Thursday, July 20, 2006

Is Marriott a communist organization?

Rantingprofs has a post railing against Marriott for banning smoking in all of their hotels. The good professor won't stay at another Marriott, ever. I have to both agree and disagree.

First the agreement points:
I don't see why this will "tip" the rest of the industry. Some chain has to want the almost quarter of the population that smokes staying there.

Our money's just as green.

You want to levy heavy fines against jerks who smoke in non-smoking rooms, do it. But this is absurd.

This is a legal activity. At some point this just gets ridiculous.
Now while I suspect that the good Professor smokes and I don't, I agree with all of the above. I don't think it has gotten riculous yet if we ignore the state bans, but in theory it could.

But here is the problem with her implication that this is bad business or imperialism. A very small percentage (more like 5% than 25%) of hotel patrons ask for smoking rooms. People who ask for non-smoking, including me, get pretty mad when we get stuck in a smoking room. People who ask for smoking get pretty mad when they get put in a non-smoking room. Further, the cost of maintaining a smoking room is higher than a non-smoking room and smoking patrons don't want to see a surcharge.

The Professor is correct in saying that as long as their are a bunch of folks out there who want smoking rooms there will be somebody offering it....... unless the government steps in. Her arguments are my problem with government imposed bans like the one recently passed here in Colorado. If we could have gotten some business people to have been smart enough to ban smoking in their restaurants we may never have seen a statewide ban. There are a lot more people who don't smoke and don't go to bars because they don't like the smoke than there are smokers who go to bars. There are a ton more people who are annoyed by smokers 5 feet away while they are eating. I don't want the state to ban a legal act in public, I would have much preferred to be able to vote with my dollars and let the Professor vote with hers.

It isn't imperialism when a business makes a measured business decision. That is an illegitimate charge/implication. There are two legitimate charges to be found though.

1. It may be imperialism when the government enforces social rules rather than letting the free market decide.

2. If you want to smoke in your hotel room, Marriott (and by the way Westin some time ago which is my now-favorite home away from home) have said they don't want your money.

Love you to death Professor, but you aren't really leaving Marriott, they have essentially shunned you. I highly suspect there are chains out there who will happily expand their number of smoking rooms to accommodate you. Marriott and Westin have simply said they think people like me are going to make them more money than people like you so they are catering to me. Holiday Inn or somebody will soon have a "we will guarantee you a smoking room if you want one" add out. This will be aimed at telling us both that they are looking for your business that Marriott has shunned.

Look, I know people who ask for hotels without in room Internet access. We stay in different places :-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

when you ban guns.....

And murders still continue to happen, you ban knives!

The Brits are clearly one of our best friends in the world. I have a number of personal friends either there or from there. They are very much like us which isn't surprising. And then I read articles like this on and I think "who are these crazy socialist maniacs?".

Have you got the pencil registration system set up yet?

Senator Bayh says middle class leaving dems

In this article I found on Newsmax, Democratic Senator Evan Bayh says that if he runs for President his centerpiece will be middle class issues. Not a bad strategy given how the Dems have been bleeding votes from this group. It is a good reminder that there are Democrats and then there are Democrats. One state's center left Democrat is another state's right wing Republican. I grew up in Indiana and while I have not lived there for a long time the folks I talk to there generally think this guy is pretty close to the center.

President uses veto pen for the first time

This utterly blows my mind. The man has been POTUS for 5+ years and the first thing he decides to veto is a bill for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research?

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a monumental waste of my tax dollars. Embryonic stem cells have shown absolutely zero, zip, nada promise in curing anything. Unlike adult stem cell therapies and umbilical cord therapies which are actually curing real people with real medical problems every day there has not been a single person cured of so much as a hang nail with embryonic stem cells. The animal testing isn't even promising. It could turn out that embryonic stem cells will be able to produce cures not possible with adult or umbilical therapies. It could just as easily turn out that either by chance, our inability to understand, or God's design they will never prove useful. At any rate I want my medical research tax dollars to go to research more likely to produce real results than are possible with embryonic stem cells today.

That said, the Congress went to great lengths to ensure that the funding could only go to research on embryos that would be otherwise destroyed. This, in my mind, gets rid of the argument that you are destroying human life. I, personally, believe the embryos are at least potential human life if not actual human life. That said, the embryos in question would be destroyed anyway. I am not a medical ethicist, but how is this different that taking my kidneys, eyes and other useful parts after I am brain dead for use in the living?

So we are left only with the argument that it is a waste of tax dollars. In the grand scheme of the enormous waste the President has chosen not to veto, not to mention some of the stupid legislation that he has signed or allowed to become law..... how in the world does he choose today to finally find a veto pen?

Again, I am personally glad he vetoed it and that the House couldn't override. The problem is that he should have vetoed a lot of things he didn't. I just wonder, why the heck now? If he had been regularly using the veto pen this would be a non-issue. Given his lack of use of the veto pen in the past this is a huge political mistake IMO. The Democrats who were trying very, very hard to discredit themselves are now going to run around the country declaring that the Republicans have been overtaken by lunatic religious fanatics who skipped science class in high school. Never mind that there are no scientific indicators, let alone proof, that this research will lead to anything useful, the average American who does not follow the science will be persuadable.

Let's raise funds for a Howard Dean Network. Howard and Nanci and Cynthia 24x7x365, commercial free.

Yoni live-blogs the war in Isreal

Yoni is a 20 year vet of the IDF now living in the states. His contacts allow him to bring you information that:

1. Isn't hitting the MSM at all.
2. Is hitting the MSM hours later than he blogs it.

He is an observant Jew so you can skip looking for updates from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown but the other 6 days a week his blog is worth watching when Townhall is up. I am not moving soon, it has what we call in the biz "issues" at the moment.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Dry Bones on serious issues in comic strip

Today's Dry Bones reflects the almost universal feeling of the Israeli people to the extent that I can guage it.

Middle East Situation

The situation around Israel continues to get more intense at this hour. The Israeli Prime Minister was almost hit by a missile over the weekend. War can be business for world leaders but when a missile lands close to you it tends to make it much more personal. I have spent a significant amount of time poking around the radio and the Internet. At this time I have the following things to report/ponder.

1. It appears that the 24-hour news cable stations were happy to ignore this story. Fox News seems to have been embarrassed by the blogs and talk radio into an appropriate level of coverage. That said, I have to agree with Rantingprofs that it is hard to take Greta very seriously as an "anchor" on any serious topic. CNN at this hour is covering the conflict but they are harder to take serious than Greta.

2. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for a special Saturday show packed with knowledgeable guests on the topic and useful pointers to information. My local station that carries his show M-F did not carry the broadcast, much to my dismay. There is good news on that front though, Radioblogger has the entire 3 hours commercial free, which is how I listened to it Sunday.

3. I have to agree with Hugh that the system NZBear has put together to track local area blogs is the best resource on the net on this topic. Congrats to him for both having the idea and the ability to carry it out well.

4. I think back to the two Lebanese Christians I once worked with daily, although at two different times and places. Both lived in Lebanon during the previous occupation of southern Lebanon by Israel. One believed the Israelis, or at least their government, were evil incarnate. The other believed that the Israelis were committing rational acts of self defense that were unfortunately necessary because their country was ruled by lunatic puppets of the Syrian tyrants. I would guess the two who share a genetic heritage, a social heritage, religious beliefs and common experiences see the current conflict as differently as they did the previous one.

5. Let us hope that this ends with a minimum of injury and fatalities to innocent civilians. This is difficult given that IslamoNazis have a habit of hiding amongst innocent women and children and hiding their arms in churches and schools. When I was a young boy we had a very descriptive word for our peers who hid behind women's skirts after hurling invectives and it was not flattering. I, like many who would disagree with my position on this issue, believe that the Israeli response is disproportionate. In order for their response to be proportionate they would need to target innocent civilians which they have not done or Lebanon would not still exist. To the contrary the coverage I can find indicates they are going far out of their way to avoid civilian casualties while still managing to persecute their attack on the IslamoNazis responsible for the attacks on their people. Let us hope they continue to be disproportionate in their response.

6. For those of us Americans who care to be truly informed on world news the last few days have shown us that we were correct in our assessment that the antique media still doesn't get it. Let us hope they get their act together and start to show this major conflict fairly and as completely as rationally responsible.

7. What if oil goes to $150+/barrel? My 'next bench' alarm goes off when I consider this question. I drive much less than most Americans and I make a lot more money than most of them. I think it is an interesting question but I don't feel qualified to answer what that means to the average family in our country, yet alone the rest of the world. As we consider what we think our government ought to do or not do, advise for or against with our friends in the only mature democratic state in the area we must consider the impact on the world economy. If one is a moral person this cannot be the primary consideration but it must be a consideration. Iran appears to be neck deep in this whole thing and they are a major supplier of energy in the world. I believe the speculators have already priced in a significant amount of the impact of some disruption but if this thing continues to escalate we could see more increases at the pumps.

8. In the face of a major conflict precipitated by another group of terrorists having nothing to do with Iraq or US foreign policy why do we not have people in jail over the rash of leaks of classified material related to trying the catch these crazies before they kill more of us? How have we not had hearings in the Senate or House? I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV. Ergo, I don't know if we can throw a bunch of loons from the NY Times and other papers in the slammer for the indefinite future. There seems to be reasonable disagreement about that among people who are lawyers in real life. That said, it is infinitely clear that the leaking of these useful secrets from folks who draw a paycheck from my tax dollars is illegal. I want them in jail as soon as possible and for as long as possible. My preference would be to stick them in a cell with a guy who is at least 6'6", was a linebacker for SMU and whose mother was killed in the Twin Towers.

9. Can we allow Iran, who as I said earlier is pretty clearly neck deep in attacking an Israeli ship and long range missile attacks on her citizens, to go nuclear. I heard someone on the radio say something to the effect of "It will take Iran another 8-10 years to be able to produce a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile". I was astonished. Did we use a missile to drop the only 2 nukes ever used in war? Do people really think the Iranian regime would have trouble finding a set of lunatics willing to use a 747 as a delivery mechanism on a suicide mission? Just as I am not a lawyer, I am also not a general. I do not have a good grasp of what the viable military options are. It is pretty clear that diplomatic options are a waste of time with the lunatics running that country. What is not clear to me is whether it makes more sense to help the overwhelmingly rational Persians take their government back into rational hands or to start dropping bombs. To assume we have a lot of time makes no sense at all. We produced the very first nukes in less than 5 years. To assume that after 60 years of technological advances in the world and dozens of nuclear countries, including but not limited to Pakistan whose senior scientist was running around the world selling info, a country with huge amounts of money and loads of educated scientists and scores of IslamoNazi fanatics including the leaders of the government will take twice that long to become a danger to the world is to be naive.

10. If you were the Prime Minister of Israel, what would you do? I considered that question and I didn't like the answer that I came up with. I have no dislike or animosity for the innocent civilians in southern Lebanon, the Gaza strip or the West Bank. My answer was not kind to their fate. I hope Prime Minister Olmert is smarter than I am. Assuming he is and that he succeeds in ridding the world of Hezbollah's ability to threaten it's neighbors, what does the new world look like?