Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Train Rides I'd Like to Take

A train roars on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in Damxung County of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Oct. 25, 2006. As it has come into the winter, snow covers the vast grassland on the altiplano in the north Tibet. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world highest which began service on July 1, will have the test of severe winter and snowstorm on the highland for the first time. (Xinhua Photo)

And when you're done riding that, take a stroll over to the Bulawayo Railway Museum and take a gander at Cecil Rhodes' private rail car(s). A lovely way to cruise up to Victoria Falls for a weekend.

If you were blood-diamond rich you could have one of these, too:

Give and you shall receive

Put the grown-ups in charge of Congress:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Rethuglican Strategy

National Journal writes:

When asked to identify the most motivating factors for their core constituents, Democrats' picks were no surprise: nearly all 73 polled chose the war in Iraq, President Bush or both.

But party politics made more of an impression for Republicans. A 47-percent plurality of the 68 GOP insiders polled named "fear of a Democratic majority" as the issue with the most resonance for their party faithful. One insider conceded, "We've pretty much blown every other issue. Fear is the only motivating factor left on the table."

Fear indeed. The Republican message seems to be, "We wouldn't even be in Iraq right now if those Democrats controlled Congress." I don't see how it is supposed to help Republicans to put their stamp on Iraq and deny Democrat's joint-ownership of their miserable failure. In all fairness, everyone who voted for Gulf of Tonkin Resolution Part II--Democrat and Republican.

Frankly, I'm surprised the Republican strategy is not to pin the whole fiasco on the Democrats. They certainly have the media noise machine to get some traction with such a narrative.

YES ON 3 for Kids!

On November 7, Massachusetts voters will choose whether to improve the quality of child care by giving family providers a voice to work with the state on policies affecting child care and kids.

And remember, a "no" vote means you hate children...You don't hate children, do you?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What I'm Reading Today: Prison Labor

Montana wants to make sure that no unions will get in the way of Montanans' inalienible right to slave labor:

Montana Code 39-31-312: Nonnegotiable items for state prison. Collective bargaining agreements entered after July 14, 1982, may not contain provisions prohibiting or restricting the use of inmate labor as provided for in 53-30-151.

Prison labor, brought to you by the great state of Montana since 1982.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Condasleeza Never Read Thomas Schelling

Or else she would know enough about "credible threats" and "strategies of commitment" never to have put her name behind the NSSUS. If anyone in the admin had read Schelling, how could they have believed the U.S. would ever have the capacity to make credible the threat of pre-emptive overthrow of "rogue nations" of more than one at a time?

Jeeze, even the North Koreans knew that, and they haven't even been outside of the country in fifty-some years to pick up one of his books. They win, blow up a missle; the Bush admin loses another one for us (and the rest of the world): speak loudly and carry a flacid, Bob Dole-ED-drug-needing stick. (I think that's a pretty fair depiction of the state of US hard power at this point in the game, what with all our men, women and resources being ritually sacrificed on the altar of the Bush administration's, th Republican's, Joe Lieberman's, Thomas Friedman's, et. al.'s collective Iraq hubris.)

Kim Jong Il ain't bluffing. Look at the dude. He's a rock star. That guy's packing a ballistic missile and is ready to blow.

Meanwhile, Bush and the Republicans are too hopped up about our precious bodily fluids to do anything about it.

News flash, the global security strategy ain't working. Time to let the grown-ups run the country.

So what if Schelling has the blood of countless carpet-bombed North Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians staining his more than theoretical hands? We can still use his theory to stop the lunatics...or at least keep smart enough to know not to jab our stick into hornets nests without considering what the hornets might do back.

P.S. Is it just me, or were Kim Jong Il and Bono separated at birth?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I (Heart) the Estate Tax

"Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," Review of Economics and Statistics:

Previous studies, relying on short-term averages of fathers' earnings, have estimated the intergenerational elasticity (IGE) in earnings to be approximately 0.4. Due to persistent transitory fluctuations, these estimates have been biased down by approximately 30% or more. Using administrative data containing the earnings histories of parents and children, the IGE is estimated to be around 0.6. This suggests that the United States is substantially less mobile than previous research indicated. Estimates of intergenerational mobility are significantly lower for families with little or no wealth, offering empirical support for theoretical models that predict differences due to borrowing constraints.
(emphasis added)

If you have to ask how much you have to be worth to pay the estate tax, you will never pay the estate tax.