Thursday, August 31, 2006

Wshington Report and Ramble

The terrible tropical storm looks weaker. I might get to our big family birthday in the suburbs after all.

Happy birthday all.

The 'Nats pulled out a thriller over the Phillies in extra innings, winning on a wild pitch.



Meanwhile I just finished watching one of the few movie love stories I have enjoyed, based on the French play Cyranno de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand. This one has Gerard Depardue not Jose' Ferrer in the title role of the big-nose hero-duelist who recites love poetry.

But the problem is it is in French with English sub-titles.

Is that good or bad? You do learn French.

Maybe it is better in the original French but I tend to doubt it.

I want to hear Cyrano say, "And now as Iend the refrain thrust home."

After all, there are those who say the King James Bible is better the Hebrew Old Testament itself.

Close call.

BTW: there are also Israelis who think Shakespeare was written in Hebrew.



This-a and that-a-plus a little data ---

Income Climbs, Poverty Stabilizes, Uninsured Rate Increases

Real median household income in the United States rose by 1.1 percentbetween 2004 and

2005, reaching $46,326, according to a report releasedtoday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Meanwhile, the nation’s official povertyrate remained statistically unchanged at 12.6 percent.

The percentage ofpeople without health insurance coverage rose from 15.6 percent to15.9 percent (46.6 million people). These findings are contained in the Income, Poverty, and HealthInsurance Coverage in the United States: 2005 report. The report’s datawere compiled from information collected in the 2006 Annual Social andEconomic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS).

Ben's response:

This is based on what is called the "Orshansky" calculation:

Molly Orshansky was a wonderful woman. She sought to come up with a "poverty" rate" that maximized the number of Americans who were "poor."

As I recall it, she based her calculation this way: Any person who earned less than three times a moderate food diet was in "poverty."

This would maximize federal, state, city and county benefits.

But the relative cost of food has dropped substantially.

Inflation has gyrated and "experts" disagree on whether poverty is up or down.

Two colleagues of mine at the American Enterprise Institute Doug Besharov (a former aide to ide to the very liberal Mayor of NYNY, John V. Lindsay ) and Gordon Green (a former Chief of the Income Division of the Census Bureau, and author of an astonishing best-selling book How to Get Straight A's have made some new calculations:

They believe real poverty is substantially lower.

As I understand it, the Census Bureau has already tentatively accepted a real rate of about 6%.

Gordon believes, I think, it should nearer to 4%.

It's complicated, but I tend to agree.

However, that does not mean we should not help the less fortunate among us, provided such help is not counter-productive, as welfare once was.

The U.S. is the wealthiest nation in history. If not for humanitarian reasons, consider practical ones.

Who wants to step over gaunt old people?

The worst place I ever saw was Howrah, across the river from Calcutta no crown jewel itself.

Dry, dusty and hopeless, the Bengalis would sometime maim their own children to make them more pathetic and more productive beggars.

We don't want that or anything like it.



Chicken: Who me?

I sometimes scoff at people who get overly scared about the weather.

After all, consider the pretty good weather forecasting, brave pilots flying into the eye of the storm, etc.

Now, Washington is threatened by a tropical storm.

I am not happy.

I live in what seems to be a sturdy apartment building. I can stay home and watch movies if I

The worst news: On Saturday afternoon we have a big family birthday party in a nearby suburb.

Boo (!)


Fertility - birth rates - new one...

I thought I'd heard just about all of the reasons for declining birth and feertily rates --- everywhere.

Here's one that escaped my attention:

Fertility is linked to obesity.

People are fatter; birth and fertilty rates fall.

I think late night television is more important.


Memory Games

The mind, as I understand it, is a muscle. It needs excercise, particularly as you get older. As the population ages dementia is growing.

Here's what I do; I'm sure it's not original.

Link words, thusly:

Link - golf - the movie -The Greatest Game - soccer is a game - it's great fun to play but many Americans don't like watching it - my watch has stopped - stop this, now.


It gets tiring and is bad at night.


Ideologues vs. plain people

Click here: Get Serious, Amigos by William Ratliff

No question, there are ideological leaders (Castro, Hugo Chavez) who want to follow dead ideoloogies.

Most people want to better themselves, on their own, with safety nets.

My AEI colleague Michael Novak, author of The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism explained it well, and has had a real impact in Latin America.

The much-missed Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed (when he was US Ambassador to India) that the socialist Brit Fabian Society had a major impact around the world --- and set back economic progress by many decades.

Too bad

I think we're mostly on the right track now.


Would she have.... (?)

Click here: Wedding bells for Warren Buffett - Aug. 31, 2006

I assume she knew that Buffett gave Gates all that dough.

Warren and Bill:

Smart guys, very.

Politics: A little squishey for my taste.


Hmmnn... So many variables...

Click here: - 08/31/06 FOX News Poll: Economy, Iraq and Terrorism Top Issues for Midterm Voters - Polls | AP Polls

Yes, and crime, gun control, white collar crime, local issues and lots more.

Do not believe those who claim they can handicap this election.

No way.



Dear Mr. Wattenberg,I remember all of the presidents since Truman. Dwight Eisenhower was the best I've seen. He will not go down in popular history as great because he presided over the very necessary unwinding after WWII. He will not get proper credit for being one of the prime factors for victory in that war. Be that as it may he was a giant of the 20th century.Regards,Royp.s., Your book "The Good News is the Bad New is All Wrong" had a profound influence on me. I am eternally grateful. --Posted by Roy Lofquist to Wattenblog at 8/30/2006 07:08:47 PM

Ben's Response:
DDE was indeed a giant.
But there have been some other very good ones:
JFK --- he tenure was short. He made mistakes. But his picture was in the huts and villages all over the world.
LBJ, notwithstanding the (neccessary) but poorly executed war in Vietnam.
Reagan. His one sentence "He won the Cold War" (along with the other Presidents, Lech, Pope John 23rd, and millions of taxpayers in the Free World --- even the French!
I like President George W. Bush a great deal. He's got guts...
Roy: where are you from?


Well... sort of..

Check out TCS Daily - Safety in the Driver's Seat

Ben's response:

Jim and Nick,

But what was the drop in car fatalities prior to 1995?

Seat belts are (another) example of a big government regulation that really does save lives.

There are some bummers, to be sure. But some work out just fine.


Ben's Response to Roy

Dear Mr. Wattenberg,
I am vindicated! My favorite is "Travels With Charlie". By the way, I have a photo that I took in 1963 looking down into the crater of Kiliminjaro from about 25,000 feet.


Ben's Response:

Thanks Roy.

I think my favorite book as a child was the last half of Jack London's The Call of the Wild.

BTW When people call me "Mr. Wattenberg" I always look to see if my late father has come back.


Herman --- Hero

After World War II three novels achieved great acclaim.

Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead was highly realistic: fuggin this, fuggin that, fug you.

For a while Irwin Shaw's The Young Lions was my favorite. It told the tale war of the war in Europe. It's M.O. was a series of interlocking short stories (Shaw's strong suit) about an American, a German, perhaps a Brit. Later, in college, I did my Honor's Paper on Shaw and directed and produced his pre-war one-act play Bury the Dead.

But it was Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny that, for me, stood the test of time.

The Caine was a rusted converted minesweeper used to tow targets for more important ships to practice gunnery upon. The setting is the South Pacific.

The original skipper was a most laid-back type.

He is replaced by the martinet allegedly paranoid Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart). The diagnosis is provided by the slippery Lt. Keefer, New York novelist (Fred MacMurray, usually the good guy in the movies.)

Under Queeg's command the Caine is almost lost in a typhoon, "cuts the towline" of a target and drops yellow stain during a landing operation, an apparent act of cowardice.

The Exceutive Officer (Van Johnson) finally heeds Keefer's diagnosis and assumes command during the typhoon. Mutiny!

A trial is held. Thanks to brilliant legal work by a Jewish New York attorney (Jose' Ferrer) the crew is acquitted.

That evening the crew (whose officers could have been hung by the neck for their mutiny) hold a raucous drunken celebration.

Ferrer comes in late, and surly.

He says he really should have represented Queeg.


Because while Keefer was writing novels, th Nazis were exterminating Jews. They could have turned Ferrer's mother into a bar of soap.

That was (barely) prevented by the few peacetime miltary men.

Wouk, I said, was an early Neo-Conservative. He understood that America had to be strong, even in peacetime.

I wrote a column about it.

Jonathan Yardley, now the WashPost editor, criticized it. "The thought that The Caine Mutiny was about politics never crossed his mind."

He was wrong. I was right.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ehud Olmert = Lyndon Johnson

Click here: Soul Mate

This is ridiculous.

President LBJ was trying to contain Communist expansion, for what I think were valid reasons. It was a tragedy. The US didn't lose the war. The ARVN (South Vietnamese) broke when the NVA (North Vietnamese) began a frontal invasion, which they pledged not to do at the Paris Peace Accords.

The U.S. was under no direct threat from the NVA (although the Soviets could blow up the world.)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is defending his nation which is under direct threat of extinction.

As they say in Hebrew "Ein Brera" (i.e. No Alternative.)

Big difference.


I believe it...

Click here: Commuting times getting shorter - U.S. Life -

Thirty-six seconds is not a whole lot of time, but that commuting time is going down seems counter-factual.

I believe it.

About a hundred years ago, in the summer of 1939, when I was 6 --- my parents took me to the NY World's Fair. It's symbol was was "The Trylon and Perisphere."

The General Motors "Futurerama" exhibit showed cars with automatic transmissions cruising along cloverleaf interchanges.

It came to pass. So did the Interstate Highway System --- boring but quick --- that linked the East and West Coast.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (much under-rated) promoted it as defense measure. It had taken him about thirty days to drive from coast-to-coast. (I once hitch-hiked it in about three days...)

And a short time later the goose-stepping Nazis invaded Poland, splitting it up with Josef Stalin's incompetent troops. The Hitler-Stalin pact (exceuted by Foreign Policy Ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vassilly Molotov) was about as craven as the world has ever seen. The back-stabbing was was compounded a couple of years later when the Nazzis (as Winston Churchill called them) to get their goat, invaded the USSR.

I ramble.



Old, Bold,Sold

Click here: Second helpings - Times 2 - Times Online

Dale Careigies How to Win Friends and Influence People was mocked, but it sold 36 million copies in 36 nations. That's 1,912 times more than all my books put together.

The adivice he tendered is echoed now in scholarly psycho-medical tomes about over-coming the blues.

So too with Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking.

You'll find it (filled with greater jargon) in the same sorts of scholarly how-to books.)

Popular is sometimes profound.


Buzz words...

Click here: - The new GOP buzzword: Fascism - Aug 30, 2006

Purists go to definitional extremes in wartime, politics and in other human situations.

In World War I it was said the Boche "cut off the hands of Belgian babies." Didn't happen.

The purists and Arab-American groups object to "Islamic Facists."

I call 'em Islamo-fascist-jihadist-terrorists.

The old line "sticks 'n' stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me" --- is just not so.

Words can win wars.


Low-brow --- me , I guess.

While high-brow literary critics praised William Faulkner, James Joyce and Thomas Mann --- I couldn't get through their books. A couple of paragraphs tuned me out.

I did like John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. (Al Gore remember this: The Snows of Kilamjaro have been melting since about the year 1800.)

But, I much enjoyed the work of James Michener and Herman Wouk. Their books were usually fast-paced narratives and made history painless.

So too with movies.

Last night I saw The Greatest Game Ever Played about a teen-age caddy who won the US Open, to the amazement of all.

It happened in 1913.

The cinematography was excellent. The costumes seemed accurate. The golfers played right through driving rainstorms.

I taught me something about sports-and-society --- a favorite topic of mine.


Does the West have the will to survive?

Click here: Threads2

That ( I think) is what's on Lucianne Goldberg's site, in a NYPost column by SecDef Donald Rumsfeld.

Answer: We do.

It's the best game in town ever: prosperous, innovative, relatively peaceful since 1945 --- more than half a century(!)

And frustrating.

(Read the last few paragraphs of William MacNeill's The Rise of the West.)

The Islamo-fascist-jihadist-terrorists (Could I make a macro of that?) can bother us, but not overwhelm us.

Rumsfeld BTW, is not just a mindless down-sizing hawk.

He's been on the Board of Freedom House whose charter members included Eleanor Roosevelt, an idealistic, liberal, champion of liberty --- wherever and whenever possible.


Modernism... More

"The world is too much with us,
Getting and spending,
We lay waste our powers."

Wrote Willam Worsdsworth. (People have seem to have names that describe their work or other attributes. (Was Longfellow tall?)

Clearly, we are spoiled.

Computers seem to take forever. Phone lines get all tangled up.

But it's better than homing pigeons, packet ships, or putting notes to sea in a bottle.

I guess.


Better than...

Well, that's better than Liposuction.

But it was a CBS lie, wasn't it?

She makes too much money --- or I don't make enough...


Soft Landing...

Click here: - GDP Growth Revised Upward Slightly for Second Quarter - Economy

That's just about right for a "soft landing."

It figures.

Go up and down the streets of big growing cities and it seems as if "Now Hiring" has become the national motto.

Why? A lot of it is fueled by immigration, legal and illegal.



Check out Jewish World Review: Cal Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Kathleen Parker, Wa

Are you running additional post on

I'd appreciate if you did.


Two Stories from DC: Second to follow with comment

Click here: D.C. Suburbs Top List Of Richest Counties

Washington DC today was shown to have five of the top seven counties ranked by median income. One of them (Loudon) has one of the highest birth and fertilty rates.

The second concerns average commuting time: Washington has the second longest in the nation. But it is only 33 minutes.

There goes the the idea that more children equals more poverty.


Two Stories from DC second - to floow with commen

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Darwinism --- more.

I generally believe in Darwins Theory Of Evolution.

(There is, however a re-interpretation going on about the Scopes Trial.)

William Jennings Bryant wasn't such a fool. As SecState he wanted us not to invade the Phillipines and stay out World War One. Not bad thoughts.

Clarance Darrow left much to be desired.

H.L Mencken preened in own strange way.

One example ofen cited concerns human eyes. How come evolution didn't give us a third eye in the back our head? Or two eyes more spearated to give a wider view.

Or this: Swarms of insects form into a floral pattern when they feel threatend by a predator. How did they communicate with each other?

Anyway: Darwin had a such a big beard to hide the boils on his face.


Lot of hokum... but

Click here: BBC NEWS UK Magazine Baby boom... and bust

People have always been greedy? Yes?

My big problem with the Baby Boom is the Baby Bust.

I know I'm repeating myself but what's going on around the world is de-population. (For example:Iran and Brazil are below replactement; the Palestinian Total Fertilty Rate (TFR = children born per woman during the course of her child-bearing years) is sinking like a stone.

Demographers talk about "countries going out of business."

This is a global situation.

Maybe the insects will inherit the earth.


More studies...

Click here: Average Scores on SAT Show Significant Decline - New York Times

Of course, the differences are are within the margins of error.

Do the tests measure that young people today know how to hack computers, use cell phones, use ATMs (yummee...), book complex airline tickets, figure out complex ways to lie and cheat, discipline themselves for dangerous and rigorous sports?



King Solomon's $$$

It is said that King Solomon was the richest man --- ever.

That includes Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.

He had 800 wives and concubines. All that stuff.

What did he not have?

Air-Conditioning. Airplanes. Automobiles. Electricitity. Miracle drugs (alas, sometimes used iatrogenically.) All that and much more.

He is honored in history. In Israel there is a Shlomo Ha-Melech street.

Who is better off: We or he?



Many thanks --- put wheels on it!

Fabulous and fascinating tidbits from your great 'take' on everything and anything interesting, Ben. Keep up the good - and most informative - work....J.H. in Los Angeles --Posted by Anonymous to Wattenblog at 8/27/2006 06:23:26 PM

I thank you. I love blogging. But the tecnology is driving this technophobe la-la.


Has he no shame...

Click here: - Kerry alleges misconduct in 2004 Ohio vote - Aug 29, 2006

This is ridiculous --- and normal.

But Senator John Kerry, putative swift boat hero, is far worse than most.

I was on an election observation mission for President Reagan in 1986 (?).

Cory Acquino beat Ferdinand Marcos, but Marcos tried to steal the election.

Sen. Richard Lugar was Chairman of the Delegation. Rep. John Murtha was a Member.

We split up into teams and flew in helicopters to the more remote parts of the island chain. I went to Batangas.

Sen. Kerry returned from his observation mission and claimed that bullets had been fired at the chopper, and that he heard them hit the helicopter.

There were no bullet marks!

I don't know what to make of him.


Hannibal Lector --- Ugh (!) Ugh (!)

Watching a DVD the other night, I saw Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs.

I have seen some disgusting things in my life but that is, beyond doubt, the most disgusting.

It gave me nightmares.

I don't like nightmares.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Conspiratorial & Malicious...

Sidney Blumenthal is not a bad writer, but as mean-sprited, malicious and nasty as anyone in Washington's press corps. Also a wild-eyed Lefty.

Writing for the WashPost he once attacked a dear friend and associate of mine on what I believe to be wholly erroneous ond politically-motivated grounds.

Blumenthal was "former assistant and Senior Advisor to President Clinton" according to book jacket.

Comes now How Bush Rules --- Chronicles of a Radical Regime. It is published by the Princeton University Press at $26.95. (A university publishing that drivel?)

It is full of cabals, conspiracries, coup d' etats and more.

I've just started it so I'll spare you chapter and verse.

If you are a mean-spirited, malicious, conspirital Lefty --- by all means buy it.

Otherwise sane people should steer clear.


Great for a novice...

See below:

I get this sort of stuff all the time.Often even worse. It's harder for me than Greek to understand, and I don't know Greek.

Does anyone really understand it?

The 'Net is supposed to be "user-fiendly." Sure.

Instead of saying "http" yada yada yada couldn't they just use, say, QQQ ?





Words from the Maximum leader...

Chris DeMuth is President of the American Institute for Public Policy Research.

We have worked together since the mid 1980s. He is a rare individual: A true polymath with the ability to fund-raise.

(This is not a suck-up, I swear. Chris and I have had some {few} disagreements over the yars.)

I don't follow everything that his piece above says, but I know a lot more about economics than when I came here.

He should write a book. He says he will, next year. I hope so.


I don't pack heat...

My former colleague at AEI, John Lott, wrote a book entitled More Guns, Less Crime.

Since I qualified in the USAF for a carbine and a .45 in 1956, I have not picked up a gun. I have done a lot of fishing, but never hunted. I'm not sorry about that.

But John's thesis makes sense to me.

If crooks think their potential victims have weapons --- at home or in their cars --- the thugs will be less likely to rob, mug, maim or murder.

I am suspicious of "studies" that prove what the author seeks to demonstrate.

But John shows that states with "right to carry" laws have lower rates of violent crime.

It makes sense to me.


What a novice faces...

Below is what a novice faces.

I hope it's not terribly personal.

If anyone can tell me what is being described it would be most welcome.



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Sunday, August 27, 2006

He's nutso...

Click here: Iran opens heavy-water reactor - World - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

It would be a humanitarian act to take out Iran's nuclear capacity.

Unlike Iraq, Iran is a pretty big country (about 80 million souls.) The citizenry ( as I understand it) is pro-American.

It is danger to world to let him proceed down the path he proclaims.

When Dean Rusk retired as SecState after eight years in Kennedy-Johnson, he was asked what his greatest achievment was.

His answer was not that President of the Rockefeller Foundation he saw to it that the IR-8 strain of of rice was developed.

It was not that he staved communist expansion in Vietnam, a view not shared by many --- not most --- Americans.

He said "We kept the genie in the bottle."

That has been the major foreign policy goal of most of the world's nations since Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed in 1945.


(!) , (!) , (!)

The marks above come from chess notation { (!) }

I was very good at chess as a boy. Then, as in a number of things mathematical, I hit a wall.

I played a few years ago in California. I cleaned up.

Then, feeling my oats, I played in a game in Washington --- with time cloks. I was wiped out.

My father used to spot me a Rook. Later a Queen (!) . Well into his Eighties (!)

There are grandmasters who will play 24 good players samultaneously--- blinfolded. They win most or all of the games (!)

Ben (!)


Shmuel Herzfeld has left a new comment on your post "

"I am going to speculate that the Synagogue you refer to is Ohev Sholom--The National Synagogue (

The Friday night service is truly spiritual. Everyone should feel welcome to attend that service. Posted by Shmuel Herzfeld to Wattenblog at 8/27/2006 05:46:54 PM

Ben's Response:

Reb Shmuel is quite a guy --- 31 years old!

His wife is (?) a neurologist. Many congregants are in the hot Washington Think Tanks.

The Rabbi is leaving for Israel in a few days.

He revived a failing shul.

Wattenblog does not charge for plugs.



Click here: - Survey: Gas Prices Drop to $2.87 Per Gallon - Hybrid Cars Vehicles Car Buying

Many major oil producing nations are facing tumult and chaos. Think Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, Iran, Russia.

But energy prices sinking.

How so? Markets. Markets matter.

Markets and capitalism have one great redeeming future: They work.

Citizens left on their own earn good money, invest, save and produce.

But on the Left they say it's not fair.

Yet upward mobility is a hallmark of the American Dream.

The great economist Joseph Schumpeter described part of the process of capitalism as creative destruction.

That can be harsh. It can create Luddites, who want to smash the machines that put them out of work.

The trick is to provide transition help, training, child care and the like.

That also works.


No "Yes but" on this one

Click here: Vanity Fair: PRINTABLES

So, the NYTimes is in trouble.

Tsk tsk.

It's a mildly good reportorial paper.

Judy Miller is a fine journalist, who knows what she is talking about.

The op-columnists are still tilted well to the Left. Paul Krugman, putatively an economist, writes about politics from a conspiratorial far-Left perspective. He knows even less about politics than about economics.

The addition of David Brooks and John Tierney is welcome. They are sort-of Neo-Cons, and are scrupulously fair.

But it is the editorial page that is main problem. It is mindlessly far Left. It is an embarassment.
And people around the world think that's what Americans think.

The paper has graciously (And I think wisely) run some of my op-eds over the years.

But if the NYTimes goes under, I would not be at the Memorial service.


Yes, but... Another study...

The Wall Street Journal August 22, 2006; Page A12

The Fertility Gap By Arthur C. Brooks

The midterm election looms, and once again efforts begin afresh to increase voter participation. It has become standard wisdom in American politics that voter turnout is synonymous with good citizenship, justifying just about any scheme to get people to the polls. Arizona is even considering a voter lottery, in which all voters are automatically registered for a $1 million giveaway. Polling places and liquor stores in Arizona will now have something in common.

On the political left, raising the youth vote is one of the most common goals. This implicitly plays to the tired old axiom that a person under 30 who is not a liberal has no heart (whereas one who is still a liberal after 30 has no head). The trouble is, while most "get out the vote" campaigns targeting young people are proxies for the Democratic Party, these efforts haven't apparently done much to win elections for the Democrats. The explanation we often hear from the left is that the new young Democrats are more than counterbalanced by voters scared up by the Republicans on "cultural issues" like abortion, gun rights and gay marriage.

But the data on young Americans tell a different story. Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated, politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children.

If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given the fact that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20% -- explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today.

Alarmingly for the Democrats, the gap is widening at a bit more than half a percentage point per year, meaning that today's problem is nothing compared to what the future will most likely hold. Consider future presidential elections in a swing state (like Ohio), and assume that the current patterns in fertility continue. A state that was split 50-50 between left and right in 2004 will tilt right by 2012, 54% to 46%. By 2020, it will be certifiably right-wing, 59% to 41%. A state that is currently 55-45 in favor of liberals (like California) will be 54-46 in favor of conservatives by 2020 -- and all for no other reason than babies.

The fertility gap doesn't budge when we correct for factors like age, income, education, gender, race -- or even religion. Indeed, if a conservative and a liberal are identical in all these ways, the liberal will still be 19 percentage points more likely to be childless than the conservative. Some believe the gap reflects an authentic cultural difference between left and right in America today.

As one liberal columnist in a major paper graphically put it, "Maybe the scales are tipping to the neoconservative, homogenous right in our culture simply because they tend not to give much of a damn for the ramifications of wanton breeding and environmental destruction and pious sanctimony, whereas those on the left actually seem to give a whit for the health of the planet and the dire effects of overpopulation." It would appear liberals have been quite successful controlling overpopulation -- in the Democratic Party.

Of course, politics depends on a lot more than underlying ideology. People vote for politicians, not parties. Lots of people are neither liberal nor conservative, but rather vote on the basis of personalities and specific issues. But all things considered, if the Democrats continue to appeal to liberals and the Republicans to conservatives, getting out the youth vote may be increasingly an exercise in futility for the American left.

Democratic politicians may have no more babies left to kiss.

Mr. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs, is the author of "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism," forthcoming from Basic Books.

Ben's response:

It sounds like an interesting book that Mr. Brooks has written.


Although the G.O.P has done well in recent elections, some of the results have been very close.

Moreover, (as Mr. Brooks acknowledges) people who are conservatives or Neo-Cons today, residing in "Red States" --- may switch as they move to the bright lights and big cities (and surrounding suburbs.) Which they are doing.

Further: I just don't believe that 80% of voters cast their ballots as their parents. Voters are all over the lot. The greatest rise has been among people who regard themselves as independent.

Voters may switch their voting behavior several times in the course of a lifetime.

As noted here more than a dozen times in these posts; plunging demographics are a dramatic problem all over the world. What is happening is a severe drop in birth and fertility rates everywhere, cutting populations, markets and diminishing the idea of an economy of scale. The word for it is de-population.

Immigration is saving America's butt. But in a global economy we may get hurt as European and Japanese markets go way down.


Body marking

I find the current craze for tattoos, studs, liposuction, wild earrings, face-lifting etc. to be somewhat disgusting. If it can be done, it will be done. Legally or sometimes illegally.

There must be a meaning to it all. What? Hyper-freedom?

You are who you are.

I think there is probably more justification among women than men. The male of the species wants arm-candy.

Of course, women are looking for hunks. But severely injured or maimed men can still attract women.

Naturally, I'm near perfect.

No body markings. No earrings. No pinky rings.

I didn't even wear a wedding ring until well into my second marriage. (Since ended.)


Important? Not.

Giuliani Leads McCain in Iowa

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has pulled well ahead of Sen. John McCain among Iowa Republicans likely to take part in the state’s early caucuses, a new poll reveals.

In the survey by Victory Enterprises, Giuliani received support from 30 percent of Republicans expecting to attend the 2008 caucuses, which are scheduled to launch the 2008 Republican presidential nominating cycle.

McCain was second at 17.3 percent.

A similar Victory Enterprises survey a year ago had Giuliani and the senator from Arizona tied at 21.7 percent.

Giuliani is viewed as favorable by two-thirds of those surveyed, the highest rating among the eight Republicans listed as potential candidates.

But two-thirds said they would be unlikely to support a candidate whose position on abortion differed from theirs, a potential problem for Giuliani, who supports abortion rights.

Seventy percent of the poll's respondents identified themselves as "pro-life."

In the new poll, about 29 percent of the 400 surveyed said they were undecided about whom they would support.

“The poll shows single-digit support for the remainder of the large field of prospective GOP candidates, all of whom have made multiple visits to Iowa this year,” the Des Moines Register reported.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee received 6.5 percent, followed by Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 4.5 percent, Virginia Sen. George Allen with 3.5 percent, New York Gov. George Pataki with 3.3 percent, and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback each with 2.5 percent.

Ben's response:

I like Sen. John McCain. I like Rudy.

But it is surveys like this that give polling a bad name.

The caucuses themselves are idiotic. Non-secret ballots, a five hour process, multi-tiered contests with "uncommited the usual victor.

But the "election" is more than two years away.

It is meaningless.


Muscle Memory....

A few years ago I broke my wrist. One thing led to another.

I had played some tennis as a child and in the Air Force.

I didn't get serious about it until 1966, when I came to work on President Lyndon Baines Johnson's staff as a spreech writer.

For many years I played in a doubles game on Saturday and Sunday mornings on the clay courts of St. Alban's. Donna Shalala, the Secretary of Health & Human Services (on President Clinton's watch) and I were partners. My AEI colleague Norman Ornstein and Tom Mann of Brookings.

I took lessons from the legendary Allie Ritzenberg.

Tennis is great fun, and also Washington's great social net-working activity. The great and the near-great, the good players and the not-so good players periodically play in round-robin benefit tournaments.

(My moment of glory: I once jammed Gabriella Sabatini on a serve and she shanked the return. It stunned her. She was wide-eyed, and then laughed. She is a great, gracious and graceful player.)

I thought I was getting pretty good, perhaps 6 or so on a scale of 10 (maybe not that high.)

Anyway, today, the day after my 73rd birthday --- I played doubles again after a lapse of about three years.

Advancing age and some injuries had slowed me down some. My racket hadn't be re-strung in 4-5 years. There were no new tennis balls.

On Monday, I hope to take care of all that.

But the human muscle memory is almost unbelievable.

I remembered how to serve, poach, hit overheads, hit with spin etc.

I'm going to start playing again as often as I can.


But I didn't do so badly. A lady friend of mine and I won our match.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Old and ugly movies.

I believe it's said that the best rated documentaries, on public televison, Discovery, and National Geographic show "animals eating people."

I'm slowly moving into the elctronic world: DVDs in particular.

So I'm looking at old movies; the ones I grew up on.

Frequently they contain random and disgusting violence, but somehow different from what see these days.

I'm not talking Holocuast which I feel is in a class by itself.

I'm not talking of sado-masochistic sex films.

But gladiators (men and even a few women) who kill each other brutally as the huge crowd (ca. 200,000 people) roars in a blood lust. Zulus kill British imperialists and vice-versa. Th Crusaders slaughter their way to the Holy Land.

Consider a film set in World War I: It shows random French soldiers, on the orders of martinet officers and drawn by lot, shot by firing squads to scare others from showing what is said to be cowardice.


I just bought some golden oldies. The Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper playing Lou Gehrig, Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre, and Paul Henreid, set in wartime but not explicity violent, and of a later era March of Peguins and The Emperor's Club with Kevin Kline.

Wonderful stuff.

I don't know what it proves, but I love it. (Coop just hit two homers to cheer up a very sick young boy.


Very proud of...

Like most of us, I've made mistakes. There are times that I've hurt others, and hurt myself. (Of course, I try not to do either.)

I love my immediate family and extended family.

But something happened today that made me feel wonderful.

I met a young lawyer and his wife at the new (and very interesting) Synagogue I have started attending.

They have three children. They told me they were going to stop at two, but they were influenced by book The Birth Dearth and particularly the parts about the incredible shrinking secular Jewish birth and fertility rates.

They had a third.

I have been told that several times.

Once, a very close friend of mind, living in Chicago, had recently remarried. We were out dining and drinking at a Windy City restaurant: He, his wife, and me.

They told me that they did not plan to have any children. The friend ---male--- had one child from a previous marriage. The new bride (in her mid-thirtes) had --- zero.

I had another drink and told them I thought that was unwise. Among other things, I believe, children are the closest we get to immortality.

( I grant that it is every individual's right to make his/her reproductive deccisions.)

Later, I was told, they thought about it. They decided to have a child.

She is now in Medical School.

I feel warm and toasty about it.

(I grant that it is the right every individual's right to make their own reproductive decisions.)


Ryan and Gilbert and Alphonso

Click here: Washington Nationals : News : Washington Nationals News

I can be, sometimes, a hero-worshipper. Is that good or bad?

Washington DC can be a great sports town.

Alphonso Soriano is having a great year, breaking records every day. He may well be the first player to ever hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases in a single season.

But he's about 30 --- I don't think there is a valid birth certificate...

But Ryan Zimmerman (of the 'Nats) and Gilbert Arenas (of the Wizards) are in their early twenties. Barring the unforseen (expect the the unexpected) they will be around as big-time
stars on big-time teams for a long time.

Policy wonks may ignore this, but they shouldn't. There is a close relationship between Sports and Society (e.g. Jackie Robinson etc.)


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "An answer ...":

Sorry Ben, while you are the demographic expert on a lot of things, you are just totally wrong when it comes to this argument.

The UN population figures are irrelevant to this argument, as well.Let's take the World Resources Institute's breakdown of per-capita energy usage across the different regions of the world. The Developing Countries, which all have higher fertility rates and are poorer than the West, have a per-capita energy usage rate of 216.1 kilograms of oil per person. The Developed Countries, which all have lower fertility rates and are rich, have a per-capita energy usage rate of 666.9 kg oil per person.That means that the developed world uses TRIPLE the amount of energy than the developing countries use.

And the fertility rates of the developing countries, while they continue to decline, are a fraction of that of the developed nations. It just so happens that the richer nations in Africa have the lowest fertility rates.

South Africa has a rate of 18.87 births per 1,000, and Botswana has a rate of 25.5 per 1000. Egypt is at 24.36, and Tunisia has a rate of 16.53. These are all relatively wealthy African nations. The poorest of African nations are a different story. Burkina Faso has a rate of 44.78, and Chad is at 47.06.

Almost every place that fertility rates decline, per capita wealth increases. The entire industrialized world is a prime example of this, with few exceptions. As nations become industrialized, they begin to use A LOT more energy. WAY more than the developing nations.

True, the developing nations burn things like "cow chips," but that is a low-tech, low-energy form of fuel.

The bottom line is, in the undeveloping world, subsistence farming is the number one economic activity. And it is a simple fact that a poor subsistence farmer with eight kids in Namibia uses less energy in a year than a suburban soccer mom with 3 kids in Florida uses in a month. This is a consequence of our prosperity, and I think it is a good thing.

Obviously, our energy needs will change, we will move away from one fuel or towards another, be it nuclear, or whatever. But where we get our energy from will not matter as long as we continue to have a high demand for energy.

And as long as we have high expectations, like the freedom to drive across the country in a station wagon, or to air condition our suburban homes, we're going to use more energy, on both an absolute and per-capita basis, than the undeveloped world.

Ben's Response:

Pls take a look at the stunning decline in black teen-age birth and fertility rates since about 1990. Incredible!

BTW Sub-Saharan African birth and fertility rates have been sinking like a stone! Probably the fastest plunge in human history. (And that doesn't count periodic genocide, famine, and HIV.)

There may be suburban soccer Moms in Florida with three kids, but the national TFR has been below replacement (range of about 1.8 to 2.0) since 1972!


Friday, August 25, 2006

Corrected version

Friday, August 25, 2006

Jewish Modern Orthodoxy.

On Friday night (Erev Shabbat) I attended a Modern Orthodox service in Washington DC.

I expected a group of old Jews, mumbling in Hebrew, much of which I had forgotten or never knew.

What I saw was old Jews and young Jews and little Jewish children and one black man ---having the time of their lives. They were dancing and singing. Men in their Seventies and Eighties were swinging and swaying, dancing and dhjumping. With each other, their faces beaming. Some of it sounded a bit like rap in Hebrew. Soulful, pensive Hebrew songs in a melodies I knew as a boy have been juiced up. In there own very different ways each are are beuatiful.

The women were on the left side of the small shul. They seemd to be having a ball too. On elderly lady read her prayer book with a huge oblong magnifying glass.

The Rabbi was 31 years old, familiar with every soul there. He often spoke colloquial English, piping up from various spots among the congregation. He wore a shirt and tie, no jacket. I wore jacket and tie. That's how I started out, but gradually lost the jacket and tie and rolled up my sleeve much like the rest fo the congregants.

The Rabbi is going to Northern Israel next week.

I kept losing the place. People fell all over themselves to help me.

Oh, by the way the prayers were powerful and profound.

I may go again Saturday morning. at 9:15 AM for the big time service. But it only lasts for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Reasonable. Other services last three hours.

I haven't joined up and may not.

So I can keep writing on Friday night which a Modern Orthodox shouldn't do. I haven't signed up yet so I canwrite on Friday night.



Jewish Modern Orthodoxy

On Friday night (Erev Shabbat) I attended a Modern Orthodox service in Washington DC.

I expected a group of old Jews, mumbling in Hebrew, much of which I had forgotten or never knew.

What I saw was old Jews and young Jews and little Jewish children and one black man ---having the time of their lives. They were dancing and singing. Men in their Seventies and Eighties were swinging and swaying, dancing and dhjumping. With each other, their faces beaming.

Some of it sounded a bit like rap in Hebrew. Soulful, pensive Hebrew songs in a melodies I knew as a boy have been juiced up. In there own very different ways each are are beuatiful.

The women were on the left of the small shul. They seemd to be having a ball too. On elderly lady read her prayer book with a huge oblong magnifying galss

The Rabbi was 31 years old, familiar with every soul there. He often spoke colloquial English, piping up from various spots among the congregation.

He wore a shirt and tie, no jacket. I wore jacket and tie. That's how I started out, but gradually lost the jacket and tie and rolled uo sleeve much like the rest fo the congregants.

He's going to Northern Israel next week.

I kept losing the place. People fell all over themselves to help me.

Oh, By the way the prayers were power and profound. I may go Saturday morning. at 9:15 AM for the big time service but it only lasts for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Reasonable. Other services last three hours.

I haven't joined up and may not. So I can keep writing on Friday night which a Modern Orthodox shouldn't do.


I haven't signed up yet so I can

I am not observant (yet).

I may go to Saturday service morning

They were devout and happy about it.

I'm not devout yet, So I can write about it one., The devout ones won't write on the Sabbth. read or

I once saw Father Divine preach in Harlem when I was about 15. I've seen Holly Rollers, Evangelicals

Life v. Choice

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Makes sense to me...":

Sounds good to me, Ben.

But, then again, I dunno. Your utilitarian moral logic will lead you into places you don't want to go. Want an example?

"It's murder [to turn over these Jews] and [look, I don't want any trouble with the Nazis, who are all for good order for the vast majority of us] I'm for it."You like that?

Because I sure as hell don't. I know how that movie ends. Murder is murder, my friend. I sure hate to see an honest man start to make excuses for why "I had no idea what was going on, Sir ..."It don't matter how much elk you eat. Wrong is wrong. Right?


Ben's Response:



The OB-GYN said it would happen no matter what. And so it does.

Hitler could have been stopped if we listened to Winston Chruchill not Neville Chamberlain.

Hitler proclaimed "A Thousand Year Reich."

Churchill nailed the Nazzi.


An answer ...

Ben, nobody links them in the way you see it, because if anything, decreasing birth rates mean that our energy problems will get WORSE, not better, because energy use actually INCREASES as societies become wealthier. And, as you know, decreases in fertility are often associated with significant increases in per-capita wealth.

The industrialized nations of the West use FAR MORE energy per person than the more populous undeveloped nations. As standard of living increases, people start having fewer children but they use a whole lot more energy to feed their habits.

As nations such as Iran, Mexico and India continue to see fertility rates decline, they will see an increase in per capita energy use.


With all due respect Mr/Ms/Mrs "A": That is hokum.

The current (somewhat bizzarre) United Nations Population Divisiion (UNPD) go out to 2300. (Too far...)

They show a total world population ranging from about 2 billion to about 36 billion. (Useful, huh?)

Decreases in fertility are not neccessarily linked to greater energy use, or cleaner energy use.
Poor people --- burning "cow chips" for example --- cause lots of pollution.

Moreover, new energy sources can be both clean and efficient. (See my post re "Thorium.")

We have the wallet for that. Do we have the will?


Israeli v. Palestinian demography

Check this out:

For a long time it was said that Israel could be either a democracy or an authoritarian state. It would have Israeli voting power only if it was authoritarian. If it was democratic the Palestinians would have have voting power because of differential demography:

The Palestinian TFR (the average number of children per women born during the course of fertile years) was way up high. The Israeli TFR was falling.

A funny thing happened on the way to demographic disaster:

Palestinian Total Fertility Rates have fallen dramatically, and there has been a substantial out-migration. (They too watch television at night.)

Meanwhile, Israeli TFRs have also fallen, but not nearly as dramatically.

High irony: Secular Israelis have the highest TFRs of any modern nation in the world. How so?
Many Israelis have a third child (an "insurance baby ") because of fear of Arab terror or new wars. I'd guess at least ten Israeli babies are born for every Israeli killed in by war or terror. (Crass perhaps. But true.)

Moreover, there has been a large number of immgrants coming to Israel.

David Ben Gurion thought such an immigration would come from the U.S.

Instead it came from the Soviet Union. They vote. For a while Natan Sharansky was their hero in a special party.

Some of the original research and promotion of these ideas came from AEI. From demographer Nick Eberstadt and me,


OK --- Thorium

Click here: New age nuclear COSMOS magazine

This sounds good.

But we are not running out of fossil fuels.

Why doesn't anyone (but me) link the plunge (a deep plunge) in birth and fertility rates to energy use.

Fewer people mean less energy consumption. (There are problems associated with it.)



Yes, but...

Click here: Council for Secular Humanism

Humanist Paul Kurtz has been peddling these papers for a long time. Some of his points make some real sense. Some don't.

I find myself becoming more religious. It's hard.

I am not a creationist, an evangelical, a fundamentalist, an Orthodox Jew, a Modern Orthodox Jew --- etc.

But the narrative of the Old Testament has some real validity.

Last night on the History Channel, I saw a recounting of the Exodus from Egypt by the Hebrews. This has long been discounted as myth.

But a team of archeologists, linguists and historians showed that the tale had real validity: plagues, floods, insects etc.

And it demonstrated that there most likely was a real person named Moses, (or with a roughly equivalent Egyptian name) that he led the enslaved Hebrews across the Red Sea and likely went to Mount Sinai.

I do not think The Bible ought to be taken literally (I doubt that Methusalah live to age 900) but it is has something real to tell us. The King James translation is probably the most important book ever published.


One reason to Boycott the Beijing Olympics.

One reason to Boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Boycott !

Click here: Times Researcher Receives 3-Year Prison Term - New York Times

This sounds like an authoritarian government wielding the whip, to prove a point.

President Jimmy Carter --- not a hawk --- boycotted the Olympic Games in Moscow (!)

President Ronald Reagan --- a hawk --- opposed the move (!)

I think America should threaten to boycott the Beijing Olympics if they don't release the man.

The Chinese Olympics mean a great deal to them. It gives them international legitimacy.

I bet they'll back down.

Maybe they should add a new competition for their games: idiotic, counter-productive authoritarianism.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Maybe we're not meanies.

Click here: More child support is paid, census says - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

Cheryl Wetzstein's piece in the WashTimes deals with additional child support. It can be a two-edged sword, particularly among poor people. It can drive poor fathers to the poorhouse, prevent re-marriage, alienate children etc.

But while complaints mount (mostly from Democrats, when they are out of power) the Federal Government, and states and cities, have been more and more helpful to poor Americans.

The minimum Social Security payments have gone up. The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) give huge and growing tax benefits to people who earn up to lower middle class levels. Tens of millions of poorer Americans now pay no Federal taxes at all. Tens of millions of poor Americans receive more welfare monies, more education, more job training etc.
There is much more.

Welfare, broadly seen, has gone way up for those in need --- and cut for for tax cheats.

That's the way it should be.

That's what Neo-Cons like me believe.


Paul Greenberg v. Richard Cohen

Click here: Paul Greenberg

Contrary to what some anti-Semites say, all Jews are not alike.

In fact, I have heard it said that 2006 may be "The Year of the Jewish Republican." Don't count on it.

Greenberg lives in fly-over country: Little Rock, Arkansas.

His rendition of Cohen's Complaint is much better than mine, which was posted here.

Cohen lives in New York City and writes for the WashPost. NYNY is the home of much LibLeft gitchty-goo journalism.

Maybe that has something to do with it.

I've often thought that network television news programs coming from Washington DC (like Ted Koppel's Nightline) were far more realistic than those emanating from the Big Apple.

Why? Because much-maligned Washington may be the most representative city in America ( a President, a Vice-President, 535 Member of Congress, thousands of trade associations, lobbyists representing corporations, and the workers who works for them, unions, the Census Bureau which measures us like no one else can, etc.)

Both Cohen and Greenberg are fine writers.

One has his head in the sky. The other has his feet on the ground.


I.F.Stone --- What did he know and when did he...

Myra McPherson, formerly of the WashPost has written an adulatory biography of super-liberal hard-Left icon I.F. Stone. ( AllGovernments Lie! The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist I.F. Stone Scribners-Lisa Drew, $35.00)

She cites and gets blurbs (mostly) from the logical suspects of the journalistic Left: Studs Terkel, Robert Scheer, Helen Thomas, Bill Moyers, and more.

She bitterly dismisses The Venonona Papers --- which mantained that Izzy Stone was receiving monies from the USSR. I think there is more to it than that.

She denounces Neo-Cons and the "hard-Right."

That's her privilege.

But there is damning fact she tries to gloss over --- but can't.

Stone did not break with the USSR until the mid-1950s. That was about fifteen years after the notorious non-aggression pact by Hitler, Stalin and Mao, probably the greatest mass murderers in history.

That was was the cut-off point for decent people. The Soviets had resorted to murder since the time of Lenin. But this was of another magnitude entirely.

The Nazis and the Soviets proceeded to divide Poland between them. Then the "Nazzis" (as Winston Churchill --- who should have been "The Man of the Century, not Einstein) attacked the Soviets. Nice Guys.

What did I.F. Stone know, and when did he know it?

Not much, and too late.


For those who think you know about elections...

Click here: - Trees and tapes may hint at bin Laden location - Aug 24, 2006

What would happen if, say, four days before the 2006 elections Mr. Laden was captured or killed?

Four days before the 2000 Presidential election it was revealed that then-Gov. George W. Bush had a DUI on his record up in Maine. (He was driving too slowly...)

Karl Rove ( a truly impartial source) says that incident and the attendant publicity, cost Gov. Bush four million votes --- mostly from Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians.

Divide it by half. It still does away with blot of President Bush's copybook: That he didn't get a majority or plurality of the popular vote.

And ObinL is somewhat more important than DUI.


Try not to...

Click here: I try to live like a senior citizen. By Emily Yoffe - Slate Magazine

Some (few) people really enjoy retirement. But playing golf (formerly a rich man's sport, but less so now) can fry your brain.

I've got my problems --- don't we all?

But I love my work --- writing and talking (on telision and radio.)

That is a true blessing.


By Mark Mazzetti

Click here: Some in G.O.P. Say Iran Threat Is Played Down - The New York Times

I don't believe the the Iranian nuclear threat is being "played down." They are apparently years away from building a nuclear weapon.

Long before that they will have a new (sane) government. If not, the U.S., ideally with help from the Brits, the Aussies, the Israelis and maybe even the French (Remember: they are using nuclear power is a wise and efficient manner) will act.

A few "bunker busters" on "command and control centers" would set them back for years.

"Surgical strikes" can be dangerous, but this one seems like a piece of cake.

Mark Mazzetti, now reporting for the NYTimes, is another in the fine company of my former Research Assistants at AEI.. (There have been a few turkeys, but not many...)

The good ones have helped me greatly. I ask a lot of them. But I believe I reciprocate.


The problem is...

Click here: Age of the Empirical by John O. McGinnis - Policy Review 137

Yes, facts and data are more persuasive than mere opinions.

Sen. Danilel P. Moynihan noted in the deliberations for Social Security Reform that "We are all entitled to our own opinions. We are not entitled to our own facts."

Yes... but

These days "social scientists" (oxymoron! oxymoron!) pour out of our univerities. They can make their "regression analyses" proove most anything they want them to prove --- and do so. That happens, I think, more on the Left than on the Right. In any event the practice is pervasive.

My solution: When in doubt, try common sense.

If someone says "Pluto is not a planet" why, he is obviously wrong.

Oops! Bad example.

Try: "The world is flat." And look at the pictures from our sattelites.


This could be a problem...

Click here: McClatchy Washington Bureau 08/23/2006 McCain's age could affect expected presidential run

But John McCain is off the charts!

Some few decades it was regarded as impossible for anyone to run for the Presidency if he was older than 60. That has changed, a great deal.

John F. Kennedy (whom I admire in many respects) ran and won at age 43.

But as Richard Reeves has reported in his fine tick-tock of the JFK Presidency, Kennedy was a very sick man when he ran --- from war injuries and Addison's Disease.

As I understand it, Addison's was treated with an early form of cortisone which yielded an intense sexual drive --- and a feeling of invulnerability.

Pumped full of cortisone, he negotiated about nuclear arms with Nikita Khruschev in Paris.
The man with "the bag" of nuclear launch codes was nearby.

And JFK felt invulnerable?

He wasn't; we weren't.

Very dangerous stuff. It worked out OK.


"Studies" again. Another "God That Failed."

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "8/23/2006 06:28:00 PM":

But poor children should be able to get into better schools.

Actually, if a school has enough "poor", i.e. non-white, especially Black and Hispanic, students, it will almost certainly be a "bad school" -- sooner or later. This is because on achievement tests -- which is how school quality is measured, isn't it? -- they do, on average, poorly. Poorer than Whites and Asians.

In particular: Did you know that black children who have parents with graduate degrees score lower, on average, than white children of parents who only graduated high school?

Ben's response:
Dear Mr. A.

You really should identify yourself if you going to write things like that.

I believe I explained that much of the data antecedes the arrival of college-eductaed Sub-Saharan blacks and Carribeans.

I also noted that "intelligence" may include things like athletic achievment; perhaps not technically, but realistically.


Susan Estrich is right --- occasionally

Click here: - Democrats Make a Presidential Shift, Opting for the Money Primary - Blog Blogs Popular Blogs V

This makes sense.

The Iowa Caucus is particularly pernicious: public voting, a five hour process, layers upon layers of selection procedures, with "uncommitted" the usual victor. But because it's first it gets inordinate media coverage.

In 1976 it set Jimmy Carter on the road to victory.

But it is almost impossible to handicap a multi-candidate primary-caucus, convention system. In 2008 we will see them in both parties.

In, say, a 6-candidate primary, a candidate can win with --- what? --- 20% of a small turnout.
Gary Hart and Pat Buchanan lost in caucuses and primaries but they received massive ink.

Why? Because the media-swarm decided they did "better than expected."

In 1992 Buchanan didn't win even one primary, caucus or convention. Yet he was awarded a prime time speaking role at the GOP convention in Houston. He pretty well succeeded in defining the GOP as a racist, exclusive, mean-spirited party.

President Bush's (#41) handlers didn't help by not fighting back.

America is not great because of our brilliant political system, although it manges to work.

Culture counts.

The culture of individual liberty counts most.


Sen. Frank Murkowski --- humiliated!

Former Sen. Frank Murkowski (R.Alaska) , now the incumbent Governor, was smashed to smithereens in the GOP primary.

He was beaten by a young woman from a small town.

Politics is a tough racket.

When you're popular --- you're flying.

Sooner or later, the bloom fades from the rose. Especially when you apopoint your daughter to fill your Senate seat! (Which Murkowski did...)

Nepotism strikes again!


Makes sense to me...

Click here: ‘Morning After’ Pill Is Cleared for Wider Sales - New York Times

I am (barely) pro-choice.

I believe Hungary was the first nation to legalize abortion.

I had dinner one night with a Hungarian OB-Gyn, at a restaurant overlooking the Danube. We had elk.

I asked him what he thought about the situation. He said:

"I have delivered thousands of babies; I have performed almost as many abortions. I have learned that when a woman wants to keep a baby, she will even risk her life to do so. When I woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, there is no way to stop her, even if she is risking her own life. So it is better to do it in the proper environment."

That sounds right to me.

I was and Sen. Henry M. Scoop Jackson's campaign staff in early 1972, shortly before the 5-4 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court descision.

I came up with a faux bumper sticker: "It's murder and I'm for it."

When I saw the sonogram of my youngest daughter --- now a bright and beautiful young woman --- I knew that there was life there.

The situation is particularly sad because it is so difficult to adopt children...


Makes sense to me...

Click here: ‘Morning After’ Pill Is Cleared for Wider Sales - New York Times

I am (barely) pro-choice.

I believe Hungary was the first nation to legalize abortion.

I had dinner one night with a Hungarian OB-Gyn, at a restaurant overlooking the Danube. We had elk.

I asked him what he thought about the situation. He said:

"I have delivered thousands of babies; I have performed almost as many abortions. I have learned that when a woman wants to keep a baby, she will even risk her life to do so. When I woman wants to terminate a pregnancy, there is no way to stop her, even if she is risking her own life. So it is better to do it in the proper environment."

That sounds right to me.

I was and Sen. Henry M. Scoop Jackson's campaign staff in early 1972, shortly before the 5-4 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court descision.

I came up with a faux bumper sticker: "It's murder and I'm for it."

When I saw the sonogram of my youngest daughter --- now a bright and beautiful young woman --- I knew that there was life there.

The situation is particularly sad because it is so difficult to adopt children...


The year of "???"

Click here: Steele gaining blacks' support - Metropolitan - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

It is being said that 2006 will be "The year of the black Republican."

This follows years of the "Soccer Mom," the "Angry White male" others.

Don't get taken in. It might happen (dubious); it might not.

I hope it happens. Blacks have been taken "for granted" by the Dems for too long. Accordingly, they have very little leverage. Too bad. They deserve better.


Rush v. McCain

Click here: America's Anchorman: McCain Sucks Up to Drive-By Media, Bashes Bush

Rush has said some good things over the years.

But John McCain (although not perfect) is an American hero, an Energizer Bunny as a Presidential candidate, and a creative legislator.

I was on his Straight Talk Express in New Hampshire in 2000. (Sometimes called Bullsh-t One)

by the hungry press corps.

Everything Sen.John sed was on the record.

How remarkable!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Click here: Study of Test Scores Finds Charter Schools Lagging - New York Times

This gets complicated.

Beware of "studies that show..." conclusions.

But poor children should be able to get into better schools.

We have done a number of Think Tank programs on the issue. Even those "experts" who oppose charter schools back off when it is noted that they are only "experimental."

The movement is growing, rapidly "the fastest-growing sector in public education..." according to NYTimes (08/23/06)

Inexplicably (to me) the teacher's unions (one of which, the American Federation of Teachers, takes very wise national positions) have opted not to accept invitations to appear on the program.

I sat next to the late Al Shanker, arguably a Neo-Con, on a long flight to a human rights (CSCE) conference in Madrid. I was pro- he was anti- . He was so persuasive, I didn't write a word about it in my column for about five years!


Charter Schools...

Click here: Study of Test Scores Finds Charter Schools Lagging - New York Times

This gets complicated.

Beware of "studies that show..." conclusions.

But poor children should be able to get into better schools.

We have done a number of Think Tank programs on the issue.

Even those "experts" who oppose charter schools back off when it is noted that they are only "experimental."

The movement is growing, rapidly "the fastest-growing sector in public education..." according to NYTimes (08/23/06)

Inexplicably (to me) the teacher's unions (one of which, the American Federation of Teachers, takes very wise national positions) have opted not to accept invitations to appear on the program.

I sat next to the late Al Shanker, arguably a Neo-Con, on a long flight to a human rights (CSCE) conference in Madrid. I was pro- he was anti- .

He was so persuasive, I didn't write a word about it in my column for about five years!


Ahnold --- Terminate such talk

Dear Ahnold,

See below.

This is cheap-shot stuff.

I am an admirer of yours, and (usually) of other citizen-politicians.

These "illegals" are mowing the lawns and washing the dishes of of your constituents.

Immigration, legal and sometimes illegal, has played a huge role in California's developement: Koreans, Chinese, Russian Jews, Japanese, Filipinos etc.

Not long ago there was an open border between Mexiico and the U.S.

The Reconquista movement is mostly hype.

The overwhelming majority of Mexican-American children go to school and speak English. Many of them serve in the military.

I repeat: Mexican-Americans have, in proportion to their numbers, the highest rate of Congressional Medals of Honor. That is our nation's highest military award. (DOD data.)



Breaking from
Schwarzenegger Talks Tough on Immigration

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, seeking to shore up support among conservatives, told the state GOP convention Saturday that he would be tougher on illegal immigration than Democratic opponent Phil Angelides. "My opponent wants to pull the National Guard off the border. He wants to give undocumented workers California drivers licenses," Schwarzenegger said, as a few in the lunchtime crowd at the Century Plaza Hotel hissed.

"His policies are disastrous." Angelides, in a conference call with reporters, accused Schwarzenegger of using the issue to divide Californians and said the governor was "stirring up his anti-immigrant right wing base." But the state treasurer also acknowledged he has said he would remove the guard troops from the border if he were elected governor. Angelides has also voiced support for allowing illegal immigrants to get drivers licenses.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld's contribution...

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquillity and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.


I have seen longer versions of this prayer. But you get the idea. It sums up how little we know of our future. When Yahweh says at "the burning bush" that "I will be what I will be" (there a variety of meanings placed upon this incantation.)

I read it as G-d saying that he will do what he'll do; you do what you think is appropriate, beneficial and constructive.

That is often called The Protestant Ethic.


Mr. A --- again

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "No wonder it was posted by "Annonymous..."":

It has been said...

But it wasn't just "said" -- these are demographic facts that anyone can confirm.

And you don't seem to consider that Germans (and Europeans in general) as an ethnic group have higher average IQs than the mestizo Mexicans now entering America en masse (uninvited) -- some would say this is the reason they were eventually able to integrate into the American mainstream, and did not form an ethnic underclass the way Hispanics are doing today. And it is also the reason why Mexico is a poor, unstable, corrupt country -- i.e. it is full of Mexicans. And why Germany is an advanced first world nation. Maybe you can expound on that angle, e.g. explain: When compared to, say, Iceland -- which is a barren, resourceless rock in the middle of the ocean, with a very inhospitable climate -- a nation with a first world living standard, while Haiti is not? Also, why is Mexico, a nation with fairly abundant resources, a nation that its own people flee, while Japan, comparatively resource poor, has the 2nd largest economy?

Do you believe that a component of IQ is heritable? There is a large, rather convincing, and growing body of evidence that suggests that it is. And it is at this point beyond dispute that higher IQs correlate very well with academic and economic success (on average). This is why, around the world, racial and ethnic diversity is a problem for egalitarian societies -- some groups are not well equipped by nature to compete well with other groups. For example: over 40% of the students at UCLA are Asian, even though they (at this point) makeup less than 20% of California's population.

Just going by the evidence, it does not seem at all clear that Hispanics will not continue along their current path in America, and develop into, primarily, an underclass. You seem to have faith that this will not be the case. I wonder: is it wise to subject America to what amounts to a social experiment? Suppose you are wrong, Mr Wattenberg -- what then?

Earlier you said that by the 2nd generation Hispanics speak English. Assume this is so. Can you then explain why so few of them go on to attend and complete college?

How about the latter questions? Should Americans be able to advocate to maintain the demographic heritage of their country as a majority white nation without being called names?


I can see why you want to remain annoynmous. Your post is pretty damn close to racist.

IQ tests, and similar tests, are notoriously unreliable. They are changed by environment and education. Much of the data is out-dated, coming from an era before the emigration to the U.S. of highly educated Sub-Saharan blacks and Carribeans and other Latin Americans.

BTW: Does a baseball player like Alphonso Soriano --- who may well be the first player in baseball history to hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases in the same seaon --- have intelligence?

His skills require split-second timing, intense concentration, a rugged training schedule and a will to win.

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by Anonymous to Wattenblog at 8/22/2006 03:06:23 AM

From The White House

Pete Wehner, formally of "Empower America" tries to put out pro-Bush material within a given news cycle. This one is particularly instructive.


John Kerry

Iraq is not the center of the war on terror. The President keeps saying it is. The President keeps trying to push that down America's throat. It's wrong, it's a mistake” -- ABC's This Week, August 20, 2006

Osama bin Laden

"This Third World War is raging" in Iraq. "The whole world is watching this war" -- and it will end in "victory and glory, or misery and humiliation."

Ayman al-Zawahiri

“[Iraq] is now the place for the greatest battle of Islam in this era… The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate… The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.” -- letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, July 2005

Tony Blair

“So these people who are fighting us [in Iraq] know what is at stake. The question is: do we?” -- May 25, 2006

Here he is again: Mr. A (!)

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Why? I'll tell you why...":

So "mean-spirited" actually means "corrupt"? Are those synonyms in your mind?

It often prevents the US, the Brits and others from acting in the global best interest.

Here you suggest that what the US and Britain want is synonymous with "the global best interest". Presumably, if the US and Britain could convince more nations of that they'd have an easier time vis-a-vis the UN -- doing what they want wise. And if they are not able to do that, then perhaps it is possible -- just possible -- that what the US and Britain want is not in "the global best interest". Like Iraq.


Mr. A:

Of course, it is possible.

But the American track record ,I believe, is unsurpassed in global history.

We are a voluntary "empire of ideas." We seek no colonial rights (not since our foolish invasion of The Phillipines.)

The results in Iraq remain to be seen. The cards are out. Our miltary forces are all volunteers.

The costs in American KIAs and treasure have been minimal, albeit individually tragic.

More people were killed in the WTC bombings than in Iraq.

Iraq has had elections, formed a new government and established a constituion.

Many of the vounteers are re-enlisting for 2nd, 3rd or 4th tours of duty.

President Bush's poll ratings are going up.

Give war a chance!

Sometimes it works surpringly well !


PS. Mr. A, try using your own name if you have such strong convictions.

I do.