Sunday, February 27, 2005
Republicans and the Democrats are marching toward judicial confirmation battles. The Democrats have figured out that they cannot win national elections with a liberal agenda. So they have invested their hopes and dreams in the courts to "legislate" what their candidates can not win in the ballot box.
This is why the judges are so important and Republicans made an issue of judicial appointments in the '04 election. This is the main reason that Tom Daschle lost.
The first battle in this war is the nomination of a black woman to the federal courts. Her name is Janice Brown from California.
This is what Harold Johnson wrote about this extraordinary black lady:
"This daughter of an Alabama sharecropper - this African-American woman who attended segregated schools in her native state, and put herself through college and law school in California - offers testimony to the rewards that can come from character and can-do commitment. But Brown's star power derives from more than her impressive personal story. She is an intellectual leader of California's high court and its most articulate voice for limited government and individual freedom. A judge's first and last duty, in her view, is to protect citizens from bureaucratic bullying. As she puts it, 'Courts must be especially vigilant, must vigorously resist encroachments that heighten the potential for arbitrary government action.' "
Janice Brown has a brilliant mind. Under normal circumstances, such a capable judge would be supported by Democrats and Republicans.
But Janice Brown has a problem: she is a black conservative.
Bush has already announced that he is making this appointment. The Republicans are determined to fight.
In my view, this is one nominee worth going to war for. The Republicans must be willing to exercise the famous nuclear option and blow up any attempts to "filibuster" this nominee!
Janice Brown should be given an up and down vote. Democrats should be forced to vote "yes or no" on this lady. Right now, Democrats hide behind the so called "senate rules". It gives them the opportunity to throw red meat to their liberal base and avoid voting against a black woman.
Let's have a vote. Don't be surprised if a bunch of Democrats vote "yes", specially the ones who are running in '06 and do not want to join Tom Daschle in retirement!
Democrats have enjoyed unconditional support from black America since the mid-60s. The black vote made Gore and Kerry competitive in '00 and '04.
Do the math. Give Bush 20% of the black vote and he would have easily carried Wisconsin and Minnesota in '00 and add Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania in '04. Bush got 9% of the black vote and he still carried 30 and 31 states, respectively!
Yet, I detect a change in the air. More and more, blacks are looking to church leaders for direction and ideas. Black political leaders are discredited or invisible. The black church is active and inspiring activism against homosexual marriage and the modern culture that glamorizes violence against women and profanity instead of civility.
Janice Brown is one of those black leaders who understands that racism is not the only enemy. The real problem is out of wedlock births, gangs, black on black crime, and a culture that promote irresponsible behavior. By the way, this is what Bill Cosby has been talking about for about a year!
Janice Brown will be a federal judge. She will be confirmed. This is one lady that the Republicans should, and will, fight for!
Saturday, February 26, 2005
Rasmussen Reports has an interesting new poll on US public opinion. 37% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the UN. By the way, a Gallup poll confirms this by showing public support of the UN at 36%.
The UN has a credibility problem with the US public. It's going to take a lot more than an apology from Kofi Annan. We can start fixing the situation by having Annan resign in disgrace, along with a few others!
The UN has a few serious problems. I can't list all of them but let me share a couple of obvious ones.
First, it's the well known Oil for Food Scandal. The UK's Guardian reported a few days ago:
"The United Nations suffered grave damage to its international reputation yesterday after it emerged that the official who headed the oil-for-food programme for Iraq sought and obtained bribes from Saddam Hussein's regime."
The report goes on to confirm what we've been saying for months:
"The oil-for-food scam allegedly saw Saddam exploit loopholes in the system, offering lucrative oil allocations or vouchers that could be sold on for profit in an attempt to bribe leaders round the world."
The second is selecting Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe, the unelected leaders of two of the world's top rights-abusers, to decide which human-rights complaints will get a hearing at the U.N.
In other words, if you have a civil rights issue then take your grievances to Fidel Castro. This is the same Castro who has refused free and open elections in Cuba and recently threw a bunch of journalists in jail.
I have a grievance. Will Fidel listen to my grievance? How about multiparty elections in Cuba? Who is going to hear my grievance at the UN?
Who is kidding who? How can these people at the UN look at each other with a straight face?
How can these people expect anyone to take them seriously?
How long can they expect to receive the bulk of their financial support and free rent from the US?
The UN is slowly sinking into further and further irrelevancy. The UN has been reduced to attacking Israel or the US. Maybe it's time to move this entire mess to Paris. Let the Paris police deal with the drunk diplomats. Let Chirac collect the overdue rent and fees!
Friday, February 25, 2005
Pres. Bush was greeted by a big hello at Andrews Air Force Base. According to the latest economic data the US Economy grew better than expected.
The AP reports that the :
economy grew at a solid 3.8 percent annual rate in the final quarter of 2004 - stronger than previously estimated- and an encouraging sign that the business expansion was firmly entrenched at the start of the new year.
The new reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department Friday, was better than the government's initial calculation made a month ago. That estimate showed the economy growing at a 3.1 percent pace.
The improvement reflected more robust spending by businesses on capital equipment and to build up inventories of goods. The trade deficit also was less of a drag on fourth-quarter growth than initially thought.
GDP, the broadest barometer of the country's economic health, measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States.
The new fourth-quarter GDP figure also was better than the 3.5 percent growth rate that economists had forecast in advance of Friday's release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although economic growth in the final quarter of last year was a bit slower than the 4 percent pace measured in the third quarter, the performance was still solid.
For all of 2004, the economy expanded by 4.4 percent, the best showing in five years. This annual estimate was the same as first reported last month.
The US economy is leading the way, much to the envy and disgust of the anti-Americans who can't find work in their homelands. The prophets of doom and malaise don't have any bad news to peddle this week.
"This is a really healthy performance for the economy," said Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics.
"It really shows a better mix of growth."
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Wesley Pruden is the editor in chief of The Washington Times. I like what he wrote about Pres. Bush's trip to Europe:
"A correspondent for the left-wing London Guardian summed it up with a touch of honest envy: To watch President George Bush in Brussels this week was to see how far Europe has to go if it wants to be taken seriously in the world. On the one side, you had Caesar. On the other, the prime minister of Luxembourg."
Throughout history, alliances come and go. Our alliance with old Europe is over. We are in the early stages of new relationships.
From 1945 to '92, the US and Europe participated in a post-WW2 and Cold War alliance. After the collapse of Naxi Germany, Truman implemented the Marshall Plan. It was designed to rebuild European cities and keep the communists from turning into a major political force in Western Europe. Let's remember that WW2 destroyed much of Europe and that Soviet troops controlled much of everything east of Berlin.
The other part of the alliance was that Western Europe would be protected by US tanks, soldiers and planes sitting on German territory. From Truman to the first Bush, it was the policy of the US to protect Europe from a Soviet military attack. The Berlin Wall was the symbolic line dividing East and West, repression and freedom. NATO was formed by Truman to offset the Warsaw Pact military force.
All of this began to fade after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since '92, new countries have emerged in Europe. People in Europe have forgotten the past. Their memories are short! Their gratitude is in very short supply!
Today, the grandchildren of Europe do not remember that their countries were protected by the US for 50 years! Who kept Soviet tanks from marching into Paris or Berlin? It wasn't Europeans singing "Give peace a chance", "kumbaya" or preaching pacifism!
Today, the sons and daughters of France do not remember that they speak French rather than German because thousands of US soldiers are buried in Normandy.
Today, Europe's leaders exploit anti-Americanism to patch up their internal difficulties. For example, it is easier for Chirac or Schroeder to be a Bush nemesis than to explain to their people why they have high unemployment and stagnant economies!
It is easier to call Bush a "unilateralist cowboy" than to admit that Saddam Hussein was buying French support at the United Nations!
Today, most Europeans do not realize that their welfare state, their fabled cradle to grave benefits, were realized because the US carried the cost of defending Europe.
Today, it is easier for Zapatero to blame Bush for terrorism rather than admit that Spain is full of terrorist cells! Spanish troops left Iraq but the terrorists have no plans of leaving Spain!
Ten years after the Berlin Wall fell, Europe and the US see the world differently.
It did not start with Bush! During Clinton's second term, the US and Europe were at odds on Bosnia, the Kyoto treaty and Iraq.
Let's take Bosnia. Clinton had to send US troops to fix a European human rights disaster. Why? Because the Europeans could not do it. It was done under the auspices of NATO but it was US planes and military hardware that carried the load!
Let's take Kyoto. The Kyoto treaty came to Clinton in '97. It sat on his desk for 3 years. He refused to take it to the US Senate for ratification. Why? Because he could not get enough Democrats to vote "yes"!
Let's take Iraq. During the Clinton years, the US and the UN Security Council were always at odds over Iraq.
It did not start with Bush! The Iraq War was the straw that broke the camel's back. However, there were already lots of straws piling on!
Let's take Israel. The US has been the strongest supporter of Israel. Many Europeans support the Palestine cause. Anti-Jewish attitudes are rising in Europe again!Let's take China. Some Europeans want to end the arms embargo. Why? Because Europe needs customers. The US disagrees. Why? Because the US sees sophisticated technology transfers that could improve the Chinese navy and threaten Japan, South Korea, the Panama Canal, the commercial sea lanes, and Taiwan.
Does the world need a more aggressive Chinese navy? I don't think so. The Europeans don't care as long as they can make some money selling parts to the Chinese. The US sees China as a potential military threat. Europe needs customers.
Jeb Babbin wrote about this:
"The Euros don't want to miss out on the profits to be made by selling to the Chinese, so they are about to lift their arms embargo. President Bush will try to convince them not to, and he will fail. They will sell ships, aircraft, and other weapons to China, and by doing so will place greater burdens on our armed forces and our defense budget."
This is similar to what happened in the UN Security Council in '03. France, Germany and Russia did not want to remove their good customer, Saddam Hussein!
The US and parts of Europe see a different world. This is why Europe and the US will drift apart even further.
The US will develop new alliances and forge business relationships with countries like Poland and the Czech Republic. I think that we will get much closer to Japan, who now fears China's growing militarism.
Where do we go from here? Let me add the words of Mark Steyn:
"So what would you do in Bush's shoes? Slap 'em around a bit? What for? Where would it get you? Or would you do exactly what he's doing? Climb into the old soup-and-fish, make small talk with Mme Chirac and raise a glass of champagne to the enduring friendship of our peoples: what else is left? This week we're toasting the end of an idea: the death of "the West"."
Enjoy your trip, Pres. Bush. Take Laura out to eat to one of those nice coffee shops in Paris. Tell Chirac to show you the new Muslim landscape of Paris! After that, get on Air Force One, come home and leave Europe to the Europeans!
Last but not least, pick up a copy of the latest German Des Spiegel for reading on the flight back home. This is what they are saying about you now. They are comparing you to the other guy who was also very unpopular in Europe:
"The Germany Reagan was traveling in, much like today's Germany, was very skeptical of the American president and his foreign policy....When Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate--and the Berlin Wall--and demanded that Gorbachev 'tear down this Wall,' he was lampooned the next day on the editorial pages. He is a dreamer, wrote commentators. . . . But history has shown that it wasn't Reagan who was the dreamer as he voiced his demand. Rather, it was German politicans who were lacking in imagination--a group who in 1987 couldn't imagine that there might be an alternative to a divided Germany."
Enjoy your trip home. You are right and some of the Europeans are slowly getting it.
Monday, February 21, 2005
Maybe it's me. But I don't get very excited about presidential visits.
Nixon's '72 trip to China was historic and exceptional. It was remarkable watching the President and First Lady on The Great Wall or sitting down with Mao.
Reagan's visit to the Berlin Wall in '87 was dramatic. He said "tear down this wall". Two years later, the wall came down and so did the evil empire!
Overall, presidential trips are courtesy calls. They have very little impact here and there. So don't expect a lot to change from Bush's visit. The most important part of the trip is the meeting with Putin and that's not getting much attention from the Euro-press. Putin and Bush have a lot to talk about. Yet, everyone is obsessed with the dinner that Bush and Chirac are having!
Nevertheless, Europe and the US will do some fence mending. There are several reasons.
The first one is pragmatic. Bush won. Bush was reelected with a majority (51.4%) of the US popular vote. In fact, most of Bush's European critics would love to have his mid-50's approval ratings in the latest Gallup. They wouldn't mind having his 5.2% unemployment rate either!
Bush arrives in Europe in a stronger political position than any of his hosts. Take a poll in France or Germany or Spain. Do you think that the majority of their citizens think that their leader is doing a good job? I don't think so!
The latest polls in the US say that the American public views Bush as a strong and honest leader. Again, take a poll in France and Germany. Do those people view Chirac and Schroeder as strong and honest? Again, I don't think so!
The second reason is economic. As the US moves from recession to 4% annual growth, much of Europe is still stuck in their malaise and 2% growth. Europe can't create jobs and this is turning into a serious domestic concern for the continent's leaders.
The third reason is the Iraq election. 8.5 million Iraqis put the exclamation point on the removal of Saddam Hussein.
To put it bluntly, no one in Iraq waved their purple finger and said "Thank you United Nations".
Last but not least, the new members of Europe, the liberated nations of the old Soviet empire, see the US more favorably than Chirac and Schroeder. James Glassman wrote in The Washington Post:
"...the European Union itself is different, with the accession last year of 10 new countries, mainly from Eastern Europe. Members of the European parliament from such countries recognize the role the United States played in freeing them from Soviet domination. Ronald Reagan is their hero."
Bush will have a friendly visit. He will have dinner with European leaders. They will have some nice joint press conferences. Bush may pick up some support for the reconstruction of Iraq.
Yet, there are still some big issues on the agenda---Iran, China, terrorism, NATO, etc. Can the Europeans persuade Iran? Will they sell arms to China? Will they finally wake up to the threat of terrorism? Can NATO survive, specially if some Europeans lift the arms embargo to China?
In 2005, the US and some parts of Europe are not going in the same direction. The old alliance, based on the Soviet Union and the post WW2 period is over. The US and some Europeans do not share the same interests in Iran, China and even NATO.
In the end, don't expect a lot of big changes. Old Europe is in decline as it falls behind China and India in economic terms. Things will never be the same between the US and Europe. We are not going in the same direction!
Sunday, February 20, 2005
Rusty Greer retired today. Rusty was my favorite Ranger player. He was a disciple of the "play hard" school of baseball.
From '94 to '02, when injuries caught up with him, Rusty was a steady performer. His lifetime average is .305 and he was an integral part of the 3 division winners of the late 90s.
It was Rusty who made the big catch in Kenny Rogers' perfect game in '94.
It was Rusty who drove in some of the biggest hits in recent team history.
I hope that the Rangers will retain Greer in the organization. He can be a good coach or just a good guy to have around with the young guys coming up in the organization.
Goodbye Rusty. Thank you for 10 wonderful years.
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Mister Economic Reality, Mr. ER, made an unpleasant visit to the hockey world yesterday. He pulled the plug on the 2004-05 season. No Dallas Stars. No Mike Modano. No Stanley Cup. No hockey period.
What happens next?
First, there is going to be downsizing. There are too many teams.
Secondly, the union may also disappear.
I think that most players would have accepted the owners' offer months ago. It was the union that stuck to the no "cap" mandate and then backed off at the end.
So big changes are coming in hockey.
My advice to the owners and players is this:
1) Hockey is not a major league sport in terms of revenue. It is not the NBA, NFL or MLB.
2) Downsize and cut ticket prices. I like hockey but paying $60 to watch a Stars' game is a luxury. The NBA gets away with it because they have a TV contract.
3) Last but not least, take a look at what the other hockey leagues are doing. The non-NHL leagues are doing great in places like San Angelo, San Antonio, El Paso, Midland, Ft Worth, etc.
What are they doing to succeed? They provide fun hockey at family prices. They promote the teams to families at middle class prices!
Hockey will be back next year. I just don't know if Mike Modano will be back with the Stars!
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
In baseball, you have the on-deck circle and the batters' box. During the game, the guy on deck studies the pitches. Then he goes to the plate and swings the bat!
The Europeans are now in the batters' box on Iran. It's time for the Europeans to sit down with Iran's leaders and make something happen. They have requested this opportunity. They have been boasting about their diplomatic skills. So let's see what the Europeans can do!
Iran presents a unique challenge. It is in the Middle East and an oil producer. This is a dangerous combination!
No one knows the intricacies of the Middle East better than former Sec of State Henry Kissinger. He wrote:
"...Iran is a large oil producer, with a growing, diverse and capable population and a serious industrial potential. By 2050, its population is projected to exceed that of Russia. Several major states have an interest in good relations with Iran for economic reasons; some are afraid of its terrorist potential and demonstrated ruthlessness. Its immediate neighborhood contains some countries that welcome the enhanced risk a nuclear Iran poses for other countries, especially for the United States."
Bottom line: This is not a simple problem.
My genuine hope is that the Europeans can persuade the Iranian leadership to exchange nuclear programs for greater economic integration. Maybe the Europeans can offer some carrots and remind the Iran leaders that Bush has plenty of sticks.
Time will tell. I don't think that Bush is ready to pull the trigger yet. But he will eventually. There is a point where Bush will act!
Why? Because it is the right thing to do. Nuclear weapons complicate matters in the Middle East. Israel will always feel threatned if its neighbors boast of their nuclear power. Nuclear weapons are poisonous anywhere but specially in the Middle East.
Also, if Bush does not act, then Hillary Clinton, who is moving to the right faster than any Democrat since her husband was seeking reelection in '96, will run for president in '08 claiming that Bush left an outlaw nation in power with WMDs.
My timetable is about 18 months, or sometime in the summer of 2006. As I write this, US spy planes are allegedly flying over Iran and taking pictures. Bush may act sooner, specially if the pictures reveal something more sinister than what we know today!
So the Europeans are walking to the batter's box. Let's see if they can do in Iran what they couldn't do in Bosnia or Sudan.
Last but not least, Reuters is reporting today that Israel is claiming that Iran is 6 months away from having the means of making a bomb. According to the story:
"The question is not if the Iranians will have a nuclear bomb in 2009, 10 or 11, the main question is when are they going to have the knowledge to do it," Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on a visit to London.
"We believe in six months from today they will end all the tests and experiments they are doing to have that knowledge."
Monday, February 14, 2005
OK. I apologize to my soccer friends for saying that the game had stupid rules. Cubans do not play soccer!
However, penalty kicks are a horrible way of deciding a World Cup game. There has to be a better way of determing a world champion!
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Napoleon allegedly said: Do not interfere with your enemy when he is destroying himself.
Howard Dean is now the face of the Dem party. He is the new chairman of the DNC.
How will Dean navigate in what they now call The Red Sea?
Let's look at the positives. Dean is well known. He can raise money and turn on the liberals in Berkley, Madison, Greenwich Village and San Francisco.
Let's look at the negatives. The Dems are already well known and they can raise money, as moveon.org and countless 527s did in '04. Last but not least, the Dems already have the liberal vote in the aforementioned blue islets!
So how can you expand your electoral base by nominating someone who does not bring in any red states, or for that matter, none of those red counties in blue states?
Tim Roemer, the pro life Democrat, who lost to Dean, describes the party's dilemma in a column in The Washington Post:
"According to the National Committee for an Effective Congress, Democrats lost 97 of the 100 fastest-growing counties in America. The National Election Pool's exit data show that between the elections of 2000 and 2004 we lost ground with a wide array of voting groups, including Catholics, Latinos, African Americans and married voters."
Again, the Democrats already have the liberal vote. What they need is more conservative votes, and in particular, more middle class suburban white votes.
Take a look at the US electoral map from 2004. On first glance, you will see 31 red states and 19 blue states. In fact, the county by county map shows a worse reality for the Democrats.
Steve Malanga describes the situation in an excellent article in The National Journal:
"Thereâ€™s really no such thing as a Blue Stateâ€”only Blue metropolitan regions. Indeed, the electoral maps of some states that went for John Kerry in 2004 consist mostly of Red suburban and rural counties surrounding deep Blue cities."
The Democrats cannot win national elections by winning cities and losing suburbs. Such a strategy may have worked in 1920 but not in 2004.
The votes are now in suburbs. This is where the money is. This is where the middle class lives. This is where the Democrats are losing votes!
Look at blue Boston, Philadelphia or Detroit. They are blue but the prosperous suburbs are very red.
Again, look at the map. You can see the county by county map in www.realclearpolitics.com!
The Democrats have another problem. It is called national security. The public does not feel that the Democrats have the stomach to defend the country.
Again, let's hear from Tim Roemmer, who was also a member of the 9-11 commission:
"National security concerns were the primary cause for Kerry's defeat...The world is different after Sept. 11, 2001, and if we Democrats cannot make Americans feel safe, we will not win future elections."
Can Dean turn this around? I don't think so!
Dean is too liberal. His views on abortion and homosexual marriage won't play well outside of San Francisco. Remember this. Gore and Kerry carried San Francisco by a landslide but lost Tennessee, Arkansas and every southern state!
Dean will try to say that he is a conservative. He will remind everyone that he balanced budgets as governor of Vermont. He will say that he is a member of the NRA. This is true.
Unfortunately, this is not the Dean that ran for president in '04 or the man that most Americans remember. What they recall is someone screaming in Iowa and a fellow who looked perplexed when Joe Lieberman challenged him on the capture of Saddam Hussein!
Dean is the one but he is the wrong one for the Democrats!
Dean-ism is a philosophy built around just being anti-Bush. It is the kind of irrational Bush-hate that does not play well in the country.
Let me close by quoting Ted Van Dyk, a Democrat activist from very blue Seattle:
"If they cannot break free of Deanism--i.e., strident opposition to all things Bush--Democrats could find themselves by 2008 the party of Hollywood, Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Al Sharpton, Michael Moore, George Soros and high-culture media--but not of most Americans."
Saturday, February 12, 2005
The Europeans are putting out some economic data this week and it does not look good. EU VP Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca painted a bleak picture of the region's economy. He quoted 19 statistical data figures that all said the same thing:
Europe lacks growth!
Looking for a job? Don't go to Europe. Go to the US. Our national unemployment figure is 5.2% and dropping!
In '04, the average growth of the "euro currency area" was only 2.2%. This is behind the United States (4%) and Japan (4.4%).
On GDP, the EU had a 1% growth rate, unlike the United States (3%).
So the US grew at twice the rate of Europe and our GDP grew 3 times faster.
Roca finally got down to the real reason that the US is growing and Europe is not.
"We are lazy, to say it simply," said Roca.
In the US, companies can hire and fire people. Companies can adjust and retool. This is why our recessions are followed by years of prosperity. On the other hand, companies in Europe protect their employees so much that they can not hire new ones. This is why France and Germany have high unemployment among young people.
The European economy has trailed the U.S. for the 12 of the last 13 years.
Deutsche Welle reports that German auto makers "...are facing the prospect of having their US profits from imported models slashed due to the weak performance of the dollar."
How long will European politicians have the luxury of talking about a weak US dollar?
How long before they start talking about their overvalued euro?
I don't have a quick answer. But I don't think that they can do it too much longer.
So let me warn for the last time: Don't fall in love with your euro.
Friday, February 11, 2005
In the early 90s, Dallas added two new teams, the NHL Stars and the MLS Burn. Today, neither team is playing.
The Burn went away and is now something called FC Dallas. I don't even know where they play. The Stars have done very well and have a brand new arena that they share with the Mavericks. Sadly, they are now caught up in the NHL shutdown.
I don't care about losing the Burn. Soccer is boring. I can't understand the stupid rules. The game is supposed to be 45 minutes long but the referee can arbitrarily grant extra time. I don't get it!
Incredibly, soccer world cup games are decided by something called "penalty kicks". It's like having the 7th game of the World Series decided by a coin flip. It stinks. It's horrible!
Soccer also has this thing called FIFA, which reminds me of the UN Security Council. The FIFA bureaucrats talk and look like French wimps at the UN.
Hockey is a different story. It is a great game. They play three 20 minute periods. You can follow the game on radio or TV. There are even time outs so you can get up and get a drink. And they have those great fights!
The NHL teams have great names like the Black Hawks, Cannucks, Kings, Maple Leaf, Coyotes, and Panthers. The stupid soccer league has politically correct names like the Revolution, Burn, Fire, the Crew, etc. The MLS must have gotten their names from Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy.
Unlike the soccer world cup games, sudden death hockey is as good as anything gets. We learned that during the '99 Dallas-Buffalo finals! I remember staying up one night until 3am listening to a Dallas-Edmonton playoff game that went into triple over time. What a game!
So I hope that the players and owners can figure some way of putting the Stars back on ice.
I miss hockey.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
The President spoke about Social Security at The State of the Union:
"The problem is that when the baby boomers retire --starting with me; I'm the oldest of the baby boomers -- people my age and down about 18 years younger, we are the largest group of Americans that have ever lived, except the group that started first grade last year, -- second grade, or third grade, whatever it is, something in grade school -- because we've got more children in schools now, public schools, than we had during the baby boom generation for the first time. But we're going to have 18, 20, 25 years where there will be a huge number of people on Social Security in their retirement years compared to the people who are paying in. That is the issue."
The President said more at the State of the Union:
"In 1960, there were 5.1 Americans working for every one person drawing Social Security....there's still 3.3 people working for every one person drawing Social Security. In 2030, the year after the Social Security trust fund supposedly will go broke unless we change something, at present projected retirement rates -- that is, the presently projected retirement age and same rates -- there will be two people working for every one person drawing Social Security.â€?
And then the President told the nation:
"And if nothing is done by 2029, there will be a deficit in the Social Security trust fund, which will either require -- if you just wait until then -- a huge tax increase in the payroll tax, or just about a 25 percent cut in Social Security benefits."
The President warned the nation that:
"Now, if we don't act, the Social Security trust fund will be depleted by the year 2029, and payroll contributions will only cover 75 percent of benefits."
"By 2013, what Social Security takes in will no longer be enough to fund what it pays out...Then we'll have to use the proceeds from the trust fund. By 2032, just 34 years away, the money Social Security takes in will only be enough to pay 72 percent of benefits."
"Specifically, I propose that we commit 60% of the budget surplus for the next 15 years to Social Security, investing a small portion in the private sector just as any private or state pension would do. This will earn a higher return and keep Social Security sound for 55 years"
"We all know a demographic crisis is looming. ... If we act now it will be easier and less painful than if we wait until later."
Sorry anti-Bushies. The President's name was Bill Clinton. The speeches came in between '98 and '99.
So here we go again. Clinton said that Saddam had WMD's and Gore followed that by calling Iraq a "virulent threat". Clinton bombed Iraq because Saddam was in violation of the '91 cease fire and shooting at US planes.
Bush said the same thing and he is a liar.
Now, we have Social Security. Bush repeats Clinton's words, and warnings, and he is accused of creating a crisis. Ted Kennedy did not say that Clinton was making up a crisis when he made any of the remarks listed above.
The Democrats won't be taken seriously if they govern by simply saying "no" to Bush. We need something more serious from the Democrats than the preservation of a sacred cow. We have a crisis in Social Security. No one, including Bush, said that the crisis is next week. Like Clinton said, the clash with reality will come later.
Leadership is dealing with problems, even if that means a drop in your poll ratings. We need leadership from the opposition. Where is Sen Monyhan when we really need him?
Are you fustrated with the Democrats? Follow my advice.
I argue with liberals by quoting Clinton. It drives them crazy, which makes me very happy.
Monday, February 07, 2005
On the surface, I can not blame a young Mexican for sneaking into the US, getting a $6 an hour job, sharing an apartment with 4 buddies, and sending a monthly $100 wire to his mother. I would do the same thing if I was a young Mexican living in a small town with no future!
At the same time, I can't fault an employer for hiring a young Mexican who is not afraid of working hard. A few years ago, a friend who owned a car wash spoke of the young Mexicans' incredible work ethic. ("They don't want to go home....it's work, work, work" he said!)
My own experience is that they are honest, hardworking and will take jobs that many Americans won't, such as working at poultry plants, roofing, restaurant kitchens, the car wash and cutting the grass in a 100 degree Texas summer.
This is why I support a work visa program, where an employer and an employee can come together legally and enter into an arrangement. Unfortunately, Bush's "work-visa" program is moving slowly through Congress. It will probably happen but it may take longer that we wish.
Nevertheless, the chaotic situation on the US-Mexico border must stop. This is a national security problem and a haven for drug cartels. The Bush and Fox administrations need to bring order to this mess. Neither country benefits from the chaos that currently exists.
Border states can not deliver services, such as medical care, or provide a free public school education to thousands of Mexican children. As I know, public education is not free and neither is the private health insurance payment that comes out of my checking account on the 28th of the month.
The other reality is that we are seeing more and more women with small children crossing the border. In the past, it was young men seeking any job and often returning to Mexico with cash.
Today, we see more and more families who are coming over to stay. Often, the parents have a 2nd or 3rd grade education. They can't speak English. They can't read or write in Spanish. They have no work skills! They don't understand basic issues like driving with a license and having auto insurance. In fact, most of these people are currently driving without insurance, which imposes a burden on the rest of us who pay!
There is another side to this. Mexico is suffering from the current situation.
First, Mexico is creating a nation dependent on US remittances. The definition of opportunity in Mexico is now "crossing the border". Young Mexicans see no future in their country. This is bad for Mexico!
Secondly, the current situation is rewarding Mexican politicians who don't want to make the tough choices that the country requires. Mexico's Congress has turned into a modern version of a Cantiflas movie. Unfortunately, Cantiflas was in the comedy business but Mexico's politicians, in particular the idiot brigade known as the PRD, are not!
Last but not least, the border chaos has created a dangerous "human traffic" where innocent people are brought over like cattle. We have seen this tragedy unfold in Texas. The Texas police has discovered dead Mexicans in trucks and railroad cars. It is a scandal!
Mexico acts as an accomplice in illegal immigration because its economy is hooked on remittances. The BBC reported yesterday that:
"remittances grew 24% last year and now represent the country's second-biggest source of income after oil."
This is a massive cash infusion. Without the remittances, these young men, and their families, would be marching in front of the Presidential Palace in Mexico City demanding jobs and social services.
Without the weekly cash transfers, the peso would likely erode in value.
Stephen Johnson is senior policy analyst for Latin America at the Heritage Foundation:
"Mexican oligarchs see free movement of labor northward as a safety valve to relieve pressure from a million workers a year entering Mexico's labor force with no job prospects. Rather than liberalize their economy to end corrupt monopolies, strengthen property rights and establish the rule of law, they would rather keep things as they are and merely ship their jobless, poorly educated throngs north."
Border states are reacting to this massive inflow of people. The latest one is Arizona, which is seeking to limit public services to legal residents.
The Mexican government's response to this is bizarre and moronic.
According to Foreign Secretary Derbez, Mexico may turn to international courts in efforts to block a new Arizona law limiting services to undocumented workers.
What in the world is Derbez thinking?
The people of Arizona are sick and tired of illegal immigration. My guess is that you will see other border states, including liberal California, do the same thing. Enough is enough.
The Mexican government is now surprised that some of us have reacted negatively to this so called "guide" to cross illegally into the US.
Sorry Mexico. A government can't advise its citizens to break a neighbor's laws and then call it "public safety."
One section advises on how to deal with US authorities if caught. Another on how to survive in "high risk zones" like rivers and deserts. A third how to avoid detection once past the United States' borders.
What would the Mexican government say if the US printed a book advising US citizens to pay "mordidas" to police officers or judges?
Last but not least, Mexico is angry that the US Dept. of State is telling its citizens to be careful in border towns.
Why is our state department doing this? Because US citizens are getting killed! What does the Mexican government expect the US State Dept. to do?
I understand that much of the violence is local and directed at Mexicans. But it spills over in Nuevo Laredo to Laredo, or Cd Juarez to El Paso. There are US citizens missing. Some have been killed. There are many innocent Americans who get caught in the drug cartel crossfire!
Let's look to the future. It's time for the Mexican government to start governing on behalf of its people.
First, privatize PEMEX. Turn the PEMEX skyscraper into condominiums or a hotel. Mexico will need a lot of hotels if PEMEX is privatized. Why? Investors from all over the world will come to invest in Mexico.
PEMEX is bad for Mexico. It is a corrupt monopoly that does not have the resources to explore for oil. PEMEX is not an oil company. It is a statute to the one party corruption that governed Mexico for years!
Second, privatize agriculture. Mexico has thousands of uncultivated acres. Why? Because agrarian reform has been a colossal failure everywhere, from Cuba to Mexico. It does not work. Little farms cannot feed a nation of 80 million people! The "ejido" may have been popular years ago but it promotes an inefficient agricultural sector that can't feed a growing country.
Third, Mexico needs to start spending more in education. It is inconceivable that Mexico is sitting on a surplus of natural resources but it does not have enough books for primary school children.
So it's time for Bush and Fox to sit down and work this out. Bush is familiar with border problems because of his tenure as governor of Texas. Bush understands that Fox is in a very difficult situation and needs a little space to maneuver. At the same time, Fox needs to understand that Mexico won't solve its structural problems by shipping people to the US.
Hopefully, Fox and Bush can work something out.
Otherwise, the border states will shut down the border with draconian measures!