Archive:

September 2011, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Dublin's Trinity College Probably Values Diversity:  But not this much diversity.
Trinity College in Dublin was spoofed Thursday when an unknown prankster posted an academic profile of its newest English lecturer: a certain Conan T. Barbarian, complete with Hollywood mug shot of a shirtless, sword-clad Arnold Schwarzenegger in his maiden film role.
Schwarzenegger doesn't have a full-time job currently, so maybe he would be available — if Trinity could just be a little more tolerant.
- 2:58 PM, 16 September 2011   [link]


Osama Bin Laden, Leftist:  John Sexton reminds us that Osama bin Laden was a leftist, as well as a radical Islamist.
We’ve long ago grown accustomed to thinking of Osama as the product of religious fundamentalism.  That’s true enough, although it was a specific religion not a generic one.  The image of murderous Osama the zealot had repurcussions around the world.   It brought about the “new atheism” and renewed attacks on religious belief of all kinds in the public sphere.  Suddenly liberals saw “dominionists” everywhere and warned that theocracy was a real and present danger to the Republic.

But religion wasn’t the only discernible strain of Osama’s thought.  In the new video he sounds like the late Howard Zinn or even Michael Moore.  And as we remembered this Sunday, it wasn’t just America’s military and government that Osama attacked on 9/11.   His main focus was the financial heart of New York.  This was a longstanding preoccupation.
Sexton goes on to note the similarities between bin Laden's career, and Che Guevara's.

If Sexton's argument seems vaguely familiar, it may be because you remember reading it here and here, where I compared bin Laden's ideas to Noam Chomsky's.

(I'll have more to say, in later posts, about why bin Laden, and other radical Islamists, adopted so many leftist ideas.)
- 7:56 AM, 16 September 2011   [link]


What's Happened To Germany Since They Decided To Drop Nuclear Power?  Nothing good.

To begin with, Germany is still getting much of its electricity from nuclear plants, except that, more and more, they are outside Germany.
Germany's decision to phase out its nuclear power plants by 2022 has rapidly transformed it from power exporter to importer.  Despite Berlin's pledge to move away from nuclear, the country is now merely buying atomic energy from neighbors like the Czech Republic and France.
The economy has slowed down.
The country's economy is still growing, but only barely.  In the second quarter of 2011, Germany's gross domestic product was just 0.1 percent higher than it was the previous quarter.

The Federal Statistical Office believes the nuclear phase-out has helped cause this anemic growth.  "Electricity has increasingly had to be imported in order to satisfy demand," the organization explains.
Consumers are already seeing higher bills.
In recent months, the Leipzig-based European Energy Exchange has monitored an increase in electricity prices in Germany of around 10 percent.  "Prices are already at an alarmingly high level," warns European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger of Germany.
And are likely to see even more increases next year.

Anyone interested in energy issues should read the whole article.

(Ironically, Chancellor Angela Merkel is almost a physicist herself.  Her advanced degree is in quantum chemistry, so she should know enough to back nuclear power.

And she probably does, but the surge in support for the German Greens made her decision at least temporarily popular.)
- 5:24 AM, 16 September 2011   [link]


The Genealogy Of NY 9th:  You have probably heard that Bob Turner's win was the first time that Republicans had won the district since 1922*.

But what exactly does that mean?

After all, New York has redistricted many times since 1922, mostly, in recent decades, because the state has lost districts.  So, is the 9th the same district that Republican Lester D. Volk lost to Democrat Emanuel Celler in the 1922 election?

Not really.  When I looked through the maps of districts in this reference, I found that there might be some overlap between the 1922 10th district, and the 2011 9th district, but not much.  (For example, the old 10th was entirely in Brooklyn; the current 9th has most of its voters in Queens.)

Instead, what we mean is that we can trace a series of congressional successions back to that 1922 election.  Specifically, Celler defeated Volk, Elizabeth Holtzman defeated Celler (in a Democratic primary), Chuck Schumer succeeded Holtzman, and Anthony Weiner succeeded Schumer.

And then Bob Turner broke the line of Democratic succession by defeating David Weprin.   But the district he won wasn't the same as the 1922 10th district; it wasn't even the same as the district that Schumer first won in 1980.

It is fun to say that Turner was the first Republican to win the district since 1922 — but it's a little misleading.

(*Sometimes they say 1923 because Celler won the district in the 1922 election, but did not take office until March, 1923.

If you listen to the Michael Medved show, you may have heard that Volk was not really a Republican.  Volk had been elected as a Progressive to the New York Assembly, earlier in his career, but he ran for Congress as a Republican.  And his predecessor, Reuben Haskell, was also a Republican.)
- 11:30 AM, 15 September 2011   [link]


Unemployment Claims Were Up:   Unexpectedly!
Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week to the highest level since the end of June, underscoring the risk of further weakness in the labor market.

Jobless claims climbed by 11,000 to 428,000 in the week ended Sept. 10 that included the Labor Day holiday, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington.  Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a drop in claims to 411,000, according to the median forecast.
I am very sorry for those looking for work — but I also think that it is time for those economists to adjust their expectations, or for Bloomberg to find a new group to survey.
- 7:55 AM, 15 September 2011   [link]


And If We Don't Love Obama?  The president makes a strange argument for his latest "jobs" plan.
One supporter from the raucous crowd shouted to Obama that they loved him, and in a standard response from his 2008 campaign he replied "I love you back" then added a new twist.

"If you love me, you got to help me pass this bill," Obama said, repeating the line to more cheers.
Obama has argued in these speeches that his opponents are just trying to deprive him of a win.  More and more, I suspect that he is projecting, attributing his own motives to his opponents.

(For the record:  I don't consider Obama particularly lovable.)
- 5:58 AM, 15 September 2011
More:  James Taranto has even more fun with this than I did.  Jay Cost notes that many Americans do not find Obama lovable (though most Europeans still do).
- 6:45 AM, 16 September2011   [link]


President Obama's New "Jobs Plan" Is Getting Heavy Criticism On Capitol Hill:  From Republicans?  Well, yes, but also from Democrats.
As he demands Congress quickly approve his ambitious proposal aimed at reviving the sagging economy, many Democrats on Capitol Hill appear far from sold that the president has the right antidote to spur major job growth and turn around their party's political fortunes.

"Terrible," Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) told POLITICO when asked about the president's ideas for how to pay for the $450 billion price tag.  "We shouldn't increase taxes on ordinary income. . . . There are other ways to get there."

"That offset is not going to fly, and he should know that," said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu from the energy-producing Louisiana, referring to Obama's elimination of oil and gas subsidies.  "Maybe it's just for his election, which I hope isn't the case."
Senator Landrieu is awfully suspicious, I must say.

Even some on the party's left are unhappy with parts of the campaign document job plan.
- 9:20 AM, 14 September 2011   [link]


In Europe, The Rich Get Richer:  If they are famous musicians.   Or big record companies.
European Union members agreed to extend copyright protection for performances of recorded music to seventy years, meaning works by The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Sir Cliff Richard won't come out of copyright in the near future, the EU said Monday in a statement.

"Today's decision to increase the term of protection for musicians' copyright from 50 to 70 years will make a real difference for performers," EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier said in a statement.  "With increasing life expectancy, the previous 50-year protection term was clearly insufficient."
I don't have a strong opinion on the right length of copyrights for music, or for anything else.   But I do think that the authorities should be honest about the redistricution going on here, most of it from people of average means to the very wealthy.

Nor is it obvious to me that this will do anything significant to encourage better music.

(More on the decision pro and con.)
- 8:32 AM, 14 September 2011   [link]


How Much Would Returning To The Drachma Cost The Greeks?   A lot.
This suggests Greece may require living standards to decline by as much as 40 percent to become competitive.
But Greece may have no choice, and a quick default and a return to the drachma may "push unemployment down rapidly from its current rate of more than 16 percent".
- 7:31 AM, 14 September 2011   [link]


The Special Election Predictions Were Close:  But just how close we'll have to wait for the final counts to know.

I predicted that Republican Mark Amodei would win Nevada's 2nd by more than 15 points, and he is currently leading by 22 points.  That's an unofficial result, but I don't see any reason to expect significant changes.

I predicted that Republican Bob Turner would win New York 9th by 7 points; with 449 of 512 precincts reporting, he is leading by 8 points.  (A glance at the distribution of unreported precincts, 27 in Brooklyn and 36 in Queens, suggests to me that, if anything, his margin will grow.)

(Caveat:  The absentee ballots have not been counted yet.  In fact, fearing vote fraud, Bob Turner asked for, and obtained, a court order impounding the ballots.

It's not unusual for absentee ballots to be noticeably different from the ballots cast at the polls.)
- 6:45 AM, 14 September 2011   [link]


Republicans Win In NY 9th And Nevada 2nd:  Republican Mark Amodei is ahead by almost 15,000 votes as I write and is leading in every county of Nevada's 2nd district that has reported.

Republican Bob Turner is leading — as I write — by just 2,550 votes in New York's 9th, but I am still willing to call the race for him.

Why?  Because he is almost breaking even in the Queens precincts (50-50), is running far ahead in the Brooklyn precincts (69-31), and there are almost as many Brooklyn precincts yet to report (115) as Queens precincts (126).  And because the percentages in the two counties have been reasonably stable for about an hour.

Right now my prediction of a 7 point margin looks, if anything, a little low.
- 8:49 PM, 13 September 2011   [link]


Hans Von Spakovsky Is Worried About Vote Fraud In The NY 9th Special Election:  Unnecessarily, in my opinion, but the area does have a history of vote fraud.
As I described in a Heritage case study, Kings County was a hub of organized voter fraud that cast thousands of fraudulent ballots in elections.  In 1984, former Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, who had become the Brooklyn district attorney, released a state grand jury report that detailed a successful 14-year conspiracy to steal election.  The grand jury found evidence of fraud by Democrats in "two primary elections for Congress held in 1976 and 1982, four primary elections for the Assembly in three different assembly districts, three primary elections for the State Senate in one senatorial district and two elections for state committee in two different districts."
Why unnecessarily?  Because, as Hugh Hewitt said, If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat, and I don't think it will be that close.

(Incidentally, von Spakovsky provides some additional examples to illustrate a conclusion I came to years ago:  Vote fraud is most likely to change the results in primaries, particularly Democratic primaries.)
- 3:01 PM, 13 September 2011   [link]


Another Reason To Be Skeptical About the Libyan rebels.
Rebels as well as pro-Gaddafi forces have perpetrated killings, torture and other abuses during the uprising against the Libyan regime, say human rights investigators.

The civil war that brought down Muammar Gaddafi has been marked by widespread atrocities on both sides, according to Amnesty International.
Caveat:  Amnesty International has not always been even-handed in their reports, especially their reports on Israel and the United States.  But I don't see any particular reason to distrust this one.
- 1:29 PM, 13 September 2011   [link]


Obama Should Have Listened To Alice Rivlin:  That's Ross Douthat's message.
A week after President Obama took the oath of office, Alice Rivlin, budget chief to President Bill Clinton, testified before a Congress that was about to consider sweeping stimulus legislation.   In her remarks, Rivlin voiced her support for a swift and substantial federal intervention to prop up the sagging economy.  But she offered lawmakers three warnings as well.
And they didn't pay any attention to her.

Instead, they wasted money on pork, they set expectations to high, and they postponed controlling entitlement spending, indefinitely.

Would we be better off if they had listened to Rivlin?  Most likely.

And what's interesting is that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid might be better off politically, as well, since the economy would be marginally better.

(More on Rivlin at the usual Wikipedia article.)
- 1:07 PM, 13 September 2011   [link]


The Case Of The Missing $29 Billion:  No, not American dollars this time, Venezuelan dollars.
About two weeks ago, I told the story of Deputy Carlos Ramos of the National Assembly who provided us with an Excel spreadsheet of the projects financed by Fonden — the "development" fund that President Hugo Chávez created and uses as his sort of petty cash fund for immediate needs — after I wrote to him.

The sequence of how this spreadsheet came about was somewhat unclear, the congressman saying that there was some $29 billion, give or take a billion, simply missing.
Seems careless of the Chávez regime to misplace that much money, if I may say so.

Miguel Octavio has been covering this at his site, revealing amazing details, but not locating most of that $29 billion.

What is most remarkable is that this missing money does not seem to be a big scandal in Venezuela, at least not yet.

(How large, relative to the economy, would that be in the United States?  Going by this table, about 50 times as large, or roughly $1.5 trillion.  Which would be a lot of money to misplace, even for the United States government.)
- 9:22 AM, 13 September 2011   [link]


The Czech Republic Has A Rational Plan for nuclear power.
"The state wants to build new nuclear plants," leads Hospodářské noviny on learning of the proposal from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to boost the production of electricity from nuclear power by a factor of five between now and 2060.  The share of nuclear energy in electrical power generation in the country will thus go up from the approximately 30 percent currently (put out by the Temelin and Dukovany plants) to over 80 percent in 50 years.   According to the Ministry project, nuclear power should replace coal and reduce dependence on oil and gas imported from Russia.
And though they don't mention it in this excerpt, reduce pollution and greenhouse gases.

It's good to see that anti-scientific opposition to nuclear power, though common in Europe, is not universal.
- 7:54 AM, 13 September 2011   [link]


What Will Happen If Republican Bob Turner Wins In NY 9th?  First, you'll hear that the district is not typical, and that no general lessons should be drawn from the Democrats losing a seat they have held since 1922.

Second, people in both parties will draw general lessons, as Chris Cillizza explains.
But there is genuine skepticism that the race can be saved, and an acknowledgment that a loss would create an even more complicated political environment through which Obama — and his newly announced jobs plan — would have to navigate.

Losing a seat such as this one — despite all of the reasons for such a defeat, outlined above — probably would have a chilling effect on the willingness of Democrats running in vulnerable districts and states to support any aspects of the president's agenda between now and 2012.  And that's the last thing an embattled White House seeking political allies needs right now.
As a Democrat, Cillizza naturally describes the possible bad effects on Democrats.  But, since what what is bad for one party is almost always good for the other, we would expect Republicans to gain from a Turner win.  It would, I expect, make it more likely that House Republicans will oppose Obama, and easier for the party to recruit good candidates and raise money.

(The 9th is an unusual district.  But it is also true that many of the issues that help Republicans there will help them in most districts.  For example, support for Israel may be far important in the 9th than in almost every other district, but it is a plus in almost all House districts.  (Possible exceptions:  A few districts dominated by universities, and a few inner city districts.))
- 7:10 AM, 13 September 2011   [link]


California May Protect the doubly illegal.
A bill loaded with immigration politics and potential implications for highway safety has landed on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

The legislation by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, would change police procedures at drunken-driving checkpoints, prohibiting officers from arresting drivers and immediately impounding their cars if their only offense is not having a license.
A supporter of illegal immigration makes the purpose clear:
"In most parts of California, you basically have to have a car," said Mark Silverman, director of immigration policy at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.  "You have to be able to drive to survive, to get anywhere.  Because of that, the truth is, immigrant drivers without licenses will be driving anyway because of the necessity.  The towing of cars will not stop people from driving."
(By "immigrant" he means illegal immigrant, since legal immigrants can get driver's licenses.)

Are drivers without licenses more likely to get in accidents?  According to the article, they are about five times more likely to "be involved in a fatal crash" than drivers with licenses.

So encouraging them to drive might be a bad idea.

One of the ways tolerance for illegal immigration has corrupted our politics is by encouraging leaders like Assemblyman Cedillo to get rid of legal protections because of their effects on illegals.  Usually this is done informally, by not enforcing laws, but some take it a step farther, as Cedillo is doing.
- 7:39 PM, 12 September 2011   [link]


Election Predictions:  The first one is easy; Republican Mark Amodei will win the special election for Nevada 2nd.  (If you need reasons, consult this post.)

By how much?  At least 15 points.

The second one is harder; Republican Bob Turner will win the special election for New York 9th.  It's taken me a while to change from thinking that possible, but unlikely, to thinking it likely.

Before I give you the evidence, I'll give you the opposite opinion from Nate Silver.  After a long discussion of the factors that he uses to make these predictions, he says:
Over all, Mr. Weprin's advantages are more tangible, which is why I would consider him a modest favorite given the ambiguity in the polling.

But a victory by Mr. Turner would hardly be surprising.  I always caution against drawing national implications from special election results, and would certainly do so here given the idiosyncrasies of the district.  But it would represent a nice little notch in Republicans' belts and a troubling data point for Democrats.
Silver posted that on the 9th, so he didn't have the last poll in the race from Public Policy Polling.  (PPP is a Democratic firm, but not one with a strong party bias in their final results.)
Republican Bob Turner is poised to pull a huge upset in the race to replace Anthony Weiner as the Congressman from New York's 9th Congressional District.  He leads Democrat David Weprin 47-41 with Socialist Workers candidate Christopher Hoeppner at 4% and 7% of voters remaining undecided.

Turner's winning in a heavily Democratic district for two reasons: a huge lead with independents and a large amount of crossover support.  He's ahead by 32 points at 58-26 with voters unaffiliated with either major party.  And he's winning 29% of the Democratic vote, holding Weprin under 60% with voters of his own party, while losing just 10% of Republican partisans.
We now have three independent polls, from a Republican firm, from a university, and from a Democratic firm, all saying the same thing.  Moreover, the latest Siena poll showed a change since an earlier Siena poll, suggesting that the campaign has been moving voters from Weprin to Turner.

Silver is not wrong in what he says about Weprin advantages; he probably will have more of an organization getting out votes for him.  And that can make a difference, especially in a low turnout election.  But I think that will be more than counter balanced by the greater intensity of Turner's supporters.  (I'm not sure he is right about the size of Weprin's money advantage; I've read that the Republican party had quietly dumped some money in the race.)

What will the margin be?  I am going to predict 7 points, one point higher than the PPP poll, because I think that voters are still moving toward Turner.

(Caveat:  As Silver says in his post, polls are less accurate for House races than for senatorial, gubernatorial, and presidential races.  And they are even more likely to be wrong in special elections, where turnout can vary widely.)
- 6:07 PM, 12 September 2011
Update:  Nate Silver now agrees with me, and makes the Republican candidates the favorites in both elections.
- 3:25 PM, 13 September 2011   [link]


It's That Princeton Graduate Student, Again:  Way back in 2003, I jokingly suggested that Paul Krugman's columns in the New York Times were being written by someone who was trying to discredit the Princeton professor:
Those familiar with Krugman only through his columns, which are infused with Bush hatred to a point close to insanity, would be surprised to read some of his other work, like his book, Peddling Prosperity, which has a far more moderate tone.   In his columns, he raves about Bush, comparing him to the mad Roman emperor Caligula and the French general Boulanger, who plotted to seize power from a democratically elected government.   In the book, he gave credit to a number of conservative economists for their insights.   It is hard not to think that the columns are written by someone other than the Princeton economist who puts his name on them.
. . .
It is not hard to guess who that would be.   Anyone who knows a little about graduate schools knows that graduate students often do much of a professor's work.   Those who know a little more about graduate schools know that the graduate students often feel cheated of credit by their professors.   And those who have heard some graduate school gossip know that a few graduate students take revenge by sabotaging the work of the professors they feel are abusing them.    With this understood, it is easy to see what is happening.   Professor Krugman, not caring to actually write the column, assigned that duty to a graduate student.   The student, feeling abused, has been writing columns that will, in time, completely demolish Krugman's reputation.
Yesterday, Krugman put a hateful post that provides still more evidence that there might be some truth to the joke.  The post showed that Krugman is still afflicted with a severe case of Bush Derangement Syndrome, and contained a typo or two.  You can find most of it here, along with some commentary, if you somehow missed the post.)  Again that 's just the kind of post that someone who was trying to discredit Krugman would write.

I suppose that we have almost reached the point where I should ask Princeton and the Times for formal denials.
- 1:50 PM, 12 September 2011   [link]


What Are Greek Bonds Worth?  Not much in actual markets.
The Greek two-year yield surged 12 percentage points to a euro-era record of 68.55 percent, while the nation's 10-year borrowing costs jumped 257 basis points to 23.12 percent, also a record.
But in European banks, somewhat more.  I learned from a Floyd Norris column in the Friday New York Times that banks in different nations have wildly different valuations for those Greek bonds.  German and British banks are relatively honest, Italian banks have taken small discounts, and French banks have been carrying some Greek bonds at full value.

This does not strike me as a stable situation.

Usually, Mr. Market wins these fights, though not always immediately.

Naturally, some investors have become a little skeptical about those French banks.
A rapid decline in French bank stock prices since the beginning of the summer has led to speculation that the French state may have to intervene and recapitalize its banks, in the same way as the British and other governments were forced to during the first wave of the financial crisis.

BNP Paribas led the falls, with its shares down 13.5 percent, while SocGen and Credit Agricole were both more than 9 percent lower at 1224 GMT.  They are trading at levels not seen since at least early 2009, when recession stalked much of the developed world.
(BNP Paribas is the largest French bank.)

Walter Russell Mead exaggerates in his discussion of this crisis, but has the basics right, as far as I can tell.
- 9:09 AM, 12 September 2011
More:  Here's the Floyd Norris column.
- 7:27 AM, 13 September 2011   [link]


Big Republican Swing In Nevada 2nd?  On Tuesday, there will be a special election in Nevada's 2nd district.  The state allows early voting, and has party registration, so there is some information, already, about the race.
After the close of the early voting period in the Nevada special election on Friday, the Republican candidate, Mark Amodei, holds an almost fifteen thousand vote lead over his Democratic opponent Kate Marshall.

A total of 75,248 votes were cast in the early voting period before election day on Tuesday — 67,011 were cast in early voting, and 8,237 were cast absentee.  Of those, 25,619 registered Democrats voted, and 40,173 registered Republicans voted.  The 9,288 "other" voters also cast ballots.
(Yes, the Daily Caller reporter should have just said that 15,000 more Republicans voted, not that Amodei had that big a lead.)

Charles Cook rates the district +5 Republican.  Bush carried it in 2004, 57-41; McCain carried it in 2008, but by only 89 votes.

Those early voting results suggest to me that the Republican will do even better than Bush did in 2004.

(Caveat:  In general, I would expect Republicans to be a little more likely to vote early.

Much more info here, including party registration numbers for the district.)
- 8:02 AM, 12 September 2011   [link]


"Boldest Risks In History"?  List a few in your mind, and then read Tom Maguire's dissection of the latest Maureen Dowd column.  I'm pretty sure your list and her list won't have any risks in common.

Here's his summary paragraph:
Oh, what is my point - that MoDo has the judgment and detachment of a schoolgirl watching Elvis? No kidding.
It is kind of Maguire to call her a schoolgirl.  (He may have been inspired by her schoolgirl mistake; she used "tact" when she probably meant "tactic", or, possibly, "tack".)

Even for a schoolgirl, Dowd goes a bit too far with this:
The reawakened Republicans are no longer the loyal opposition.  They're revolutionary Bolsheviks who want to eat Obama alive.
The idea that Speaker Boehner is a Bolshevik is charming in a nutty way, I suppose.  But it is nutty, so nutty that if I were to see it in a schoolgirl paper, I would be forced to give the paper an "F".  That it appears in a once serious newspaper is dismaying.
- 6:52 AM, 12 September 2011   [link]


Let's Mourn — And Let's Roll:  This morning, I said that I thought that we were distorting 9/11 when we treated it only as a tragedy.  It was a tragedy, but it was not just a tragedy.

Bush's Shanksville speech got it about right, I think.  He mourned the losses — and he celebrated the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93, who fought back and most likely saved the lives of many of their fellow citizens.

But now far too many of us want to do only the first, and Mark Steyn complains about what we are leaving out.

You don't have to agree with everything he says to recognize the validity of, for example, this point:
What's missing from these commemorations?

Firemen?

Oh, please.  There are some pieces of the puzzle we have to leave out.  As Mayor Bloomberg's office has patiently explained, there's "not enough room" at the official Ground Zero commemoration to accommodate any firemen.  "Which is kind of weird," wrote the Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, "since 343 of them managed to fit into the exact same space ten years ago."  On a day when all the fancypants money-no-object federal acronyms comprehensively failed — CIA, FBI, FAA, INS — the only bit of government that worked was the low-level unglamorous municipal government represented by the Fire Department of New York.  When they arrived at the World Trade Center the air was thick with falling bodies — ordinary men and women trapped on high floors above where the planes had hit who chose to spend their last seconds in one last gulp of open air rather than die in an inferno of jet fuel.  Far "too soon" for any of that at the New Jersey City University, but perhaps you could re-enact the moment by filling a peace tag for Yoko Ono's "Wish Tree" and then letting it flutter to the ground.
Mayor Bloomberg, as Steyn goes on to say, also had no room for any religious figures, though some of them were able, just like the firemen, to fit into that site ten years ago.

I haven't seen Bloomberg's explanation for that exclusion; perhaps he thought that religious leaders would raise politically incorrect thoughts in some members of the audience.  As any nanny can tell you, it is better not to let children even think about some subjects.
- 7:41 PM, 11 September 2011   [link]


"Evil Is Real, And So Is Courage"  George W. Bush speaks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on some of the lessons of 9/11.

I don't cry often, but his speech made me tear up, and I was not alone in that reaction.

(The speech is a little over ten minutes long.)
- 7:18 PM, 11 September 2011   [link]


9/11 Jumper:  The New York Times will not show you this picture today, so I will.

9/11 jumper

This man jumped from one of the World Trade Center towers, rather than burn to death.  From the picture we can see that he was a young black man, probably American though he might have been an immigrant, and that he worked in a kitchen.

We can not know whether he knew why he was about to die, though I think it unlikely.  Few Americans then understood how much the fanatics who planned the 9/11 attack hated us, and how little they cared for innocent life.  Whether this victim knew or not, I hope that he rests in peace.

He, and nearly three thousand others, died in order to create a propaganda poster for Al Qaeda.

(I scanned the picture from a New York Times book, Nation Challenged.  I believe this to be fair use because I am criticizing the Times, and most other "mainstream" news organizations, for suppressing this picture, and similar pictures, in the years since 9/11.

Reposted from 2008.)

Although I think it appropriate to remember the victims of 9/11, including this man, I have come to believe that, over the years, we given too much attention to the victims, and too little attention to our response.   I'll have another post later today celebrating some of our victories in the last ten years.
- 8:18 AM, 11 September 2011   [link]


Republican Bob Turner Is Now The Favorite in Tuesday's special election.
With just four days to go until voters in New York's historically Democratic 9th Congressional District go to the polls, Republican candidate Bob Turner holds a six-point lead over Democrat David Weprin, according to a new Siena Research Institute survey released Friday.

Among likely voters in the district, which comprises parts of Queens and Brooklyn, Turner (pictured) attracts 50 percent of the support while Weprin garners 44 percent. Six percent say they are undecided. The same poll taken a month ago showed Weprin with a six-point lead, indicating the race would be surprisingly close.
(Not surprising to regular readers of this site.)

That's the second poll giving Turner the lead, and the first one giving him the lead from a non-partisan pollster.  Note that the enthusiasm is all on Turner's side.  I now think that the Republican enthusiasm will overcome the Democratic advantages in registration and organization.

Turner is leading because of dissatisfaction with the Obama administration on the economy and Israel, and because most voters in the 9th prefer his stands on social issues.

(As I write, the InTrade bettors have made Turner the favorite by two or three to one, though I should add that there aren't many bettors on those contracts.

This New York Times article has more details on the race.  You can download the Siena press release and cross tabs here.)
- 8:28 AM, 10 September 2011   [link]


Does Warren Buffett Pay His "Fair" Share Of Taxes?   Economist Gregory Mankiw doesn't know, but he does know that Buffett pays more taxes than are usually reported, because he pays taxes indirectly through his corporation.

For questions of fairness, Mankiw refers us to two well-known 20th century philosophers, John Rawls and Robert Nozick.   Unfortunately, the two disagree, the first favoring equality over liberty, and the second favoring liberty over equality.

In the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush was admirably clear about the balance between equality and liberty when he said that no one should pay more than one third of his income in taxes.   Few candidates have followed his example, and explained exactly what they meant by "fair".  I am cynical enough to suspect that some of them avoid specifics because they know that different voters have very different definitions of "fair".

Mankiw could also have mentioned religious teachings on fairness.  Simplifying drastically, I would guess that most religions say that individuals have a responsibility to help those poorer than themselves, but are less clear on what governments should do (other than not being oppressive).  (Consult your local comparative religions scholar if you want a more definitive answer on that subject.)
- 7:34 AM, 10 September 2011   [link]


Depends On What You Mean By Near:  Most people would not consider Longview, Washington "near" Seattle.  But a New York Times editor did say that in the headline over an article by Steven Greenhouse on that little labor dispute we've been having.   (The headline is: "Union Dispute Near Seattle Turns Violent and Idles Ports".)

For those not familiar with Washington state:  The two cities are connected by Interstate 5.  Longview is at exit 36.  The Seattle exit where I-5 meets I-90, about as close to the center of the city as you can get on I-5, is 164.  So Longview is about 130 road miles from Seattle.

(For fun, get a map of New York and look at how far 130 road miles would take you from the Manhattan offices of the Times.)
- 12:52 PM, 9 September 2011   [link]


Reaction To Obama Speech Was Muted In This Area:  I was a little surprised to see that the speech was not the lead story on our local TV channels this morning, or even on the national broadcasts from ABC, NBC, and CBS.

That's partly because of the new terrorist alert, I suppose, but I got the impression that most of the usual cheerleaders just didn't have their hearts in it.

They weren't critical; they didn't, for example, mention the AP Fact Check, but they weren't enthusiastic, either.

Perhaps because we have heard most of this before, and even our "mainstream" journalists are beginning to notice?
- 9:09 AM, 9 September 2011   [link]


Programmed TV Muting:  From a gadget you can build yourself.
When Matt Richardson works from his home in Brooklyn, New York, he likes to keeps the TV on to stay informed, but some celebrity or another is always taking up airtime and bugging him.
. . .
Like any good hacker, Richardson decided to come up with a fix: He developed a do-it-yourself TV remote control that will automatically mute the television when certain celebrity names are mentioned.
The gadget reads the closed-captioning transcript and mutes the TV when it finds names (or, I suppose, any words) that you don't want to hear.

If you are required to watch TV for some reason, like Richardson, then I can see the attraction of this gadget.  There are noxious celebrities that many of us would rather not hear about.

(As I have mentioned before, I seldom watch political speeches on TV.  I think that you are better off reading transcripts.  You can skip most of the showmanship, and you can take the time to check claims in the speech, as you work through it.

When I do watch a political speech, it is usually not for the content, but because I want to assess the political skills of the speaker.)
- 7:49 AM, 9 September 2011   [link]