Monday, August 29, 2005
The MSM, the Passing Winds and the Price of Oil
I must have seen the same, the very same traffic light in Biloxi, Mississippi blow across the road because of the hurricane down there at least five, maybe six times in the same newscast.
I guess they really wanted to make a point that the throngs of reporters they have on the scene there are really paying attention to the fact that the wind is blowing awfully hard.
Speaking of hard blowing winds, the next big, I mean REALLY big news items is the price of oil. Heck, it went up to $70 a barrel today, then dropped back to $68. Everyone's worried that a few days of wind and rain in the Gulf is going to shut down all those oil rigs out there. Panic is driving up the price.
But the BIG contributor to oil pricing is China's artificial demand. They are driving it up like an Otis elevator stuck on the penthouse button.
It's all phoney. And when the truth is made known, I suspect oil will plummet. Well, at least drop back to more reasonable pricing. My guess is just below $60 a barrel. I am thinking this will occur around October. Possibly late September. We'll check back to see if senescence is affecting the little grey cells in a few weeks. Of course, this could be my own little gale of hot air.
Hang on to your hats.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The MSM is Bamboozling us on Iraq Casualties
On the off chance you missed it, my friend John Hinderaker posted a stunning and soberingessay earlier this week about the number and nature of the mounting American casualties in Iraq. He suggests that the prime reason public opinion has turned against the war in Iraq is that "news reporting on the war consists almost entirely of itemizing casualties" without bothering to explain where the soldier "were going, or why; what strategic objective they and their comrades were pursuing, and how successful they were in achieving it; or how many terrorists were also killed." Without this context, it is difficult, if not impossible, to form an accurate view of how well or badly things are going in Iraq.
Hinderaker argues, persuasively, that viewed through this lens, D-Day would have been seen merely as a loss of 2,500 allied soldiers, that the Battle of Normandy would have looked ghastly since it cost 54,000 Allied lives. He goes on:
How about the Battle of Midway, one of the most one-sided and strategically significant battles of world history? What if there had been no "triumphalism"--that dreaded word--in the American media's reporting on the battle, and Americans had learned only that 307 Americans died--never mind that the Japanese lost more than ten times that many--without being told the decisive significance of the engagement?
In an important sense, Hinderaker is right. Granted, the campaign in Iraq is harder to measure than the action in France or at Midway: The battles lines don't move, towns and islands aren't taken, the number of enemies killed is not easily ascertainable. Instead, the metrics for success in Iraq are so soft as to be nearly imperceptible: Schools built, rights enshrined, expectations of freedom raised. But that doesn't mean they don't exist.
(For instance, as Michael Barone recently reported, "support for terrorism in defense of Islam has 'declined dramatically'," in Muslim countries, according to a new Pew poll. That's a soft indicator, but an important one.)
Yet if the media are reporting on the most visible indicator they can get their hands on, one wishes they would at least have some perspective. Again, here's Hinderaker:
Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. . . . That's right: all through the years when hardly anyone was paying attention, soldiers, sailors and Marines were dying in accidents, training and otherwise . . . Somehow, though, when there was no political hay to be made, I don't recall any great outcry, or gleeful reporting, or erecting of crosses in the President's home town.
As Hinderaker points out, this fact doesn't diminish the loss of combat deaths in Iraq. Rather, it highlights the every-day bravery of our armed forces, who put their lives at risk every time they get out of bed and go to work, even during peacetime.
It would be wrong to lay all the responsibility for the turning of public opinion at the feet of the media. But it is a reminder that casualty figures alone do not tell the whole story and, in general, the media could be doing a much better job.
Monday, August 22, 2005
What's interesting is the free-market approach to accepting the idea. Let American taxpayers calculate their liabilities under the current system and under the flat tax rate and then choose which way they want to pay. It's certain most will choose the one that produces the lower amount, but when they see the vast difference in complexity they might decide for a simple system even if it should cost them as much. With the Alternative Minimum Tax now biting more and more people, Forbes' plan sounds even better. Don't accept the naysayers whining about reduced revenues -- they use a fallacious static calculation that doesn't include unleashed productivity and growth that enhance revenues even though rates have been reduced.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Get into a debate with a liberal on the subject of absolutes, and inevitably you will find that when you raise the question of whether hypocrisy is universally wrong, you will hear the stammer and stutter of an opponent who will run to the nearest lampshade by which he (or she) may cover his head.
And so today we have diatribe in the Providence Journal on the subject of (tada!) the hypocrisy of the Republican right wing with a top ten list egregious hypocritical positions held by people like me.
One wonders aloud just what possesses the people at the Projo editorial board to invite such nonsense onto their pages. The piece was written by a Dr. Saleh R. Shahid whom I’ve not heard of before. It’s difficult to get an option editorial into the Journal, but it could be that everyone’s away on vacation so Dr. Shahid was able to slip through a crack.
We won’t address all 10 of his rants, but we will hit on this one (below). Other RI conservative bloggers (Anchor Rising, AntiProtester Journal, Dust in the Light, Kellipundit, Ocean State Blogger, RightRI and others will likely address this and others of Dr. Shahid's points:
Sayeth Dr. Shahid:
2. The basis of [the Republican right wing] religion is the existence of absolute truth, the constancy of God's will, and of right and wrong. Yet when faced with a very constant religion such as Islam, many RW people quickly become the moral relativists they've long opposed -- speaking of Islam's need to "modernize," as you would a household appliance, and espousing the "evolution" of their own religion.
Here’s my response:
As a Republican right winger, I’ve never believed that Islam needs to modernize or evolve into something else. I do believe all religions are subject to radical fringe groups, but that, as an absolutist, most religions are just plain, well, wrong. Therefore radical fringe versions or wrong religions are very dangerous. What I’d like to see for Islam and other similar so called religions that are out of sync with the Truth is for them to wise up and basically reform themelves to "the Truth." Not "evolve" or "modernize." And this is the type of error Dr. Shahid makes all the way through his piece. He's just enough off the mark that what he says seems palatable, but in reality the way he twists his observations make him way off base.
The ONLY thing I’m relativistic about really is…hypocrisy (ahem). This is the issue upon which I most think about when it comes to left wing nincompoops (momento moronus: think upon the morons). The absolute truth that hypocrisy is evil just makes them boil.
Monday, August 08, 2005
Peter Jennings Dead at 67
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Help for Africa
But what of Niger? I told you that you would be shocked, as I was today when I went to my sources to check on Niger’s tax system. I found that the 16% income-tax rate is encountered at roughly $200 a year and that the top rate of 52% is encountered at about $600 per year!! Capital gains is taxed at ordinary rates, which means that virtually any investment in the country that produces a gain means more than half goes to the government. Of course there is no investment under those conditions, and I will assure you that the government gets no revenue from the capital gains tax… and that it pays its tax collectors more to collect the income-tax than they receive in revenue. The corporate tax rate is 30% for residents and 40% for non-residents, at least on the data I got from the good people on the staff of your friend and mine, Rep. Charlie Rangel, who got the data from the Library of Congress.
Read more here.
On top of this strangulation is a Value Added Tax recently raised to 19%!
The point is that there is no way for these poor people to make their lives better or even save something for emergencies like famine because their government takes it all away. Want to help Africa? In the short term, send a donation to the appropriate charity, but in the long term, demand OUR government make future monetary aid contingent on tax reform.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Islam and Terrorism
Jonathan Last adds:
Is it really a slam on Islam if you happen to notice that the vast majority of terror incidents committed over the past several years have been committed by the religion's practitioners?
While I really shouldn't have to say this, in the interests of self-preservation I will: Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists. Obviously only a teensy-tiny portion of Muslims are terrorists. But, and the following is not really deniable, a high percentage of terrorists are Muslims. Facts are facts.
It's interesting that after four years of the war on terrorism, we hear a lot of worrying about backlash against Muslims living in the West. Fortunately, there hasn't been much backlash and both Americans and Brits have conducted themselves, for the most part, the way in which we expect from tolerant, pluralistic societies.
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