Thursday, September 30, 2004

Dan Rather is a child molester. I mean, that is what the rumor is, according to a mass email I got. And, the actual truth of it is irrelevant, right? Because the issue is not the facts of Dan Rather's child molestation, it's the rumors surrounding Dan Rather molesting little kiddies.

What do you think would happen to someone who did a story like the above? Yet that is exactly what happened to President Bush. Cross out child molestor and insert the ephitet of your choice and you get nothing but a smear devoid of content.

BeldarBlog: I'm coo-coo for Cocco puffs! (And so's CBS News!)

If I were Bush, I would attack Kerry at the debate with something like this:

"While Democrats like Conyers and Schumer have introduced legislation to reinstate the draft, I pledge to fight it with everything I have. Not a single republican has signed this legislation and not a single republican will." It would devastate Kerry by forcing him to defend and goading him into making a mistake.
BeldarBlog: I'm coo-coo for Cocco puffs! (And so's CBS News!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Mystery of John Edwards Draft Status is Solved!

John Edwards Draft Status

Visit your friendly Plutonium Mart

From Aftenposten Norway, Norwegian news in English:

"Nuclear bomb-grade plutonium seized:

Security forces in the ex-Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan have detained a man who tried to sell nuclear bomb-grade plutonium on the black market, a senior security official said on Wednesday.
Tokon Mamytov, deputy head of the Central Asian republic's National Security Service, said the detained man was a Kyrgyz national. Nuclear experts in Moscow said the material was likely to be of Russian origin.
Investigators were trying to establish the identity of the potential buyer and where the substance, identified as plutonium 239, had come from, Mamytov said.
Former Soviet states, including Russia with its huge nuclear arsenal, are under heavy pressure to prevent dangerous atomic material from falling into the hands of extremists after the Soviet collapse left many nuclear facilities under-protected"

Don't you think we should pass the full employment act for Nuclear Scientists in the Mideast? We could offer every one of them a well paying job and asylum in the United States. It would be the cheapest way to reduce the threat. Assume 1000 scientistsx 100,000 per year <= 1/2 the flyaway cost of one F-22. And it will prevent a lot more bloodshed.

As for the buyer, I think we can all think of dozens of the usual suspects. It's not enough to make a bomb, so Uncle Kim would probably pass but there are a lot of smaller Muslim countries and countless nut-jobs that would LOVE to set off a dirty bomb somewhere- New Delhi, New York, Tel Aviv, London, Warsaw.

Their airline security needs work.

From AftenPosten via Fark: Guy in Norway attacks pilots with an az.

You don't need a PhD to prove this equation:

Onboard Axe+ No Cockpit Doors= Awful Security.

Incidentally, did you notice that they did not mention the nationality of the attacker? I bet I can name the religion, if not the country.

Aftenposten Norway, Norwegian news in English

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Power Line: The Democrats Hit Bottom

Power Line: The Democrats Hit Bottom

I am deeply saddened by the cheapening of political discourse by the Democrats- of course, dirty tricks are old news in American politics, but it is illustrative of many tactics now in use by the party that believes anything goes in the race to unseat a man they consider Satan.

Daschle outspending Thune 4-1, just to hold even

Congressional Races

Daschle has spent four times as much, but both have about the same amount left on hand. I think this one might go to Thune except for the massive corruption in the voting rolls on the native american reservations.

May he rot in prison, until he rots in Hell

Johnny "American Taliban" Walker Lindh wants early release. Hah.
CBS News | Lindh Seeks Early Release | September 28, 2004�15:36:43

Where does the cash come from?

2004 Election Overview: Business-Labor-Ideology Split in PAC & Individual Donations to Candidates and Parties

A fascinating chart on who gets the money. However, it is clear that the unions are spending far more than one can see here- and not really hiding it. One union admits to having a thousand full time people on the Kerry campaign. That's a whole lot of people to run an organized ground game. At 40k annually a pop (including benefits), for six months, that is 20,000x1000=$20,000,000 from that one union just in workers alone.

Upcoming book worth reading! - Das Cowboy Kapital

Right-thinking Germans even have a derogatory term, Amerikanische Verhaltnisse
-- literally, American conditions -- as a shorthand for the social catastrophe
they believe would result if they were ever to tackle the real cause of their
slow growth: a notoriously rigid labor market. This view is so monolithic that
the conservative leader Edmund Stoiber is on record saying, "We do not want
Amerikanische Verhaltnisse in Germany."

So imagine the Sturm und Drang when a German author, Olaf Gersemann, came along earlier this year and exploded all these myths. The title of his book hardly
needs translation: "Amerikanische Verhaltnisse: Die falsche Angst der
Deutschen vor dem Cowboy-Kapitalismus." On each score where Europeans think
their system is superior, the Washington correspondent for Germany's largest
business weekly shows that the Americans have actually pulled ahead.

I think this is worth putting in an early order for.

More thoughts on Orbitz

Travel agencies are a hard way to make money because the airlines now have incentives to play hardball and drive traffic to themselves or cut commissions to the bone. It's hard to see how Orbitz can make money long when they have a non-differentiated product, where the suppliers, IE the airlines are consolidating. Using the standard five force Porter analysis, we see an industry characterized by powerful suppliers, commodity products, intense competition, and low barriers to entry. Hard to see how this is an industry worth investing in.

Cendant Swallowing Orbitz

Cendant is gobbling Orbitz for $1.2 billion.
Cendant is a stock that I have owned for some time. They are a heavyweight in the travel and real estate business (Avis, Budget Rent a car, Days Inn, Ramada, etc.). They also happen to be perceived as one of the WORST managed companies. I personally think that the management is average (albeit hugely overpaid) rather than bad, but it has been my contention that they have been underleveraged for some time. However, they are paying a huge premium- 37%- for Orbitz, which I am convinced is too much. If you believe in the efficient market theory, $400 million+ too much. I don't necessarily believe in that theory (esp. for small caps like Orbitz), but I do believe that whatever synergies they get might be insufficient. It's going to be a hard slog to get a reasonable return, although one could make the case that Orbitz would be a great storefront for the hotel and rent a car business... although, if they are perceived as being too biased, there is the potential that competitors could fail to list- they need Hertz and Enterprise and Alamo, otherwise people will go to other sites to book travel and they will have to take a writedown on their investment. Silverman may retire next year but his stock options remain an incentive to do what is in the long term health of the company.

Scylla & Charybdis: UPDATED:Tampering and Fake ID's For Old Ladies

Utterly Devastating Legal Critique of CBS. Astounding that nobody else has picked up on this.
Scylla & Charybdis: UPDATED:Tampering and Fake ID's For Old Ladies

Belmont Club... digs the good stuff like nobody else

Wretchard over at the Belmont Club digs up the good stuff like nobody else. I have no idea how he finds this stuff in the Jerusalem post:

Yet, were an air strike on Iran to take out say, only 10 of 15 sites, it would still severely retard the Iranian nuclear effort, buying the West time to formulate and enact either a policy of engagement from a position of strength, or a policy of regime change with the requisite credibility among regime opponents that such a strike would inspire.

As you might expect, there are three options. Israel could bomb Iran, we could bomb Iran, or we could do nothing. Diplomacy counts as doing nothing becuase it will fail to acheive the appropriate goals. I suppose a fourth option would be to accept dhimmitude, but that is not something that I would prefer to think about.

The Mullahs are in a bind. On the one hand, they have a sharp sword in the form of oil cuts. On the other and, they need the money. They may be willing in principle to accept more damage to their economy, but in reality they need the money to pay for the things that keep their young and restless population partially sated...bread and circuses are expensive.

Were I in the Mullahs situation, I would try for a 20% cut in production. Right now, there are about 800,000 spare bpd of global production capacity. The Mullahs are producing a little over 4 million bpd of oil per day... about 5% of world capacity. They might even make money on the cut as oil prices would rise substantially.

Whatever the Mullahs do, expect Europe to roll over. Europe doesn't have the mability to affect world events anymore. Even if they did, Europe still sees the Jews as the real problem rather than their own unwillingness to contribute to the security of Western Civilization.

It's the presidents to lose... or not

Another day towards the general election. I am coming to believe that the election isn't Bush's to lose, it is still a tossup. The whole thing will come down to the debates. My gut says Kerry self destructs but anything could happen. It is, as they say, live television. I am convinced that Bush will win... Kerry could slice and dice the president on substance and Bush will win on Charisma. Kerry may be "JFK" but he didn't get the charisma along with the initials. Kerry will actually try to debate on the issues. As Kennedy-Nixon showed, it aint about the substance. It's the put downs and the one liners and the presence. Kerry needs to seal the deal by looking presidential, and I am convinced this is the key failing in his plan- when people with little charisma try to look presidential (think Gore) they come off as wooden.