Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Intelligent View on the Muslim Cartoons

The prevailing view among westerners on the controversy surrounding the publishing of cartoons that show images of the Profit Muhammad seems to be 'why are Muslims so offended over some cartoons?' That's not, apparently, how the Muslim community sees it.

Nadia Maiwandi, a staff writer for the North County Times (San Diego), wrote an intelligent and thought-provoking piece about this issue. Nothing justifies the deaths and rioting that the reaction to these cartoons has brought about, but this controversy shows once again that making fun of somone else's deeply held beliefs is disrespectful at best, and most likely deeply offensive.

An excerpt from Ms. Maiwandi's article:

"Since the publication of the cartoons and the subsequent protests, I've heard non-Muslims ask why it's OK to ridicule Christianity and Judaism but not Islam. Simply put, it's not. Mocking monotheism isn't an Eastern value, period, whether it's Islam, Christianity or Judaism on the receiving end. People who ridicule those two religions in the West are far more likely to be adherents of those religions than Muslims."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Global Warming and the "Hockey Stick" Debate

Will it never end? Lou Hissink shows so very clearly how the global warming argument is based on a false analysis of global temperature data.


Monday, February 13, 2006

A French Leftist Laments the Idea-less American Left

The Nation published recently a translated article by Bernard-Henri Lévy wherein he takes the American Left to task for its lack of ideas. A common criticizm has been that the Left of today simply offer opposition and obstructionism to the Conservatives. Apparently, the French elitists agree.

Here is how it begins:

Nothing made a more lasting impression during my journey through America than the semi-comatose state in which I found the American left.

I know, of course, that the term "left" does not have the same meaning and ramifications here that it does in France.

And I cannot count how many times I was told there has never been an authentic "left" in the United States, in the European sense.

But at the end of the day, my progressive friends, you may coin ideas in whichever way you like. The fact is: You do have a right [right wing]. This right, in large part thanks to its neoconservative battalion, has brought about an ideological transformation that is both substantial and striking.

And the fact is that nothing remotely like it has taken shape on the other side--to the contrary, through the looking glass of the American "left" lies a desert of sorts, a deafening silence, a cosmic ideological void that, for a reader of Whitman or Thoreau, is thoroughly enigmatic. The 60-year-old "young" Democrats who have desperately clung to the old formulas of the Kennedy era; the folks of MoveOn.org who have been so great at enlisting people in the electoral lists, at protesting against the war in Iraq and, finally, at helping to revitalize politics but whom I heard in Berkeley, like Puritans of a new sort, treating the lapses of a libertine President as quasi-equivalent to the neo-McCarthyism of his fiercest political rivals; the anti-Republican strategists confessing they had never set foot in one of those neo-evangelical mega-churches that are the ultimate (and most Machiavellian) laboratories of the "enemy," staring in disbelief when I say I've spent quite some time exploring them; ex-candidate Kerry, whom I met in Washington a few weeks after his defeat, haggard, ghostly, faintly whispering in my ear: "If you hear anything about those 50,000 votes in Ohio, let me know"; the supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton who, when I questioned them on how exactly they planned to wage the battle of ideas, casually replied they had to win the battle of money first, and who, when I persisted in asking what the money was meant for, what projects it would fuel, responded like fundraising automatons gone mad: "to raise more money"; and then, perhaps more than anything else, when it comes to the lifeblood of the left, the writers and artists, the men and women who fashion public opinion, the intellectuals--I found a curious lifelessness, a peculiar streak of timidity or irritability, when confronted with so many seething issues that in principle ought to keep them as firmly mobilized as the Iraq War or the so-called "American Empire" (the denunciation of which is, sadly, all that remains when they have nothing left to say).

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tax Cuts Hurting the Deficit??

It seem that , on "strong receipts". How can anyone still argue that lower taxes mean lower revenue? The tax cuts have proven once again to be revenue enhancing by stimulating financial activity. The US Treasury takes in a smaller piece of a bigger pie.

(From Reuters via The Drudge Report)


Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Obscene Profits" by Major Oil Companies

From the (Subscription required) in October regarding the gigantic profits reported by the oil companies (this from their 3Q results) comes this article discussing the reasons behind these profits, and what the real profit story is about. As Exxon-Mobile reports another record year and quarter—at least in dollars—try to keep in mind their modest profit margins on huge revenue.

An excerpt:

“…in 2004 Exxon Mobil earned more money -- $25.33 billion -- than any other company on the Fortune 500 list of largest corporations. But by another measure of profitability, gross profit margin, it ranked No. 127.”

A $9.9 billion quarterly profit is mostly a function of Exxon Mobil's size. It had sales of $100 billion this quarter, more than any other U.S. company. At its current rate of growth, Exxon Mobil will be the biggest U.S. corporation this year by revenue, bigger than Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which had $288.19 billion in revenue last year. Generally, the bigger the company, the bigger the bottom line.

Even so, many companies smaller than Exxon Mobil "earn" more, depending on what measure is used.

Most financial institutions, such as commercial banks, are routinely more profitable than Exxon Mobil was in its third quarter. For example, Exxon Mobil's gross margin of 9.8 cents of profit for every dollar of revenue pales in comparison to Citigroup Inc.'s 15.7 cents in 2004. By percentage of total revenue, banking is consistently the most profitable industry in America, followed closely by the drug industry.

Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro and other cigarettes, made 22 cents for every dollar of revenue in 2004, and pharmaceutical company Merck made 25.3 cents for every dollar of revenue in 2004.”