Friday, November 28, 2003

HOW BAD IS IT?

Sounds like Ed McMahon goading Carnak into a funny punchline.

Except this isn't funny at all. Want to know how bad it is in California? Read this brief description of Arnie's plan to try to fix it.

California's problem? Simple:

1. In the late 1990's the "dot.com" boom resulted in many, many Californian's earning salaries, bonuses and gains on stock options in the billions. And the state raked in billions on that income. And the state started spending like it was going to keep happening every year.

2. The year 2000 came around and, though no major computer systems failed (thanks to the billions paid to keep that from happening), the "dot.coms" started to falter. Companies that had never turned a dime in profits (yet made billions for their founders, employees and shareholders) began to die. And even companies that had been profitable saw a drop in their profits. And the market value of these companies imploded.

3. By the year 2001, the previous serendipetous windfall had evaporated. People who had made many millions in personal income were all of a sudden being foreclosed out of their multi-million dollars mansions in Atherton and Blackhawk. It was the single largest drop in personal income in American history since the great depression.

4. With this cataclysm, you'd think there would be a change in the state's outlook, policies and spending, but no-o-o-o-o. To the contrary, state spending kept increasing, while state revenue plummeted precipitously. And in a relatively short time span, the state budget was massively out of balance.

5. Gray Davis took no action to fix it. Being the complete political animal he was, he couldn't. He didn't know how to take personal initiative. He had only ever done what he was told to do. A superb follower, not a leader.

6. So now, we have Arnold, large and in charge. And people will hate him. Why? Because no matter how bad it is, Calfornians will never accept how bad it is. California has always ignored its way out of every problem it's ever had. There just doesn't exist the same sort of resilience that exists elsewhere in the country; no sense of sacrifice exists there.

What will happen tomorrow? Who knows? I gave up prognosticating on Calfornia's short-term fate awhile ago. I do know I'm not optimistic for the long-run. And not because of the budget gap, per se. I just don't see how California can succeed as it has in the past so long as it is a two-state state -- one being decidedly third world, comprised of Asian and Hispanic groups who will not be assimilated into the other state, which is decidedly above average in affluence compared to the rest of the country. Want to see what California may look like in 50 years? Go to Mexico.


WHAT DID WE KNOW AND WHEN DID WE KNOW IT?

The answers are here.


WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE . . .

Tony Blair may be a good friend to the US and Israel, but the British press has another agenda.

They just awarded an annual prize to one of their political cartoonists for a cartoon that, well, just couldn't be more vile.


DANIEL PIPES TO THE RESCUE

As Pipes says in this piece, "If militant Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution, as I often argue, how does one differentiate between these two forms of Islam?"

How indeed. Pipes provides a brief list of questions to address this issue. It appears now that many of the screw-ups in hiring translators and others to provide a short-term cure to the problem (the problem being we convinced way too many people to learn Russian the past fifty years and not enough to learn an Arabic language) could have been solved if only the right questions were asked.




STILL GIVING HYPOCRITES A BAD NAME . . .

Whenever someone I know really gets off on a rant about some elected official, I always ask the same question -- who did you vote for? Often, I get the sheepish answer, "well . . . er . . . uh . . . I was out of town on election day" or some similar drivel. In other words, "I didn't really care enough at the time, but now I'm really pissed off that I didn't".

(That's excusable for us mere citizens. In fact, I will freely admit that I stupidly scheduled an overnight business trip on election day this year. I promise not to bitch about the people I didn't vote for or against.)

But there's a different class of "no" voters -- the folks who vote for a living. At the end of the day, our legislators do a lot of talking, but the only thing they do that really matters is vote for or against legislation. It's one thing they can't duck -- they either voted for it, against it, abstained, or were conveniently somewhere else that day.

So why am I not surprised to hear that Sens. Kerry and Lieberman were "no shows" on the Medicare vote? After all, they both railed against it. Yet it appears they didn't really want to go on the record. It's getting so you really can't tell who's for what these days. But it is pretty obvious to me that almost every one of the "Nine Dwarfs" doesn't really want you to know where they stand on anything.

To quote Andrew Sullivan about Kerry, "He has the backbone of Clinton and the charm of Gore."



Wednesday, November 26, 2003

DEN BESTE AT HIS BEST

Steven's post today is quite good, and is closely tied in to Wretchard's post at Belmont Club. And, to make it a troika, here's what TMLutas has to say on the subject.

This is good stuff. A little long and tedious but, hey, it's a slow day, and you'll be smarter when you finish.

In case you're tempted not to look at these posts, you need to know the subject matter is what could happen should Islamist fanatics get their hands on serious WMDs, as in nukes. It's a tantalizing and scary as shit discourse into the possible world of nuclear warfare.


A SEA CHANGE IN THE BALANCE OF POWER?

This op-ed piece by Tony Blankley makes the point that now, in all ways, it's over for the Democratic party's decades-long control of the balance of power.

The Medicare Bill, which Blankley describes as the tipping point for this event did point out one clear fact -- the only long-lasting, important power center the Democrats still hold sway over is labor. Every other power center they used to control (and control completely) has abandoned them. And, if you understand the major economic megatrends in the US, labor (as in labor unions) has a remaining useful life that is strongly correlated with the remaining useful life of tobacco companies.

But balancing power is precarious. And don't forget the old cliche about absolute power.


IS IT OVER BETWEEN THE U.S. AND EUROPE?

As in, we can never trust them as allies?

Read these two articles, then you decide.

Then read this.


DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

Want to know what Iraqis really think?

Read this poll.

You may not like it, but it's more honest than the crap you hear on TV every day.


MULTILATERAL MANTRAS

As usual, Victor Davis Hanson's piece today pokes a hole in this stupid balloon that's been inflated by the Clintonistas. You know, the one that says that during the eight Clinton years, the US was "on the right track". Of course, the mantra continues, that eight year effort has been trashed by Bush.

Right.


SO THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS?

How many times have you seen someone point a gun into the air and shoot it? It's a very popular thing to do in some parts of the world.

But, fast as it may be, a bullet cannot escape the pull of gravity. It comes back to earth but rarely with any consequence.

In this case, however, it did and it's just desserts for the dumbass redneck who did it.


ZERO TOLERANCE = ZERO JUDGMENT

Like all supposedly "good ideas", the concept of zero tolerance has lived beyond its useful life.

Read this piece and ask yourself whether things haven't gone way too far from rational.


OUR BEST AND BRIGHTEST (AND BRAVEST)

If you're looking for something positive to read about our soldiers in Iraq, read this:

When you talk to our wounded soldiers they say, astonishingly, that they don't regret the fight. Almost universally, they say they are anxious to return to their units as soon as possible. Most American warriors subscribe to the words of John Stuart Mill: "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."



ONE WORD: OBSTRUCTIONISM

What else can you call it?

For the past three years, the Democrats have stonewalled any threat to the strong liberal bias introduced by the Clinton administration into the federal judiciary. Of course, the Democrats will say the Clinton years allowed them to balance the conservative judges appointed by Bush and Reagan, and so on, and so on.

But isn't that the point?

When your party wins, you get to make those kinds of decisions. Except this time, the Democrats are bound and determined to prevent the current adminstration from doing what every other administration in history has done. And this determination could be their further undoing, now that a bright light is being focused on it for what it is.

Obstructionism. Nothing more. Nothing less.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

PAKISTAN'S OUR FRIEND . . . RIGHT?

If so, why is this happening.


DOESN'T LOOK LIKE ANOTHER 2000 IN FLORIDA

Punch cards or no punch cards, it doesn't look to be close in Florida.


OH MR. DEAN -- LET ME HELP YOU PACK YOUR BAGS

If it's still "the economy stupid", the Democrats are DOA, no matter whether it's Dean or Kerry.

With the economy growing at an 8% rate, they don't have a hope in Hell, barring a catastrophe.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN IRAQ


We won the war.


No, that's not all.


This is.

Friday, November 21, 2003

A NEWER BLOG (NEW TO ME) THAT'S WORTH READING

Belmont Club is a blog worth reading. The writer spends a lot of time crafting his/her posts and they are gems.

If it keeps up at this quality I will add a permanent link.


A POST WORTH READING

This won't be a CNN Headline News moment, but I'd highly recommend you read Steven Den Beste's piece today that deals with risk.

Steven does a great job of drawing a picture of the forest one leaf at a time. It's a lengthy read, so don't bother to read it unless you've got the time . . . but please take the time.


THIS IS DISGUSTING, AND DESPICABLE, AND . . .

It'll be another light blogging day, but I just read this and am infuriated.

I know there are many areas in the world (yes, including many cities in the US) where wearing some traditional or religious attire or head covering will get a notice, or a laugh, or maybe a jeer. And in some cases, it will provoke violence.

But when a religious leader tells his community they shouldn't wear something traditional for fear of violence, that's sad. That this has occurred in a supposedly free, democratic country is disgusting, and despicable, and what appears to be "normal" in France these days. And there appears to be no effort within the French government to do a damn thing about it.


Thursday, November 20, 2003

CAN'T RESIST THIS ONE

Not back at full blogging speed yet, but can't resist suggesting yesterday's post by David Warren about the insipid, stupid, morally corrupt, insane, (you fill in the blank ____________) and moronic position of those who say we must pull out of Iraq now.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

BLOGUS INTERRUPTUS

Still traveling on business. Sorry for no blogging. Will be back at it by Friday or next Monday.