Saturday, December 31, 2005

Is Romney not Christian enough?

Anyone who meets Mitt Romney comes away with a good feeling. He's a very decent man and the people of Massachusetts chose wisely in 2002. Governor Romney is certainly playing coy with his presidential ambitions, opting not to run for re-election in 2006. But the early wordis that Romney faces problems with the religous right not an insignificant force in Republican circles. A resolute chaste man who refuses to indulge in so much as foul language, Governor Romney's problem appears to be that he is a Mormon. In today's excellent profile of Romney, James Taranto of theWall Street Journal notes

The trouble is that much of today's anti-Mormon sentiment is found on the religious right, a constituency that looms much larger in the GOP now than it did in 1968, or than it ever has in Massachusetts. Ask a conservative Christian what he thinks of Mormonism, and there's a good chance he'll call it a "cult" or say Mormons "aren't Christian."

I am not a congenial basher of the "religious right" but I do think religious conservatives who hold such views on Mormonism behind their lace curtains are an increasing threat to the Republican party. It would be a shame if they foreclose opportunities for "non-Chrisitians" like Romney.

What's happening to the party of Goldwater?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The slow triumph of hope

There's good news. Some things are actually getting better for humanity. Brian McCartan is an optimist.

Judging from the headlines, 2005 was a gloomy year, indeed. Gulf Coast hurricanes, the devastating earthquake in Kashmir, ongoing war in Iraq, civil war in Sudan, renewed famine in central Africa, and the threat of a worldwide pandemic flu darkened the news. These headlines, however, obscure a far brighter underlying trend: On average, people across the planet are living longer, healthier lives, with greater opportunities for education and political freedom than ever before.

We unavoidably view our world through news articles that break up an otherwise overwhelming stream of information into digestible bites. As a result, we often "lose the forest for the trees" by focusing on sensational short-term stories that impact relatively few people. It is difficult to place these singular events in context and it is all too easy to lose sight of more fundamental developments. If we step back from daily headlines and examine broader global trends in human progress, an encouraging picture for 2005 emerges.

Let us build, then, upon the successes lost in the forest.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Blogger bitch slaps Bob Kuttner, third-rate Bush basher

There's a penalty for dragging Abraham Lincoln into the art of serial Bush-bashing.

Professor Anderson lays into Robert Kuttner:

One might read the history of Lincoln and the Civil War quite differently than Kuttner does. Kuttner and his antiwar confreres, for example, might seem like shining examples of Copperhead Democrats, eager for peace no matter what, having concluded that Lincoln was a simpleton whose only character trait was a stubborness and resistance to reason that had already cost the lives of hundreds of thousands in a lost war. As for democracy in the Middle East, Kuttner et al. might be thought to resemble those in Lincoln's day who thought that blacks were simply incapable of participating in self-government. As for religion, Kuttner et al. might be thought to resemble most closely the anti-war Democratic newspapers of the day - along with many of the sophisticated newspapers of Europe - who were appalled by the religiousity of the Second Inaugural Address and accused its author of offering "puritanical" theology in place of public policy, and who believed that Lincoln was invoking the mantle of the Almighty in order to shield his own policies from criticism - Lincoln was guilty, in their eyes, of being at once a believer and a hypocrite, which is not that different, so far as I can tell, from how Kuttner sees Bush. As for the belief that Lincoln acquainted himself with a wide range of opinion through his wide reading, whereas Bush lives apart from newspapers and criticism - well, ironically, both elite Radical New England opinion and elite New York Democratic anti-war opinion believed that the ill-educated Lincoln lived in a world shaped by Western frontier prejudices and that he was simply outside the mainstream of what American and European elites "knew" to be the real world, not so different from what Kuttner et al. in the "reality-based community" like to think of themselves and President Bush.

The regressing of national Democrats, Kuttner's party , into the Copperhead forebears is an apt analogy. Much as those Lincoln haters thought little of the African slave, the modern Democrats believe those Iraqis over there aren't capable of much democracy.

The blogospher is proving that Kuttner doesn't know his history. According to Kuttner:

Despite civil insurrection, Lincoln resisted broad intrusions on democratic rights. Bush runs roughshod over liberties.

A strong case can be made that Lincoln violated more civil liberties as a means to his ends than old W, the cowboy. He trashed opposition newspapers, violently suppresed anti-draft demonstrations and suspended habeas corpus.

Mister Snitch makes the case better than I ever will. There's a limit to Bush-bashing.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

SoxBlog takes a swing at the Globe's coverage of controversial Roxbury mosque

The Globe takes a belated peek at the controversy surrounding a new mosque in Roxbury. Why has it taken the Globe this long? It might have to do with political correctness or just laziness or just the inability to grasp the issue's importance says SoxBlog.

SoxBlog's Dean Barnett published a detailed piece in the Weekly Standard recently highlighting some of the unsavory characters associated with the Islamic Society of Boston's $22 million mosque in Roxbury. Moreover Barnett zooms into the cozy real estate deal worked out by ISB and the City of Boston.

When I labeled the question of why the Globe hadn?t covered this story in its own backyard as only a ?pretty good? one, the reason I gave it relatively low marks is because we all know the answer as to why the Globe ignored the story. The Globe would be incapable of covering such a matter without its trademark slavish adherence to political correctness. There?s no way the Globe could cover the controversy either honestly or accurately.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Does C.A.I.R care about its image?

Stephen Schwartz laments radical Wahhabi's inroads into moderate American Islam.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Steve Chapman remembers the late William Proxmire

Sen. William Proxmire died this past week. He was a great Senator and a Democrat with guts. Proxmire railed against mindless government spending even when it benefited his own state. They certainly don't make them like Bill Proxmire anymore as Stephen Chapman notes:

He was a philosophical anomaly, voting like a Kennedy on civil rights, the Vietnam War, the environment and the death penalty, but often expressing skepticism about federal programs. "Government has gotten too big too fast," he said in 1979. "The burden of proof ought always to be on those who want to extend government."

Those who want to extend government have had a far easier time since Proxmire left the Senate 17 years ago. Everyone would agree they don't make senators like that anymore. In truth, they never made more than one.

Kayne West call your office

Ever wonder why newspaper readership is plummeting? And why journalists are held in low esteem? Try this and this.

But perhaps some of the reason why we get slanted news is this.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson sums it up

These are not good days for the Democrats. With a historic election complete in Iraq, the Democrats find it best perhaps not to have an Iraq policy. Actually they do have one and it caters to European sensibilities most of them naive.

There is a cost after all of trying to Europeanize America the way the Pelosi/Kerry/Dean/Murtha/ crowd so desires -soft power over boots on the ground. With all the hand waves of pessimism, they showcase weakness in foreign policy. The Iraqis and their purple fingers have left them speechless. Democracy at the end of a gun's barrel has its virtues.

Attached to the verities of Old Europe, appeasing psuedo isolationist Democrats are confronted with unpleasant choices in the near future. For one, what do to about Iran with its raving Jew-hating Islamofascist? Victor Davis Hanson explains.

The European way is not the answer, as we see from the farcical negotiations over Iran?s time bomb. Struggling with a small military, unsustainable entitlement promises, little real economic growth, high unemployment, falling birth rates, angry unassimilated minorities, and a suicidal policy of estrangement from its benefactor the United States, Europeans show already an 11th-hour change of heart as we see in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and soon in France.

Europe's policy about Iran's nuclear program can best be summed up as: Hurry up, sane and Western Israel, and take out this awful thing so we can damn you Zionist aggressors for doing so in our morning papers!
Maybe the Democrats believe the same thing.

The march of the nanny state

This latest push for the busy-bodies is done, of course, "for the children." While the nannycrats have their foot in the front door why don't they just head for the pantry where they can clean out the Cheez-its and other snacks in the name of fighting obesity. There may be some efficiency to the effort. Then maybe they, of all people, can work their way into the bedroom, perhaps mandating condom use for the public good of curbing overpopulation.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hypocrisy from the Boston Globe

James Taranto calls out the dimwitted Boston Globe (Scroll down).

Mitt Romney has announced that he won't run for re-election as governor of Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports. But he "refused to close the door on speculation he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008."

A Globe editorial calls on Romney to resign immediately:

"Our New Year's wish: a governor who wouldn't rather be elsewhere.

By thumbing his nose at Massachusetts after less than three-quarters of one term as its chief executive, Mitt Romney, yesterday surrendered his clout and squandered his legitimacy. If, as it appears, his heart and mind are no longer in Massachusetts, he should resign. "

We're too lazy to do this, but here's an assignment for a reader who has
access to Factiva or Nexis: Find the Globe editorials from 1987-88 and 2003-04
demanding the resignations, respectively, of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry
My bet is you won't find an editorial in the archives from the Boring Broadsheet asking two very overrated homers like the Duke and Jawn to resign their office in their quest for the White House. We need not tell you why.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The perils of the prediction business

Econbrowser reminds us of just how difficult it is to get a handle on how high oil prices might go.

Oil 'will hit $100 by winter'
Worst-ever crisis looms, says analyst · Surging demand to keep prices high
Heather Stewart, economics correspondent
Sunday July 3, 2005
The Observer

Oil prices could rocket to $100 within six months, plunging the world into an unprecedented fuel crisis, controversial Texan oil analyst Matt Simmons has warned.
After crude surged through $60 a barrel last week, nervous investors were pinning their hopes on a build-up in US oil-stocks to depress prices in the coming months.

But Simmons believes surging demand will keep prices bubbling well above $50. 'We could be at $100 by this winter. We have the biggest risk we have ever had of demand exceeding supply. We are now just about to face up to the biggest crisis we have ever had,' he said.

Opec producers held emergency talks last week to consider making their second 500,000 a barrel increase in production quotas in a fortnight: but the discussions were suspended last Thursday after prices dipped back below $60.

Doesn't the U.N. have anything better to do?

There's ongoing genocide in Darfur. The Iraqis are about to make history. Iran is playing chicken with the rest of the world and what the U.N. concern itself with? Dutch "racism." The U.N. as censor and just to think it wants to control the Internet!

The economy gets no respect

The Pouting Pundits of Pessimism, Brian Wesbury's term, have done a Mexican hat dance on the economy. The Bush Boom is brisk but the mainstream media is doing its godawful best to dampen the good news.

Thank god for the bloggers. They have a different take.

BizzyBlog has the details here.

And President Bush is out extolling the good economy, low poll numbers and all.

This is enough for the economics roundtable at Pajamas Media to mull.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

We are tired of being bounced by voice machines!

For those of you who hate corporate voice machines, here's a quick way to get a human on the phone.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Is this good news for the Social Security system?

What we should be really worrying about is Medicare.

The report presents the latest data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and dozens of other health agencies and organizations [found that]

Among the findings: Deaths from heart disease, cancer and stroke, the nation's three leading killers, all dropped in 2003. They were down between 2 percent and 5 percent.

Americans' life expectancy also increased again. According to the government's calculations, a child born in 2003 can expect to live 77.6 years on average, up from 77.3 the year before. In 1990, life expectancy was 75.4 years.

U.S. life expectancy has been rising almost without interruption since thanks to several factors, including extraordinary advances in medicine and sanitation, and declines in some types of unhealthy behavior, such as smoking. Still, health officials are trying to draw attention to unhealthy behavior, and this year chose to break out data on people 55 to 64.

The 55-to-64 age group is expected to rise from 29 million Americans in 2004 to 40 million in 2014. That is because of the baby boom, the explosion of births during the prosperous postwar period between 1946 and 1964.

The report looked back at data on people who were in the 55-to-64 bracket around the early 1990s _ basically, people born in the 1930s. Researchers compared them to people in that age range today _ essentially people born in the 1940s.

"What happens to this group is very important because it's going to affect every other group," said Amy Bernstein of the National Center for Health Statistics, which put out the new report. Among other things, this group will be drawing on Social Security and Medicare, financed by U.S. taxpayers.

Blogger Angry Bear does us a favor

The federal budget: read the chart and weep. Or maybe it isn't so bad if you take Angry Bear's perspective.

We want your money and our cake too

Robert Musil takes on the opposition to the Solomon Amendment.

We want your money and our cake too

Robert Musil takes on the opposition to the Solomon Amendment.

Steve Chapman is amused that liberals, by opposing the military's take on "don't ask, don't tell", are painting themselves into a nasty philosophical trap. I've long said that scratch a liberal to find a hypocrite. I amend this to say scratch a liberal and find a ball of contradictions, some very delightful for me.

For years they [liberals] have favored using federal power to force universities to do certain things that some schools would rather not do. An institution that accepts federal funds, for example, may not discriminate on the basis of race. Title IX, beloved by feminists, compels colleges getting such aid to offer equal opportunity for female students in sports and other activities -- with the feds defining what constitutes "equal opportunity."

Suppose a school disagrees with these mandates? It will get no sympathy from liberal groups, which invariably reply: Cry me a river. When you accept public subsidies, they announce, you must defer to the public's sense of fairness and equity. If you want to do things your own way, do them with your own money.

But in a case heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, it appears that the liberal affection for assertive government has a limit. A law known as the Solomon Amendment requires universities getting federal funds to grant access to recruiters for the military on the same terms as recruiters for any other employer.

Many law schools object, because of the military's exclusion of gays under its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and they want the court to excuse them from this obligation. All of a sudden, they are smitten with the idea that private institutions should be allowed to run their campuses as they see fit, rather than be ordered around by Washington.

John Batchelor's Boston days are coming to an end

The effusively glib and drum-beating John Batchelor show on WRKO 680AM, fanfare and all, is coming to an end -- at last in the greater Boston area. Due to Todd Feinburg's new show on WRKO, "Taste of Boston Tonight," the venerable talk station is revamping its nightime programming. WRKO is moving Michael Savage to 10 a.m. crowding off Batchelor and the usual cast of characters includign Boston's own intelligence expert, John Loftus. Feinburg's show sounds very interesting and underscores the power and appeal of locally-oriented radio. The emergence of this show during a critical time in Boston radio demonstrates the limits of nationally syndicated programming in the Boston market. The crucially must-read Boston Radio Watch has the details.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Don't bet against Robert Fogel

A contributor to Arnold Kling's EconLog says you shouldn't bet against the insight of economic historian Robert Fogel. Fogel, the 1993 Nobel Laureate in Economics, thinks long-term economic growth could prop up the social security system rather easily. He's an optimist to say the least -- thinking that economic growth is often underestimated.