Saturday, June 17, 2006

Compared to what?

I am getting mighty disgusted by all these articles yammering on about how much the liberation of Iraq has hurt the President's political standing. I have to ask, "Compared to what?" Compared to if he hadn't done anything, if Saddam was still in there killing thousands every month, threatening his neighbors, moving confidently forward on his nuclear program? What's that you say, he didn't have a nuclear program? Sure. Once the inspectors left for good and the no-fly zones were dismantled - or does someone think they would have been continued forever? - Saddam's scientists would have dug up all the machinery buried in their back yards, brought back all the stuff from Syria and continued on their merry way. And today we'd be facing a nuclearized Iraq under Saddam. And, as I mentioned before, Libya's nuclear program would still be active. And in response Iran would certainly have moved well towards nuclearization. And on the War on Terror front, with no Iraq liberation, all those "insurgents" would have flooded into Afghanistan. And how long would the "multilateral" force there have lasted?

So sometimes in life there are no really good choices. But doing nothing about Saddam was not an option. Here's a retroactive prediction: If Bush hadn't invaded Iraq in 2003, he would never have been re-elected in 2004. By now the situation would have been very bad in Afghanistan and there would have been multiple large terrorist attacks here at home - maybe even in Tallahassee! Things would have been bad enough that the public would have considered John Kerry a better choice. Hard as that may be to believe. And if this president can help Iraq become a viable polity, he will go a long way to soothing my anger at him over immigration and overspending and the war on drugs. I'll still be mad at him, but I'll probably still vote Republican. Considering the alternative.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Forget South America

OK, so forget South America. What do they have down there I want to see, anyway? I admit the main attraction in BA was steak. But I won't beef about giving that up. Now on to Turkey (Oops. Link appears to be broken) in the fall. I've been wanting to go to Turkey for a long time, since I read a book about Trebizond and started dreaming. Sure it's now called Trabzon, but it's still the former terminus of the Silk Road to China and a former Greek city-state and on the Black Sea. It's got a Russian bazaar and it's only twenty miles inland to a Byzantine monastery that looks like something out of Indiana Jones or an H. Rider Haggard novel.
Travel blogging

Ever since spending a week in Paris in April with my two older kids, I've just been crazy about travel planning. So many countries, so little time and money. One example that drives me crazy came up last week. I looked at a flight to Buenos Aires. South America in the summer seemed like a smart idea, right? Southern Hemisphere winter is a good break from Tallahassee in August. So I found a flight from Tallahassee to BA, via Miami and Santiago, Chile, for about $954. Not bad. Then I started thinking. Chile sounds pretty good. And since it's on the way to BA, if in a roundabout way, it should be cheaper, right? Well, that's not the way it works in airline world. I searched the same database, on the same dates, same everything, but Tallahassee to Santiago only. What came back was a trip via Atlanta this time, but for more than the price for the ticket through Santiago to BA! OK, so, clever me, I think I'll buy the BA ticket and get off in Santiago, right? Oops. But how do I get back? You can see how this is driving me crazy. Will they let me on the plane coming back from BA? Do I really want to take that chance? Can I get a stopover in Santiago? What is the factor that makes it cheaper to fly all the way to BA than to stop at Santiago? Demand?

Update:And look at this from Aerolineas Argentinas. $920! But I do have to get to Miami. So why is this so much cheaper? Or am I missing something?
Randi - Snarky?

James Randi's in good form today, slapping around defenseless psychics:
When you say psychic, many people have an image of an old woman in a gown with a crystal ball. They don't associate themselves with that.

Randi: Then what image should we conjure up – pun intended – Simon? A middle-aged opportunist with no other means of support, who has attended the College of Psychic Studies and learned how easily he/she can make a living by delivering bad guesses and generalities to vulnerable persons who really need some help and attention to make their lives temporarily seem easier, but will settle for any scam?

Sounds about right to me. The shock of recognition will pass. Substitute "law school" for "the College of Psychic Studies" and you have a description of my life!
Economics and immigration

Steve Sailer reports on the VDARE blog about a plan to charge immigrants $2000 to immigrate:
And, two polls conducted by the Pew Hispanic Trust showed that over 40% of Mexicans say they would immigrate to America if it were legal. And, just about anybody could borrow $2,000 based on their future earnings in America.

So $2000 isn't the right price. But that got me thinking. What is the right price? $1 million? $10 million? Because there's got to be a market clearing price, right? Hey, I almost sounded like an economist there. But really. How much is it worth to a willing buyer to be able to live and work in the USA? Or, to put it another way, how much would the USA have to get to deal with the costs and risks of another immigrant? I wonder if Sailer has considered that. But maybe he thinks that no price is enough. Since the government controls (HA!) immigration, the government would get the money. And the taxpayers, not the government, would have to put up with the dislocations caused by the immigrants. However. The US does have a product to offer - a good investment climate, relative social peace, prosperity, opportunity. It must be worth a certain amount of money to foreigners who don't enjoy these things. I'm going to post this and then look up something on the INS (sorry, ICE or something) website about "treaty investors". This question may already have been answered.

Update: OK, I think I've got it, but it's disappointing:
(2) Treaty investor. An alien, if otherwise admissible, may be classified as a nonimmigrant treaty investor (E-2) under the provision of section 101(a)(15)(E)(ii) of the Act if the alien:

(i) Has invested or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States, as distinct from a relatively small amount of capital in a marginal enterprise solely for the purpose of earning a living;

(ii) Is seeking entry solely to develop and direct the enterprise; and

(iii) Intends to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of treaty investor (E-2) status.
Looks like it doesn't really confer resident status. And it doesn't define what a "substantial amount" of money is. But if you have enough money to invest here you can come in and keep an eye on it. It's called an E-2 visa. I'd look for cases, but I'm too lazy right now. I have to check up on whether Tiger's going to make the cut in the US Open. Doesn't look too good. He's at +10 after 14. Sigh.
Update to Update: +12 in the clubhouse. No cut line yet. And the leader is someone named Steve Stricker I've never heard of. Golf is one weird game.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

No wage, José!

In a Chequerboard post about the minimum wage even Pejman gets a little snarky:
And to support an increase in the minimum wage is to be on the side of the angels? Right?
So I had to leave a supportive comment, dragging in the immigration issue:
I've always found it strange that the strongest supporters of the minimum wage tend to be those who also support the rights of illegal aliens to work in this country. Don't they realize that employers take on low-skilled, generally uneducated illegal alien workers so they can pay them less than the minimum wage, or, at any rate, less than "documented" workers? Seems like a simple connection to make.

Another question comes to mind - how can illegals get Social Security credit for jobs which violate the minimum wage laws AND, conceivably, the hours and conditions of employment laws AND the immigration laws? Gee, you would think the government would want to discourage people from breaking all those laws, not pay them for doing so.
He's ... different

The lefties gang up on Jeff Goldstein to hilarious effect:
Jeff: Do you have a response to this essay about your writing?

I suggest you read it (or have your therapist read it). It is quite enlightening.

By the way: why haven’t you finished your MA or PhD yet?
Posted by dartmouth prof


So, I saw this post about at SadlyNo. Instead of taking Klonopin to mask your personal problems, how about some honest reflection or some professional psychological care?

I don’t intend this as an attack; I just read some of the things you wrote, and to be honest, if you only said half of them, you come off as man desperately in need of help. I realize you’ll mock, attack, or ignore me, but seriously - find help.

The return fire is worth a read, but cover your keyboard first.
Oh, yes and I did contribute a little teeny bit at the very end (so far):
Wait a minute. You mean Jeff’s NOT crazy???!!! I’m going away.
Of course, I'm not really. Going away, I mean. That was just a joke.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tears for the murdering clowns

Tears come to my eyes to read this swissinfo article about internecine strife in "Palestine":
Gunmen set fire to the Palestinian prime minister's office on Monday as clashes escalated between his Islamist Hamas followers and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.
In the southern Gaza confrontation, Hamas gunmen fired rocket-propelled grenades and anti-tank rockets at the local headquarters of the Preventive Security Service, witnesses said.

Five people were wounded in the clash in the town of Rafah, which followed the killing earlier in the day of a gunman from a Hamas paramilitary unit.
I've got an idea! Why not split the West Bank and Gaza up into two states, one controlled by Fatah, one by Hamas? Then everyone could live in peace, right? We could call it the "three-state solution". Wait a minute. Some of Southern Lebanon is occupied by Hezbollah. OK - the "four-state solution". But then there's the "Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade". Oh, dear, we've run out of land. Let's see. How about Madagascar? Or didn't Stalin have a little place in mind out in Siberia, on the Amur River, for one of his minorities? The Evrey Avtonomichesski Respublik or something. Hmm. What does "Evrey" mean? Anyway, there should be lots of room out there. And we can all rest assured in the knowledge it was all Bush's fault if it goes wrong.