Katrina Relief - The web is abuzz with efforts to publicize Katrina relief efforts. Lots of choices available to those that want to contribute. See an array at Instapundit. A charity that I felt especially worthwhile, and to which I have contributed is Soldier's Angels (click on their logo below)
Orleans - Even
while the waters are still flooding New Orleans, there is a growing
body of commentary that seeks to place the blame on the federal
government, for refusing to adequately fund levee construction in
years past, and even on George Bush, in particular. It is not
especially convincing, according to Duane
Freese, and I agree. But, I would take this one step
further. The problem isn't that the government is paying too
little, it really is a problem that it is paying too much.
a Pain in my Gas -
Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard may want to become governor so
badly that he is willing to politicize any issue just to get
headlines. Either that, or he is just an idiot - I'll report,
you decide. His office just issued a press release titled,
Goddard Presses Need for Price-Gouging Protection." I
don't know why it is that people won't recognize that politicians make
bad situations worse, not better. I'd trade a thousand
politicians for a million speculators. That would create as much
market stability as you can, given that these current disruptions are
beyond our ability to control.
The Asian Hoard - For some time there has been this idea circulating, mostly on the web, that the Chinese (and Japanese) could ruin the U.S., financially, if they decide to unload their stocks of U.S. Treasury Securities. Today, that bogus notion was echoed in the editorial of the Daily Sun:
It doesn't surprise me that the editors of the local paper cannot
grasp economics, much less global economics. The concept they
need to learn is called "fungibility." It sounds like
some kind of odd disease, but it actually refers to the fact that a
dollar is a dollar is a dollar.
Break in the Action -
It's Labor Day! Time to get out and do something
different. Actually, I was out yesterday - hiking up Mt.
Humphreys, which, at 12,633 feet, is the tallest spot in
Arizona. Lots of folks on the trail, even though it was cloudy
early in the morning. We reached the summit at 11:00 a.m., when
the clouds were still above us. But, soon we were surrounded by
a gray mist and, at the first sound of distant rumbling, the peak
cleared off within a minute. Still, all the way down we passed
people headed up, despite the turn in the weather. We did hear a
few more rumbles of thunder, although they always seemed distant, but
we didn't see lightening. We started up at 8:22 a.m., from the
upper parking lot, by the Skyride,
and returned at 1:23 p.m., making this a 5 hour trip. Here are a
few photos - click on them for larger images. Go here
to see more pictures.
Denied - The
Flagstaff City Council is set to tighten up the law prohibiting
"camping" (which may just be someone sleeping in a car)
within the city limits. As an interesting piece of irony, while
camping is prohibited on public and private property, there is nobody
to cite in the former case. That is, the "camper" is
not the liable party; rather, it is the land owner that is charged
with such an offense! So, if you are caught "camping"
on a public street, the city is at fault!
(i) Identify the prohibited acts - littering, obstructing public access, public urination (et al.), fires, and whatever else should go here. [This is what we really want to penalize.]
(ii) Make the penalties suitable to prohibit these acts, with the additional proviso that any such offenders are barred from camping within the city limits for a period of six months. [This would help keep away serial violators.]
(iii) Allow camping on private property, or on city streets in front of private property, at the discretion of the property owner, but, making them also liable for violations identified in part (i). [This would allow for uses that we currently don't find objectionable.]
(iv) Allow camping on city property, as long as there is no traffic danger, unless otherwise posted. [This would allow for the situation that arises during harsh winter weather.]
(v) Any such "camping" should be limited to vehicles and trailers. [That is, this camping is a temporary measure.]
No Shortage of Fuelish Politicians - When the price of gas goes up, we seem to be able to count on one thing - there is no shortage of politicians with bad ideas and no shortage of bogus economic reasoning. I almost yearn for the day when a politician just admits that they don't know anything, and that they will lie to us on every possible occasion. Not only would I vote for such a politician, I'm pretty sure I'd vote for him/her again and again. But, back to gas, and the nonsense it induces . . .
Bad idea: There is an effort to suspend, temporarily, gas taxes in Arizona. This is being proposed by State Senator Verschoor (R), with regard to state taxes, and by Representative Shadegg (R), with regard to federal taxes. While the economic reasoning is sound - these proposals will stimulate supplies and reduce prices* in this market - the policy of eliminating a tax that is essentially a user fee is untenable. The gas tax is an excellent example of a revenue stream that is tied to specific (government) spending that is directly related to our use of the product (gas). That is, the more we drive, the more impact we have on the infrastructure of roads. However, the more we drive, the more taxes we pay, which are used to maintain, repair, and improve this infrastructure. In a less-than-perfect world (where taxes are raised) this kind of scheme is far preferable to one that uses general tax revenue for general uses. If we want to debate about lowering, or raising, this tax in some permanent fashion, then let's do so; otherwise, just walk away from such hare-brained schemes.
Governor Napolitano (D) has opposed this tax cutting proposal. I
might be inclined to hold my nose and, with one hand, applaud her
position. But, her arguments are so specious, that I can't help
but think that she "learned" her economics from Attorney
General Goddard. In today's Daily
Sun, the governor's press spokesman, Pati Urias, is quoted as
saying, "Even if you
suspend the gas tax, it doesn't necessarily mean that the price is
going to go down. The distributors could just leave the prices
as they are."
*Note that this is the proper causal ordering of events. You cannot drive down the price unless the demand falls (which these proposals are not designed to do) or the supply increases. The chain of effects, as outlined in the attached graphical analysis, is that reducing taxes lowers the cost of production, which boosts profits, which stimulates supplies, which puts downward pressure on prices.
Take Back the Memorial - The ongoing plans for a memorial at ground zero in New York City have generated tons of controversy for their political-correctness aspects. Michelle Malkin has been keeping track of this on her site. There is a rally scheduled for tomorrow. To learn more follow the link below:
You can also read more on the proposed memorial for the victims of Flight 93, which is shaping up to be the artistic equivalent of getting a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Check out Zombie's observations.
Governor Challenges Nature - Governor Napolitano seems to draw inspiration from a bottomless pit of crazy ideas. While yesterday it was about the price system, today it is about nature. Should New Orleans be moved, perhaps to a Newer Orleans? The governor is quoted in today's paper as saying that talk of rebuilding elsewhere is "fundamentally flawed." Writes Howard Fischer, "[S]he said geography and meteorology is trumped by something else: history." Is it even worth commenting on? I suppose that this attitude is also a reflection of poor economic schooling. The presumed benefits of "preserving history" cannot possibly be worth the cost of rebuilding in the same lousy location. Get a grip. It is especially unworthy of taxpayer funds, although if you want to start up your own private charity to rebuild New Orleans below sea level, go ahead.
Auction Remembers Lorraine Kerley -
If you have been to more than a few auctions, you know that the
participants become something of a surrogate family. You see
each other at least a couple of weekends a month, be it at an estate
sale or a storage unit auction. You contend with rain and sun,
wind and storm, and, on occasion, awful directions. You swap
stories about the bids of past auctions, both won and lost. You
wait, with what may seem an unending supply of patience, for items you
are interested in to cross the auctioneer's table.
9/11 - Today we
do two things - remember the events of 9/11 and go on with our
lives. There is a lot to remember about 9/11, and there isn't
much I can add to that story. The Discovery Channel's presentation
of The Flight that Fought Back has been highly recommended by reviewers.
For a good reference source for lots of 9/11 reading, go to this Winds
of Change web site.
Looting and Finding - In a letter to yesterday's Daily Sun (which, as of this morning was still not posted up on-line), Carol Thompson doesn't just blur the lines between reality and fantasy, she blurs the lines between fantasy and insanity. While she may have credentials in race-baiting, and consider herself a class warrior, her international experience has, apparently, only eroded any appreciation she might have for the scientific method, much less for logic and coherence. Here is an excerpt:
Clearly, Ms. Thompson isn't going to let facts get in the way of her agenda of "Hate America First." The "looting" and "finding" photos she references are exactly what they purport to be and her attempt to play them like race cards should fall on deaf ears. Consider these points:
1. These photos were taken by two different photographers, and they were the ones that wrote the captions.
2. The captions reflected what the photographer saw. In the case of "looting" the photographer (Dave Martin) saw a man (one man, not "folks") wading through the water, pulling along a large plastic garbage bag (like a 30 gallon job).
3. In the case of "finding" the photographer (Chris Graythen) saw people wading down the street by a grocery store. The contents of the store had, in part, been floating around the street and a woman in the photo was carrying a loaf of bread and one other item, identified as soda by Graythen. Read Graythen's comments here (about halfway down the page).
4. In the "finding" photo, the two people are not clearly "white folks." The man is white, although it is not certain that he and the woman are traveling together. The woman is of uncertain ethnicity and may be white, or, perhaps Hispanic, or, even black.
5. Finally, the photos are not both from the AP. The "looting" photo is from the AP, while the "finding" photo was circulated by the AFP - Agence France-Presse. This tidbit of irony may be lost on Ms. Thompson, but it isn't lost on me.
Ms. Thompson may hate the Great Satan that is the U.S., but she can't blame the problems of the world on America. The slaughter in Rwanda (during President Clinton's tenure), the murderous events in the Sudan, and the unfolding famine in Niger were/are tragic, but don't automatically threaten U.S. security. If she wants to speak out and organize private efforts to "give peace a chance," then good for her. But, if Ms. Thompson is calling for U.S. military involvement in these internal conflicts, in order to bring peace, freedom, democracy and capitalism to these impoverished peoples, perhaps she should detail that in a future letter.
Rogers Brown for SCOTUS -
I have been watching today's hearings on John Roberts nomination to be
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Fascinating stuff. The
Janice Rogers Brown - former California Supreme Court Justice; recently confirmed (after an interminable wait due to threats of filibuster in the Senate) to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She is the ideal choice, in my opinion. Her appointment would knock both the race and gender cards out of the equation, or, would allow those cards to played against the cabal of old white males - Kennedy, Leahy, Schumer, Durbin, et al. She is tough as nails, having really been to the school of hard knocks - born to sharecropper parents in Alabama; being raised in California by her grandmother following her parents' separation; marrying and having a child while in college; her husband died of cancer leaving her to raise their son while finishing her undergraduate degree and going to law school.
Janice Rogers Brown is my kind of justice. Face it - Dubya is going to get his hat handed to him if he selects another conservative white male. But, a candidate like Brown, even though she had to wait two years for the Appeals Court appointment to be confirmed, will kick this debate into the stratosphere.
F-cubed still too big for Flagstaff - The Friends of Flagstaff's Future, or F-cubed, recently announced that their membership now exceeds 1,000. This local activist group generally opposes economic development and supports an environmental agenda. It reminded me of a letter I wrote to the Daily Sun this past April, in the midst of the Prop 100 campaign, which concerned whether "big box" stores (i.e., Super Wal-Mart) would be allowed in Flagstaff. Prop 100 would have capped retail space in one store to 125,000 square feet and would have limited the amount of space dedicated to groceries to 8% of the store's space. F-cubed supported Prop 100, claiming that Wal-Mart killed off local businesses and paid lousy wages . . . well, in general, Wal-Mart can be blamed for all the ills in the world that can't otherwise be blamed on President Bush. So, without further ado, a blast from the past . . .
Thursday, September 15, 2005
PC problems today - blog postponed to Friday. Catch up with my Antarctica journal: Cape Royds
the Logic Levee Falters - Part I -
The editorial in today's Daily Sun begins with a reference to the
fable about the emperor with no clothes and draws an analogy to
President Bush. Is it just me, or is this constant haranguing of
Dubya just insane? I am beginning to think that O'Reilly has
latched onto something with his Kool-Aid
references. It may be that the president is just an automatic punching
bag when it comes to any catastrophe, large or small, real or
imagined. And, as politicians like to take the credit even for
the sun rising in the morning, perhaps we are justified in blaming
them when it sets in the evening. Still, I just don't get
it. This behavior is not only short-sighted and unproductive,
but it is as insidious as a terrorist attack, in that it helps to
undermine our basic principles.
1. The City of New Orleans had an evacuation plan, and didn't use it. I would link to their plan, but it has been removed from public access on the web!
2. Certainly you have seen the flooded buses. The fact that there were people in New Orleans without adequate transportation is a given. The mayor had access to these buses and didn't use them. It is not a federal responsibility. Check out more on this at Snopes.
3. The governor turned down assistance and dragged her feet on requesting federal intervention. That is her responsibility, not Bush's.
4. And, as has been widely noted, if it hadn't been for President Bush, it isn't clear that the mandatory evacuation would have been issued - he is the one that pressed the governor and the mayor on this point, before the hurricane hit.
So, by blaming Bush, logic and reasoning are just thrown out the window. Apparently, the emperor really does have clothes, but critics demand that he acknowledge that he doesn't. All of this is starting to sound more and more like some show trial from the old Soviet days under Stalin.
the Logic Levee Falters - Part I I -
Friday editorial (9/16/2005) in the Daily Sun chastised President Bush
leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
As I noted yesterday, this is patently
unfair – Bush is not only the last one that can be blamed, in fact
he deserves credit for the arm-twisting he engaged in before the
America’s primary appeal to other people is our “mass
consumerism” and “store-bought luxuries?”
Is that why East Germans risked getting shot while crossing the
Berlin Wall? Is that why
dissidents in the old Soviet Union were carted off to real-life
gulags? Is that why
millions were murdered by Pol Pot and his henchmen?
I don’t think so.
The point of the Declaration of Independence is that we do not
accept tyranny, whether under the guise of a slave-based Confederate
state, or a totalitarian Marxist state, or a murderous national
socialist state, or a fundamentalist Islamic state. The
Declaration is our line in the sand. It is a statement of how
our moral compass is set, even if we fall short of these precepts from
time to time. We may, or may not, choose to confront others in a
forcible manner on these points - we have in Afghanistan and Iraq, we
haven’t in North Korea and Iran. At least, not yet.
Market moves Faster than the (Daily) Sun -
web version of the Arizona Daily
Sun, Flagstaff's local paper, has an on-line poll about gas prices
that was still up this morning. The screen shot, below, I took
yesterday. The poll asks, "What lies in store for gas
prices?" The choices are:
A Liberal Dose of Flagstaff may be Toxic - Thanks to Jack at Arizona Watch for the plug for the Kaibab Journal, and thanks to the nice comments from Spectregunner and BridgetB. Jack writes, "[I]t’s a pleasant surprise to find that there’s a rational person among the tree-huggers in Flagstaff." I wonder what gives him the idea that Flagstaff is full of flaky people. Hmm . . . I wonder. Well, for starters, let's run down the letters to the editor in today's paper:
"Gov't tries to cover-up" - about the incompetence of the Bush administration with regard to hurricane preparedness. No mention of local government shortcomings here, as I have commented on.
"Most congressmen's kids not in Iraq" - bemoans the fact that members of Congress, because they don't have children serving in Iraq (the old Michael Moore bugaboo), makes their decision to be there untenable.
"Patriots oppose war in Iraq" - well, there you go.
"Where would we be without the GOP?" - mostly, the writer concludes we'd have no war, no hurricanes and low gas prices.
"Impact fees offset monopoly advantage" - which rails against developers, who, apparently, storm the city gates, build houses and then leave!
"Bush administration piling up scapegoats" - where (ex-FEMA director) Michael Brown's intelligence shortcomings are compared to George Tenet's. To bad that the author didn't see fit to mention that Tenet was selected by Pres. Clinton.
OK, I fudged a bit - I left two out. One was on whether the new city pool should be built on 4th Street, which begs the question of whether we really should have the city build a pool, especially since the city council already rations my water. And, the other letter was a defense of the police chief in nearby Williams (30 miles west), who tried to hide his checkered, and perhaps criminal, past.
Nothin' in Nagin's Noggin? - The mayor of New Orleans continues to make a Democrat of himself with his recent efforts to re-populate New Orleans when it is still at risk, especially now that Rita is heading that way. He has been pressured by the feds to postpone his plan, at least for now. This illustrates, yet again, that it is local officials that (rightfully) are in control, even if they are incompetent, and that the feds are there to help. How has Ray Nagin distinguished himself so far?
Nagin had to be pressured by a phone call from President Bush to issue his emergency evacuation, which should have come hours earlier.
Nagin failed to insure that the emergency shelters were adequately stocked with supplies.
Nagin failed to utilize the available buses to transport residents from New Orleans.
Nagin failed to implement New Orleans' evacuation plan.
Nagin failed to control the police department as they left their duties, ignored looters, and even participated in looting.
Nagin offered free Las Vegas vacations to the New Orleans police force a few days after Katrina hit, even while the relief effort was in full swing.
Porkbusters - As noted on an earlier version of the Sidebar readings, The Truth Laid Bear has posted up a contributed list of federal funding that bloggers recommend for cutting in order to fund the Katrina cleanup. President Bush announced that he wasn't raising taxes to fund this mess - the money would have to come out of current spending, or through borrowing. So, the idea at TLB is to get the blogosphere to kick in ideas for spending cuts from their locales that could be redirected to the cleanup. The Kaibab Journal (that's me) is proud to have made two entries on behalf of this project (which I've lifted from one of my virtual editorials):
Buses for Coconino County - $2 million - Funds allocated for new buses. Not only is there nothing wrong with the old buses, but they are hardly used anyway! The only reason we are getting these buses is because they don't cost us anything. Congressman Renzi's press release states that this will help "reduce traffic congestion in both Flagstaff and Sedona." No, they won't.
Canyon Greenway Trail - $2.5 million
cut to the chase . . .
Leaders MIA -
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was easily confirmed to the Supreme Court (18-0 by
the Judiciary Committee and 96-3 in the full Senate) because
Republicans found her to be “competent” even if they disagreed
with her views – in fact, even if they found her views to be abhorrent.
Why aren’t Democrats acting that way towards John Roberts? Is
it because they are (mostly) all hypocrites? When Pat Leahy is
the only leading Democrat to lend support to Roberts, it's time for
the Dems to hang out a "Help Wanted - Leadership a Must"
faculty senate - Getting Stuck on Stupid -
If ignorance is bliss, then the members of the faculty senate at NAU
that are supporting a “Resolution in Support of Affordable
Textbooks” (RSAT) are
especially . . . blissed. The resolution, which I don’t
believe has actually passed the senate, is a “textbook” example of
how an advanced degree is no insurance against a dreadful
understanding of how markets work. Some of my favorite passages
For readers that don’t otherwise understand the obscure world of university classroom textbook adoption protocol (UCTAP), here is quick synopsis – faculty are assigned to classes and, then, they pick a textbook to use. It may, at first glance, strike you as funny that book publishers play no role in this UCTAP. Apparently the members of the faculty senate don’t think it’s funny - book publishers must be 100% to blame for all of the ills that follow from this protocol. If, however, you are thinking that the primary blame must fall on the shoulders of professors and the university, well, you’d be right. But, there is no mention of lazy professors and culpable university bureaucrats in the RSAT.
And, what does the RSAT ask be done? Here are more passages:
Although in a different context, I think we can adopt General Honore's maxim for this waste of time, energy and effort - “You are stuck on stupid.”
Remembering the crew of the B-24 - I took a hike yesterday to the site of the B-24 crash, which occurred almost 61 years ago to the day - September 15, 1944. It takes a bit of off-trail work to find this site. Behind the wing, shown in the picture at right, is the Navajo Army Depot, in Bellemont, a fitting backdrop as a memorial to the crew of this flight. For extended comments and additional photos, go to Remembering the B-24 Crew.
The editorial in last Sunday's Daily Sun
concerned the increase in fees at Grand Canyon National Park, and the
uses to which these monies will be put. On the one hand, it is
heartening to read that the editor(s) believe that raising prices will
hurt visitation, especially local visitation.
NAU's Convention Center "complex" - The city council voted to kick $2 million into the pot for a convention center complex, to be built on Northern Arizona University property. I have critiqued this proposal earlier, in Convention Center Madness. To the issues raised in that critique - that the city has no rationale for funding the construction of a convention center and that the city is ignoring the effects this development would have on the existing infrastructure - I will raise some more:
Why is NAU interested in a convention center? Well, that question is easily answered - "Because they can." When it comes to the request for money, the President of NAU has zero incentive to keep his request low. There is no end to which money can be siphoned off from the state and wasted on "educational" projects.
Why should there be a convention center on any university campus? I don't know. I mean, in terms of a legitimate rationale. The self-serving reason is clear - more control over more resources, enhancing the power, prestige, and income of the university bureaucracy. Otherwise, I can't think of a compelling state interest in such a facility. And, in a world where one can more easily teleconference, video conference, and participate in web-streaming conferences, the justification for building a physical structure becomes even more problematic.
Does the university have a lack of meeting spaces? Not insofar as I can see. There are meeting rooms at the University Union and at the duBois Center, both on-campus. Virtually every classroom building is empty at night, and on the weekends. It may be unseemly to use classroom spaces for conferences - after all, they don't have nice plush carpeting, nor wood paneling (or, fake wood, as the case may be), nor do they have convenient ancillary facilities (food service, for example). So, maybe it would be more efficient to design spaces that had multiple uses? Yes, but it will never happen.
Shouldn't we be encouraging academic interaction through convention meetings? Well, yes. But, there is no particular reason why that has to be in Flagstaff. And, even if we did agree that such meeting should take place here, let's look at what meetings actually do take place at NAU. I don't have a comprehensive list, but the "meetings" I mostly notice taking place are the big cheerleading camp and the Arizona Cardinals camp, both of which occur during the summer. Of course, the Cardinals weren't here last summer because members of the wrestling camp infected the campus with norovirus. Well, we should thank our lucky stars that we have the space to accommodate football players, wrestlers and cheerleaders!
In Her Words - Janice Rogers Brown - The Senate has confirmed John Roberts as the 17th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and he has been duly sworn into that office. Now, it is time for President Bush to select a replacement for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. I have earlier opined that Janice Rogers Brown would make the ideal choice for this next vacancy. She is currently on the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Alas, I don't really have faith that President Bush will really select Judge Brown for this position. The politics of the Roberts nomination just don't bode well in this regard, and Dubya will most likely seek a less-controversial nominee. So, since this historic opportunity is about to pass by, I thought it would be a good time to actually post up an extended selection of her views, as expressed in a speech she gave to The Federalist Society, in Chicago, Illinois, on April 20, 2000. The title of her speech was, "A Whiter Shade of Pale: Sense and Nonsense - The Pursuit of Perfection in Law and Politics." I trust that after reading her words, you'll agree with me - Janice Rogers Brown rocks!