Sean's Blog

A Guide To Online
Opinion And Current Events

Saturday, December 28, 2002

I'm not going to give my opinion. I'm just going to post this Opinion Journal Best of the Web piece and let it speak for itself:

"A Lotto Nonsense

At least the clone story is more interesting than yesterday's big news. We refer, of course, to the lottery jackpot a West Virginia man won. This story was unavoidable if you were watching TV news yesterday; CNN even aired a press conference by the winner. Why is this news? It's not unusual for someone to win a lottery; indeed, the way lotteries are set up, it's a mathematical certainty that someone will eventually win. The jackpot the fellow won is a lot of money--a shade over $100 million--but it's not exactly of Bill Gates proportions. When someone becomes worth $100 million through a lifetime of honest work, that's not big national news. Why all the fuss over someone who got rich by indulging in a vice?

All this media attention to lottery winners serves only to glorify gambling. And the lottery is a bigger rip-off than any other form of legalized gambling. Innumeracy.com ran an experiment to see what would happened if it made 10,000 random selections and entered them in each of 479 drawings in the British lottery. Result: An "investment" of £4,790,000 returned just £1,375,082, which means that each £10,000 "invested" would have cost the player £7,129.

A lottery, Innumeracy.com notes, is "a tax on the poor and the stupid." The next time some liberal journalist complains about "tax cuts for the rich," consider how his colleagues in the media help enable the government to soak the poor."

Friday, December 27, 2002

Preston McConkie has an excellent piece titled, "Leftist Lies About The War."

On the lie that America is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children because of sanctions:

"Iraq orders shiploads of supplies and presents the manifests to the U.N., which normally grants approval and cuts a check.

"The U.N. handles deliveries in the ethnically-Kurdish north of Iraq, but disbursal to the Baghdad-controlled areas of Iraq is the job of Hussein’s regime. Further, Hussein is the one who must make the actual orders, and has deliberately left $21 billion – more than half of his share – unspent."

Chomsky on Afghanistan:

"Plans are being made on the assumption that they may lead to the death of several million people. Very casually, with no comment and with no particular thought about it. It looks like what is happening is some sort of silent genocide."

The truth Chomsky refuses to admit:

"Impugning Bush’s motives (this is dealt with elsewhere) and putting "humanitarian" in quotation marks doesn’t change the fact that the Bush Administration was feeding Afghans up to the moment the war on terror began and kept feeding them afterwards."

Also:

"This all ignores, of course, the fact that American intervention in Afghanistan essentially stopped (or grossly curtailed, since no-one is claiming Afghanistan has become Connecticut) a long-running civil war that was costing thousands of lives. Our intervention has thus already saved many times more Afghan lives than have died in our bombings in the most extravagant plausible estimate."

On the idiotic conspiracy theory that the only reason we went in Afghanistan is for oil:

"To think Afghanistan’s delegates would have supported a know-nothing or an anti-pipeline president is absurd. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan all want the pipeline; what they lack is the capital and corporate resources to build it themselves. To the anti-Western comfortably ensconced in the West, however, Westernizing the East’s standard of living is a sin in itself."

Those nations need money, but if we help them develop their natural resources, we are being imperialistic. If we don't help them, and we still don't give them money, we are evil. How are they supposed to improve their lives if they can't develop their resources? Easy. They aren't supposed to improve their lives. Everyone knows that pre-historical living conditions are more noble and desired that the evil western standard of living.

Idiot leftists.

Ann Coulter has more on the politics of the founder of Kwanzaa:

"Karenga was a founder of United Slaves, a violent nationalist rival to the Black Panthers and a dupe of the FBI........... Despite modern perceptions that blend all the black activists of the '60s, the Black Panthers did not hate whites. They did not seek armed revolution. Those were the precepts of Karenga's United Slaves. United Slaves were proto-fascists, walking around in dashikis, blowing away Black Panthers and adopting invented "African" names."

Here's how Coulter explains Kwanzaa:

"Kwanzaa itself is a lunatic blend of schmaltzy '60s rhetoric, black racism and Marxism. Indeed, the seven "principles" of Kwanzaa praise collectivism in every possible arena of life – economics, work, personality, even litter removal. ("Kuumba: Everyone should strive to improve the community and make it more beautiful.")

Have you ever wondered what Kwanzaa is? I wondered for about 15 seconds a year, but never took the time to learn anything about it. Well, The Opinion Journal gives the short version of the creation of Kwanzaa:

"Kwanzaa was started in the late 1960s by Maulana (né Ron) Karenga--a California civil-rights activist and now a professor--as a series of days for blacks to reflect on "The Seven Principles," which constitute a credo "by which Black people must live in order to begin to rescue and reconstruct our history and lives." The principles themselves are utility, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith, each of which goes by its name in Kiswahili, the major language of the East African country of Tanzania (e.g., umoja, ujima, ujamaa)."

The Opinion Journal further explains that Mr. Karenga's inspiration for this holiday was a Tanzanian socialist named "......Julius Nyerere, the son of a minor chief in rural Tanzania who studied in Britain and returned to his country to lead it to independence in 1961. Nyerere served as Tanzania's charismatic president for the next 23 years."

Long story short, President Nyerere destroyed the Tanzanian economy by following the socialist model. When he finally stepped down in 1984 he uttersed what The Opinion Journal calls "the five most honest words ever uttered by a world leader." President Nyerere said, " "I failed. Let's admit it."

I normally don't follow the Smarter Harper's Index (via Instapundit) because it comes out so infrequently. The January index is up and it features this excerpt:

"Percentage change since 1990 in the number of U.S. schoolchildren labeled “disabled”: +37

There is a $imple and $traightforward rea$on why teachers (and parents) choose to label some kids as “learning disabled”. Can you gue$$ what that ju$tification might be? Lisa Snell on ReasonOnline spells it out in an article titled “Special Education Confidential: How schools use the learning disability label to cover up their failures.” A must read.

In a related article, Joanne Jacobs has commented on the little-noted syndrome of PADS, or Parental Affluence Disability Syndrome. In this FoxNews story, she reports that learning disabilities seem to strike upper-middle-class kids much more frequently than less well-to-do children; these handicapped kids are then given extra time to complete standardized tests such as the SAT. A related New York Times article noted: '…a study by the California state auditor found that private school students were four times as likely as public school students to receive accommodations.'"

Thursday, December 26, 2002

From the "this headline says it all" file: W. Virginia Sells $315M Powerball Ticket

Damn, I guess I didn't win.

The Washington Times has a report on the new weapons that are ready for deployment against Iraq in the event of war. Among the new weapons is the B-2 Stealth bomber, the F-18 Super Hornet strike fighter, the Shadow 200 spy plane, and satellite guided bombs that depend on the Global Positioning System (GPS) to hit their targets:

"When you roll it all together, I say we're 10 times more powerful," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney. "And [Saddam] is about 30 percent what he was before. So you can see how we can achieve rapid dominance using 'effects-based' operations."

As I was reading Pete Du Pont's "2002 in Review", I was reminded of some of the major stories of the year, but I missed a couple of minor stories. First, Du Pont details a personal story that leaves me dumbfounded:

"My personal most mystifying moment of the year followed a speech to high school seniors in which I disagreed with students at Princeton who marched just after Sept. 11 demanding "mediation" with the Taliban. "Must the rape victim counsel with the rapist to better understand his reasons for his criminal assault?" I asked.

One girl replied, "Why yes, she should meet with her attacker, to understand his culture and the reasons for his acts." Two other kids agreed with her."

That's unbelievable, but it's valuable in that it serves to show how the left thinks. This is the insanity that was exposed by 9/11.

Another quote from Du Pont's shows how anything is a potential lawsuit in the US:

"The silliest of 2002 begins with a convicted Florida sex offender who fled to Bangor, Maine, in February and spent three freezing nights in the woods avoiding capture. The resulting frostbite cost him a few toes, so he threatened to sue the detective who failed to arrest him in time to avoid the damage. 'If he had done his job properly I wouldn't be in the condition that I'm in right now,' Harvey Taylor said. 'I would have been in jail that very same day.'"

Edward Rothstein (via Arts and Letters Daily) explains that liberalism as a political philosophy is indeed under assault as a result of it's response to the 9/11 attacks.

This article appeared in the New York Times so it was interesting to me to note the distinction, or rather the similarity, that famously liberal newspaper made between liberalism and conservatism:

"Mr. McGovern's version of conservatism is hardly recognizable as the conservatism of recent decades; his version of liberalism is also formulaic. But if liberalism is considered in its broadest sense, Mr. McGovern's sweeping assertions about its obviousness might be true. Much of political modernity, with its ideas of democratic rule, individualism and human rights, actually represents a triumph of classical liberalism. In fact, attitudes like Mr. Lott's aside, much contemporary conservatism honors similar ideas, making it less an opponent of liberalism than an alternative interpretation of the liberal world (my highlight)."

This reminds me of something that David Horowitz said some months ago. He argued, and I am sure others have as well, that we in the western democratic nations are all liberals because we share the same ideas towards human and civil rights. That's why Horowitz calls most Democrat's "leftists." He feels to call them liberals is praise that they are unworthy of because that implies a certain tolerance they no longer possess. I have adopted his argument and that is why I call them leftists.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

I call this, "Why I admire David Horowitz."

An excerpt:

"Democrats control 100% of the city councils and school boards that shape the destinies of the poor and minorities in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, St. Louis, and every other blighted urban big city in America. Everything that is wrong with the inner cities of America that policy can affect, Democrats are responsible for. Now the decks are cleared for Republicans to begin pointing this out, to begin the task of winning the necessary hearts and minds, and eventually to lead poor people in this country who are often minorities through the portals of the American dream."

I get so angry when I read reports like this from The Washington Post and when I think about the people I listen to at Excite's chat room, The Soapbox. I am convinced that the Democrats and the Pat Buchanan conservatives who visit that room are completely ignorant of the threats to the US.

I was in the Soapbox last night and the consensus among those wackos is that the threat from Iraq is way overblown. Those people say things like, "President Bush is trying to reward his oil company buddies," and "Iraq is no threat to the US." And these people are dead serious. They really believe the things they say. They refuse to believe that Saddam Hussein could very easily give a nuclear weapon (if he ever gets one) to a small group of terrorists to set off in Washington D.C. I would say these people are in deep denial about how easy it would be to kill hundreds of thousands of our citizens. They might agree that Al Qaeda is a threat, but they insist on putting Saddam Hussein in the harmless kitty category of threats to the US. I mean these people say things like, "If Saddam Hussein attacked us, we would nuke his ass. He's not stupid enough to attack us." I have actually heard this sort of thing repeated many times. You would think that it would be easy enough to counter that bit of idiocy with the argument that all he has to do is to give a nuclear weapon away. That it wouldn't be that hard for him to slaughter millions of our citizens by proxy. You would think and you would be wrong. Reason and logic means nothing to the the Baghdad Democrats and Pat Buchanan conservatives in the Soapbox.

Monday, December 23, 2002

The end of the year is, as usual, bringing predictions for the new year from everywhere. Forbes Magazine has "A Look Ahead" section in their latest edition. These predictions all fall under one of five different catagories. They range from "The Big Trend" predictions to "The Bold Prediction."

Steve Forbes on Capitalism and The World:

"The Iranian clerical regime will end up being ousted. North Korea's Kim Jong Il will go to the brink in threatening to use his nukes....He will get money, food and oil but only after agreeing to unprecedented international intrusions and inspections."

David Simons on US Business and Economy:

"......Americans refocus from dread and business villains to renewed creativity and optimism, keyed to more modest expectations. Sets stage for sustained economic recovery."

"This is the year that genome mapping germinates blockbuster practical applications. Biotech stocks star amidst a consolidation of cash-stretched contenders."

Tim Ferguson on The Global Economy:

"China, China, China."

"This is a make or break year for Vicente Fox's reformist plans in Mexico. Severe stresses are building up; he must vanquish the old-line PRI opposition in the Mexican Congress."

"The U.S. will initiate a withdrawal of its 72,000 troops still--still--in Germany."

Rich Karlgaard on Technology:

"....the political war for big reform on the three Ts: telecom, taxes, tort. This kind of fight makes lousy television, but it is worth watching if you want to know where the economy is headed. The good guys win, the economy booms. The good guys lose, uh, can you speak Mandarin?"

"Web content will come of age in 2003."

"Google will do an IPO in January off of surprisingly virile numbers: Silicon Valley rumor is $300 million in 2002 sales, $100 million in pro-forma profit. As a result, the Web and Web startups will become fashionable again. A year from now, we'll slap ourselves for not buying Cisco Systems (nasdaq: CSCO) when it was $13."

Robert Lenzer on Markets and Investing:

"Don't expect a big rebound in corporate profits. Household debt of $8 trillion requires more household savings. For each 1% rise in savings, corporate profits decline by 11%."

(Don't bother reading the predictions in the Lifestyle section. They're all jackass predictions or the link is dead.)

Michael Frank on Automotive and Transport:

"Whatever's old is new again. Formats thought dead, like hatches and wagons, are due for a revival. Detroit has a bunch on the drawing board--and the fleeter-footed Germans, Japanese and Koreans have innovative riffs on the hatch, the wagon and the crossover SUV on their way to market. Also: The new, clean diesel engines that are huge in Europe will return to the U.S. market, especially in SUVs. DaimlerChrysler's (nyse: DCX - news - people ) already green-lighted such an engine for Jeep and more will come from other makes, but not 'til 2004 at the earliest."

Davide Dukcevich on Consumer Industries and Retail:

"With American basketball courts strangled by showmanship, selfishness and lack of fundamental skills, the next Michael Jordan will come from abroad. His star power in the NBA plus his international appeal--thanks to his origins and the international appeal of the sport--will one day make him the world's wealthiest athlete. Unlike German racing driver Michael Schumacher, most Americans will know who he is. We shall know his name in 2003."

Daniel Fisher on Energy and Utilities:

"Oil prices may surge on war news, but will continue a steady decline below $20 a barrel as non-OPEC producers flood the market with high-quality crude and economic growth lags."

Stephane Fitch on Financial Services:

"Souring real estate fundamentals will deliver a blow to some widely held real estate investment trusts. Real estate gathers and loses momentum at a glacial pace, trailing the economy by a year or two. So even though rents have softened a bit this year, the trend hasn't spooked investors who've flocked to REITs for the high dividends. But next year the plunge in rents and occupancy levels will knock down earnings by 6% for the high-profile office REITs and by 8% for the already-ailing apartment REITs. For office REITs, the weakening trend could continue through 2006. Apartments could regain ground sooner."

Matthew Herper on Health Care:

"Research costs will continue to rise, but not for all companies. The pharmaceutical industry spends $800 million in research and development for every drug that reaches the market, but new technology will cut costs for some visionaries. Already, Merck has harnessed genetic technology to toss out clinical duds before they cost a ton of money. That means it probably spends a lot less R&D per new drug than its peers."

Michael Noer on Information Technology:

"....PlayStation 2 and Xbox players go head to head, download software and even indulge in a little trash-talking. While both giants are embracing an online future, they are taking different tacks towards pricing and distribution. Xbox Live requires a broadband connection and will be a subscription service while PS2 Online is free, dialup friendly and usable across any existing Internet connection--after you pony up $40 for the network connector. Nintendo, meanwhile, is concentrating on improving connectivity between the GameCube and its handheld GameBoy Advance. This is a terrible mistake."

"Electronic Arts: It remains far and away strongest game publisher in the industry. Nvidia GeForce FX: A new graphical chipset from the market leader will push PC graphics even closer to cinema. The Sims Online: This PC-only simulated suburbia is looking like 2003s runaway hit and is ensnaring more female gamers than traditionally thought possible."

Peter Newcomb on Media, Marketing, and Entertainment:

"Which must mean it's time to buy cable. A growing number of cable operators are finally making good on their plans to deliver new services like video-on-demand. Look for companies like Comcast (nasdaq: CMCSA - news - people ) and Cox Communications (nyse: COX - news - people )--even Paul Allen's beleaguered Charter Communications (nasdaq: CHTR - news - people )--to make a run."

Scott Woolley on Telecommunications:

"Despite the lukewarm performance of Movielink, by year end improvements in compression--combined with steadily increasing DSL and cable modem speeds--will make sending videos inside internet-style packets a booming fad. The phenomena will be fought most not by Hollywood but the cable companies, which will be horrified to discover their new video on demand revenue increasingly cannabilized."

"Two things: In the U.S., the cellular industry has been as predictable as the sun rising: every year more people will spend more time talking. But 2003 might see that trend tail off, leaving the U.S. with levels well below Europe, where 75% of the population has a cell phone. The reason: quality. The U.S. dedicates roughly half the airwaves to cell phones as most countries, yet Americans pay less and talk far more. Until the airwave traffic jam clears, quality will suffer, data rates will be oh-so slow and the industry's growth limited."

I have three weeks off work. Whoopie! Right now, I don't know what I'm gonna do with my time, but you can bet it will involve a lot of eating, sleeping, and laying around. I'm not sure three weeks is enough time to get all that done, but I'll just have to make do with what little time I do have. I hate being rushed like this. I would prefer to be able to take the time to do my work right. Oh well, we all must make sacrifices. I'll just have to behave like the professional lay-about that I am.

The UN is gearing up for war with Iraq (via Drudge).

It's coming and I tend to think it will start before the president's State of the Union address in late January. Most experts are saying that we will wait until after the State of the Union, but that wouldn't leave much time to fight and win the war before warmer weather arrives. I don't know really, but one thing I am sure of. If we are going to overthrow Saddam, it must happen before spring arrives. We have a two or three month window to get this done because warm weather will make the protective suits many of our soldiers have to wear overly burdensome and possibly prohibitive. Either we do it early in 2003 or we have to wait until 2004.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Now, The Carolina Panthers decide to win games. I can't stand it. When I want them to win they lose, and when I want them to lose, they win. Can't they do anything right? Oh well, they have more chance to break my heart this year and no doubt they will do just that. The way I figure it, they should get very good draft picks next year and hopefully they will be able to pick up a quarterback in free agency.