Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Good economic news

GDP rate for 2006 a respectable 3.4%.

A chain email worth reading over and over

I know there are more people in the U.S. than ingrates. But this certainly is "on message," or should be.

Made in the USA : Spoiled Brats

The other day..........................

I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. It must be true given the source, right?

The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3s of the citizenry just isn’t happy and want a change.

So being the knuckle dragger I am, I starting thinking, ''What are we so unhappy about?''

Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfur has seen in the last year?

Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all and even send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home. You may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TVs, a burglar or prowler intrudes , an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U.S. , yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don't have , and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled ungrateful brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me? Did you hear how bad the President is on the news or talk show? Did this news affect you so much, make you so unhappy you couldn't take a look around for yourself and see all the good things and be glad? Think about it......are you upset at the President because he actually caused you personal pain OR is

it because the "Media" told you he was failing to kiss your sorry ungrateful behind every day.

Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases may have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn't have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a ''general'' discharge, an ''other than honorable'' discharge or, worst case scenario, a '' dishonorable'' discharge after a few days in the brig.

So why then the flat-out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame it on the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells , and when criticized, try to defend their actions by "justifying" them in one way or another. Just ask why they tried to allow a murderer like O.J. Simpson to write a book about how he didn't kill his wife, but if he did he would have done it this way...... Insane!

Stop buying the negativism you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.




Monday, January 29, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Absolutely essential: Press Zero

The human revolt against the Interactive Voice Response computer (aka Phone Tree Hell) is in full swing.

My favorite is my broadband ISP, RCN which GETHUMAN.COM properly grades as a F.

Here's what you have to get through to get a person on the other end of the line

Dial RCN @ 800‑746‑4726 @ Press 1; at prompt press 3; at prompt press 2; at prompt press 4.

I speak from experience.

Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.

The Costco effect

Bulk buying and its costs. Is Costco distorting consumer behavior? Should we care?

Ted Reisdorf, 43, chief executive of Paragon Custom Homes of Scottsdale, Ariz., goes to Costco once every month or two and stocks up on household supplies, to save him more frequent trips to the grocery store. Once he is there, however, he walks up and down every aisle to see “what jumps out” at him. Mr. Reisdorf usually adds some books, DVDs or baked goods to his cart. “I always buy stuff I don’t exactly need,” he said.

The decline of downtown Boston

Now Filene's Basement in downtown Boston is closing temporarily. Filene's Basement is a major draw on Washington Street and its closing could have spillover effects. Maybe the Mayor should spend less time about building skyscrapers and luxury housing that he does about the declining downtown that was once the heart of this city.

BOSTON --Filene's Basement, a landmark for downtown Boston shoppers for nearly 100 years, is considering temporarily closing its flagship store in the coming months, much to the dismay of longtime customers and Mayor Thomas Menino

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


An amazing dispatch from Peter Byrne

IN THE November 2006 election, the voters demanded congressional ethics reform. And so, the newly appointed chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is now duly in charge of regulating the ethical behavior of her colleagues. But for many years, Feinstein has been beset by her own ethical conflict of interest, say congressional ethics experts.

As chairperson and ranking member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) from 2001 through the end of 2005, Feinstein supervised the appropriation of billions of dollars a year for specific military construction projects. Two defense contractors whose interests were largely controlled by her husband, financier Richard C. Blum, benefited from decisions made by Feinstein as leader of this powerful subcommittee.

Monday, January 22, 2007

He will be missed

Bill Parcells will be missed on the sidelines. He is one of the great motivating coaches in the history of the game. And for the press, he certainly put on a good show but he chose not to address the media to announce his decision to retire from football.

He opted instead for an email. A little out of character but 19 hard seasons wear heavily on a man. He's entitled to bow out in any manner he chooses as far as I'm concerned.

In his last try, the Cowboys blew a chance to beat the Seahawks when Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo botched a hold on a short field goal with a little more than a minute left.

Parcells goes out having losing lost four of his final five games, including the last three. His announcement came 15 days after the loss to Seattle.

"I am retiring from coaching football,' Parcells said in a statement. "I want to thank Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones for their tremendous support over the last four years. Also, the players, my coaching staff and others in the support group who have done so much to help. Dallas is a great city and the Cowboys are an integral part of it. I am hopeful that they are able to go forward from here."

The announcement came in a morning e-mail.

Oderint, dum metuant

"Let them hate us but let them fear us." Among all the litany from the lesser lights of civilization that make up the "anti-Zionist" crowd, Israel is partly at the root of America's image problem. Why am I not surprised?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bravo for a honest non-vegetarian

Great article for those moderate meat-eaters among us. Required reading for those who want to challenge the sanctimony of some vegetarians.

Although vegetarians may think that surrendering human supremacy will reduce the harm that people do to the environment, any such effort is invariably counterproductive. Denying humans their supreme power means denying them their supreme responsibility to improve society, to safeguard the environment on which it depends and even--dare we say it--to improve nature as well.

Besides, humans are already sovereign--the trouble is that most of them don't realize it or, for political reasons, refuse to acknowledge it, maintaining instead that real sovereignty lies with God, nature or the free market. But real-life experience tells us otherwise. Since vegetarians began warning in the eighteenth century that the earth would run out of food unless everyone immediately shifted to potatoes and grain, the global population has more than sextupled, global per capita income has increased nearly tenfold even when inflation is taken into account, while consumption of meat, poultry and seafood has risen as well, up 37 percent in the United States since 1909 and even more strongly in less developed portions of the world. More people are living better and eating more richly than anyone in the 1700s would have thought possible. Regardless of whether they are consuming more meat and poultry than is good for them, it is yet another reminder, as if any more were needed, of how thoroughly Malthusian myths about limits to human productivity have been shattered.

Scarcity no longer serves as an argument for vegetarianism, and neither, for that matter, does health, since we know from studies of Okinawan centenarians and others that small amounts of meat and dark-fleshed fish are good for you; that moderate amounts of alcohol (which vegetarians for some reason appear to avoid) is good for you as well; and that plenty of exercise, a sense of well-being that comes from a strong social structure and, of course, universal healthcare are equally essential.

So the next time you tuck into a plate of tagliatelle Bolognese, a leg of lamb or a proper coq au vin made from some rangy old rooster that's had more lovers than most of us can dream of, you should see it not just as a chance to fill your stomach but, rather, as an occasion to celebrate humanity's ongoing struggle to create abundance out of scarcity. Venceremos! It's a lot better than wallowing in the silly defeatism of a diet of tofu and sprouts.

The pitfalls of not living in New York

My favorite drummer, Bill Bruford, played four nights in Manhattan. Had I lived there I would have taken him in. He can play just about anything.

Bill Bruford’s seminal jazz quartet Earthworks packed the house for most of its ten shows at NYC’s Iridium Jazz Club, November 2-5, showcasing some new pieces and treating the audience to favorites from the group's repertoire as well as from Bruford’s solo career. Joining the leader and his longtime collaborator Tim Garland were electric bassist Laurence Cottle (credits: Eric Clapton, Brian Eno) and young Welsh virtuoso pianist/composer Gwilym Simcock

Friday, January 19, 2007

Random music discovery of the day

KrazyDad is plugging a new music troupe, Sophia-Lux. Amusing talent with a nice video. Check it out.

Democracy as an ideal. Andrea Parhamovich did not die in vain

Andrea Parhamovich, who once worked for Governor Jane Swift, obviously had a lot of heart and idealism to go with it. She embodied the "soft" power of American might. Will we recognize this sacrifice as well? How will we honor it?

PERRY, Ohio --When Andrea Parhamovich was a high school freshman, she made it clear she wanted to change the world. Years later, she left to do just that, taking a job with an organization that promotes democracy in Iraq.

This week, the 28-year-old Ohio native died there when a convoy of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute was attacked. On Thursday, an al-Qaida-linked coalition of Iraqi Sunni insurgents claimed responsibility.

"She definitely had a personality that she was going to make a difference in people's lives," said Pat Giannell, a world history teacher at Perry High School, from which Parhamovich graduated in 1996. "Obviously, that's what she was doing in Iraq."

Parhamovich, a graduate of Marietta College in southeast Ohio, had been working with NDI in Baghdad since late 2006. She helped Iraqi political parties reach out to voters. She was helping "build the kind of national level political institutions that can help bridge the sectarian divide and improve Iraqi lives," NDI said.

Giannell kept in touch with Parhamovich after she graduated and last spoke to her about a year ago when she dropped by the school for a visit. She was always globally minded as a student, he said, and he wasn't surprised that her ambition carried her to Iraq.

"For her to die like that is not imaginable because she was the opposite of that type of lifestyle. She was a peaceful person," he said.

Parhamovich graduated in 2000 with a degree in advertising and public relations with a minor in journalism, said Tom Perry, spokesman for Marietta College in central Ohio. While at the college, she worked in the liberal arts school's media relations office and was part of the campus television and radio station.

"We saw what an excellent person she was, and she obviously had a passion for something and wanted to go there and be a part of it," Perry said. "We're proud she wanted to do this. It shows it's not just the soldiers who are in harm's way."

In a statement, Parhamovich's family said she was a "confident, motivated, intelligent and loving young woman ... who also put those around her first."

"Andi's desire to help strangers in such a dangerous environment thousands of miles away might be difficult for others to understand, but to us, it epitomized Andi's natural curiosity and unwavering commitment," said the statement. "She was passionate, bold and caring, as exemplified by her work to improve the lives of all Iraqis."

Parhamovich worked at a private public relations firm in Andover, Mass., in 2000 and 2001 before leaving to work as a communications aide in the state Department of Economic Development under then-Gov. Jane Swift, The Boston Globe reported.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Yeah this about sums it up. But where's the mainstream media?

If this were Bill Clinton's economy, the press would be painting a rosy scenario, of course. Jonah Goldberg has the litany of the status quo. It's really good news!

Jonah: Each of your pro-Kerry correspondents take pains to point out how poorly the country has fared under George W. Bush, and how those who support him (especially you…) are destroying the country. Let’s see, last time I checked,

1) The stock market is at an all-time high, thus

2) Retirement accounts are at last recovering.

3) Unemployment is at a 25-year low,

4) Taxes are at 20-year lows,

5) Federal revenues are at all-time highs,

6) The Federal deficit is down almost 50%,

7) Real estate values have soared,

8) Inflation is at a 20-year low,

9) There have been no successful attacks since 9/11,

10) Al Queda is being taken apart, one body at a time.

11) U.S. and British Intelligence have thwarted a number of attacks.

12) The terrorists are flocking to Iraq to be killed, instead of boarding planes for this country.

If any of your writers were as honest they dare you to be, they would admit that, if the president who had accomplished this in the face of such difficulty had a “D” after his name instead of an “R”, they would be singing his praises to the heavens. But no, the country is falling apart. Only if a Democrat takes the White House will everything instantly be perfect again.
Sure people are upset about Iraq and question the surge. But on the face of it current conditions haven't reached the malaise stage.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Another triumph of the human spirit

The news gets better.

TUESDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- The number of cancer deaths in the United States has dropped for the second year in a row, the first such decreases since researchers started keeping national statistics more than 70 years ago.

The most recent decline was much larger than the year before with 3,014 fewer deaths reported between 2003 and 2004, compared to 369 fewer deaths from 2002 to 2003.

"This second consecutive drop in the number of actual cancer deaths, much steeper than the first, shows last year's historic drop was no fluke," John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a prepared statement.

"Everyone involved in the fight against cancer should be proud of this remarkable achievement," he added. "The hard work towards preventing cancer, catching it early, and making treatment more effective is paying dramatic, lifesaving dividends. Thirteen years of continuing drops in the overall cancer death rate have now overtaken trends in aging and growth of the U.S. population, resulting in decreased numbers of deaths."

More on the Wall Street Journal's new design

Two weeks after it made its debut, the spritely and thinner Wall Street Journal still leaves a lot to be desired. It's just a little too weird for me. It doesn't spread anymore and that's one of the nice things about broadsheets. Put one on a clean kitchen table and digest (excuse the pun).

David Warsh has an excellent history of the WSJ. For newspaper junkies (there are still a few left) this is a great synopsis of where the Journal's been (including a Boston stretch) and where it's going (digital with a lot of subscriber support.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Charles Murray is at it again

Leave it to Charles Murray to re-start a debate and expect the catcalls to be very loud and irrational.

While concepts such as "emotional intelligence" and "multiple intelligences" have their uses, a century of psychometric evidence has been augmented over the last decade by a growing body of neuroscientific evidence. Like it or not, g exists, is grounded in the architecture and neural functioning of the brain, and is the raw material for academic performance. If you do not have a lot of g when you enter kindergarten, you are never going to have a lot of it. No change in the educational system will change that hard fact.

That says nothing about the quality of the lives that should be open to everyone across the range of ability. I am among the most emphatic of those who think that the importance of IQ in living a good life is vastly overrated. My point is just this: It is true that many social and economic problems are disproportionately found among people with little education, but the culprit for their educational deficit is often low intelligence. Refusing to come to grips with that reality has produced policies that have been ineffectual at best and damaging at worst.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Currently reading: Bart Kosko's NOISE

Having grown up with jet noise all around me, I can't wait to get deep into Bart Kosko's latest book. Can we ever eliminate noise, even the noise in the data? Probably not but this meditation on the nausea for the ears is going to open a few intellectual doors.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

More on the economy. Really it's not that bad

Shout it from the rooftops! Spengler asks a good question.

Last week was not a good one for America's detractors. The price of oil fell to US$56 a barrel. The same financial markets that swooned in July while Israel fought Hezbollah have forgotten the meaning of risk. The question the world should ask George W Bush is, "If you so dumb, how come you ain't poor"? The US economy and US markets are looking more buoyant than ever. As I wrote last week (Jeb Bush in 2008?, January 3), the whole Iraq debacle might disappear from the public's radar screen in time for America's next presidential election.


All week it was LaDainian Tomlinson, LT, LT! How are we going to stop LT?

In the end the road to the Super Bowl is littered with MVPs unable to stop the tenancious Patriots.

What a game!

Troy Brown isn't going to the Pro Bowl. So what! Patriots 24, Chargers 21. Make no mistake, this one's for the history books folks.

One of the best arguments in favor of free trade made in the vernacular

We've long know that the demands by Democrats that our trading partners adhere to First World standards on labor and environmental laws is but a ruse for killing free trade pacts. There was a time when Democrats favored free trade but the current crop of Lou Dobbs Democrats fear free trade opting for the illusory 'fair trade' model.

Blaming international trade for wage stagnation in this country is like blaming lettuce consumption for rising obesity. Trade is about selling American goods abroad as well as buying imports here. Exports have been rising, and studies indicate that the jobs created by exports pay better than the ones destroyed by imports.

[Newly elected Ohio Democrat Sherrod] Brown and others cling to the superstition that we can get rich by sealing ourselves off from the world and paying each other high prices for products made entirely in the U.S. of A. If they manage to erect new barriers to trade, we'll learn once again that protectionism is nothing but fool's gold.

A Sunday thought about liberals and the homeless

When I visited San Francisco last year, I was remarkably impressive with this world class city. I can understand why many people would love to live there. But I was struck by the number of homeless in SF as well as their behaviour, the kind of which I have never seen in my native Boston. What's up with that? Why do nice blue cities like SF attract the homeless? Is it just the generous welfare and other public benefits?

Bryan Caplan offers this take.

Now I understand why homelessness hasn't been solved at a federal level. The median U.S. voter isn't a Santa Monica liberal, and doesn't run a business where beggers keep scaring off the customers. But it's far less clear why places like Santa Monica haven't raised taxes on immobile real estate to get the homeless off the street.

Admittedly, such a program would probably have to be more paternalistic than regular welfare. The homeless would blow a monthly check on a weekend binge, and swap food stamps for drugs. You'd have to feed them in well-stocked cafeterias, and give them their cash on a daily basis. (High-end retail would be particularly pleased if the cafeterias and cash centers were ten miles away from them).

Why hasn't this happened? The simplest answer is that the homeless like their lifestyle. Even if you gave them a nice apartment, three cafeteria meals a day, and beer money, they'd keep bugging the tourists in Santa Monica. Maybe, but it's important to distinguish between the plausible view that the homelessness prefer their lifestyle to conforming to normality, and the implausible view that they would sleep on the streets and beg even if they had comfortable apartments and pockets full of cash.

There's also a popular view that begging provides a pretty good income, but I've seen enough homeless people digging through garbage cans for food to be skeptical.

So what gives? My best story just comes down to mobility. Places like Santa Monica have already tried to throw money at the homeless problem. The result was that they attracted more homeless to Santa Monica, until funds that were initially ample were once again stretched thin. If Santa Monicans redoubled their efforts, they would soon redouble their homeless population as well.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Is this good news going under-reported?

To think what it would be had it not been for a profilgate Congress!

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal deficit has improved significantly in the first three months of the new budget year, helped by a continued surge in tax revenues.
In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Friday that the deficit from October through December totaled $80.4 billion, the smallest imbalance for the first three months of a budget year since The budget year ends Sept. 30.

Tax collections are running 8.2 percent higher than a year ago while government spending is up by just 0.7 percent from a year ago. Last year's spending totals were boosted by significant payments to help the victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The Treasury said for December, the government actually ran a surplus of $44.5 billion, the largest surplus ever recorded in December and a gain that reflected a big jump in quarterly corporate tax payments.

The $80.4 billion deficit for the first three months of the current budget year was down 32.6 percent from the imbalance for the same period a year ago of $119.4 billion.

For the year, analysts are still forecasting that the deficit will worsen from last year's total of $248.2 billion, which had been the lowest in four years.

A lesson in minimum wage economics

When labor becomes expensive, capital is an alternative. Think about it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Barbara Boxer, crass and classless

Certainly not the woman's touch from the insufferable Barbara Boxer. It must be the California charm.

January 12, 2007 -- Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, an appalling scold from California, wasted no time yesterday in dragging the debate over Iraq about as low as it can go - attacking Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for being a childless woman.

Boxer was wholly in character for her party - New York's own two Democratic senators, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, were predictably opportunistic - but the Golden State lawmaker earned special attention for the tasteless jibes she aimed at Rice.

Rice appeared before the Senate in defense of President Bush's tactical change in Iraq, and quickly encountered Boxer.

"Who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price," Boxer said. "My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young."

Then, to Rice: "You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."


Simply breathtaking.

We scarcely know where to begin.

The junior senator from California apparently believes that an accomplished, seasoned diplomat, a renowned scholar and an adviser to two presidents like Condoleezza Rice is not fully qualified to make policy at the highest levels of the American government because she is a single, childless woman.

It's hard to imagine the firestorm that similar comments would have ignited, coming from a Republican to a Democrat, or from a man to a woman, in the United States Senate. (Surely the Associated Press would have put the observation a bit higher than the 18th paragraph of a routine dispatch from Washington.)
Yes, if it was a story about a Republican dressing down a female Democrat, we know that all hell would break loose, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tom Jefferson and his war on terror

And a pitch for religious freedom by way of Christohper Hitchens.

Jefferson did not demand regime change of the Barbary states, only policy change. And as far as I can find, he avoided any comment on the religious dimension of the war. But then, he avoided public comment on faith whenever possible.
Read the whole article.

A man in full: Tom Wolfe's latest obsession

I didn't read Tom Wolfe's long polemic on historic preservation in New York last November. Luckily the Village Voice has Wolfe's latest foray into participatory journalism.

From the lofty heights of Mount Week in Review, Wolfe had summoned up all of his rhetorical powers—his vroooom vroooom, kandy-kolored, tangerine-flake streamlined prose—to smite an obscure municipal agency, the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The agency's mission: to designate historic landmarks and to vet planned construction projects in the city's historic districts. Wolfe declared the commission "de facto defunct." He called its members pushovers for City Hall, patsies for developers—and he said they're more concerned with their own popularity than with protecting the city's historic assets.

"The writer Tom Wolfe and other neighbors have taken to lobbying objections in the direction of the Landmarks Preservation Commission," wrote Wolfe, speaking of himself in the third person. "Today it is a bureau of the walking dead."

For the most part, preservation advocates tend to be sincere traditionalists, who revere the established order and speak earnestly and without irony about the grave importance of such things as safeguarding the fabric of a neighborhood. In short, they are nothing like Wolfe—a bestselling author who has spent much of his career singling out the establishment's plump sacred cows and then reveling in their subsequent slaughter as he enriches his own life and parades about town in his trademark white suit, top hat, and spats.

Then again, historic preservation tends to attract an older crowd, and that would clearly include the 75-year-old Wolfe. His most recent novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons—about the softcore adventures of a handful of college undergraduates—explored the terrain of young Americans and was the least successful book of his long career. And just as aging buildings need preserving, so do the reputations of aging writers. Wolfe's salvo in the Times may say less about the commission's attempts to save old buildings and more about Tom Wolfe's attempt to preserve his own decaying facade.
Writers who refer to themselves in the third person are a little weird but one always has to make an exception for Tom Wolfe.

Now that didn't take long, did it?

It certainly didn't take long for Governor Patrick to hedge his bets on property tax cuts. But we knew he'd pull something like this, didn't we?

Governor Deval Patrick, faced with a surprisingly tight budget situation, is tempering some of his campaign promises, saying yesterday that he may have to stretch his much touted plan for 1,000 new police officers over several years and stabilize, rather than cut, property taxes.

"We can definitely start, and we will start down the path of adding more cops on the beat, because I think that's critical," Patrick said yesterday.

Last month, he said on a radio station that "we may not need 1,000 cops" all at once.

He also made it clear that property tax cuts, a recurring campaign theme, are not going to be implemented anytime soon.

"What we can do is stabilize property taxes to be sure," he said yesterday. "We've got to start there."

Last week he also told a radio interviewer that investments in transportation might have to be deferred, though he did not name specific projects.

Patrick has said a budget deficit could exceed $1 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1. Despite that prediction, he restored $383 million in budget cuts last week made by former governor Mitt Romney in November.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Well it sounded good!

Brian Doherty says the Dems first 100 hours has pretty much gone down the drain in a fit of Pelosi-lapooza. As much as she spins the feminist spin or the Italian-American Catholic spin or the reformist sping, Pelosi remains a speaker just like all the other ones before her. Nothing special.

While Pete Townshend’s cynical/wise declaration “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” has become a painfully predictable epigram to summon, it’s unfortunately a perfectly apt reaction to the painful predictability of political reality. Pelosi is the first woman to be speaker of the House—but ultimately, 100 hours of work from now or 1,000, just another speaker of the House.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


MBTA Fare to the TD BankNorth Boston Garden: $3.40.

Sweatshirt with home team logo: $35.00.

Game Program for hockey game, Bruins v. Flyers, 6 January 2007 at 1 p.m.: $4.00.

Eats: $11.75

Baseball cap: $15.00.

First major league sporting event with six-year old son: PRICELESS.

And as a bonus the Bruins won 4-3! Even without Zdeno!

My score didn't surprise me that much

This political quiz is a bit nebulous but a lot of fun. I scored a 31 which puts me in Jack Kemp's camp. Not a bad place to be. (Photo credit: FC; sorry for the blurry photograph).

Here are a couple of other quizzes, more libertarian in disposition.

And for the really hard core free marketeers:

The most accessible, in my humble opinion, is the quiz from Advocates for Self-Government found here It's billed as the world's smalled political quiz.

Massachusetts facts

From the estimable Tax Foundation, a few fiscal facts about Massachusetts.

Among the most interesting is this fact.

Federal Tax Burdens and Expenditures: Massachusetts is a Donor State
Massachusetts taxpayers receive less federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid compared to the average state. Per dollar of Federal tax collected in 2004, Massachusetts citizens received approximately $0.77 in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state 44th nationally and represents a significant fall from 1992 when Massachusetts received $1.01 per dollar of taxes in federal spending (when the state ranked 31st nationally). Neighboring states and the amount of federal spending they received per dollar of federal taxes paid were as follows: Rhode Island ($1.02), Connecticut ($0.66), New York ($0.79), New Hampshire ($0.67), and Vermont ($1.12).

I understand that several red states are net gainers at the federal trough. But what exactly has Massachusetts vaunted "kick-ass" delegation been doing over the last few decades?

My guess is that even with a new Democratic majority in Congress, spending will continue to be directed to those red states. The Democrats there won by slim margins and it just may be the Blue Dogs turn to bring the bacon home. Add to that growing concerns about losing a member of the Massachusetts delegation to redistricting and the "donor" problem could get worse.

More about donor states here.

Academic pretensions unmasked, costly ones.

The Chinese and the Indians are eating our lunch in science and engineering. Our poorest students can barely read by the highest standards expected in a Western democracy. But there's time enough in the bastions of higher learning for foolishness. This, my friends, is what the political left has done to higher education.

Annual tuition at Occidental, a private college, is $32,800. That means if you take "The Phallus" and "Blackness" (plus its prerequisite "Whiteness") this year on a four-course-per-semester schedule, you will have set your parents back $12,300.
If there's ever a group of candidates for victimhood it's parents who are footing the bill. And as long as the tenured 1960s radicals have their way parents will continue to be victimized. There's more:

The bigger problem is that too much of American higher education has lost any notion of what its students ought to know about the ideas and people and movements that created the civilization in which they live: Who Plato was or what happened at Appomattox.
Read all of Charlotte Allen's take here.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Resource of note: Income inequality

If you are interested in the debate about solutions to narrowing the gap in income inequality this is a source for you.

There are a couple of blue states in the wide gap category. I wonder what the publishers of the data, two liberal economic think tanks think about the gap in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, Alan Reynolds has a new book on the subject which takes to task the conventional view that inequality is running amok.

Friday, January 05, 2007

What is Jason Wolfe doing to WRKO?

I don't expect Jason Wolfe to turn WRKO into Air America but I have to wonder about his personnel moves. The air of uncertainly is baffling to longtime listeners. To be sure John DePetro, who Wolfe fired this past fall, lacked ratings power in the 9 a.m. to 12 noon slot. However, Todd Feinburg, an excellent talk radio host, should permanently be in that slot. Maybe that will happen. I think it should.

WRKO radio has bumped talk show host Todd Feinburg from its nighttime lineup, but the station’s program director says he wants to keep the conservative yakker on the station’s airwaves.

Feinburg has been filling in on mornings while the Entercom-owned station searches for a replacement for John DePetro, who was fired last year for calling gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross a "fat lesbian."

"Todd is being moved into the 9 a.m. to noon slot while I continue to work towards a permanent solution there, which I expect him to be a part of," said WRKO program director Jason Wolfe.

"Meanwhile, we are retooling at night with two solid national shows, Michael Savage from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Jerry Doyle from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.," Wolfe said.

Feinburg's nighttime show aired for the last time Tuesday. His nationally syndicated show can still be heard on WRKO (680 AM) on weekend afternoons.
More from Boston Radio Watch on former Speaker Finneran's pursuit of a daytime slot.

Leftists against homosexuality? How can this be?

I suppose if you are a Gay Left Marxist theoretician you can't always choose your allies.

NEPAL'S hardline Maoist guerillas, on the brink of achieving effective government power in the Himalayan kingdom, have turned their attention to so-called "social pollutants" and denounced homosexuals as "a by-product of capitalism".
Emerging from a decade of fighting government forces, the insurgents have launched a clean-up drive against polygamy, polyandry, infidelity, drunkenness and homosexuality — even though many gays were previously aligned with the Maoists against the autocratic rule of the widely despised King Gyanendra.

Maoist cadres, seen regularly on the streets of Kathmandu as they move towards taking over key roles in the Government under a peace accord worked out with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, have warned home owners not to let out rooms to gays and lesbians.

They have also announced "a zero-tolerance policy towards homosexuality" and a crackdown on pornographic films.

A Maoist commander allegedly told a group of gay men: "We are against any aberrant activity that could have a negative and vitiating effect on society."

Does Andrew Sullivan know about this? Or is he too busy worrying about "Christianists"?

The persistence of the human spirit

This is an example of a real hero.

NEW YORK --Wesley Autrey probably has enough new nicknames to fill a top 10 list: "subway superman," "hero of Harlem" and "subway savior," to name a few.

Whatever the number, Autrey's dramatic move to rescue a young man from Massachusetts in a subway track earned him a spot on David Letterman's "Late Show," capping a day spent basking in his newfound celebrity.

But Autrey has said since the rescue Tuesday that he doesn't consider himself a hero, and he told Letterman's audience it was just "something that all New Yorkers should do."

"How are you going to walk by someone who's ill and just look -- 'Oh, well, I'm busy, I've got to go to work'?" Autrey said in an interview broadcast Thursday night.

It was part of a day in which the 50-year-old Harlem construction worker was showered with a trip to Disney World, $10,000 from Donald Trump, a medal from the mayor and plenty of national attention.

In a statement, the family of the rescued man, Cameron Hollopeter, 19, of Littleton, Mass., said Autrey "deserves all of the attention and the accolades that are now being bestowed upon him."

Accompanied by his daughters, 6-year-old Shuqui and 4-year-old Syshe, Autrey smiled broadly as he was lauded during an appearance with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city leaders.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The coming culture clash; Some Muslims are above the law.

Let me put it this way for the multiculturalists who bend over backward for the Muslims seeking their own rules: When my family came from Italy they didn't ask for special favors or bilingual ballots or special extra-governmental status.

They came to become Americans. They learned English and encouraged all of their children to master the ways of the American. So I tire of hearing from apologists who say I don't understand Islam or immigrants or multiculturalism.

Last year, the airports commission received a fatwa, or religious edict, from the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society. The fatwa said "Islamic jurisprudence" prohibits taxi drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol, "because it involves cooperating in sin according to Islam."

Eva Buzek, a flight attendant and Minneapolis resident, said she was recently refused service by five taxi drivers when she was carrying wine as she returned from a trip to France.

"In my book, when you choose to come to a different country, you make some choices," said Buzek, a native of Poland. "I never expected everything to be the same way as in my homeland, and I adjusted. I never dreamed of imposing my beliefs on somebody else."

But Hassan Mohamud, imam at Al-Taqwa Mosque of St. Paul and director of the Islamic Law Institute at the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, one of the largest Islamic organizations in the state, said asking Muslims to transport alcohol "is a violation of their faith. Muslims do not consume, carry, sell or buy alcohol, and Islam also considers the saliva of dogs to be unclean, he said.

But many Somali taxi drivers don't have a problem transporting passengers with alcohol and are worried about a backlash, said Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center. Jamal said he supports the tougher penalties.

"We tell the taxi drivers, if you don't want to do this, change your job," he said. "You are living in a country where alcohol is not viewed the way it is in your country."

We tax Catholics and other Christians who are against abortion and other policies don't we? Yet I don't see them seceding from American culture or asking for exemptions. What ever happened to assimilation? Again I stress not all Muslims think this way as the Somali quoted above suggests. But fundamentalists pose public policy issues we better deal with sooner than later.

Deval takes the helm

I thought Deval gave a very good inaugural address drawing nicely on the history of the Commonwealth as the birthplace of democracy and liberty.

However I thought his victory speech on Election Night was much, much better. The reference in today's speech to the old lady struggling down the steps was a little awkward. Yesterday at roughly this time Governor Patrick told Eagan and Braude that he hadn't even started to write his speech. And today that showed a bit. A tired cliche seeped in:

"We know what to do. We know that our challenges were long in the making and will require long-term solutions. We know what to reach for. And we ought to know that either we invest today or we will surely pay excessively tomorrow. We know that investment in education today beats investment in prisons tomorrow."
Congratulations Governor Patrick from the loyal opposition.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Be prepared for the arrival of the RIBBON!

The new Office 2007 is radically changed. The learning curve is steep but worth it says tech savant Walt Mossbery of the WSJ. I tend to be skeptical but what do I know.

Watch Walt explain it all here.

The law of unintended consequences writ large

William Niskanen hopes that SOX gets put away in a drawer somewhere.

WHEN the new Congress begins its session tomorrow, two familiar faces will not be present: Senator Paul S. Sarbanes and Representative Michael G. Oxley, who are both retiring. Mr. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, has served for 30 years; Mr. Oxley, an Ohio Republican, for 26 — and their main legacy will be their joint attack on corporate corruption, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

The act, which was passed hastily in the wake of the Enron scandal, was surely well intentioned. But it has proven counterproductive in the extreme, and Congress would best honor the departing lawmakers by repealing it.

Sarbanes-Oxley has seriously harmed American corporations and financial markets without increasing investor confidence. The section of the law requiring companies to perform internal audits has turned out to be far more costly than proponents projected, especially for smaller firms. These costs have led some small companies to go private, hardly a victory for public oversight, and some foreign firms to withdraw their stocks from American exchanges.

In addition, the average “listing premium” — the benefit that companies receive by listing their stocks on American exchanges — has declined by 19 percentage points since 2002. This explains why the percentage of worldwide initial public offerings on our exchanges dropped to 5 percent last year, from 50 percent in 2000.

Other costs associated with the act may turn out to be more important. For example, more stringent financial regulations and increased penalties for accounting errors may make senior managers too risk-averse. Most chief executives are not accountants, so the requirement that they personally affirm tax reports — at the risk of jail time should anything be amiss — may make them reluctant to partake in perfectly legitimate activities.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The dollar's demise, what me worry?

Who's going to ditch the American dollar next? And should we care?

Late last month, the United Arab Emirates became the latest country to shift more of its currency reserves away from the dollar, joining Russia, Switzerland, Venezuela and others.

Those moves come amid ambiguous signals from China recently about possibly pulling back from the dollar, and recent word from Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, that it would prefer payments for oil, typically priced in dollars, in euros.

But currency experts say that this turn away from the dollar is not likely to do any long-term damage to the currency's value for a number of reasons. First, the motives of central banks that are adding other currencies to their reserves do not appear to be driven by the belief that the euro will eventually supplant the dollar as the world's key currency. Rather, these central banks are doing what investors typically do to minimize risk: diversifying their portfolios.

Moreover, the amount of currency moved so far has been relatively small in a global market that trades trillions of dollars a day — only about $2 billion in the case of the United Arab Emirates, for example.

"There is some indication that central banks are moving to diversify reserves, but it's at a very slow pace," said David Powell, a currency analyst with IDEAglobal. "Is it the start of a massive shift out of the dollar? I would say no."

Pay heed to this story the media has ignored

Seth Gitell rightly wants us to pay attention to an act of domestic terror that Americans have sadly forgotten.

Bush eulogizes President Ford

A eulogy well-done.

Eyecandy on a diet? The redesigned Wall Street Journal

The slimmer but thicker Wall Street Journal made its debut this morning. And the verdict is here: I don't like it. This is a capitulation to the elusive young reader of the modern world, namely a person who doesn't read much to start with. Institutions like the WSJ should change only modestly, not radically.

The new design leaves about 10 percent less space for news stories, but half of that loss is being made up by cutting back on the amount of stock tables and other statistical data in the paper. Along with the changes in the print version unveiled Tuesday the Journal also launched a more robust online feature for tracking financial markets,

As part of a promotional campaign, the Journal is making about half a million copies of the paper free on newsstands on Tuesday and opening up its Web site,, to non-subscribers for the day. Many of the changes are aimed at bringing in younger readers with an easier-to-read presentation of news.

"Readers told us that the Journal could better tailor its efforts to how, when and where you access news," Gordon Crovitz, the Journal's publisher, said in a letter to readers.

As for the reduced size, Crovitz said, "the almost unanimous reaction among readers in focus groups was that this would make the newspaper more convenient and literally handier."

I still don't like it. The focus groups are wrong. I'm surprised the WSJ has been pandering to a demographic that doesn't seem like it wants to spend an hour a day with a substantial newspaper.