Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Weekly Standard on Pappy

The Weekly Standard has an excellent article on Pappy Boyington and the recent UW controversy. It is well worth a read.

Because the Japanese did not report the names of prisoners held at Ofuna, the Marines listed Boyington as missing in action. The flyer's Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously, or so the Marine Corps thought. Above Franklin Roosevelt's signature on the citation appear these words: "Consistently outnumbered throughout successive hazardous flights over heavily defended hostile territory, Major Boyington struck at the enemy with daring and courageous persistence, leading his squadron into combat with devastating results to Japanese shipping, shore installations and aerial forces. A superb airman and determined fighter against overwhelming odds. . . ." Boyington also earned the Navy Cross.

After twenty months at the Ofuna Camp, Pappy Boyington and the other prisoners were liberated. He weighed 100 pounds, down 90 from his normal weight. He left the service in 1947. He could not find work at first, but then was hired on as a wrestling referee and a beer salesman. Alcoholism dogged him much of the remainder of his life. He died in 1988, aged 75. Marine Corps F-4s performed a missing-man-flyby as his body was lowered into the ground at Arlington National Cemetery.

Monday, February 27, 2006

4.7% is High Unemployment?

I saw this CNN article on the Best of the Web this morning, and I am still amazed at its idiocy.

Employers are having difficulty finding the right people to fill jobs despite high unemployment in Europe and the United States, a survey by U.S.-based staffing firm Manpower showed Tuesday.

Now Europe I can understand, the unemployment rates in France and Germany are around 10%, but the United States? Since when was 4.7% considered high unemployment? From 1971 to 1996, a period of 25 years, the US never had a single month when the unemployment was this low. Even during the 8 years of the Clinton Administration, which thanks to the dot com boom was considered one of the greatest job markets ever the average unemployment rate was 5.2%, half a point higher. I guess no matter the facts, the press will always report the economic news as bad.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Fake But Accurate Meet Accurate But Unfair

First we get the fake but accurate standard for journalism, now when Pat Curley at Brainster and Don Luskin catch Paul Krugman using technically correct, but completely misleading numbers, we get yet another standard for the truth. In the original story Krugman claimed that Democrats were not involved in the Abramoff scandal, by arguing that Indian tribe donations directed by Abramoff to Democrats were less after Abramoff came along, then before. This is true, however, only if you ignore the fact that the time periods were not the same, and the amount of the donations per year to Democrats were actually significantly increased after Abramoff was involved.

This is kind of like how Krugman was technically correct about how studies show Gore would have one the election only if you ignore all the studies that show Bush might have won the election. Or how Krugman is technically correct that it is good that the French have more time to spend with their families, only if you ignore that this is due to high unemployment caused by failed economic policy.

Anyway, so Don Luskin pointed out this dishonesty to New York Times public editor Barney Calame, who responded that he would not demand a correction, because although it was unfair, it was not technically incorrect. So I guess it doesn't matter how much Krugman misleads his readers, as long as he can find some technical way in which he is correct. Pretty shoddy standard for journalism if you ask me.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Could This Newspaper Get Any Lamer?

As I have posted several times before our smaller local paper is so mind numbingly bad that it should probably be put out of its misery, but this is just stupid. It weighs in on the "Pappy" Boyington controversy with some amazingly bad spin.

In the dialogue that is supposed to be at the heart of education, asking a question is always fair. Questions lead to understanding.

In the casting of aspersions over a recent tie vote to honor a single World War II hero from the University of Washington, talk radio and the blog world managed to overlook the central role of questions. We are so surprised.

Of course talk radio and blogs are the biggest bogeymans of the mainstream media, probably because we are always showing how incompetent they are. OK, maybe I am just biased but what exactly is the educational value of asking "Are Marines really the type of people that the University of Washington wants to produce?" I guess in their logic, nothing can be ignorant, controversial or offensive as long as it is phrased in the form of a question. I am sure Larry Summers would be interested in hearing that.

So I suppose the editors of the Seattle-PI would not at all be offended by the following academic inquiries.

Is the Seattle-PI staff able to put 2 words together in a logical manner?

Are newspaper editors really the type of people we want our children to grow up to be?

Should people continue buying their idiotic paper?

I am just asking some questions here...

I Am Probably Putting My Life At Risk With This Post

This is unbelievable, not only are Islamists upset over cartoons of Mohammed, now they are upset over cartoons about cartoons about Mohammed. I am getting the idea that they are having a hard time with the concept that 80% of the world is not Muslim, and we are in no way subservient to them. More from Michelle Malkin

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pappy Revisited

From the Seattle-PI:

After rejecting a memorial to Marine Corps fighter ace Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a University of Washington alumnus -- and feeling the sting of talk radio, television commmentators and the e-mail-sending public -- UW students may now back a tribute to all former students who have received the Medal of Honor.

A resolution calling for students to recognize five Medal of Honor recipients has been submitted to the student government, and it will probably be considered next week. Student government leaders briefly discussed the issue at a meeting Tuesday night.

The university itself, which received hundreds of e-mails about the rejection of a memorial to Boyington, is also trying to cool public tempers that student leaders raised when, among other things, some questioned whether the university should honor a Marine who had killed people or another rich white man.

From the ASUW meeting notes:

Lee Dunbar said he has been witness to blatant disregard and disrespect toward students and their right to express themselves freely. He said he personally apologized to Ashley Miller, Jill Edwards, Karl Smith, and others who received hateful or hurtful emails or phone calls.

He said he would do everything in his power to prevent such blatant disrespect for students' opinons.

He said the Senate acts as a center for the community, and that the debate that takes place in Senate must be preserved.

No word on when "Pappy" Boyington and the United States Marine Corps get their apology.

Darwin Awards: The Jihad Edition

Don't you just hate when this happens?

JALALABAD: A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up prematurely near a main road routinely used by government officials and foreign troops in eastern Afghanistan, police said yesterday.

The man was blown to bits and only his leg and hat were found at the scene after the blast in eastern Nangarhar province on Sunday, provincial police spokesman Ghafor Khan said.

The End of Free Speech In Europe

While I am not for insulting people's religion, this is downright scary. I am reminded of Islamic blasphemy laws.

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word "Koran" on toilet paper and offering it to mosques.

The 61-year-old man, identified only as Manfred van H., was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, a district court in the western German town of Luedinghausen ruled.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bye Bye Larry

Harvard president Larry Summers has now resigned after years of attacks from the faculty. The Journal says it best.

Those "rifts" included quarrels with a largely left-wing faculty that has about as much intellectual diversity as the Pyongyang parliament. Or, as a group of Harvard protesters so charmingly put it a year or so ago, "Racist, sexist, anti-gay -- Larry Summers, you must pay." Only on an American university campus could Mr. Summers, a former Clinton Treasury Secretary, be portrayed as a radical neocon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Is This the Best That They Could Do?

I make fun of the Seattle-PI a lot, for good reason, but even I was a bit stunned when I read a guest editorial today on the cost of education by a student at the University of Washington, named Ashley Miller. Yes, THAT Ashley Miller.

All I can say is, if she thinks college is too expensive she should have gone on the GI Bill..

Monday, February 20, 2006

You Are a Liar, Now Give Me a Job!

I am starting to hunt for a summer internship, but I haven't tried this approach yet. I wonder if it will work...

It is Fungible!

You can learn more about economics from reading Dilbert than any Paul Krugman editorial.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Donate Now to the "Pappy" Boyington Scholarship Fund

Michelle Malkin reports that the University of Washington has now set up the "Lt. Col. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington Memorial Scholarship Fund" for Marine Corp veterans, or children of Marine Corps veterans. Technically, I am the latter, but I will probably be donating money into it, rather than taking money out of it. Semper Fi.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Seattle-PI on the Pappy Kerfuffle

As usual, the MSM is about a week behind everyone else.

Two students whose comments have been much criticized said that the minutes posted on the Internet didn't accurately reflect what happened.

UW sophomore Jill Edwards, who in the minutes questioned if a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the type of person the UW would want to produce, said she did not mean to offend anyone with her comments, but instead was trying to start a discussion among students who might be afraid to question a World War II vet.

"Obviously he is a great man, and I'm very proud he's an alumnus," she said. "I don't want to feel like we're trying to impose an ideal of achievement on the UW."

UW senior Ashley Miller has also been derided for her comment, according to the minutes, that the university already has monuments that commemorate rich white men. She said her comments were made as part of a general discussion about memorials on campus, not about Boyington specifically.

Now, the UW student government plans to consider supporting the creation of a memorial that would honor all of the university's Medal of Honor winners.

At least three other men with ties to the UW have received the Medal of Honor, according to the UW alumni magazine.

If those girls want to go far in politics, they had better come up with some better spin than that. That is pretty weak.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

UW Senate Discusses Boyington Issue

The UW student senate meets in the wake of the "Pappy Boyington" resolution controversy, as reported in the student newspaper the Daily.

Hate mail and threatening voicemails flooded in to students who spoke out against an ASUW Student Senate resolution this week.

The resolution, which aimed to create an on-campus tribute to World War II fighter pilot Col. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, was voted down last Tuesday. Senate Chair Alex Kim cast the tie-breaking vote after a lengthy debate.

Kim and ASUW President Lee Dunbar responded to community lashings at the beginning of last night's Senate meeting. Dunbar commended the Senate's debate and said he was appalled by the hateful responses members received.

He said he hopes the Senate can continue to operate in an open, non-threatening environment. Senate members received hateful phone calls and e-mails after their personal information was posted on Internet sites and blogs.

ASUW vice president Ashley Miller said she received between 50 and 100 threatening letters from people outside the UW community.

Miller was one of the main contributors to the resolution's debate. "The information about what happened that night was sent out to different sources and people were misquoted and misrepresented," she said.

"This just got ridiculous, everything was blown totally out of proportion."Following commentary about last week's meeting, the senate read and passed a resolution in support of holistic admissions.

While I certainly don't condone writing threatening e-mails, what were they expecting to happen? I would imagine if one of the senators had said something along the line of "civil rights activists are not the type of people that UW wants to produce" or "We don't need any statues of poor black men" then much more would have happened than a few nasty e-mails. If you insult people, they get angry. But I guess "rich white males" are open season.

I particularly noticed a bunch of whining about the reports being inaccurate, but a complete lack of specifics as to what was inaccurate. If the story is not being reported right, then correct it, don't just attack the people who are offended.

Update: Once again Michelle Malkin is several days behind me on a story. Oh well, she is cute, and she tries hard.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More On "Pappy" Boyington

This story is starting to spread, with the journal of right wing scandal and outrage World Net Daily picking it up, as well as the popular blog Ace of Spades HQ. One of the individuals involved, Karl Smith, posted his defense in the comments section of the original post I made. In all fairness, his original statement on the resolution was open to some interpretation, so I will repost his comments here:

I posted this comment elsewhere on a separate blog, but I feel it fits here too.

You see, this is a really fascinating lesson. It's a lesson on taking comments woefully out of context and self-interested parties on campus seeking personal gain at the expense of the integrity of their peers. The minutes you see are at best a paraphrase of the comments made; you see but the statements and not the justifications behind them.

As an individual cited in those minutes (and on your blog) and who, in the end, voted against this piece of legislation, I wanted to shared with you a few thoughts. First, I have a great deal of Pappy Boyington and I'm very thankful this resolution brought to my attention his experience and sacrifice. Had this been a resolution to express our admiration and honor him, this would have been a far simpler affair and would, in my estimation, have passed overwhelmingly. But this was about more than that. This piece of legislation asked us to support the creation of a memorial on campus; all else being equal I'd love to do that as well. But how do we decide who is deserving of such a commemoration and who is not? The University of Washington has MANY disinguished alumni, including other Medal of Honor recipients such as PFC. William K. Nakamura and John D. "Bud" Hawk, amongst others. We also are home to civil rights leaders such as Gordon Hirabayshi and a major contributor in the eradication of smallpox William Foege, and the Nigerian statesman who worked for peace Alex Ekwueme. How do we decide who is and is not deserving? I don't believe that's the role of the Student Senate, but it is certainly the role of the Student Senate to honor and acknowledge. I hope we see a future resolution to this end, for I am quite grateful for what Pappy Boyington did for our country.

Finally, though it may be unpopular here, I stand by my comments in support of removing the language regarding the Japanese planes shot down. In war, killing is a necessary evil. Because of this I am all the more grateful for those who endure the effects of war. But I do not believe our honor of him should focus upon the evil, regardless of how necessary. Instead it should focus on his heroism, courage, and all that he endured for his country.

In the end, my hope is to put the discussion and the decision in context. Though the vote is yes or no, the reasons for the particular vote vary greatly amongst senators. It is inaccurate to suggest that voting against this resolution is in any way seeking to disparage any veteran; as I mentioned, I hope to see a future resolution honoring him without asking that the Student Senate overstep its role.

Very Tuly Yours,Karl D. Smith

I am not sure how "self-interested parties on campus seeking personal gain at the expense of the integrity of their peers." comes into play. Perhaps there is some conspiracy involved that I am not aware of. I am a UW student, alum, and a veteran, but I am not a member of the student senate, nor am I seeking to put up a statue in my honor, so I am not sure who exactly is seeking personal gain.

As for Mr. Smith's explanation regarding removing the mention of Japanese planes being shot down, I will accept his statement that he meant no insult by it, but I don't really buy his logic. If you put up a memorial to a fighter ace, avoiding mentioning that he shot down enemy planes seems a bit of a stretch. This would be analogous to honoring Babe Ruth, while carefully avoiding that he hit home runs, or honoring Marie Curie without mentioning that she won Nobel prizes. He was a fighter pilot, he shot down planes, that is what his job was. If someone finds the mention of this evil than they are missing the point.

Regardless of Mr. Smith's intent in making his statement, I still fail to see how the words "she didn’t believe a member of the Marine Corps was an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce" can be presented in a favorable context, but maybe I am just not imaginative enough.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The World's Stupidest Investment Idea

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi writes (sadly) in the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal on the importance of R & D funding.

The president has proposed no new federal investment in broadband access, but Democrats believe that high-speed, always-on broadband will create millions of good jobs. Our agenda guarantees that every American will have affordable access to broadband -- within five years.

With all the budget demands we have, and given the fact that you can get DSL in most areas for less than $20 a month as it is, is spending taxpayers dollars to subsidize people downloading porn really that much of a priority? Let's not forget that one of the major factors in the 2000-2002 economic slowdown was overinvestment in broadband capacity in the telecommunications sector.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Education Does Not Equal Intelligence

I received my bachelor's degree at the University of Washington, and am currently in the MBA program there, so I am pretty much as hardcore of a Husky as you can get. The student senate, like most student organizations everywhere has a history of doing silly and ignorant things, but this one is just offensive.

Some students proposed a memorial for UW Alum "Pappy" Boyington, a World War II vet who received the Medal of Honor, shot down 26 Japanese planes, and spent 20 months in a Japanese prison camp. For a good description of his life see Wikipedia. If they turned this down for financial reasons, it would be one thing, but many of the students showed their ignorance and hate, for a man who showed courage and resolve far more than they could imagine themselves doing.

The notes for the meeting are here, some excerpts.

Jill Edwards said she didn’t’ believe a member of the Marine Corps was
an example of the sort of person UW wanted to produce.

Ashley Miller commented that many monuments at UW already
commemorate rich white men.


Karl Smith amended the first ‘whereas’ clause to strike the section “he was credited with destroying 26 enemy aircraft, tying the record for most aircraft destroyed by a pilot in American Uniform for which he was” and leaving the reference to the Navy Cross. Seconded. Objection.

He said the resolution should commend Colonel Boyington’s service, not
his killing of others.

His heroism aside, Colonel Boyington is hardly even indicative of a "rich white male", he grew up in a small logging town in Idaho and worked in road construction during his school breaks. As for the comment that a member of the Marine Corp wasn't an example of the sort of person the UW wanted to produce, well that comment is below contempt.

Some other blogs on this issue. Andrews-Dad and Paradosis

Update: Now it appears that Colonel Boyington was part Sioux Indian. So we have a "rich, white man" who was neither rich, nor white...

Friday, February 10, 2006

True Conservatism

The right often attacks John McCain for being a "faux-Republican", but in many ways he is one of the few true conservatives. One of the few Senators who will actually stand up for fiscal conservatism and against wasteful spending. From the Journal.

John McCain and I recently delivered a letter to our colleagues announcing our intention to challenge every individual earmark on the floor of the Senate. Many senators, staff and reporters have asked if we are serious. The answer is yes.

I am convinced that forcing hundreds or, if necessary, thousands of votes to strike individual earmarks is the only way to produce meaningful results for American taxpayers. Bringing the Senate to a standstill for as long as it takes would be a small price to pay for shutting down what Jack Abramoff described as Congress's "earmark favor factory." The battle against pork is crucial. Pork is the root cause of the unholy relationship between some members of Congress, lobbyists and donors. Inside Congress, the pork process is effectively a black market economy: Thousands of instances exist where appropriations are leveraged for fundraising dollars or political capital. It is delusional to claim Congress can redeem its relationship with K Street without eliminating earmarks. The problem is not lobbyists. The problem is us.

Those who argue that fighting pork distracts members from the more costly challenge of entitlement reform don't understand human nature. Earmarks are a gateway drug on the road to the spending addiction. One day an otherwise frugal member votes for pork, the next day he or she votes for a bloated spending bill or entitlement expansion: A "no" vote might cut off their access to earmarks.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Getting Rid of Sarbox

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. From the WSJ:

Question: What do you get when you cross corporate scandals with a panicked Congress in an election year? Answer: Sarbanes-Oxley, a bad law that, as it turns out, may also be unconstitutional.

At least that's the contention of the Free Enterprise Fund and its powerhouse legal advisers, who yesterday filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, D.C., challenging a key portion of the 2002 law. Filed with the help of Ken Starr and Michael Carvin, the suit argues that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the quasi-private agency that Sarbanes-Oxley established to oversee the auditing of public companies, violates the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It's a compelling argument and one that, with any luck, may finally spur Congress to revisit a law that has arguably done more economic harm than the scandals that inspired it.

Exaggeration? If only. The University of Rochester's Ivy Xiying Zhang last year looked at stock market reaction to Sarbanes-Oxley, finding that the law had cost public company shareholders $1.4 trillion. This is in addition to the billions of dollars companies are spending to comply with the law's new auditing and "internal control" regulations. Much of this windfall is ironically enriching the same Big Four accounting firms that everyone in politics blamed for the original scandals.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

No Wonder We Have a Deficit

From the WSJ:

The only problem is that most of this has zero chance of being implemented. A review of the first five Bush budgets by Phil Kerpen of the Free Enterprise Fund finds that the President has requested an annual increase in expenditures of roughly 4% for discretionary spending, but that Congress has delivered a yearly increase closer to 8%. Congress has spent $380 billion more over the past five years than Mr. Bush has originally sought.

Consider what happened last year, when Mr. Bush proposed a budget along similar lines. The taxpayers cooperated by lifting their revenue payments far above Treasury projections -- by 14.5%, or $274 billion, in Fiscal 2005 (which ended last September 30). Congress turned around and spent most of that windfall, increasing outlays in Fiscal 2006 by a proposed $237 billion, or one of the largest increases ever in a single year.

NFL Announces It Is Switching to Touch Football

PITTSBURGH February 7, 2006 ChiefBrief News Service - The NFL defended its officiating today, saying that the referees were just following league policy. Acting NFL commissioner Art Rooney pointed out one particular call, where Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was penalized 15 yards for tackling a Pittsburgh defensive back, by saying that the NFL had actually switched to new "touch football rules sometime in the 3rd quarter." Rooney continued by saying that "I can't count the number of times where a tiny little cornerback has been crushed by a big bad QB while innocently attempting to return an interception." and that the NFL had changed the rules "in order to protect innocent life". When asked about this unusual rule change, lead Super Bowl official Bill Leavy responded, "I don't know what the controversy is all about. We let both teams know. It is not my fault Mike Holmgren doesn't read his e-mail."

Jay Leno Joke O' the Day

"According to the early ratings, 91 million people watched the Super Bowl. Well 91 million minus 5 if you count the refs".

-Jay Leno-

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Game Was Fixed!

Some more outrage in the mainstream media.


In case the football fans of the Pacific Northwest aren't sick enough in the aftermath of the big game, they may want to know that no Super Bowl loser has ever dominated a title game like the Seahawks did on Sunday.

I was so sure that Seattle's edge in total yards, time of possession and takeaways in a losing effort was unprecedented that I scoured all 39 previous Super Bowl box scores to prove it. Yep, just as I suspected, no losing team had ever matched the Seahawks' trifecta. Quite a few teams had won the time of possession battle and lost. A handful had put up more total yards and lost. And a couple had even won the turnover battle and lost. But no team had ever done all three and come away with an L.

Not until Sunday. Not until the Seahawks outplayed the Steelers on the vast majority of plays and still lost, thanks largely to two dubious penalty calls that cost Seattle a TD and a first-and-goal at the 1.

This was a historic, first-of-its-kind Super Bowl loss. I don't want to take anything away from the Steelers, except, of course, the Lombardi Trophy.


Four critical calls stood out. A rinky-dink offensive pass interference flag wiped out an early touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Darrell Jackson, forcing Seattle to settle for three instead of seven. When Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lunged for the goal line near the end of the first half, replays indicated a close play but a clear stop by the Seahawks. Nope—touchdown, Steelers. Then came the pivotal double shot that ended all hope for Seattle. With the Seahawks trailing 14-10, a phantom holding call negated a completion that would have given Seattle first and goal at the one yard line. Three plays later, Hasselbeck was picked off by Ike Taylor, a mistake he partially made up for by tackling the Steelers CB. Sadly for Seattle, tackling now brings a 15-yard penalty—the zebras somehow called Hasselbeck for a "block below the waist." The last call set up Pittsburgh for the clinching score.

Is the Economy Stronger Than You Think?

I'll take a quick break from ranting about the Seahawks losing to the referees in the Superbowl to show my economics geek side. BusinessWeek's chief economist, Michael Mandel, who keeps a pretty interesting blog, has a cover article this week titled "Why The Economy Is A Lot Stronger Than You Think". While I don't agree entirely with his approach, he does bring up some interesting questions. Capital spending on fixed assets, such as drill presses and office furniture, is counted as assets for accounting purposes, and as investment (big "I" for my fellow macro students) for calculating GDP. Spending on R & D and education though, which arguably may be more important aren't. So are we investing and saving less, or are we just doing it in different ways?

Super Bowl Ref Changes Controversial Call

PITTSBURGH ChiefBrief News Service - February 6th, 2006

Head Super Bowl ref Bill Leavy announced that he was changing the controversial call where he flagged Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for an illegal block for tackling a Pittsburgh defensive back who had intercepted his pass. Leavy announced that he had found out that illegal block penalties are normally called "when you actually throw a block", and furthermore this action "is normally done when your team has the ball". Leavy discovered what he referred to as "this subtlety in the rule" when his 13 year old son repeatedly demonstrated this on the family's Playstation 2. "The game was Mad something or other" Leavy added.

Leavy's son, who refused to give his name, and at first angrily insisted that he was not in any way related to the elder Leavy, and was in fact an exchange student from Sweden, said that he was going into the Federal Witness Protection Program for fear of "getting the crap beaten out of me at lunch", adding that his "lesbian gym teacher knows more about NFL officiating than my dad does."

Leavy defended himself by saying that he still feels a penalty should have been called on that play, feeling that either an "Infield fly rule or double-dribble would have been appropriate." The penalty for that according to his recollection was either "2 free throws, or a corner kick" which of course would be left up to the discretion of the "impeccably qualified officiating staff"

Sunday, February 05, 2006

We Aren't Just Whining!

I was going to post earlier on the horrible officiating at my Seahawks loss in the Superbowl, but I didn't want to look like just a poor loser whining over close calls. Apparently though it isn't just locals who are upset. From the Miami Herald

The inevitable finally happened. A group of middle-aged executives trying to keep pace with a group of highly trained 20-something athletes destroyed America's sports holiday.

Pittsburgh's one-for-the-thumb Super Bowl will be remembered as the game when physically overmatched referees and heads-buried NFL executives flipped non-Steelers fans an XL middle finger.

Or FOXSports:

Like a crazed CIA analyst running through the halls of Langley screaming into open offices about some impending calamity, I've been shrieking hysterically about the terrible officiating in the NFL and warning that some day the brutal calls were going to affect the outcome of the Super Bowl.

That some day was Sunday.

Every single questionable, marginal or outright bad call went against the Seahawks.

Update: ESPN chimes in.

Here's what referee Bill Leavy's crew did, point blank: It robbed Seattle. The Seahawks could have played better, sure. They could have done more to overcome the poor officiating. We understand that those things happen and all, but even with all the points Seattle left on the field, there's a good chance the Seahawks would have scored more than the Steelers if the officials had let the players play.

Where Did the Seattle-PI Learn Math?

I don't normally get my finance and economics news from the Seattle-PI, but I happened across this while reading about the Seahawks, and this article shows why.

The CBO says Japan, China and the United Kingdom have the biggest holdings of U.S. debt instruments. And, it's worth noting, that the United Kingdom is more of a broker than a purchaser.

In all, the CBO says, "investors from other countries purchased about $235 billion in Treasury securities last year."

Another agency, the Congressional Research Service, wrote a year or so ago that the burden of debt "depends on whether the debt is internally or externally held."

"When the national debt is externally held, the payment of interest abroad is a transfer of income from Americans to foreigners," the CRS said.

This is huge. We Americans are stingy when it comes to foreign aid. We don't invest a lot (in relative terms) to help poor nations climb out of poverty. The total spending on foreign aid is less than $20 billion (depending on how you count).

Yet without debate, without fanfare, we willingly send $235 billion as a transfer payment -- to Japan, China and other cash-rich nations, businesses and individuals.

Sounds nice, but there is one problem, we aren't sending $235 billion as a transfer payment. In fact the article previously states that the $235 billion is the amount that foreigners invested in us, so it would actually be more accurate to say that foreigners send us $235 billion in transfer payments. I don't have an exact number in what we pay in interest to foreigners, but as the article correctly points out we paid $352 billion in interest last year. Since foreigners own about 1/4 of the total debt, then that would be approximately $85 billion.

Bogus numbers aside, this article is just filled with bad economics. He also makes the statement.

By any measure, the interest on the debt is headed in the wrong direction.

Oh really, "by any measure" Well how about this measure?

2005 $352,350,252,507.90
2004 $321,566,323,971.29
2003 $318,148,529,151.51
2002 $332,536,958,599.42
2001 $359,507,635,242.41
2000 $361,997,734,302.36
1999 $353,511,471,722.87
1998 $363,823,722,920.26

Now this is not to say I am in favor of a deficit, I am not, I think it should be cut, but if you are going to make an argument against it, at least back it up with good economics. In my opinion, the problem that is more threatening is the impending cost of social security and medicare, not a federal debt, which although large, is at about the same proportion of GDP as it was 20 years ago.

UPDATE: After I e-mailed him Mark Trahant, to his credit, issued this correction:

Yet without debate, without fanfare, we willingly send about $72 billion as a transfer payment -- to Japan, China and other cash-rich nations, businesses and individuals. [Editor's Note: The amount of money we send as a transfer payment has been changed since the original publication of this column.]

Friday, February 03, 2006

Yet One More Reason to Cheer for the Seahawks

Now I am not going to impugn the Steelers' patriotism, but this does seem a little fishy...

DETROIT - The city of Detroit honored one of its own Tuesday when it presented the Key to the City to Jerome Bettis.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back and Detroit native joined only three other folks to receive the key - and one of them was Saddam Hussein.

You read that right.

Saddam Hussein.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Moonbattery Explained

I got in an on-line argument with a 9/11 conspiracy nut, which admittedly is a waste of time, but often provides amusement. I pointed out to my conspiratorial comrade that Osama had actually talked about committing the attacks on tape, after which he pointed me to this site, a moonbat hangout which alleges the tape was faked, and uses comparison of video captures to "prove" this point.

Here are the captures of bin Laden talking about the attack. Let's call this exhibit A.

So the moonbat then compares one of these captures with other captures of bin Laden.

He then concludes that "E" does not look like the other pictures. While the quality of the photo is not very good, I must agree that it doesn't.

What is wrong with this though? Well, look back at "exhibit A" and examine the aspect of the photo. It doesn't look right, in fact the aspect of the middle photo doesn't even match the other one and a half. It looks like someone sat on his head.

So what happens when you put it this picture in photoshop and do nothing other than adjust the vertical aspect so he is not all squished? Bin Laden is a tall skinny guy after all.

Wow, it looks just like Osama bin Laden, right down to the gray streaks in his beard and those beady little eyes. Amazing how that works.

Welcome CNN Readers

I noticed unusual traffic on my humble blog this morning and found out that I have been linked on CNN Money. I have been mentioned on Instapundit, and the National Review Online before, but this is my first link in the infamous MSM. Apparently I am now an "online wag", which admittedly, I am not sure what that means. I hope it is good. I wonder if I can put this on my resume?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

And You Thought That You Had a Lot of Credit Card Debt

I wonder if he can call one of those debt counseling services you see on late night TV? From the WSJ

Larry Ellison may be one of the world's richest men, but that hasn't stopped him from running up debts. Really big debts.

Recently unsealed court documents paint a rare and detailed picture of the software billionaire's finances -- in particular, his reluctance to sell the Oracle Corp. stock that makes up most of Mr. Ellison's fortune, and his proclivity for taking on debt to finance his lifestyle, charity giving and private investments.

In mid-2000, for instance, documents originally prepared by Mr. Ellison's personal financial adviser, Philip Simon, show that the Oracle co-founder and chief executive owed a total of more than $1 billion to five different banks, just $328 million shy of tapping out his line of credit. At the time, Mr. Simon anticipated additional spending by Mr. Ellison of more than $700 million over the next three years, including $20 million a year for "lifestyle," $194 million for a new yacht and $80 million for Mr. Ellison's America's Cup yacht-racing team.

"I'm worried, Larry," Mr. Simon wrote to Mr. Ellison in a 2002 email. "It's imperative that we start to budget and plan."