the latest from Joebloggers

It's a Bird! It's a Plane (Which Isn't Safe)!

These days, air travel ends up in the media quite frequently for various reasons: bankrupcy, terror threats, and new regulations about what we can and can't take with us on planes. It's nice knowing that another sky terror plot has been foiled and that it's now even harder for terrorists to get explosives on our planes. It makes many of us feel very safe on these flights. Well, isn't it nice to know that instead of fearing the person sitting next to us on the plane or what's in their bag, we now have to fear the plane itself.

The New York Times reported back on March 7 that Southwest Airlines might be fined up to "$10.2 million" over its continued flying of "older Boeing 737"s which they had failed to inspect for cracks in their fuselages. FYI: the fuselage is the body of the plane, shown flashing in green below:

It Is a LITTLE About Individuals

Eliot Spitzer says politics is "not about individuals" -- well, maybe. But an individual's fitness to serve the public isn't irrelevant either.

I wish I could be more detached about this, and I know we usally talk about policy on this site, but occasionally, one really needs to consider whether a politician is personally worthy of the honor of public office.

Eliot Spitzer promised us he'd work hard to "clean up" the corrupt mess we have in government just as he had done with the mess in the financial industry and elsewhere (including busting up prostitution rings). There is not -- nor should there be -- any way to salvage his credibility after this violation of the public trust.

The Real Dangers

Reading the New York Times website this afternoon, I ran across an article describing President Bush's latest veto, this time on the subject of interrogation techniques. If this bill had been past, it would have made methods such as waterboarding illegal. For those in the dark: during waterboarding, the victim is strapped to a board, head inclined down with either a cloth or cellophane across their face. Water is then repetitively poured across the victims face, sparking the gag reflex. Some try to claim that waterboarding is not actually torture, but I definitely say it is, and that it is criminal.

We were idiots in the 70's, and still are!

Is anyone else sick of these incredibly high gas prices? I would imagine that I'm not alone, and at least 3 or 4 (million) of you agree. When we had our troubles in the 70's, we took it. That's all. We took it, waited for it to go away, then quickly put it out of our minds. Had we, at that time, thought "wow, this sucks! What can we do to make sure it never happens again?" We may be well ahead of our current possition on alternative fuels AND we would have tapped our own oil supplies, built more refineries, and stopped funding the Middle East!

Has anyone else heard that Cuba is going to allow China to tap into the Gulf of Mexico oil fields? I've heard quite a bit lately about China's ability, or lack there of, to safely inspect such little things as toy cars. I do not feel good about any safety measures they may put in place to reduce the risk of oil spills which could easily reach our shores!

Hammers Are for Nails; We TALK to Our Friends!

Suddenly, NAFTA has again reared its notorious head as a catchall target for all our economic frustrations. [remember the “giant sucking sound”? god I’m old!] 

I am no great fan of NAFTA or trade agreements generally, but it’s important to distinguish what NAFTA does from what it doesn’t do. 

NAFTA is being speciously blamed for many of the general symptoms of globalization. NAFTA didn’t cause globalization (nor is globalization a bad thing on balance, but that’s a separate discussion). The evolution of the world's economies, transition to a market system by previously communist countries, and the opening up of markets in previously isolationist economies helped spur globalization. Innovation in technology that transformed how people work and exchange information and reach markets, labor pools, and job opportunities – all of these things helped spur globalization. The biggest emerging players in the new global economy are in Asia – they’re not part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Outsourcing of jobs to India and a trade deficit with China, for example have nothing to do with NAFTA.

Bush's Africa mission

Last year a friend told me about a theory that lame duck presidents, knowing the have squat power to forge policy at home, have a habit of turning their attention abroad in their final year, where they can still make things happen.

Oh crud, I thought - that means for sure Bush is going to do drop the bomb on Iran. Knowing him, he'd think he was saving the world from an Islamo-fascist threat - but he'd really just be leaving another Mideast mess on our hands.

Well, ten months from the end of his presidency, it's looking like an Iran disaster could be averted.

What's saving Iran? Africa.

Death of Conservatism in America

It is a sad day for conservatives. See the official National Review RIP for William F. Buckley, Jr. here.

Just Getting What They Need

As a student, this may sound a little odd to you, but there's something about school that I've always liked. I think the main thing I've liked was the learning and the knowledge I gained. Knowledge is something I hold quite highly, and school seemed like the best way to gain it and to share what of it you have with others. Of course, who are the individuals who try their best to get us the best learning experience; to ensure that we can reach our greatest potential? The answer is teachers, the ones who dedicate themselves to our betterment and learning.

Being a teacher certainly is not an easy thing. If a student fails, it's the teacher whose head gets put upon the line. And hey, I know there are days when they feel like they've just had enough, especially when the kids just won't be quiet. For all that they go through though and do for us, it doesn't seem that teachers are appreciated enough. I mean, appreciation from students can be anything from simple cooperation to telling them just how much they've inspired you. But it's not the students that I'm worried about.

fat cat politics still licking it up

A friend of mine who used to work on "the Hill" was arguing with me the other day that the whole debate over earmarks is overblown - and that DC doesn't work like a back-room shady-deal fat-cats-paying-pols kind of place.

For the most part, I agree with him - earmarks are a small drain on our budget and most lawmakers, I think, are primarily concerned with making decent policy.

The problem with earmarks is not that they're hurting our country in a massive way - but that they're just icky - or, put in a less scientific way, they make for unfairness and leave a bad smell (oh, and they're also a time suck).

Take, for example, the multi-billion dollar hand-out the banks got this week. It wasn't the classic kind of earmark - instead of writing in money for banks, a senator who happened to get a lot of campaign money from banks, wrote in immunity from pending patent lawsuits that would cost them billions.

Closing the valve on federal project spending

Today, in his weekly newsletter, Senator Isakson introduced S 2676 to his constituents. In the bills defense he said, "One of the problems we have in Congress with deficit spending is spending money on projects that shouldn’t be funded with tax dollars and programs that have outlasted their usefulness." (read more)

This statement got me thinking about out of control government spending (as if I ever stopped). (Not to say that Senator Isakson has been tight with the purse.)

The way I see it, MOST "projects" shouldn't be funded with tax dollars. It seems, however, that politicians are fine with spending money on projects because it is nice to give something to those who are down/poor/devastated, those who have been mistreated, those who are minorities of some sort, children, and anyone in his/her district. However, this view is fundamentally WRONG.