Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Noonan on talk radio and the candidates

The second half of Peggy Noonan's essay in the Wall Street Journal-- this time focusing on the Republican race and the connections to talk radio...

As for the Republicans, their slow civil war continues. The primary race itself is winnowing down and clarifying: It is John McCain versus Mitt Romney, period. At the same time the conservative journalistic world is convulsed by recrimination and attack....

The rage is due to many things. A world is ending, the old world of conservative meaning, and ascendancy. Loss leads to resentment. (See Clinton, Bill.) Different pundits back different candidates. Some opportunistically discover new virtues in candidates who appear at the moment to be winning. Some feel they cannot be fully frank about causes and effects.

On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues....

And this needs saying, because if you don't know what broke the elephant you can't put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can't trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure....

And now, her assessment of Romney vs. McCain-- and the perception thereof...

Mr. McCain is in the middle of a shift. Previous strategy: I'm John McCain and you know me, we've traveled through history together. New strategy: I'm the old vet who fought on the front lines of the Reagan-era front, and I am about to take on the mantle of the essentials of conservatism—lower spending, smaller government, strong in the world. He is going to strike the great Reagan gong, not in a way that is new but in a way that is new for him.

In this he is repositioning himself back to where he started 30 years ago: as a Southwestern American conservative veteran of the armed forces. That is, inherently if not showily, anti-establishment. That is, I am the best of the past.

Mr. Romney, on the other hand, is running as I Am Today. I am new and fresh, in fact I'm tomorrow, I know all about the international flow of money and the flatness of the world, I know what China is, I can see you through the turbulence just as I saw Bain to success.

It will all come down to: Whom do Republicans believe? Mr. Romney in spite of his past and now-disavowed liberal positions? Or Mr. McCain in spite of his forays, the past 10 years, into a kind of establishment mindset that has suggested that The Establishment Knows Best?

Do conservatives take inspiration from Mr. Romney's newness? Or do they take comfort and security from Mr. McCain's rugged ability to endure, and to remind?

It is along those lines the big decision will be made.

Noonan on why the Left is so upset with the Clintons

Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal...

We begin, as one always must now, again, with Bill Clinton. The past week he has traveled South Carolina, leaving discord in his wake. Barack Obama, that "fairytale," is low, sneaky. "He put out a hit job on me." The press is cruelly carrying Mr. Obama's counter-jabs. "You live for it."

In Dillon, S.C., according to the Associated Press, on Thursday Mr. Clinton "predicted that many voters will be guided mainly by gender and race loyalties" and suggested his wife may lose Saturday's primary because black voters will side with Mr. Obama. Who is raising race as an issue? Bill Clinton knows. It's the press, and Mr. Obama. "Shame on you," Mr. Clinton said to a CNN reporter. The same day the Web site believed to be the backdoor of the Clinton war room unveiled a new name for the senator from Illinois: "Sticky Fingers Obama."

Bill Clinton, with his trembly, red-faced rage, makes John McCain look young. His divisive and destructive daily comportment—this is a former president of the United States—is a civic embarrassment. It is also an education, and there is something heartening in this.

There are many serious and thoughtful liberals and Democrats who support Mr. Obama and John Edwards, and who are seeing Mr. Clinton in a new way and saying so. Here is William Greider in The Nation, the venerable left-liberal magazine. The Clintons are "high minded" on the surface but "smarmily duplicitous underneath, meanwhile jabbing hard at the groin area. They are a slippery pair and come as a package. The nation is at fair risk of getting them back in the White House for four years."

That, again, is from one of the premier liberal journals in the United States. It is exactly what conservatives have been saying for a decade. This may mark a certain coming together of the thoughtful on both sides. The Clintons, uniters at last.

Mr. Obama takes the pummeling and preaches the high road. It's all windup with him, like a great pitcher more comfortable preparing to throw than throwing. Something in him resists aggression. He tends to be indirect in his language, feinting, only suggestive. I used to think he was being careful not to tear the party apart, and endanger his own future.

But the Clintons are tearing the party apart. It will not be the same after this. It will not be the same after its most famous leader, and probable ultimate victor, treated a proud and accomplished black man who is a U.S. senator as if he were nothing, a mere impediment to their plans. And to do it in a way that signals, to his supporters, How dare you have the temerity, the ingratitude, after all we've done for you?

Watch for the GOP to attempt swoop in after the November elections and make profit of the wreckage.

more (appropriate) Clinton-bashing from the Left

First, Frank Rich. Now, E.J. Dionne with some great stuff on the Clintons then and now...

It was a remarkable moment: A young, free-thinking presidential hopeful named Bill Clinton sat down with reporters and editors at The Washington Post in October 1991 and started saying things most Democrats wouldn't allow to pass their lips.

Ronald Reagan, Clinton said, deserved credit for winning the Cold War. He praised Reagan's "rhetoric in defense of freedom" and his role in "advancing the idea that communism could be rolled back."

"The idea that we were going to stand firm and reaffirm our containment strategy, and the fact that we forced them to spend even more when they were already producing a Cadillac defense system and a dinosaur economy, I think it hastened their undoing," Clinton declared.

Clinton was careful to add that the Reagan military program included "a lot of wasted money and unnecessary expenditure," but the signal had been sent: Clinton was willing to move beyond "the brain-dead politics in both parties," as he so often put it.

His apostasy was widely noticed. The Memphis Commercial Appeal praised Clinton two days later for daring to "set himself apart from the pack of contenders for the Democratic nomination by saying something nice about Ronald Reagan." Clinton's "readiness to defy his party's prevailing Reaganphobia and admit it," the paper wrote, "is one reason he's a candidate to watch."

I have been thinking about that episode ever since Hillary Clinton's campaign started unloading on Barack Obama for making statements about Reagan that were, if anything, more measured than Bill Clinton's 1991 comments. Obama simply acknowledged Reagan's long-term impact on politics, and the fact that conservatives once constituted the camp producing new ideas, flawed though they were.

Obama's not particularly original insight was a central premise of Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign. Clinton argued over and over that Democrats could not win without new ideas of their own. To reread Clinton's "New Covenant" speeches from back then is to be reminded of how electrifying it was to hear a politician who was willing to break new ground.

That's why the Clintons' assault on Obama is so depressing. In many ways, Obama is running the 2008 version of the 1992 Clinton campaign. You have the feeling that if Bill Clinton did not have another candidate in this contest, he'd be advising Obama and cheering him on.

Let's grant the Clintons their claims: The press is tougher on Hillary Clinton than it is on Barack Obama; the old, irrational Clinton hatred is alive and well in certain parts of the media; Hillary Clinton gets hit harder when she criticizes Obama than Obama does when he goes after her.

Let's further stipulate that Obama's formulation -- he said Reagan "changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not" -- was guaranteed to enrage the former president. In Democratic circles, associating someone with Nixon is akin to a Roman comparing an emperor with Caligula.

None of it justifies the counterproductive behavior. Does anyone doubt that if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, she will need the votes of the young people and African-Americans who have rallied to Obama -- and that what she's doing now will make it harder to energize them? Doesn't calling in Bill Clinton as the lead attacker merely underscore Obama's central theme, that it's time to "turn the page" on our Bush-Clinton-Bush political past?

And with both Clintons on record saying kind things about Reagan, why go after Obama on the point? Honestly: If Obama is a Reaganite, then I am a salamander.

Yet there was Hillary Clinton's campaign, unveiling a radio ad on Wednesday implying that Obama bought into such ideas as "refusing to raise the minimum wage." Come on, guys.

The worst thing about all this is what both Clintons are doing to their own legacy as pioneers of an approach that rejected, as Bill Clinton said in a 1991 speech, "the stale orthodoxies of left and right." The great asset shared by both Clintons is their willingness to bring fresh thinking to old problems.

"Our new choice plainly rejects the old categories and false alternatives they impose," Bill Clinton added in that 1991 address in which he offered a long list of new ideas. "Is what I just said to you liberal or conservative? The truth is, it is both, and it is different. It rejects the Republicans' attacks and the Democrats' previous unwillingness to consider new alternatives."

Pretty good stuff, still. Why should either Clinton attack Obama for facing some of the same truths that both of them taught their party so long ago?

The Libertarian Party's Response to the State of the Union Address

The Libertarian Party's Response to the State of the Union Address (hat tip: Mark Rutherford)...

January 29, 2008
Contact: Andrew Davis
E-mail: andrew.davis(at)lp.org

Office: 202-333-0008 ext. 225
Mobile: 202-731-0002

Washington, D.C. - Following President Bush's annual State of the Union Address, the Libertarian Party issued their response from National Chairman William Redpath:

Tonight's State of the Union address went much as expected. Instead of calling for a more limited role of the federal government in American society, the President laid out plans that would only increase the government's intervention into the realm of economics, health care, education and foreign policy. It is unfortunate to see that after seven years of increasing the size of government and increasing the government's presence in the day to day lives of all Americans, the President refuses to limit the scope of the federal government, a once championed virtue of the President's party. The President's last State of the Union address encapsulated his legacy of an abandonment of the principles of limited government and individual freedom.

While the Libertarian Party applauds the President on taking a stand against wasteful government spending--though his administration has been a large contributor to this problem--and opening up more foreign markets to trade, we offer the following solutions to issues the President brought up in his address:

Economics: The President's economic stimulus plan is based on a flawed and outdated economic premise. The best solution to an economic slowdown is increasing the ability for businesses to grow and reinvest in the economy. Instead of increasing the federal deficit by $150 billion dollars, the federal government should focus its energy on eliminating taxes that restrain economic growth. Eliminating taxes such as the death tax and capital gains taxes, and lowering income tax rates on private citizens, will free up vital capital that can be reinvested into the economy. Additionally, the federal government should remove all trade barriers that prevent free trade with other nations. This is a more sound economic policy that presents real solutions instead of the window-dressing that is the President's stimulus package.

Education: The President's 'No Child Left Behind Act' has failed from the very beginning, and its reauthorization would be a travesty to the American education system. Instead of unfunded, federal mandates with the intent of fixing our failing public schools, alternatives involving the private sector should be explored. Increased local control over public schools and the increased use of private alternatives will increase the quality of education for all American children. We call for abolishing the Department of Education and removing the federal government from educating our children.

Health care: Far too long have our politicians tried to find a government fix for the health care problem we have in America. Government interference in the health care system is the root of the problems we face. Only in eliminating government subsidies of health care will we find relief from increasing costs. The Libertarian Party calls for the elimination of all government entitlement programs related to health care.

Foreign Policy: America will spend more than $1 trillion dollars in foreign wars started during the Bush administration. Because of such, the economy is in jeopardy and America's reputation abroad has suffered traumatic blows. On top of this, Americans have seen their civil liberties violated time after time. The Libertarian Party calls for a withdrawal from Iraq following the proper lines of withdrawal, executed by our commanders on the ground. We also call for an abandonment of the reckless policy of pre-emptive war, and a restoration of civil liberties lost under such laws as the Patriot Act and the amendments to FISA. The Libertarian Party reminds our leaders in power of the great words of Samuel Adams:
The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.

In this perilous time, when our freedom is attacked from both inside our borders by corrupt politicians and from outside by foreign aggressors, we call for prudence, wisdom and above all, an adherence to the United States Constitution, which reigns sovereign over all individuals of American society.

Redpath is a resident of Leesburg, Virginia, where he lives with his wife Melinda. Redpath has served as the Chairman of the Libertarian Party since 2006. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago.

The Libertarian Party is America's third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting www.lp.org. The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.

The Onion on Barbaro's funeral

A classic from The Onion-- on the one-year anniversary of Barbaro, their "coverage" of the horse's funeral...

Depending on how much the reporter knew about Kentucky politics at the time, the reference to former Governor Fletcher (toward the end) is either accidentally or amazingly hilarious.

Millions Of Americans Travel To Kentucky To Attend Barbaro's Funeral

LOUISVILLE, KY—In a stirring show of love and respect, millions of people—including Barbaro's owners, breeders, associates, foreign dignitaries and heads of state from over 90 countries, celebrities, and throngs of grief-stricken Americans hoping to catch one last glimpse of the 4-year-old stallion before he was laid to rest—gathered at Churchill Downs Wednesday to mourn the passing of a national hero and a beloved horse.

Although many feared this day was inevitable following Barbaro's injury at the 2006 Preakness, the news of his death nonetheless stunned and saddened the millions of citizens who, over the past eight months, had come to identify with this 1,200-pound racehorse. Overcome with despair, people from Maine to California—many of whom had never even met Barbaro—made the long drive to the Bluegrass State to pay their final respects to the late thoroughbred.

"I came all the way down from New York so my 3-year-old son could be here," said Cynthia Grossman, who waited for nearly 12 hours outside the famed racetrack in freezing-cold conditions along with 2 million others whose lives were affected in some way by this horse. "He got a little scared when he saw Barbaro, since he didn't really understand what was going on. Sure, all he sees now is a dead horse in a casket, but when he grows up, he'll realize what a special moment this was for him and for America."

"Barbaro inspired all of us to do great things—the least I could do for him is say a proper goodbye," said Gerry Holbrook of Nashville, TN, who hitched a ride to Louisville Tuesday evening because he "felt it was the right thing to do." "Without Barbaro's example, I don't think I would be a lawyer."

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, a horse-drawn caisson transported Barbaro's body down a carefully planned route along Central Avenue, where people young and old stood silent, teary-eyed, and completely motionless save for the occasional salute. Once he arrived at Churchill Downs, his body was carried to the base of the grandstand by a team of 48 pallbearers. Dressed in his finest silks, and wearing his Kentucky Derby garland and Presidential Medal of Freedom around his neck, Barbaro lay in state inside his 18-foot-long, five-foot-deep mahogany casket.

Many remarked that he looked like he was at peace.

"Barbaro was a great horse, but an even better person," said Cheryl McElroy, still visibly shaken after filing past Barbaro's coffin and placing a single red rose upon it. "He taught us how to triumph over adversity and how to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds. He showed us that anyone could win the Kentucky Derby if they just believed in themselves—even you or I. And he proved that people can lead perfectly normal, productive lives after breaking their long pastern bone and being diagnosed with laminitis of the left hoof."

During the ceremony, the usually festive Churchill Downs was eerily quiet, with the only sounds in the building coming from the low rumble of muffled drums, the clacking of horses' hooves, and a dirge-like rendition of "My Old Kentucky Home" played in a minor key by the University of Louisville marching band. As they laid his casket on the bier, Elton John performed a special version of "Candle In The Wind" rewritten to describe Barbaro's tragically short life.

Barbaro's owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, decided not to deliver a eulogy, instead choosing to recite the play-by-play transcript of the 2006 Kentucky Derby, which was read in a stirring 114-second speech by Churchill Downs track announcer Luke Kruytbosch.

"I will never forget Barbaro," said Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who took a redeye flight out of Tehran upon hearing that Barbaro had passed away. "He was a special horse."

In addition to the millions of people on hand, some of Barbaro's closest colleagues, including Private Vow, Brother Derek, and Point Determined, were also in attendance. Although they remained mostly quiet throughout the ceremony, the looks in their dark, liquid eyes suggested that they, too, felt the same loss as the American people.

"Though he is gone, Barbaro's memory will live on forever in all the great things he did for this nation," said Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who recently founded the Barbaro Foundation to help disadvantaged youths receive proper schooling and to provide medical assistance for AIDS patients in Africa. "He had a lot left to live for, and so much more left to give. I sometimes wish the Good Lord had taken me instead of him."

Although he was buried just yesterday, plans are already being made to honor the horse's memory with the rechristening and rededicating of several American institutions, such as Barbaro National Airport in Chicago, the monolithic Barbaro Monument in Washington, and the prestigious Barbaro School of Government at Harvard University.

McCain continues to ascend...

From the Iowa Electronic/Political Markets,
an update on the Republican presidential contest,
based on real money-- in essence, a futures market which models the market's assessment of the probability of a given candidate capturing the nomination...

McCain: 57; Romney: 33; rest of field: 10

If you're interested in the Dems, it's Hillary: 60; Obama: 40-- with Obama only getting a slight bump after his rousing SC victory.

Beyond the contemporary numbers, it is interesting to see how the numbers have moved over time among the six GOP candidates. Four of them were in the lead at one point in the race; Huckabee reached a high in the low-20s and even Paul broke into double-digits briefly.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Frank Rich on Hillary

The editorialists at the New York Times endorsed Clinton. But here, columnist Frank Rich blows up the Clintons and their second proposed presidency and imagines that McCain will cause her tremendous problems if she beats Obama (hat tip: Linda Christiansen)...

In the wake of George W. Bush, even a miracle might not be enough for the Republicans to hold on to the White House in 2008. But what about two miracles? The new year’s twin resurrections of Bill Clinton and John McCain, should they not evaporate, at last give the G.O.P. a highly plausible route to victory.

Amazingly, neither party seems to fully recognize the contours of the road map. In the Democrats’ case, the full-throttle emergence of Billary, the joint Clinton candidacy, is measured mainly within the narrow confines of the short-term horse race: Do Bill Clinton’s red-faced eruptions and fact-challenged rants enhance or diminish his wife as a woman and a candidate?

Absent from this debate is any sober recognition that a Hillary Clinton nomination, if it happens, will send the Democrats into the general election with a new and huge peril that may well dwarf the current wars over race, gender and who said what about Ronald Reagan.

What has gone unspoken is this: Up until this moment, Hillary has successfully deflected rough questions about Bill by saying, “I’m running on my own” or, as she snapped at Barack Obama in the last debate, “Well, I’m here; he’s not.” This sleight of hand became officially inoperative once her husband became a co-candidate, even to the point of taking over entirely when she vacated South Carolina last week. With “two for the price of one” back as the unabashed modus operandi, both Clintons are in play.

For the Republicans, that means not just a double dose of the one steroid, Clinton hatred, that might yet restore their party’s unity but also two fat targets....

To get a taste of what surprises may be in store, you need merely revisit the Bill Clinton questions that Hillary Clinton has avoided to date.

Asked by Tim Russert at a September debate whether the Clinton presidential library and foundation would disclose the identities of its donors during the campaign, Mrs. Clinton said it wasn’t up to her. “What’s your recommendation?” Mr. Russert countered. Mrs. Clinton replied: “Well, I don’t talk about my private conversations with my husband, but I’m sure he’d be happy to consider that.”

Not so happy, as it turns out. The names still have not been made public.

Just before the holidays, investigative reporters at both The Washington Post and The New York Times tried to find out why, with no help from the Clintons. The Post uncovered a plethora of foreign contributors, led by Saudi Arabia. The Times found an overlap between library benefactors and Hillary Clinton campaign donors, some of whom might have an agenda with a new Clinton administration....

At “Little Rock’s Fort Knox,” as the Clinton library has been nicknamed by frustrated researchers, it’s not merely the heavy-hitting contributors who are under wraps. Even by the glacial processing standards of the National Archives, the Clintons’ White House papers have emerged slowly, in part because Bill Clinton exercised his right to insist that all communications between him and his wife be “considered for withholding” until 2012.

When Mrs. Clinton was asked by Mr. Russert at an October debate if she would lift that restriction, she again escaped by passing the buck to her husband: “Well, that’s not my decision to make.”...

Not all Republicans are smart enough, however, to recognize the value of John McCain should Mrs. Clinton emerge as the nominee. He’s a bazooka aimed at most every rationale she’s offered for her candidacy.

In a McCain vs. Billary race, the Democrats will sacrifice the most highly desired commodity by the entire electorate, change; the party will be mired in déjà 1990s all over again. Mrs. Clinton’s spiel about being “tested” by her “35 years of experience” won’t fly either. The moment she attempts it, Mr. McCain will run an ad about how he was being tested when those 35 years began, in 1973. It was that Spring when he emerged from five-plus years of incarceration at the Hanoi Hilton while Billary was still bivouacked at Yale Law School. And can Mrs. Clinton presume to sell herself as best equipped to be commander in chief “on Day One” when opposing an actual commander and war hero? I don’t think so....

If Mr. Obama doesn’t fight, no one else will. Few national Democratic leaders have the courage to stand up to the Clintons....Any Democrat who seriously thinks that Bill will fade away if Hillary wins the nomination — let alone that the Clintons will escape being fully vetted — is a Democrat who, as the man said, believes in fairy tales.

GOP's and fiscal conservatism don't mix

More from Robert Novak at TownHall.com-- further evidence that fiscal conservatives continue to be marginalized within the GOP. Apparently, if you want fiscal conservatism, you're going to have to look elsewhere.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell completely shut down any negative talk about earmarks during the closed-door Senate GOP retreat Wednesday at the Library of Congress, rejecting demands by anti-earmark reformers.

Sen. Ted Stevens, the senior Republican senator and former Appropriations Committee chairman who is under federal criminal investigation, delivered a pro-earmark lecture. He was seconded by two other appropriators, Robert Bennett and Kit Bond.

A footnote: The House Republican retreat at the Greenbrier resort, starting Thursday, scheduled a full-scale debate on earmarks. There was little chance, however, for the GOP congressmen to pass a quarantine on Republican members requesting earmarks this year.

Edwards' end-game?

From TownHall.com, Robert Novak reports that Obama will offer Edwards the attorney general position in his administration...

Illinois Democrats close to Sen. Barack Obama are quietly passing the word that John Edwards will be named attorney general in an Obama administration.

Installation at the Justice Department of multimillionaire trial lawyer Edwards would please not only the union leaders supporting him for president but organized labor in general. The unions relish the prospect of an unequivocal labor partisan as the nation's top legal officer.

In public debates, Obama and Edwards often seem to bond together in alliance against front-running Sen. Hillary Clinton. While running a poor third, Edwards could collect a substantial bag of delegates under the Democratic Party's proportional representation. Edwards then could try to turn his delegates over to Obama in the still unlikely event of a deadlocked Democratic National Convention.

I am COW, hear me MOO

One more from the Arrogant Worms-- a beautiful piece with funny lyrics...an ode to cows.

Warning: the song contains an off-color word used in the KJV of the Bible...

having some fun with Celine Dion

My three-year old dug a bunch of CD's out of our cabinet, including one from the Arrogant Worms-- a Canadian duo we saw at IUS a few years ago.

Their faux ode to Celine is funny-- especially since my father-in-law is a BIG fan (even though he usually refers to her as "Celeste Dion")...

Celine, you soft-rock my world...

Paul on Roe v. Wade: "a big mistake"

James Freedman on LewRockwell.com with an interview with Ron Paul on life, liberty, and abortion...

Before getting elected to Congress in the late 1970s, Paul delivered more than 4,000 babies as an OB/GYN. When it comes to abortion, he believes the mother's freedom of choice is mitigated by an obligation to protect the life of the "unborn child," stating on his campaign Web site that he never found abortion necessary to save the life of one of his patients. He is also a sponsor of HR 300, proposed legislation that his Web site says would "negate the effects of Roe v. Wade."

If elected president, Paul told me he would continue to pursue such a policy.

"I think the Roe v. Wade situation was a big mistake and the states ought to have the right to decide on the issue, so I would deny jurisdiction to the federal courts on abortion issues," he said.

Roe v. Wade was decided in large part under the doctrine of substantive due process as an issue of privacy. Paul thinks that basis for the ruling is flawed.

"I don't see it as a privacy issue," he said. "I think it's only a life issue. As an obstetrician, I can verify the fact that the life does exist. It's very much alive, and it's very human, and I have a legal responsibility for it. If I do any harm, I can be sued for it. If an individual kills a fetus, they can be hauled off to court for it. So it's a legal life. To say that life doesn't exist -- if someone kills a fetus in a car accident, they have to answer to this. So why is it life one time but not another time?"

While admitting situations such as rape and incest require further consideration, he continued his rebuke of the Supreme Court's privacy basis for legalizing abortion.

"The government doesn't have the right to invade your home or have cameras in your home," he said. "That doesn't give you the right to kill a child just because it was born and it was in the crib and you didn't like the way it looked and you went, 'Oh, we don't want to keep this baby.' Everybody knows it's illegal and it's killing. But one minute before the baby's born they come to me and if I did the abortion I'd get paid for it. So that's a real contradiction about the definition of life."

While some would consider his stance on abortion and many of his other positions inconsistent, Paul does not think so, instead tying in his pro-life stance with the larger logic of his world-view.

"If I can't defend life, how am I going to defend the liberty of every single individual on how they're going to run their lives? And I essentially do that, so I think that I have to be consistent on defending life or the defense of liberty doesn't hold up."

Paul's "rope-a-dope"??

From Johnny Kramer on LewRockwell.com...

There's no question that things so far haven't gone the way we had hoped: Ron came in 5th in Iowa with 10%; 4th in New Hampshire with 8%; 4th in Michigan with 6%; and just finished 5th in South Carolina with 4% and 2nd in Nevada with 13%. He may have won the recent Louisiana Caucuses, but the victory may have been stolen from him by various shenanigans. I've seen no mention of this by the mainstream media.

As usual, the blackout and transparent bias was present at the recent MSNBC debate in Florida, where Ron was given by far the least amount of time to speak – which, amazingly, was admitted by MSNBC:

Then, Kramer theorizes on this. To me, his second story seems far more plausible. I don't see any conspiracies at work here-- just that Paul has struggled as someone who is on the margins of the GOP in terms of policy and as a Congressman (not an ideal platform from which to launch a run for the President).

...the media's blackout and marginalizing of Ron Paul seems to still have worked based on the ultimate criterion for one election, which is votes...It's also possible that socialism and fascism are still a lot more popular among the public than I thought...

Then, he turns to speculation about the future of the primary season-- and ironically, the probability of a Giuliani-like strategy of staying above water, but not exerting fully until after the others have punched themselves out...

Although I can't verify this, Ron apparently spent little money on advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire – far less than what he could afford, based on the roughly $20 million he raised last quarter. Word is he was only shooting for around third place, to not win but also not get crushed.

There has to be a reason for that.

Well, the rumor is that his strategy is to sit back through the first few states, let the candidates attack each other and spend themselves nearly broke doing it, then step in and try and fill the void by dropping all of his money on ads for Super Tuesday, and possibly Florida the week before.

If true, this strategy is smart for several reasons based on the conditions a month ago – all of which are peculiar to this year, which is unlike any we've seen in modern history:

1. Going into Iowa, there was no front-runner – and there wasn't likely to be one going into Super Tuesday a month later. So no one was likely to build unstoppable momentum by winning most of the early contests.

2. All of the candidates besides Paul and Romney are probably about broke and unlikely to have the cash to compete with Ron long-term.

3. It appeared prior to Iowa that a candidate or two could drop out before Super Tuesday or immediately after, due to lack of cash, lack of votes, or both.

That turned out to be accurate; Thompson is already gone. And again, Huckabee is broke and Giuliani probably is too, and Giuliani has staked his whole campaign on winning in Florida, where he's now polling a distant third. Barring some unexpected event, I expect Giuliani and Huckabee to be gone after Super Tuesday, and the race to come down to Romney, McCain and Paul in a brokered convention....

5. There will almost certainly be a brokered convention.

After Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan, Ron was a solid fourth in total votes, and he had decimated two Establishment candidates who have been shoved down everyone's throats for two years; in the event that he fails to emerge from the primary season with enough delegates to secure the nomination, but he can at least maintain his current standing, he should have a decent position going into a brokered convention, which seems virtually guaranteed now.

The problem with this last point is that it is difficult to imagine what Paul would gain from within a brokered convention.

happy 50th to LEGO

Today, Lego's celebrates a half-century of fun for kids (hat tip: Hoosier Pundit)...

If you want to see something that is remarkably creative, Biblically-based, and at times, quite graphic (although appropriately so-- mostly), check out this website: Brick Testament. They use Legos to (graphically) illustrate stories in the Bible.

Info and an interesting "content notice" from the website-- and its
336 stories with 3,652 illustrations.

The Bible contains material some may consider morally objectionable and/or inappropriate for children. These labels identify stories containing:

= nudity = sexual content = violence = cursing

Sunday, January 27, 2008

C.S. Lewis quote-of-the-week on those who have heard (explicitly) about the grace of God

"I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on the stage, the play is over...It will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up...Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side." (Mere Christianity, Book 2, chapter 5)

This quote also speaks to "theodicy"-- why God seems to tolerate evil rather than showing up at any given point in time to smite it. It reminds me of a great quote from my brother-- where he noted that when people want God to show up to deal with evil, it's never with respect to the evil they perpetrate!

C.S. Lewis quote-of-the-week on those who have never heard the Gospel?

"Here is another thing which used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ [see: John 14:6]; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him." (Mere Christianity, book 2, chapter 5)

One thing we do know from Christian/Biblical theology: All who will be saved-- will be saved by God's grace, not by their own merits. If you haven't already, accept the gift of God's grace-- instead of trying to earn it by being "good enough"...

Friday, January 25, 2008

BIPPS on Kentucky's budget crisis

From Jim Waters, a breakdown of Kentucky's newfound budget deficit into its three components...

In what amounted to a less-than-subtle push to get a casino amendment passed, Beshear sternly warned that the state faces “an unprecedented crisis” – a $434-million deficit. Since the Fletcher administration left a $145-million surplus, the immediate deficit stands at $289 million.

In Chicken-Little fashion – less the feathers – Beshear effectively got everyone riled up. But like the bird, he runs the risk of taxpayers quickly turning on him when they discover the sky really isn’t falling and that some spending restraint in Frankfort could solve the deficit problem now and in the future....

So, let’s take a closer look at that $434-million shortfall:

• Some $166 million is a result of state agencies spending more than their budgets allowed.

• An additional $138 million goes to projects approved by the General Assembly, which didn’t bother to figure out where the money would come from to pay for the projects, including a payoff to the Ford Motor Co. to stay in Louisville.

• Only $130 million of the deficit gets attributed to less-than-expected revenue.

Get the picture? If agencies spent within their budgets and politicians stopped using the taxpayers to ensure their re-election through pork-barrel projects, leftover cash from the Fletcher administration could have covered revenue shortages....

Now enter the “Goose with the Golden Egg” – Beshear’s plan to create more revenues by building casinos. But Kentuckians gambling away their money doesn’t provide a viable long-term answer to the state’s money problems....

I have a better idea. How about we establish a Taxpayers Anonymous support group to treat those addicted to overspending your tax dollars? The “recovery” process would include a 12-step program to help political spending addicts avoid relapses by respecting taxpayers who know better than Frankfort how to spend their money. Money saved by these addicts after they “take the cure” and re-enter the halls of government would more than pay for the program.

MADD-- and this one's serious!

An AP story in USA Today (hat tip: Margie Grady) on a mom who's into accountability for her children-- big time!

Jane Hambleton has dubbed herself the "meanest mom on the planet."

After finding alcohol in her son's car, she decided to sell the car and share her 19-year-old's misdeed with everyone -- by placing an ad in the local newspaper.

The ad reads: "OLDS 1999 Intrigue. Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for three weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."

Hambleton has heard from people besides interested buyers since recently placing the ad in The Des Moines Register.

The 48-year-old from Fort Dodge says she has fielded more than 70 telephone calls from emergency room technicians, nurses, school counselors and even a Georgia man who wanted to congratulate her.

"The ad cost a fortune, but you know what? I'm telling people what happened here," Hambleton says. "I'm not just gonna put the car for resale when there's nothing wrong with it, except the driver made a dumb decision.

"It's overwhelming the number of calls I've gotten from people saying 'Thank you, it's nice to see a responsible parent.' So far there are no calls from anyone saying, 'You're really strict. You're real overboard, lady."'

The only critic is her son, who Hambleton says is "very, very unhappy" with the ad and claims the alcohol was left by a passenger.

Hambleton believes her son but has decided mercy isn't the best policy in this case. She says she set two rules when she bought the car at Thanksgiving: No booze, and always keep it locked.

The car has been sold, but Hambleton says she will continue the ad for another week -- just for the feedback.

pay for your own stinkin' primary

From Fort Wayne Observed, a nice little observation that is oft-overlooked about the nature of political primaries-- and who pays for them...

Recently, discussion was fueled by the Sheperd - Kernan Commission's suggestion that Indiana municipal elections be moved to an even-numbered year in order to save cities and towns the money paid to county election boards to conduct elections.

My prediction is that, at some point, the general public may wonder why the two major parties don't have to pay to hold primary elections. As voter turn-out in primaries has declined, taxpayers may wonder why they are footing the bill for what are essentially partisan exercises.

Which brings us to the South Carolina presidential primaries. The Republican presidential primary was held last weekend; the Democratic presidential primary is being held tomorrow.

How does South Carolina justify the expense of two separate primaries to its citizens? I suspect that the South Carolina television and radio stations which benefited are not editorializing very heavily on this question.

In sum, as I wrote in reply: If the political parties paid for their own primaries, this would take care of itself.

I'm not as optimistic as FWO-- even with declining turn-out, as long as most people belong to parties that use taxpayer-financed primaries, they are likely to enjoy the obvious benefits while sticking us with the subtle costs.

WSJ on Hill vs. Sodrel vs. Schansberg

From T.W. Farnum in the WSJ (hat tip: Linda Christiansen), a story on the Sodrel/Hill third sequel...

While the national spotlight is now on the presidential nominating contests, a bitter fight looms for seats in Congress -- dramatized by a long-running political rivalry complete with expensive attack ads and alleged punches thrown.

Rep. Baron Hill and around 60 other Democrats are defending districts that went to President Bush in 2004, and former Rep. Mike Sodrel joins at least three other former Republican congressmen trying to reclaim seats they lost when Democrats won back Congress in the 2006 elections.

Mr. Sodrel declared his candidacy in October, kicking off their fourth consecutive contest in Indiana's ninth congressional district -- a seat they have both won and lost. About 80 pairs of House candidates have run against each other four or more times since the First Congress in 1788, according to a review of 30,000 elections by The Wall Street Journal. Few of those long-running rivalries have been this competitive: only half have flipped between candidates, largely before the age of expensive, drawn-out campaigns. The last time that happened was in 1950.

For a link provided to the history of multi-race campaigns, click here.

For Mr. Sodrel, a seminal moment came in 2002, moments after his first debate, in which he called Mr. Hill a "habitual politician." As the audience and the other candidates made their way out of the auditorium, Mr. Hill came up to him to shake hands. As they clasped, Mr. Sodrel says, Mr. Hill punched him. "He gave me two left hooks to the kidney," Mr. Sodrel says. "Then he got up nose-to-nose and through gritted teeth, he said, 'You're going to regret this.' " Mr. Sodrel says he has never spoken publicly about the incident before.

Mr. Hill denies it ever occurred....

I had heard this story on the campaign trail. With me, Hill has shown a bit of temper when I've messed with him, but he's been largely civil and occasionally friendly-- what one would expect and nothing worth writing home about.

In his campaign, Mr. Sodrel emphasizes free markets. "The government today has got their nose stuck in every facet of your life," he says....

Rhetoric in his campaign, yes. Reality in his voting record, not so much. If his actions came close to his words, I wouldn't have bothered to run.

Mary Dugan, 62, paused to talk about her politics, deeply shaped by her pro-life views and her work at the town's pregnancy-care center. Mrs. Dugan said she voted for Mr. Hill in 2002, switched to Mr. Sodrel in 2004 over concern about Mr. Hill's votes on abortion, and then switched back to Mr. Hill last year out of a familial allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Her explanation points to another close fight. "I felt like with Baron Hill, he didn't do a lot of the things he said he was going to," Mrs. Dugan said, "but then neither did the other guy, so now what am I going to do?...

Well, Miss Dugan, I submit that you ought to vote for me. You want someone who is pro-life with otherwise Democrat values-- presumably, more than spoken concern for the working poor and middle class. If so, I'm your candidate.

Here's their graphic on the graphic level of spending by the two major party candidates in the three races:


T.W. put my vote percentage in there. But unfortunately, he didn't write anything about the most interesting and best qualified candidate to represent Indiana's 9th Congressional District!

Deal or No Deal...economists holding 25 suitcases?

David Glenn in the Chronicle of Higher Education (hat tip: Jay White) on economists at work-- studying why people do what they do...even in game shows!

This year’s annual meeting of the American Economic Association, which wrapped up here on Sunday, had its share of sober panels on poverty, disease, climate change, and the American mortgage crisis. But there was also, perhaps inevitably, a session devoted to a certain ubiquitous game show.

On Sunday afternoon, scholars from three continents gathered to discuss Deal or No Deal, which has become a worldwide phenomenon since it had its premiere in the Netherlands in 2001. The show — in which contestants must decide whether to accept a firm cash offer or pursue an uncertain, potentially larger reward — has been catnip for economists because it acts as a laboratory of human risk-taking.

“The show offers real and large stakes, much larger than we’re able to offer in our own lab experiments,” said Morten Lau, a lecturer in economics at Durham Business School, in England. The sole drawback for scholars, Mr. Lau said, is that it’s often hard to know much about the contestants’ personal characteristics. (Another caution was raised by Sandra Maximiano, a graduate student at the University of Amsterdam, who wondered whether social pressure from the studio audience makes contestants’ behavior different from typical economic responses.)

The central question that interests economists here is: How do people behave under conditions of risk and uncertainty? Does their level of risk aversion remain constant, as so-called expected-utility theory predicts? Or does a person’s risk tolerance fluctuate across situations, as prospect theory predicts? If it fluctuates, does it do so in a predictable way?

In a paper scheduled to appear in the March issue of the American Economic Review, four scholars argue that contestants’ behavior in Deal or No Deal fits prospect theory much better than expected-utility theory. For example, if players receive a shock of bad news — if they open briefcases containing the highest rewards, which means that their own potential reward has sharply dropped — then they will typically become much more tolerant of risk in later rounds of the game.

At Sunday’s panel, three of that paper’s authors presented a follow-up study that compares contestants’ behavior across national editions of the game. The potential highest reward varies heavily from country to country. (In the Netherlands, the top suitcase is worth 5 million euros, whereas in Australia the top prize is 2 million Australian dollars, which is the equivalent of only 1.2 million euros.) The scholars found that contestants’ behavior is not heavily affected by those differences; local, situational effects within each game, not the absolute level of the potential prize, shapes a player’s risk behavior....

Ron Paul and the lobbyists....NOT!

Here's Open Secrets on campaign contributions to presidential candidates by lobbyists (hat tip: Martina Webster)...

To quote Martina, I love this...who's not listed? ;-)

Interestingly, he does quite well with the Computer/Internet industries-- not surprising since Libertarians are disproportionately prevalent in IT.

As more of an aside, the numbers for TV/Movies/Music are quite interesting as well...

Paul second to McCain in Louisiana caucus

McCain wins over Paul-- who apparently best Romney easily (according to the state party, he only won a "handful" of delegates)...

Given the odd nature of the Louisiana caucuses, the results are still considered "preliminary"...

Congrats to McCain and Paul...and what happened to Huckabee?

Olasky on uniting Christians and Libertarians

Great idea...and easy to do-- if Christians will think more clearly about political philosophy and practice within a coherent Biblical worldview.

The problem is that Olasky (in TownHall.com) imagines this project from within the Huckabee candidacy. I like and respect Marvin a lot. But his idea requires far more correlation between Huckabee's views and Libertarianism!

irony can be spelled NAACP

Jim Carroll, political reporter for the C-J, recently noted the appearance of the NAACP's "Civil Rights Federal Legislative Report Card". I found it for 2005-2006 and noticed that the Senate only had one vote that explicitly related to race. There were a bunch of other laws that related to (more) government spending. But that's not about being "colored people", so I'm confused why those would be among their criteria.

Ironically, there were as many votes connected to skin color as there were demands that senators vote against an African-American female judge named Brown who is the daughter of an Alabama share-cropper.

Pelosi and Bush push bogus economic "recovery" plan

From CNN.com...

U.S. taxpayers would get checks of several hundred dollars from the federal government under a plan to stimulate the economy, congressional and Bush administration officials said Thursday.

Great...a lot of leaders, leading us into more bad policy...

"Tens of millions Americans will have a check in the mail," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "It is there to strengthen the middle class, to create jobs and to turn this economy around."

Actually, Nancy, it's there because of ignorance about economics &/or crass political motives.

Also, Nancy, you're presuming that the economy needs to be turned around-- and that the government can do so in this context. As the old joke goes, economists have predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions. And the likelihood that this prescription would come soon enough to have any impact is doubtful-- even it is "effective".

What can we guarantee here? If the economy doesn't go into a recession, Congress and the President will take credit for waving their hands at the same time the economy happens to "recover". If the economy goes into a recession despite these efforts, they will say that it wasn't enough and will try to blame it on the other party.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said, "I'm looking for quick action in the House. I hope that the Senate will follow quickly so that we can put this money in the hands of middle-income Americans as soon as possible."...

Checks could be in taxpayer mailboxes by June, according to an Associated Press report...

John, you can keep "looking for quick action". But it's unlikely to be quick enough. From Econ 101, we know that policymakers face three lags: recognition (even if we're paying close attention, the data won't reveal a recession until we're well into it), implementation (here, the government must pass a plan), and effectiveness (when will the plan have all of its significant impact-- in this case, when the first checks won't be mailed until June?)

Speaking a few minutes later at the White House, President Bush said the package will "boost our economy and encourage job creation."...

George, what stimulates the economy is incentives to engage in productive behavior-- i.e., cuts in marginal tax rates.

Pelosi said as many as 116 million American families will get a rebate check.

Wow, that's a lot of voters! They're trying to buy our votes with debt. Very impressive!

To get to the agreement, Democrats dropped calls for increases in food stamps and an extension of unemployment compensation. Republicans agreed to allow people who pay Social Security taxes but not income taxes to get the checks, sources said.

There is a nice nugget here: extension of tax credits to those who pay payroll taxes, instead of only those who pay income taxes. Wow...it's good to see the Democrats finally pay attention-- and the Republicans accede-- to the tax on income that causes so much damage to the working poor and the middle class!!!

"This package has the right set of policies and is the right size," Bush said Thursday...He added, "This package recognizes that lowering taxes is a powerful and efficient way to help consumers and businesses."

Really, the right set, the right size and the right timing? And he knows this with certainty? Very impressive....or not. And powerful? Yes. Efficient? No...

The stimulus package may face resistance from fiscal conservatives in both parties over worries that it would increase the federal debt. Auditors report that the federal deficit -- the difference between what the government takes in and what it spends -- is increasing.

Correct, but how many fiscal conservatives are there in Congress-- a dozen or two? There are some faux fiscal conservatives-- the Blue Dog Democrats-- who will try to limit deficits but not spending, with their reference to PAYGO rules and the like.

Assuming Baron Hill votes against such a package, he'll have the right vote for the wrong reason. And I'm betting that Mike Sodrel will try to attack him on this as voting against a tax decrease-- thus, supporting the wrong policy for the wrong reasons. Hopefully, Mike will prove me wrong on this one.

when half-heimers begins to set in...

Dave Coverley with Speed Bump...

you win some; you lose some (toes)

From espn.go.com (hat tip: C-J)...

Andrew Wells may pay a heavy price for his victory in last weekend's Frozen Otter Ultra Trek: two toes.

The 27-year-old from Davenport, Iowa, was one of only two competitors to make it past the halfway point of the 64-mile race that started at noon Saturday. He spent nearly 17 hours on the Ice Age Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest.

At one point, the temperature dropped to nearly 15 below zero.

Wells was the only person to make it past the fifth checkpoint near the 40-mile mark.

He got turned around and mistakenly returned to the finish area, where at 5 a.m. Sunday he was declared the victor for covering the longest distance: 49 miles.

"I guess it was fortunate that I went back to the finish," Wells said. "Otherwise, I would have kept going. At the 40-mile mark, I felt great."

Wells said he never noticed the frostbite set in.

"My feet were obviously frozen, so I couldn't feel them," he said. "And it was too cold to take my shoes off to check my feet. On my hands, I had mittens on, and just to take them off for 30 seconds, my hands got really cold, painful.

"I thought my toes were OK."

After finishing, he went to a friend's home in Madison and napped. He woke to intense pain in his toes. He removed his shoes and discovered a purple discoloration.

Wells, a chiropractic student, tried to warm his feet in warm water and then went to a hospital in Platteville. From there, he went to Iowa University Hospital and clinics in Iowa City, where doctors plan to remove his big toe and the one next to it from his right foot.

He told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that surgery is scheduled for Friday.

"There's nothing I can do about it now," he said during an interview from his hospital bed. "I can live a good life without toes.

"I don't think it will slow me down. My balance might be a little bit off, but I'll still continue racing."

Competitors could navigate the trail with any non-motorized form of transportation, such as snowshoes or skis. But most, like Wells, used only shoes and socks.

He plowed through several inches of snow in running shoes, one pair of wool socks and a pair of waterproof socks.

Race director Rod McLennan competes with Wells as part of Team Fat Otter, an Illinois-based adventure racing squad. He said Wells was the only competitor injured.

But most of the 43 starters dropped out after 8 or 16 miles, and only four continued past the 32-mile mark.

"Everybody seemed to really enjoy it and called it quits at the right time and were happy they gave it a shot," McLennan said. "For the most part, they stayed pretty warm when they were moving.

"But they weren't able to stop or slow down."

What did Wells win? A victory package that included energy drinks, gel flasks, Moosejaw adventure gear and a subscription to "Trail Runner" magazine.

Daddy Bill didn't come for coffee today....

My friend and her book on her grief after her father's death are featured in a Dale Moss column...

Bill Smith got sick and, around here, everybody knew Bill Smith. Keep us up to date, friends and family asked. Krisanne Smith Roll agreed.

She sent e-mails, day after day, when her father improved and when he didn’t. Roll held back little, as if she ever does. When she rejoiced, people knew. When she despaired, people knew. She let people in and kept them there. They took to heart Roll’s raw emotional roller coaster. They forwarded copies that multiplied. Roll heard from sympathizers who otherwise were strangers. They thanked Roll. They unloaded on her their own such ordeals.

Smith, 75, died on July 21, 2005. Roll grieves pretty much like it was yesterday.

“It never will leave,” she said. “But the anger will.”

By anger, Roll refers in part to the reality of having to cope without a man she considers as good as men get. He deserves an honor, in fact, and that she provides with a book built from those e-mails. She calls it “Daddy Bill Didn’t Come For Coffee Today.”

Not just a memoir-- yet neither steadfastly self-help-- the result was an outlet for Roll to remember and a cinch-of-a-way for Smith not to be forgotten. “The only thing I did not want was my picture on the cover,” Roll said.

Editors tend to get their way, though, and Roll’s editor, Eileen Wilmoth of Cincinnati, imagines sales this year of about 10,000. The book soon should be available widely after a debut in Roll and Smith’s Crawford County hometown in which every available copy -- 300 – was claimed. “If you read it, it’s not easily forgotten,” Wilmoth said.

Roll, 50, said she can grieve without being obsessed with grief. She balances being mad that Daddy Bill is dead with being unafraid of death. First e-mail readers, now book readers, learn what she did not intend necessarily to teach. “If it’s going to be there, you want to feel it,” Roll said of grief. “You want to feel every aspect of it.”

Roll is grateful, yet remains surprised, by the interest. She set out not to suggest herself as an authority, much less to produce a book. Roll simply did as asked. She shares her father’s death and recounts his life. She reveals small kindnesses, such as being given blankets to keep her just-dead father’s body warmer, longer. She cherishes how, while feeding him pudding at the hospital, he insisted she slow down. “He still was the father, and I was the child,” Roll said.

And she relates profound qualities, like how Daddy Bill loved and doted on her three adopted children – each of color – every bit as much as her three birth kids. Smith encouraged the kindness, patience and faith he exuded. “I wouldn’t have it out there for a minute, if it reflected badly on him,” Roll said of the book.

How could it? Smith understood what most matters and he practiced it unwaveringly. He traveled little because he might miss something at home. “He certainly loved English, he loved the interdependence of the people here,” Roll said. “He loved what is Mayberry about it.”...

The book can be ordered from Daddy Bill Publishing, Box.157, English, IN 47118, by calling (812) 338-2115 or by going to www.daddybillpublishing.com on the Internet. The book costs $23.50. A Canadian company, Trafford Publishing, is to handle distribution and marketing.

Krisanne has been a friend of ours for a number of years and leads our trans-racial adoption group.

I enjoyed the book immensely. It is a softer version of Lewis A Grief Observed. And she adds a small-town feel that should make it especially poignant for those from small towns-- a point that makes the book far more enjoyable.

I can’t speak directly to the subject of grief since no one has died who has been especially close to me. But having dealt with those who have grieved in a pastoral sense—and trying to imagine that the grieving would read anything—I think this would be “effective” in helping people work through their grief. I think it would also be a useful resource for those who counsel others within grief.

fortwo for you?

Interesting excerpts from the C-J-- an update on the Louisville debut of the "for-two"...

In reviewing the fortwo, which is only a foot longer than a standard golf cart, Edmunds.com, the auto trade publication, reported that it can withstand crashes "as well as or better than much larger cars."

The 9-foot-long wheelbase, four airbags and the steel cage system that surrounds passengers help the fortwo endure impacts. The fortwo meets crash standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration but has not yet been rated for crash safety. The agency begins its rating process after cars go on sale in the United States.

"We want to make sure we're testing what people are buying," said NHTSA spokeswoman Karen Aldano. But Edmunds reviewers concluded that with its 1-liter, 70-horsepower engine, the fortwo is "not really suited to highway travel."

"For those who spend 90 percent of their driving time by themselves in traffic or meandering through congested city streets, the fortwo makes an awful lot of sense," the Edmunds review concluded.

When driving the fortwo on Interstate 64 and I-71 yesterday, every bridge joint and bump in the road could be felt. Acceleration was not a problem, and the extremely direct steering made lane changes a breeze.

Still, the fortwo felt jostled when passing a tractor-trailer or even a large box truck. The experience, complete with a lot of wind noise, was not unlike highway driving in a Jeep....

Unlike a demographic category that sorts buyers by age and income and lifestyle, the automaker asserts there is a "psychographic" category for smart fortwo buyers. These are individuals, but they think alike...

The first Louisville buyer picked up a new fortwo from the just-opened Sam Swope smart dealership on Blankenbaker Parkway Saturday. While Will Swope declined to say how many people have reserved a fortwo, customers can expect to wait 15 to 18 months if they order one.

Mike makes it official

From the C-J website...

Republican Mike Sodrel filed the paperwork this morning at the Statehouse to be a candidate in the 9th Congressional District, a seat he held for two years before losing in 2006 to U.S. Rep. Baron Hill....

Sodrel blamed his 2006 loss in part on a national political climate that was bad for Republicans and said it’s too soon to know whether this year will be different.

“You really don’t know what the climate’s going to be in November,” he said. “They say a week is a year in politics. So almost a year is a lifetime.”

I can't argue with his math there...

Sodrel said he plans a campaign about change that is focused on issues. But in the past, the Hill-Sodrel matchups have turned negative and somewhat personal.

Uhhh...somewhat personal?! Is this humor or understatement?

Hill has not formally filed to run but is expected to do so.

Libertarian Eric Schansberg, a professor at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, intends to make a second run for the seat.

Welcome back Mike (and Baron). May the best candidate win!

if Newt is thinking about it, think how much Bill wants to get in there!

From the possibilities of Newt to excerpts from the amusing thoughts of The Onion on the return of Bill Clinton to campaigning...

After spending two months accompanying his wife, Hillary, on the campaign trail, former president Bill Clinton announced Monday that he is joining the 2008 presidential race, saying he "could no longer resist the urge."

"My fellow Americans, I am sick and tired of not being president," said Clinton, introducing his wife at a "Hillary '08" rally. "For seven agonizing years, I have sat idly by as others experienced the joys of campaigning, debating, and interacting with the people of this great nation, and I simply cannot take it anymore. I have to be president again. I have to."...

While the announcement has come as a surprise to many, Beltway observers said it was not completely unexpected, citing footage from a recent Democratic debate that showed Clinton fidgeting in his seat, gripping the arms of his chair, and repeatedly glancing at all the television cameras while rapidly tapping his right foot. Analysts also noted one debate in which Clinton mouthed responses to all the moderator's questions while making hand gestures to himself.

Clinton told reporters Tuesday that seeing so many "Clinton '08" posters "really got [him] thinking," and said that the fact that he was already wearing a suit, and smiling and waving on the campaign trail was an added motivator....

"For too long has this nation been deprived of a Bill Clinton presidency, and for too long have I been deprived of being president. Now I get to experience all these wonderful things again myself." "And the applause," Clinton added. "I look forward to the endless roar of applause perhaps most of all."

Since his announcement two days ago, Clinton has raised a staggering $550 million. He has also surged in national polls, rising from a mere 2 percent prior to his candidacy to a commanding 94 percent, ahead of former front-runners Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are now tied with 3 percent each. John Edwards withdrew from the race Tuesday, saying only, "I am not worthy."

Although some have pointed out that it is unconstitutional for Clinton to run for a third term in office, he has silenced most critics by urging voters "not to worry about the Constitution for now" and assuring them he will address those legal issues immediately after regaining control of the White House.

"All I am asking of the American people is four more years," Clinton said at a fundraiser Tuesday where tens of thousands of South Carolinians gathered to stare in gape-jawed wonderment at the former president. "Well, maybe eight. Actually, you know what, definitely eight. Eight more years."...

Clinton also noted that, if elected, the timing would be perfect for his family, as his wife has recently expressed a desire to move back to the D.C. area.

what do baseball and illegal immigration have in common?

My friend and colleague Jon Bingham with an op-ed on baseball, steroids and the broader theme of honesty-- in the Jeff/NA News-Tribune...

So our beloved American pastime is teeming with drug-enhanced players. Is anyone really that surprised? The real question is: how could such a problem spread to this degree? A complete dereliction of duty by the governing authorities created this corrupt environment.

This is not to excuse the cheaters. Each individual is responsible for his own actions. Nonetheless, enablers and encouragers should bear their share of the guilt.

Economic theory indicates that an appropriate level of government activity is needed to support a well-functioning free market system. Douglass North was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work emphasizing how institutions matter to economic outcomes. Some markets need only the foundational protections against fraud and coercion. Others require additional measures to protect against inherent incentives that would generate harmful results. Without proper safeguards and actual enforcement, corruption arises and cheating pays. In a significantly flawed system, to “work hard and play by the rules” is to severely disadvantage oneself.

A fair game requires more than just impartial umps on the field. Players must come to the field with abilities that have been developed within commonly accepted, healthy parameters. Major League Baseball has the ethical obligation to establish and enforce those parameters. Instead, years of neglect and denial have enabled cheaters to reap ever-increasing fame and fortune, turning the dopers into heroes while the noble play the fool. Meanwhile, unconscionably, the players’ union (designed to protect players’ interests) routinely opposes effective enforcement measures - harming the honest in favor of the corrupt. The message from all in authority has been: work hard to play the rules to your advantage.

Does it matter what they do? It’s just a game, right? No, it’s much more than just a game. It’s the corruption of the culture. Whether it was to gain an advantage or just to try to keep up with the competition, many players have harmed themselves and influenced others in their pursuit of the next level. Meanwhile, all players have become suspects to cynical eyes. And beyond the game, the next generation receives a powerful message that cheaters win and winning justifies the means.

This phenomenon is not isolated to the world of sports.

The raging debate concerning illegal immigration features the same fundamental problems. How have we gotten to the point of having 12 million illegal immigrants in the country? How did businesses employing these illegals develop such a calloused attitude toward breaking the law? How could it fester until whole industries and communities were transformed by the influx? Years of governmental neglect and enabling behavior have brought us to our current condition. In response to what can no longer be ignored, many politicians have become eager to appease and accommodate cheaters rather than come to the rescue of those who would play by the rules. Ethical employers can’t compete; lower-skilled American workers lose opportunities in affected industries; innovation is stifled; and prospective legal immigrants continue to struggle with bureaucratic impediments.

Meanwhile, the hypocrites of Capital Hill try to grandstand for the cameras by parading Baseball’s big names through a round of condemnation.

Moving forward, will Baseball enact true accountability or attempt further window-dressing? That remains to be seen. Last year’s “comprehensive” immigration legislation was met with well-deserved skepticism. The American people are showing a weariness of Lucy’s repeated promises to hold the football. Baseball’s long-term health cannot afford new versions of half-measures.

There comes a point at which the fundamental, common sense notion of right and wrong rises up to demand correction - seeking to restore the integrity of the system so that those who “work hard and play by the rules” can rise to the top. The turbulence caused by such a restoration of integrity will be significant. It will require the energy and perseverance of true moral conviction.

Yet without it, why play by the rules?

the wages of big govt are high taxes

My recent op-ed on property taxes, published across the state, and the epilogue to the latest issue of the Indiana Policy Review on property taxes in Indiana.

Here is a point to keep in mind as the property-tax debate approaches conclusion: Applying a number of significant changes to a complex system may or may not have the desired outcomes. This General Assembly, then, is debating a tax gamble as much as a tax policy.

Given the tax caps reinterated this week by Gov. Mitch Daniels in his state-of-the-state message, it is estimated that property-tax revenues could fall by $380 million, or about five percent of total local spending. In all, 66 of Indiana’s 92 counties would be affected. Most would be affected modestly but there are notable exceptions: Lake County spending would be cut by 27 percent or would require a four-percent increase in the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT); Delaware County and St. Joseph County would need to cut spending by 10 to 11 percent (or impose a LOIT of more than one percent); Cass, Knox, Montgomery and Madison counties would need to cut spending by six to seven percent (or impose a LOIT of less than one percent).

Some have proposed that we just get rid of property taxes, replacing the revenue with other sources. Although this may be attractive politically — and perhaps even economically — articles in the upcoming issue of
the Indiana Policy Review make the point that moving to other taxes might be troublesome. For example, moving the sales tax from six percent to seven percent is, itself, a 17-percent increase in the sales-tax rate.

Along the same lines, it’s worth noting that no state has come close to eliminating property taxes. This is not surprising, given that they account for, on average, one-third of state and local tax revenues.

All of that said, people simply don’t like property taxes. And that is true not just in Indiana. Nationwide, local and state property-tax revenues increased by 28 percent from 2000 to 2006 (after inflation). Many states have passed or have considered passing legislation to cap property taxes.

Ultimately, dissatisfaction with taxes — or a particular tax — has at least four explanations:

  • First, there might be relative satisfaction with the amount of taxes paid but dissatisfaction with the manner in which they are collected. This seems to be a significant issue with property taxes. Above and beyond the amounts being paid, there is considerable frustration with a process that is seemingly incompetent at times and not particularly transparent. Moreover, 35 years of political “solutions” have increased skepticism. Growing cynicism about Indiana's tax mechanism and the related political process has undermined what is typically a stable and unexciting source of state and local revenue.
  • Second, taxes might disproportionately burden some taxpayers to the point they are politically activated. At least on the surface this seems to be at most a modest concern in this context. The property-tax base is quite broad, as is the distribution of beneficiaries from state-government spending. That said, clearly, many property owners would benefit from a tax regime that reduces property taxes while increasing sales or income taxes.
  • Third, out of ignorance, people might dislike taxes without fully understanding that taxes are required to pay for government programs. One gets a sense of this from some of the “repeal the property tax” folk. It would be great fun to get rid of property taxes — and who wouldn’t love lower taxes? But if government spending doesn’t decrease — and there’s been precious little talk of that in an election year — then revenue-neutrality is required, and, consequently, lower property taxes must be offset by higher taxes of some other sort. It is not at all clear that this would be a net improvement. Worse, it’s not clear that all of those who want to reduce or repeal property taxes have wrestled appropriately with this vital question.
  • Finally, for a variety of ethical and practical reasons, people might be dissatisfied with both taxes and the size of government. There is good reason for this dissatisfaction. At the national level, "Tax Freedom Day" for Hoosiers is now April 23. (This is better than the national average of April 30, but it’s not exciting to work nearly four months to pay one’s annual taxes.) And for Hoosiers, their state and local tax burden is an average of $3387 — or 10.7 percent of their per-capita income (25th in the nation). That’s a lot of money, especially for the working poor and the middle class.
For those who want a large government, there are no easy ways to raise the money required to finance it. There are no efficient ways to raise it, either. And of course, finding an equitable way to raise a lot of money is particularly difficult — at least in the eyes of those who are being taxed.

So property taxes are only a symptom of the larger problems that go along with trying to fund large-scale government in Indiana— and fund it through the activity of politicians, interest groups and a public that hasn't the time or energy to pay much attention to the inequities and inefficiencies of political behavior.