The Locker Room

August 10, 2004

Re: The Southern Front

Posted by Jon Sanders at 4:18 PM

Just a reminder: Hezbollah raised millions of dollars to fund terrorism by operating a cigarette-smuggling ring out of Charlotte.

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The Southern Front?

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 4:17 PM

This breaking story of a Pakistani national held on immigration charges after a Charlotte cop noticed he was videotaping downtown skyscrapers merits close watching. It could be the tip of something bigger or just some guy making very odd videos.

But someone needs to come out and say that Bank of America might mean Bank of America in some parts of the world. The association with power and prestige the name trades on domestically can get flipped around overseas and attract anti-U.S. feelings. This doesn't mean go back to Nick-Nib, just be aware.

Stay tuned.

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Some Lies are Good...

Posted by Kent Lassman at 1:33 PM

Here is the AP story that Drew mentions below.

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Bond Sales Boost Bottom Line in Small Towns

Posted by Chad Adams at 1:06 PM

As it appeared in Otis White's Urban Notebook (Government Magazine).

Two small Florida cities have stumbled into a business that will earn either your admiration or indignation: They issue tax-free municipal bonds for far-away projects. The city of Gulf Breeze (pop. 6,200), in the Florida panhandle, has floated nearly $2 billion in munis for a hotel in Orlando and resort projects for a Seminole Indian casino elsewhere in Florida, among other deals, the Baltimore Sun reports. Moore Haven (pop. 1,700), in South Florida, has issued $1.2 billion in bonds since 1997, mostly for projects in other places. Why? Because it's profitable and, with some limitation, legal. Gulf Breeze has earned $5 million in fees since 1985, the Sun says. That averages out to $278,000 a year, or about 35% of the city's 2004 budget. In Moore Haven, a desperately poor place where many live in mobile homes, city officials proudly point to the things their fees have bought: a fire engine, a dump truck and playground equipment. "It's all legit," the mayor says. "It's a way for cities to afford stuff. Otherwise, there is no way we could." Well, maybe legit. The IRS is questioning some of the bond deals, not because they money went outside the cities but because the IRS suspects some of the money wasn't used for projects with genuine public purposes.

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From the "Some Lies Are Good" department

Posted by Andrew Cline at 12:40 AM

An excellent reporter for my newspaper here in NH uncovered this story on Sunday. John Kerry has been highlighting the plight of a New Hampshire woman he says had to work "every day" through her chemotherapy because if she didn't she would have lost her health insurance. He even spun her tale in his DNC acceptance speech. As our reporter found last week, the story is not true. She had 26 days of disability leave and chose to work through most of her chemotherapy instead. She did take off a few days for treatment.

When the reporter called the Kerry campaign for comment, they first said that "every day" was just "a colloquialism" and did not mean that she in fact had to work every day. They then said they did not need to verify the facts of the story because it was emblematic of the plight of Americans in George Bush's America. Now they say Kerry will stick with his untrue version of the story because it is "inspiring."

The reason you have yet to hear this is that for some reason the AP did not see fit to pick up the story. We are working to change that right now, so it may break nationally in the next few days. Stay tuned.

Here is the follow-up story where the Kerry campaign says they will continue to tell this "inspiring" untrue story.

Here is our editorial on the issue.

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Social Security should be an issue

Posted by George Leef at 10:49 AM

In this excellent article, Cato's Mike Tanner discusses the impending failure of Social Security. It's worth reading just for the background. He also observes that Kerry is trying to dodge the issue of the huge tax increases that will be necessary if something isn't done now to increase the age of benefit eligibility or to start getting people out of the system with private savings accounts.

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Dangerous medicine

Posted by George Leef at 10:23 AM

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted a short article in The Wall Street Journal on the high number of fatal errors made by medical personnel in hospitals. In this article Professor Ralph Reiland discusses the same information.

Reiland's point is to question why there should be a move to legislate a cap on non-economic damages in lawsuits over medical screw ups. I could support such a cap, though -- if it were done at the state level. Constitutionally, Congress has no more business dictating the details of the tort system than it has in dictating the details of auto manufacturing. Victims of incompetence ought to be fully compensated for their losses, but when juries can award millions or billions on top of actual losses because some John Edwards-type lawyer has gotten them into a "send them a message" rage, the consequences are bad.

What I think is the important point in the statistics on medical blunders is that most if not all of them were the result of the conduct of LICENSED personnel. Licensing is always sold to the public on the grounds that it's necessary to prevent incompetents from entering a profession and later harming patients or clients.

Doesn't seem to work very well.

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Socialists' bizarre war against Wal-Mart continues

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:10 AM

According to CBS News, the latest tack in the war on Wal-Mart is that the low-cost retailer forces its workers to "rely on public support to make ends meet." A UC-Berkeley *kaff, kaff* study finds that because of its "low wages and because [Wal-Mart employees] do not have health insurance," the evil corporate menace not only chews up and discards Ma and Pa Bigpricelowselection, it also "takes more from communities than it gives."

Obviously the success of the tobacco settlement has shown the American left that using "societal health care" costs is the new way to wage war on industry. It's classic socialist problem-solving. Pass a law involving government meddling that creates a problem, then shriek about how the existence of the problem proves the need for more government meddling. It they had a hammer, they'd bash you on the head, and if you complained of a headache, they'd tell you the cure for headaches is to whomp you on the back with a 2' x 4'. Berkeley studies show it'll make you forget all about your headache.

Excessive government meddling is what has ramped up health care costs in the first place. Here, first the nanny-state leftists involved the government in guaranteeing health care for certain segments of society, then they increased the parameters of those segments so that greater numbers of people "qualified" for government-provided health care, and now they are going after (successful) employers who pay low wages (and don't kowtow to unions, bankroll socialist politicians or otherwise agree to their protectionist racket) for making it so their employees "are forced to" rely on government health care. The audacity is breath-taking and quite frightening.

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Just-in-time manufacturing, mahn?

Posted by John Hood at 08:56 AM

Sen. Elizabeth Dole told the Kinston newspaper yesterday that, contrary to media reports, the Global TransPark is still in the running for a plant that will serve as a key supplier to the new Boeing Dreamliner plant that the GTP lost out on in 2003.

Among the evidence advanced for the misreporting here is that the Alabama newspaper in question called Jim Hunt the current governor of North Carolina — a forgiveable error, given that the current governor is hard to find. Another point: the newspaper stated that the site in Kingston had been ruled out, but until now no one had heard of Jamaica’s Global TransPark.

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Greek Gods of Simplistic Animation

Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:45 AM

In the spirit -- I think -- of the San Diego Chicken and the Phillie Phanatic, the Athens Olympics have come up with their own mascots to whip up interest among the kiddies.

But ostensibly lovable Phevos and Athena are turning out to be anything but.

Olympic mascots Phevos and Athena, siblings named for a pair of Greek deities, are catching an ungodly amount of abuse around Athens.

They were derided in various news articles, described as animated condoms and mutants from a nuclear meltdown. Their names were co-opted by anti-Olympic activists, who promptly firebombed two government vehicles in February.

Oh, my gods, where did things go wrong?

Turns out the pair are just another in a long line of maligned Olympic characters:

The mascots were not the vision of a single artist, such as the Spanish stoner who conjured Barcelona mascot Cobi -- squiggled in about four seconds -- while in a state of drug-induced bliss.

And in the pantheon of Olympic mascots, the Greek duo remains head and shoulders -- if they actually had shoulders -- above the most-reviled Olympic mascot ever, Izzy of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

NBC announcer Bob Costas maligned [Phevos and Athena] as "a genetic experiment gone horribly, ghastly wrong." Few disagreed.

Get your discounted mascot merchandise while it lasts.

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Breaking your promise is a sin

Posted by John Hood at 08:31 AM

Shiite Islamofascist kingpin Muqtada al Sadr is vowing that he and his thugs will fight “to the last drop of my blood.” Unfortunately, in addition to being a murderer and terror facilitator, al Sadr is probably a liar.

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'We Are Not There'

Posted by Paul Chesser at 07:26 AM

The race for U.S. Senate in Illinois between Democrat Barack Obama and transplant Republican from Maryland Alan Keyes has immediately ratcheted into the stratosphere on social issues. Keyes has already called Obama's abortion views "the slaveholders' position." More:

In the same interview, [Keyes] defended his belief that gay marriage is wrong, brushing aside a suggestion from an interviewer that sexual preference might be biologically determined.

"We as human beings cannot assert that our sexual desires cannot be controlled," Keyes said. He said such a claim would "consign us to the real of instinctual animal nature-- and we are not there."

While jobs will be the big issue in Illinois, this race will be a test of the power of social conservatives, who finally were able to get one of their own drafted after the Jack Ryan follies:

Illinois conservatives, who have long taken a back seat to business-oriented party moderates, engineered the selection of Keyes as the replacement candidate.

[Obama] said that if Keyes uses the Senate campaign only as a platform "to espouse his socially conservative views, then I think the voters of Illinois are going to be disappointed and they will respond appropriately."

This race will give pundits a lot to chew on.

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