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Friday, June 23, 2006

More Estranged Americans

A WaPo story headline: Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study SaysThe Number of People Who Say They Have No One to Confide In Has Risen.

Any connection to the increase in divorce, delay in getting married or decrease in children? Any connection to social security freeing retirees from the yolk of family? Any connection to the continued intrusion of government into our lives?

NYT: WMD Hunters Are Just Nuts

This NYT headline says it all:

For Diehards, Search for Iraq's W.M.D. Isn't Over

3 years after invading a country, deposing its leader, losing 2500 soldiers and expending billions of dollars, it is time to close any investigation into whether there were WMD in Iraq. Instead of recognizing that documentation and potential hard evidence of the existence of WMD may be discovered years after a short but devastating war with its terrorist aftermath, the NYT treats anyone that has not accepted its "case closed" verdict as on the fringe of rational thought.

The article treats investigative attorney John Loftus, Senator Rick Santorum, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan and others as so many conspiracy nut cases.

Maybe the current evidence is damaging to the anti-war bias of the NYT. But as Iraq continues towards its eventual democratic freedom, the investigations will prove the movement of WMD pre-invasion.

Is it not prudent to find out where they went? That is, besides the 500 canisters recently reported discovered. I guess they do not exist either.

Skip March responds:

Frankly I happen to believe there has been plenty of evidence that WMD's do exist and that much of that stockpile (as it is) was moved to Syria. That being said, it is nuts for supporters of our efforts in Iraq to continue to succumb to the messaging driven by Dems and the MSM. There were plenty of reasons other than WMD's to topple Saddam....I won't go into them here as it will only be a rehashing of want we already know.

In their messaging to the public Republican leadership, particularly in Congress, has accepted premises put forth by the MSM, like WMD's and the "nuclear option" over judicial appointments. Why didn't Republicans respond by arguing that the Dems threat to filibuster those hearings was actually the nuclear option. Instead they referred to their own threat to change Senate rules as such...mind boggling. It seems though that this Administration has gotten part of that messaging problem as they playing down the recent WMD discovery.


My answer:

The administration’s marketing of its programs is atrocious. I am sure their progressive approach to social security reform, their amazing success in priming the economy through supply-side tax cuts, their partial attempts at free trade, their pursuit of estate tax elimination and, of course, their aggressive actions against Islamic fascism could be more accepted by the non-Koskids Left than polls indicate. While he is a proven election winner, GW seems to need advice in PR.

Any takers?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Just Say Goodbye, Dan

Andrew Skip March reacts to Brent Bozell's good riddance piece on Dan Rather:

Brent Bozell on Dan Rather

To be sure Dan Rather's demise at CBS is as much his own doing as anything. Between his none to subtle bias and allowance for fabrication in his reporting and occasional emotional breakdowns on air, you gotta say enough is enough. HEY DAN....IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU! But maybe more importantly, his personal demise parallels the decline of the personality cult around news anchors and the belief that one maybe two sources for news and information are enough. It maybe though that CBS has not read the writing on the wall by hiring Katie Couric.

There was a time when the news was driven almost exclusively by The New York Times and CBS News....and Walter Cronkite was "the most trusted man in America". This is by no means to say that Walter Cronkite was not trustworthy..in fact I believe he was. But people have points of view and their bias has to creep in eventually....it did with Vietnam.

The evolution of talk radio and Fox News grew out of a natural opposition to this monopoly and personality cult. Certainly there are notable personalities that have grown out of this opposition, like Rush Limbaugh. But today we have choices and the opportunity to seek out other sources to question what is headlined and reported. The Big Three Networks' vehement opposition to these new sources is ideological as well as economic, as their marketshare erodes as well as their choking grasp on the national psyche. Credibility dictates that there be accountability. In our society, this is thankfully not the government's job with the news, rather it is the news organizations themselves and the choices that we all should have and make.


My 2-cents:

I actually watched his interview with the founder of Whole Foods last week. It was the first time I have watched a 60 Minutes CBS show in many years. He actually did a reasonable interview with little anti-capitalist mud-slinging. Maybe the subject was more interesting than Rather’s world views. And maybe the idea that his legacy is one of over-the-top liberalism forced him to handle the final CBS interview straight.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Losing to Losers?

Mark Steyn suggests the reports of Democrat party success in November is largely overestimated. Why? While there are various good reasons for people of different political persuasions to be angry at Bush--- from tax cuts for the rich to being soft on immigration, too namby-pamby on Iran, Korea and Syria and, of course, the Iraq war---voters still need to choose an option. And the Democrats provide none.

Steyn explains:

Their fury with Lieberman suggests a corrosion that goes far deeper than mere Bush Derangement Syndrome. The Democrats may be prepared to go along with some Clintonian pseudo-warmongering -- the desultory lobbing of a few cruise missiles at Slobodan or that Sudanese aspirin factory -- but, when it comes to the projection of hard power in the national interest, the left cannot get past Vietnam. Indeed, the reaction to Peter Beinart's ringing call for a reassertion of "liberal internationalism" -- ringing in the sense that nobody's picking up -- suggests that even his quaintly dated Eurocentric Sept. 10 ineffectually respectable multilateralism has few takers among today's left.

In the early '70s, when Kerry was insisting we'd get out of Vietnam at very little cost, he at least could plead ignorance: He didn't know what would come after. In 2006, we all know what followed: boat people, Cambodia's killing fields, globalized dominoes falling from Grenada to Iran. When Murtha, Kerry and Co. effectively demand that America agree to retraumatize itself in the humiliation of an even bigger geopolitical bug-out, one assumes they're failing to consider where the dominoes would fall this time round -- in Afghanistan, in Jordan, in Turkey, and beyond. It would end the American moment: Why would Russia, China or even Belgium take American power seriously ever again?

There is no serious talk from leading Democrats about the US and how it can maintain its status in the world except for innocuous references to economic suicide (Kyoto), the UN and multilateral action. But Americans, after receiving regular tongue-lashings from various Euro heads of state and UN unknowns, consider that group of allies as akin to asking Cameron Diaz, Luci Lu and Drew Barrymore to help you in an alley fight. The 3 girls may play kick-ass Charlie's Angels on TV but in a real fight they'll cower in a corner covering up their faces like Frenchmen.

To repeat Steyn's truism: Even a loser has to have someone to lose to.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Anti-Bush Assumptions May Be Disproved---Then What?

John Fund pens an interesting political commentary that the Democrats have staked their credibility upon 3 assumptions:

1. Bush lied about Saddam being a threat.
2. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
3. No progress is being made in Iraq.

In each case there is mounting evidence that these assumptions will be proven false.

Fund explains that there is significant development in evidence requiring further analysis to disprove No.2 above about WMD. However, bureaucratic reasons control the investigation. Fund explains:

The CIA was unable to complete its probe due to instability in Iraq, but it held out the possibility that an "unofficial" transfer of WMD might have been secretly conducted, with WMD material either shipped out of Iraq into Syria or destroyed by another country after being flown there.

Since then, the Iraq Survey Group has been inactive even though a continuing stream of credible sources have come forward with clues of where evidence of WMD material might be. Some administration officials now appear to be reluctant to investigate further, in part out of fear that any fresh discovery might lay the White House open to charges that lax U.S. security could have allowed the insurgents to get their hands on highly dangerous material. Some Pentagon officials have actively discouraged further investigations. But even with no official approval, some U.S. servicemen continue to explore promising leads about possible WMD sites or out-of-country transfers on their own. Many believe such tips will eventually bear fruit.

The bold sentence is particularly galling. Wouldn't we rather know that they existed and where they are or allow political opponents to devalue to operation? If WMD pose a threat to the US, we would like the information. No doubt, there would be criticism made of the administration. Why did we allow so much cross border activity before and during the initial phase of the war?

As I have written, our biggest mistake was to provide Saddam the time to prepare a cleansing of the evidence and a potential supply for our enemies in or outside of the Iraq borders. But this is important information to know. I also suspect the relocation of the WMD would implicate some allies (Russia, China and maybe France) and force public opinion towards questioning the lack of action against Syria or Saudi Arabia. That would complicate international relations.

The truth will be known eventually.

Turning to Fund's point in the political ramifications of the ultimate rebuttal of each assumption, whether Dems are found wanting or not, they have openly stated that they will never act to defend the country until they have incontrovertible evidence of an enemy's likely dangerous intent. They may even mean they would still not attack an enemy until we were attacked first. Neither position should be acceptable to the American public looking for protection by the government---the most important if not only obligation it possesses.

EU Unemployed Youth

Back to the economic status of Europe.

TCS's article by Johnny Munkhammar reports the youth unemployment statistics in Europe. Greece, Italy, Sweden, France, Belgium and Finland have youth unemployment at over 20%. Poland leads the way with 33% youth unemployment.

A large number of unemplyed young people cannot be good for a country. Munkhammar sees a correlation between statist countries and the unemployment. Central planners cannot react quickly enough to dynamic market changes. Also, creative destruction recognizes that businesses and methods may become quickly obsolete as competitors sell more cheaply for profit and consumers find new needs. (I have just discovered how cheap iPods are. How can I go much further without a 2 meg iPod at the cost of less than $200?).

Munkhammar writes:

Young people are the first and biggest losers from policies designed to stop change. Indeed a big state is in itself an obstacle to change, because by definition the state is centrally planned and inflexible. But regulations in the labor market -- minimum wages, privileges for trade unions, obstacles to hiring or firing -- may have the most serious negative effects.

There are naturally many factors affecting whether young people get jobs. But a look at the Economic Freedom in the World index confirms that countries with high youth unemployment also have regulated labor markets. Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands have rather free labor markets and the lowest levels of youth unemployment in the EU.

The empirical proof is constantly provided. Is there anybody out there?

Trade Deficit or Foreign Investment?

Economist Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek, reacting to doomsayers who see a trade deficit as an indication of US decline, explains there is a flip-side to the argument:

Does foreign direct investment here of nearly $100 billion, in 2004, evince economic decline? How about foreigners' continuing attraction to dollar-denominated equity shares and bonds? Whenever foreigners invest in dollar-denominated assets they reveal confidence in the American economy - and they strengthen it by bringing capital to our shores.

We have explained it before in this blog. If you are a seller of goods, you do not sell to deadbeats. If the buyer provides insufficient value, you do not execute the trade. If you do trade with a deadbeat, you certainly get rid of inventory but you lose in the exchange. Do these anti-trade pundits believe that the producers who sell to consumers in the US have given no thought to the value of the pieces of paper we trade with them in return? Or do they see strength in those pieces of paper that make them worth more than a similar number of pieces of paper (with different pictures on them) from elsewhere?

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