Thursday, April 30, 2009

ARLEN SPECTOR

Jay Cost AKA Horse Race Blog has a great take on the party switch.
In the 2004 GOP primary every county in metro Pittsburgh voted for Toomey over Specter - and Specter failed to crack 40% in several of them. In the general election that year, Specter ran behind Bush in six of the seven counties in metro Pittsburgh, even though he won the state by almost ten points and Bush lost it by two and a half. In 1992 - the last time Specter faced a tough general election challenge - his opponent, Lynn Yeakel, won six of the seven counties that border Ohio. Additionally, Toomey defeated Specter in York and Lancaster counties in the 2004 primary. Specter's narrow victory in the primary depended entirely on him sweeping Toomey in metropolitan Philadelphia, whose declining importance in the statewide Republican electorate has now made Specter exceedingly vulnerable.

When he entered the Senate, metropolitan Philadelphia, his home base, was also the GOP's base in the state. In 1980 four of the five counties in Philadelphia voted for Reagan while five of the seven counties in metro Pittsburgh voted for Carter. This has basically been inverted in the last quarter century - and while neither party's presidential candidate has been better off statewide for this shift, Arlen Specter has personally been on the losing end.

The interpretation from the wise political sages in Washington, D.C. is inevitably going to be about how the hardened, conservative rump Republican Party is so intolerant of a moderate like Arlen Specter that he had no choice but to bolt. However, this is quite an oversimplification. There is a big geographical component to this story: the west has become more important in party politics, and Specter has long been weak in the west.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

REASON ON THE FIRST 100 DAYS

So here we are, 100 days into the great eight-year triumph of Hope over Change, a new Era of Really Good Feelings in which only one thing has become increasingly, even irrefutably, clear: President Barack Obama is about as visionary as the guy who invented Dippin' Dots, Ice Cream of the Future. Far from sketching out a truly forward-looking set of policies for the 21st century, as his supporters had hoped, Obama is instead serving up cryogenically tasteless and headache-inducing morsels from years gone by.

Consider the president's recent "major" speech about transportation, yet another Castro-like exhortation in which Obama boldly rejected the failed policies of the past in favor of the failed policies of the future.

In nearly every key area of policy concern, from industrial bailouts to massive deficits, from Afghanistan to the Middle East, from education to energy, the president's standard operating or reach back into the Carter playbook for ideas that didn't work back then, either. All while rhetorically valuing "good ideas ahead of old ideological battles."

Obama's typical M.O. is to proclaim a new era of responsibility while ushering in a new era of irresponsible debt, promise to close the revolving door of lobbyists and government while keeping it open, and vow to post all bills online for five days without doing anything of the sort. He says the bailout is "not about helping banks—it's about helping people," then gives more of the people's money to banks. He says he doesn't want to run General Motors, then fires its CEO, guarantees its warranties, and wags his finger about the company's surplus of brands. He says he's taking a battle-axe to the budget, then offers to shave $100 million off a $3.4 trillion tab. At his gee-whiz, interactive, online town hall meeting, he laughed off the most popular question asked by web viewers—should marijuana be legalized—with a lame joke before embracing the status quo like Jimmy Carter hugging a Third World dictator.

Reason thinks that such policies will ultimately fail with moderates once they tire of the shtick.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

WIRETAPS DOWN IN 2008

The number of wiretaps used by federal and state law enforcement is surprisingly low. I had never seen a number before.

Note the strange editing of the last sentence.

Wiretap Applications Drop for First Time in Eight Years

Jordan Weissman
04-28-2009

The number of wiretaps used by federal and state law enforcement dropped 14 percent in 2008, declining for the first time in eight years, according to a report released this week by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Judges approved 1,891 wiretaps last year, down from 2,208 the year before. The number of intercept applications had been steadily climbing since 2001, when there were 1,491. No applications were rejected.

State agencies accounted for 1,505 of the applications, while federal law enforcement asked for 386.

Like every other year for the past decade, the vast majority of the wiretaps in 2008 were used in narcotics cases. Those investigations also accounted for much of the drop. Last year, there were 1,593 wiretaps in drug cases, down from 1,792 the year before. In the next largest category, homicide and assault investigations, law enforcement officials asked for just 92 wiretaps.

The report found that wiretaps contributed to 4,133 arrests and 810 convictions.

The average cost of executing each wiretap also continued to drop, down to about $47,000 from the decade high of $63,000 in 2004. The average cost of a federal wiretap was $70,536.

The report compiles statistics on the surveillance methods used in domestic investigations. Wiretaps used in terrorism-related cases.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

THE YOUTH OF AMERICA

I was asked today to meet a group of college program students along with some other media professionals. The idea was to share what I do and allow them some networking opportunities. There were six of us and six tables of students and every 15 minutes we would switch tables. Most of them had standard questions and I gave them the basic philosophy of work hard and be a good teammate and opportunities will open up wherever you work. An encounter was worth mentioning here.

About halfway through the program I sat with a student from Ecuador who said he majored in Economics. Economics is interest of mine as you know. I read those books for fun. Like a fool who should know better, I asked him if he was familiar with the Austrian School and he looked perplexed. You know Hayek, von Mises etc? No I haven't, he said. What about the Chicago School, Milton Friedman? No, I haven't heard of him.

So now I looked perplexed. I guess we haven't gotten that far, he said. We've been studying the London School, Keynes. Oh, yes Keynes. Of course. Why would a poor country study the free market when they could be studying how to stymie growth.

I knew intellectually that Keynes is a God everywhere in the world and no one has heard of Hayek or Friedman despite the Nobel Prizes. I just didn't want to put that knowledge to practical use. The world is a mess and I was reminded.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER

Barrack’s recent encounter with Ortega and Chavez has closed the loop on something that I didn’t understand leading up to the Iraq War. Back then the loudest opposition wasn’t from people who thought Bush was lying about a WMD program. Everybody thought Saddam had a WMD program. The loudest opposition was from people who said you can’t attack a sovereign nation. I had never heard that one before. It certainly wasn’t a historical standard. The people who were saying it were the same ones that have always felt sympathy for regimes that were anti-American in policy or rhetoric. You can and should stop the bloodbath in Bosnia or Darfur where there is no American opposition figure, but you cannot even fund the Contras in Nicaragua because Ortega was anti-USA. South Africa was anti-communist and racist and they must be stopped. Castro’s judicial system is openly racist and he’s embraced by the Congressional Black Caucus.

The political Left is trying to reshape the world as they have always done through government control and seizure of the private sector. The President is a fellow traveler with that ideology and it’s now making sense as to why he embraced those figures. He would like kind of power.

Now the war has become a folly that Cheney pushed and Bush executed for reasons much different than the reasons before the war began. Enough reasons for everyone to hate it or at least enough for a majority of Obama voters last fall. But the anti-war effort was pushed from the beginning and funded the whole way through by people that liked Saddam simply because he opposed America. The way the message spread from it's Marxist Roots in George Soros to the mainstream media via blogs and what not is a lesson in how the ardent Leftists influence the media.

Obama is the end result, a total media creation. We heard about how Bush's success was all through his father. Obama doesn't even have a single life achievement. The man was elected President because he seemed reasonable. It was like the country was hiring an intern and he seemed the most affable. Not even 100 days in and it feels like the Berlin Wall is going back up. Permission granted for every tin horn demagogue in the Western Hemisphere to seize power on some poor unsuspecting country and receive hugs from the U.S. President.

WSJ ON THE LATEST HOOEY

WSJ ON THE LATEST HOOEY

Policy disputes, often bitter, are the stuff of democratic politics. Elections settle those battles, at least for a time, and Mr. Obama's victory in November has given him the right to change policies on interrogations, Guantanamo, or anything on which he can muster enough support. But at least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.

Mr. Obama may think he can soar above all of this, but he'll soon learn otherwise. The Beltway's political energy will focus more on the spectacle of revenge, and less on his agenda. The CIA will have its reputation smeared, and its agents second-guessing themselves. And if there is another terror attack against Americans, Mr. Obama will have set himself up for the argument that his campaign against the Bush policies is partly to blame.

What was once an inkling and soon a fear has become a reality. Barack Obama doesn't much care about the security of this country.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

KERRY TO THE RESCUE

KERRY TO THE RESCUE
via Instapundit
Troubled by the possible shuttering of his hometown paper, Sen. John Kerry reached out to the Boston Globe on Tuesday, then called for Senate hearings to address the woes of the nation's print media.

"America's newspapers are struggling to survive, and while there will be serious consequences in terms of the lives and financial security of the employees involved, including hundreds at the Globe, there will also be serious consequences for our democracy where diversity of opinion and strong debate are paramount," Mr. Kerry said.

Maybe Kerry should read the Internet where real diversity of opinion resides. He knows that any paper saved by the government will become a mouthpiece for government intervention and that is just what he wants.

APPEARANCE OVER RESULTS

APPEARANCE OVER RESULTS

Even the New York Times admits it.
President Obama’s national intelligence director told colleagues in a private memo last week that the harsh interrogation techniques banned by the White House did produce significant information that helped the nation in its struggle with terrorists.

“High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country,” Adm. Dennis C. Blair, the intelligence director, wrote in a memo to his staff last Thursday.

Admiral Blair’s assessment that the interrogation methods did produce important information was deleted from a condensed version of his memo released to the media last Thursday. Also deleted was a line in which he empathized with his predecessors who originally approved some of the harsh tactics after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past,” he wrote, “but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time, and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given.”

Ah, but here are the political considerations.
Admiral Blair said in a written statement issued last night. “The bottom line is these techniques have hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

There it is:

1. World Opinion
2. Protecting American Lives

Where in the constitution does it says we must maintain America's reputation among the coward nations?

NO ENEMIES TO THE LEFT

NO ENEMIES TO THE LEFT

What will America stand for under Obama?
And if Obama feels that he has to be the one to greet a man like Chavez, must it be with the kind of ear-to-ear grin that one might show girl scouts selling cookies? It must surely be disheartening for those who suffer oppression in countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Saudi Arabia to see the American president backslapping their oppressors when these victims have always looked up to the United States as their champions.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

HIS ONLY ENEMIES ARE DOMESTIC

HIS ONLY ENEMIES ARE DOMESTIC

Drudge has been feeding a steady diet of Obama meets the Latin dictator and the results are much like Bill Ayers meeting a Latin dictator. He graciously met Hugo Chavez and he recently listen to Daniel Ortega knock the U.S. in a speech.

This is Obama's mild retort and my favorite part of the article:
"To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. We've all heard these arguments before."

Actually, the president misspoke on the sequence of events in Cuba. The invasion of CIA-trained rebels at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba occurred in April 1961. Obama was born August 4, 1961.

He's grateful that Ortega didn't blame him for things that happened when he is three months old and yet the entire grievance industry in the United States is based on retribution for what people's grandfathers did to other people's grandfather. I'll save that gem for a future Obama speech.

As far as not knowing the history of Cuba, a President is only a dunce if the media wants him to be. Does President Obama ever get anything right when he is off script?

Back to my major point. . . do you notice how the loyal opposition in America needs to be crushed to the point of releasing warnings about them through Homeland security? And yet our foreign enemies should be listened to patiently with a sigh now and then followed by a please love me retort. This is no mainstream politician.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

ONE FOR THE TEAM

ONE FOR THE TEAM
Home owners associations are their own special little fiefdom. What once was supposed to stop my neighbor from have goats, cars up on blocks, and naked children running around, has turned into a tedious, rule governed nightmare that is anti-American. Recently a veteran in our community wanted to put up an American Flag. The "Board" said NO and sent everyone to the by-laws to reference this. They then had the audacity to suggest their lawyer fully endorsed this rule and basically we all should hush about it. To add insult to injury, our President is a Federal Law Enforcement officer. I'm certainly no lawyer, but I know how to reference laws and rules in the State of Florida. Working in the Forensic Science field for many years, I'm asked often by Judges and Lawyers about mental health law as it pertains to certain cases. Here is the recent discourse on our website:

Innocent Homeowner: "Does anyone know the law that was passed that allows us to put up flag poles and fly the American flag? I know there is a law out there that supersedes what the association rules are in reference to putting up a flag pole"

Board Reply: "Regarding the flag pole questions: Please review the ACB document and confer with Sentry Management if you have any further questions. Although this is a deed restricted community, we will of course comply with all federal, state and local laws/ordinances that are applicable in our neighborhood. We rely on our property Management Company and HOA law firm to properly advise us on all legal related matters and to review our rules on occasion."

Sir Saunders Reply:
"The Rules and By-laws of this HOA are subordinate to the Laws of the State of Florida and to the Constitution of the United States. Please review the law below."
Title XL
REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY

Chapter 720
HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATIONS

View Entire Chapter

720.304 Right of owners to peaceably assemble; display of flag; SLAPP suits prohibited.--

(2)(a) Any homeowner may display one portable, removable United States flag or official flag of the State of Florida in a respectful manner, and one portable, removable official flag, in a respectful manner, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, which represents the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association.

(b) Any homeowner may erect a freestanding flagpole no more than 20 feet high on any portion of the homeowner's real property, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, if the flagpole does not obstruct sightlines at intersections and is not erected within or upon an easement. The homeowner may further display in a respectful manner from that flagpole, regardless of any covenants, restrictions, bylaws, rules, or requirements of the association, one official United States flag, not larger than 41/2 feet by 6 feet, and may additionally display one official flag of the State of Florida or the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard, or a POW-MIA flag. Such additional flag must be equal in size to or smaller than the United States flag.

The only unfortunate part of this Florida Law, is that it doesn't allow for Confederate Flags! Yeeeehaaaa!! At any rate, here's one for the Gipper. I'm still waiting on a reply from the board.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Risk Theory

RISK THEORY

I've been interested in risk theory for several years since I read a study at the CATO institute. Smithsonian Magazine has an article on it worth reading. (via Instapundit)
This counterintuitive idea was introduced in academic circles several years ago and is broadly accepted today. The concept is that humans have an inborn tolerance for risk—meaning that as safety features are added to vehicles and roads, drivers feel less vulnerable and tend to take more chances. The feeling of greater security tempts us to be more reckless. Behavioral scientists call it "risk compensation."

There has been a lively debate over risk compensation ever since, but today the issue is not whether it exists, but the degree to which it does. The phenomenon has been observed well beyond the highway—in the workplace, on the playing field, at home, in the air. Researchers have found that improved parachute rip cords did not reduce the number of sky-diving accidents; overconfident sky divers hit the silk too late. The number of flooding deaths in the United States has hardly changed in 100 years despite the construction of stronger levees in flood plains; people moved onto the flood plains, in part because of subsidized flood insurance and federal disaster relief. Studies suggest that workers who wear back-support belts try to lift heavier loads and that children who wear protective sports equipment engage in rougher play. Forest rangers say wilderness hikers take greater risks if they know that a trained rescue squad is on call. Public health officials cite evidence that enhanced HIV treatment can lead to riskier sexual behavior.

And think of the government regulations and spending that are supposed to make us safer.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

BIDEN'S MOUTH

BIDEN'S MOUTH

President Obama probably had buyer's remorse before he became President Obama, but it's only getting worse.
Republican strategist Karl Rove called Vice President Biden a "liar" on Thursday, dramatically escalating a feud between Biden and aides to former President George W. Bush over Biden's claims to have rebuked Bush in private meetings.

"I hate to say this, but he's a serial exaggerator," Rove told FOX News. "If I was being unkind I would say liar. But it is a habit he ought to drop."

Rove added: "You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the Vice President of the United States."

Biden's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although Biden spokesman Jay Carney told Fox on Wednesday: "The vice president stands by his remarks."

I doubt Jay Carney will last long in this job. He's already speaking in a detached manner about his boss. He should seriously consider putting in for hazard pay.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

BUYER'S REMORSE
In March, the number of Democrats in the nation fell two percentage points while
the number of Republicans fell by half-a-point.

The number of unaffiliated went up of course. I would not be surprised to see a viable third party candidate as soon as 2012, one with horse sense and a chip on his (not her) shoulder.
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF AMERICA

News Flash: People with capital favor capitalism. 30% of Democrats favor socialism. A majority of young adults either favor socialism or don't know the difference. Possibly they think "socialism" means hanging out with friends.
Investors by a 5-to-1 margin choose capitalism. As for those who do not invest, 40% say capitalism is better while 25% prefer socialism.

There is a partisan gap as well. Republicans - by an 11-to-1 margin - favor capitalism. Democrats are much more closely divided: Just 39% say capitalism is
better while 30% prefer socialism.

We never did find out which McCain prefers. The economy is not his strong suit.
CRYSTAL BALL

An article from 3 years ago about wasteful spending.
The nation's strong economic growth is creating a tax-revenue boom for the states. State tax revenues jumped 8.7 percent in 2004 and about 8 percent in 2005. About three-quarters of state governments had tax-revenue growth of 6 percent or more in 2005.

What will the states do with their overflowing coffers? During the revenue boom of the 1990s, states allowed their budgets to bloat as they expanded programs such as Medicaid to unsustainable levels. When the recession hit in 2001 and revenues stagnated, state officials moaned that they were innocent victims of a fiscal crisis. They responded by hiking taxes and clamoring for more aid from Washington.

He nailed that one.
HOW BAD IS IT, DOC?

The slowly moving crisis ahead.
Mike Whalen, former policy chairman of the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, commenting on last year's Social Security Trustees annual report on the state of the Social Security and Medicare programs, said, "The report on the state of entitlement programs is rather grim -- the combined unfunded liabilities of both programs are $101 trillion." What that means is that in order for government to make good on its promises, Congress would have to put aside tens of trillions of dollars in the bank today. Keep in mind that our GDP is only $14 trillion.

In the absence of massive tax increases or cuts in benefits, in order to meet its promises Congress must cease spending on one in four programs by 2020, such as education and highway construction, and one in two by 2030, and by 2050 or so all federal revenue will be spent supporting Social Security, Medicare and prescription drug benefits. Such a scenario is unsustainable. There will be economic and political chaos. Today's politicians are not likely to take measures to avoid the coming chaos because senior citizens, the major beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare, vote in large numbers and will exact a high political price.

And that doesn't even count the government health care we're likely to see.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

DUDE SAYS GO

Wife, 42, just got her first-ever summons to jury duty. She was bemoaning but I said No! Dude says go to jury duty and volunteer to be foreman, it's a great experience.

(I got the call in Louisiana and NC but never got seated for a trial.)

Maybe she will get to swing 11 Angry Men around to her point of view.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

THE PAPER

A funny little guy came to my door selling the Orlando Sentinel a few weeks ago. I stopped getting the Sentinel in 2004 when they endorsed John Kerry. Two salesmen have been to my door prior to this one and I sent them away. The last dude said he was just trying to save me money with coupons. The new guy offered me 13 weeks of Wed, Fri, and Sun for 50 cents a week and I took it. I figured it would be nice to read the CALENDAR section again and the movie reviews and show times, not that I have time for the movies. That crazy Commander Coconut is still at it though he moved to the end of the section.

It use to be fun to read the Sunday travel section, but it's all wire stuff now. The sports section has a columnist that thinks referencing Paris Hilton in a college basketball quip is witty. But the previous salesman was right about saving me money on the coupons. I bought these corn/rice chips with a coupon that saved me more than a week's subscription. Decline can be great for the pocketbook, but I won't miss the paper when it finally folds. Or I should say I won't miss it once my 13 weeks introductory offer ends.

Monday, April 06, 2009

BUCS WIN

I turned on the PIT-STL game on the way home to find the Pirates behind 2-0 with two hits through five. The longtime Cardinals announcer butchered the first three names he tried -- pitcher Paul (wrongly "Ma-home") Maholm, OF Nyjer ("Nygre") Morgan, and OF Nate ("McCloth") McLouth. And it was the fifth inning -- nobody had corrected him. And the Cardinals faced those Pirates players about 18 times last year. That is what it's like being a Pirates fan.

(Or it's possible the guy just pronounces everything wrong. He called the last out of the sixth "a line drive, popped up to second base." Something about free Busch in the press box?)

Bucs win though, 6-4, on a bases-clearing double in top 9 by Jack Wilson, who was 0-for-4 at that point and down to the team's last strike. I'll take wins over respect if that's my choice.
THE YANKEE YEARS by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci (A Book Review)

The Yankee Years gives you the history of the Yankees during Torre's reign with an account of how baseball changed after the Yankees won their last championship. You'll learn about the Yankees' internal problems and successes along with larger issues like steroids and the impact of Michael Lewis's MONEYBALL. Neither issue the Yankees were ready to deal with in a timely manner.

Joe Torre, ever the decent man, shares his feelings on many topics including the players he loved and the players who frustrated him. Derek Jeter was the most professional of baseball players and the greatest of teammates. Paul O'Neill was a fierce competitor. David Cone was the rare pitcher who was a team leader in the clubhouse. Jorge Posada was a leader on the field who had no problem getting in your face if you weren't working hard enough. David Wells was a talented pitcher always getting in his own way. Alex Rodriguez was a hard working ballplayer that spent too much time worrying about what was written and thought about him. Carl Pavano was a lazy dog who would do anything not to pitch. Randy Johnson just couldn't deal with the pressures of New York, nor could Javier Vazquez, Jeff Weaver, Kevin Brown, etc.

Verducci and Torre's first collaboration, CHASING THE DREAM was written more than 10 years ago and I remember it being a pretty standard sports biography although Torre's story was more intriguing than most. This seems like an entirely different kind of book, one that deals with the Yankees within the larger issues of baseball. I can't honestly remember the voice in the first book, but here Verducci's voice dominates and Torre is always close by to add a supporting quote. Any baseball fan should want to read this book just to find out how Joe Torre made it so long in that boiling pot of water.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

THE NEW MONEYBALL

Now that GMs understand the old Moneyball, this is what they are doing now:
Baseball writer Tom Verducci recently noted in Sports Illustrated that teams are moving toward “placing more and more value on young players under control.” That is, they are signing their young players to contracts that extend past their years of indentured servitude. Doing so may mean paying a relative premium in the short term, but the team in turn can still afford the player after year six.

Take what the Tampa Bay Rays did with their rookie third baseman Evan Longoria. Since they considered him the cornerstone of their team, they signed him to a nine-year deal that could be worth up to $44 million. Ordinarily, the way a player of his talent (assuming he lives up to it) would earn that much money would be by toiling for a total of, say, $10 million to $15 million for six years and then signing a blockbuster free-agent deal that would pay $13 million to $15 million per year over the next three years and beyond.

As the league slowly corrects the reserve clause inefficiency by paying players what they are worth before they hit free agency, we will see a smoothing of salary distribution throughout players’ careers. Young players will not be as inexpensive and older players will not be as overpaid. Top free agents will become scarcer over time; their hometown teams have found a way to keep them. In a way, this change will be toughest on the big-spending teams that rely predominately on the free-agent market, and whose fans demand that they pursue marquee names.
THE WORLD LOVES US AGAIN. . . IN THEORY

Barack visits the Continent:
Barack Obama made an impassioned plea to America’s allies to send more troops to Afghanistan, warning that failure to do so would leave Europe vulnerable to more terrorist atrocities.

But though he continued to dazzle Europeans on his debut international tour, the Continent’s leaders turned their backs on the US President.

Gordon Brown was the only one to offer substantial help. He offered to send several hundred extra British soldiers to provide security during the August election, but even that fell short of the thousands of combat troops that the US was hoping to prise from the Prime Minister.

Just two other allies made firm offers of troops. Belgium offered to send 35 military trainers and Spain offered 12. Mr Obama’s host, Nicolas Sarkozy, refused his request.

If I remember correctly, Obama's supporters during the election said that Bush had tarnished our image in the world and Barack could heal that wound and the world would better help us in the war on terror.

35+12=47 and there you have it. The election of Barack Obama gained us 47 additional troops. They won't pick up a gun or anything, but they are ready to man the phones. That is leadership.

Friday, April 03, 2009

JOKE IS ON ME?

Wednesday evening in Pittsburgh I was walking from my hotel to a meeting. On the sidewalk up ahead was a peaceful demonstration by 40 or 50 anti-capitalism protestors. There were 2 police cars and 2 police motorcycles keeping the peace. The protestors were in a tight little bunch at the entry of some building. A woman in the middle was shouting something through a bullhorn. There were some signs that I didn't really read, just struck me as "Socialism good, capitalism bad" kind of stuff. It was clear from the police presence that there was meant to be separation between the throng and any onlookers, but from what I could tell there were no onlookers and no threat of disturbance. There was also no way to cross the street due to a concrete median erected for construction purposes and the fact that traffic was moving in both directions. And I was in a hurry. So I barged right past them on the sidewalk in my suit and tie. After I passed by, I heard, "Sir! Excuse me, sir!" I was concerned that it was a cop eager to tell me the error of my ways, or maybe a protestor wishing to engage my capitalist ass. I had time for neither and kept on walking without incident.

At the time I felt a bit of satisfaction as the object of their scorn. Later as I reflected on it, I couldn't make any sense of what they were doing. There were no onlookers, they weren't really roused up, there were no cameras, and I hadn't read their signs. So now I am wondering whether the whole thing was somehow April Fools related. I wish I had stopped long enough to read the signs. I checked the websites of the two Pittsburgh papers on Thursday but couldn't find anything on it. Now it lingers as one of those memories that I don't know what to do with, which cabinet to file it in.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

RANDOM THOUGHTS

I know of several Obama supporters from last year who are mostly apolitical, but the country was going down the tubes with President Bush and something had to be done. Now here you have Obama following almost all of the Bush policies and on top of that spending us into an economic collapse, and we have silence from last year's critics. It was like Bush's presidency was some big reality show and now that he's voted off the island everybody is safely back to their superficial pursuits until the new season begins in four years.

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I've been reading THE FORGOTTEN MAN by Amity Shales and I recommend it to my Junto brethren. I doubt a better book on what caused the Great Depression will ever be written. The short version is that Hoover started us off with the Smoot-Hartley tariff act that made prices climb and hurt the poorest people and Roosevelt spent the 1930s experimenting so many ways that investment capital was afraid to take any risks, because the rules kept changing. The author surmises that without government action it would have been a mild recession and been over in a few years, but it instead stretch until 1942.

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Baseball season without dad is tough. Without him convincing me that the Yankee acquisitions will be fruitful I am left to consider them objectively and get depressed.
FRAID

I fear that all the activity over at Facebook marks the end of this blog. Am I wrong?