Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Reaganomics, A Quarter Century Later

The 25 Fat Years

Sadly my 11-through-19-year-old skull was too full of mush to appreciate Ronald Reagan while he was in office, though I do recall my parents and lots of other adults I knew and respected liking him.

Here are the points made in the above article:
  • The changes made to the way the American economy was managed (most obviously in taxation) during the Reagan years have both stabilized and allowed the American economy to grow at a rate unequaled in modern times.
  • Making the Bush tax cuts permanent would allow the economic growth and unemployment shrinkage we've seen during the past five years to continue.
  • A Forbesian flat tax would continue and solidify Reaganomics' legacy.
  • Stop the growth of the federal government as seen under Bush (and pushed for by big-government types on both sides of the aisle).
  • Finally (and I like this greatly), we should move to a form of dynamic calculation when forecasting the impact of tax cuts on government revenues. When taxes are cut (leaving more money in the pockets of Americans), the economy receives a stimulus. The resulting growth in wages and increase in people's spending bring more cash into tax coffers, not less, as static, zero-sum calculations forecast.
These all seem like dandy conclusions and measures to me... A flat tax will be a tough sell because it's so easy to demagogue "regressiveness," but anyone looking honestly at the way the American economy has exploded over the past 25 years has to admit that something good happened then, and is worth perpetuating.

So, argue with me! Tell me why lower taxes are bad, why Reaganomics was the disaster liberals claim it was, tell me how the growth of the past two and a half decades is not traceable to changes made during the Reagan years.



Sorry for the lack of updates... I have an update to my thoughts on the Port Kerfuffle coming, and one or two other things.

In the meantime, a hearty welcome-back to A, who has been sorely under the weather until recently.

It's going to be gorgeous out pretty much all week here in Birmingham (finally) with sunshine and temperatures in the 70s well into the weekend. These are the times when I really enjoy having moved to the Magic City.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

If you can't win the debate, jam their transmission

Michelle Malkin's website seems to be the target of a Denial of Service attack by a group of "cyberjihadis" located in Turkey today.

Seeing as how Michelle's going to be back up within a day or less, what message is this going to send other than the same old "Islamofascists are a bunch of immature geekboys who vandalize and make noise rather than arguing their case" point that we get every night by watching the news?

You need to vary the message, guys. The rest of the world gets bored when we hear the same thing over and over again.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

One Thousand Words, With Interest

Click for Article
Toonophobia from Cox & Forkum.


PS. They do explain why cartoon pigs are holding the signs.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Let We Forget

Google Maps display of the Cartoon Jihad
(Hat tip Malkin, who really deserves a fruit basket or something)

Good Grief

It's pretty boggling how big a deal this has become. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims the world over, either rioting of their own accords, or being convinced/coerced to riot in protest over twelve cartoons.

Press on the matter has been flagging a bit, but the violence, deaths, cowardice and mayhem continue. When you look at the sheer scope of the unrest, can anyone truly deny that this is another exchange in a culture war?

Freedom of speech is simply a must for any seriously free society. Immunity to the depredations of the whims of other countries is a primary tenet of national sovereignty, and also the foundation of any safety a nation might guarantee its citizens from foreign incursions, physical or otherwise. What we are witnessing is the adherents of an ideology (we'll call it Islamofascism) trying not only to abrogate free people's freedom of speech, but to do so across national boundaries, and even according to a double standard, since Iranian and Palestinian newpapers are known to publish inflammatory cartoons regarding Judaism, Christianity, America and other Western institutions and symbols.

It's been a scary week or two, watching the relatively weak showing that American and European papers have made as regards publishing the cartoons, but it's worth remembering that A) there have been exceptions [good], and B) the enemy in this conflict has shown himself to be very patient, and very sly [bad]. The shelf life of this crisis in American media won't last another week unless more deaths occur (and places like Pakistan and Nigeria do keep fanning the flames, to be fair), but the fundamental conflict of values won't have altered one iota.


Monday, February 20, 2006

So Glad to See It...

More and More Moderate Muslims Speak Out in Denmark
(Hat tip Little Green Footballs)

One has to imagine that regardless of the danger to the original publishers and cartoonists, a person standing up to his/her own imam (and thus unable to be anonymous or otherwise avoid the fallout) would be endangering him/herself in an entirely different way. Bully for all Muslim moderates speaking out.

Cheney Watch
This is simply masterful:
Bonfire of the Inanities

In Other News
The lovely and gracious 'A' is under the weather with what appears to be a seasonal über-sniffle, and IMs are zipping furtively between Squeezings Central and the doctor's office where she is being examined. Fervent wishes for her speedy recovery.


Friday, February 17, 2006

I Wash and I Wash, but the Stain Won't Come Out...

I'm forced to agree with Chuck Schumer on something.
More are questioning port transfer
(Hat tip Malkin, again, via the Geek Girl Blonde)

I'm simply at a loss. What possible reason could we have for turning operation of the ports over to ANYBODY other than an American corporation? If we're trying to save money, try cutting taxes, growing the balls to cut entitlement programs, or attacking other crazy pork like bridges to nowhere, instead of nickling-and-diming critical national infrastructure!

I need more soap. God, why Schumer?


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yawn... :-)

Seems like a slow news day today. Oh, there's plenty happening, but the top stories pretty much everywhere are the same as yesterday: the Cheney shooting flap, the Cartoon Jihad, the Abu Graib issue recycle, the largely ignored prospect of a nuclear Iran, the U.N. bloviating about Guantanamo Bay being, against all actual evidence, a hellhole of torture and degradation. In short, business as usual. :-p

So, a departure from politics. How'm I doing?

I, in short, am great. Work is tooling along well, if at an overall sedate pace. I'm seeing a beautiful, intelligent, funny and fascinating woman who seems to be functioning wonderfully as my blogging muse. Work on the Bowflex has granted me better energy and (I'm told by a highly cute and reliable source) a cuddlably muscular bod. Stocks are up, weather is mild, and spring feels just around the Alabama corner.

In sum, I'm good. Got laundry to do tonight, and a living room to clean. Gonna chat with my Princess for a little while, sip a decent Sauvignon Blanc, and enjoy the evening.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I'd Ask...

But I think the sad, sad answer's pretty clear.

Why is the media so hot to publish the latest Abu Graib photos (and in the process offend Arabs and U.S. military servicemen and -women alike, while neither making new points nor righting new wrongs), yet for the most part too protective of the sensitivities of those poor, defenseless, rioting-by-the-tens-of-thousands Muslims to publish the Mohammed Cartoons?

Well, if in your mind the source of all real evil in the world is Westernism and/or Americanism in all its forms (with a liberal spicing of Bush Derangement Syndrome for good measure), it's easy to take sides. Rest assured, though, palaver like "speaking truth to power" and fair-weather freedom of speech will be touted as defenses, when anyone bothers to make them.

Disgusting, sad... I'm running out of sufficiently loaded emotional terms. Luckily A and I are heading out to the Lakeview Oyster House here in town after work.


Talk About Fish in a Barrel...

The Shooting Party
Hat tip Michelle Malkin

You know, it's tempting to let the Left's propensity for own goals go unremarked, but hell, this is a blog, so remark I shall. Does anyone seriously think that harping on Vice President Cheney for not having the mainstream media on speed dial (just in case he accidentally shot a friend in the face while on a hunting trip) will gain any traction with anyone other than the "Daily Kos" crowd?

How does piling on to what is undoubtedly a moment of personal anguish for the VP (and momentarily mortal danger for his good friend) reflect positively on the pilers-on? Didn't the PR disaster that was bringing the newly-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Alito's wife to tears teach the Left anything? Evidently not.

And besides, it's not like there's anything else going on worth reporting on in the world. From the linked RCP article:
In the absence of any pressing news these days -- other than Iran's nuclear weapons development crisis, the election of Hamas terrorists in Palestine, ongoing worldwide Muslim riots and killing in reaction to a cartoon, Al Gore's near sedition while speaking in Saudi Arabia, the turning over of our East Coast ports to be managed by a United Arab Emirates firm, the criminal leaking of vital NSA secrets to the New York Times, Mexican military incursions across our southern border, the Iraqi crisis, Congress's refusal to deal with the developing financial collapse of Social Security and Medicare, inter alia -- the White House press corp has exploded in righteous fury over the question of the vice president's little shooting party last weekend.
There's really not much I can add to that.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day!

Herewith a departure from our regularly scheduled polemic to wish everyone a happy Day of Evil Emotionally Manipulative Corporate Incitement to Patriarchially Sexist Consumerism.

Naw, everybody enjoy loving on their squeezes today. A and I have a nice dinner planned for tomorrow evening, but as she's under the weather this evening I'm having a pizza delivered to her place, and planning to go over and engage in some nurturin'.

Oh, and in case anyone was curious:
I'd rather hunt with Dick Cheney than ride with Ted Kennedy.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Water-Kerryer: What Part of "Aid and Comfort to the Enemy" Does This Man not Understand?

Well, Al Gore decided to try for an Al-Jazeera headline today:
Gore Laments U.S. 'Abuses' Against Arabs
(Hat tip Michelle Malkin)

Basically, Gore accuses the U.S. of inconveniencing and delaying Arabs in America during the process of confirming visa applications, investigating green card irregularities and the like.

Well, no, actually he accuses us of something entirely different:
Gore told the largely Saudi audience, many of them educated at U.S. universities, that Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa or not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable."
Invoke painful World War II imagery much? I thought ham-fisted dredging up of old racial shames in the name of political pandering was Hillary's job.

Anyway, Michelle does a better job of exploding Gore's claims and exposing their counterfactual basis in her post than I'm likely to.

I continue to be amazed that anything Gore does commands the attention of a Kindergarten class, let alone the international media. But if there's any way you can squint at it, point a finger and blame Bush, it's newsworthy, right?


Friday, February 10, 2006

Danish Intestinal Fortitude

Danish Kids Don’t Get Pork
(Hat tip Michelle Malkin and NeanderNews)

Apparently Danish kids have only Halal-butchered meat (the Islamic version of kosher meat) available to them in their school cafeterias. Until now. In the wake of the cartoon fracas of the past week or two, politicians are demanding that Danish kids now have pork chops and pork-containing meatballs available on their lunch menus. No word on whether this will in fact happen, but I love the fact that amid a punishing boycott on Danish goods from the Muslim world it seems a bipartisan call for flipping off Muslim sensibilities is now in effect.

I'm going to have to learn more about the Danes and their culture of stick-it-to-em-ness. This shows a level of courage and pluck I wasn't aware still existed in Europe. :-D

I feel like having some bacon for lunch, myself!


Thursday, February 09, 2006

All those with ears to hear...

What would Muhammad do?

Again, let's continue to lift up the Muslim voices calling for sanity.


You know, I keep trying to avoid making this into some Randian morality play...

EU mulls media code after cartoon protests
(Hat tip Little Green Footballs)

Yes, that would be a proposed EU media code "encouraging" that the media show "prudence" when covering anything religious. It apparently won't have the force of law... Anyone want to take bets how long that will last, having come from the EU itself?

Thank goodness part of our Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Is anyone still not convinced that this is about the exercise of free speech?

And yes, this is another story perpetuating the falsehood that depicting Mohammed is forbidden by Islam. I'm seriously considering coming up with a little logo for stories that do this.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Much Ado About...Nothing?

Bonfire of the Pieties: Islam prohibits neither images of Muhammad nor jokes about religion
(May require free registration)

In this article, OpinionJournal commentator Amir Taheri makes some great points, both that there is no scriptural prohibition in Islam of depictions of Mohammed, and that the prevailing Sulafist (also called Wahhabist, or Islamofascist) attitude of humorlessness and intolerance of parody is also unsupported, either by the Koran or by other anecdotes of Mohammed's own life.

At his article's end, Taheri takes a final parting shot at both sides of the debate:
Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.
Sadly, this misses the larger point of the debate, and glosses the deafening near-silence from the non-rioting Muslims of the world on this latest smear of their faith by what one would hope is a highly embarrassing, if vocal, minority.

This crisis/debate/farce is not about some Danish cartoonists' decisions to offend Islam, and never has been. It's about whether we in the West will stand up for our own nations' interpretation of the right to a free press, and freedom of speech, and we allow this fact to be obscured in the debate at our peril. Reactions of our governments have been mixed, but largely disappointing aside from a few bright points, which leaves it up to braver newspapers and people in the blogosphere to make the stand. It's not so courageous a stand as some might think (I'm fairly certain I have little to fear from cartoon-mad crazies on U.S. soil), but I'm big on standing up to be counted when issues like this one arise. In situations like this one, failure to take a side is to stand aside.

And as regards the near-silence of the nonviolent, tolerant majority of Muslims we're assured are out there, we need to see more of the sort of story I blogged about below. Like dozens or hundreds more. I hopped over to to see what it's saying about the matter, and its lead story as of this afternoon is of President Bush effectively strengthening the case of the Islamofascists and rioters with quotes like "With freedom comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others," and perpetuating the canard about Islam prohibiting representations of Mohammed. I want to see the top five stories on Al Jazeera to be denunciations of the riots, and exposés of Iranian and Syrian state support of the rioting.

I would hope that such material would, in modern parlance, be newsworthy.


About Bloody Time

We definitely want to encourage this sort of behavior from the sane Muslims of the world...

Islamic Groups Call for End to Riots


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Yep, Get Yer Tolerance and Decorum Right Here

King eulogists jab Bush at funeral

I really have no words for the disrespect this shows. Bush Derangement Syndrome on display at a funeral where the man is in attendance.

Free speech, yes, but here's my free speech deploring their speech back at them: grow up!


Monday, February 06, 2006

Freedom of Speech, Offense and Civilization

It's very tempting to look at the outrage and hysteria that's erupted over the infamous twelve Jyllands-Posten cartoons and dismiss it as just another example of Those Crazy Islamist Hijinks™, but I'm increasingly of the opinion that we're looking at exactly the sort of culture clash I was beginning to worry about a few posts ago when I waxed prosaic about the demographics of Western and Muslim countries.

I've read several attempts by commentators to explain this strange Muslim tendency to counter offense with violence: it's an Arab thing, it's an extremist thing, it's an "unused to the rest of the world having free speech" thing, it's a "well, if we hadn't compromised all our principles maybe we'd riot too" thing.

I think all these analyses miss the mark. It's a civilization thing. Or the lack thereof.

Stimulus and Response
Anyone remember Star Trek: The Next Generation, specifically the frequently-recurring moment when someone would impugn Worf's manliness or strength or honor or whatnot, and he'd bark a reply along the lines of "I should kill you where you stand!" This was both a source of dramatic tension and of humor, because it's the mark of a civil throwback, of complete overreaction, of the belligerent rube among more sophisticated, more civilized people. Put simply, we tend to equate maturity, both of a person and of a culture, with the ability to respond with grace and, if not understanding, tolerance toward viewpoints we consider objectionable. It's fundamental to getting along with one another--grade-school stuff, the sort of thing we try to cultivate in preschoolers.

Still, there's a line we all have to draw, at the individual and at the societal level: the delineator between grin-and-bear-it and kill-the-bastards: some transgressions cannot justly be borne. Those of us in civilized society have for the most part put that line somewhere between "an eye for an eye" (i.e., in response to grievous injury) and "when it's almost, but not entirely, too late to salvage matters" (i.e., the position of the United Nations on pretty much anything of import).

So what constitutes grievous injury? Well, the loss of life through malevolent action (say, flying a plane into a complex of inhabited office buildings) seems to qualify. So, I hope, does menacing one's neighbors by researching and threatening to deploy WMDs of any stripe. There are gray areas along the regions that encompass sovereignty issues like genocide within one's own borders, or violations of international treaties. Does offending religious sensibilities qualify? Well, 500 or 600 years ago it certainly did in the Western model of things: witness wars of the Reformation, the Crusades and the like. It's been a while since that sort of thing happened on a wide scale, though. No, for the most part among cultures that consider themselves civilized, it's primarily violence that merits violent response.

Civilization Here at Home
The American Constitution's enshrinement of freedom of speech is a strong indicator of the ideal of tolerance of opposing viewpoints (that would be offense) that is expected of Americans. Pretty much all other representative governments around the world have adopted something similar to this model, and for good reason: if a people is to be entrusted with the task of determining its government through deliberation, then the ability to deliberate freely is essential to that process.

The U.S. occupies a funny place in the annals of history: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists, atheists and others can and do work and live under the same roofs without engaging in swordplay, mutual grenade exchanges or other "kill the unbeliever" activities. This is largely because we've all signed on to the ideal that actions of loyalty to one's nation-state trump actions of loyalty to one's religious denomination. American first, and Christian, Raelian or Scientologist second. The state not being permitted to make any law respecting any religious denomination means that it must not privilege any faith over any other, or even over an absence of faith; and from the point of view of position and privilege within the state, neither must we. I.e., Christians can't just go depriving Jews of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or vice-versa. It's a powerful sort of relativism, and an important ingredient of the mix that has made the United States the most powerful geopolitical entity on the planet.

Those Crazy Extremists
But back to the toon-happy members of the Religion of Peace that have been gracing our TV screens. This all ties into one of the things I've had to realize about Islam: it's not just a religion, it's a social order, and one that extends all the way to political and national and even global dimensions. Islam has teachings within it that simply can not coexist with most of the constitutions of the world that mandate faith-neutrality (primarily having to do with the concept of "dhimmitude," or the doctrine of how to deal with adherents to other faiths who happen to be living in Muslim nations). This is one of the reasons why, for example, the new Iraqi Constitution has as one of its tenets that Islam is the basic foundation of the country's laws.

Here are a few facts about the cartoons and the surrounding craziness:

1. The 'toons were first published months ago, in concert with an effort by the Danish Jyllands-Posten editors to highlight the self-censorship everyone seems to be engaging in these days to avoid offending members of the Religion of Peace. It's only in the past few weeks that the rest of the world even took particular notice of them, after a few other European papers, in an uncharacteristic fit of free-speech pique, republished the cartoons. This appears to have fanned the dying embers of the issue back into life, evidently giving the Middle East an excuse for a good riot.

2. There were some initial signs of backbone from the French, Danish and English, but the repeated calls for the deaths of the cartoonists, calls for the deaths of the editors of the papers, vandalism and burning of embassies and lovely moments like threats of a new holocaust have cowed the French, the Danes, the British and even our illustrious State Department into mealy-mouthed beseechings for calm and reasoned discourse.

Stimulus and Response, Again
It's my opinion that we're past the time for reasoned discourse, and forceful response is needed. An attack on an embassy is an attack on a country's sovereign soil, i.e., an act of war, and the last time I checked the Danes were our allies. Not that our actions in the arena of embassy defense have been exemplary, but what we have is Muslims around the globe up in literal arms over the fact that something was done, somewhere on the planet, that offended them. I don't recall Hindus rioting because we eat hamburgers in the U.S., or Christians around the world burning embassies when the illustrious artwork Piss Christ made its debut. It is, quite simply, an attempt to privilege the sensitivity of Muslims over the free speech of the rest of the world.

Since, as I've mentioned, free speech is pretty integral to the functioning of our sociopolitical lives out here in tolerance-land, this attempt might be construed as a big, clash-of-civilizations sort of deal.


Meme Me Up, Scotty

Picked up this quiz from Tripp

I imagine there's precious little surprise here as well, though I imagine some of my audience thinks I'm a lot more socially interfering than these results would indicate.

You are a

Social Moderate
(41% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(90% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test


Thursday, February 02, 2006

And Now for Some Disobedience

For those who may not know, there's been an enormous uproar over the course of the past few weeks over some drawings of Mohammed and other muslims by some Danish cartoonists. People are getting sued and issued with death threats for having the gall to post or publish them:

Cartoon Rage vs. Freedom of Speech

Here they are, cached from the above article:
Evil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWAREEvil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWARE

Evil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWAREEvil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWARE

Evil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWAREEvil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWARE

Evil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWAREEvil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWARE

Evil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWAREEvil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWARE

Evil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWAREEvil Danish Muslim Caricature--BEWARE

Aren't the cartoons scary and evil? Seriously, why should Islam be exempt from the satire and freedom of expression that the rest of us are subject to?


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of the Union

All in all, it was a good address. Dubya was on form, and did an excellent job of abjuring the American people (and Congress, not that they're likely to listen) to stay focused when it comes to the War on Terror. The domestic part of the speech was less strong (wind power and more ethanol subsidies?!?), but I'm all for increased investment in nuclear power and in research into the remaining hydrogen-fueled-car problems.

A and I had a grand ol' time time watching it, but easily the best points were when the Fox News camera crew did artful cut-aways to Hillary, McCain or other, let's call them "personalities of note"... in time to show their ate-a-lemon faces at appropriate moments. We also found it quite amusing to see how half the room failed to stand up at some of the most optimistic and patriotism-inspiring moments. (Some acoustical anomaly of the room, perhaps.)

Great to see Justice Alito there. The man does cut a figure in black. Just sayin'.

Also, Bush made a point of mentioning earmarks, which is as close as he can really get to dissing Blunt in the race for DeLay's old spot. Can only be good for Shadegg, IMO.

Then there was the "rebuttal," during which milquetoast governor Tim Kaine of Virginia blithered for 10 minutes or so about how he didn't materially disagree with anything Republicans were doing, but that he (and the sunshiney and daisy-fresh bipartisan coalition of Democrats and Republicans that make up the Virginia legislature--how things must have changed since I left!) wanted to let us know that there was A Better Way. Verdict: creepy, and strange. The man's left eyebrow looked like it escaped from a campy '50s sci-fi sitcom.

A and I were quite disappointed in the after-show: we were expecting all sorts of hecklable material, and instead we got the Democrats' C game. I'm guessing there's good reason for that--Biden out getting styled, perhaps, or Kennedy inspecting the strategic ethanol reserves.

I've been reading and not watching my news for a long while, now: A's influence, and watching Brit Hume's masterful performance last night is changing that. :-D