February 28, 2003

FCC Muddies the Future

The FCC is a political animal. To expect forward -looking, rational decisions is to believe Hell freezes over. The FCC truly did split the baby and the result gives no financial clarity to the industry or to consumers. Powell had it right, but the Commission voted appeasement, not reality. Supreme Court, here we come!

Krauthammer's Take on Alliances

He's right, if somewhat overly simplistic, to highlight the need for new alliances where policy interests converge. France is a has-been in world affairs and their credibility continues to decline. They are faced with a large Muslim population and no oil reserves of their own, so it's no surprise that Chirac takes the position against war with Iraq, one of his large trading partners. I wonder if anyone knows how much Iraqi illegal oil winds up in France, given their significant ownership in Iraqi oil fields?

February 26, 2003

Friedman on the Arab World

Friedman's incisive analysis of the Arab world's dilemma is on target. Post-Saddam will be a tough row to hoe.

February 25, 2003

Sue the Bastards!

Nacchio and his crowd at Qwest deserve to answer charges of criminal and civil wrongdoing. Nacchio's reputation precedes him reaching back to the day when he was a flamboyant and distrusted distict manager at AT&T. A leopard never changes his spots. Greed and ego were his game and telecom was his playing field.

Here's some of the Nacchio fawning from the media in the dotcom bubble era.

February 24, 2003

Gotta Love These Descriptions of French Relevance!

These lines have been making the rounds recently. Given France's stance and Chirac's dance, they deserve the ridicule.
According to Jed Babbin, former deputy undersecretary for defense for George H.W. Bush: "Going to war without the French is like going deer hunting without your accordion."

David Letterman: Re: Iraqi violations
"France wants more evidence. The last time France wanted more evidence, it rolled right through France with a German flag."

Jay Leno: "I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get the Germans out of France!"

Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.: "Do you know how many Frenchmen it takes to defend Paris? It's not known, it's never been tried."

Blunt again: "Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day -- the description was: 'Never shot. Dropped once.'"

And even an unwitting French President Jacques Chirac:
"As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure."

"Do you know it only took Germany three days to conquer France in World War II?"

Fix Vermont's School Quality and Cost

Kudos for Sunday's (Feb. 23) Act 60 coverage, particularly the School Funding Primer and Act 60 Numbers. It's abundantly clear that Vermont cannot sustain the cost increases for K-12 education. Unfortunately, student outcomes fail to justify the accelerating spending. Both the fiscal and quality components of Act 60 are broken. The Legislature may fiddle with the funding mechanics, but legislators seem reluctant to exert control of total K-12 spending, the real culprit. State and local policy makers seem unwilling to cap education expenditures.

Declining student enrollment and cost increases driven by healthcare, special education, salaries and administration, are not sustainable. Radical action is needed, yet I find no backbone, let alone a feasible plan, from the Legislature to fix this billion dollar problem.

Remedies must include immediate expansion of school choice well beyond that allowed in Act 150, control of statewide average expenditures per pupil and a funding formula that is simple and as fair as can be devised.

I am personally exasperated with the politics of school funding and the unsustainable increases in costs with so little improvement in student outcomes. The arguments of local vs. state control or Democrats vs. Republicans can no longer be allowed to justify the mess we're in.

February 21, 2003

Extreme Environmentalism Defrocked

This is worth a scan...a founder of Greenpeace who now suggests that the wackos have hikjacked the environmentalist movement. Seems true given the demonstrations and violence perpetrated in the name of 'protesting globalization.'

February 19, 2003

Truth and Consequences

Friedman does have perspective on the dilemma and is essentially correct from a political standpoint. Nevertheless, when all is said and done, the heart of the Middle East conflict, though the tyrant Saddam now in power must be taken out for non-spiritual reasons, is spiritual between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Unfortunately, these 'fundamental elements' cannot be addressed by diplomacy. At some point, unfortunately, a wider war in the region is inevitable.

February 13, 2003

Duct Tape

Let's see if I have this right. In the event of a threatened CB (Chemical Biological) attack, I'm supposed to seal off one room containing me and my family, taping plastic around windows and doors assuring a tight seal to keep out the nasty stuff. And what will be all breathe during the time we're in there? Each other's carbon dioxide?



The debate rages about the necessity of war in Iraq. Now that Germany, France and Belgium have declared 'war' on NATO and threaten to destabilize the binding alliance that has served them and the nations of Europe well since WW II, perhaps its time they foot the bill for their own defense. Perhaps our troops are better housed elsewhere in Europe. I served in the 8th Infantry Division in Europe and we were treated well by the German friends we developed. Too bad the present leadership has a different worldview. I think the Germans will unelect Schroeder and his crowd when the opportunity arises. As for the French, they are a hopeless case. Their lost glory drives them to seek 'name recognition,' though they have little foreign policy substance, it seems to me.

Their real issue, I think, is they are such a large trading partner with Iraq and hold significant financial interests in oil fields and infrastructure, the French are afraid that will be lost should Saddam torch the fields as he did in Kuwait. After the war, It will be interesting to see if the French and Germans try to regain a stake in the place. Unless they change their spots, this administration should publicly tell those leopards to take a hike and hold hands with Belgium while they do it. George Will's take on it...

Those threatening to prevent it ( the defense of Turkey as a NATO member) include Belgium, France and Germany. The last two are continually called "key allies." But "key" to what?
Nothing military. And NATO is a military organization. With France fomenting worldwide opposition to a U.S. military action deemed by the U.S. government vital to national security, and with Germany drawing France into embrace of semi-pacifism, NATO is becoming what Donald Rumsfeld warns the U.N. is becoming -- a thing of ridicule.

In Munich last week, Germany's foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, impertinently lectured Rumsfeld that America might have to stay in postwar Iraq for several years, and wondered whether America has the staying power. Someone should tell Fischer that U.S. troops have been in Fischer's country 58 years -- not quite as long as Rome's legions were, but long enough to prove staying power.

February 7, 2003


Today's snowstorm along the east coast and in New York elicits this behavior and comments. Life has so many important things to accomplish, but not without feeding our habits first. From the NY Times February 7, 2003...

Penny Spilane of Toms River tried to get a ride to the grocery store, but all the taxi companies she called said nobody was driving. She ended up walking to a 7-Eleven. ``I have enough food to cover me until tomorrow,'' she said. ``But I can't go without my cigarettes and soda.''

February 6, 2003

The "Old" Europeans

Russia, France and Germany, all of whom have large stakes in Iraq as a trading partner, particularly with their investments in Iraq's oil industry, are saying no war now. On economic grounds, I can see their point, but if they do not join the coalition to disarm Hussein, they risk becoming as irrelevant in post-war Iraq as the UN is pre-war. Surely these countries understand the horrors of war, particularly WW II, which resulted from misplaced appeasement of Hitler's actions resulting in the deaths of millions of their citizens and ours.

As a Viet Nam vet, I can vouch that war is not a game and avoidance is desirable. But to oppose war with Iraq now to rid the world of him and his WMDs, the leaders of "Old Europe" must believe one of the following:

Iraq has no WMD or
If Iraq has WMD, Saddam will not use them or share them with terrorists.

I don't believe either of these statements, so I support Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive disarmament, particularly with the venom aimed at us by the terrorist snakes.

Perhaps "Old Europe" will see the light in the next 3 weeks. If not, we will be at war with support of our real allies and Putin, Chirac and Schroeder will become irrelevant as shapers of world events.

Thanks, Britain, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Australia and those other countries that are with us. May a pox be on "Old Europe."

The tough question also facing the world is what to do about North Korea. I wonder if our Special Ops guys are good enough to create an 'accident' at the newly activated reactor, leaving it radioactive and unusable for a century or two?

February 5, 2003

From the BBC

"So the lasting message from the United States - the war is going to happen, be with us or be irrelevant."

Well said. Unless the Security Council backs immediate disarmament and stops fiddling with an inspection protocol or more inspectors or planes or whatever, They will prove themselves irrelevant. If France and China don't join the US, they'll have no relevance or standing in a post-war Iraq.

Amen, Secretary Powell!

Colin Powell has made the case for disarming Iraq. Everyone should read his message to the UN Security Council. The dodos won't vote to disarm him, IMHO. There is little recourse. I believe the air campaign will be well underway by March 1. Unless Saddam decides on another course of action he and his regime are dead meat. Too bad it must be this way.

Please, pacifists, tell me your solution to this scourge.

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction. He's determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein's history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not someday use these weapons at a time and a place and in a manner of his choosing, at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond? The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people. Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world."

February 3, 2003

Appears Iraqis Have BIG Weapons

"American aggression will end up in a catastrophe for them," he (Lt. Gen. Amir al-Saadi) said. "They will incur casualties beyond their imagination."

This quote suggests that they have something 'more' than they demonstrated in 1991. Will they attempt to use WMDs on us?

Schroeder's Comeuppance

The German press is unanimous in describing the recent regional elections in Germany a disaster for Schroeder. His use of the Iraq issue as a means or pandering for votes apparently backfired. That along with other issues upsetting the Germans means that hard reforms may be ahead for the country.

War fears rejected

Die Welt also accuses the government of seeking to use the Iraq crisis for electoral gain, and miscalculating in the process.

A black Sunday for the chancellor!


"The audacious attempt to take people for idiots and go hunting for votes yet again with the highly sensitive topic of war or peace has failed."

"A black Sunday for the chancellor!", yells the right-leaning tabloid Bild-Zeitung.

"The public did not want yet another election campaign using the fear of war."

It describes the result as "the public's settling of accounts with the Red-Green government - and above all, a bitter defeat for Gerhard Schroeder".

"Germans had had enough of broken election promises, more and more new taxes, and higher and higher social-insurance contributions."

"The chancellor must finally pursue a policy that moves Germany forward. But can Schroeder hear it?"

Tax Cuts

And from this tax cut reality, all political rhetoric flows...

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing;
The fifth would pay $1:
The sixth would pay $3;
The seventh $7;
The eighth $12;
The ninth $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement-until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20."

So now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six-the paying customers?

How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth
man would end up being *paid* to eat their meal.

So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.

But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth. "But he got $7!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!"

"That's true!" shouted the seventh man.

"Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered
something important. They were $52 short!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.

February 2, 2003

Mr. Schroeder's Demise

Seems the Germans are not pleased with the leftist coalition headed by Gerhard Schroeder. The local and regional elections suggest his days are numbered. Can't be too soon. I wonder if his more conservative likely successor has a more realistic worldview?