taking credit for gas prices being down?
O’REILLY: My reporting and reporting of others. "

O'Reilly invented the laws of supply and demand just before he co-invented the internet with Al Gore. He is working on the hardest project yet: getting women to love football.

Actually the hardest problem is jamming some econ knowledge into that generally intelligent (entertaining and courageous) brain.

Of course, today the stock market dropped because crude oil "pierced the $60-per-barrel level." I guess the oil executives will get over their fear of O'Reilly pretty soon.

Skip March adds:

The depth and reach of his influence is unparalleled in journalistic history. He may also very well be responsible for the emerging democracy in Iraq and growing influences of moderation in the Moslem world. I'm going right out to get a copy of "Looking Out For You". I wonder of he'll be coming out soon with a primer on phone sex.

Meathead's Solution: Force 4-year Olds Into Failing Public Schools

Since public education, that is education paid for and provided in noncompetitive, heavily unionized public schools, is such a success, Rob Reiner is spearheading a drive for public provision of pre-K education. It will tax the wealthy (individuals making over $400,000 per year/ $800,000 per family) to pay for all of California's 4-year olds to attend pre-K freely. $20 million is authorized out of the state budget for the program.

Shikha Dalmia provides sobering historical facts regarding the debacle of the same program in Quebec. She writes:

The final price tag for Quebec's day care program is 33 times what was originally projected: It was supposed to cost $230 million over five years, but now gobbles $1.7 billion every year.
With this kind of spending, one would think that Quebec was offering top-notch day care to every tot, toddler and teen. Think again.

Much of the increased spending has gone not toward increased access, but increased costs. Day care worker unions, on the threat of strike, negotiated a 40 percent increase in wages over four years. The cost of care has doubled since the program began, with the annual per-infant cost now exceeding $15,000.

The real issue is when it is universal, the wealthy compete with the poor for all vacancies and private schools cannot compete with the ones charging nothing and close or never open. So the poor lose out to the rich and you place all children in failing government schools a year earlier. More mothers choose to work rather than to stay at home. Which is better for the children?

Pierre Lefebvre, an economics professor at Universite du Quebec, has just completed a study comparing 4- to 5-year-olds in Quebec with kids elsewhere in Canada and found that Quebec kids have no better scores on the Peabody vocabulary test -- the most widely used indicator of school readiness.

Archie was right on this one. He is a meathead.

Old and New Testament

Further Think Tank discussions on the post below:

From Skip March:

I tend to see much more overlap (The Messiah thing notwithstanding), particularly with the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Matthew , in fact, was writing his story for a largely Jewish audience. Mark and Luke more for Greek and Gentile. Anyway much to discuss on this. Jesus was not rejecting the Jewish faith, rather those who he saw corrupting it. At the center of both faiths, however, is the First Covenant. Hhhhmmmm it also seems to be at the core of our own laws.

From Allen Gorin:


Since Bill informs me that you were a religion major--and obviously that interest in religion hasn't waned--you might want to get a hold of a book entitled "Revolution in Judaea: Jesus and the Jewish Resistance" by Hyam Maccoby. The book is out of print, but so popular that it often fetches over a hundred bucks in the pre-owned book marketplace.

I've read Maccoby's book several times, and can say without a doubt that it challenges both the traditional Christian and Jewish views of Jesus--more so the former.



From Neal Phenes:

Skip and All:

I have just finished reading Biblical Literacy by Joseph Telushkin. Within its discussion of the "Old Testament", known to the Jews as "The Bible", there are references to the various Scriptures and other Christian writings that show consistent, and inconsistent, treatment of Old Testament prophesies and stories. I found it illuminating in making relevant to today so many issues explained by the traditional teachings.


Skip responds:

Of course Jewish Prophecies were used to make the Messiah argument. New Testament Gospel writers wrote their versions, I am sure with consistencies and accuracies as well as inconsistencies and inaccuracies with Prophecies. Given Matthew's audience and orientation I wonder if his version would be the best starting point to analyze this. It is generally accepted though that the Book of Mark is the earliest and most historically accurate and therefore from that standpoint Matthew, Luke and John would have used Mark as a starting source for their stories.

Particularly noteworthy is that the Book of Mark starts with Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist, not including Jesus' birth. Matthew may have added this with noteworthy parallels to Moses' birth and more definitively putting Jesus in the House of David lineage. Anyway, much richness in the Old and New texts...........

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