November 27, 2005

Money (and Political) Tip of the Day: Evaluating a Multi-Level Marketing Business Opportunity

From Chuck Jaffe of Marketwatch.com (link requires registration):

For anyone considering a “life-changing” financial venture, look for concrete answers, not open questions, uncertainty and raw unsubstantiated promises.

Says (Jim) Kohm (of the Federal Trade Commission): “There’s no substitute for old-fashioned due diligence. … Before you get involved in any multilevel marketing plan, you should be aware that this is an area where there have been a lot of scams in the past. … If you can’t get enough information to be sure you are not being scammed, you might want to assume you are, and just keep looking for something better.”

This Money Tip, in addition to being relevant to anyone considering a “business opportunity,” may also become relevant to local politics in the coming months.

So, To Whom It May Concern: Consider this a double-edged “Proceed with caution….”

Transcript: Schmidt-Murtha Portion of Howard Kurtz’s “Reliable Sources” Interview

Filed under: OH-02 US House,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:31 pm

To see the video, go to Political Teen.

Kurtz interviewed Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, and Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post in the late morning of November 27. I transcribed the portion of the interview relevant to the Schmidt-Murtha situation.

At the 4:10 mark, Kurtz began to recount the events, and replayed most of the Schmidt video. That’s where the transcribing begins.
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Howard Kurtz: Glenn Reynolds, Colonel Danny Bubp, who the Congressman was quoting there, now tells the press that he was misquoted, that he never mentioned Murtha by name. So was the woman who has been nicknamed “Mean Jean” fairly or unfairly covered by the press in this instance?

Glenn Reynolds: Fairly… she showed the rhetorical skills that freshmen Congressmen are known for. On the other hand, John F. Kennedy wrote that political courage is a lot rarer than physical courage, and that was the topic of his “Profiles in Courage.”

We’re seeing very little political courage on the part of Democratic politicians. A lot of them supported the war early on because they thought it would be the politically smart thing to do.

Their antiwar fundraising base now is pushing the other way, and so they’re in essence making up this argument that they were fooled, which seems to me to be kind of a weak position. I mean “Vote for me, I’m gullible.”

But that’s basically been the effort to sort of pull back from the war, and I think the timing is quite inopportune. I think they’re going to regret it by the time the next election cycle rolls around…(couldn’t get last words).

HK: Let me come back to the coverage by asking Arianna Huffington-When Jack Murtha started to get beat up by critics because of his stance on the war, and it’s true that most, the vast majority, of the Democratic Party have not joined him in calling for a pullout, you had him blog on your site. How did that come about?

Arianna Huffington: Well I called his chief of staff last week, (she named him, I couldn’t understand her) 71 years old, has been with Murtha over 31 years. They were in the Marines together. And I talked to him about blogging, if he could convince the Congressman to blog. And it happened within a few hours.

And in his blog, he actually made a very important point, the Congressman, He asked for the White House, he asked for the President to call both sides to the White House to come up with a solution, to put aside partisan rancor and bring everybody into the White House. Let’s see if that’s going to happen.

HK: Let me jump in and ask you–the first place that I read that Colonel Bubp was very closely aligned with religious conservatives was on your site. I’m wondering if you think the Mainstream Media fell down on that part of the story?

AH: I think absolutely it did, and not only on that part of the story, which was in a blog by Max Blumenthal on The Huffington Post, but also the other part of the story. The Cincinnati Enquirer was the first to point out that Bubp had not actually asked the Congresswoman to name him (Murtha) by name or to call him a coward. It is suddenly all over the blogosphere in a way that could not be ignored by the Mainstream Media.

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Comments:

  • I hope somebody sent OH02 and The Whistleblower a fresh supply of blood pressure pills, because Reynolds’ implication (and a bit more) that what Jean Schmidt did was an example of “political courage” will send them through the roof. My take, as noted earlier, is that this is how conservatives in The 2nd District see it. Again, my take-the more ridicule and over-the-top criticism gets piled on, the more that perception gets reinforced.
  • OH02 will also not be pleased with Reynolds (remember, he’s a Libertarian, not a GOP hack), who portrays the Democrats as having the opposite of polical courage (which is ….. begins with a “c” ….. has nine letters ….. ends in “e” ….. first three letters are the same as a farm animal ….. last four are what you roll at the craps table in Vegas …..).
  • I happen to think Reynolds’ take on what the House vote does to the Democrats in hurting them for 2006 is also dead-on.
  • Murtha’s blog call for “let’s all get together” is absurd. As S.O.B. Alliance member Weapons of Mass Discussion pointed out, there has been evidence for well over a year that the Democrats actively planned to use any intelligence they learned of through the legistlative process to undermine the President politically. Besides, when did FDR hold such a meeting during WW2?
  • The supposed “scoop” that Danny Bubp is a religious conservative is irrelevant to the story, and I find it extremely offensive that Arianna and others somehow consider it relevant. NixGuy picked up a strong whiff of this not-so-soft redneck-religious (dare we say it?) bigotry (yup, that’s what it is) early last week at another blog.
  • The “he said, she said” part of the story is relevant, but in my view it has registered as a venial sin and not a mortal one inside The 2nd District. I’ve heard rumors that it goes beyond that, but no one has bellied up and said so. In my view, the opportunity to do that effectively has passed–if they came forward now, the most obvious question is “Why wait til now?”

Voting With Our Feet, Part 3: Walking Away from Academic Excellence

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:09 pm

Not all “voting with feet” is healthy.

The old White Flight, which primarily occurred in the wake of the 1960s race riots, was from the central cities to the suburbs, and, based on who you ask, was a response either to increasing crime (understandable) or to a desire not to live in a neighborhood with any African-American families (not understandable). The truth is that it was a bit of both, but also involved other factors.

The New White Flight, written up about a week ago in The Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), appears to be a flight from academic excellence:

By most measures, Monta Vista High here and Lynbrook High, in nearby San Jose, are among the nation’s top public high schools. Both boast stellar test scores, an array of advanced-placement classes and a track record of sending graduates from the affluent suburbs of Silicon Valley to prestigious colleges.

But locally, they’re also known for something else: white flight. Over the past 10 years, the proportion of white students at Lynbrook has fallen by nearly half, to 25% of the student body. At Monta Vista, white students make up less than one-third of the population, down from 45% — this in a town that’s half white. Some white Cupertino parents are instead sending their children to private schools or moving them to other, whiter public schools. More commonly, young white families in Silicon Valley say they are avoiding Cupertino altogether.

Whites aren’t quitting the schools because the schools are failing academically. Quite the contrary: Many white parents say they’re leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of liberal arts and extracurriculars like sports and other personal interests.

The two schools, put another way that parents rarely articulate so bluntly, are too Asian.

Thomas Sowell does not appear to be too concerned:

The phrase “white flight” is completely misleading. All over the world and throughout history, groups have collected together with people like themselves, whether by race, income, education, religion, or any number of other characteristics. There is nothing unique when white people do it.

….. Cliques form in all kinds of places for all kinds of reasons. Chess players, jazz fans, and gamblers tend to hang out with others who share their interests.

The fact that people sort themselves out in many ways is not usually a big problem — except to those people who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling other people what to do. Government programs to unsort people who have sorted themselves out have produced one social disaster after another.

I don’t disagree with Mr. Sowell, but he missed an opportunity to question why parents of whatever race would choose to take their kids out of academically competitive situations when their kids can probably handle it. Sports and extracurriculars are just that–EXTRAS. The primary reason to be in school is to learn. I believe parents who avoid competitive school districts are shortchanging their children. By bringing their reduced expectations to the places they move to, they’re probably hurting those school districts too.
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Other “vote with our feet” posts:
- Part 1: What Thanksgiving Is Partially About
- Part 2: It’s the Taxes, Stupid
- Part 4: Leaving Cincinnati (and Other Ohio Cities)
- Part 5: Willisms Looks at State Migration Patterns
- Part 6: Losing the Very Rich

Bosnian Quagmire Enters 11th Year

There is supposedly good news out of Bosnia, meaning that our military involvement in that region may end reasonably soon.

I’ve been meaning to get around to finding out what’s happened in Bosnia in the ten years since it has virtually disappeared from the headlines. But now The Captain has saved me the work (HT Ed Driscoll):

Let’s make clear what happened here. We occupied a primarily Muslim state for the last ten years, trying to separate three different ethnic factions from each other. We initially went into Bosnia to quell a civil war and a genocide in progress, and then waited ten years for the kind of political progress that would make our presence unnecessary. Despite this quagmire, we kept our troops in the country and continued to work on a political construct based on democracy — and we gave it ten years without loud demands for precipitous withdrawal prior to an effective resolution.

Now compare this with the hysterics over our position in Iraq. We have spent a year after the toppling of the Saddam regime fighting an insurgency while establishing a democracy designed to bring together three ethnic/religious factions at each other’s throats. In two years, we have progressed much farther than Bosnia and will have the first elected, constitutional government at least a full year ahead of Bosnia’s. Three elections will have been held before the Bosnians hold one.

According to this unofficial FAQ page last updated in 2001 (but which I believe is accurate, since conditions are essentially unchanged), the US has 8,000 frontline military personnel in Bosnia and a few thousand support personnel in Hungary.

Congressmen and Senators who claim that we have not had enough soldiers in Iraq have been mostly, if not entirely, silent on the continued holding-pattern deployment of troops in Bosnia all these years.

Why?
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UPDATE: Remind me–Wasn’t a large part of our mission to protect the Muslims in the area from persecution by other ethnic groups? If so, where’s the gratitude?

Worn-Out Reactionary Media (WORMs) Ignore Iraq $1 Million Katrina Donation Story

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 12:10 pm

OVERVIEW: The failure of the “Mainstream Media” (with very minor exceptions) to report the possibly record-breaking $1 million donation by the Iraqi Red Crescent (their equivalent of our Red Cross) to Hurrican Katrina relief is negligent and irresponsible. It proves, more than another individual story out of Iraq, that there is a dogged determination to ignore positive news from that country, and that those ignoring it deserve the new name (WORMs) that is in the title of this post.
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No matter where you stand on the Iraq War, by any reasonable, logical definition of what reportable news is, this story (“Positivity: Iraq’s Red Cross Equivalent Donates $1 Million for Katrina Relief”) fits that definition.

I believe that it may be, either in absolute dollars, as a percentage of the donor country’s output, or both, the largest single donation by a foreign non-governmental entity to a United States relief effort ever.

The Washington Times (“Iraqi Red Crescent thanks U.S. with $1 million for Katrina relief”) reported the donation on Friday, November 25 (noting, among other things, that the amount “represents 20% of the organization’s annual budget.” The underlying event happened Thursday, November 24.

On Saturday evening (Nov. 26), I did a Google News Search, sorted by date, on:

“red crescent” Iraq

This is the result, going back as far as the original Washington Times story:

IraqRedCrescent

All other stories in the search pre-dated when the donation occurred. This morning at about 11 AM ET, I did the same search and verified that, other than a blog post at American Thinker, the story did not appear anywhere besides the five places you see in the picture (first, third, fourth, sixth, and eighth listings).

To be sure that I didn’t miss anything, I also searched the following sites yesterday evening at about 8 PM, and re-verified the results this morning for “red crescent” (in quotes):

  • The “all the news that’s fit to print” New York Times had one later story about the Palestinian and Israeli Red Crescent organizations nearing an undescribed agreement. The next earliest story was from early November. (Sunday morning, there was an additional story about the Iranian earthquake, but no other changes.)
  • Newsday had two stories on Pakistani earthquake relief from November 25. All other stories were older than a few weeks. (Sunday morning, there was also an Iran quake story, and no other changes.)
  • The Washington Post had no story later than November 14. (Sunday morning-Iran quake story, no other changes.)
  • The LA Times yielded no results. A search only on the word “crescent” yielded nothing relevant. (Sunday morning-no change.)
  • There was no sign of any news of the donation going back 24 hours at AP Wire (worldwide), AP National, or AP International (and no new story about the donation on Sunday morning).

What are we to conclude, other that there is a near-total blackout on anything resembling good news coming out of Iraq by the organizations many refer to as The Mainstream Media?

That’s why, for the foreseeable future, I will begin calling them WORMs–The Worn-Out Reactionary Media.

“Mainstream” my a**.
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Note: Those of you who don’t visit this blog frequently should know that I create one “Positivity” post each day, highlighting some form of good news that has occurred somewhere fairly recently. To make sure the good news isn’t diluted, I don’t allow comments at those posts and try to avoid saying anything myself beyond a short introduction. That’s why this post is separate from the original.

Also: This post originally appeared at about 10 AM, but was significantly revised after that and reposted in its now-finished form at the time indicated above.

Positivity: Iraq’s Red Cross Equivalent Donates $1 Million for Katrina Relief

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:07 am

It’s okay to say “wow“:

Iraqi Red Crescent thanks U.S. with $1 million for Katrina relief
November 25, 2005

Iraq’s Red Crescent relief organization found its own way to mark the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday by announcing that it had sent a $1 million “thank you” donation to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The sum, transferred by wire on Sunday, amounts to 20 percent of the organization’s annual budget.
“I wish we could have a billion dollars to give,” Said Hakki, the organization’s president, said by telephone from Baghdad. “Even then, it is not enough to show our appreciation for what the U.S. has done for Iraq and is still doing.”
The donation was made with the approval of the office of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and is thought to mark the first time that Iraq has sent aid to the United States.
Haydar al-Abadi, a senior adviser to the prime minister, said in a separate telephone interview that he was worried that the gesture — though noble — could prompt complaints that the money should have been spent on the country’s own emergencies.
But Mr. Hakki was adamant.
“Giving thanks is an Iraqi tradition as well as an American one. This is the minimum we could do after the Americans shed their blood in our country, mixing their blood with ours,” he said.
He said the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein was “a blessing from God, and the U.S. was His tool.”
Mr. Hakki left his job as a urology professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa last year to take charge of his country’s massive — and often lethally dangerous — relief operations.
….. The Red Crescent, which operates in Iraq much as the Red Cross does in the United States, says it has four of its original nine trucks left, the remainder having been stolen by terrorists to be sold or destroyed in clashes. One of its 12 ambulances was destroyed during fighting in Najaf.
Since the overthrow of Saddam’s regime in 2003, the Iraqi Red Crescent has been distributing an average of 46 truckloads of medicine, food and water across Iraq every month.

Something I Forgot to Be Thankful For (Bill Buckley)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 12:01 am

Bill Buckley celebrated 80 years with us on Thursday.

George Will’s tribute captures much of the essence of the man who rescued conservatism.