Monday, December 30, 2002
Saturday, December 28, 2002
Monday, December 23, 2002
Friday, December 20, 2002
The mystery of why the Beatles were so great together and so spectacularly mediocre apart remains one of the deepest questions in rock 'n' roll.That's a facile, conventional view of the post-Beatles Beatles, and I buy only part of it. First, Samuels doesn't mention that one of the lads, George, put out an undisputed non-group masterwork: All Things Must Pass. McCartney probably came closest after that with Band on the Run, the major downfall of which was that it was ostentatiously a canned masterpiece, whereas Harrison's double album sounded rambling, fun, and fresh. He's right that Lennon was the biggest disappointment, but honestly, if you strip all the Yoko stuff off Double Fantasy, what you're left with, while not a masterpiece, is a disarmingly forthright, solid record. Finally, Ringo is a great stomp, a funfest, and a reunion of sorts for all four Beatles; though they obviously weren't all in the studio at the same time, they all pitch in on this work.
Update: Here's the liberal "told you so." Atrios "told Mrs. Atrios [his mom?] he'd be gone be the weekend and she was starting to doubt my powers of prediction..." Funny that it slipped his mind to put it in writing, since he blogs everything else that addles his brain.
Update II: Okay, Josh Marshall said that Lott was "pretty much toast" earlier this week.
Democrats acknowledge they are worried about Frist being the public face of the Republican party. Articulate and telegenic, he has the political equivalent of a good bedside manner, coming across as more moderate than many prominent Republicans, even though his voting record is fairly conservative.This could be the silver lining to an otherwise disastrous fortnight for the GOP.
It would be hard to attack a Princeton, Harvard and Stanford doctor surgeon who runs marathons and has done medical missionary work in the Sudan.
"He'd have a long honeymoon," sighed one Democratic aide. "It's hard to attack a heart-lung-transplant surgeon."
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Update: John Fund at WSJ backs me up on the Clinton comparison.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Another thing to consider with respect to Trent Lott is that if he goes down over something as inconsequential as an off-the-cuff remark, it will be a big win for the Dems.He is answered, in effect, by Shelby Steele in today's WSJ (link requires registration). Steele argues that Republicans, in their push for an officially color-blind society, must be unblemished. That is how the conservative message wins over the mainstream:
The slow march of conservative principles back to mainstream respectability is still so fragile [as this event is proving] that conservatives themselves must be absolutely innocent of racism.I think of the scene in DePalma's Untouchables when Ness tells the men charged with enforcing prohibition how they must abstain from alcohol, must be "pure." It's also similar to the advice many blacks recieved growing up in an era of discrimination: If you want to get a job (or get into a college, etc.), you can't simply be as good as the white person next to you. You have to be better. Republicans, if they ever want to win this fight, have to be 10 times cleaner on the issue of race because, like it or nor, they enter the public arena with the disadvantage of being seen as the "white" party. This perception is in general, I believe, undeserved. But Republican leaders and opinion makers who want to cry about that, rather than doing what is necessary to achieve real justice, should go on Oprah and get out of politics.
My take: He probably could muster enough support for some sort of declaration, but no one would want to call it a war. So, they'll let him use or modify his 9/11 terrorist powers somehow. It's going to be a massive peace-keeping effort, but I suppose that we should be in that phase once Saddam is dead or missing, at which point, to the extent there's any opposition left, it will surrender and get in line.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Anyway, I'm not an expert on this. Bringing it back to the original point, however, is that we have a puritan-minded society that doesn't act like one. This hypocrisy keeps us from treating our most alarming problems, like drugs. Part of the issue is that alcohol, although briefly repealed, was such a part of the world's social construct (hell, they serve it in church) that outlawing it really was trying to shake something that wasn't shakable. Other drugs don't have this history, and thus, are not ingrained into a social framework (very few pot parties in 1878, I imagine). Non-alcohol drugs have always had this stigma about them which makes people just feel wrong or somehow naughty doing them, even if the effect is milder than their 4-martini lunch. It's an image thing. Maybe we need Madison Avenue to get on board.
Burton: "But I have one question that nobody ever asks, and that is this question: What would happen if there was no profit in drugs?"This only serves to indicate how comatose our drug warriors are. First, this is a question that anyone with a shred of reason has asked countless times. Even National Review is pro-decriminalization, for god's sake. And Buckley's crew isn't exactly a bunch of bong-waving wake-n-bake types, you know. Our fearless Agitator optimistically hopes this is a Nixon-to-China moment in the drug war, and I hope he's right. But don't dump your bio-stocks for a bunch of Phillip Morris, thinking that huge profits from Marlboro Mellow are just around the corner. Yes, it's a start, but bear in mind that Burton thinks he just thought of something original. The kind of idiocy that requires in a policymaker is enough to squeegee any optimism out of me.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Lott announced that he has changed his mind about making Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a federal holiday — having voted against it when it was on the Senate floor — and said he supports affirmative action.(Trent, if you're going to become a Democrat over this, the GOP definitely doesn't want you in a leadership role.) As a final blow to his effectiveness (he ever had some?), Lott can no longer formulate a principled, conservative, color-blind policy on affirmative action, since only racists can be opposed to that. Get out, man. You're useless.
"I'm for that," Lott said when asked by Gordon again. "I'm for affirmative action and I've practiced it."
Update: Kissinger is off the 9/11 panel (so we can feel safe that the panel will not bomb Cambodia), and Michael Bellesiles got his Bancroft Prize taken away when Columbia U discovered that it was fiction. (Perhaps a Booker Prize in the works?) Not that all of these were unexpected developments, but ye gods -- what the hell didn't happen this weekend?
Friday, December 13, 2002
To understand Turkish attitudes towards us, it helps to ask a question the Pew researchers failed to ask: "Compared to what?" A survey of Turkish opinion released in March did just that. This one was conducted by the Bosporus University European Studies Center, using a sample three times the size of Pew's. Instead of focusing only on the Turks' attitudes toward the U.S., they explored their attitudes to other nations generally by asking: "Which country is Turkey's friend?" Here are the results: 34 percent said Turkey has no friends; 27 percent said the United States; 9 percent said other Muslim countries; 7 percent said the European Union.It seems that the Turks are more realistic than anti-American. The EU certainly has gone out of its way to snub the Turks. And, as Lerner points out, our aid to Egypt (where America truly is hated) makes our support of Turkey look paltry. What is that money buying us in Egypt? Send it to Turkey as a gesture of thanks to a true ally.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
"The corporations and businesses are just an intermediary between the citizens and the government. And the cost of that intermediate process is enormous because the corporate and business part of the tax code is unbelievably complicated and requires them to [...] employ hundreds of thousands of highly trained [...] people to thread their way through the tax code. And the cost of doing that also has to be recovered through the price of the goods that people pay."(No doubt O'Neill would not be as fond of the flip side, the subsidy elimination.) I think a lot of people in the business world feel this way, and not all of them are pirates in neckties. As the numbers below indicate, this isn't just a bad bargain for taxpayers (we pay to create higher prices); it's a bad bargain for businesses, too.
"So you would eliminate the corporate income tax?" asks FT.
"Absolutely," says O'Neill.
Even better, here's Tom Nugent on the same subject:
Opponents of such a bold move argue that such a tax reduction is a gift to the corporation and unnecessary. On the contrary, eliminating corporate taxes provides a potential benefit to the consumer through lower prices, to the corporation through lower expenses and higher profits, and to shareholders — the economy — through higher stock prices. (Don’t forget the cost savings to the government as the people who monitor tax compliance are eliminated. Perhaps they could become sky marshals.)
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
I always enjoy the bit at the end of the haircut where the stylist holds up the hand mirror so you can see the back and sides. The trouble with Mr. Kerry's policies, as the mirror of the one hand reflects the mirror of the other hand reflects the mirror of the first hand, is that it's all back and sides and no front and center. Bill Clinton got away with this approach, but today it seems tonally at odds with the electorate: President Bush is certainly not undefeatable, but what is certain is that he won't be defeated by a politician whose gut instinct is to have no gut instincts. Mr. Kerry has never held an original position for longer than it took his party's interest groups to put the squeeze on him. The Democrats suffered last month because they were perceived on the central issues of war and national security as, at best, tentative and, worse, opportunist. The senator seems set to expand this losing formula from the war to every major policy area, until the entire Democratic platform has achieved the perfect snapped-seesaw symmetry of his eyebrows.Does Steyn win Kaus's contest?
The obvious answer [to the problem of money "buying" politicians] is the control of the power to deliver such services to willing buyers. One example is in Texas, which has a relatively weak governmental structure and a balanced budget requirement. That would be a start. I can hear the screams now from the politicians about limiting their freedoms. My heart bleeds. Any organization with an unlimited checking account and no accountability for unfunded mandates would get out of fiscal control in a hurry.Talk about cutting the Gordian knot. Even if all the arguments in favor of reform are true, the problem lies not in the fact that money buys politicians, but in the fact that the politicians are selling themselves in the first place, and that they have the power to deliver. If Mr. Haeberlen sounds a bit like Phil Gramm, his signature line indicates he lives in ... Houston, Texas. Must be something in the water.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Side note: Shouldn't anyone who has ever uttered a note of concern about global warming be pelted with heads of lettuce if they ever drive an SUV? I know several people who would be in line for that pelting, and I bet you do too.
Second, climate can shift naturally, as you pointed out, and only a chowderhead or an activist would infer from available information that the causes are clear. The science on this is murky, at best. It's more like a bunch of observations shoehorned into a convenient box, with no room for data that conflict. (Ron Bailey and Bjorn Lomborg have covered this part pretty well.)
Will we someday bid farewell to the internal combustion engine? Perhaps. (Who knows, maybe the Amish will take to gasoline engines about then.) But when the day does finally arrive, the benefit to the environment will be negligible, because engines will use oil, as gasoline, so damn efficiently.
Monday, December 09, 2002
Friday, December 06, 2002
Even assuming, implausibly, that every single one of the special-treatment minority students was less qualified than Grutter and would not have been admitted if they were white, that would have improved Grutter's own chances by about one-eighth. The likelihood that affirmative action done her in is very small.Wait, is this about declaring basic principles or not? Grutter can prove that Michigan admitted students less qualified than she, unless race is a qualification. But Kinsley appears to want a higher standard: He wants Grutter to prove that one of the places an affirmative action beneficiary took would have been hers. That's an unreasonable standard, as he implies in his logical "basic principles" dismissal of the Bakke quota/factor compromise.
Thursday, December 05, 2002
The share of total income taxes being paid by the top 1% or 10%, or whatever slice you choose, has been increasing over the past couple of decades. But the point to remember is that the top 1%'s or 10%'s share of total income has been increasing even faster than its share of income taxes. So its slice of the pie has been getting larger, not smaller.I'm not sure what this has to do with anything, really. (Should we decide which ethnic or geographic groups go to the front lines in war based on who's breeding fastest?) What if the entire federal budget could be balanced by taxing just one fabulously rich guy, so rich that he wouldn't even feel the tax? Would it be fair for him to shoulder the burden? When we set tax rates and deduction categories, this is what we decide. The idea of taxing the one rich guy while exempting anyone who makes less is the same in principle to what we do now. Only the math is different.