The above picture was taken in early autumn. Now
there's over a foot of new snow on the fairways. My close friends Lon and Nancy Hendersen own the
Sunset Hill House down the road from our cottage.
The above shot was taken of their golf
course that runs alongside our outer fields to the south and west. The golf "shack" is a shack
badly in need of repair. It's still a beautiful site, and I often bring
wonderful clubhouse pork burgers cooked by Lon to Erika at lunchtime. The hills behind are toward
the west in the direction of Vermont. The picture taken in early autumn appears
in their slide show at
Many of you will
be interested in the phone tax at
Urban Legends Reference Pages: 2006 Federal Excise Tax Credit tax time.
The IRS will allow a credit for taxes paid no matter which tax return you
fill out. Urban Legends explains how you can file for it.
I've been out of
town all week, so most of the Tidbits below were written prior to December
Tidbits on December 10, 2006
earlier editions of Tidbits go to
earlier editions of New Bookmarks go to
Click here to search Bob Jensen's web site if you have key words to enter ---
For example if you want to know what Jensen documents have the term "Enron"
enter the phrase Jensen AND Enron. Another search engine that covers Trinity and
other universities is at
Bob Jensen's past presentations and lectures
Bob Jensen's Home Page is at
Bob Jensen's blogs and various threads on many topics ---
(Also scroll down to the table at
Online Video, Slide Shows, and Audio
In the past I've provided links to various types of music and video available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
Immigration by the Numbers (Video) ---
Tribute to Our Military in Iraq ---
Considering the tight coordination required, their
accomplishment is nothing short of amazing, even if they were not all DEAF. Yes,
you read correctly. All 21 of the dancers are complete deaf-mutes. Relying only
on signals from trainers at the four corners of the stage, these extraordinary
dancers deliver a visual spectacle that is at once intricate and stirring. Its
first major international debut was in Athens at the closing ceremonies for the
2004 Paralympics ---
Is Italy Really in Europe? ---
U.S. Navy Precision Drill Team ---
Jerome Murat (Beautiful Music) ---
Ernst & Young Accounting Firm Happy Days (Music) ---
This may secretly be a celebration of Happy Days brought about by Sarbanes.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Game ---
Parodies of Chancellor Angela Merkel's stiff, monotone podcast
performances make a splash on YouTube, but can they help sway policy? ---
Seinfeld: The Lost Episode ---
Friday Funnies: Dennis Miller Attacks Iraq War Defeatism ---
Lists of Bests ---
Free music downloads ---
Holiday Music (Free Downloads) ---
The Best Holiday Jazz CDs Ever, from WDUQ ---
Nat "King" Cole: The Christmas Song
Ella Wishes You a Swingin' Christmas
Vince Guaraldi Trio:
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Diana Krall Featuring the Clayton-Hamilton
Jazz Orchestra: Christmas Songs
Nancy Wilson: A
Nancy Wilson Christmas
Christmas Time Is Here
"'Zat You, Santa Claus?" (Louis Armstrong)
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Wynton Marsalis, Crescent City Christmas Card
- Diane Delin, "Overture from the Nutcracker Suite"
Great Big Band Holiday Music ---
If the sound does not commence after 30 seconds, scroll to the bottom of the
Picture (not a good way to start the morning) ---
One of These Mornings ---
Heaven in Your Eyes ---
Can't Cry Hard Enough ---
Angels Weep ---
The Vanishing Breed ---
The Thrill is Gone ---
If You Wanna be Happy ---
Bless the Broken Road ---
Beautiful Boy ---
Mad World ---
Tony Bennett Polishes 'San Francisco' Gem ---
New from Janie (more Elvis) ---
Folk Alley's Top 10 CDs of 2006 ---
Ravi Shankar, Master of the Sitar ---
Sanjay Mishra: A Cross-Cultural Exploration in
The Psychedelic Debut of Jimi Hendrix ---
Elvis singing Memories ---
Where Have All the Flowers Gone ---
Giving Thanks with Gospel Music's Take 6 ---
Dear Penis (country song) ---
Ballad of Thunder Road ---
Photographs and Art
Online Books, Poems, References, and Other Literature
In the past I've provided links to various types electronic literature available
free on the Web.
I created a page that summarizes those various links ---
The Cornell Daily Sun Digitization Project ---
Ocean Flowers: Anna Atkins’s 19th
Century Cyanotypes of British Algae ---
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Master Humphrey'S Clock by
Charles Dickens (1812-1870) ---
The Balloon Hoax by Edgar Allan
Poe (1809-1849) ---
The Plays of William Ernest Henley and Robert Louis
Stevenson by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) ---
The first act Hugo Chavez takes after buying reelection is to tax toilet paper
because, he insists, it is a luxury item. Venezuela, Latin America's largest
consumer of Scotch whiskey, raised custom taxes on the spirit and another 200
imported goods the government considers non- essential.
"Hugo Chavez Taxes Toilet Paper,"
Bloomberg Venezuela, December 10, 2006 ---
But there's no Chavez tax on imported corn cobs from Iowa and Bush/Cheney
campaign memorabilia that are recommended as substitutes for toilet paper in
Russia has shipped the first two Su-30MK2 multi-role
fighters to Venezuela under a contract signed in July 2006, an aircraft
manufacturing industry official said Thursday. Russia signed $1-billion
contracts on supplies of 24 Su-30MK2 Flanker fighters and 30 helicopters to
Venezuela prior to this year's visit to Russia by Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez, triggering criticism from Washington, which regards the Venezuelan
regime as a potential security threat in the region.
"Russia starts supplies of Su-30 fighters to Venezuela,"
Russian News Information Agency, November 30, 2006 ---
Buy a house, get a free gun Real estate agent's cure
for slow market – Glock
WorldNetDaily, December 10, 2006 ---
This is tailor-made for a new movie by Michael Moore who featured getting free
gun while opening a bank account. The trick is to use the glock in order to
avoid having to take out a mortgage.
Wal-Mart boasts that its new $4 generic drug program is disrupting the market,
attracting new customers to its stores and starting the nation on a road that
will ultimately squeeze billions of dollars from prescription drug spending . .
. But two months into the program, it is unclear whether in all cases Wal-Mart
is meeting its stated goal of making a profit on the $4 drugs.
Earlier this week the company disclosed that it had begun
charging $9 for some prescriptions in states that have unfair-competition laws
against selling products below cost. And as
Wal-Mart finds itself off to a disappointing start of the holiday sales season,
it is still not clear whether $4 drugs are indeed disrupting drug retailing and
helping generate significant new consumer traffic — or instead mainly giving a
break to people who are already Wal-Mart customers and can spend their pharmacy
savings in the stores’ many other aisles.
Milt Freudenheim, "Side
Effects at the Pharmacy," The New York Times, December 2, 2006 ---
We have lost in Iraq. By prescribing placebos, the
Iraq Study Group isn’t plotting a way forward but delaying the recognition of
Frank Rich, "The Sunshine Boys Can’t
Save Iraq," The New York Times, December 10, 2006 ---
The Time Is Now (to Surrender)
Bob Herbert, "The Time is Now,"
The New York Times, December 10, 2006 ---
2006 Update on Wafa Sultan
Then again, she did have strong opinions about Islamic
extremism, and she was utterly unafraid to express them. So if Al Jazeera wanted
to talk to a wife and mother in Los Angeles about this important subject, sure,
why not? Wafa accepted. What no one could have guessed was that she was about to
become a controversial new voice in the Islamic world -- and for many moderate
Muslims, a model of courage . . . It was Wafa Sultan's second appearance on Al
Jazeera, last February, that brought her worldwide notoriety. This time, she
debated Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli, an Egyptian cleric, and once again gave no
quarter. "The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of
religions or a clash of civilizations," she declared. "It is a clash between two
opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to
the Middle Ages and another that belongs to the 21st century." To Al-Khouli, she
added, "You can believe in stones, brother, as long as you don't throw them at
me." . . . Wafa has also paid a price within the Muslim community in Los
Angeles. Before she became a known activist, she had a busy social life with
other Middle Eastern women. Today, few of her old friends remain. "They begged
me to stop," she explains of the women in her circle. Some feared for her life;
others reviled her message. Wafa summarizes their reaction this way: "You can't
make any change, so why are you risking your life?"
Kerry Howley, "Breaking the Silence
One woman is risking her life to speak the truth about radical Islam," Readers
Digest, December 2006 ---
A MEMRI subtitled video initially aired in the Arab media by Al
Bob Jensen's March 6, 2006 Tidbit about Wafa Sultan ---
Taliban Rule No. 24 forbids anyone to work as a
teacher "under the current puppet regime, because this strengthens the
system of the infidels." One rule later, No. 25, says teachers who ignore
Taliban warnings will be killed. Taliban militants early Saturday broke into
a house in the eastern province of Kunar, killing a family of five,
including two sisters who were teachers.
Jason Straziuso, "New Taliban
rules target Afghan teachers," Yahoo News, December 9, 2006 ---
The Taliban also prohibits teaching females to read and write.
Jihadi attempts to procure lethal and destructive
weapons are endless. It is especially disturbing when they attempt to experiment
with and acquire chemical and biological weapons. One recent post on a jihadi
website outlined a user's attempts at mixing chemical components to create
deadly substances for terrorist purposes. The post, titled "The War of Poisons,"
was authored by a user with the pseudonym "Wajeh al-Qamar," who explained how to
use different poisons against Americans in order to push them out of the Arabian
http://alsayf.com , July 30). Al-Qamar
instructs fellow jihadis to mix cyanide with any type of body lotion...
Abdul Hameed Bakier, "Jihadi
Forum Outlines Use of Poisons for Terrorist Attacks," The Jamestown
Foundation, December 7, 2006 ---
For the past few years, the dictators and terrorists
have been gaining ground, and with good reason. The deepening catastrophe in
Iraq has distracted the world's sole superpower from its true goals, and
weakened the U.S. politically as well as militarily. With new congressional
leadership threatening to make the same mistake -- failing to see Iraq as only
one piece of a greater puzzle -- it is time to return to the basics of strategic
planning. Thirty years as a chess player ingrained in me the importance of never
losing sight of the big picture. Paying too much attention to one area of the
chessboard can quickly lead to the collapse of your entire position. America and
its allies are so focused on Iraq they are ceding territory all over the map.
Even the vague goals of President Bush's ambiguous war on terror have been
pushed aside by the crisis in Baghdad.
Garry Kasparov, "Chessboard
Endgame," The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2006 ---
Mullahs on Monday will open an international
conference to examine the veracity of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews, which
Iran's arab-parast President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has labeled a "myth."
"Mullahs host Jew-haters in Iran," Persian Journal,
December 10, 2006 ---
We have no government armed with power capable of
contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion...Our
Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly
inadequate to the government of any other.
John Adams ---
Too bad if 90 percent of it is stupid. That's
how creativity works.
Linus Torvalds ---
I don't know half of you half as well as I should
like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
J. R. R. Tolkien (1892-1973) ---
The key to being a good manager is keeping the
people who hate you away from those who are still undecided.
Casey Stengel ---
Sorry, haters, God is not finished with me yet.
Representative Alcee Hastings as
quoted by Kate Phillips after being informed that Nancy Pelosi did not choose
him to chair the National Intelligence Chair, "Pelosi to Hastings: No on
Intelligence Chair," The New York Times, November 28, 2006 ---
I think we could turn a passive resistance into an
active resistance. It seems counter-intuitive. Rather than registering people to
vote, why not organize a boycott of the vote? Jesse Jackson has been registering
voters for almost 20 years now and it hasn't done anything.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ---
As quoted at
It amazes me how activists make such statements as matter of fact that actually
run counter to facts if you study the rise of African Americans to positions of
power at the local level (such as black mayors and sheriffs in Mississippi to
the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee). It's absurd to say
that voting "hasn't done anything." Such "progressive activism" is all about
theatrics and not scholarship. What, other than voting power, raised Nancy
Pelosi to be Speaker of the House of Representatives and an African American
senator to being a leading contender for the presidency of the United States?
Journalists don't believe the lies of politicians, but
they do repeat them - which is even worse!
Michel Colucci, better known as Coluche (1944-1986) ---
He became known for his irreverent attitude towards politics and the
“Establishment,” and he incorporated this into much of his material.
The Associated Press is standing by its report that
six Sunni men were burned to death in Baghdad Friday by Shiites, even though
U.S. military officials have accused the wire service of relying on a source who
"is not who he claimed he was," an Iraqi police captain. Military officials also
say they cannot confirm that the incident took place and have asked AP to
retract or correct the story, which was repeated by media around the world and
cited as a grim example of Shiites taking revenge for a deadly bombing that
killed more than 200 people a day before . . . Unless you have a credible source
to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully
request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging
that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was.
"AP, U.S. military spar over atrocities report," USA Today,
December 1, 2006 ---
Worried by Iran's deepening involvement in the Arab
world, Saudi Arabia has been working quietly to curtail the Shiite nation's
influence and prevent the marginalization of Sunni Muslims in the region's
hotspots. Analysts say the tug-of-war between the two Mideast powers signals a
new chapter in an uneasy relationship, one that has swung over the years between
wariness and - at times - outright confrontation.
Donna Abu-Nasr, "Saudis Work to Curb
Iran's Influence," Las Vegas Sun, December 2, 2006 ---
Debunking The 9/11 Myths -Popular Mechanics examines
the evidence and consults the experts to refute the most persistent conspiracy
theories of September 11 ---
Seriously, the Los Angeles Times Has Been Strategically Trying to
Discourage the U.S. Military in Iraq
Al Qaeda is winning the media war and this is why!
. . . there were no airstrikes in Ramadi that day, while the L.A. Times
stringer claimed there had been an airstrike. When I checked into it, the weight
of the evidence indicated that the soldier was right and the L.A. Times was
wrong. The military flatly denies that there was an airstrike — a denial that
the L.A. Times has failed to report to this day. Several other media reports
state that civilians died from small-arms fire and tank fire, and not an
airstrike. . . . The [L.A. Times article] is an example of why you simply
cannot believe most media reports coming out of Iraq. The LA Time[s] reporter,
Solomon Moore, is not in Ramadi. He relies on an Iraqi stringer here who has
ties to insurgents. In this article, Moore repeats almost verbatim, insurgent
propaganda we have intercepted. The fighting in question occurred in my battle
space within Ramadi and I was personally and intimately involved . . . Every
target engaged was well within what our restrictive rules of engagement
authorize. I am disgusted by the editorial slant of this article, by what passes
from journalistic integrity at the LA Times, and by their complicity with our
mortal enemies. My Soldiers fight with great precision and skill on a very
difficult urban battlefield. The LA Times dishonors them and give aid and
comfort to my enemies.
A soldier in Iraq uncovered a propaganda fabrication by Al Qaeda
reported as fact by the Los Angeles Times ---
A record 7 million people - or one in every 32
American adults - were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last
year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison
or jail, an increase of 2.7 per cent over the previous year, according to a
report. More than 4.1 million people were on probation and 784,208 were on
parole at the end of 2005. Prison releases are increasing, but admissions are
increasing more. Men still far outnumber women in prisons and jails, but the
female population is growing faster.
"1 in every 32 U.S. adults behind bars, on probation or on parole
in 2005," Daily Mail, November 30, 2006 ---
Asked by a
reporter about how “President Bush today blamed the surge of violence in Iraq on
al Qaeda,” incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded with a disjointed
answer about how “the 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and
I feel sad that the President is resorting to it again." Though al-Qaeda is
clearly in Iraq and responsible for deadly bombings, and the 9/11 Commission
conclusion was about links before September 11th, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News
reporter David Gregory treated Pelosi's off-base retort as credible and
relevant. Without suggesting any miscue by her, Gregory segued to Pelosi's
soundbite with a bewildering set up of his own about how “incoming House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi disagreed, warning that such rhetoric about al Qaeda will make it
harder for Democrats to work with the White House."
Brent Baker, "Gregory Ignores Pelosi's Flub, Treats Retort to Bush on
al-Qaeda in Iraq as Credible," NewsBuster,s November 28, 2006 ---
We will need grace to get through this time: through
the discussion of the Baker-Hamilton report, through debate on the war, through
a harmonious transfer of legislative power in January, through the beginning of
the post-Bush era. People often speak of an absence of civility in Washington,
but that's not quite the problem. Faking civility is a primary operating style:
"My esteemed colleague." What is needed is grace--sensitivity, mercy, generosity
of spirit, a courtesy so deep it amounts to beauty. We will have to summon it.
And the dreadful thing is you can't really fake it.
Peggy Noonan, "Grace Under Pressure:
Difficult times call for less-contentious politics," The Wall Street Journal,
December 1, 2006 ---
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter vetoed plans
to commission the Makin Island, the Navy's newest and most powerful warship, in
San Francisco in 2008 because of a perception that the city is anti-military . .
. One of the factors that turned the Pentagon against San Francisco, he said,
was widely quoted anti-military remarks made by various city politicians. Some
of the remarks got considerable attention, especially ones made by Gerardo
Sandoval, a member of the Board of Supervisors, who was quoted on national
television as saying national defense should be left to "the cops and the Coast
Carl Nolte, "Navy scuttles plan to
commission warship here, citing local politics," San Francisco Chronicle,
December 2, 2006 ---
The military considers them (AWOL)
criminals, and many Americans call them traitors. But during an anti-war event
Saturday in San Francisco, Anderson and others like him got a standing ovation.
Cecilia M. Vega, "SAN FRANCISCO:
Troops opposed to Iraq war get show of support: Rallies in S.F.,
nationwide hear those who went AWOL speak on refusal to return to combat,"
San Francisco Chronicle, December 10, 2006 ---
Anti-military San Francisco Supervisors are frustrated by the plunge in U.S.
military desertion rates since 9/11. In 1971 during the Viet Nam war, the
desertion rate hit a high of 3.4% of an Army that included many unhappy
draftees. In 2005 the desertion rate plunged to 0.24% of the all-volunteer Army
of 1.4 million men and women ---
Opposition to the war prompts a small
fraction of desertions, says Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins. "[A
few] people always desert, and most do it because they don't adapt well to
the military," she says. The vast majority of desertions happen inside the
USA, Robbins says. There is only one
known case of desertion in Iraq.
Most deserters return within months,
without coercion. Commander Randy Lescault, spokesman for the Naval
Personnel Command, says that between 2001 and 2005, 58% of Navy deserters
walked back in. Of the rest, the most are apprehended during traffic stops.
Penalties range from other-than-honorable discharges to death for desertion
during wartime. Few are court-martialed.
To live peacefully with Muslims and Jews, Christians
must put aside the notion that their faith requires the creation of a Christian
kingdom on Earth, a Lipscomb University theologian told an interfaith gathering
at the university. "We are not going to get very far in our relationship with
Jews or Muslims if we do not let go of this idea," Lipscomb professor Lee Camp
said at Tuesday's conference. The unusual gathering of several dozen clergy and
lay people was devoted to resolving religious conflict in Nashville and around
the world. "We need to forsake the Christendom model," Camp said.
Anita Wadhwani, "Christians must
'let go' some beliefs for sake of peace, theologian says," Tennessean,
November 29, 2006 ---
Thank you for contacting the ACLU and sharing your
thoughtful comments about the ACLU, Christmas and religion. Ours is one of the
most devout nations in the world, and it is at the same time the most
religiously diverse. The U. S. has more than 1,500 different religious bodies
and sects - including 75 divisions of Baptists alone. This country also has
360,000 churches, mosques and synagogues, all coexisting in relative harmony.
The ACLU is committed to defending the religious freedom of all Americans and
keeping our national tradition of religious diversity alive and well. To protect
religious liberty for everyone in America, however, the ACLU is often in the
position of defending the minority from the will of the majority. In some
instances, this involves challenging nativity displays or the posting of the Ten
Commandments on public property. We are a nation founded on religious freedom.
As such, the ACLU believes our society should be particularly sensitive to the
legitimate complaints that government-sponsored displays and other actions that
promote religion are offensive and inappropriate to those who belong to minority
faiths and to non-believers. The ACLU believes that no person should be made to
feel like an outsider by his or her own government.
ACLU, November 29, 2006 ---
On this issue the ACLU makes some good points.
On behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union and
its nearly 600,000 members, we write to express our grave concern with the
removal and subsequent detention of six Muslim imams from a United Airlines
flight in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 20, 2006. The imams were
attempting to return home from a meeting of the North American Federation of
Imams, where one of the scheduled themes of discussion was how to “dispel
misconceptions” about Islam. These religious leaders were deemed a threat to
security merely because they had, in accordance with their faith, conducted
their evening prayers in Arabic shortly before boarding the flight.
ACLU, "ACLU Letter to Senator Joseph
Lieberman," November 28, 2006 ---
On this issue the ACLU is aiding a fraud conspiracy. How much do ACLU lawyers
hired by the imams stand to gain in the settlement?
A group of Muslim imams is seeking an out-of-court
settlement with US Airways, saying they should not have been removed from a
Minnesota-to-Phoenix flight last month and were not behaving suspiciously. Five
of the six Islamic religious leaders have retained the Council on
American-Islamic Relations for legal representation and are seeking a "mutually
agreeable" resolution, said Nihad Awad, CAIR executive director. US Airways
scheduled a meeting with the imams on Dec. 4 to discuss the incident, but the
men canceled it and hired the activist group to act as legal counsel.
Audrey Hudson, "Imams seek to settle
with airline," The Washington Times, December 11, 2006 ---
The imams made their point in the media. Why do they want to get rich as well?
If there ever was a set up in a get rich conspiracy this was it! We can only
hope that the imams successfully boycott the airline industry as well. Do you
suppose the 600,000 members of the ACLU will honor the imam boycott and cease
flying because of this? Or do you suppose ACLU members will intentionally
frighten passengers while allegedly praying in tongues so that they too can get
rich in court?
So the more promising raw material for the "War on
Christmas" lament is stores like Best Buy, Sears and Crate & Barrel (and, until
recently, poor old Wal-Mart, which, constantly attacked from both left and
right, has caved to the right on this particular issue) which avoid the use of
the word "Christmas" in advertisements, or encourage employees to wish customers
"Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." From
Bill O'Reilly to William Donohue to
John Gibson to the
American Family Association, the
nutters are forcefully
mobilized against these outrages.
"Merry Christmas, Bill O'Reilly!" The Nation, November 29,
The limits of my language are the limits of my
In praise of markets, freedom, and Milton Friedman
As for Milton Friedman's supposed espousal of
big business, the truth was exactly the opposite. For him, the separation
between government and business was as important as the separation between
church and state. He understood that businesses prefer for governments to
bend the rules in their favor rather than compete, and he wanted the little
guy -- that is, the consumer, and not the legislator and his cronies in big
business -- to determine success and failure in the marketplace. The
expression "free to choose" said it all. In those countries where Friedman's
ideas triumphed, workers became shareowners, tenants in housing projects
became proprietors, kids without college degrees became entrepreneurs and
many a corporate giant came tumbling down, unable to withstand the daily
choices of the common folk empowered by the separation between state and
Alvaro Vargas LLosa, "A Man of
Ideas," The Washington Post via The Wall Street Journal,
November 22, 2006 ---
Please do not associate Milton Friedman with George W. Bush economics.
George Bush has been the most reckless government spender in the history of
the United States --- an economic disaster really!
Damnation of markets, freedom, and Milton Friedman
Friedman's free-market faith produced a bastardized
system of interest-group politics that favors sectors of citizens at the
expense of many others.
William Greider, "Friedman's Cruel Legacy," The Nation, December 11,
No mention is made of how China and Chile are finding a market based economy
that lifts millions out of poverty. Naive analysts always associate Friedman
with huge multinational oligopoly economies. Friedman was in fact against
Exxon and AT&T
oligopolies and greatly favored small business entrepreneurial and
competitive economies (see the Llosa quotation above). Surely a liberal
intellectual magazine can find a better thinker than Greider. Greider's a
naive throwback to Lenin who advocates a complete break down of a market
based economy in favor of the "liberal-progressive" free Big Brother
A coherent alternative agenda that will
fulfill these principles does not yet exist. Nor will a
liberal-progressive program emerge miraculously if the Democratic Party
should somehow regain power in the next few years, since
many Democrats in Congress have internalized the
market ideology and collaborate with the
right. But elements of that alternative agenda are already ripe for
William Greider, "The Future
Is Now," The Nation, June 26, 2006 ---
Was Milton Friedman an "archliberal?"
Friedman sought to minimize government and maximize
individual freedom. As he noted in his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom,
“the right and proper label” for this orientation, for “the doctrines
pertaining to the free man,” is liberalism. But in the United States during
the 20th century, that term “came to be associated with a readiness to rely
primarily on the state rather than on private voluntary arrangements to
achieve objectives regarded as desirable.” . . . Like Hayek and the
novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand, Friedman resisted the solution of calling
himself a conservative. “The nineteenth century liberal was a radical, both
in the etymological sense of going to the root of the matter, and in the
political sense of favoring major changes in social institutions,” he wrote.
“So too must be his modern heir.”
Jacob Sullum, "Milton
Friedman, Archliberal: Why the great free
market economist was no conservative," Reason Magazine,
November 22, 2006 ---
Also see "Milton Friedman, 1912-2006: Reason writers remember the
iconic libertarian economist," by Brian Doherty, Reason Magazine,
November 16, 2006 ---
Market forces can accomplish wonderful things,
he realized, but they cannot ensure a distribution of income that enables
all citizens to meet basic economic needs. His proposal, which he called the
negative income tax, was to replace the multiplicity of existing welfare
programs with a single cash transfer — say, $6,000 — to every citizen. A
family of four with no market income would thus receive an annual payment
from the I.R.S. of $24,000. For each dollar the family then earned, this
payment would be reduced by some fraction — perhaps 50 percent. A family of
four earning $12,000 a year, for example, would receive a net supplement of
$18,000 (the initial $24,000 less the $6,000 tax on its earnings). Mr.
Friedman’s proposal was undoubtedly motivated in part by his concern for the
welfare of the least fortunate. But he was above all a pragmatist, and he
emphasized the superiority of the negative income tax over conventional
welfare programs on purely practical grounds. If the main problem of the
poor is that they have too little money, he reasoned, the simplest and
cheapest solution is to give them some more. He saw no advantage in hiring
armies of bureaucrats to dispense food stamps, energy stamps, day care
stamps and rent subsidies.
Robert H. Frank, "The Other Milton Friedman: A
Conservative With a Social Welfare Program," The New York Times,
November 21, 2006 --- Click
Government spending exceeds 50 percent of the
GDP in France and Sweden and more than 45 percent in Germany and Italy,
compared to U.S. federal, state and local spending of just under 36 percent.
Government spending encourages people to rely on handouts rather than
individual initiative, and the higher taxes to finance the handouts reduce
incentives to work, save and invest. The European results shouldn't surprise
anyone. U.S. per capita output in 2003 was $39,700, almost 40 percent higher
than the average of $28,700 for European nations,.
Walter E. Williams, "Should We
Copy Europe?" Human Events, November 22, 2006 ---
Yeah Right! What economic group does not rely on government handouts and
Congressional favors in the U.S.? Farmers, oil companies, and every other
group you can think is on the dole in the U.S. The difference is that the
U.S. wastes more on lobbies and influence peddling in Washington DC.
Brushing past months of unflattering headlines
about a federal corruption investigation, Representative William J.
Jefferson was elected to a ninth term on Saturday, with a decisive runoff
victory that again emphasized this city’s sharp racial divisions.
Adam Nositter, "Embattled
Louisiana Legislator Prevails," The New York Times, December 10, 2006
Nancy Pelosi’s much touted “Culture of
Corruption” was originally conceived as a lily-white, Republicans only club
that Democrats could point to with self-righteous indignation while claiming
moral and ethical superiority. Unfortunately for Pelosi, the real poster
child for corruption is an African-American Democrat named William J.
Jefferson. For those who may have lost track, Jefferson is the U.S.
Representative from Louisiana who was apparently caught on video accepting
$100,000 in bribes, most of which allegedly ended up in Jefferson’s freezer.
John Lillpop ---
Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson (D-La.)
has taken to the airwaves to unequivocally deny the allegations that have
plagued him for months. "I have never taken a bribe from anyone," he asserts
in a new campaign ad. Jefferson is running for re-election despite being at
the center of a federal bribery investigation.
Avni Patel, "Cold Cash
Congressman Says He Has 'Never Taken a Bribe' in New Campaign Ad," ABC
News, December 1, 2006 ---
I think William Jefferson hired the same semantics expert who advised
William Clinton to proclaim "I never had sex" with Monica. Clinton's semen
on her blue dress does not constitute sex in a very literal sense or the
semen would've . . . well you know!. That cash in William Jefferson's
freezer was for bowel roughage --- not for otherwise spending. If you launder it real well. cash
constitutes one of the food groups in Louisiana. Of course in corrupt Louisiana he
won the runoff election and will be returning to embarrass the Democratic Party.
I doubt that Pelosi appoints him to Chair the House Ethics Committee, but he's
well qualified to chair the House Banking Committee. He will, however, probably
be given more power by restoring his position on the House Ways and Means
Committee. Now that's a "chilling thought."
Democrats are calling on House Speaker-elect Nancy
Pelosi to return him (Jefferson) to his slot
on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Pelosi, a California Democrat,
led a successful effort last spring to strip Jefferson, D-New Orleans, from the
tax-writing panel after the Justice Department revealed that its agents, as part
of an ongoing corruption investigation, had discovered $90,000 in the freezer of
his Washington, D.C., home during a raid in August 2005.
Bruce Alpert, The Times-Picayune,
December 11, 2006 ---
Thirty years on, we can see the results of
Hayek's prediction. Despite government revenues above 50% of GNP in the
Nordic countries supporting an extensive social welfare state, those
countries are vibrant democracies with open, competitive, and high-income
economies and low rates of poverty. That is precisely the point of my
Scientific American piece and a longer scholarly paper that Prof. Easterly
wrongly attacks. He actually makes my point for me by pointing out that the
Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom ranks
Finland, Sweden and Denmark as "free economies," with Denmark ranked ahead
of the United States, despite the fact of their extremely high rates of
taxation and social welfare spending. Similarly, the Global Competitiveness
Index of the World Economic Forum puts these three countries at ranks two,
three and four in global competitiveness, ahead of the United States at rank
Jeffrey D. Sachs, "Vibrant
Economies With High Taxes and High Social Welfare Spending," The Wall
Street Journal, November 27, 2006; Page A13 ---
If Professor Sachs holds Norway up as a social welfare model, why not hold
Kuwait even higher? We can hardly compare small nations with lots of a
valuable resource to export with those who do not have the per capita
resource wealth. Where would Norway be without oil? My grandparents
emigrated an impoverished Norway with little hope before the days of oil. The other
Scandinavian nations are so uniquely small and homogeneous that they can hardly be
compared to the United States. Scholars should know better. If the social
welfare model is so highly successful, why are the Scandinavian countries
cutting back on social welfare and privatizing? Why isn't the social welfare soaring to
great heights in Germany and France?
James Comer, the Yale University child
psychiatry expert, will today be named winner of the
University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Education.
Comer was honored for his book
Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s World
(Yale University Press), which argues that federal
mandates of the sort associated with the Bush administration’s “No Child
Left Behind” law are poorly designed and in fact leave many behind.
Inside Higher Ed, November 30,
Some difficult people are merely minor irritants:
Others learn to avoid them as much as possible, and the overall working
environment is not badly compromised. But a person who targets others, makes
threats (direct or indirect), insists on his or her own way all the time, or has
such a hair-trigger temper that colleagues walk on eggshells to avoid setting it
off, can paralyze a department. In the worst cases, this conduct can create
massive dysfunction as the department finds itself unable to hold meetings, make
hiring decisions, recruit new members, or retain valued ones. When I first got
involved in helping department heads cope with such people, my colleagues and I
used concepts and approaches we gleaned from studies of bullies.
C.K. Gunsalus, "Dealing With
Bullies," Inside Higher Ed,
November 30, 2006 ---
The nation's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese said
today it has agreed to pay $60 million to settle 45 lawsuits alleging sex abuse
by priests. The deal is the most significant step to date toward resolving
extensive litigation against the archdiocese that has dragged on for years.
"Church to pay $60M in sex suits," Albuqeruqee Tribune, December
1, 2006 ---
During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000
times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You
figure a ball player will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I
played seven years without ever hitting the ball.
Mickey Mantle ---
Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a
man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.
Ted Williams ---
I don't think either team is capable of winning.
Warren Brown (in the 1945 Tiger-Cubs series)
Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is
Yogi Berra ---
You have to give 100 percent in the first half
of the game. If that isn't enough, in the second half, you have to give what
Yogi Berra ---
You better make it four. I don't think I could
Yogi Berra (when a waiter asked how many slices to cut in Yogi's
How you play the game is for college ball. When
you're playing for money, winning is the only thing that matters.
Leo Durocher ---
Sort of makes me thankful that college professors are not really part of the
Mankind has had less effect on global warming than
previously supposed, a United Nations report on climate change will claim next
year. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little
doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation
has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent. In a final draft
of its fourth assessment report, to be published in February, the panel reports
that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has accelerated in the past
five years. It also predicts that temperatures will rise by up to 4.5 C during
the next 100 years, bringing more frequent heat waves and storms.
Richard Gray, "UN downgrades man's
impact on the climate," Sunday Telegraph, December 10, 2006 ---
GERMANY’S European commissioner, Günter Verheugen,
faced calls to resign this weekend after photographs showing him naked on a
beach with his chief of staff were obtained by a magazine. The 62-year-old
commissioner had already become embroiled in accusations of favouritism and a
conflict of interest after he appointed Petra Erler, 48, to her £94,000-a-year
job amid reports of a close friendship. He has denied that they are having an
Nicola Smith and Michael Woodhead,
"There's nothing between us, insists the naked EU chief," London Times,
December 10, 2006 ---
Britney Spear's momentary no-panties upskirt flash was a big deal in the
U.S., but it's hardly worth mentioning in Europe.
Dangers in Buying Gift Cards from Display Racks
Well the crooks have found a way to rob you of your
gift card balance. If you buy Gift Cards from a display rack that has various
store cards you may become a victim of theft. Crooks are now jotting down the
card numbers in the store and then wait a few days and call to see how much of a
balance THEY have on the card. Once they find the card is "activated", and then
they go online and start shopping. You may want to purchase your card from a
customer service person, where they do not have the Gift Cards viewable to the
public. Please share this with all your family and friends...
"Credit Card 101: Advice Before Shopping," AccountingWeb, November
22, 2006 ---
High gas prices, rising interest rates, adjustable
mortgages, easy credit and lack of adequate health insurance for many
Americans, can all contribute to the rise in debt and many Americans are
turning to their credit cards for temporary relief.
The American Bankers Association (ABA) 2005-2006
Consumer Payment Preference Study reports that credit cards represent 19
percent of consumer in store payments, 55 percent of internet payments and
an increasing number of online bill and automatic payments.
James Chessen, ABA's chief economist, said of the
results, "The Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates and high
energy prices are taking a bite out of disposable income. Not since the
Great Depression has the national savings rate remained below zero for so
long." He added, "Absent savings to cushion financial stress, some consumers
end up missing a payment on their credit card loan." Late payments rose 13
percent in the first three months of 2006.
These factors, coupled with negative numbers in personal savings in the
U.S., which has been negative for five consecutive quarters, according to
data from the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, means
that Americans are using potential savings to meet living costs.
President Brad Stroh of Bills.com feels that consumers debts are growing
without conscious decisions being made. "For those who are over their heads
in debt, taking action quickly is critical, before it's too late to prevent
any temporary hardships from becoming permanent financial crises," he warns.
Stroh has six steps that he says, if followed, will minimize the damage of
- First and foremost, stop charging.
Consumers are falling back on credit cards and using them as "emergency
funds", often doing more harm by charging items that they don't need and
that are not necessary.
- Always pay bills on time. Pay on time,
even if you can only afford a minimum payment. Penalty rates for late
payments can be crippling, as high as 31 percent, which in turn leads to
a higher balance and higher minimums and big late fees. Cards may even
raise the interest rate if you are late in payment to another creditor.
- Pay more than the minimum. Promise
yourself that you will pay more than necessary when ever you can, even
if it is $10 and round the amount out to the next $10 or $100 increment.
By doing this, you decrease the debt faster.
- Pay the highest interest debt first.
Pay more on the debt that is charging the highest rate and move down in
order of the rate, saving the lowest rate debt for last, such as a
- Negotiate your rates. If you pay on
time and have a bigger debt than you would normally have, you might be a
company's ideal client, so try to capitalize on a good payment history
by getting your rate lowered, especially if it is above the 14.67
national average. Call customer service and ask. Try more than once.
- Get help. There are many sources that
can provide help with debt problems and advice on how to get out of
debt, especially in cases such as medical problems that have resulted in
short-term debt. Borrowing money from family or combining old debt onto
a no-interest, lower interest card are some ideas, as are borrowing
against life insurance or retirement funds.
is a free, online service for consumers who need help
on complex and personal financial issues. The California company's
co-founders and CEOs, Brad Stroh and Andrew Housser, were recently named
finalists for Northern California by Ernst & Young's 2006 Entrepreneur of
the Year Award. They handle more than 7,500 clients, nationwide.
Bob Jensen's threads on the dirty secrets of credit card companies are at
Rethinking Tenure, Dissertations, and Scholarship in Humanities
"Rethinking Tenure — and Much More," by Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher
Ed, December 8, 2006 ---
The panel — the MLA Task Force on Evaluating
Scholarship for Tenure and Promotion — urged departments to:
- Create “transparency” in hiring and promotion,
so that junior faculty members know what is expected of them and are not
surprised by changing expectations as their tenure reviews approach.
- Define scholarship broadly, including the
“scholarship of teaching,” scholarship produced by teams, and work that
is not presented in a monograph.
- Accept “the legitimacy of scholarship produced
in new media,” ending the assumption that print is necessarily better.
(And to the extent that some professors and departments don’t know how
to evaluate quality in new media, “the onus is on the department” to
learn, not on the scholar using new media, Stanton said.)
- Focus on scholarship, teaching and research —
and not collegiality — as criteria for tenure.
- Consider their missions in setting standards
for tenure, and to consider whether they are adopting research-oriented
missions that don’t reflect the reality of the kind of institutions
where they work.
- Limit the number of outside review letters
sought in tenure reviews, pay those who provide them, and limit the
kinds of questions asked so that they are appropriate for the
institution and the position.
- Improve the process by which junior faculty
members receive guidance on their careers.
The MLA created the panel in 2004, amid widespread
anger and anxiety among younger scholars and others about a career path that
seemed blocked and a system for sharing scholarship that seemed
dysfunctional. A simplified version of the complaints would go like this:
Young scholars need to publish books to get jobs and tenure. University
presses can’t afford to publish books any more and are raising the bar for
publication. Libraries don’t have money to buy the books the presses do
publish, forcing the presses to make more cuts, making it still more
difficult for young scholars to win tenure.
While the MLA task force found plenty of problems
in the system, one thing it did not find was the feared “lost generation” of
scholars who had been denied tenure. The association conducted a survey of
1,339 departments on their tenure policies and processes. A key finding was
that the actual rates of tenure denials in these departments are quite low —
around 10 percent. But while junior professors in English and foreign
languages were apparently incorrect in thinking that many were being
rejected for tenure, they weren’t incorrect that the rules and system had
Relatively small percentages of new Ph.D.’s were
found to be finding tenure-track positions and getting through the process
at the institutions that initially hired them. And many were never finding
tenure-track positions. So it’s not that careers were being derailed at the
point of a tenure vote, but that they were never getting that far.
The panel also found that there is a clear reason
why so many junior faculty members perceive that the bar is higher: At many
institutions, the bar is higher.
Among all departments, 62 percent report that
publication has increased in importance in the last 10 years, and the
percentage ranking scholarship as being of primary importance (over
teaching) doubled, to just over 75 percent. While those figures might not be
surprising for doctoral institutions, the report notes a “ripple” in which
the standards for research universities end up elsewhere. Nearly half of
baccalaureate institutions now consider a monograph “very important” or
“important” for tenure. And almost one-third of all institutions are now
looking for significant progress on a second book. And Stanton noted that
while research universities provide support for writing books (in terms of
expectations about courses taught or providing research support), many of
the institutions now looking for a more detailed publication record provide
little if any such assistance.
The MLA’s report also contains ample evidence of
the mismatch between what panel members call “the tyranny of the monograph”
and the realities of scholarly publishing. Recent years have seen top
university presses shift away from the kind of publishing that tenure
committees want to see — with Stanford University Press cutting in the
humanities, Northwestern University Press cutting back in translations, and
Cambridge University Press discontinuing French studies. For books that get
published, readers may be few. Press runs that used to range from 600-1,000
are now more likely to be 250.
Many of the recommendations pushed in the report
represent attempts to reconnect the tenure and promotion process with the
excitement that the committee members see in much of scholarly life today.
One undercurrent of the entire report is that for all the flaws in the
current system of evaluating faculty members, there is no shortage of
appropriate ways to do so.
Take digital media, for example, which the report
notes is “pervasive in the humanities” and says “must be recognized as a
legitimate scholarly endeavor.” While faculty members are engaged in digital
scholarship, departments appear unable or willing to evaluate it. Of
departments, 40.8 percent at doctoral institutions, 29.3 at master’s
institutions, and 39.5 percent at baccalaureate institutions report having
“no experience” evaluating digital scholarship. More than half of all
departments report having no experience evaluating monographs in digital
The report notes that the impact goes beyond the
unfairness to those whose important digital work may be ignored when being
considered for tenure — to creating disincentives to do such work. “The
cause-and-effect relations work in both directions here: Probationary
faculty members will be reluctant to risk publishing in electronic formats
unless they see clear evidence that such work can count positively in
evaluation for tenure and promotion,” the report says.
Continued in article
"How a Plan Evolved," by Michael Bérubé, Inside Higher Ed,
December 8, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
Over 62% of Full-Time Faculty Are Off the Tenure Track
More than 62 percent of all faculty members are off
the tenure track, including nearly 30 percent of those with full-time positions,
according to an analysis released today by the American Association of
The study — based on federal data — comes with
institution-specific numbers on 2,600 colleges, revealing the exact breakdowns
on full- and part-time professors, on and off the tenure track. AAUP leaders
hope that the data will spur discussions on campuses nationwide about the use of
part-timers and the need to create more full-time, tenure-track positions.
Scott Jaschik, "The Job Security Rankings," Inside Higher Ed, December
11, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies ---
Just Don't Call It Education: Is there fraud in academic assessment of top
Three newspapers this weekend explored
the academic compromises universities make in the name of athletic success.
The New York Times reported that an internal audit at Auburn University
revealed that an athlete’s grade had been changed without the professor’s
knowledge, to bring the athlete just over the minimum average needed for
eligibility. Auburn isn’t talking.
The Athens Banner-Herald reported that in 1999 and
2000, the University of Georgia’s president, Michael Adams, authorized the
admission of 119 athletes who did not meet academic standards, and that 21 of
them left because of academic problems. And
The San Diego Union Tribune reported on the
percentages of scholarship athletes at many Western institutions who are
“special admits” (translation: they don’t meet admissions standards). The
newspaper found that special admits are rare in the student body as a whole at
the institutions studied, but quite high (70 percent at the University of
California at Los Angeles, 65 percent at San Diego State University) for
Inside Higher Ed, December 11, 2006 ---
It's Still a Shell Game in Terms of Division 1-A Male Athletes
While the NCAA’s numbers do show that
athletes in general graduated at a higher rate than other students at
their institutions, Division I male athletes in general fell short of
other male students (56 vs. 58 percent), and football players (55
percent) and men’s basketball players (46 percent) were lower still. And
the numbers were even lower at the Division I-A level, the NCAA’s top
competitive level, where 41 percent of men’s basketball players and 42
percent of baseball players earned their degrees in six years. (Granted,
those numbers are all generally on the rise, as NCAA officials are
rightly quick to note.)
Doug Lederman, "Graduation Rate Grumbling," Inside Higher Ed,
November 10, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on athletics controversies in higher education are at
CollegeHumor.com, the Web’s go-to site for the fraternity crowd
"The Morning After," Wired Magazine, December 2006 ---
Forwarded by Dick Haar
The Clock of the Long Now, also called the 10,000-year clock, is a proposed
mechanical clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years. The project to build it
is part of the Long Now Foundation ---
I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The
century hand advances once every one hundred years, and the cuckoo comes out on
the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next
10,000 years. If I hurry I should finish the clock in time to see the cuckoo
come out for the first time.
Danny Hillis ---
Why didn't I think of this before I retired from teaching?
This sentence in my Sunday sermon was paid for by Disney Corporation
Church pastors last year had a chance to win a free
trip to London and $1,000 cash -- if they mentioned Disney's film "The
Chronicles of Narnia" in their sermons. Chrysler, hoping to target affluent
African Americans with its new luxury SUV, is sponsoring a Patti LaBelle gospel
music tour through African-American megachurches nationwide. Advertising has
begun to seep into churches, according to religious, marketing and academic
experts, pushing the boundaries by selling products with no intrinsic religious
value. Advertising has begun to seep into churches, and the phenomenon shows no
signs of slowing down, say academic, religious and marketing experts. Among the
wave of early adopters: the Republican Party, which successfully sold its
platform to church-goers in the 2000 and 2004 elections; Hollywood, which
discovered the economic power of faith when Mel Gibson's church-marketed film
"The Passion of the Christ" became a blockbuster; and publishing, with Rick
Warren's best-selling The Purpose-Driven Life, heavily marketed by a Christian
"Product Placement in the Pews? Microtargeting Meets Megachurches,"
knowledge@wharton, November 15, 2006 ---
Categories of Articles Available from the University of Pennsylvania's
Wharton School ---
Finance and Investment
Leadership and Change
Marketing Insurance and Pensions
Real Estate Law and Public Policy
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Lawyers Debate Why Blacks Lag at Major Firms
Thanks to vigorous recruiting and pressure from
corporate clients, black lawyers are well represented now among new associates
at the nation’s most prestigious law firms. But they remain far less likely to
stay at the firms or to make partner than their white counterparts .
Adam Liptak, "Lawyers Debate Why Blacks Lag at Major Firms," The New York
Times, November 29, 2006 ---
A College Education Without Job Prospects
Most of the 11 million students in India’s 18,000
colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, heavy on obedience
and light on useful job skills. . . . India was once divided chiefly by caste.
Today, new criteria are creating a different divide: skills. Those with
marketable skills are sought by a new economy of call centers and software
houses; those without are ensnared in old, drudgelike jobs.
Anand Giridharadas, "A College Education Without Job Prospects," The New York
Times, November 30, 2006 ---
"Tuition Tax Break Extended," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed,
December 11, 2006 ---
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the U.S. Senate
joined the House of Representatives in passing legislation that will extend
a slew of popular tax breaks, including two with coveted by colleges. The
measure, passed by a 79 to 9 margin in the Senate, is on its way to
President Bush, who is expected to sign it.
One provision would extend through 2007 a tax
deduction for “qualified higher education expenses,” which is available even
to taxpayers who do not itemize deductions on their federal returns. The
provision, which expired at the end of 2005, applies retroactively to the
current 2006 calendar year.
Under the provision, individuals who earn less than
$65,000, and couples who earn less than $130,000, can deduct up to $4,000 in
tuition and some other college costs for themselves or their children.
Individual taxpayers who earn between $65,000 and $80,000, and couples who
earn between $130,000 and $160,000, can deduct up to $2,000 in such
“America is in a race with the rest of the world to
grow the strongest, most educated workforce available to attract and keep
good-paying jobs here at home,” said Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat
who will head the Senate Finance Committee, which makes tax policy, in the
next Congress. “So the tuition deduction is about more than taxes. It’s
really about making higher education, whether college or vocational school,
affordable and accessible for more of our citizens.”
The tuition tax deduction was estimated to cost
about $3.5 billion over 10 years, with the bulk of that money coming in the
The other provision of interest to higher education
that was extended by the bill is a corporate tax credit for investments in
university research and development. It, too, will continue through 2007,
although advocates had pushed for a permanent extension.
Also before it closed up shop for the year,
Congress approved legislation that will continue the federal government’s
ability to operate until February 15, which will put substantive decisions
about funding for the 2007-8 fiscal year — which is nearly one quarter over
at this point — in the hands of the Democrat-controlled 110th Congress.
The current Congress passed only two of the
appropriations bills that finance the federal government, and lawmakers in
the newly configured Congress are likely to choose among three options: (1)
passing all of the remaining bills separately (which is highly unlikely);
(2) passing a continuing resolution for the entire year, which would finance
most federal agencies at the same funding levels in 2007-8 that they
received in 2006-7; or (3) enacting an “omnibus” measure lumping together
all or most of the unpassed bills, and choosing to increase funds for some
programs and perhaps cut them for others.
That decision is likely to revolve around whether
Democratic leaders want to spend on much time on a 2007-8 budget when they
will also be forced to start worrying about 2008-9 spending in early
February, when President Bush presents his budget plan for that year.
Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge?
E. HAN KIM University of Michigan - Stephen M. Ross School of Business
ADAIR MORSE University of Michigan
Stephen M. Ross School of Business LUIGI ZINGALES
SSRN April 2006 ---
(as reported by Jim Mahar on November 30, 2006) ---
We study the location-specific component in research
productivity of economics and finance faculty who have ever been affiliated
with the top 25 universities in the last three decades. We find that there
was a positive effect of being affiliated with an elite university in the
1970s; this effect weakened in the 1980s and disappeared in the 1990s. We
decompose this university fixed effect and find that its decline is due to
the reduced importance of physical access to productive research colleagues.
We also find that salaries increased the most where the estimated
externality dropped the most, consistent with the hypothesis that the
de-localization of this externality makes it more difficult for universities
to appropriate any rent. Our results shed some light on the potential
effects of the internet revolution on knowledge-based industries.
Was that Elite MBA Worth What it Cost ---
Bob Jensen's threads on higher education controversies are at
Non-Asians Show a Growing Interest in Chinese Courses
With its booming economy and aspirations to expand its
global influence, China may have achieved a victory in American classrooms . . .
School officials attribute the changes largely to a growing awareness of China
as a global economic force, and to a strong sense among parents that learning
Chinese could help their children professionally. As Mr. Corcoran said, studying
Chinese “is looked at as a long-term benefit.”
Natasha Degen, "Non-Asians Show a Growing Interest in Chinese Courses," The
New York Times, November 29, 2006 ---
"ERNST & YOUNG JOINS WITH PBS TO IMPROVE MATH LITERACY,"
AccountingEducation.com, November 29, 2006 ---
Ernst & Young LLP has joined forces with Thirteen/WNET
and leading community organizations to improve math literacy for children
nationwide. The firm announced on October 16, 2006 its sponsorship of the
award-winning children’s television series, CYBERCHASE, which teaches kids
aged 8-12 math concepts in a fun and understandable way.
As part of the sponsorship, Ernst & Young employees
will work locally with community organizations to bring the CYBERCHASE
lessons to children through fun, educational workshops. This new
relationship with PBS demonstrates the firm’s ongoing commitment to
community engagement around education and mentoring for current and future
Continued in article
The Thirteen/WNET home page is at
The CyberChase link is at
Bob Jensen's threads on free online mathematics and statistics tutorials are
Ernst & Young Accounting Firm Happy Days (Video) ---
This may secretly be a celebration of Happy Days brought about by Sarbanes.
Ask Philosophers ---
This site puts the talents and knowledge of
philosophers at the service of the general public. Send in a question that
you think might be related to philosophy and we will do our best to respond
to it. To date, there have been 1375 questions posted and 1834 responses.
Bob Jensen's bookmarks on philosophy and the social sciences are at
Bob Jensen's bookmarks on free tutorials in various disciplines are at
Virtual Labs ---
Bob Jensen's bookmarks on free science and medicine tutorials ---
Free Online Tutorials on Communications and Networking
Learning Center: Tutorials ---
Video Nation (from the United Kingdom) ---
From Boston College
Center for Christian-Jewish Learning ---
Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion ---
"A Better Liquid-Explosives Detector: The same technology used
in TNT detectors in Iraq is being adapted for airport security to sniff out
liquid-bomb-making materials," by Kevin Bullis, MIT's Technology Review,
December 1, 2006 ---
Humpback whales possess a vastly more elaborate vocabulary than was known
Charles Q. Choi, "Humpback Whale Vocabulary More Elaborate Than Thought," Fox
News, November 27, 2006 ---
In the United States, what officers are most like the Iraqi police (working for
evil people they're supposed to be protecting us from)?
Agents fighting crime on the border are dealing with
increasing corruption in their ranks. Among those facing charges are
immigration, customs and border patrol agents. All were caught working for
smugglers in El Paso who are supposed to protect our border are increasingly
taking bribes instead. They're the agents who guard our borders and decide who
and what gets past nearby checkpoints leading to highways that double as
lucrative smuggling routes. It was at a checkpoint in far West Texas that four
agents who were supposed to protect the border switched sides. "We're
disappointed when any agent violates the trust...
Angela Kocherga, "More corruption seen among border agents, San Antonio
Express News, November 28, 2006 ---
Managerial Accounting Instructors May Find This a Useful Example of CVP
Analysis With Varying Sales Mix
For the second straight year, San Diego police officers
are writing fewer traffic tickets. The reason: fewer cops. Not the reason:
better drivers. “We are down about 200 officers,” San Diego Police Chief William
Lansdowne said. The force is spread thin because so many officers have retired
or quit over pay and benefit issues. To make up the shortfall, officers have
been diverted for training, court appearances, special details and police calls,
which take priority. It all adds up to less time spent on traffic enforcement.
Less ticket writing also means less revenue for the city. Ticket fines range
from $100 to $1,000, and most of the money goes into San Diego's general fund.
Joe Hughes, "Exodus of officers hits general fund," , SanDiego.com,
November 25, 2006 ---
Dinosaur Media DeathWatch
Merck plans to cut back on television advertising of
new drugs in favour of more targeted media such as online internet communities,
as part of the US drugmaker's revamp of sales and marketing. The leader of
Merck's ambitious overhaul of its sales and marketing effort is testing
"numerous pilot programmes" with new drugs such as Januvia, for diabetes, and
Gardasil, a cervical cancer vaccine, to explore different ways of spending drug
Christopher Bowe, "Merck plans to cut back on TV ads," MSNBC, November
27, 2006 ---
Famous Curves Index ---
A Clever Way to Punish and Prevent Plagiarism
"Traffic School for Essay Thieves," by Paul D. Thacker, Inside Higher Ed,
November 29, 2006 ---
Having grown weary of punishing students for
plagiarizing and advising other professors to fail them, too, Meg Files said
that she had an epiphany during a random chat with a colleague at Pima
Community College’s West Campus. The professor explained that he had
recently gone to traffic school after receiving a ticket and that the course
had actually improved his driving.
“So I thought, ‘Why can’t we have a parallel
program for plagiarism?’ ” said Files, who chairs Pima’s English/journalism
Seizing on the idea, Files created a “traffic
school for plagiarism,” aimed at altering the campus’s focus on catching and
punishing students for turning in essays they didn’t write. Now students can
seek academic rehabilitation instead of punishment by participating in a
plagiarism program that contains five steps:
- Write a detailed, self-exam on “Why I
- Read case studies of plagiarism. (Files said
that many of the examples cover cases of professional journalists fired
from their jobs.)
- Write a paragraph defining plagiarism.
- Meet with a tutor to discuss proper citation
etiquette and complete a short worksheet on citations.
- Meet with a faculty committee to talk about
how to avoid plagiarism and lessons learned.
Files, who will be overseeing the program, said
that it is too early to tell whether it will be successful. Only a few
students have elected to sign up, and none have yet finished.
“My reaction is, good for them,” said Donald L.
McCabe, founding president of the
Center for Academic Integrity. McCabe, a professor
of management and global business at Rutgers University, called Pima’s
approach a good policy that cuts down the middle between two extremes:
excessively punishing students for literary piracy, or ignoring them. McCabe
said that his own research finds that plagiarism is slightly more common
today than in previous decades and that honor codes help curb the problem.
However, current policies at most educational
institution revolve around detection and punishment. A number of
universities now use online products such as
to scan essays for stolen text.
While catching students and then failing them for
copying does help to reduce plagiarism, McCabe said that it probably doesn’t
provide the best results and may just teach students to be more careful when
they cheat. “Now we are just teaching students how to avoid detection,” he
Instructing students how to correctly reference
other work and instilling a sense of academic integrity in them is
difficult, McCabe said, but is the best way to dissuade students from
“I like the focus — the remedial aspect instead of
just playing gotcha,” said John P. Lesko, editor of
the new scholarly
journal, Plagiary. Lesko pointed out that some
students may not even know that plagiarism is a bad thing, and that copying
is considered normal in some countries.
He noted that Carolyn Matalene, now professor
emeritus of English language and literature at the University of South
Carolina, noticed in the 1980s that
students in China regularly pilfered lines from
published pieces. “She found that copying was actually encouraged so that
you would learn like the masters,” he said.
Files said that cultural differences in defining
plagiarism also drove her develop the new program. “In some cultures,
plagiarism isn’t bad,” she said. But she also found that the current
policies at her institution were not going far enough. In the past, Pima
tried to curb plagiarism by assigning original topics, which makes it more
difficult for students to purchase an essay, and by emphasizing the writing
process—outlining, drafting, revising—over delivering a finished product.
Finally, faculty have been encouraging students to be confident and proud of
their own writing. She calls these steps “prevention” and the new program a
“cure” once plagiarism is found.
“I think it’s a worthwhile effort, but the
motivation to plagiarize is huge,” said Colin Purrington, associate
professor of evolutionary biology at Swarthmore College. Purrington became
so concerned about the growing problem with plagiarism that he put up a
complete Web site to address the issue a couple of
One of the resources he cites as a deterrent
against plagiarism is an
essay that a Swarthmore student wrote as a
disciplinary measure after getting caught. The essay reads: “Plagiarism is
undisputedly, a most egregious academic offense. Unfortunately, I found that
out the hard way. I cannot even begin to describe how unpleasant the
experience was for me.”
On his Web page, Purrington notes that the essay is
nicely written and urges instructors to hand it out to students to generate
discussion. But he also notes with some chagrin: “That person got caught
again some years later.”
Who were at least two famous world leaders who plagiarized doctoral theses?
Two that I know of off the top of my head are
Martin Luther King and
Vladimir Putin. Doubts are raised that Putin ever read his thesis that
plagiarized from a
U.S. textbook. Iran's President Ahmadinejad allegedly plagiarizes, although
I don't know if he plagiarized in his doctoral thesis ---
Bob Jensen's threads on plagiarism are at
From The Washington Post on November 29, 2006
What type of online ads are the most lucrative?
Static page ads
in-depth profiles, comparisons, and reviews of accounting software products, and
would be a valuable resource for users of your site ---
November 30, 2006 message from Austin Merritt
I am writing to suggest RiverGuide for the accounting software locator and
lists section of your page Threads on Webledger Systems (
RiverGuide provides in-depth profiles, comparisons,
and reviews of accounting software products, and would be a valuable
resource for users of your site.
Phone: (415) 516-1769
Fax: (360) 838-7866
The author of the following message at one time worked for the Kentucky State Auditor
your website, you may have an interest in this case. The Kentucky
Retirement Systems (KRS) is a $15billion public pension system.
current 2006 accounting scandal which involved the Chief Investment
Officer and Chief Operating Officer resigning, has not been resolved
with no formal reports, charges or indictments. (see attached
financials) KRS says they stole ½ a million in a real estate deal,
CIO implicated is John Krimmel, CPA who is a member of PCAOB.
latest Herald Leader
accounting scandal in which
Chief Operations officer Lauren Stewart,
and Director of Accounting Glenn Valley were forced out by KRS for
questionable cash management practices has not been even addressed in
the 2004 audit. This was covered up and received no coverage
(no mention on page 27).
Many of us think all 4 of these
financial people are innocent and were framed by the Executive
Director. I would appreciate any insight you might have on this.
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
Searching for Manufacturers and Suppliers?
November 27, 2006 message from David Jansen
We would appreciate it if you would consider adding Zycon (www.zycon.com)
to the "Search Tools" section on the "Helpers for Searching the Web" page
Zycon is a highly regarded specialized resource
designed to assist the engineering and manufacturing community find and
evaluate manufacturers and suppliers worldwide. Zycon receives over a
million direct visits per year, and according to our tracking, Zycon has
been used by over 400 universities, colleges and schools in just the last 90
days. You may also find the following facts useful:
1. Since January 2006, over 800 different
universities, colleges, and schools have visited Zycon to conduct
2. In the last 365 days, Zycon was found by
over 263,000 search terms
3. Over 3,800 sites have added Zycon to their
list of useful websites
4. About 70% of Zycon's traffic is from people
that come directly from a bookmark or by typing
www.zycon.com in their web
5. Since January 2006, there have been over 1
million "direct" visits to Zycon.
In addition, you can view our list of last week's
top 1000 visitors and some additional statistics for Zycon by going to
Furthermore, we are working on providing
definitions of engineering terms and we have recently added a message forum
for engineers to discuss important issues and a blog which primarily focuses
on energy and environmental issues.
We believe Zycon will be highly beneficial to the
students, faculty, and staff alike. If you choose to add the link, the
following provides you will brief instructions and guidelines for posting
(be sure to include the www)
If you have any questions, please contact our IT
Department at the number below.
Thank you for your consideration,
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
From the Scout Report on December 1, 2006
Creating online forms for everyday use can be
difficult, and some may just throw up their hands and hire a programmer or
consultant. But before making that call, users may want to try Wufoo. Wufoo
lets users create all types of online forms quickly, including mailing
lists, surveys, invitations, and event calendars. This version is compatible
with all computers running Windows 98 and newer.
CallingID for the Internet 126.96.36.199
Caller ID was a novel feature that entered the
world of telecommunications over a decade ago, and the more one thinks about
it, it would make sense to have something similar for websurfing as well.
This application automatically shows whether sites visited are real or not,
and it also displays the site owner’s name and physical address. This
version is compatible with computers running Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP, and
What is the new European accounting ploy (termed the 2007 Accounting Miracle) to
hide debt until the instant it becomes due?
"Italy's Accounting Miracle," by Tito Boeri and Guido Tabellini, The Wall
Street Journal, November 28, 2006 ---
The latest murky accounting ploy has received the
European Union's stamp of approval. As of 2007, Italy will be able to reduce
its official budget deficit with the cash proceeds of new liabilities. The
new debt will remain hidden until it comes due. If this is how the EU's
revised Stability and Growth Pact will work, it would be wiser to scrap the
budget rules altogether. At least then national capitals would not be so
tempted to artificially reduce their budget deficits, and citizens would be
better informed about the true state of public finances.
Here's how the new gimmick works. Under current
Italian law, employees must set aside a tax-exempt fraction of their gross
wages, nearly 7%, into a severance scheme called TFR. Instead of creating
personal accounts for their employees, each company collects the money in
one large fund. When an employee leaves the firm, he receives the money he
paid into the fund plus interest, currently about 3%. The TFR is thus debt
that companies owe to their employees. That's why firms list it as
liabilities in their financial statements.
Under the new Italian budget law, though, part of
the contributions to this severance scheme will be collected and held by
Italy's social security administration to finance public expenditures. When
the employee leaves his job or has health problems, the government, rather
than the employer, will disburse his severance payments. The bottom line is
that, by receiving the contributions for this new, implicit debt, the
Italian government expects to reduce its yearly budget deficit by almost
0.5% of GDP. A debt instrument has miraculously become a surplus.
This bookkeeping equivalent of turning water into
wine is possible because EU accounting rules for government finances are
much looser than the rules that the same governments apply to private firms.
The bloc's statistics service, Eurostat, does not consider the future
obligations implicit in public pensions as part of government liabilities.
Hence, the transfer of the TFR to the Italian social security system is
treated like the creation of a new pay-as-you go system.
The Stability Pact's 2005 reform, though,
specifically encourages Brussels to pay special attention to fiscal
sustainability in the long run, and in particular to the future liabilities
implicit in the pension systems. The Commission, however, has paid lip
service to the principle of long-run sustainability, while in practice is
giving its blessing to the Italian accounting miracle. In so doing, it has
shown that the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact will not be enforced.
This creates a dangerous precedent that other
member states might be tempted to follow. Germany, for instance, has a "book
reserve" system similar to the Italian TFR that automatically applies to a
significant portion of its work force. The contributions to the German
system are even more attractive as a potential source of government finance
since, unlike the TFR, they can only be claimed by the workers upon
retirement. Many other Europeans countries have sizable occupational pension
plans. The EU is implicitly saying that the proceeds from nationalizing
these plans can be used to meet its budget deficit targets. Firms in
financial difficulties with occupational pension plans are always tempted to
transfer to the state their pension liabilities, together with the annual
contributions to the fund. Now myopic governments will have an additional
incentive to meet these requests for "state aid." Public revenues increase
immediately, while the debt disappears once it is transferred to the public
Europe's public finances can ill afford these kinds
Messrs. Boeri and Tabellini are economics professors at Bocconi
University in Milan.
Meanwhile in the United States
Shocking Impact of GASB 45
Underfunded Pensions, Post-Retirement
Obligations, and Other Debt
Probably the largest form of OBSF is booked debt that is badly
understated. Particularly problematic is variable debt that is badly
underestimated. For example, a company or a government unit (e.g., city or
county) may be obligated to pay medical bills or insurance premiums for retired
employees and their families. Until FAS 106 companies did not report these
obligations at all. Governmental agencies (not the Federal government) are just
not becoming obligated to report such obligations under GASB 45. Accounting
rules have been so lax that many of these obligations were never disclosed or
disclosed at absurdly low amounts relative to the explosion in the costs of
medical care and medical insurance. Pensions had to be booked, but the rules
allowed companies to greatly understate the amount of the unfunded debt.
"A $2-Trillion Fiscal Hole," by Chris Edwards and Jagadeesh
Gokhale, The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2006; Page A18 ---
State and local governments are
amassing huge obligations in the form of unfunded retirement benefits for
their workers. Aside from underfunded pension plans, governments have also
run up large obligations from their retiree health plans. While a new
Governmental Accounting Standards Board rule will kick in next year and
reveal exactly how large this problem is, we estimate that retiree health
benefits are a $1.4 trillion fiscal time bomb.
The new GASB regulations will require
accrual accounting of state and local retiree health benefits, thus
revealing to taxpayers the true costs of the large bureaucracies that they
fund. We reviewed unfunded health costs across 16 states and 11 local
governments that have made actuarial estimates, and found an average accrued
liability per covered worker of $135,000. Multiplying that by the number of
covered state and local employees in the country yields a total unfunded
obligation of $1.4 trillion -- twice the reported underfunding in state and
local pension plans at $700 billion.
To put these costs in context,
consider the explicit net debt of state and local governments. According to
the Federal Reserve Board, state and local credit market debt has risen
rapidly in recent years, from $313 billion in 2001 to $568 billion in 2005.
But unfunded obligations from state and local pension and retiree health
plans -- about $2 trillion -- are still more than three times this net debt
The key problem is that the great
majority of state and local governments finance their retiree health
benefits on a pay-as-you-go basis. In coming years that will create pressure
to raise taxes as Baby Boomers age and government employees retire in
droves. New Jersey's accrued unfunded obligations in its retiree health plan
now stand at $20 billion, and the overall costs of its employee health plan
are expected to grow at 18% annually for the next four years.
To compound the problem,
defined-benefit pension and retirement health plans are much more common and
generous in the public sector than the private sector. Out of 15.9 million
state and local workers, about 65% are covered under retirement health
plans, compared to just 24% of workers in large firms in the private sector.
The prospect of funding $2 trillion
of obligations with higher taxes is frightening, especially when you
consider that state politicians would be imposing them on the same income
base as federal politicians trying to finance massive shortfalls in Social
Security and Medicare. Hopefully, most state policy makers appreciate that
hiking taxes in today's highly competitive global economy is a losing
The only good options are to cut
benefits and move state and local retirement plans to a pre-funded basis
with personal savings plans. Two states, Alaska and Michigan, have moved to
savings-based (defined-contribution) pension plans for their new employees.
Alaska has also implemented a health-care plan for new state employees,
which includes high-deductible insurance and a Health Savings Account.
Expect to see more states following Alaska's lead.
State and local governments also need
to cut retirement benefits, which were greatly expanded during the 1990s
boom. From a fairness perspective, cutting benefits especially of younger
workers is reasonable given the generosity of state and local plans. Federal
data shows that state and local governments spend an average of $3.91 per
hour worked on employee health benefits, compared to $1.72 in the private
Underfunded -- or more accurately,
over-promised -- retirement plans for state and local workers have created a
$2 trillion fiscal hole. Every year that policy makers put off the tough
decisions, the hole gets bigger. Hopefully, the new GASB rules will prompt
them to enact the reforms needed to avert job-destroying tax increases on
the next generation.
Mr. Edwards is tax policy director at the Cato
Institute. Mr. Gokhale is a senior fellow at Cato and a former senior
economic adviser to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
Bob Jensen's threads on other ploys for off-balance-sheet-financing (OBSF)
Cheating On Ethics Test at Columbia University
Cheating is not unheard of on university campuses. But
cheating on an open-book, take-home exam in a pass-fail course seems odd, and
all the more so in a course about ethics. Yet Columbia’s Graduate School of
Journalism is looking into whether students may have cheated on the final exam
in just such a course, “Critical Issues in Journalism.” According to the
school’s Web site, the course “explores the social role of journalism and the
journalist from legal, historical, ethical, and economic perspectives,” with a
focus on ethics.
Karen W. Arenson, "Cheating on an Ethics Test? It’s ‘Topic A’ at Columbia,"
The New York Times, December 1, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's threads on cheating are at
Saddam's Kickback Enterprises
In 2,065 pages, Sir Terence Cole and his team unmask
the vast corruption in AWB Ltd., Australia's former wheat board and supplier for
a time of 16% of the world's wheat. That alone is a huge public service. AWB was
the single largest payer of kickbacks to Saddam. From 1999 to 2003, the company
paid $221.7 million to Iraq through "transportation" fees and
"after-sales-service" fees designed to evade U.N. sanctions and Australian law.
Given such compliant partners, it is little wonder Saddam thought the world
would never act against him.
"Oil for Food Justice, The Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2006; Page
Saudi Arabia's Kickback Enterprises
Tony Blair is under increasing pressure to halt a
three-year-old corruption inquiry and avoid losing a £10 billion extension to an
arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The news comes after Saudi Arabia suspended
negotiations on the 20-year-old Al-Yamamah deal after Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
investigators tried to access some of the Saudi royal family's bank accounts in
Switzerland.Thousands of jobs in Britain and Saudi Arabia would be at risk
if the Saudis dropped an order for 72 Typhoon jets
and, instead, signed a contract with the French for up to 36 rival Rafales.
Christopher Hope, "Blair under pressure to save Saudi arms deal,"
The Telegraph, November 30, 2006 ---
Bob Jensen's fraud updates are at
"Bumpy Ride Ahead for Bankers," Elia Powers, Inside Higher Ed,
November 30, 2006 ---
After years of operating in a favorable political
environment, student loan companies woke up November 8 knowing that changes
in Washington would probably mean trouble for their industry, which has
enjoyed a close working relationship with Congressional Republicans (thanks,
in part, to their sizable campaign contributions to key GOP lawmakers).
The Democratic takeover in Congress was a hot topic
Wednesday at the
Consumer Bankers Association Student Lending Conference
in Arlington, Va. The leadership change comes at a time when Congress has
yet to pass the renewal of the Higher Education Act, the law that governs
most federal student aid and other college programs. Lawmakers did make a
set of changes to the loan programs last winter as part of
the budget reconciliation process.
While a collection of lending company executives
said changes are certainly in store, the panel played down the anxiety
factor and said student loan officials need to be prepared to sell the new
Washington leadership on the merits of their industry.
“I don’t think nervousness is the right word,” said
Shelley Saunders, vice president of strategic services for American Student
Assistance, a lender. “Debate is good, and we shouldn’t be afraid or get
sucked into the usual rhetoric.”
Added Sara Davis, executive director of government
and industry relations for Nelnet: “We’ve learned a lot of lessons since
1993 (the year that President Clinton threw his weight behind the
government’s direct lending program, which competes with the guaranteed
loans the banks offer) and need to show that discussions about what’s best
for the student aren’t a problem for us.”
Companies like Nelnet and American Student
Assistance are unlikely to find a friend in Sen. Edward M. Kennedy
(D-Mass.), who is slated to become chairman of the Senate committee that
oversees education programs. Kennedy has been an outspoken critic of what he
and other Democrats say are subsidies and perks in the Federal Family
Education Loan program — and especially in the so-called alternative or
private loan industry — that favor lenders but do not help students.
The Democrats are promising that one of their first
acts come January will be to cut interest rates on federal student loans in
half — from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent for many loans — and to raise the
maximum Pell Grant by more than $1,000. Davis said the interest rate cuts
are likely to pass through Congress and, if widely supported, would unlikely
be met by a presidential veto.
“There’s a heavy symbolic importance for Democrats,
and it’s going to happen in the first 100 days because it has political
cachet,” Davis said.
Kennedy has said he plans to reintroduce
legislation that would provide incentives to colleges that switch to the
direct lending program. He is also proposing to cap a borrower’s college
loan payments to no more than 15 percent of a family’s income.
The U.S. House of Representatives leadership plans
to take up similar legislation, the
Aid Reward (STAR) Act, introduced last year by
Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), incoming
chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The bill aims
to increase spending on Pell Grants and reduce the deficit, in part by
giving colleges incentives to switch with no added taxpayer cost. Kennedy
has said that the STAR Act would promote competition between the FFEL
program and the direct loan program and would encourage colleges to pick the
less expensive choice.
Davis said she opposes the act because “the premise
is based on fictional accounting rules.”
Still, Tim Morrison, vice president of federal
government relations for Sallie Mae, said the STAR Act is likely to get
support in Congress.
Another Kennedy-backed proposal is the Student Loan
Sunshine Act, which would require institutions to report to the Department
of Education benefits their officials receive from a lender. Deals reached
between colleges and lenders have
made headlines this fall, and some Democrats have
called for a look into the enticement practices.
Davis, the Nelnet executive, said there’s no harm
in having a discussion about benefits, but added that lenders have to be
wary of too much federal government regulation.
Saunders said there’s already a good amount of
self-policing in the industry, but there’s room for more — such as a promise
from lenders and colleges to post any deals they negotiate. “If we become
more transparent, we won’t need government involvement,” she said.
Kathleen Smith, president of the Education Finance
Council, which represents dozens of state and regional nonprofit loan
agencies, said that “once you get down to the ‘You can have coffee but not
wine,’ you dilute the discussion,” she said. “That doesn’t give financial
aid officers any credit for their professionalism.”
Panelists agreed that it’s unrealistic to believe
that all of the Democratic proposals will come to fruition. Morrison, the
Sallie Mae vice president, said “the more ambitious the reform efforts, the
less likely they are to get done.” Saunders added that “the reality is going
to hit members on both sides of the aisle: You can’t do all of these
programs because the money isn’t there.”
Continued in article
Norwegian Police Have the Last YouTube Laugh
Police took up pursuit in Cyberspace after a young
Norwegian posted a video of his wild car driving on the Internet. They caught
him and slapped him with real life fine of 8,500 kroner (US$1,300, euro1,025).
The Norwegian, identified only as a man in his early 20s, posted the video
called ''Driving in Norway'' on the YouTube.com site in mid-November. The
recording showed the car's speedometer hitting up to 240 kilometers (150 miles)
per hour on a public highway.
"Norwegian police fine reckless driver in YouTube.com video after Internet
chase," MIT's Technology Review, November 29, 2006 ---
From The Washington Post on November 27, 2006
How many lines of computer code does
Microsoft's Vista contain?
Updates from WebMD --- http://www.webmd.com/
Latest Headlines on
November 30, 2006
Latest Headlines on
December 1. 2006
Latest Headlines on
December 2, 2006
Latest Headlines on
December 9, 2006
HealthLine Medical Search Engine ---
Department of Health and Human Services
Bob Jensen's search helpers are at
Is there a homosexuality gene?
Although biologists are still far from answering this
question, scattered evidence for a possible gene influencing sexual orientation
has recently encouraged scientists to map out a guide to future research.
PhysOrg, December 7, 2006 ---
Insulin treatment of burns
Insulin is a hormone known primarily for regulating
sugar levels in the blood, yet researchers at the University of California,
Riverside, recently found that applying insulin directly to skin wounds
significantly enhanced the healing process. Skin wounds in rats treated
topically with insulin healed faster"surface cells in the epidermis covered the
wound more quickly and cells in the dermis, the deeper part of the skin, were
faster in rebuilding blood vessels. In follow-up studies of human skin cells in
culture, Manuela Martins-Green and colleagues explored the molecular impact of
topical insulin on keratinocytes, the cells that regenerate the epidermis after
wounding, and on microvascular endothelial cells, the cells that restore blood
PhysOrg, December 10, 2006 ---
Desk rage: Workers gone wild: On-the-job anger is increasingly
rearing its nasty head in stress-filled offices and other workplaces across
America, industry observers say ---
Harvard Public Health Review ---
Do high trade deficits drain wealth from the United States?
"Thinking About the Trade Deficit," by Steven M. Warshawsky, American Thinker,
November 30, 2006 ---
Mason University economics professor Russell Roberts, who runs the
with his colleague Don Boudreaux, has put together a short but
presentation about the trade deficit and
its effect on domestic employment. Roberts seeks to rebut the common
claim that the trade deficit leads to a loss of American jobs (recall
Ross Perot's "gaint sucking sound" comment). Roberts' analysis is
convincing. I won't repeat his analysis here, but I would like to make
a few related comments.
As any reader of CafeHayek knows, the "trade deficit" does
not represent a draining of wealth from the United States economy.
On the contrary, our purchases of goods, services, and raw materials
from overseas suppliers adds to our overall level of prosperity.
Indeed, if they didn't, we wouldn't make the purchases. After all,
no one forces millions of Americans to buy Toyotas, for example.
They do so because they prefer the price-quality mix of Toyota
automobiles to those offered by other manufacturers.
evidence shows that, despite the persistence of large trade deficits
since 1976 (see Russell's report for the data), American society has
become much, much richer in the past thirty years.
According to statistics from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis
here), Gross Domestic Product in 1976 was
$4.54 trillion (in 2000 dollars), whereas in 2005 it was $11.05
trillion. Spending on personal consumption saw a similar jump
between 1976 and 2005, from $3.04 trillion to $7.84 trillion.
Adjusted by population, per capita GDP in 1976 was $20,825, and in
2005 it was $37,080, nearly twice as much.
Jack Risko of
other astute analysts point out, moreover, these bare income
statistics do not begin to show how much richer we have become. Our
homes are larger and full of more and better appliances; our cars
are more reliable and have more sophisticated features; computers,
the internet, and consumer electronics (e.g., DVDs and iPods) have
transformed our everyday lives, both at work and at home; domestic
and foreign travel is cheaper and available to more and more
Americans; there has been an explosion in the variety of just about
everything available to consumers; and on and on and on. All this
while we have been running annual multi-billion dollar "trade
our "trade deficits" are one of the sources of our prosperity. Not
only do they reflect the availability of cheaper and/or more
desirable foreign products, which increases the quantity and quality
of American consumption, but the competition from foreign firms
(again, think Japanese auto makers) has spurred developments and
improvements in our own firms beneficial to consumers.
Furthermore, the term "trade deficit" itself is misleading, because
it usually refers to the merchandise trade deficit (i.e., trade in
such things as autos, steel, and textiles). As Roberts points out,
when capital accounts and services are added to the mix, our imports
and our exports are almost perfectly in balance, as economic theory
for the notion that trade deficits undermine domestic prosperity.
about the idea that they undermine national security? This was a
common argument in the 1980s when a wave of fear about Japanese
imports swept over the country. The argument goes that American
"dependence" on overseas suppliers (whatever this means in practice)
could lead to shortages of vital products or raw materials in a time
of war or other crisis. While there is some hypothetical
plausibility to this argument, that's about it. The concern in the
1980s, for example, was that our military technology was too
dependent on computer chips and other electronic components supplied
by Japanese firms. Supposedly Japan was going to use this
"dependency" as leverage against us. Needless to say, this concern
was much ado about nothing.
the concern is mainly about oil. Granted, there are many compelling
reasons why we should reduce our use of oil from the Middle East.
(Query whether buying oil from Norway or England or Mexico is
problematic.) More generally, there may be moral or political
reasons why we should limit our trade with certain totalitarian
countries like Cuba or China -- although trade also can have a
liberalizing effect. In any event, a careful cost-benefit analysis
should be done to evaluate the merits of such policies, which likely
will require accepting certain economic costs (to us and to them)
for the possibility of obtaining whatever moral or political
benefits the policies hope to achieve.
there is no support for the notion that American national
security has suffered as a result of our "trade deficits" per
se. Arguably, the late 1970s, during the Carter Administration,
represented the nadir of America's post-World War Two military and
diplomatic strength. Since then, the United States military has
become far and away the most advanced and powerful fighting force on
earth, and the United States today is the world's sole superpower.
There are many reasons for these developments, of course. My point
is simply that America has grown enormously in strength at the very
same time that we have been running supposedly harmful (merchandise)
there is no good reason to fear the trade deficit and many reasons
to appreciate the considerable benefits of free trade, both at home
France versus the United States: When are volatile economies and layoffs
good things for the nation as a whole?
"Change for the Better The case for economic turbulence," by Tyler Cowen, The
Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2006 ---
Is a volatile economy good
for American workers? To judge by the news accounts of layoffs and
downsizing and families grimly adjusting to straitened circumstances, the
answer would seem to be no. Three in five jobs for 22- to 55-year-old
workers last three years or less. In a typical quarter of the year, about
one in 13 jobs ends. For certain obvious reasons, labor-market turbulence
has a reputation as a wrecker of lives, families and pocketbooks.
But is it really? Economists
Clair Brown, John Haltiwanger and Julia Lane have their doubts. On closer
inspection, they note, job turnover and firm disappearance have positive
effects, in the aggregate. A clerk's job at a retail warehouse is replaced
by a computer, but the warehouse firm can use the savings to hire a better
and better-paid office manager. As workers lose jobs in one niche or sector,
they gain in another, moving on to better jobs and higher pay. In the
software sector, new businesses are more productive, over a five-year
period, than the firms they replace. This new-business productivity gain,
the authors show, is true generally across sectors--generating efficiency,
products and, most important, jobs. And new businesses tend to pay more.
In short, America is not
becoming a nation of part-time Wal-Mart cashiers or burger flippers. In four
of the five sectors studied by the authors--semiconductors, software,
financial services, retail food and trucking--the growth rate for full-time
jobs exceeds the growth rate for jobs in general. (Retail food is the
exception.) Separate research, conducted by Ann Huff Stevens at the
University of California, Davis, shows that the average tenure for employed
U.S. male laborers has been broadly stable over the past 35 years.
Insofar as individuals move
to lower-paying jobs, the turnover of firms is not the driving cause. The
most original proposition in "Economic Turbulence" is the claim that a big
part of measured wage declines derives from job downgrades within
firms--sticking with the same employer but moving from, say, mid-level
manager to gopher. The authors do not give the reasons for this downward
movement: One might speculate about voluntary lifestyle changes or
adjustments to match competency. In any case, the trend is measurable and
especially marked in the semiconductor industry.
The data in the book, based on
a new U.S. Census program, is impeccable. Yet only in the final chapter do
the authors move into the broader territory of public policy. They conclude
that America's competition, deregulation and economic turbulence are largely
desirable. By contrast, French labor policy, which tries to prevent firings
and guarantee lifetime jobs, is counterproductive. Indeed job creation has
largely stalled in Western Europe as older jobs are protected at the expense
of the young and at the expense of women who wish to move into the work
force more than their counterparts in earlier generations once did.
Of course, none of this will
silence the critics of free labor markets. The authors do show that
aggregate job turnover--"volatility in the aggregate"--is not an economic
villain, but the major complaints about labor markets remain. Many
economists suggest that median U.S. real wages are stagnating and that the
variance and unpredictability of incomes is increasing. They could easily
pick out more exact features of the broader volatile landscape--such as
immigration, outsourcing, information technology or weaker unions--and pin
the blame there.
Arguably "volatility in the
aggregate" was never the main concern in the first place but rather a
shorthand for other worries, like comparative standard of living. In my
view, the contemporary critics of labor markets are still more wrong than
right. As Virginia Postrel has noted, Best Buy is full of people--few of
them rich--buying flat-screen TVs. The obsession with measuring median wages
misses a broader story about growing wealth, higher asset values, growing
flexibility, growing buffers against risk, and growing opportunities for
Available measures of
inflation do not reflect changes in the quality of consumer goods or
shoppers' increasing likelihood of buying at Wal-Mart and other discount
outlets. The Internet is a new and fun use of time, now available to most
Americans, but we do not properly measure its contribution to how we live.
Even going to the dentist isn't nearly as bad as it used to be. When we have
better measures of these phenomena, and many others, we will know just how
much--if at all--labor markets are failing to deliver a satisfactory
standard of living to most Americans.
One obstacle to such a
calculation is that the measured value of benefits has risen in lieu of real
wage increases, because of more expensive health-care premiums. People are
paying more for insurance without getting better treatment. Of course this
is a problem with health-care markets, not labor markets, and it should be
treated as such. "Economic Turbulence" is a good place to begin a much
larger project of investigation.
Mr. Cowen is a professor of economics at
George Mason University and director of the Mercatus Center.
Five Top Humor Books
"Laughter That Lasts: Some humor
doesn't age well, but these American classics remain funny beyond compare," by
Andrew Ferguson, The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2006 ---
1. "You Know Me
Al" by Ring Lardner (Scribner's, 1916).
Ring Lardner thought
of himself as primarily a sports columnist whose stuff wasn't destined to
last, and he held to that absurd belief even after his first masterpiece,
"You Know Me Al," was published in 1916 and earned the awed appreciation of
Virginia Woolf, among other very serious, unfunny people. Ostensibly a
collection of letters to a friend back home in Bedford, Ind., it traces the
first season of a rookie hurler for the Chicago White Sox. Jack Keefe is at
once cocky and guileless, suspicious and gullible, innocent and--you get
hints of this along the way--doomed. But really, really funny.
2. "My Life and
Hard Times" by James Thurber (Harper, 1933).
"The clocks that
strike in my dreams are often the clocks of Columbus." This is easily the
most beautiful sentence ever written about what is now the largest city in
Ohio, and Thurber, alone among the Buckeyes, was the one who was destined to
write it. Thurber's tossed-off cartoons ("Well, if I called the wrong
number, why did you answer the phone?") seem to be wearing better than his
painstaking prose, at least among highbrow critics. But this brief memoir of
growing up in an eccentric family in Columbus before and during World War I
is nearly perfect--and still the funniest and most accessible Thurber.
3. "The Devil's
Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce (Albert & Charles Boni, 1911).
It is commonly
thought that a deep vein of melancholy runs beneath most humor writing--the
tears of a clown and so on--but it is truer to say that a kind of
prettied-up cruelty is the essential element, at least in the funniest
stuff. This is why the mean and mocking Ambrose Bierce refuses to
die--perhaps literally: No one has seen him since he disappeared into
Mexico, in 1914, hoping to join up with Pancho Villa. He (Bierce, not Villa)
left behind a handful of brilliant short stories along with this collection
of diabolical definitions, a work of exhilarating and unrelieved cynicism.
"Bigot, n.: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that
you do not entertain." "Forgiveness, n.: A stratagem to throw an offender
off his guard and catch him red-handed in his next offense." "Self-esteem,
n.: An erroneous appraisement." Once you start quoting, it is very hard to
stop--as you can see. Reading it has the same effect.
4. "Westward Ha!"
by S.J. Perelman (Simon & Schuster, 1948).
Seventy years ago
"nonsense" was an honored subclass of American humor, heavy on pointless
paradox and wordplay for its own sake. The closest thing to nonsense that's
worth reading today: the short pieces of S.J. Perelman, onetime scriptwriter
for the Marx Brothers. His work can seem bloodless and slight--he created
nothing as heartfelt as Jack Keefe or as charming as Thurber's Columbus--but
for sheer verbal virtuosity, for his dizzy manipulation of language,
Perelman deserves a place at the top of the trade. "Westward Ha!" is an
account of a trip to the Far East ("The whole business began with an
unfavorable astrological conjunction, Virgo being in the house of Alcohol").
As a travel book it is more closely tethered to reality than most Perelman
stuff and thus easier to enjoy. The witty illustrations by his friend Al
Hirschfeld are lagniappe.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain (1884).
Did someone say
"lagniappe"? It was one of Mark Twain's favorite words, which he often used
to describe humor in writing. "Humor is only a fragrance, a decoration," he
wrote. It's a quality that emerges almost unbidden, as a byproduct of the
writer's attempt to tell a story, preach a sermon, make an argument or draw
a character. Nowhere was the point illustrated more convincingly than in
"Huck Finn," a book known not only for its comic invention but also for its
moral grandeur. I don't think there's a funnier episode on paper than the
story of the Duke and the Dauphin, just for starters. What a pleasing
thought that the greatest work of art that Americans have produced is also
one of their funniest.
Mr. Ferguson is a senior editor
of the Weekly Standard and a columnist for Bloomberg News. His latest book,
"Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America" (Atlantic Monthly Press),
will be published in May.
Fighting the Iraq War on the Cheap
Forwarded by Dick Haar
US Strategy in Iraq
9 November 2006
by General Mitchell Zais, President of Newberry College
Many of our faculty and staff have asked me my views about the current
situation in Iraq. A few
students have also asked. So I thought I would take
this opportunity, two
days before Veterans¹ Day, to provide you with some
insights as seen from the
perspective of a combat veteran who served as the
Commanding General of US
and allied forces in Iraq. I also served as Chief
of War Plans in the
Pentagon and have spent considerable time studying
affairs, including a fellowship at the National Defense
University. So while it¹s
true that everyone has opinions about Iraq, I
would argue that not all
of those opinions are equally well-informed.
This talk will address
our strategy in Iraq. I won¹t talk about what the
next steps should be,
what the long-term prospects for peace in Iraq are, or
how we can best get out
of the quagmire we are in. Those might be other
talks. For today I¹m
going to focus on strategy
Let me begin by saying that most of our problems in Iraq stem from a
strategy that has been in
place since the beginning of the war.
It¹s important that you
understand what strategy is. In military terminology
there is a distinction
between strategy, operations, tactics, and
Strategy pertains to national decision-making at the highest level. For
example, our strategy in
World War II was to mobilize the nation, then
defeat the Nazi regime
while conducting a holding action in the Pacific,
then shift our forces to
destroy the Japanese Empire. Afterwards, our
strategy was to rebuild
both defeated nations into capitalistic democracies
in order to make them
An example of an operational decision from World War II would be the
decision to invade North
Africa and then Italy and Southern France before
moving directly for the
heart of Germany by coming ashore in Northern France
Tactics characterize a scheme of maneuver that integrates the different
capabilities of, for
example, infantry, armor, and artillery.
A technique might
describe a way of employing machine guns with overlapping
fields of fire or of
setting up a roadblock.
Our strategy in Iraq has been:
1. fight the war on the
2. ask the ground forces
to perform missions that are more suitably
performed by other
branches of the American government;
3. inconvenience the
American people as little as possible, and
4. continue to fund the
Air Force and Navy at the same levels that they have
been funded at for the
last 30 years while shortchanging the Army and
Marines who are doing all
of the fighting.
No wonder the war is not
Let me explain how the war is being fought on the cheap.
From the very beginning,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who thankfully
announced his departure
yesterday, has striven to minimize the number of
soldiers and Marines in
Iraq. Instead of employing the Colin Powell doctrine
of ³use massive force at
the beginning to achieve a quick and decisive
victory,² his goal has
been ³use no more troops than absolutely necessary so
we can spend defense
dollars on new technology.²
Before hostilities began, the Army Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki,
before Congress that an
occupation of Iraq would require hundreds of
thousands of soldiers.
Shinseki made his estimate based on his extensive
experience in the former
Yugoslavia where he worked to disengage the warring
factions of Orthodox
Serbians, Catholic Croatians, and Muslim Kosovars.
Shinseki also had
available the results of a wargame conducted in 1999 that
involved 70 military,
diplomatic, and intelligence officials. This recently
concluded that 400,000 troops on the ground were needed
to keep order, seal
borders, and take care of other security needs. And even
then stability would not
Because of his testimony before Congress, Rumsfeld moved Shinseki aside.
a nearly unprecedented
move, to replace Shinseki, Rumsfeld recalled from
active duty a retired
general who was more likely to accept his theory that
we could win a war in
Iraq and establish a stable government with a small
number of troops.
The Defense Department has fought the war on the cheap because, despite
that the Army and Marine Corps need a significant
increase in their size in
order to accomplished their assigned missions, the
civilian officials who
run the Pentagon have refused to request
Congress to do so. Two Democratic representatives, Mark
Udall from Colorado and
Ellen Tauscher of California, have introduced a bill
into Congress that would
add 80,000 troops to the end-strength of the active
Army. Currently, this
bill has no support from the Defense Department.
When I was commissioned in 1969 the Army was one and a half million.
the fact that we're
engaged in combat in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the
committed to peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, and
the Sinai, and on
operational deployments in over 70 countries, our Army is
now less than one third
that size. We had more soldiers in Saudi Arabia in
the first Gulf war than
we have in the entire Army today. In fact, Wal-Mart
has three times as many
employees as the American Army has soldiers.
As late as 1990, Army
end-strength was approximately 770,000. With fewer
than a half-million
today, defense analysts have argued that we need to add
nearly 200,000 soldiers
to the active ranks.
Today, the Army is so bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq that fewer
10,000 soldiers are ready
and able to deal with any new crisis elsewhere in
the world. And because
the Army is so small, after only a year at home units
are returning to Iraq for
a second and even a third 12-month tour of duty.
Let me add a
parenthetical note here explaining a difference between our
services. Army tours of
duty in Iraq are for 12 or 13 months. For Marines
it's normally six months.
For Air Force personnel it's typically four
months. So when a soldier
says he's going back to Iraq for his third tour,
it means something
totally different than when an airman says the same
Because the active force is too small, the mission of our National Guard
reserve forces has been
changed. Their original purpose was to save the
nation in time of peril.
Today they serve as fillers for an inadequately
sized active force. This
change in mission has occurred with no national
debate and no input from
We have fought the war on the cheap because we have never adequately
the rebuilding of the
Iraqi military or the training and equipping of the
Iraqi police forces. The
e-mails I receive from soldiers and Marines
assigned to train Iraqi
forces all complain of their inadequate resources
because they are at the
very bottom of the supply chain and the lowest
We have fought the war on the cheap because we have failed to purchase
necessary equipment for
our troops or repair that which has been broken or a
worn out in combat.
You¹ve all read the stories about soldiers having to
purchase their own
bulletproof vests and other equipment. And the Army Chief
of Staff has testified
that he needs an extra $17 billion to fix equipment.
For example, nearly 1500
war-fighting vehicles await repair in Texas with
500 tanks sitting in
Finally, we are fighting this war on the cheap because our defense
3.8% of gross domestic
product is too small. In the Kennedy administration
it averaged 9% of GDP.
The average defense budget in the post Vietnam era,
from 1974 to 1994, was
about 5.8% of GDP. If we are in a global war against
radical Islam, and we
are, then we need a defense budget that reflects
A second part of our strategy is to ask the military to perform missions
that are more appropriate
for other branches of government.
Our Army and Marine Corps
are taking the lead in such projects as building
roads and sewage
treatment plants, establishing schools, training a neutral
judiciary, and developing
a modern banking system. The press refers to these
nation-building. Our soldiers and Marines are neither equipped
nor trained to do these
things. They attempt them, and in general they
succeed, because they are
so committed and so obedient. But it is not what
they do well and what
only they alone can do.
But I would ask, where are our Department of Energy and Department of
restoring Iraqi infrastructure? What's the role of our
Department of Education
in rebuilding an Iraqi educational system? What does
our Department of Justice
do to help stand up an impartial judicial system?
Where is the US
Information Agency in establishing a modern equivalent of
Radio Free Europe? And
why did it take a year after the end of the active
fighting for the State
Department to assume responsibility from the
Department of Defense in setting up an Iraqi government? These other US
government agencies are
only peripherally and secondarily involved in Iraq.
Actually, it would be
inaccurate to say that the American government is at
war. The U.S. Army is at
war. The Marine Corps is at war. And other small
elements of our armed
forces are at war. But our government is not.
A third part of our
strategy is to inconvenience the American people as
little as possible.
Ask yourself, are you at war? What tangible effect is this war having on
your daily life? What
sacrifices have you been asked to make for the sake of
this war other than being
inconvenienced at airports? No, America is not a
war. Only a small number
of young, brave, patriotic men and women, who bear
the burden of fighting
and dying, are at war.
A fourth aspect of our
strategy is to fund Navy and Air Force budgets at
prewar levels while
shortchanging the Marine Corps and the Army that are
doing the fighting.
This strategy, of spending billions on technology for a Navy and Air
that face no threat,
contributes mightily to our failures in Iraq.
Secretary Rumsfeld is a
former Navy pilot. His view of the battlefield is
from 10,000 feet,
antiseptic and surgical. Since coming into office he has
funded the Air Force and
the Navy at the expense of the Army and Marines
because he believes
technological leaps we¹ll render ground forces obsolete.
He assumed that the rapid
victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan confirmed
For example, the Defense Department is pouring billions into buying the
newest fighter aircraft,
at $360 million each, to take on a non-existent
enemy Air Force.
But, for pilots like Rumsfeld, war is all about technology. It¹s
it¹s radar, and it¹s high
tech weapons. Technologists have a hard time
motivations of a suicide bomber or a mother who celebrates
the death of her son in
such a way. It's difficult for them to understand
that to overcome
centuries of ethnic hatred and murder it will take more
than one generation. It's
hard for them to accept that for young men with
little education, no
wives or children, and few job prospects, war against
the West is the only
thing that gives meaning to their lives.
But war on the ground is not conducted with technology. It is fought by
leading 19-year-old soldiers carrying rifles, in a
dangerous and alien
environment, where you can't tell combatants from
from Sunnis, or suicide bombers from freedom seeking
Iraqis. This means war on
the street is neither antiseptic nor surgical.
It's dirty, complicated,
and fraught with confusion and error.
In essence, our strategy has been produced my men whose view of war is
on their understanding of
technology and machinery, not their knowledge of
men from an alien culture
and the forces which motivate them. They fail to
appreciate that if you
want to hold and pacify a hostile land and a hostile
people you need soldiers
and Marines on the ground and in the mud, and lots
In summary, our flawed strategy in Iraq has produced the situation we
face. This strategy is a
product of the Pentagon, not the White House. And
remember, the Pentagon is
run by civilian appointees in suits, not military
men and women in uniform.
From the very beginning Defense Department
officials failed to
appreciate what it would take to win this war.
The US military has tried
to support this strategy because they are trained
and instructed to be
subordinate to and obedient to civilian leadership. And
the American people want
it that way. The last thing you want is a uniformed
military accustomed to
debating in public the orders of their appointed
civilian masters. But
retired generals and admirals are starting to speak
out, to criticize the
strategy that has produced our current situation in
But, if we continue to fight the war on the cheap, if we continue to
involving the American
people by asking them to make any sacrifice at all,
if we continue to spend
our dollars on technology while neglecting the
soldiers and Marines on
the ground, and if we fail to involve the full scope
of the American
government in rebuilding Iraq, then we might as well quit,
and come home. But, what
we have now is not a real strategy it¹s business
From the Readers Digest, December 2006, Page 61
Walking past my father's veterinary clinic, a woman noticed a small boy and
his dog waiting outside.
"Are you here to see Dr. Meyer?" She asked.
"Yes" the boy said. "I'm having my dog put in neutral."
Forwarded by Bob Blystone
Twas the Night
Attributed to Andrew Hund, 1993
night before finals, and all through the college,
The students were praying for last minute knowledge.
Most were quite sleepy, but none touched their beds,
While visions of essays danced in their heads.
Out in the
taverns, a few were still drinking,
And hoping that liquor would loosen up their thinking.
In my own apartment, I had been pacing,
And dreading exams I soon would be facing.
was speechless, her nose in her books,
And my comments to her drew unfriendly looks.
I drained all the coffee, and brewed a new pot,
No longer caring that my nerves were all shot.
I stared at my
notes, but my thoughts were muddy,
My eyes went a blur, I just couldn't study.
"Some pizza might help," I said with a shiver,
But each place I called refused to deliver.
concluded that life was too cruel,
With futures depending on grades had in school.
When all of a sudden, our door opened wide,
And Patron Saint Put-It-Off ambled inside.
His spirit was
careless, his manner was mellow,
All of a sudden he started to bellow:
"On Cliff notes! On Crib notes! On last year's exams!
On wing-it and sling-it, and last minute crams!"
delivered, he vanished from sight.
But we heard him laughing outside in the night.
“Your teachers have pegged you, so just do your best.
HAPPY FINALS TO ALL, and TO ALL A GOOD TEST.”
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