Friday, March 18, 2005

Rounds: South Dakota's Abraham Lincoln

"S.D. Governor OKs Anti-Abortion Bills," by Joe Kafka, Associated Press, 17 March 2005, http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&u=/ap/20050317/ap_on_re_us/sdakota_abortion_laws&printer=1 (from South Dakota Politics).

Great, great, great news.

Gov. Mike Rounds signed a series of anti-abortion bills, including one that requires doctors to tell women the procedure ends the lives of humans, his office announced Thursday.

The bill-signings further tighten state abortion restrictions that some characterize as among the toughest in the nation.

One of the four new laws requires doctors to inform pregnant women, in writing and in person, no later than two hours before an abortion that the procedure ends the lives of humans and terminates the constitutional relationship women have with their fetuses.

Women also must be told that some women die during abortions and the procedure can lead to later depression and other problems.

...

Rounds, a Republican elected in 2002, also signed a bill that will automatically ban most abortions in South Dakota if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses its 1973 Roe decision and gives states authority to prohibit abortion. The only exceptions would be cases where a woman's life is in danger. Doctors who perform illegal abortions could receive up to two years in prison.

...

A fourth new law establishes a state task force to study the history of abortion since 1973 and to see if other laws need changing. Abortion opponents said science, medicine and technology have changed considerably since the Roe v. Wade decision.


Governor Mike Rounds: South Dakota's Abolitionist.

And to think I voted against the guy...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rewarding Success (Wolfowitz's Promotion)

"Bush Picks Wolfowitz for World Bank President," by Adam Entous, Reuters, 16 March 2005, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=586607.

President Bush has selected Paul Wolfowitz to be the new President of the World Bank.

President Bush on Wednesday selected Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a magnet for controversy as one of the leading architects of the Iraq war, as his choice for World Bank president.


This is wonderful. Baghdad Spring, and the hot chicks to go with it, would never have happened without Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. At first I was worried that he was being "kicked upstairs," but then...

European sources said Wolfowitz's name was circulated informally among board directors several weeks ago and was rejected. "Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination today tells us the U.S. couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks," one source said.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier suggested other candidates could be considered. "It's a proposal. We shall examine it in context of the personality of the person you mention and perhaps in view of other candidates."


If the French are mad at the promotion of an American, I'm happy. Bush is staking international political capital on Paul's promotion. Good luck to both of them! And God bless their work!

Update: Dr. Barnett agrees

A short comment on Wolfowitz for World Bank: He does have the background, and he'll probably do a really good job. He wants to be his own guy, and this is one helluva job for someone with his long career of working with foreign governments. To me, it's putting in the WB a guy who's really smart on developing Asia (former ambassador to Indonesia famous for his immersion techniques), and that's a huge plus right now. Getting all of Asia into the Core is more important than fixing the Middle East in the grand scheme of things--a lot more important. Having someone Bush really trusts in that job is key--a very good sign. It's yet another amazing turn for a guy with an amazing career. I honestly see it as overwhelmingly positive, understanding the many misgivings many have about him. Comparing him to McNamara is nonsense, really. Two very different people. Wolfowitz is no technocrat, not even a Vulcan. Deep down, he's far more romantic in his understanding of the world than anyone realizes, in my opinion. He'll do fine. It'll be a great choice in the end.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Women's Work

"Desperate to be housewives: young women yearn for 1950s role as stay-at-home mums," by Maxine Frith, The Independent, 10 March 2005, http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/story.jsp?story=618472.

"Why Rce Can't be President," by Tom Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 13 March 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001635.html.

In Britain, hostility to the women's work of today increases

They are the generation of women who grew up expecting to have it all. No longer forced to choose between children and a career, they were set to embrace superwomanhood by doing both - while holding down a perfect relationship and keeping a spotless home in their spare time.

But modern woman has taken a reality check. The average 29-year-old now hankers for a return to the lifestyle of a 1950s housewife. The daughters of the "Cosmo" generation of feminists want nothing more than a happy marriage and domestic bliss in the countryside, according to a survey.

Research into the attitudes of 1,500 women with an average age of 29 found that 61 per cent believe "domestic goddess" role models who juggle top jobs with motherhood and jet-set social lives are "unhelpful" and "irritating". More than two-thirds agree that the man should be the main provider in a family, while 70 per cent do not want to work as hard as their mother's generation. On average, the women questioned want to "settle down" with their partner by 30 and have their first child a year later.

Vicki Shotbolt, deputy chief executive of the National Family and Parenting Institute, said: "This is the generation of young women who have seen the 'have it all' ethos up close and personal, and they have realised that it doesn't work.


While Democrat, ACLU member, cultural left-of-centrist Tom Barnett writes

But here's the biggest reason why [Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice] can't be elected president: she's single and she's never been married. Americans simply won't elect that person in this day and age, and they're right not to. Voters want to see that personal connection to spouse and kids. They trust that. It says powerful things about who the person is and how they can be expected to think about the larger world and act within it. It's not just image, but the soul of the person that's reflected in family. Rice is as alone as alone can be, and Americans don't get that, don't like that, don't trust that.

Ask yourself: would you really trust someone who's married to his or her career to be president? Someone who's never be exposed to any of the things all must learn in marriage and parenthood? Someone that single-minded? That uncompromising? That self-defined?

Personally, I don't see things I trust in that sort of life, not when I'm considering the presidency. Frankly, I see things I've always feared about myself--expressed to the n-th degree. And I think, deep down, so will the vast majority of Americans. They simply won't recognize themselves in this person, no matter the qualifications on paper.

Yes, Rice is very talented and yes, she's had an amazing career, and yes, her stint as SECSTATE is going well. But no, she is not a serious candidate for anything in her current incarnation. She is not the anti-Hillary, she is the anti-candidate.


Neither the article nor the post is perfect. The world of the 1950s was an aberration, borne of a world in chaos. "Housewife" in the 1950s-sense was a concept without roots. Women in farms or pre-modern cities "worked," but in a different way than men.

Likewise, Barnett doesn't acknowledge that Rice's fault (singlehood) hits her much more as a women than it would a man. He maintains gender-neutrality and (apparently) assumes Americans view single men and single women the same.

But the large point is: the false ways of the 20th century are crumbling. When cultures or societies leave the old paths it creates misery and alienation. The marvels of the 20th century gave hope to those who would create a New Style Society, a New Style Man, and a New Style Woman because so many new styles were successful (New Style Carriages, New Style Factories, etc). The humans and their cultures are not mechanical processes and they cannot be long changed.

10:50 Posted in Republicans, Women | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: feminism

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Prefunding Retirement (Paul O'Neill on Social Security)

"A New Idea for Social Security," by Paul O'Neill, Los Angeles Times, 15 February 2005, http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-oneill15feb15,0,3297856.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill begins conventially enough...

To be clear, this is a decision for our society to make. The U.S. government is just the instrument to bring it into effect. There are two crucial facts that distinguish this idea from traditional Social Security. The savings would be owned by the individual, and every person would have an account. (Everyone born before the plan went into effect would remain under the current Social Security system.)


But then, the genius (assuming it's not insanity that I'm not seeing clearly)

If we decided as a society that we were going to put $2,000 a year into a savings account from the day each child was born until he or she reaches age 18 — and if we assume a 6% annual interest rate — each child would have $65,520 at age 18. (The worst return for a 25-year investor in the stock market from 1929 before the crash to 2004 was an average of 6% a year.) With no further contributions, again with a 6% interest rate, those savings would grow to $1,013,326 at age 65.

If we began to do this now, the first-year cost would be $8 billion; that is $2,000 times the roughly 4 million children born each year. The second year would cost $16 billion and so on until we were contributing $2,000 per year to a savings account for every child from birth until age 18. When fully implemented, the cost would be $144 billion per year. To put this $144 billion per year into context, this year's combined spending for Social Security and Medicare will exceed $750 billion.


A long-term solution for a long-term problem. I like it.

Bush's Anti-Agriwelfare Coalition

"An End to Days of High Cotton?: GOP Constituents Caught in Battle Over Subsidies," by Dan Morgan, Washington Post, 8 March 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15353-2005Mar7.html (from dKos).

More news from Bush's attack on agro-welfare:

A Bush administration proposal that would cut billions of dollars in subsidies to big cotton growers has struck at a core GOP constituency, setting off a battle in Republican congressional ranks that pits budget cutters and prairie-state populists against traditional agricultural interests.


The WTO is useful, as it is designed to be. It gives politicians cover to do the right thing, as with its recent anti-cotton protection ruling.

Underscoring that reality, the World Trade Organization in Geneva ruled Thursday that U.S. cotton subsidies violate global trade rules because they exceed limits agreed to in 1944. If the United States does not correct the situation, Brazil, which brought the complaint, could retaliate against U.S. products.


Cotton is a good place to start, because it is a budget hog

The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that cotton farmers will gobble up a quarter of farm subsidy payments this year, with most going to a few hundred big growers.


Bush's alliance is interesting. It includes my fellow prairie staters, budget hawks, free traders, and even environmentalists


  • The Heartlanders
    Already, the initiative has scrambled GOP politics in Congress. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), whose small corn and soybean farm receives federal subsidies, said he strongly backs the president and his willingness to take on "southern agriculture in Washington."

  • Fiscal Conservatives
    But this year, strong pressure for change is coming from fiscal conservatives at the White House and in Congress, who insist that the farm sector contribute to deficit reduction.

  • Natural Libertarians
    An even bigger factor may be free traders in the business community and the administration who view farm subsidies as an impediment to new trade deals benefiting U.S. companies abroad. Developing countries contend that bloated U.S. farm subsidies encourage agricultural surpluses and depress prices for farmers, such as struggling cotton producers in poor West African nations. They are demanding changes in U.S. farm policy as a condition for a new round of trade agreements.

  • Greens (an agrigreen movement to go along with a geogreens?)
    Another force behind reducing farm subsidies is the Republican Party's small but potent populist wing in Congress that has been fighting for revisions to channel more of the subsidy money to smaller farms and conservation programs.


    As Quentin Tarentino, the saint of our times, has said: Kill King Cotton.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Gingrich on Iraq Reconstruction Critics

"Getting the lessons of Iraq exactly right," by Newt Gingrich, Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/oped/chi-0502180206feb18,1,6418042,print.story?coll=chi-newsopinioncommentary-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true, 18 February 2005 (from Newt.org Mailing List).

I am mostly a fan of Newt Gingrich. While he proved himself a terrible tactician against Bill Clinton and he panders to the religious base of the party too much, he is a truly smart man. When he writes what he believes, as opposed to speaking party lines, his words are clear and insightful. I could not agree more with his latest column:

Now that report is tempting Congress to hold exactly the wrong hearings that would create exactly the wrong "reforms" that would make it even harder to recruit patriotic Americans (who will be reminded that you are more likely to become a scapegoat than an honored citizen if you risk serving your government and your country in a dangerous place). These hearings could also lead to new requirements, which could make it even harder for America to manage a transition in the future.

For instance, one of the most widely publicized findings in the report is that more than $400 million given to the Iraqi ministries is unaccounted for due to "weak or non-existent" controls. The report suggests that instead of giving the Iraqi ministers responsibility for their budgets, the CPA should have placed hundreds of CPA auditors into the ministries.

This would have taken the old joke "I'm from the federal government and I am here to help" to astonishingly new heights. Worse, it would have further created the impression among Iraqis that coalition forces were occupiers rather than liberators. What would kind of message would that have sent to the new Iraqi ministers and their staff, if they were being monitored by American "minders"?

02:20 Posted in Iraq, Republicans | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: gingrich

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ashcroftian Socialization of Virtue

"Gonzales Seeks to Reinstate Obscenity Case," by Mark Sherman, Associated Press, http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=544&u=/ap/20050216/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obscenity_appeal&printer=1, 16 February 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

South Dakota isn't the only place where the government knows what is best.

The Bush administration said Wednesday it would seek to reinstate an indictment against a California pornography company that was charged with violating federal obscenity laws. It was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' first public decision on a legal matter.

Billed as the government's first big obscenity case in a decade, the 10-count indictment against Extreme Associates Inc. and its owners, Robert Zicari, and his wife, Janet Romano, both of Northridge, Calif., was dismissed last month by U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster of Pittsburgh.


Iran and Europe don't have secular irreligious populations by accident. Both places socialized religion and virtue, which let people to forget both. "No one ever washes a rented car," and no one ever cares for virtue, once it is public.

I'm with the judge in this one

If allowed to stand, Lancaster's ruling would undermine obscenity laws as well as other statutes based on shared views of public morality, including laws against prostitution, bestiality and bigamy, the department said in a statement.

...

In his opinion, Lancaster said the company can market and distribute its materials because people have a right to view them in the privacy of their own homes.

Lancaster relied in part on the Supreme Court's June 2003 ruling that struck down Texas' ban on gay sex, which it called an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Ashcroftian Socialization of Virtue

"Gonzales Seeks to Reinstate Obscenity Case," by Mark Sherman, Associated Press, http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=544&u=/ap/20050216/ap_on_go_pr_wh/obscenity_appeal&printer=1, 16 February 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

South Dakota isn't the only place where the government knows what is best.

The Bush administration said Wednesday it would seek to reinstate an indictment against a California pornography company that was charged with violating federal obscenity laws. It was Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' first public decision on a legal matter.

Billed as the government's first big obscenity case in a decade, the 10-count indictment against Extreme Associates Inc. and its owners, Robert Zicari, and his wife, Janet Romano, both of Northridge, Calif., was dismissed last month by U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster of Pittsburgh.


Iran and Europe don't have secular irreligious populations by accident. Both places socialized religion and virtue, which let people to forget both. "No one ever washes a rented car," and no one ever cares for virtue, once it is public.

I'm with the judge in this one

If allowed to stand, Lancaster's ruling would undermine obscenity laws as well as other statutes based on shared views of public morality, including laws against prostitution, bestiality and bigamy, the department said in a statement.

...

In his opinion, Lancaster said the company can market and distribute its materials because people have a right to view them in the privacy of their own homes.

Lancaster relied in part on the Supreme Court's June 2003 ruling that struck down Texas' ban on gay sex, which it called an unconstitutional violation of privacy.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Bush to Agriwelfare: Drop Dead

"Bush Is Said to Seek Sharp Cuts in Subsidy Payments to Farmers," by Robert Pear, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/06/politics/06budget.html, 6 February 2005 (from The Corner).

Great, great, great, great news

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 - President Bush will seek deep cuts in farm and commodity programs in his new budget and in a major policy shift will propose overall limits on subsidy payments to farmers, administration officials said Saturday.

Such limits would help reduce the federal budget deficit and would inject market forces into the farm economy, the officials said.

...

Mr. Bush would set a firm overall limit of $250,000 on subsidies that can now exceed $1 million in some cases.

...

Mr. Bush's farm proposal found support from some people who frequently criticize his policies.

Kenneth Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy group, said the proposal would reduce payments to big agribusiness operations. The savings, he said, would ease pressure on Congress to cut conservation programs financed in the same legislation.

...

Agriculture Department officials said Mr. Bush's proposals would cut federal payments to farmers by $587 million, or about 5 percent, next year and would save $5.7 billion in the coming decade. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to upstage the release of the president's budget, scheduled for Monday.

...

Farm subsidies have been a major issue in global trade talks, as poor farmers in the developing world demand that the United States and other wealthy countries cut back subsidies for their domestic producers.

Efforts to cap farm payments have produced odd alliances. Fiscal conservatives like the Heritage Foundation have joined some environmental groups and family farmers in the Midwest in supporting stricter limits. Opponents include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation's largest farm organization, as well as many commodity groups and politicians of both parties from rice and cotton states.

...

The White House proposal is a vindication of sorts for Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who has advocated "reasonable payment limits" for three decades.

"When 10 percent of the nation's farmers receive 60 percent of the payments, it erodes public confidence in federal farm programs," said Mr. Grassley, who describes himself as the only family farmer in the Senate. "Unlimited farm payments have placed upward pressure on land prices and contributed to overproduction and lower commodity prices, driving many family farmers off the farm."

...

But Brian M. Riedl, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, said stricter payment limits were needed because farm subsidies had become "America's largest corporate welfare program."



Yes! President George W. Bush: brining natural liberty for the first industry of every nation. If he can end farm welfare, it will be one of his many great achievements.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The All-Consuming Fire

"Burning Bush brandishes Dostoevsky," The Guardian, http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,6109,1395563,00.html, 21 January 2005 (from One Good Move).

Having written before on Bush's Second Inaugural Address, and its historic precedents, I'm delighted by this new info.

President Bush's Second Inaugural Address
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Not the Reagan Doctrine... but Better
The Reagan Doctrine
The All-Consuming Fire
Bush's New Order of the Ages


One of the models of American leadership is that of Moses, leading God's chosen people - then the Jews, now the Americans - towards a promised land, following a pillar of fire. At one point, according to the Bible, Moses was shown a sign: "Behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed."

But the key fire passage in the Burning Bush speech - "We have lit a fire as well; a fire in the minds of men" - actually has its origins in a novel by the 19th century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Devils, about a group of terrorists' ineffectual struggle to bring down the tyrannical Tsarist regime.

One of the characters declares that it is pointless to try to put out a fire started by terrorists: "The fire is in the minds of men and not in the roofs of houses," he says.

...

Nonetheless, it is not clear whether Bush is identifying here with the terrorists - or the tyrants.


Is The Guardian perfect? No. It too easily falls into an anti-Bush mind disease -- a syphilis that destroys rational discourse. But here, they are on to something.

Czarist Russia was a monstrosity, a cruel on the world. An out of touch and kleptomaniacal regime moderned their country only enough to steal more from it. Friends of the Czar profited immensley while the people rotted in misery. While not without its high points (Czar Alexander II's Emancipation Proclamation was a few years ahead of Lincoln's) it was a blot on the world.

It also fermented terrorism. As Richard Pipes has documented, even Russian liberals were drawn to terrorism, and high state officials were sympathetic. Russian-inspired terrorism was responsible for the Great War, and in the end the terrorism succeeded in ending a liberal experiment.

Who does this remind you of? (A "good job" to anyone who answers "the Saudis.")

When I first interpreted the fire line, I wrote

The Presient compares freedom to a fire. This is very important, especially considering his earlier analogy of Communism to a ship. Communism was artificial. It was created by men and in calling it a shipwreck it was destroyed by Nature. It could not lost.

But freedom is a fire. It cannot be destroyed It is part of the nature of the world. Even in a nightmare future where all fire is extinguished it has to come back. Through a bolt of lightning it may come anywhere at anytime.

Fire burns its enemies. Fire consums and destroys. It is an elemental force. We are on the side of destructive grandeur of the world.

The analogy also echos the Chicago School of economic thought. During the dark days of FDR and Keynes, the economy was thought of as a giant machine that could be "fine tuned." The 1970s in the West, and the entire history of the Soviet Union, shows exactly what "fine tuning" does. Chicago economists realized that the economy was an ecological system where there are forces and flows that are impossible to resist.


Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens:

From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.


I stand by what I wrote before. But the hidden Saudi-Czarist tyrant analogy is inspiring. We recognize the nature of the Saudis. We warn of the dangers of terrors. We are watching. And we will act.

President Bush's Second Inaugural Address
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Not the Reagan Doctrine... but Better
The Reagan Doctrine
The All-Consuming Fire