Monday, October 14, 2002

SUNDAY LOS ANGELES TIMES WRAP-UP
Here are comments from Sunday's Los Angeles Times. You can use the username "sabertooth1" and the password "sabertooth1," if you haven't already registered for a free password.

GOVERNOR DAVIS APPOINTEES GAVE $12 MILLION TO CAMPAIGN
Nearly one-fifth of the $64 million Gov. Gray Davis has raised for his reelection, about $12 million, has been directed to his campaign by people he appointed to state boards and commissions.

This is very seedy. Don't condemn this because Governor Davis is a Democrat; condemn this as politics as usual. No, I'm not talking about campaign finance reform. This is about the government being too big, the sale of government positions that are unnecessary, and the continued shakedown of deep pockets by people who make the laws. We wouldn't read stories like this, if the government wasn't too big, too intrusive, too powerful, and out of control.

DAVIS' PICKS LOOK A LOT LIKE WILSON'S
In gender and racial makeup, Gov. Gray Davis' appointees who require Senate approval are not much different from those of Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican criticized by minorities for his opposition to affirmative action and illegal immigration, Senate records show.

It's bad enough that racists like the L.A. Times think its important to determine the qualifications of government appointees by taking a look at their ethnicity and gender. Clearly the L.A.Times thinks ethnicity and gender are important qualifications, and thinks there should be more minorities and women appointees.

But take a look how the L.A. Times phrased the title of the article. Instead of writing that statistics show that Democratic Governor Davis doesn't appoint enough minorities or something like that, the The L.A. Times sugarcoated its criticism of Davis by writing that Davis isn't any worse than that jackass, racist pig, former Republican Governor Pete Wilson. Why was Wilson's name placed in the title? Was it necessary? Is this about minority appointees or is this about Wilson? This article says more about the L.A. Times than anyone or anything else. What complete crap.

L.A. LAGS BEHIND LARGEST U.S. CITIES IN BASIC SERVICES
Here's a poorly written article, with poor analysis. The L.A. Times writer points out that when comparing the five largest cities, Los Angeles trails the other four in "key measurements" of many municipal services. The writer made the mistake of looking at the inputs like number of officers, fireman, and employees and doesn't look at the outcome and effectiveness. The article does say LAPD has the slowest response time of police departments, but is that the best measurement of effectiveness? Does being four minutes slower make any difference? The critical issue should be are taxpayers getting the most bang for their buck.

I also suspect that Los Angeles was only compared with four other cities because Los Angeles didn't look as bad when comparing the 10-largest or 20-largest U.S. cities. There's no story if Los Angeles doesn't look bad. Either that, or the writer was too lazy to do research beyond five cities.

And by the way, former Republican mayor Richard Riordan gets the blame.

THE POWER OF THE WEST COAST DOCKWORKERS UNION
Here's the best parts:
"It's really disappointing that collectively they don't see how good they have it," said Jim, a payroll clerk at a Los Angeles terminal who, like many union critics, said he feared repercussions if he used his full name.

"It's insanity down here," he said. "They work half the time of most people and make twice the money and gripe about it all day. And any loss, any concession -- it's like drawing blood from a stone."

Such grumbling is nothing new, said David J. Olson, a political science professor at the University of Washington who has made a specialty of studying the ILWU.

"People have been making the same kinds of charges for decades -- that the union is arrogant, strong-headed, too militant, too possessive of the space it occupies on the docks," he said. "I see greater consistency than differences here. It's been a fundamental principle of the ILWU from its first breath that the union controls the production process on the terminals. They see themselves as lords of the docks."

And a little further down:
[The union founder] realized that his fledgling labor group needed two things to survive: a union-controlled hiring hall that would bypass corrupt bosses on the docks and a bargaining unit that spanned the entire coast so shipping companies couldn't play one port against the other.

If this isn't collusion, I don't know what is. It's a good thing unions are exempted from antitrust regulation.
NOT IN OUR NAME
WSJ's Best of the Web has been giving updates on the Not in our Name petition, and now FrontPage Magazine tells us who these "activists" really are. In case you still haven't read the petition, read it here; it's adorable. And be sure to read the bold-lettered "celebrities" who signed the petition.
Sydney Morning Herald Editorial
I just swiped this link from InstaPundit, but it's too good not to repost on my site. The title of the editorial is "Bleeding Hearts Left Exposed as Fools," written after many Australians died this weekend in a terrorist attack in Bali. The conclusion is dead-on correct:

Whatever personal positions are held about Bush, Blair and John Howard, contemporary terrorism amounts to an attack on Western civilisation.

Islamists have already declared war on Western Civilization, yet somehow we still have to listen to the left tell us we've brought this upon ourselves, and that we shouldn't be fighting this war on terror.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

MORE ON "CHICKENHAWKS
I mentioned in the previous posting that charges of "chickenhawk" by leftists were leveled against President Bush. In this opinion piece from the San Jose Mercury News, Democratic Congressman Pete Stark writes:

Let us not forget that our president -- our commander in chief -- has no experience with, or knowledge of, war. He admits that he was at best ambivalent about the Vietnam War. He skirted his own military service and then failed to serve out his time in the National Guard. And, he reported years later that at the height of that conflict in 1968 he didn't notice "any heavy stuff going on.''


According to this article that does not show President Bush is the most positive light, Bush flew an F-102 fighter-interceptor in the Texas Air National Guard after receiving his commission in 1968. So Bush served as a combat pilot in the Texas National Guard. Unlike today when reservists and guardsmen are regularly called to active duty to serve in combat zones, serving in the National Guard during the Vietnam War may have been a good way of avoiding combat in Vietnam. Even still, I can think of a lot better ways to avoid combat than to be a combat pilot with the possibility of being called to active duty.

As a Harvard graduate, Al Gore was somehow able to avoid a commission and probably a assignment as a platoon commander, and instead enlisted to become a military journalist in Vietnam. California governor Gray Davis was probably a military lawyer in Vietnam. Being a military journalist or lawyer in Vietnam were probably safer than being a combat jet pilot in America. And what about Pete Stark? According to his bio, he was in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 to 1957. Stark's "experience with, or knowledge of, war"? Apparently zero. I guess he isn't qualified to make decisions on matters of war then either.

The more I think about the "chickenhawk" label, the more I realize I don't get it. I don't understand the underlying principle of calling someone a "chickenhawk." I realize it is a personal attack, but I don't understand anything beyond that. Since these attacks have been directed at President Bush, leftists cannot be saying military experience is a necessary qualification of making political decisions to go to war. The leftists are saying combat experience is a necessary qualification of making political decisions to go to war. Think about what that means.

The left is arguing that a president and senior civilian defense officials must have combat experience to be qualified to make decisions of war. For the sake of consistency, I think making a political decision not to go to war is a military decision, and therefore a lack of combat experience would disqualify people from objecting to war. But let's just say the left is arguing that a pro-war decision cannot be made without combat experience. What does that mean?
1. America could not elect presidents without combat experience, because America would be a sitting duck for attacks. A president without combat experience would not have the necessarily qualifications to order an attack repulsed or retaliation of any kind. Therefore, America could only elect president with combat experience. This means:

2. America could not elect women, homosexuals, certain religious adherents, the obese, the disabled, or any other person who was disqualified from military service or combat duty to be president.

3. America would have to launch a war every ten years of so to ensure a sizable pool of combat-experienced presidential candidates.

4. Now that wars are fought and won within weeks, plans for wars would have to be announced approximately a year in advance to allow future presidential candidates an opportunity to receive the standard military training that would qualify them to be in combat.

5. All future presidential candidates would have to be granted their requests for combat assignments.

6. All future presidential candidates would have to actually see combat. Wars and battles would have to be prolonged to ensure all future presidential candidates received the opportunity to shoot at enemy combatants and to be shot at by enemy combatants.

This is the world the leftists envision for America.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

ANTI-AMERICANISM ARGUMENTS
Three wonderful counter-arguments to left-wing anti-war arguments were linked to on InstaPundit today. These counter-arguments give further credence that the left wing's arguments against the war are simply just anti-American garbage.

Ralph Peters writes in the New York Post about how the left uses phony caring about the welfare of Americans in uniform.
THERE are few things more repugnant to a soldier than a coward who claims to speak on his behalf. At present, there seems no end of politicians and pundits claiming we dare not strike Saddam because of the danger of friendly casualties. Self-appointed voices of conscience warn of tens of thousands of American dead.

That's nonsense. And when those who despise the men and women in uniform invoke the welfare of our troops to further their failing agendas, they transcend the commonplace cynicism of Washington. This is hypocrisy as a moral disease.

Make no mistake: The anti-war voices long for us to lose any war they cannot prevent.

The Sound an the Fury writes about charges of "colonialism" by the United States, which I suppose is the same charge as "imperialism."
And I would love to see any of these so-called opponents to colonialism speak out against Wahhabist colonialism in Europe or Afghanistan (or the repeated Arab desire to colonize Israel by force and commit genocide in the process). The failure to do so shows that the objection is not to colonialism but to the West and to democracy. It's frankly appalling and close to racist to see people complaining that a repressive and murderous dictatorship might get replaced by a democracy because the people leading the transition aren't the same skin color as the victims of the totalitarian regime.

Richard Bennett writes about "chickenhawk" charges against the president, who supposedly is unqualified to make decisions about war because he never served in Vietnam when he had the opportunity. Bennett's reply to the Democratic Congressman Pete Stark who made the charge:
So now you're trying to tell us that Vietnam was a just war, and the President should have been on the front lines, where you weren't? You need to make up your mind about that.

I love this argument. It had never occurred to me that the left is arguing that our political leaders should have served in the military during Vietnam. If they honestly believed the Vietnam War was unjust and morally wrong, they could never make their "chickenhawk" argument. Hell, they should be congratulating these politicians and civilian military leaders for doing the right thing, and not serving in Vietnam. But they won't, because they don't have a consistent argument or principles other than their anti-Americanism.

Another thing occurs to me, because of this counter-argument to "chickenhawk" attacks. Last month, I discussed how everyone under the age of 40, who meets the qualifications, has had the opportunity to serve in the very professional, well-equipped, adequately-paid American military without legitimate fear of death or grievous injury in a foreseeable war. This includes service in the reserves or National Guard, which does not interfere with school or career plans. The left has activity been arguing against and protesting military policy--particularly social policy--for the past 15 years, yet these people have refused to serve in the military. I mentioned that I will be happy to throw this back in their faces when protesting against American military social policy resumes, but I failed to make the logical concluding argument.

Since not going to war is a military decision, people who have not served in the military are not qualified to make that argument. They have said themselves that only those who have military experience--particularly in war--should be making these decisions. "Slinging hash" and treating psychiatric patients in Southern California doesn't quite meet the criteria. I apologize for stating the obvious, and for stating something that someone else has certainly already said.

Friday, October 11, 2002

YAHOO! WATCH
Here's more garbage from Yahoo! The Yahoo! homepage is greeting its visitors today with "Study: Aging women want sex, but men fail". Yahoo! believes the failure of men with limp penises to be one of the five most important "news" items today, along with Virginia snipers and Iraq war plans. Studies Yahoo! will not be publicizing in the near future because they do not fit Yahoo!'s agenda:
1. Young men want sex, but young women fail.
2. Married men want sex, but women fail.
3. Men want sex with multiple women, but women fail.
4. Men want sex in morning, but women fail.
5. Men want (fill in blank) sex, but women fail.
JIMMY CARTER ADMITS TO BEING SOCIALIST IN NOBEL ACCEPTANCE
Jimmy Carter, whose inaction and cowardice in 1979 Iran is the likely source of America's problems with Islamic terrorists, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In Carter's written acceptance statement, he writes:

During the past two decades, as Rosalynn and I traveled around the world for the work of our Center, my concept of
human rights has grown to include not only the rights to live in peace, but also to adequate health care, shelter, food, and to economic opportunity.

I hope this award reflects a universal acceptance and even embrace of this broad-based concept of human rights.

For further proof that "human rights" is code for socialism, take a look at all of the issues you can read about at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights website. The High Commissioner did congratulate Carter in a statement:

The High Commissioner also commends his adoption of an inclusive approach in this regard, which takes into account the interdependence and indivisibility of all human rights - civil, cultural, economic, political and social – for all people.

I suppose I should be happy the award was not given to former commissioner Mary Robinson. Here's a collection of the some of Mary's best stuff: Village Voice, BBC, Innocence Abroad, and the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

Since Carter has publicly spoken out against President Bush's Middle East policies, do you think just maybe the Nobel Prize committee was taking a swipe at Bush? The Wall Street Journal reports that it is:

"It should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken," said Gunnar Berge, chairman of the Nobel committee. "It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the U.S.," he added.
(Quote via AtlanticBlog)

Thursday, October 10, 2002

CRITIQUE OF FISKING
CalPundit has an interesting critique of fisking, a technique common among warbloggers. (Click here if you need a definition of fisking.) Fisking usually entails breaking down a commentator's arguments point-by-point, so the liberal CalPundit cleverly makes his point by breaking down the Gettysburg Address. His conclusion on fisking:

Childish, petulant, ignorant, and willfully trying to miss the bigger point. Almost autistic in the certainty that their hyper-rationalism has dealt a devastating logical blow to their safely-out-of-sight opponent.

Folks, there's a reason you don't see "real" pundits do this kind of thing in the New York Times, and it's not because of liberal media bias. It's because it's stupid. Knock it off.

I do think a good point is made of about missing the bigger picture. The context and underlying principles of an argument can be more important than the evidence that is suppose to support the context and principles. This can be especially true in newspaper and television commentary that have space or time constraints. A great example of missing the big picture is misguided critiques of the U.S Constitution by those who do not understand the context and principles of the entire document, the American form of government, and natural rights.

In defense of fisking, I find it to be a logical and speedy way for someone to break down another's arguments. Most bloggers are not being paid for their blogging activities, have limited time to write, and the commentary is time sensitive, so fisking works well within these constraints. In addition, many of the stars of blogging are lawyers and picking apart arguments in a logical fisking manner comes natural to them.

I don't think I've actually fisked anyone on my blog. I do break down news articles, not commentary, for bias and to note the different points being made. I pick out a few relevant sections, but usually not all, and intersperse the sections with my commentary. My homeschooling article critique from today is the closest thing to fisking, but again this was a news article, not someone making an argument.
MORE REASONS TO PRIVATIZE EDUCATION IN AMERICA
Here are two articles from yesterday and today from the Los Angeles Times. These articles are more evidence of how screwed up taxpayer funded education is. The first article from yesterday in on the taxpayer-funded Los Angeles Leadership Academy charter school.
While many schools commemorated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks by listening to patriotic songs or making memorial banners, students at the Leadership Academy instead learned about the oppression of Afghan women under the Taliban and about Muslim Americans whose civil liberties have been violated in the United States over the last year.

As Columbus Day approaches, plans are underway to teach about historical injustices against Native Americans.

The second article tells of a special-education teacher who got into a spat with his principal, because he didn't wear the right color hat. The teacher's class was moved to another facility, and he was reassigned to clerical duty.
In September, Maurer filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Riverside, saying that school officials retaliated against him and violated his constitutional right to free speech. He also says his due process rights were violated.

The lawsuit seeks financial damages, but Maurer and his attorneys say their fight is not about money.

Yeah, right.

(Username/password: sabertooth1)
DOCKWORKERS' PAY
Previously I questioned the accuracy of the annual pay of dockworkers, because it is way out of step with prevailing market wages. I still don't have perfect information to report, but here's an update on dockworkers wages.

A CNSNews article reports:

The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the shipping companies, insists the average longshoreman currently earns nearly $107,000 a year and full-time marine clerks earn an average of more than $128,000. Furthermore, the PMA says its latest contract offer calls for longshoremen to eventually earn $114,500 and marine clerks $137,500.

However, one longshoreman, who did not want to be identified, told CNSNews.com he would have to work two years in order to make $125,000. The ILWU said a vast majority of longshoremen fall into that category.

"The basic wage is $27.68 an hour. Now you multiply that by 2,000 hours, which is what is considered full-time work and you come out to like $55,000," said Steve Stallone, ILWU spokesman in an interview with CNSNews.com.

Here's a report I lifted from a public message board:

A little background is in order concerning Longshoremen. This is a closed group whose members vote on every new applicant. Over 90% of new mwmbers are current members family or relatives. It is nepotism at work. The only members that are not related are ones who are friends with current members previously before applying and they recieve recommendations from their friends in the brotherhood. New members are never recruited outside of this nepotism situation. You cannot join the union without recommendation. This closes the employment possibilities to only a few chosen individuals. This is why I don't like unions at the docks or anywhere else that the Union has this level of control over employers. It is an unfair system. Sort of a twisted affirmative action program. By the way my friend the longshoreman is third generation in his career. His father and grandfather were longshoremen as well. A apprentice longshoreman starts out at $27.00 an hour and is guaranteed at least 80 hours a month to start until he becomes a journeyman. Journeyman or book longshoremen requires 5 years as an apprentice. Journeyman pay starts at $34.00 an hour with 160 hours minimum guaranteed per month. My friend is a Master level Longshoreman and he says that he pulls down in excess of $120,000 per year not including overtime and benefits. All training is provided by the employer as well as full paid health for the member and immediate family. But as someone pointed out it is a dangerous hard job that requires you to be physicially fit. You won't find any fat longshoremen unless they are full time union officials.

The dockworkers' union had some particularly nasty things to say of President Bush for invoking the Taft-Hartley Act. Here's a press release from the ILWU union that calls Taft-Hartley "anti-union employer-government collusion." This press release is nice compared to the statement an ILWU union representative read for the television cameras yesterday. I saw the statement on the local Los Angeles news, but could not find it anywhere online. If you want the perfect example of collusion, look no further than a union that conspires to slow productivity among workers already being paid approximately double the market rate of labor.

Julian Sanchez has an interesting point about this labor disagreement.

What I noticed was how the slowdown apparently works: the union just encourages its workers to follow all regulations strictly. In other words, when the labor laws are actually followed as written, an industry is crippled so severely that the president considered it a serious threat to the economy (and, somewhat obscurely "national security"). Translation: only pervasive lawbreaking prevents the economy from being crushed under regulatory burdens. When people actually follow the law, the president has to intervene to get them back to breaking it. Onionesque.

Brink Lindsey also notes the critical point that should be learned from the West Coast port closings: imports are critical to the American economy. Without imports, America has a shortage of necessary goods, and manufacturing plants shut down. If only politicians would remember this lesson in the future.
CAPITALISM IS KEY TO ENDING POVERTY
Radley Balko of The Agitator has a new column up on FoxNews.
CALIFORNIA WARNS PARENTS OF HOMESCHOOL EDICT
I reported in August that the California government intends to crack down on homeschooling parents who did not have state-approved teaching credentials. The L.A. Times is reporting that the California Department of Education is warning that parents should not homeschool their children without teachers' credentials or affiliation with a public school. Here are some of the best parts of the article:

Supt. of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin wrote a letter to California's state senators last month asking for a legislative solution to the issue and saying the state was wrongly accused of harassing home-schoolers.

Eastin has made no formal judgment about the educational value of home-schooling, but says all schooling needs to be supervised by professionally trained staff. "Home schools are not even subject to competition from private schools, where the marketplace would presumably ensure some level of quality and innovation," she said in the letter.

So all schooling needs to be supervised by professionally trained staff. I'm curious what the definition of "professional" is. Do incompetent public school teachers whose students can't read, write, or add count as "professionals"? I suspect "professional" means approved by the government. Eastin is almost making a pro-competition-in-education comment, but I'm sure she really doesn't want any competition to her authority and power in state educational matters.

Once considered on the fringe, home-schooling has grown in recent years as more parents are disillusioned with the quality of public schools. Advocates estimate there are up to 100,000 home-schooled children in the state and 2 million nationwide, figures that education officials could not confirm. Home-schooling has spawned a cottage industry of educational materials that are often sold and discussed at large annual conferences.

Home-schooling is considered legal in California only when students are taught by a credentialed tutor, a state-approved charter school, or enrolled in an independent study program supervised by a public school district. The public school affiliation requires home-schoolers to sign a contract of their involvement and entitles them to access to school resources. Aside from helping to account for children, the programs also keep the state eligible for some federal funding based on pupil attendance at home.

Can you believe that crap? This is nothing more than an attempt to keep the tax dollars flowing. You would think homeschooling would be popular among taxpayers, because there are less kids having $10,000 per year wasted in tax dollars on their substandard, unaccountable public education. But the state of California has created a regulatory barrier that keeps the tax dollars flowing to support failing public schools and to screw over taxpayers. I've long suspected schools diagnose children as disabled because there is extra federal funding per disabled pupil. This homeschooling funding scam helps prove my point what public schools are all about.

The state says it is easy to register as a private school. The form asks for basic information such as the school's address and the list of grades being taught, but does not require any investigation into the school's legitimacy.

California exempts private school teachers from having to earn the credentials required of public school teachers. David Kopperud, of the state Student Attendance Review Board, said truancy officials have historically left home-schoolers with private school status alone because it was rare to find a family that neglected to educate their children. He said school districts were already burdened by regular truancy cases in which officials were certain children were not learning.

In theory, a truancy investigation can be opened based on information gathered from private school forms that tellingly list the number of teachers as "one" and students as "one." Few school districts, cities and counties, however, have the resources to do that.

Of course, homeschooling parents are not neglecting to educate their children. These people have made a conscience choice to educate their children, because they love their children and the public schools are not capable or accountable.

In many counties, parents can be fined up to $500 for violating truancy laws. Los Angeles County has some of the strictest laws, calling for fines of up to $2,500 or a year in jail if parents refuse to comply.

Fascinating. The largest and most incompetent school system in California, Los Angeles Unified School District, has the largest fines to protect its power and status.

Some policy watchers say the state's interest in home-schooling is a product of the heightened attention placed on educational accountability, as advocated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Lawmakers in California and elsewhere have recently placed more restrictions on charter schools, a burgeoning area that mirrors the unrestricted growth of home-schooling.

A nice, vague comment written up by the Times writer. Who's saying this? Which policy watchers? Policy watchers in the government? Policy watchers in teachers unions? Policy watchers with a vested interest in keeping tax dollars flowing and quashing competition?

"There's a huge backlash" toward alternative education, said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a Washington, D.C., group that advocates school choice. "You have increasing numbers of home-schoolers, charter schools, virtual schools and satellite schools. Now you have a federal law that says if public schools are failing, students can leave [for another school]. The threat to the status quo is enormous."

Well said. This is clearly about protecting the status quo, teachers unions, and government power. Anyone who reads this article and still believes the government is "looking out for the best interest of children," I want to get an e-mail from you explaining why and how you believe this.
HARRY BELAFONTE STUPIDITY WATCH
I wasn't sure if I wanted to comment on Harry Belafonte's remarks, but Yahoo! thinks this is one of the six most important news stories last night and this morning. The major media sources are reporting this, including CNN and FoxNews, so the story must be important.

I'm shocked that the media would give so much time to a blatantly racist comment as though the content of Belafonte's remarks are worth sharing--maybe my expectations of the media are still too high. It would be one thing if the comments were being shared by the media in a negative light, but that's not what's happening here. In the last part of the Reuters article I linked at the top, the context of the comments are that this was unexpectedly refreshing and actually positive.

Leitner, a local sportscaster who hosts his morning talk show on KFMB each weekday, told Reuters that Belafonte was in San Diego for a performance there on Saturday.

Leitner said he was struck by the bluntness of Belafonte's remarks.

"People have become so politically correct," Leitner said. "Even on talk radio nowadays, for someone to come out, an African American, to go after Colin Powell like that ... was so unusual in this day and age that it really stood out."


The reality is these comments aren't unusual. Blacks attack other blacks for being "Uncle Toms" and "sell-outs" all the time. Anyone who listens to Larry Elder's radio show can tell you that.

Both Right Wing News and Culpepper Log have interesting comments on the Belafonte remarks. I think Culpepper Log's analysis is correct. It's Belafonte who is doing what "massuh" wants by towing the line of the liberal Democratic Party, the party 90% of blacks vote for. Belafonte is insulting Powell for being his own man, and making his own independent decisions and affiliations. Even more remarkable about Belafonte's attack on Powell is that Powell in publicly known for disagreeing with Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld on Middle East policy.

The only thing Powell and house slaves have in common is they are black. We can thank the racist Belafonte for pointing that out.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

U.S. SUPREME COURT REFUSES CASE OF WISCONSIN FATHER
The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear an appeal from a Wisconsin deadbeat dad with nine children who was barred from fathering any more children unless he showed that he could support them all.

I'm going to refrain from commenting on this like I normally would. There's a lot of interesting issues here. Read it for yourself.
A LITTLE HUMOR
I found these web pages over at The Spoons Experience. These pages are really too good not to share. Click here, and here.
ANN COULTER'S LOOKS
There was a recent debate among bloggers regarding Ann Coutler's looks. Start here at Jesse Walker's blog and scroll up for many of the relevant links. Walker writes for Reason magazine.

I do find Ann Coulter's abrasive style to be entertaining, but I don't find her attractive. I think commenting on Coulter's appearance is fair game, because she certainly uses her looks and blond hair to garner attention for herself. If you visit Coulter's website, you'll notice she has three pages of images--not really the best way to get people to focus on the content of one's arguments.

I was listening to Ann Coulter on the Larry Elder's radio program a few months ago. Coulter argued in her book, Slander, that corporations are now liberal. Her evidence was that the Big Three automakers filed superficial briefs in support of the University of Michigan's affirmative action admission policy. As is typically of media people you don't understand business, Coulter didn't understand the automakers made a business decision to file the brief in support of affirmative action. The marginal cost of writing and filing the briefs was negligible because the automakers were already paying the salaries of their corporate lawyers. Once one automaker filed a brief, the other two had to, or face media scrutiny. The automakers know damn well that affirmation action and racial preference laws cost them money in lower productivity, lawsuits, and bureaucracy, but they rightly assumed their opinions would not change the court opinion. Most importantly, the automakers guessed correctly that they would receive positive media coverage for filing their briefs. The automakers determined they would sell more vehicles by filing a brief in favor of affirmative action, instead of filing a brief opposed to affirmative action or simply doing nothing. It's just business.

Another pundit playing right-wing babe is Laura Ingraham. Ingraham is pretty good looking and she's even blond now. Ingraham's website has some photographs, but not in the blatant look-at-me style of Ann Coulter's site.
NAZIS VS. SOVIETS DEBATE
One of my favorite topics is why the Nazis are considered worse than the Soviets, who murdered many, many more people. ParaPundit discusses why Nazis get more bad press than Soviets. He has links to other web logs discussing the issue, and there are a lot of good comments from readers at the end of his post.
CAMPUS HATE PARADE?
My favorite columnist and avid reader of The Sabertooth Journal, John Leo, asks if America's left-wing college campus culture is becoming anti-semitic. I'm incredibly interested and even shocked by this apparently recent turn of opinion in regards to Jews and Israel among the left-wing elites on college campuses and even in the media.

When I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Golden Age of the Thought Police in the early 1990's, there was most certainly Jewish cooperation in the establishment of politically-correct speech codes and universities policies. Dorm residents weren't allowed to put Christmas decorations on their own door, and public dormitory floor decorations were officially winter decorations. Residents were scolded by the dormitory floor's house fellow (university housing representative and employee) for using the term Christmas decorations. This was done so non-Christian students, most of whom were Jewish, would not feel left out. I suspect the Jewish participation in these absurdities was driven by the relatively small percentage of Jewish students at the University of Wisconsin compared to other left-wing elitist universities.

Still I find left-wing attacks on Jews and Israel surprising, considering Jews really have been historically discriminated against and abused. Mr. Leo writes:

[Jews] have been historic victims for centuries but are doing too well in America to qualify as officially aggrieved. And as Muslims have been welcomed into the grievance culture, the status of Jews on campus, the stronghold of PC, has become problematic.

Yes, success does breed enemies, but I think the left's turning on Jews is part of the left's lone-remaining consistent argument: hate America. The left hates America, white men, the military, historical social structures, and Western Civilization. If there's a problem is the world, it was caused by Western Civilization, of which America is a part. And what is one of the foundations of Western Civilization? The Jewish bible. The left believes Judeo-Christian morality plays a role in most of what's wrong in the world, so Jews are no longer victims, but part of the problem.
UNEVEN TRADE
I'm finally getting around to posting this article from Reason. It's more evidence on how government meddling keeps poor countries poor, and how free trade and capitalism would lift the rest of the world out of poverty.
MARINE TAKES DOWN STREISAND
In an article published in Britain's The Telegraph, every Marine's favorite actor, R. Lee Ermey, has some words for spelling-bee champ and Shakespeare historian Barbra Streisand.

R Lee Ermey, who made his name as the fearsome drill sergeant in the film Full Metal Jacket, told The Telegraph that Streisand's views were far from representative of Hollywood as a whole.

"Once again, Barbra Streisand has opened her alligator-sized mouth wide before her humming-bird brain has had a chance to catch up," said Ermey. "Of course, she has the right to her opinion, but what she does is use the 'bully pulpit', helped by her fame, and people think she's talking for Hollywood."

Ermey, an ex-marine and outspoken supporter of Mr Bush and the war on terror, continued: "We need to do something about the situation before it turns round and bites us in the ass. Democrats are criticising President Bush for not spotting signs that 9/11 was coming. But they don't want him to act to stop the next disaster. Ms Streisand does not speak for me or many other folks in this business."

By the way, in the Marine Corps, the correct term is drill instructor. The army has drill sergeants.
POLLING BIAS AT THE L.A. TIMES TOO
Yesterday, I posted some articles that attacked the New York Times' polling that supposedly showed President Bush needs to pay more attention to a weak economy. Well, the L.A. Times is doing some odd polling too. There is evidence that the L.A. Times is conducting and presenting polling information to the benefit of the incumbant Democratic governor Gray Davis, and at the expense of the Republican challenger Bill Simon. Wienerlog has the scoop.
FREE-MARKET SOLUTION TO HIGH TAXES
Here's a wonderful free-market solution to high gasoline taxes in Britain. British drivers have been filling their gas tanks with cooking oil used to deep-fry fish. Of course, the British government doesn't like losing its tax dollars to creative citizens, so a police squad has been formed to put an end to this. Read about it here.
NEW YORK TIMES IN NEED OF COPY EDITOR?
The New York Times reports today that two Americans were awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. (username/password: sabertooth1) There appears to be a large error in the article:

In an article published in Science in 1981, they reported results of a study in which 152 students were given hypothetical choices for trying to save 600 people from a disease. Using one strategy, exactly 200 people could be saved. Using another, there would be a one-third chance that everyone would die, and a two-thirds chance that no one would be saved. Seventy-two percent of the subjects, preferring the less risky strategy, chose the first option.


Does that make sense? Isn't that another way of saying there's a 100% chance everyone would die? I think the New York Times meant to write "there would be a one-third chance that everyone would live, and a two-thirds chance that no one would be saved." The reason for this is because the expected value of both situations would be the same: 200 people saved. (Choice 1: 200 x 100% = 200; Choice 2: 600 x 33.33% = 200.)

The way the Times writer wrote the article, of course Choice 1 is less risky, and everyone would pick it. There's no need to award a Nobel Prize over something that stupid. We should be asking why 28% of the subjects chose the option where everyone dies. The point of the economic study is to find out how people evaluate risk when the risk is the same. Apparently the evaluation of risk isn't linear. There's value in the sure thing.

The great Armchair Economist, Steven Landsburg, discusses the rational evaluation of risk in his regular Slate column. And to show how useful the evaluation of risk is in everyday life, Landsburg applies this economic theory to the evaluation of risk when committing crimes in another Slate column.

In a quick search of my permalinked economics blogs, no one else mentioned this story.

UPDATE: The New York Times just fixed the error on the website. Does anyone know how to find and link to a cached copy of the article with the error?

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

YAHOO! MEDIA BIAS
I use Yahoo! for my Internet Explorer homepage, so I can't help but notice the four to six most important news stories at any given time, according to Yahoo! I've been meaning to comment on this before, but has anyone else noticed a distinct liberal bias?

Currently on the Yahoo! homepage, we learn Insurers: Climate change may cost $150B. That's right: may cost. So is this news? Clicking through, we find the article was written by an Environmental News Service correspondent. Who are they? I don't know, but here's the first paragraph:

Climate change is causing natural disasters that the financial services industry must address, a group of the world's biggest banks, insurers and re-insurers warned Monday. They estimated the cost of financial losses from events such as this summer's devastating floods in central Europe at $150 billion over the next 10 years.

So climate change is responsible for this summer's flooding in Europe. Europeans were right to blame America and its lack of support of the Kyoto protocol for the European flooding.

In the third paragraph, we learn who's behind this "group of the world's biggest banks, insureres, and re-insurers":

A partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the financial institutions, known as UNEP Finance Initiatives commissioned the report. It shows that losses as a result of natural disasters appear to be doubling every decade and have reached $1 trillion in the past 15 years.

Who would have guess that an organization like the UN was behind this?

Further down, we are reminded of the Bush admininstration's lack of support for the protocol:

The [Kyoto] protocol, agreed under to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, limits the emission of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Thirty-nine industrialized nations were to have been governed by the original agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, but the Bush administration said in 2001 that the United States would not ratify the protocol, and Australia followed suit this summer. It still has not entered into force.

Actually in July 1997 by a 95-0 vote, the U.S. Senate urged the Clinton/Gore Administration to reject the Kyoto Protocol. The senate refused to ratify the treaty long before Bush was president.

Yahoo! will post on their homepage any news article that supports environmental causes, including information that is re-released old news or a "study" that confirms nothing. Yahoo! thought the top news piece yesterday was the biased New York Times poll that supposedly shows public support for war with Iraq is down, and Yahoo! did not seem to think a French tanker explosion this weekend off the coast of Yemen was news. I'll be keeping an eye on Yahoo!

UPDATE: Read commentary on the New York Times poll from Dick Morris and The Weekly Standard.

UPDATE 2: Read more on the lack of news being reported in regards to the environment from TechCentralStation.

UPDATE 3: What remarkable timing I have. At 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time (the original posting is stamped 2:36 p.m.), Yahoo! switched out the climate-change insurance story and replaced it with Report: Over 11,000 species face extinction. This time it's a Reuters story promoting a World Conservation Union press release.
THE MYTH OF MINORITY DISPROPORTION IN COMBAT
This commentary was published in the National Review Online late last week. The author is a retired Marine officer. Here's the meat of the article:

While overall, minorities comprise 30 percent of the Army, one of the two services that would be expected to bear the brunt of close combat in Iraq, they tend to be underrepresented in the combat arms. As the incomparable Tom Ricks observed in a January 1997 article for the Wall Street Journal, the "old stereotype about the Army's front-line units being cannon fodder laden with minorities" is false.

The fact is that blacks disproportionately serve in Army combat-service support units, not combat units. When Ricks wrote his piece, such units had become "majority minority," with more black soldiers than white. By contrast, he observed, the infantry, which generally suffers the most casualties in wartime, had become "whiter than America." African Americans constituted nine percent of the infantry, compared to 11.8 percent of the age eligible civilian population. In 1995, 79 percent of the new troopers were white, compared with 74.3 percent of civilians. There is little evidence to suggest that these figures have changed much over the last five years

Why is this the case? Ricks pointed out that the new demographics of the Army have to do with the dynamics of an all-volunteer force — Blacks and whites join the military for different reasons. On the one hand, white youths are frequently looking for adventure while they try to raise money for college. As a result, they tend to flock to the combat arms, especially elite units like the Rangers and airborne. On the other, young black males, "are generally seeking skills, and so gravitate toward administrative and technical jobs. Because they often find the Army a fairer and better place to live than civilian society, blacks tend to stay enlisted longer: Though only 22% of today's recruits are black, the Army itself is 30% black."

In addition, most pilots are white, as are most special-operations forces, e.g. Navy SEALS and Army special-forces. This leads one to the conclusion that in a war, middle-class white kids, not minorities, would be at the greatest risk, since they make up the bulk of the combat arms. So much for the conventional wisdom.

The author is using data from the 1990's so I suspect that he was unable to get newer information. You can find the racial make-up of each service branch in the aggregate here, but I couldn't find any public information regarding the racial make-up of combat occupational specialties. I made a phone call to Marine Corps Public Affairs, and worked my way from Los Angeles to Headquarters to Quantico, where I was told the Marine Corps does not track information on race by Military Occupation Specialty. My personal experience as a Marine rifleman in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1991 to 1997 supports the author's argument, but I admit my situation probably skews the racial make-up of the training platoons to which I was assigned.

Whatever the answer is to the racial make-up of combat troops, it simply doesn't matter anyways. Everyone in the American military has chosen of their own free will to be there. The argument regarding minorities bearing the brunt of combat is really just another "hate America" argument from leftists: white men, America, its military, and Western Civilization are bad; minorities are victims. The left is really making a racist argument that minorities are not capable of making choices in their own best interest. The argument also is more evidence that the left doesn't really believe in "freedom of choice."

Thanks to Gene Expression for the link.
ROCK THE VOTE OUT TO BRAINWASH MTV VIEWERS
I learned today that Rock the Vote is "creating a revolutionary tolerance program" for the Los Angeles Unified School District. This information was conveyed to me in an unrelated story, so I don't have the specifics on the Los Angeles schools' program. I couldn't find the information on the Rock the Vote website, but I did find this press release that mentions the program near the end. I sent an e-mail to Rock the Vote requesting more information on the L.A. program.

Visiting the website gave me the opportunity to find out more about Rock the Vote's politics and initiatives. Rock the Vote used to pass itself off as a voter registration organization that focused on young people, but that's clearly not its intent.

When you click on Rock the Vote's homepage, you're greeted with a child pointing a revolver at you in the top right-hand corner. When you click on the child with the gun to "explore both sides of the issues in the upcoming election," you will be taken through a Flash Media presentation with eight photographs representing eight campaign issues for you to "explore." The eight pictures are:
1. Child with a revolver pointed at you.
2. A fetus.
3. An ashtray filled with cigarette butts.
4. Two homosexual men snuggling.
5. Forest trees next to a cleared field.
6. The KKK burning a cross.
7. An empty electric chair.
8. A voting booth.

The intent is supposedly to give two side of the issue. Putting your mouse over the "Y" box gives one quick argument; putting your mouse over the "N" box gives a contrary quick argument. Of couse, Rock the Vote already framed the issue with pictures that bias the discussion. There are many ways to provide an image for gun laws and hate-crime legislation without using a child with a gun and the KKK burning a cross. The written arguments are biased and factually suspect too.

We also learn about Rock the Vote's political agenda regarding "violence." Here's the best part from the "violence" page under the heading "Homicide Rates Are Up":

[A] former student at the Appalachian School of Law shot and killed three people on the campus: a dean, professor and student. In addition, three students were wounded. The shooter told a judge on Thursday that he was mentally ill. He has been charged with murder.


Rock the Vote did a great job of leaving out critical information on how two law students used their own firearms to disarm and capture the shooter. Those unfamiliar with those facts can read one article here.

Learn about Rock the Vote's call for election reform, its dislike of money, and much, much more.

Monday, October 07, 2002

"BUMFIGHTS" LAWSUIT
I mentioned over a week ago that one of men involved in the production of the BumFights Video has finally been charged with a felony for allegedly soliciting the violent acts in exchange for money and alcohol. I should have predicted then that there would be a lawsuit filed on the bums behalf by some kind-hearted lawyers. The lawsuit alleges civil-rights violations, assault and battery, and other charges.

One of the lawyers, Browne Greene, representing the bums is quoted as saying, "The real bums are the ones behind the camera, not the ones in front of the camera." The lawyer also said the suit was filed to "discourage this manipulation for private greed."

Any money recovered in the lawsuit will be divided among the two bums, homeless advocacy groups, and the attorneys. Greene "declined to say how much money the lawyers might get, saying it was a matter between the clients and their attorneys."

Thank God America has lawyers like these around to protect our civil rights and to protect Americans against wanton greed. There's certainly no "private greed" going on in this lawsuit.
PARASITE WIFE GOES ON STRIKE
CNN reports that a 45-year-old Indiana housewife, Kathy Thompson, has gone on strike from doing housework until she receives some "appreciation" from her husband of four years. This story has also been picked up by ABC's Good Morning America, Inside Edition, and other media outlets.

After reading the original newspaper story that appeared in this Muncie, Indiana StarPress article, we learn that Ms. Thompson spends her mornings studying for her high-school equivalency and her afternoons working a part-time job at her father's factory. CNN didn't think this was relevant information.

Both articles fail to mention what type of "appreciation" Ms. Thompson gives her husband for bringing home a paycheck that pays for the home she won't clean, the food she won't cook, and the beds she won't make. The articles also fail to mention any plans of Ms. Thompson to get a job where she can pay for her own rent and food.

An Internet search on Google and CNN failed to list any media stories that congratulate "striking" husbands for quitting their jobs or refusing to share their paycheck, because they don't receive enough appreciation from their wives.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

MISLEADING COMMENTARY FROM ELEANOR CLIFT IN NEWSWEEK
Eleanor Clift writes in Newsweek:

WATCHING DEMOCRAT JIM McDermott hold forth from Iraq on how President Bush is misleading the American people made me wonder how such a smart person can do such a dumb thing. The trio of Democratic House members who traveled to Iraq—and then, while still on enemy soil, gave numerous interviews critical of U.S. foreign policy—are learned people with significant life experience.

There’s not a lawyer among them. McDermott is a psychiatrist, Michigan’s David Bonior is a former seminarian and California’s Mike Thompson is a former college professor. All three served during the Vietnam war. McDermott counseled troubled troops; Thompson was awarded a Purple Heart. They know the face of war, and they were seared by it. Their arguments against a preemptive military strike on Iraq have merit, but Baghdad is not the place to wage the debate.


Now Ms. Clift does write, "All three served during the Vietnam war." But she continued by writing, "They know the face of war, and they were seared by it." This is the same incessant, excuse-making argument from the left: Representatives who served in the military when it was their turn are more qualified to make decisions regarding war, and their objections to war with Iraq should be taken seriously. If only the "Baghdad Democrats" had actually served in Vietnam, and seen the face of war.

Jim McDermott reports his military service as "U.S. Navy Medical Corps, Lieutenant Commander, Chief Psychiatrist, Long Beach Naval Station, California, 1968-70" in his Congressional biography. Again, read Horsefeather's commentary on McDermott.

David Bonior reports his military service as "Following graduation, Bonior joined the Air Force and was stationed in California. There he worked as a cook, slinging hash by day and attending night classes at Chapman University, where he earned a Masters Degree in History in 1972" on his Congressional biography.

Mike Thompson reports his military service as "Thompson was the first Vietnam veteran elected to California's State Senate. He served in combat with the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart. He was also an instructor with the Army's Airborne School" in his Congressional biography.

So one of three was actually in Vietnam. I'm curious if meeting Vietnam veterans on a college campus in 1969 counts as knowing "the face of war." Maybe even having a family member who served combat duty in Vietnam counts as being "seared" by the "the face of war." Ms. Clift simply isn't presenting the information in an honest manner.

Link to the article from Brothers Judd via InstaPundit.
SUNDAY LOS ANGELES TIMES WRAP-UP
Here are comments from Sunday's Los Angeles Times. You can use the username "sabertooth1" and the password "sabertooth1," if you haven't already registered for a free password.

WEALTHY ENTERTAINERS CRITICIZE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT FOR INTENDING TO MAKE MONEY
Rob Reiner and new buddy Dylan McDermott were part of a protest over a housing development proposal just outside of the city of Los Angeles. Washington Mutual Banks is planning on creating a 3,050-home development near the border of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

McDermott, who stars on the television show "The Practice," is quoted as saying, "Washington Mutual is all about money, and they're just trying to make more money." The article made no mention of the anti-money McDermott refusing to accept his six-figure-per-episode salary.

Even though this development will not be located in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn was at the protest stating, "Washington Mutual, listen to the people. They don't want this project." There were only 250 people at the protest, but 10,000 people would live in the development. I suspect a portion of the 250 at the protest were there to see celebrities.

BIG LABOR BUYS AND OWNS CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR
Big Labor continues to buy, own, and manipulate Democrats. The L.A. Times is reporting that 2002 was a huge year in California for Big Labor in getting socialist legislation passed. The L.A. Times even let Big Labor give their spin without question.
Union leaders say their victories were a triumph for working Californians, not a tribute to labor's massive political contributions.

"These are issues that are important to your average family," said Art Pulaski, secretary general of the federation.

Labor's victories went far beyond the headlines. Unions succeeded in inserting "prevailing wage" language in dozens of bills on various issues, in the process nearly scuttling a hard-won overhaul of the state's construction-defect law and gumming up renewable-energy legislation sponsored by environmental groups, lobbyists and legislators said.


CHICAGO REQUIRES DISCLOSURE ON SLAVERY
Chicago's City Council voted to require all companies doing business with the city to reveal any past "investment or profits from the slave industry." This is really just the first step from a bunch of devout racists and professional victims from demanding slavery reparations, but if companies admit to past involvement in slavery and are penalized in someway, it would certainly count as extortion. I hope businesses decide to leave Chicago and layoff their Chicago-resident workers instead of participating in this racket.

L.A. TIMES PROMOTES EXPANSION OF WELFARE IN "NEWS" ARTICLE
Here's a good example of advocacy journalism that promotes more socialism in the form of child-care subsidies. The L.A. Times made sure to personalize the issue by beginning the article:

Like other parents throughout the United States, Sonya Brown scrambles every day to meet commitments for work and the care of her young child.

For Brown, 25, who juggles her $6.15-an-hour job with college courses, a government benefit pays for her 3-year-old son's day care. Without it, she says, "I would be in big trouble."

Rashida Walker, 32, is already struggling. "I wanted to keep my son in day care, but I couldn't afford it," said Walker, who was laid off in January from her job on a computer help desk. Since then she has been unemployed, and her 16-month-old remains on the waiting list for a child-care subsidy.


Nowhere does the article mention the choices these women made to find themselves in these situations. And nowhere in the article is it pointed out that if people took responsibility for the consequences of their choices and actions, there would be less people who could not afford child care. The article also failed to mention government regulation that drives up the prices of child care in America.

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS PANDER TO IOWA'S LEFT WING
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) embarrassed himself by prefacing his anti-war comments with "I would be willing to be the first to put my uniform back on and go defend this country..." Well, at least he was a combat veteran of Vietnam, unlike "Baghdad Democrat" Jim McDermott, who was Navy psychiatrist stationed in California during the war. Read Horsefeather's wonderful commentary on McDermott.

The article goes on to report the same left-wing cliches that Bush is acting Clintonesque by "distracting" America with a war for political decisions. Of course, a war is a political decision, and so is making the claim Bush is "manufacturing the confrontation to benefit Republicans."

IMAGINARY NEWS EVENT USED TO SLAM NEVADA'S "ANTI-GAY" MARRIAGE INITIATIVE
The L.A. Times published this one-sided AP "news" piece. The article uses the context of a "vigil," instead of the voter initiate itself, so the newspaper could report only one side of the Nevada voter initiate that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman. There's a lot of good loaded wording in the article like "anti-gay", "hatred", "deny", "homophobic bigotry", "fear", "spiteful", "divisive", and "demonizes."

By the way, the newsworthy vigil that necessitated covering the event and writing this article only contained "about 150 people."

COSTA RICA GOING AFTER "DEADBEAT DADS"
The L.A. Times reports that Costa Rican men "are assumed responsible unless DNA test prove otherwise." The article misrepresents the system for determining paternity in America:

This [DNA] procedure contrasts dramatically with the nation's former paternity system, which was similar to the ones in effect in most of the U.S. and nearly every other Western country. In those systems, paternity is determined through court hearings that can take years and cost thousands of dollars in lawyers' fees.


A man in America can be forced to pay child support, simply because he was named as the father by the mother. According to the American Coalition For Fathers and Children, almost 80% of the paternity judgments in Los Angeles County in 2000 were assigned by default, without a court hearing "that can take years." A man later found not to be the father through conclusive DNA evidence is still legally responsible for child support, even in cases of outright fraud.

The article mentions it is hoped "that men will be more aggressive in using birth control." Nowhere does the article mention that it is hoped that women would act more responsibly in their sexual, reproductive, parental, and financial choices.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

WEST COAST DOCKWORKERS' WAGES
I questioned on Thursday the accuracy of wages being reported in the major media for the dockworkers being locked out at West Coast ports, because the figures seem completely outrageous. This CNN article gives a slightly larger explanation on dockworker wages.

ILWU members are among the best paid blue collar workers in the nation. PMA figures show longshoremen earned an average of $82,895 last year, clerks averaged $118,844 and foremen, who are members of the union, averaged $157,352.

Almost 30 percent of union members in the longshoremen classification work less than 1,600 hours a year, equivalent to 40 hours a week for 40 weeks.

Only a bit more than half work 2,000 or more hours, which is essentially full-time employment across the year. Those working 2,000 or more hours had average pay of $106,883 in 2001, according to PMA.

Unfortately, I still don't have an accurate picture of the wages, because I still don't know what the median wages are for each position, and how much overtime was worked to reach the median wage. This page at the Pacific Maritime Association provides hours, wages and shifts reports, and I'll play with the data to see if I can't get a more accurate picture of what type of wages the dockworkers are making and how much overtime is being worked.
ESPN2'S FEMALE COLLEGE FOOTBALL ANNOUNCER IS HORRIBLE
Pam Ward is calling Big Ten college football games for ESPN2, teaming with former Ohio State and Detroit Lions linebacker Chris Spielman. Having received degrees from two Big Ten universities, I am disappointed to have to listen to this substandard announcer on Saturdays. Besides having a weak announcer's voice, Ward does not understand the concept of providing basic information like who caught or carried the ball, who made the tackle, how long the play was, what down it is, and how much more is needed for the first down. Many television announcers fall down on providing basic information nowadays, probably because they rely too much on television graphics, but Ward is particularly bad.

I suppose when Ward is rightly let go by ESPN, NOW and other women's groups will be in an uproar. You can read USA Today's puff piece on Ward here.
BASEBALL PLAYOFFS, PART II
Radley Balko of The Agitator argues it is a myth that small-market baseball teams don't have a chance by looking at this year’s playoff team. I’ve seen other bloggers link to Balko’s post, so I feel it’s my duty to point out the two biggest errors in Balko’s argument.

The first problem is Balko only looked at this year’s playoff teams. To come up with a true picture of the lack of competitiveness of small-market teams, Balko needed to look at playoff teams since 1995, when the last collective-bargaining agreement was signed. Bob Costas’ Fair Play: A Fan’s Case for Baseball argued that all of the data from 1995 through 1999 showed that big-market teams had a huge advantage in making the playoffs.

The Minnesota Twins making the playoffs this year is absolutely not proof that small-market teams can regularly compete with big-market teams. Minnesota played in the weakest division with other small-market teams. By taking advantage of the weighted schedule, Minnesota’s record against the American League Central was 50-25. A rainout against the worst team in baseball, Detroit, prevented Minnesota from tying Boston for the best division record in baseball at 51-25. Minnesota didn’t even have a winning record against the rest of the American League. Playing on turf in a dome, which is extremely rare in baseball now, gives Minnesota a distinct home-field advantage, and Minnesota did win two-thirds of its home game, tied for best in the American League. But as you might have guessed, Minnesota has the worst record of the eight playoff teams. Yes, a team can get lucky every so often in baseball.

If there is a true anomaly in baseball, it is the Oakland A’s, who have made the playoffs the last three years. Oakland is probably the best run team in baseball, but we all know Oakland and Minnesota will not be able to afford to keep these teams in tact under free agency.

The second problem with Balko’s analysis is he linked to Nielsen Media Research data for metropolitan market sizes, and discussed teams sharing a media market by splitting the market. Since media markets aren’t evenly split by multiple teams and there is overlap, a more appropriate way to look at media markets is this study that estimates the true market size of a baseball team.

But even true market size of a baseball team isn’t the best way to determine who the haves and have-nots are in baseball. The data that really matters isn’t how big the market is, but how much money is actually derived from the local market. This spreadsheet at Major League Baseball shows the local television, radio, and cable revenue dollars for each team for 2001. You can see that the New York Yankees' local media revenue was $56.75 million, which is almost 23% higher than the next team, the New York Mets. Seven teams generated less than $10 million dollars in local media revenues, and 25 of the 28 baseball teams not located in New York generated local media revenues less than half of the Yankees' $56.75 million.

But even local media revenue isn’t the complete picture. The Major League Baseball spreadsheet shows game-receipt revenue and other local revenues. If you look at this money, which is a lot more than the local media revenues, you can very easily guess which smaller-market teams have new, taxpayer-financed stadiums. San Francisco and Seattle are making a killing on their stadiums, and both have made the playoffs two out the last three years.

One last item to consider is the depth of the owners’ pockets. Teams with wealthy owners willing to lose money to win have done well like Arizona, Cleveland, and Florida in 1997 under Wayne Huizenga. Teams without deep pockets or teams with large corporate ownership that demand financial accountability have not done so well.

Baseball has a lot of competitive problems. Ultimately when so many teams consistently don't have a chance to win, it's bad for the entire sport. Kids in small markets are far more interested in football, so the fan base is drying up. To make up for the low ratings and revenue shortfalls, Major League Baseball resorts to doing silly things like expanding the playoffs and designating wild-card teams.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

QUICK 3 1/2 STAR MOVIE REVIEW
HBO is now playing the movie Evolution, released last summer. I recall not being excited by the commercials, but it turns out that was just bad marketing. The movie is hilarious, and bound to be a comedy classic.

Also, the movie has the second best product placement in recent movie history after Cast Away and its use of the FedEx brand. You'll have to watch Evolution to find out which well known consumer product is so critical to the movie plot.

Here's Roger Ebert's 2 1/2 star review from last summer.
WEST COAST PORT SHUTDOWN
I'm ususally the first in line to say how lazy, overpaid, and corrupt union workers are, but something does strike me as not quite correct. Most publications are reporting the annual wages of the dockworkers at $80,000 to $150,000, including The L.A. Times and The New York Times (actually NYT is reporting wages as high as $158,000).

This pay range appears so exorbitant that I suspect most of the dockworkers are on the low end of the annual pay range, and these dockworkers are working a lot of overtime. I also suspect that the media has been too lazy to independently confirm these figures, so I don't know what to believe.

Because the annual pay ranges being reported are so outrageous, most Americans probably have very little sympathy with the dockworkers, which I certainly don't have a problem with. I'm simply surprised that the left-wing media would present the dockworkers' pay in such a negative way, when there is an opportunity to present the data without mentioning $150,000. I guess journalists' inability to understand even the most basic statistics is preventing the data from being presented in another way.

Username: sabertooth1. Password: sabertooth1.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
It's baseball playoffs time and football season in America, so my Australian and European readers will have to bear with me while I make some very important sports-related comments this month.

I'm not a fan of the wild-card team in baseball playoffs or even three divisions in each league for that matter. But given the current baseball playoff format and league organization, I have a few recommendations that will increase fan interest, raise television ratings, preserve the sanctity of the game, and ultimately lead to more revenue for Major League Baseball.

The most desirable match-up in the World Series is a meeting of the best team from each league, so the likelihood of this occurring should be increased. Again, this is good for fan interest and ratings, and it also rewards teams for maintaining consistent excellence over a 162-game season. Unfortunately, the advent of the wild-card team in the baseball playoffs undermines these principles and decreases the likelihood of a stellar World Series match-up, because a weaker wild-card team can get lucky in a best-of-five series and knock off the best team.

To correct this flaw, I propose the following two changes. First, a few days should be taken off between the end of the season and the playoffs and in between playoff rounds to allow for teams to set up their most desirable pitching rotation. Teams should not be penalized for having better competition, especially teams with better records than their playoff competition. Second, there should be no days off during a playoff series. A five- or seven-game series must be played on consecutive days. Teams would be forced to use standard five-pitcher rotations, so the advantage would go to the overall better team, not the team with two dominating pitchers. It's possible to fly across the country and still play on consecutive nights, and both teams would have to deal with identical travel problems. I also suspect there would be greater fan interest and ratings if games were played on consecutive nights instead of fans guessing whether or not a playoff game is on television on any given day.

Send me your baseball comments, and read Off-wing Opinion.
NEW YORK TIMES PUBLISHES SEXIST GARBAGE
I'm trying to focus more on West Coast media, but I couldn't help but comment on today's opinion piece by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times. A quick scan throught the blogosphere didn't turn up any comments on Dowd's column, so it's up to me to point out the gross sexism in a column that the New York Times or any other "respected" newspaper would never publish if a man wrote something similar about women.

Here's the first paragraph of the column: "Watching Robert Torricelli mist and mewl, as he was torn from the bosom of the Senate, gave me new pause over that old question: Are men biologically suited to hold political office and leadership positions?"

Can you imagine a male New York Times columnist asking if women are biologically suited to hold political office and leadership positions? Of course not, because it would never happen. The New York Times would never publish such a thing, and a male columnist would never write such a thing without fear of being fired.

Ms. Dowd is regularly slammed by bloggers, including Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds, so it's possible the lack of comments regarding today's column are because Ms. Dowd is held in such low esteem that it's no longer worth other people's time to comment on her stupidity.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

THE SPLIT IN THE LIBERTARIAN MOVEMENT
InstaPundit has a post referring to a National Review article about libertarians and the war. The split in libertarian ranks was obvious on the very day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

Glenn Reynolds of InstaPundit is quoted in the article as saying: "I think there's a split among libertarians between those who view government as the enemy and those who view individual self-defense as the most important right. There's a lot of overlap in political positions between people who take those views. To a lot of libertarians, the war looks like self-defense writ large. Whereas to another class of libertarians, anything that strengthens the state is wrong, even in self-defense."

I disagree that this is the crux of the split. I think the split between the big-L Libertarian Party anti-war group and the little-l libertarians who back military force in the Middle East has to do with fundamental principles of each group. I think big-L Libertarians believe in minimizing coercion, which includes minimizing not only the coercive power of government in Americans' everyday lives, but also minimizing the coercive power of American foreign policy and the American military on other peoples and nations. Small-l libertarians believe in maximizing individual liberty, which includes the freedom to trade and do business with people from other countries, and the expectation that property rights and freedoms will be protected. An American foreign policy that proactively encourages democracy and capitalism in foreign countries leads not only to greater individual liberty in America and the world, but ultimately it leads to peace.

I never seriously considered joining the Libertarian Party, because it has always had what I consider an incorrect and even naive anti-military stance even before 9/11. Plus all evidence shows supporting third parties in single-representative, winner-take-all districts is a wasted vote, because a coalition will almost always be built to attract a majority or plurality of the voters in the district. I've been so put off by the anti-war rhetoric of big-L Libertarians since the attacks that I prefer to call myself a "free marketer," as opposed to a "small-l libertarian."
THE GREED OF SOCIALISM
Australian John Ray writes a fascinating blog called Dissecting Leftism. John is a professor, so his blog is an academic journal of thoughts and ideas the he pulls together to be published as academic papers. I previously linked to one of his papers that was posted on Frontpage Magazine.

Anyway, John's most recent postings are a product of our e-mail discussions. John has made entries before on his blog after having an e-mail discussion with me, and I have to admit it is flattering that some of my thought on socialism and socialists could end up in an academic paper.

My friends and family may recognize my "Socialism is Greed" argument in the second paragraph of John's first posting. I've always been amazed at the absurdity of the "Capitalism is Greed" and "Corporate Greed" accusations by the left and their media friends, when the fundamental principle of socialism is greed. Calls for "sharing the wealth," expanding the welfare state, and progressive taxes are simply demands for stealing what others have earned. It is greed, pure and simple. Using the coercive power of the state to confiscate others' property and wealth does not legitimize these gross principles and ideology; it makes it worse.

Union workers going on strike over wages is no different. Striking workers holding "Stop Corporate Greed" are really the ultimate in hypocrisy. Union workers are already getting wages above the market rate of labor. Yet when they strike, they are demanding an even larger difference between their wages and the market rate. They attack executives for high compensation, but they are demanding the same thing. They attack the "greed" of corporate profits, yet demanding higher wages is the equivolent of higher profit on their labor. So who's greedy?

When you read John's blog, note that I never would have said or written, "Is it not greed to use the coercive power of unions to receive an unfair wage, often at the expense of other less-unionized workers?" The greed of unions is at the expense of capitalists and stockholders who have taken responsibility for themselves and risked their own capital--the type of responsibility and risk that union workers refuse to take--not at the expense of other workers.

I'll be commenting on some of John's ideas regarding the left-wing infestation of mainstream churches in the very near future.
SABERTOOTH TIP USED IN WSJ'S BEST OF THE WEB TODAY
Yesterday I sent a tip to the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web Today column. I mentioned the Steve Lopez column from Sunday's Los Angeles Times that claimed, "National polls, some of which suggest 70% of Americans support a war against Iraq, are not to be trusted. Roughly 75% of the readers of this column are opposed." The Wall Street Journal filed the Lopez column under "Stupidity Watch." I mentioned the column on Sunday in my SUNDAY LOS ANGELES TIMES WRAP-UP.
MAJORITY OF L.A. PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS FAILING GRADUATION EXAMS
In an article from today's L.A. Daily News, it was reported that only 45 percent of Los Angeles public schools' high-school students passed the English-language arts section while only 21 percent passed the math section of California's graduation exam.

What does Superintendent Roy Romer propose to fix this problem? You guess it: more public school! Romer proposes adding a 13th year of school and extending the school day for those students not passing the graduation test. What wonderful logic. Give students more of what already didn't work and magically the problem will be solved. Maybe I can start a government program that cures alcoholics by force feeding them beer.

What's even more amazing are the some the actual quotes from the story, which outright state Los Angeles public schools are a failure and these results should be expected. Here are two quotes in the article from Romer himself:

"What we see here is obviously disappointing results of 10 years of failure of urban districts. We know that. It's no surprise to us."

"We have a system in which the culture has been, Give them a D and pass."

Wow! The head of the Los Angeles public schools is publicly saying that the district is a failure, he isn't surprised how poorly these students did on the exam, and that the fundamental culture of the school system is to simply pass on uneducated kids.

But the best quote comes from Chatsworth High Principal Dan Wyatt who says, "There will be some in every school who won't pass the test and thus won't graduate. I think once the state Legislature sees what the statewide results are, there might be a revision on the test." That's right. The problem can be fixed by rewriting the test, not by educating the students.

We keep hearing the problem is not enough funding. This clearly isn't a funding issue. Taxpayers will be throwing more good money at bad money. Taxpayers are already paying for after-school tutoring and an "intense English-intervention program." Now the taxpayers are going to be asked to fund an additional year of education which costs approximately $10,000, and remedial classes taught in summer, in the evening, or on weekends. And the remedial math classes are taught at the seventh-grade level for students expected to graduate high school.

Americans need to understand that the government is incapable of educating children. Only when the free market delivers education will the American educational system be accountable to students and parents. And the free market unencumbered by government regulation would be able to provide high-quality educational choices at affordable prices. Be sure to check out The Alliance for the Separation of School & State

Here's the Los Angeles Times' take on the story. Of course, the Times took the racial inequities spin that says more resources have to be spent on "poor students and students of color."

UPDATE: Kimberly Swygert discusses more California testing follies (scroll down a little) in her critique of a San Francisco Chronicle article that mentions 90% of "disabled" kids are flunking the California graduation exam. Of course, a hot-shot lawyer is suing the state on behalf of California's 173,470 disabled high school students, because the fact that so many "disabled" kids failed the exam is a "disaster in the making."

UPDATE 2: Michael Lopez comments on the L.A. Times article on his blog, Highered Intelligence. Michael's comments are about the much more fundamental problem of people being entitled to high school diplomas, which effectively makes high school diplomas devoid of meaning and accomplishment.