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Conservative commentary served up in bite-sized bits.
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- Clayton Cramer
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Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Alan Keyes wrote a rather lengthy article today regarding how the 1st, 10th and 14th amendments say with regard to Judge Moore's 10 Commandments display. Boiling things down to main (and perhaps, too simplistic) points, I believe this is what he's saying:
I'm not a Constitutional scholar at all, and this is, as I said, a rather long article (and I'm not doing it justice). However, this is well worth reading regardless of where you stand on this issue.
Monday, August 25, 2003
I've heard talk show hosts and read columnists that seek to criticize Judge Roy Moore's stance on his 10 Commandments monument, but perhaps we should listen to Judge Moore himself to find out why he's doing what he's doing.
We must acknowledge God in the public sector because the state constitution explicitly requires us to do so. The Alabama Constitution specifically invokes "the favor and guidance of Almighty God" as the basis for our laws and justice system. As the chief justice of the state's supreme court I am entrusted with the sacred duty to uphold the state's constitution. I have taken an oath before God and man to do such, and I will not waver from that commitment.
But what of the "separation of church and state"?
For half a century the fanciful tailors of revisionist jurisprudence have been working to strip the public sector naked of every vestige of God and morality. They have done so based on fake readings and inconsistent applications of the First Amendment. They have said it is all right for the U.S. Supreme Court to publicly place the Ten Commandments on its walls, for Congress to open in prayer and for state capitols to have chaplains--as long as the words and ideas communicated by such do not really mean what they purport to communicate. They have trotted out before the public using words never mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, like "separation of church and state," to advocate, not the legitimate jurisdictional separation between the church and state, but the illegitimate separation of God and state.
(Free registration at the Wall Street Journal web site is required to read the whole article. I recommend doing so.)
Sure enough, as I thought might happen, Senator Charles Shumer is now suggesting we nationalize the nation's power grid. Another knee-jerk reaction by a Democrat to nationalize something as a way to "fix" it.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Senator Edward Kennedy in the back pocket of the fishing and boating industries? Could it really be?
Opponents, including U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Walter Cronkite and historian David McCullough, say it would damage wildlife, destroy views and harm the fishing and boating industries.
Since when did liberals start caring so much for big business? I guess since there was something that would "destroy views" around their backyards.
Yup, this is the wind turbine issue on Nantucket Sound again. How about this new acronym for the group: D. A. R. E., "Democrats Against Renewable Energy".
Supporters say the farm would produce no polluting greenhouse gases, and would supply nearly three-quarters of the electricity used on the cape and islands.
But not in my backyard, eh Walt?
Another classic news parody from ScrappleFace, noting the foolishness of those who think that expunging all mention of God from public life was what the founding fathers intended.
(2003-08-22) -- Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore today ordered the installation of another stone monument in the rotunda of the state judicial building.
It goes on to say that the alleged monument quotes the Alabama Constitution, the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I think Roy Moore ought to do exactly this and see what kind of reception it gets. And maybe, just maybe, the Supreme Court wouldn't be able to dodge the issue any longer.
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Walter Cronkite, on renewable energy (from his endorsement of the GENI Initiative):
Many years ago, I was honored to spend time with a true visionary of our time, Dr. R. Buckminster Fuller. He preferred that I call him Bucky. This renaissance man gave us the geodesic dome, the Dymaxion map (a very accurate and unique view of our planet), synergetic mathematics and the World Game -- a global simulation tool that posed the following question: How do we make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone?
Walter Cronkite, on renewable energy (when it comes right down to actually doing something about it):
Legendary newsman Walter Cronkite, a part-time resident of Martha's Vineyard, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose famous political family has a compound in Hyannis, began campaigning against the renewable energy project [on Nantucket Sound] last year.
Once again, for the liberal elite, feelings and visions trump actions.
AP posted a story about a school voucher poll. I don't give too much weight to polls, but I want to mention this one, partly for the numbers, and partly for how it is being covered by AP.
62% of respondents said that, given full-tuition vouchers, they'd send their kids to a private school or one connected with a religious institution. Even with just half-tuition vouchers, 51% said they'd leave public school. Further, 59% thought a voucher program wouldn't affect the achievement of public school students (hence, most would leave). And on the question of whether vouchers would increase overall student achievement in their community, the results were a half-and-half split.
None of this looks good for public schools, and puts vouchers in a generally good light. But there's one other number that doesn't seem to correlate. Support for voucher programs in general is down to 38% (from 46% last year). People seem to be saying that, yes, they would choose private or religious schools over public schools if it were voucher-supported, but they don't support vouchers. I don't know how the questions were worded exactly, but this is one reason I don't like the reporting of polls much. How this question was asked could make all the difference.
And what's the AP headline on this story, which has 2 results favoring vouchers, 1 that's against them, and one that's split?
Most Americans Oppose Vouchers, Poll Says
As one might see on a standardized test, a "more correct" headline would have been "Most Americans Would Use Vouchers in Private Schools, Polls Say". But then, that would be fair.
Reuters reported last night on a speech Gray Davis gave as part of his campaign kick-off to avoid recall. The quotes from the speech are ludicrous enough to deserve a fisking.
Embattled California Gov. Gray Davis, while admitting he made some mistakes, accused the Republican party on Tuesday of staging "a right-wing power grab" through a recall election in the nation's most populous state.
Unless that 20-something percentage points of job approval rating he's been basking in includes the entirety of the Democrat party voters, I'd tend to doubt that. Given that this recall option has been on the books since 1911, and that all previous attempts to invoke it have failed due to insufficient signatures, decrying this as a simple "power grab" is a might bit overstated.
"This recall is bigger than California. What's happening here is part of an ongoing national effort by Republicans to steal elections they cannot win."
A legal remedy requiring grass-roots support in order to remove a poor governor is not "stealing". Stealing is when, for example, a candidate for President appeals to the courts to, say, force the state to continue re-re-counting long after the legally-mandated boundary is past. Hypothetically speaking, that would be considered stealing.
...[it was a speech that] aides said he spent over a week shaping to kick off a campaign to keep the job he was reelected to only last November.
Apparently, he should have spent a lot more time on it.
"There are many reasons to be against this recall: it is expensive, ..."
"...and thus all popular elections should be cancelled for the good of the people, as well as the wallets of my cronies..."
(Yeah, what could be more undemocratic than voting?)
a bad precedent,
"...since too much grass-roots power is unsafe for the ruling elite..."
and almost certainly will breed more recalls."
"...requiring future governors to keep their promises and actually do the people's work. No graft, no peace!"
(>ahem< Sorry, I was channelling Jesse Jackson there for a second.)
"The Republicans behind the recall say they want you to vote me out because of past mistakes."
Psst, Gray. A lot of those people you're about to dis are voters, not just politicians like you're trying to imply.
"But they don't give a rip about past mistakes -- they want power for the future, and with so many candidates, they think they can get it with the support of a tiny fraction of California voters."
Given that this is the first recall effort to successfully get the required number of signatures to kick in, I'd say first that it ain't no "tiny fraction of California voters" who'd like to see you out. Statewide polls show a majority are ready to give you the boot. Second, as to the new governor only needing a plurality of the vote, it's true that many candidates dilute the mandate any winning candidate might have, but do you really blame Republicans for the sudden interest in politics your people are showing? I'd say that more people getting involved is a good thing. Of course, they're interested mostly due to your failure, so perhaps from your point of view things look a bit different.
Davis added, "The Republicans say this recall is about the problems of the past. We're getting over them."
First of all, assuring people in the midst of a $38 billion deficit that "we're getting over them" misses the point; why is California there in the first place? (Slight pause as Gov. Davis takes a peek at a nearby mirror.) Secondly, you're once again only suggesting that Republicans are concerned over problems of the past (that aren't over yet), but you again ignore that 20-something approval rating. Calling it partisan doesn't make it so, and doing so in the light of glaring evidence to the contrary is intellectually dishonest.
"California didn't go dark,
...last week (never mind all the rolling blackouts of 2002)...
we have a budget,
(Translation: A piece of paper with lots of numbers on it, most of them in red.)
our schools are getting better and our economy will come back."
Careful, this sounds a lot like future campaign promises, and I don't know if you want to be judged by past campaign promises. (Oh, and thanks to Dubya's tax cuts, one of those dastardly Republicans, your economy is already coming back.)
"But this right-wing power grab is something we won't get over. It would do lasting damage to our state, our environment, and the fabric of our democracy."
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, putting a >gasp< Republican in office is something California won't get over (probably because they'll be there a long time once thing start to turn around). Ah yes, and the very fabric of democracy (read: the privilege and responsibility of voting) will be torn by allowing people to vote. Impeccable logic? On the contrary, it is way too peccable.
"I know that many of you feel that I was slow to act on the energy crisis. I got the message... That's a fair criticism. I played the hand that was dealt me the best I know how."
...which, if that's the best you know how, is another reason the recall is enjoying such popular support.
"I'm not happy with the budget that I signed recently. No one is. I said it then and I'll repeat it now. But as everyone considers how we got here,
(Pause as Gov. Davis takes another look at the mirror.)
let's put our situation in perspective. The American economy has tanked, losing jobs and going from record surpluses to record deficits. Forty-six other states are in a similar situation."
...because spending everywhere is out of control. Both parties are to blame for that. But when Davis talks about the "American economy", he's obviously trying to blame Bush for a downward trend that started while Clinton was still in office and was exacerbated by 9/11.
He added, "Yes, I could have been tougher in holding the line on spending when we had surpluses. But, let's be clear, most of the increases on my watch went to schools and health care. I make no apologies for that."
Translation: I could have controlled spending, but oh well. (And how about being tougher on spending now that you have deficits?)
Desperate times call for desperate sound-bites, and Gov. Davis has got a million of 'em.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
In the fight between giant sequoia trees and SUVs, the trees just scored a point.
In a private meeting with Sen. John McCain, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas affirmed reports Yasser Arafat is undermining his authority.
This is news? Well, I suppose it is to anyone who really puts any stock in anything Arafat says or does (e.g. supposedly allowing a Prime Minister to be the authoritative Palestinian spokesperson). Perhaps we can put that fairy tale to rest now.
There are those that have suggested that our presence in Iraq is having the effect of gathering terrorist forces there to attack our military, which would be exactly who we'd rather they attack, both because that means they're not attacking our civilians, and because they're likely to die as a result. The situation there is akin to fly paper; attract the bad guys to a tempting yet strong target and wipe them out.
According to this article in the Financial Times, it's working. They're coming in droves, and I have no doubt we can take them. Dubya's "bring 'em on" taunt didn't mean "come on over and kill us"; he's simply inviting massive attrition in the terrorist ranks.
Thursday, August 14, 2003
The blackout in the northeast USA is going to cause some heads to roll, no doubt about it. A talking head on FOX News said that likely the worst thing happened at the worst possible moment. That's all well and good, but isn't that what we're supposed to be prepared for?
In any event, what concerns me is that somehow this will be the impetus for someone to decide that the whole power grid now has to report directly to Tom Ridge at HomeSec. I hope that doesn't happen. These guys and gals need to make sure this doesn't happen again, to be sure, but we don't need more and more government bureaucracy in an age when we have to react quickly to changing circumstances.
Decentralization is the best answer. What are the feds saying? "Listen to your local agencies/police/government for information." That's the right answer. Local solution to local problems. Some may say that the electric grid is a national issue and should be run by the feds. I'd say this is a state issue, and there are perfectly good brains at the state level to deal with this, and work with other states. If you want to blame the states for the blackout as a reason to give it to the feds, I'd have to say that removing the decision-making farther and farther from the problem is no solution at all. Let the folks who already have accountability for this get called on that accountability, and then fix it. Don't give their responsibility to overworked, overbloated and far away federal bureaucrats.
The lights are already starting to come back on, albeit slowly. My folks in upstate NY are hearing on their (battery) radio that the lights in Syracuse are starting to come on in spots. (And The Command Post has noted my E-mail to them concerning this. Nifty!)
One of my submissions to Taranto's "Best of the Web Today" was used again. In yesterday's column, scroll down to "Who is Simon, and Doesn't He Ever Go to the Movies?"
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Would you like to know a few ways the liberation of Iraq helped the war on terror, or improved the lives of Iraqi citizens, or created better security for them? How about 100 ways? The Whitehouse has published a document on their web site detailing these and other benefits. But even in this sound-bite, get-to-the-point driven world of the 24-hour news cycle, I wonder if you heard anything about this simple, easy-to-understand document from the major media. This is not the writing of some policy wonk, paid by the word. It's a concise enumeration of the many benefits of fighting for peace.
(And no, that last phrase is not an oxymoron. Before the Iraq war, Iraq was still not at peace. Today, after the war, it's light years closer to it.)
Friday, August 08, 2003
Billionaire George Soros has given $10 million to an effort to defeat President Bush in 2004. Let's listen closely to the media referring to a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.
Hold not thy breath.
Update: Looks like Kos finds this development to be a Good Thing(tm), although dollars-to-donuts he thought that Scaiffe's money was pure eeeeevil. Ain't partisanship grand?
Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect magazine, had a pitiful article on his magazine's web site yesterday that really needs a good Fisking.
Now, I've not done a fisking before on Considerettes, although I did do it in an essay I wrote back in 1998, responding to each thought in President Clinton's mea culpa on the Lewinsky matter (which was heavy on the "mea" and oh-so-light on the "culpa"). And I did one in 2000 to an article which was really a laundry list of why a liberal webmaster thought "reactionary right-wingers" called him a liberal.
So I was fisking before fisking was cool (or was even called "fisking".) :) But it's been quite a while, so it's about time for another one. Thus we have a fisking of (portions of) Kuttner's article "The Fruits of Bushonomics".
George W. Bush faces a race between the ill-advised economic policies sown in the first half of his term and the bitter fruit that those policies are starting to bear. If the sour effects of his economic policies are evident by mid-2004, he is in deep political trouble.
One can only say this with a straight face if, upon being reminded of the lingering economic effects of 4 planes that crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, one simply holds one's hands over one's ears and melodiously intones, "La la la la, I can't hear you!" Even assuming that the policies are partially to blame (which I'm not stipulating), one would be hard-pressed to find its effects amongst the much larger economic wreckage left by the al-Qaeda attack. This is equivalent to saying that, amidst thousands of acres of forest torched by lightening, one grove of trees in it might, in fact, have been burned by a campfire. But Mr. Kuttner is now going to stand there, point at that supposed ring of stones with charred wood in it, and blame it for everything his eye surveys.
For now, at least, Bush can say that the economic news is mixed. The unemployment rate went up to 6.4 percent in May. It dropped slightly, to 6.2 percent, in June -- but only because more and more people have dropped out of the labor force entirely as payrolls continued to shrink.
When W was campaigning for president, he correctly noted that the economy was about to go into a downturn. Democrats lambasted him for (first) trying to bash a good economy, then (when it was apparent that the economy was in a downturn) for creating the downturn merely by speaking of it. But the trend was already there. Kuttner is now blaming Bush for a trend that existed before he took office, and was made dramatically worse by terrorists. Never you mind the trend, says he, it's the President's fault.
Economic growth came in at 2.4 percent for the second quarter of 2003. That was better than expected, but it needs to hit 4 percent or higher to reduce unemployment. Bush's cheerleaders say that will happen, in well-choreographed fashion, in the election year.
Since he brings up economic growth number, let's look at that trend thing again. At the Bureau of Economic Analysis (part of the Commerce Department), they have an Excel(tm) spreadsheet showing the quarterly GDP change data going back to 1946. Scroll on down to the year 2000, and you'll see that trend in all its glory starting in Q3 of 2000; definitely not on W's watch. The bottom was hit in Q2 of 2001 (where the economy shrank by 1.6%), again barely after Bush had a chance to warm the seat in the Oval Office. Bush inherited a tumbling economy, and when it started to come back, al-Qaeda made itself a household word. Even two 4+% quarters in 2002 didn't help the unemployment rate (at best, it flattened). Such a situation is less (if any) of Bush's making, and more of one where he was given a bad one, which only got worse, completely outside of his control. Further, the numbers for the past 3 quarters (1.4, 1.4, 2.4) do, in fact, point to an economy that is set to start making headway in the unemployment department. No "cheerleading" required.
But will it? Timing is everything. George Bush the first missed his rendezvous with prosperity in 1992. And the policies of Bush I were not as damaging as those of Bush II. Consider these several danger signs:
Deficits and interest rates. Long-term interest rates have gone up a full point in a month. Mortgages, which could be had at a bargain-basement 5 percent in late June, are back to 6 percent. The refinancing boom is slowing. The bond market is swooning.
Apparently, Mr. Kuttner believes that those bargain-basement rates would last forever. And is 6% really a "danger" sign? For perspective, rates between 1992 and 2000 (during a Democrat administration) varied between around 6.7 and 9.2%, spending most of their time in the 7s and 8s. Sure the refinance boom is slowing, in the same way price affects everything. We still have rates that are lower than anytime during the Clinton administration, and this is a "danger"?
Bush optimists contend that interest rates are going up because investors, sniffing a recovery, are shifting to stocks, leaving less demand for bonds. Dream on. Skeptics correctly point to the immense deficits resulting from Bush's three tax cuts. If unsustainable deficits loom, the money markets eventually push up interest rates.
Immense deficits from tax cuts. Must've been immense tax cuts. (Hold that thought, we'll return to it later.) Oh, and what about spending? You remember "spending", don't you, Mr. Kuttner? How about reducing that to ease the deficit. But you just know that, being a good liberal, he'll never mention that.
Most serious of all, if long-term interest rates are impervious to the Fed's policy of cutting short-term rates, then Alan Greenspan's sorcery has lost its power. (And deservedly so. Greenspan should have used his prestige as a central banker to discourage the Bush tax cuts instead of taking a dive as a good partisan.)
Instead Mr. Kuttner suggest more taxing & spending, like a good partisan.
Trade. Like his military policy, Bush's trade policy has been a blunt instrument. Bush and his economic appointees have been pushing for more international trade with few conditions attached. In theory this is good for everyone. In practice, global trade with few ground rules has exported more jobs than it has imported.
Goodness, this protectionism rhetoric sounds positively Buchanan-esque. In addition, the "giant sucking sound" we were to hear from Mexico was never really audible.
The Democrats may be divided on some issues, but on trade most Democrats favor conditioning trade with labor and other regulatory standards so that its benefits truly flow both ways. In an election year with a soft economy, Bush-style free trade is likely to be an ever harder sell.
'Scuse me as I go off to find out who's signature is on the NAFTA agreement.
Ah, found it!
Vanishing services. Ordinary Americans are saving a few bucks in their federal income taxes.
Whoa, wait a minute. Just a few bucks? A miniscule tax cut? But I thought it was responsible for the "immense deficits".
Most of the breaks went to the top.
Or, more accurately, the more you paid the more you got, which is eminently fair. And Bush even bowed to Democrat pressure to give tax "breaks" to people who didn't pay any taxes, which is, to be perfectly honest, unfair. Of course, as a "good partisan", Mr. Kuttner isn't challenging the logic of Democrats who both argue against any tax cuts at all while at the same time arguing for tax "cuts" for those who don't pay.
Mr. Kuttner, would you start sending me a paycheck for working for The American Prospect? Yeah, I know I don't actually work there, but if it's OK to "refund" money to people who've not paid any, it must be OK for me to get money for something I don't actually do.
But as Bush and company cut federal aid while adding costly federal mandates, local services are deteriorating. Meanwhile, many states are having to raise property and sales taxes.
States have been on a spending spree for quite some time, and for many things other than those basic services. Oh rats, there's that "S" word again; "spending". And again, as a "good partisan", Mr. Kuttner knows only one remedy for balance sheet problems; more taxes.
A lot of this is implicitly about class and the tiny elite that Bush has helped.
Well what do ya' know, I'm part of the "tiny elite"; those people in America who actually have children and are getting a tax rebate! Unfortunately for the phraseology, this supposed "elite" is far bigger than Mr. Kuttner wants to admit.
In good times Americans don't want to hear about class. Everyone expects to be Bill Gates someday. But in tough times, regular people become far more alert to who is getting most of the cookies. Bush is accountable for that, too.
At all times, all Democrats want to talk about is class--how one is getting more "cookies" than another--and want to demonize Bill Gates, and those like him, as (at least) merely lucky and (at most) greedy monsters. At all times, no one should care about who's getting most of the cookies, because it shouldn't be the government's job to hand out cookies (and it shouldn't be stealing so many of the ingredients).
Liberals are accountable for that as well as their failure to lay blame and give credit where they are properly due, ignore the spending side of government deficits, and using class warfare to divvy up government "cookies" to their constituents.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Jane Galt has a good, balanced piece about global warming, how it's reported, and how both sides need to just calm down and get their facts in order. I've been saying all along that there's way too much uncertainty in this field to be setting public policy based on it. Jane covers, in part, the history of revisions in projections to make them closer to reality once they're proven wrong.
Finally, we are all prone to think that we are right. Scientists advocating aggressive models of warming may be right -- or they may be overconfident. A look at the history of downward revisions in warming projections is educational on that score. According to journalists, the scientists were every bit as certain about projections that were as much as 4 degrees celcius higher, just a short time ago. A little humility about the much-vaunted scientific consensus is in order.
...and a little less fear-mongering.
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
ScrappleFace does it again with a parody news item proclaiming "Episcopal Church Appoints First Openly-Muslim Bishop". If you're going to ordain people who openly violate the teaching of a Book they'll be preaching from, where does it stop? The answer, of course, is that it won't stop, and the Episcopal Church is just the latest example of that slippery slope, falling further and further into self-contradiction.
The sad thing is that to many who support this move, it's a way to keep the church relevant in the 21st century. Unfortunately, that's not the result, since all this contradiction in message does not provide any solace to those whose lives are full of contradictions and inner turmoil already. A single, clear message is what makes the Church relevant and applicable to any life throughout the centuries, not morals that change with the times. Traditions may change, style may change, but God doesn't.
Friday, August 01, 2003
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you that the racial civil rights war has been won! No matter your skin color or nationality, we are now officially equal. How do I know? Check out this report from FOX News (scroll down to the bottom to see it):
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, has detected racial discrimination in the naming of Hurricanes. She says names like Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Sam and Hurricane Wanda are just too white and, "all racial groups should be represented." But, as The Hill newspaper notes, Jackson Lee will have to wait until at least 2007, when the current roster of names runs out.
Yes, when the "whiteness" of hurricane names are the cause of uproar for black politicians, it serves to show 2 things: