Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ted Kennedy and Redemption

Ask and you shall receive. The Senator asked and the Pope granted a blessing. :
"I also want you to know that even though I am ill, I am committed to do everything I can to achieve access to health care for everyone in my country. This has been the political cause of my life. I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health care field and will continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone.

"I have always tried to be a faithful Catholic, Your Holiness, and though I have fallen short through human failings, I have never failed to believe and respect the fundamental teachings. I continue to pray for God’s blessings on you and our Church and would be most thankful for your prayers for me."

YouTube - UKZ "Radiation"

Here's Eddie and Company UKZ-Band "Radiation"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The always great Billy Cobham

Always a pleasure to revisit one of the world's best drummers, Billy Cobham.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Will Wilkerson versus the Marxist intellectuals

What We Are Not Embarrassed by: "Here is a good debate proposition: It ought to be less embarrassing to have been influenced by Ayn Rand than by Karl Marx." But the intellectuals love the jargon.

R.I.P. Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Never voted for the man but he earned his reputation as a liberal lion. The estimable Martin F. Nolan pens today's front page news story and does a great political figure due justice. In displays of loyalty through thin and thick times, Massachusetts voters never abandoned Senator Kennedy. In doing so, they made history.

De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

She can take great photographs but can't add

This is sad because I think Annie Leibovitz is one of the greatest photographers still with us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Poem for the day: Robert Frost's "A Minor Bird"


I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

The fault must partly have been in me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mind bender: Eddie Jobson at Arlington's Regent Theatre.

Eddie Jobson's musical career -- extending from Curved Air to Roxy Music, U.K. and beyond -- speaks for itself. He's a master and a gentleman. And his August 19, 2009 show at Arlington's Regent Theater rocked.

Things are looking up

BBJ: Investors upbeat!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

She's at least consistent

Cindy Sheehan speaks:
The "anti-war" "left" was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the "anti-Republican War" movement.
Not exactly. The anti-war left let itself be used by the Obamatons.

Rose Friedman, Milton's better half, has died

Economist and benefactor Rose Friedman has died.
They were known for being both romantically and intellectually suited to each other, often appearing in public holding hands, and though often debating — Ms. Friedman was known as the less compromising of the two — rarely, if ever bickering. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2006, only a few months before her husband died, Ms. Friedman said the 2003 invasion of Iraq created the first major argument of their life together. She was in favor; he was not.

“We have disagreed on little things, obviously — such as, I don’t want to go out to dinner, he wants to go out — but big issues, this is the first one,” she said.

Ms. Friedman’s contribution to the couple’s work was “not so much in technical economic writing, but on the policy side,” said Gary Becker, a Nobel laureate and professor of economics at the University of Chicago, who was a student of Mr. Friedman’s and a longtime friend of the couple. “It was an extremely close intellectual fellowship, and she was not someone who got credit for things she didn’t do. They discussed ideas constantly. Her feelings about the importance of private markets, opposition to big government, were even stronger than his. Her lasting influence will be as a collaborator, but she was a major contributor to the collaboration, and that’s a significant legacy.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Prince of Darkness no more!

The great reporter and columnist Robert Novak has died. R.I.P. They don't make them like Novak anymore.
He was always eager to share his passion for public policy and politics. In speeches to college graduation classes, Bob distilled the essence of his years-long ruminations on America for young people just starting out in life:

“Always love your country — but never trust your government!

“That should not be misunderstood. I certainly am not advocating civil disobedience, must less insurrection or rebellion. What I am advocating is to not expect too much from government and be wary of it power, even the power of a democratic government in a free country.

“Ours is one of the mildest, most benevolent governments in the world. But it too has the power to take your wealth and forfeit your life. ... A government that can give you everything can take everything away.”

That sounds like good advice, whether you’re a conservative or a liberal. And Bob most definitely was a conservative, though he never let his political inclinations blind him to what he saw as the realities of the world, even when it angered his natural allies. Bob’s dissent from the Bush administration’s rush to topple Iraq’s Saddam Hussein earned him the ill will of other, perhaps less insightful conservatives. In one of those incomprehensible moments that occasionally mar the nation’s political discourse, Novak found himself labeled as one of America’s “unpatriotic conservatives” in a cover story in National Review magazine.

Bob’s disagreement with the mainstream of conservative thought on Iraq exemplified his independent spirit, his dedication to a robust discussion of the great issues facing the nation and his belief in the values underpinning our society.

Bob saw America as the inheritor, greatest manifestation and guardian of the best of Western civilization. He was introduced to those values at the University of Illinois through a freshman course on the history of Western civilization. Recalling that time in his 2007 memoir The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington, Bob wrote, “It was a golden moment for a 17-year-old boy from Joliet, leading to four years of exploration in the riches of our heritage: Plato, Aristotle, Chaucer, Castiglione, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Milton, John Donne, Hawthorne, Melville, T.S. Eliot — dead white men all. How barren would be my life without that background?”[Editor's emphasis]

In later years, Bob became worried about the retreat from those values on the college campus. Typically, he resolved to do something about it. To help perpetuate the education of America’s youth in those values and traditions, Bob in 2000 endowed at his beloved University of Illinois the Robert D. Novak Chair of Western Civilization and Culture.
Fellow columnists pay tribute here. Human Events pays tribute here.

Update: One of the best tributes is written by Jeffrey Bell.

"Requiescat in pace."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Serenity now! Or later

YouTube - UK (U.K.) "Nevermore" with Eddie Jobson, Alan Holdsworth, John Wetton and Bill Bruford.

I prefer my Holdsworth in an ensemble setting like this one.

Policemen doing their job

I have a question: I'm all for cultural literacy but are policeman required to know "all of the beautiful people?"

AP: You're Bob Dylan? NJ police want to see some ID

Dylan, who is a cultural icon, acted with class. I have another question, can't anyone walk around without being asked for an ID?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Meet the new boss same friends as the old boss

Hope and change, really? Corporations sit down with Big Government on ObamaCare. Huffington Post: Internal Memo Confirms Big Giveaways In White House Deal With Big Pharma

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Reaching the Zimbabwe standard

The nightmare of a default on U.S. Treasuries.
Prominent economists have starting considering a possible Treasury default, while the business-news media and investment rating agencies have begun openly discussing a potential risk premium on the interest rate that the U.S. government pays. The CBO estimates that the total U.S. national debt will approach 100 percent of GDP within ten years, and when Japan's national debt exceeded that level, the ratings of its government securities were downgraded.
Read the whole article, a brilliant analysis.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"I'm from the government and I'm here to help you raise your kids"

Combine the Nanny State with a welfare one and you have the march of Big Government into family life. This is no mere mission creep but a preordained plan to make the world anew. The Obamacrats, to borrow a phrase, really want to warranty your life. This is the antithesis of freedom and people ought to wake up. Chuck Norris : Dirty Secret No. 1 in Obamacare -
Dirty secret No. 1 in Obamacare is about the government's coming into homes and usurping parental rights over child care and development.

It's outlined in sections 440 and 1904 of the House bill (Page 838), under the heading "home visitation programs for families with young children and families expecting children." The programs (provided via grants to states) would educate parents on child behavior and parenting skills.

The bill says that the government agents, "well-trained and competent staff," would "provide parents with knowledge of age-appropriate child development in cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor domains ... modeling, consulting, and coaching on parenting practices," and "skills to interact with their child to enhance age-appropriate development."

Are you kidding me?! With whose parental principles and values? Their own? Certain experts'? From what field and theory of childhood development? As if there are one-size-fits-all parenting techniques! Do we really believe they would contextualize and personalize every form of parenting in their education, or would they merely universally indoctrinate with their own?

Are we to assume the state's mediators would understand every parent's social or religious core values on parenting? Or would they teach some secular-progressive and religiously neutered version of parental values and wisdom? And if they were to consult and coach those who expect babies, would they ever decide circumstances to be not beneficial for the children and encourage abortions?

One government rebuttal is that this program would be "voluntary." Is that right? Does that imply that this agency would just sit back passively until some parent needing parenting skills said, "I don't think I'll call my parents, priest or friends or read a plethora of books, but I'll go down to the local government offices"? To the contrary, the bill points to specific targeted groups and problems, on Page 840: The state "shall identify and prioritize serving communities that are in high need of such services, especially communities with a high proportion of low-income families."
Of course this is all very patronizing to "low income" families. They're too stupid to raise kids in the eyes of the social workers. Where's Robert Nisbet when we need him?

R.I.P. Founder of the Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Eunice Kennedy Shriver has died.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A right to health care? Just whom are the uninsured?

Assuming that health care is a right, how far should we go to provide it to the uninsured. And, just who are the uninsured and why can't they pay for at least basic coverage? Russ Coff over at Organizations and Markets is asking the right questions.
...many believe that healthcare is a right. Certainly there is an ethical and moral obligation to help those who are ill: it is part of the oath to which all physicians pledge as well as the UN charter.

But how far does this right extend? What level of healthcare is a human right and what level becomes a luxury? This is a very practical question. Currently there is a proposal for a luxury tax on insurance plans that offer too much coverage (Listen on NPR). Clearly some believe it is no longer a human right at that level. . . .

But let’s unpack the 46 million uninsured. A Kaiser commission report estimates that about 10 million of the uninsured are illegal aliens. This is conservative — it suggests that quite a few illegal aliens actually are covered. An NCHC report uses a similar estimate. Should they get free coverage? I’ll tip my hand here, I’m not opposed to covering illegal aliens if they are on a path to citizenship (which I also would support under the right conditions). However, it seems implausible to do either without first securing borders. Imagine the cost to taxpayers if sick people all over the world have incentives to enter the U.S. illegally? Even if this is desirable as a policy objective, is it sustainable?

Another issue is what portion of the uninsured could actually afford insurance but choose not to buy it? A paper by Bundorf and Pauly uses multiple methods to assess whether people can pay. The conclusion is that 25–75% of the uninsured can afford to buy at least basic coverage. In the same vein, the NCHC reports that nearly 40% of the uninsured reside in households that earn $50,000 or more.

Using conservative estimates, then, 50% of the uninsured are either illegal aliens or choose not to buy insurance. Probably another 25% are temporarily uninsured because they are between jobs or changing insurance vendors. As such, one can imagine that reasonable and ethical people may question whether the taxpayer should foot the bill for all of the uninsured.

Taxes (that would fund universal coverage) are not optional so the fact that people may legitimately differ in their beliefs is important. It is therefore a worthy effort to put some clarity around the extent and nature of the moral and ethical responsibilities. From a practical standpoint, since at least 90% of voters are insured, it is important to know how much they are willing to pay for the remaining 10%.

Starbucks feels the heat!

McDonald’s expansion into fancy coffees under the McCafĂ© brand is part of a strategy to capture more customers at breakfast time and win them over from coffee chains to its lower-priced drinks.

The move has forced Starbucks to defend its brand. It has been running marketing campaigns with the slogan: “It’s not just coffee. It’s Starbucks.”
And that is the problem. I've always felt that Starbucks seriously overcharges for burned-roast coffee and that pious, politically-correct image. But at some point those consumer loyalty asks too much and those long morning lines will be a lot shorter.

Never underestimate the power of McDonald's. I have always loved McDonald's regular coffee, and am entralled by the occasional Paul Newman brand carried by some franchises.

McDonald's coffee is far more tastier and robust than anything Starbucks pours into a venti. Competition it works wonders.

The underside of the 1960s: Charles Manson

The ever-readable Dan Flynn sifts past the nostalgia of Woodstock in the air these days to shine light on Charlie Manson, murderous hippie thug.
Theories regarding The White Album, a race war, and the Book of Revelations often cloud other, more central, inspirations for Charles Manson's blood lust. These include political motivations, a desire to exonerate a friend on murder charges, and intimidating music industry figures who spurned Manson, including Doris Day's son, producer Terry Melcher, who had previously lived in the Tate-Polanski home. If we do not know exactly why the Manson Family murdered, it is in part because they probably don't exactly know why either. All we know is that they did it.

The 1960s were the age of The Beatles, civil rights advances, and the peace movement. They were also a time of rationalized violence, drug abuse, reckless sex, and societal upheaval. The Manson Family offers a glimpse at all of these ugly traits from the other side of the '60s.
Charles Manson will rot in jail and hell. But he really should have been hanged a long time ago.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

In praise of some inflation

Tyler Cowan on Scott Sumner's idea supporting a targeted inflation rate.

Oh my! A food fight at Reason's Hit and Run

Duck (excuse the pun): theological argument organic farming vs. factory farming and everything in between.
One commenter: If you've never busted sod by hand or even with machine you are in for one steep, painful, and hungry learning curve. I don't need luck. I was killing and growing what I ate before I could drive. I have the know how, know how hard it is, and don't plan on doing it until I have the free time and desire. The romantic notion of living the simple life is a myth that couch dwelling urbanites romanticize about. You haven't lived until you spent a 12 hour day cutting heads off chickens, dipping them in boiling water, yanking off their feathers, gutting them, then searing off the little hairs over an open propane flame. All in 90+ degree weather. Just think, you will get to spread that out over an entire year unless you have refrigeration.
And your mom wears Army boots!

Meanwhile, here's some wisdom from a farmer:

"If you really want to hurt the economy, beat the heck out of agriculture," Goehring said. "It is a primary sector in our economy. It is generating new wealth. You can't just rely on services to drive your economy."