Friday, December 31, 2004

A must-read article: "Why the Democrats keep losing," by Joshua Muravchik

Mr. Muravchik provides the best survey on last November's election.

Even as the Democrats and their friends in the mainstream media minimized the import of Bush’s victory in 2004, it seems likely that their pained response was due precisely to the fact that the Republican victory, if not deep, was undeniably broad. In addition to winning the presidency with an absolute majority of the popular vote (something no Democrat has achieved since Lyndon Johnson in 1964), the Republicans solidified their majorities in the Senate and the House of Representatives. This will be the sixth successive Congress since 1994 in which the Republicans will have controlled both houses.

A good read.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

What I'm listening to these days

No I'm not eclectic!

Arvo Part Stabat Mater, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Zwei Sonatinen for Piano Op. 1
Velvet Revolver Contraband

Friday, December 10, 2004

Protecting Kofi at all costs?

From today's Wall Street Journal. What do you say Claudia Rossett? We await your response.

The Unfairness of Going After Kofi Annan

The tale of the alleged U.N. Oil for Food scandal gets taller with each telling. The U.S. Government Accounting Office estimated that Saddam Hussein skimmed $10.1 billion under U.N. noses, but it was soon discovered that this included $5.7 billion in oil smuggling by Saddam for which the U.N. was not responsible. That didn't stop U.N. bashers from latching on to the higher number, though -- until they found an even more staggering $21 billion cited in a U.S. Senate Subcommittee report. But that also included all of Saddam's illegal oil revenues going back to 1991, five years before the Oil for Food
program was ever conceived. Charles Duelfer, the CIA's own Iraq weapons inspector, put Saddam's total illicit income related to Oil for Food at $1.74 billion, but don't expect to find that figure cited in the escalating press and congressional attacks on Kofi Annan.

Whether there was mismanagement and corruption in the U.N. is the focus of an independent investigation led by Paul Volcker, former U.S. Fed chair. Its first report is due in January. Whether Kofi Annan's son, who worked in Nigeria for a Swiss company that was awarded a U.N. contract in Iraq, is implicated is also the subject of several investigations.

If U.N. officials took bribes or otherwise behaved illegally they should immediately lose diplomatic immunities and be tried in a court of law. If management failures contributed to the fiasco, the U.N. should appoint an external auditing board to ensure that all recommended changes are implemented. But some people can't wait for due process to take its course. They want Mr. Annan's head now and have called for his resignation -- including a senior senator in these pages ("
Kofi Annan Must Go," Sen. Norm Coleman, editorial page, Dec. 1).

Spurred on by the chorus of U.N. haters, Congress is considering yet another round of withholding U.S. dues to the U.N. -- a practice that undermined the U.N. in the 1990s and that was fully resolved only after 9/11, when it became clear that the organization was needed to help hunt down terrorists. Instead, Congress should let the Volcker
Commission do its work and in the meantime focus on the roles played in this deeply troubling affair by our own government and American firms.

The U.S. government knew Saddam was running a scam but concluded that the scam was the lesser of evils in containing his regime. The U.S. and Britain, along with the other members of the U.N. Security Council, designed and oversaw the Oil for Food program. The U.S. government alone had 60 professionals review each of the 36,000 contracts awarded -- more than twice the size of the U.N. Oil for Food office's professional staff. America and Britain held up 5,000 contracts, sometimes for months at a time, to ensure that no technology was getting through that Saddam could use for weapons purposes. But they held up none -- not a single solitary one -- on the grounds of pricing irregularities that made kickbacks possible, even when alerted by U.N. staff.

Similarly, three successive U.S. administrations looked the other way while Saddam llegally sold oil to Jordan and Turkey -- about $5.1 billion worth, according to the Duelfer report. American fighter planes patrolled the skies, U.S. satellites took fine resolution photos of the parade of trucks making daily trips and the nightly news covered the story. This was entirely unrelated to the Oil for Food program. It represented U.S. efforts to shore up two allies that played a central role in containing Saddam but were adversely affected by the sanctions.

John G. Ruggie Cambridge, Mass.
(Mr. Ruggie was U.N. assistant secretary-general, 1997-2001, and is currently a
professor of International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of

The enduring legacy of tax cutting; just trust the markets or is it the people?

Supply-sider Brian Wesbury says that tax-cutting is an endearing legacy of modern American conservatism. As such it also serves as a response to the Europhilia of Jeremy Rifkin and socialists of all parties.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Former Soviets and satellites try the flat tax

The new flat-taxland isn't in the United States or the European Union. It's in Russia and Eastern Europe.

What does Steve Forbes have to say about this phenomenon? But over at his blog, Larry Kudlow thinks it divine.

Rest in Peace David Brudnoy!

David Brudnoy lost his long battle with cancer. He died at 6:11 p.m. this evening at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Hear his last interview at WBZ 1030 AM's web page.

You can make a donation to
the David Brudnoy Fund for AIDS Research.

Antony Flew's great revelation; An atheist recants

From ABC News.
NEW YORK Dec 9, 2004
— A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people's lives.

"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said. "It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

We are sad in Boston -- extremely sad

The horrible news came down today. David Brudnoy, one of the best -- if not the best -- radio talk show hosts in the United States has but a few days to live.

A longtime fixture on WBZ-1030 AM in Boston, the libertarian conservative talkmaster battled AIDS for a decade. He is now succumbing to cancer in a local hospital.

Brudnoy was part of the fabric of this city. His voice drifted wonderfully into thousands of kitchens each evening offering enlightening, stimulating and always remarkable conversation.

He will be missed. We love him dearly.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Silent for Bush in Massachusetts...Out of the shadows

Joan Vennochi tells her about a Bay Stater's "election day secret." We don't all think like Pauline Kael.

Meanwhile Ben Stein says it's safe for Republicans to come out of the underground bunkers in LaLa land.

Clash of the civilizations; Save a life limit free speech

Criminalizing free speech would have saved Theo van Gogh? Am I reading this correctly?

"We do need infrastructure to limit extremism," said Shadjareh, "and this has to come from all sides. If the Dutch government had prosecuted van Gogh for his racism, he may have been alive. I'm not saying that anything, absolutely anything legitimizes a killing, but we also need to limit hate speech — on all sides."

Journalism: It was once a honorable profession

From Editor and Publisher:

They rank even lower than bankers, auto mechanics, elected officials, and nursing-home operators...

Somehow, however, they top lawyers, car salesmen, and ad directors. And
they also edge business executives and congressmen.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The dollar plunge doesn't matter

Everybody's worried about the dollar. Not Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute. I'm not sure where I come down on this issue but so far the debate has been enlightening.

John Tamny at Tech Central Station, meanwhile, isn't worried about the trade deficit.

The name of the game for liberals is to protect Kofi and the U.N. at all costs Part II

The sophistry of the New York Times on display this morning.

Iraq accumulated far more illicit money through trade agreements that the United States and other Security Council members knew about for years but chose to accept.
TigerHawk has a great fisk here. Meanwhile some on the Left want to change the subject.

No more than modest; A journalist's privilege

Volokh outlines the issue succinctly and brilliantly in the New York Times.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The name of the game for the liberals is protect Kofi and the U.N. at all costs

The Minneapolis Star Tribune thinks that Sen. Norm Coleman is barking up the wrong tree in asking for the resignation of Kofi Annan for his lack of oversight of the United Nations' scandal ridden oil for food program. The Star Tribune just doesn't get it. But then what do you think the feckless, shameless Star Tribune would have to say about Marc Rich, the well-connected conman who was pardoned in the final days of the Clinton adminstration? We bet not much. More on Rich here

How public is SAT data?

Always approach anything that FairTest claims about education reform and SAT testing with a serious grain of salt. But the well-known anti-testing group may have a point here.