Saturday, September 17, 2005

Be Careful What You Grandstand For

As always, the Law of Unintended Consequences must be considered prior to any political grandstanding.

The opponents of President Bush, in their eagerness to portray him as aloof and uncaring in New Orleans, have gotten an over-the-top response. The result will be an enormous addition to the deficit spending they had also been correctly attacking the President for. Per today's Indy Star editorial:
President Bush in his nationally televised speech Thursday night clearly was determined to prove he has empathy for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps too determined.

It's unusual that any newspaper suggests one interest group should do without in favor of a priority item. It's refreshing when it does.
But fiscal reality can't be ignored, and the federal deficit will soar beyond all reason without further thought about how to pay for the president's and the nation's generosity.

One cache of gold worth mining: The $286 billion highway bill that Congress approved in July. The president and Congress should insist on revisiting the legislation, packed with more than 6,300 pork-barrel projects worth $23 billion. Congress could, for example, save more than $430 million simply by canceling work on two bridges in Alaska that will serve few people and little purpose.

Back home in Indiana, Congress should tell the Indianapolis Children's Museum to no longer count on $12.5 million stuffed into the highway bill for building new loading docks and a visitors entrance. A tough loss for the museum? Sure. But it never made sense for the federal government to give a local museum money in the first place. That, and other federal handouts around the nation, can in no way be justified now in light of the massive and expensive emergency on the Gulf Coast.

How great to read the words "fiscal reality can't be ignored" in a major American newspaper! Of course, it would have been vastly better had the items identified here not been in any spending package from the beginning. Alas, this is the Federal government, as brought to you by a Republican majority in both houses, where pork barrel-r-us, Tom DeLay's recent absurdities notwithstanding.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Radio Reminder

I'll be joining Andy Horning on WXNT's Greg Browning show Saturday at 4pm. Andy's filling in for Greg Browning for the full show, from 3-6pm. Remember that if you want to listen from outside the greater Indy area, you can do so by getting the streamed signal from WXNT's website.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Our Libertarian Newspaper, II

The Noblesville Daily Times continues to be a very satisfying read, as they continue to include libertarian content. Today's edition contained Sheri Conover Sharlow's op-ed on full-day kindergarten. Excerpt:
All-day kindergarten's defenders say that its effects carry on long after the kids have turned the yarn tassels on their construction-paper mortar boards. American students'' standing among those of other countries has fallen behind, and we must do everything we can to put our kids back on top. That includes all-day kindergarten.

However, studies cited by the Goldwater Institute, Thomas Sowell and others suggest that any education advantage of all-day kindergarten disappears by middle school, even among so-called at-risk children. Besides, our nation's elementary students with only half-day kindergarten already compete on even footing with students of other nations. Our students stay near the top until middle school. Seeing as our nation's education shortcomings start in middle school, putting the burden on kindergarteners seems misdirected.

While I tend to think of it as one more year of warehousing of kids, Sheri urges flexibility and parental involvement. That latter is always the most important key to education, in my book.
Who Would Lead The Investigation?

It seems that Indiana's Attorney General Stephen Carter has issued a news release- at taxpayer expense- urging our Senators Lugar and Bayh to support the confirmation of John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Indy Star report.
Indiana ethics rules prohibit state employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or acting in an official capacity.

The news release troubled Sheila Suess Kennedy, associate professor of law and public policy at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Indianapolis.

"I don't know whether it is unethical, but I don't think it is appropriate," said Kennedy, a former Republican candidate for Congress and former director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

I'm with Kennedy. There's nothing wrong with an elected official having an opinion and making an endorsement, so long as the taxpayers aren't paying for it. Carter should make amends with an apology and with a reimbusement to the state from his own pocket or his political committee, which has a balance of over $68,000, according to the committee's filings with the Secretary of State.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Indy Star Asks

What is your favorite political blog? I see that this blog has been named on the Star discussion, thanks to one "Lazarus Long", and I appreciate that very much. (Lazarus Long is one of Robert Heinlein's many fictional characters.)

My favorites, at the moment:

LPIN State Chair Mark Rutherford's blog. I really enjoy being connected to the activities of my fellow Libertarians statewide. Mark shows that we are up to a lot of good. From here, I link to Mike Sylvester of Fort Wayne, and fellow Hamilton County blogger Rob Beck, among others.

Liberty For Sale. Tim West leads the discussion for an incrementalist approach. I've said many times here that if Libertarianism is to be an all or nothing proposition, we can expect to get nothing.

Reason Hit & Run. Continuously updated, and loaded with sharp wit.

Blogcritics. While I haven't contributed lately, I still enjoy popping in to get a finger on the pulse of bloggers at any given moment. Also, a strong Cleveland flavor as proprietor Eric Olsen hails from the North Coast- my former stomping grounds.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Another Radio Guest Appearance on WXNT

Greg Browning has recently returned to Indy's airwaves, on Saturday afternoons from 3 to 6. Already the guy is taking a day off. Where do I sign up?

Enter guest host Andy Horning, who asked me to appear on the show this Saturday. Tune in to WXNT 1430-am. For those outside the broadcast area, listen to the streamed signal, available on the WXNT website.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

9-11 Thoughts Unchanged

I have had plenty of time to sort out my thoughts and feelings on the terror strikes of four years ago, and the rebuilding.

The Pentagon has been rebuilt. I imagine and hope that if the White House, the Capitol, Washington Monument, or any other D.C. landmark were struck (heaven forbid) that these would all be built to the original specifications, except maybe reinforced or otherwise made stronger.

Thus, my dissatisfaction with the treatment of the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers.

The following essay has been revised only slightly from my posting on Blogcritics last year. The sentiment is 100% unchanged.

My feelings about the terror attacks three years ago are as fresh as the day after. My palms still sweat when I think about it. When I saw the first images on TV, before the second Tower was struck, my mind was on the ground in Manhattan, where I had a dozen friends working and making their homes. I felt that sick choking feeling until I knew each of them was okay. Then I felt raging anger.

Even though the attacks weren't personal, I felt as though they were. My friends being in Manhattan was just part of it. The World Trade Center was a personal favorite of mine. I thrilled to the sight of them from any angle, but especially when viewed from atop the Empire State Building, or from the Statue of Liberty. I am a capitalist, and no place on earth defines capitalism better than Wall Street and southwestern Manhattan.

So, try as I might to like the proposed designs for the memorialized World Trade Center site, I still absolutely detest them. The memorials fail to memorialize what the Towers were about.

They were selected for destruction by the terrorists for being symbols of capitalism. The Twin Towers were the defining skyscrapers in the defining skyline of the world's definitive financial center. To stand today at the Statue of Liberty and look across the River is to feel the void like a lost love as much as to see the void.

There was a lot of talk in the days following the attacks that the American people must not allow the terrorists win, that we must proceed in the spirit of that hated capitalist mantra, 'business as usual'. How right that common wisdom was.

Well, THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON. It isn't that they ended business as usual. Thankfully, that has resumed. But the premier symbol of capitalism is gone and won't be replaced.

I know that the primary focus of the memorials is those who lost their lives at the site. I have every interest in the world in seeing a fitting tribute paid to them. However, I would be sure to include the spirit that was attacked.

If I was in charge of the process, I would give the greatest tribute to those firefighters who ran up the stairs and to the people who perished while conducting business as usual. I would rebuild the Twin Towers IN EXACTLY THE SAME PLACES UPON WHICH THEY ONCE STOOD, with all dimensions exactly as before save one: the buildings would finish one story higher.

To let the terrorists know that they will not win, they must be given the symbolic 'up yours' that they gave to the American Spirit. Raising the Twin Towers for all to see is the greatest pair of raised middle fingers the haters of America would ever see.

THAT would be the greatest tribute to those who died in the World Trade Center attacks. No candles or mirrors or list of names will EVER come close to honoring them- or the American Spirit- as new Towers would.

In contrast, observe the treatment given the Pentagon, the greatest symbol of the American military. While the scale of destruction visited that building was not nearly as total as that brought to the Twin Towers, what was damaged was repaired and fully operational without any hesitation or debate. Business as usual prevailed at the Pentagon.

It shows you symbolically what is sacred in our country (the military) and what is subject to demolition by group-think (capitalism).