Saturday, December 25, 2004

Jonah Goldberg: Lafayette Plant?

Reading through the Corner, Jonah Goldberg linked this blog post, taking on the Wonkette. Though she's beloved by the MSM, the rest of the blogosphere is largely indifferent to her. I don't think she's anywhere near the same caliber as the Power Line guys, yet she often appears with them... Anyway, she is not the subject of this post.

In discussing Jonah and the Wonkette, the blogger links back to one of Jonah's old columns about the connections between Burke and Animal House, but he's not even finished with the introduction when he takes a cheap shot at Lehigh! Read for yourself:

I learned — indeed I was shocked to discover — that for all the talk about how attractive Californians are, the student body at Stanford was surprisingly unsightly. Indeed, most of the kids I saw walking around could have been students at Lehigh, Worcester Polytechnic, or some other school where winter clothes and Black Label beer are indispensable tools in the courting process.

[Mark Levin Voice]Sir, that is a vile and odious slander! I demand satisfaction![/Levin Voice]

Such a statement besmirching our honor can only be met by a crossing of the pens! Surely, I will be bested, though. So, some other form of penance is in order.

For your punishment, you should come give a talk for the College Republicans at Lehigh, so we can tell you how aweseome you are. Also, you should probably have to face someone in Beruit for your... 4 year old transgression. Nevertheless! If you don't show, I'm sending Larry Fink to your house to do a photo expose on you.

Friday, December 24, 2004

No Frills

I have recently been doing a study of No Frills airlines as I am investing in new ones. I have come across some curious business insights into this unique business venture. The idea of No Frills airlines you will all be happy to hear has been dominant in the United States with Southwest Airlines. The two most successful copy cats are Ryanair and Easyjet. I would also throw Richard Bransons Virgin airlines in there as well. These airlines do not offer many extras beyond your basic seat and in the case of the European ones charge you for anything beyond water. Southwest is famous for not even offering peanuts with their flights. The low cost idea is one that is prevalent especially in the post 9/11 days where fares had to be cut in order to get people flying again and jet fuel rose in price as oil prices went higher. These two combinations do not go hand in hand. Many airlines of course laid off people and scaled back however the no frills airlines either kept everyone or expanded. Their pilots knowing that jobs depended on cutting costs found ways to use fuel more efficiently and helped to bring about cost cutting strategies at Southwest. The 10 min turn around that was developed by southwest is very important in making sure planes do not sit needlessly on the ground while people could be in the air. The average southwest plane sees 18 hours of use a day which is a great deal longer than the competition. The model of using smaller airports as opposed to mainstream is catching on in the US but is all the rage in Europe. An effective internal transportation system means using Stransend airport instead of Heathrow is not so hard. A 45 min train ride can literally save hundreds of pounds off a flight. If you are traveling through Europe I highly recommend using either Easyjet or Ryanair but bear in mind advertised prices on their websites do not include fees. Even with the fees and taxes though you will still be cheaper than the flag carriers of the country. No Frills flying will be the wave of the future especially as costs rise and greedy unions force up wages and benefits to levels that make routes unprofitable. I will try in the next couple of days to do an expanded post on the airline industry as that is one of my favorite things to study but for know it is time to enjoy Christmas eve activities.

For more reading on No Frills Airlines
No Frills: The Truth Behind the Low-Cost Revolution in the Skies by Simon Calder
Nuts: Southwest Airlines Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

Liberal Lunacy

Last night on Hannity and Colmes there was a crazy leftist on that wanted to assert that President Bush did not win the election and says that January 6th a challenge will be made to show that he does not have the necessary electoral votes. I think this only proves that the left does do drugs and is completely out of their minds. This man is also helping to organize the people for protests against George W. Bush on election day with his patriotic courage website. Even Alan was forced to say how bad this makes the left look and how unproductive it is. The left is made out to be spoiled babies and I believe Alan is right in saying they should concentrate on how they will win in 2 years to try to retake seats. Personally they are so far from main street America that they need a new roadmap but aside from those fringe elements like this group will only hurt them. Bush has not stolen this election or any other. This one was even less close then the last one and to say Bush did not win is simply foolish. I am pushing that “Patriotic Courage” becomes our new liberal lunacy until the left can come up with something more crazy (and this is a hard one to beat).

Terrorist Attacks

There has been a lot of talk recently and concern over how terrorist infiltrated the US base and caused so many problems in Mosul. Well let me see if I can make this really easy for everyone. When you work in the United States for just about any government agency you go through some form of background checks. Those are very indepth depending on the level of government you are applying for and what type of security clearance you will need. Gary Aldrich in his book "Unlimited Access" does a very nice job of defining how this process works. In Iraq the United States government is trying to check each person that it hires but the FBI cannot simply go over and call up that persons old neighbors or check records of the person. It is scary but we will have to be constantly vigilant in watching out for threats and hopefully the attacks can be prevented but I think we will see more before we see less. It will be a new thing to adapt to but it is something that we must be flexible and learn how to work around with new tactics.

Some holiday ramblings

I have to agree with David that Arlen Specter is once again showing his true colors. Bush should push for the renomination of these judges and they SHOULD get a full senate vote whether up or down. Republicans have a chance to fix things and it will simply be shame on us if we don’t use our majority to do it.

I also want to say how pleased I am that Rumsfeld is taking the time to visit our troops and boost morale over in Iraq. It has been very helpful and a great many of the troops are talking about how much it has brightened their spirits. We all hope for a safe operation in Iraq against the terrorists that want to stop freedom and I hope that the troops can return home quickly after the mission is accomplished.

Well those are the pieces of good news. On to the bad we have the dollar at an all time new low against the Euro. It now takes $1.35 to buy one Euro. This is not the worst thing in the world as the dollar is overvalued anyway but it is not what I want to see as I start to look at going abroad once more. I hope that we can start to stabilize our deficit which would not make our dollar so overvalued. For a while I was considering the downward spiral as inevitable based on our current situation but if we could lower the deficit we could create a more sound footing for our currency to operate on.

I also have to pause and wonder about the liberal mind. As I watch for arguments from the left saying that we should not have elections in Iraq because not all the country is going to participate I am saddened. These people want to allow less than 15 percent of the population to stop an election that will benefit the other 85. The Left is so worried about kowtowing to the minorities that they have forced people into a situation they do not want. The same is true about the attacks on Christmas that we are seeing across the country. In my high school there were 22 jewfish students out of 2200. I am not sure how many celebrated any other holidays around this time but I can bet that it is mostly a Christmas bunch. Of those 22 students 14 of them were like me and celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. There was never any reason not to have Christmas themes around or secret Santa because most of us would not have been offended and you could always opt out. I wish the left would wake up and realize the minority does not need to be constantly defended. The minority can work to convince those in the majority to support their cause and then they will be getting somewhere. In the meantime lets stop attacking Christmas and enjoy this holiday season.

Buy Blue?

Lefties annoy me to no end, but sometimes they are amazing source of entertainment. K-Lo noticed BuyBlue.org, where hippies try to get fellow hippies to only by from companies that supported Democrats.

I'm kind of surprised anyone would go to this much trouble, but since key components of the "progressive" base are unions and anti-free trade types, I suppose it makes sense.
Read it for a good laugh.

If you want to know what companies to avoid (the blue ones, duh), check out their list of those who "support progressive causes" and then laugh again at their pathetic list. My favorite is the "Spirits" category. We have Coors (Pete! Pete! Pete! Pete!) and Anheuser Busch (BUssssh) and they have Ernest & Julio Gallo.

I'm only disappointed with a few companies on that list: Shell, JetBlue, and Sonic. The rest aren't really surprises or are companies I already dislike. So, use the Red column and ShopRight!

Oh, Look, It's Arlen Specter

No sooner do I start my daily blog browsing than I come across K-Lo's post noting that Specter is not happy with Bush's renominations.

In case you're wondering what I'm referring to, Bush announced yesterday that he's planning on re-nominating all the judges the Democrats blocked over the last four years in January. The only exceptions are Charles Pickering, whose recess appointment expired and doesn't want to deal with any more nonsense and Miguel Estrada who had enough and asked not to be nominated again.

So the new Congress isn't even sworn in and Specter's already being irritating. I should go yell at my Pennsylvania friends who voted for Specter in the primary again.

Bloggers and Their Blogs

It occurs to me that I'm often discussing blogs and the people who run them interchangably, assuming that most people know who I'm referring to. Being a blog reader myself, I'm familiar with many of the major blogs and especially with my favorites, but I don't necessarily think everyone reading this blog is. I've tried to introduce some people and phase in using names sometimes without even discussing the blog so that people could follow, but I thought it would be helpful to have a list of blogs and bloggers that I refer to often.

The list that follows has the blog name (with a link) and the name of the blogger or the posters to whom I most often refer.

Instapundit - Glenn Reynolds, who is also simply referred to as "Instapundit"

The Corner on National Review Online - This is a group blog and has many many posters, most of whom work for National Review, though there are also often guests who make posts. The most important posters for you to know (no offense meant to anyone I leave out) are: Kathryn Jean Lopez (aka K-Lo), Ramesh Ponnuru, Jonah Goldberg, John Derbyshire, Andrew Stuttaford, and John J. Miller. Occasionally you'll find posts by The Great One, Mark Levin as well here.

The Bleat - James Lileks, or simply Lileks (or "The Lileks" as Hugh Hewitt has taken to calling him); Lileks is simply one of the most entertaining and skilled writers I've ever read and he's even fun to read when he's talking about things I have no interest in.

Little Green Footballs - Charles Johnson, usually just "Charles" (the people who frequent his comments are often referred to as "Lizardoids"; see his FAQ for an explanation)

Power Line - Another group blog and Time's Blog of the Year. They helped bring down Dan Rather along with Charles. It's run by The Big Trunk (or Trunk), Rocketman (Hindrocket) and deacon. Trunk and Rocketman live in Minnesota and Deacon is the DC correspondent. Trunk and Rocketman's mild-mannered alter-egoes are Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker, respectively.

Captain's Quarters - Ed Morissey, aka "Captain Ed"

Hughhewitt.com - Hugh Hewitt. This one is easy to figure out, but I reference him often. He's a conservative talk radio host out of Southern California who is really the only one in any form of media who has his finger on the pulse of the blogosphere. He has a new book coming out in January on that very subject, titled Blog. Hugh also writes for The Weekly Standard.

The Volokh Conspiracy - An excellent group law blog that I don't read as much as I should. The people whose posts I tend to mention are Eugene Volokh, David Bernstein, and Dave Kopel. Don't limit yourself to them, though.

One Hand Clapping - Donald Sensing, a minister from Tennessee

The Northern Alliance of Blogs - A group of blogs from Minnesota, so christened by Hugh Hewitt who have their own weekly radio show and fillin for Hugh every once in a while. Some of the most entertaining radio you'll ever listen to. The Northern Alliance consists of:
Power Line
Captain's Quarters
Lileks
Shot in the Dark - Mitch Berg
SCSU Scholars
Fraters Libertas - home of Saint Paul and the infmaous Elder, aka "Peeps"

When the Northern Alliance subs for Hugh, most often appearing are Mitch Berg, Saint Paul, and Peeps. The Power Line guys and Captain Ed join in less often. It's a special treat when Lileks joins them.

day by day - Not really a blog, though it often references blogs. A fantastic webcomic done by Chris Muir. If you're not reading it every day, you'd better start right this instant.

Buzzmachine - Jeff Jarvis

Belmont Club - wretchard

Citizen Smash - Formerly LT Smash. A milblogger who fought in Iraq and is often a Protest Warrior.

Iraq the Model - Omar and Mohammed

Others often referred to:
Evan Coyne Maloney - He has a journal here.
Victor Davis Hanson - He writes for National Review but also has a blog here.
Roger L. Simon
Michelle Malkin
Daniel Drezner

Though my primary purpose here was to help clear things up a little bit for the readers of this blog, I want to strongly encourage people to start reading one, some, or all of these blogs on a daily basis. They are all excellent and highly recommended. They are much more entertaining and informative than anything in the MSM (which of course excludes talk radio and Fox news). They are the wave of the future, though, and if you're no on board already, the train's leaving the station. (Apologies for mixing metaphors)

Hope this was helpful. "This has been Roseanne, your guide to the world of facts." (Imaginary Christmas cookie for naming that reference)


Christmas Weekend Reading

In case you get tired of playing with your new Chirstmas gifts or spending time with your family or just want some good stuff to read online, here are a few worthwhile reads.

First, in case you missed it on TV (I forgot) check out C-SPAN's interview with Roger Ailes, the Chairman and CEO of Fox News. He's an extremely interesting guy and he always says things certain to infuriate the rest of the media.

For a good laugh, make sure you read Ann Coulter's column for this week. She reproduces a hilarious interview she did with an Italian magazine. I wonder if she actually did an interview like that, but I wouldn't put it past her.

Victor Davis Hanson also comes to the defense of Donald Rumsfeld, and like everything else of his, it is excellent. (Via Power Line)

Speaking of Power Line, I owe them a belated congratulations for being named Time's Blog of the Year. I wholeheartedly agree with that and as usual recommend them as an excellent blog. The Big Trunk appeared on a radio show today (that wasn't Hugh Hewitt's show) which you can listen to here. I haven't listened to it yet, but deacon mentions that Trunk really annoyed someone with the appearance, and I'm inclined to agree with deacon that it probably means it's entertaining.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Bin Laden Plane

Here's hoping that the end of the election year makes this the last time I have to explain the stupid Bin Laden family plane to someone. The facts have been repeated ad nauseum and they are the following:

- The Saudi government requested in the aftermath of 9/11 that prominent Saudis be allowed to leave the US.

- The Bin Laden family was among those and was allowed to be flown inside the United States to places where other Saudis were gathering to leave.

- The Bin Laden family is huge and most of them hate Osama, though probably not as much as we do.

- The Bin Laden family members were allowed to leave the US only after the ban on air travel was lifted and only after being questioned by the FBI.

- The FBI then cleared them to leave.

- The flights were authorized by Richard Clarke and no one above him in the White House was involved in any substantial way.

- This is a non-issue and a non-story and has only received attention because Michael Moore is a liar.

These are the facts. You may check them out at Snopes.com, the Urban Legend reference pages. I would not say they are completely unbiased, but the majority of what they have is accurate and very good. Remember, go there first if you get a chain email. Chnaces are they've already verified it or shown it to be false.

House of Saud

I have recently finished reading House of Bush, House of Saud which may be the last non Latin America/ Napoleon book I read for quite some time but it raised a few interesting questions. The author was very intent on proving a relationship between W and the House of Saud which I would argue that the failed to do. However in trying to link W to the House of Saud I think he did a very good job of raising some interesting questions about Bush Senior and the House of Saud. There is a great deal of collusion there that seems to go unanswered. It is no secret that Saudi Arabia has been lining pockets of both parties since at least the days of Jimmy Carter. Prince Bandar who has been here since 1983 has been a very effective emissary and does a very good job of looking out for Saudi interests. Saudi Arabia has an unwritten rule of we are your ally but don’t ask what goes on in the kingdom according to Robert Baer. The United States in the war on terror however is being forced to ask what goes on inside the kingdom and what can we do to curb the abuses of terror as we find them. Saudi Arabia is a neutral ally at best sometimes providing us information and other times arming our enemies. This is not the way to handle a foreign policy and Bandar knows it which is why he hires so many PR firms to spin information inside the United States.

A few interesting points were raised from the book. One of which is why were these planes allowed to leave the Untied States. My dad who was an air traffic controller was confused at the time but they had orders to let the planes fly so that is what the FAA did. Those orders are still unclear as to who gave them. Richard Clarke has said that he did know about the flights and allowed them to go. This is incredibly stupid as in any law enforcement investigation you want to interview family members of those that are responsible and get creditable profiles and possible whereabouts. The Bin Ladens were simply allowed out of the country where the planes quickly went to France and from there back to Saudi Arabia. I am not satisfied with any of the answers that I have heard so far as to why they were allowed to leave and I think overall we can only regret this decision and whether it was Bandar’s influence or a foolish bureaucratic SNAFU we will probably never know. Either way it is something that must be more carefully regulated in the future.

“House of Bush House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties” by Craig Unger
“Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold our Soul for Saudi Crude” by Robert Baer
“World Politics 1945-2000” by Peter Calvocoressi
“Against All Enemies” by Richard Clarke

Monday, December 20, 2004

More on Rumsfeld

Reading deacon's take on the Rumsfeld controversy, I was especially interested in Rocketman's link to Glenn Reynolds' thoughts, which are excellent as usual. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't been reading Instapundit as regularly as I should be, but I definitely agree with Professor Reynolds on basically everything he says in that post (which is one of the longest I've ever seen him write).

He links to Donald Sensing's criticism of McCain, which echoes what Rush has been saying all week: if McCain is worried about troop levels and equipment, HE has the power to authorize funding for these things, not Rumsfeld. Sensing writes, "Got that? The Army's funding for armor is 6,000 vehicles short because John McCain won't choke up the money." As Rush says, McCain had the chance to do something about this during the 8 years the Clintonistas were cutting the military. It's pure grandstanding to now criticize Rumsfeld for this.

I have to say I'm surprised that Senator John Warner of Virginia has also piled on Rumsfeld. That is as disappointing as Norm Coleman's comments. Shame on both of them.

In turn, Reynolds links back to Rocketman blogging about a press conference about the up-armored humvees, where it's revealed that the unit of the soldier who asked about the "lack of armor" had all it's humvees armored 24 hours later and would have even ahd the question not been asked. You must read that link.

This corroborates what a caller to Hannity's show discussed after the intial Rumsfeld press conference. He was an employee of one of the companies that is armoring the humvees and making the armor kits and said they had been working at full capacity for months and a huge number had already been deployed in Iraq.

It's clear that this is another media-created controversy where they hoped to hurt Rumsfeld and Bush. They did no research and simply jumped on a chance to make things look bad in Iraq, as usual. What's worse, though, is the shameless bandwagoning and begging for attention of the GOP senators who couldn't criticize Rumsfeld fast enough for this. Try coming to your own conclusions, guys, instead of trusting what the Democrats and the MSM say.

Gang of Five

= Wicked Sweet. "Gang of Five - Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Ascendancy" by Nina J Easton documents the rise and interconnected politicking of five familiar names in conservative circles: Bill Kristol, Grover Norquist, David McIntosh, Ralph Reed, and Clint Bolick. I have found this book to be fascinating. I'm probably at about 60/40 in favor of most of the ideology, most notably Reed and his Christian Coalition in the 40 range - but his chapters are some of the most gripping because of the stories about the College Republicans. Much of the CR stories have proven to be eerily familiar to the battles we have faced at Lehigh, both inside and outside the club.

Reading about Kristol's brand of intellectual conservatism both made me run out to buy a book by Leo Strauss last night (along with some Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek for good measure), and made me angry that I don't go to an Ivy and/or that good discussion of pure political philosophy is hard to find at Lehigh. Reading about McIntosh's undergrad experience at Yale with the Yale Political Union makes me want to create a Lehigh Political Union (something I think is both possible and sure to be somewhat popular, at least for a while), and reading further about his post-grad experiences at the U. of Chicago reminded me why I want to go to U. of Chicago after Lehigh (which will prove to be a tough task). Norquist's unabashed hatred of taxation and strong libertarian tendencies are fantastic to read about, but he loses me a bit with his fanaticism over Reagan's proxy wars. Not that I disagree with his position (not that I fully agree either), but the book doesn't chronicle the jump from concentrating on taxes and libertarianism to radical Cold Warrior.

I'm not done the book yet, but I am through the first 2 parts. Its worth the read just for the first section on their college lives and early activism. The 2nd part is decent, but I wasn't in love with it as I was with part one.

My posting has been sluggish, i.e. 5 times since August, but I promise not to neglect over the break.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Happy Holidays

Congratulations to President Bush on winning Time Magazine's man of the year. After his tough campaign and resounding win he has established the Republican Party as a dominant party and he does deserve this victory. I am also looking forward to seeing the interview with Karl Rove that was done in the magazine as to what he says the future will hold for the oval office.

On another note I will be heading to Pheonix to go house shopping tomorrow and will not be back at a computer until after Christmas so happy holidays to everyone and see you after Christmas.

Book Review

The Lost Equilibrium: International Relations in the Post Soviet Era edited by Bettie and Oles Smolansky is a book that I have to highly recommend. It is a great look at how international relations has been changed by the fall of the Soviet Union. It covers the third world, Europe, and Asia looking at how these regions were affected by the struggle between east and west and what the future will hold. A look at future American and Russian relations is also analyzed. This book is written pre-9/11 so some of the analysis may have been changed since the book was released but most of it is still relevant. For the sections that are not the background material is there and it is very easy to analyze how 9/11 may change based on the conditions that were laid outin the book. Of course if you went to Lehigh you know how good Professor Smolansky is and he does not fail to deliver in this book.

Not that you probably care but here is what is happening in Sweden

I recently have been able to get an updated analysis on the condition of the economy in Sweden. For all basic analysis there is a booming technological sector in biotech and many new investment opportunities will be coming from there. The mobile phone industry is on the rise with Erikson and unlike most of Europe there is a decent land line structure in place to handle basic needs of the population. One of the things that did concern me as I looked over the results was the shift ofSME (small and medium enterprises) which have been virtually ignored in the past for Sweden. The tax code in Sweden forces many people to perform personal services on an underground market leaving it off the tax book which is quite high. The official service sector in Sweden is very small. Changing tax codes have been made to encourage these SME's which will lead to growth in that sector and expanded revenues for the government. You might be saying well this does not sound so bad but in the past Sweden does not always spend their money in the wisest of ways. A reoccurrence of the high welfare state that once existed is not likely since they have learned from that particular mistake, but I would be concerned about a rise in the expenditures of the current model aspeople want more which would lead to a slow down in there economy. Not joining the Euro has only helped both the EU and Sweden because of the tax problems. The EU does not need to add Sweden's tax evasion and worker absenteeism problems to is already growing lists and Sweden because of its unique government situation does not need to have its hands tied in terms of policy options. Overall Sweden looks fairly healthy though and I would say for those looking for an investment it appears on the surface to be a good place to put some money.