January 31, 2005

The Inaugural Speech IV

I've always been a big Peggy Noonan fan. Her (old now) book, "What I Saw at the Revolution" is the book I would give a serious minded liberal.

Larry Kudlow agrees, but he has taken her to task for her criticism of the second inaugural address.

Noonan, David Frum, and others make the argument that the Bush speechwriting team should have thrown itself in front of the oncoming train of the inaugural address. This was a familiar refrain during the 1980s, when many of Reagan’s advisors tried to stop him from calling the Soviets an evil empire, or telling the Russians to tear down that wall. Yet Natan Sharansky, in his new book The Case for Democracy, relates that it was exactly these visionary Reagan declarations that gave the Gulag-imprisoned refuseniks great hope -- indeed all the oppressed peoples of the former Soviet empire great hope -- that freedom-loving help was on the way.

“Let Reagan be Reagan,” was the cry of that great president’s loyal supporters. How is it that Peggy Noonan is now deciding, “Don’t let Bush be Bush”?

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 5:32 PM

Freedom in Iraq

The President's critics have a new line, which is very good news indeed; I was extremely bored with all of their old ones. The new line is Senator Kerry's: yeah, the vote is cool, but the hard part of building a democracy remains.

It would be naive to think that problems are over. The tough slog of legislating a Constitution, counting votes, creating coalitions all remain. And Gouverneur Morris and James Madison are both dead.

Yet these same critics warned us of: "The Brutal, Afghan Winter," "Afghanistan: the Burial Ground of Empires," "Chemical Weapons in Iraq," "Quagmire," Dinesh D'Souza talked about "The party of Yea and the party of Nah," it was a different context but it transfers easily.

The WSJ Ed Page has a great lead editorial today, a great piece from IraqTheModel blog, and on the paid site, yet another great piece from Michael Rubin of AEI: Iraq Has Voted.

I'm fine basking in the glow for a couple of days, but Rubin speaks to some good indicators for an inchoate Iraqi acceptance of compromise and coalition.

With travel restrictions lifted, Iraqis rediscovered their country. Arabs booked Kurdish hotels solid five months in advance. Kurdish colleagues from the University of Sulaymani visited college friends in Basra for the first time since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980. Freedom to travel moderated religious extremism. "During Saddam's day, I didn't know much about Iran. I figured since it was a Shia government, it would be a utopia," a Shia schoolteacher told me in a Karbala coffee shop. "Now that I've been to Iran, I realize how wrong I was." Free to study the teachings of traditional scholars, populists like Moqtada al-Sadr hemorrhaged support. In the alleys and squares around Shia shrines in Kadhimiya, Karbala and Najaf, merchants began selling not only long-banned religious books, but Western magazines as well.

Despite doomsday predictions of civil war, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen learned to compromise. In May 2003, under the watchful eye of a colonel from the 173rd Airborne, Kurds displaced from the Kirkuk region negotiated with Arab farmers to divide the wheat harvest. Before re-flooding marshes drained by Saddam Hussein's government and given as agricultural land to Baathist loyalists, fishermen and farmers sat down in al-Amarah to discuss revenue sharing and compensation.

Democracy is a process, and Iraq has only started along its arduous path. But already, the transformation is vast. In January 2004, in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriya, hundreds packed an auditorium for a town-hall meeting. For three hours, residents peppered their mayor and city councilmen with questions ranging from electricity rationing to property disputes to questions regarding licensing of a local radio station. The Iraqis raised their hands and made their statements with respect. They had learned the meaning of tolerance, debate and compromise. In February 2004, I witnessed a similar scene in the largely Sunni Arab city of Baquba. Across the Arab world, politicians lecture to the people. Only in Iraq is the opposite true.
[...]
While the Arab Middle East is dominated by single parties and strongmen, the transitional Iraqi government will be a coalition. Already, in smoky backrooms and parlors, Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shia are meeting to strike deals and hammer out policy. Every Iraqi may not vote, but they now have a choice of candidates and parties denied to millions of Egyptians, Saudis and Syrians, let alone more than a billion Chinese. Iraqis may fear violence, but they no longer fear speech or thought.

UPDATE: The best example of the genre is the summation to Spencer Ackerman's piece in TNR: "In Maryland yesterday, the hopes and enthusiasms of Iraqi voters were on proud display. But so were signs of the difficulties to come."

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM

January 30, 2005

The Vote


... it's a great day in free Iraq.

    Some came on crutches, others walked for miles then struggled to read the ballot, but across Iraq, millions turned out to vote Sunday, defying insurgents who threatened a bloodbath.

    Suicide bombs and mortars killed at least 27 people, but voters still came out in force for the first multi-party poll in 50 years. In some places they cheered with joy at their first chance to cast a free vote, in others they shared chocolates.

    Even in Falluja, the Sunni city west of Baghdad that was a militant stronghold until a U.S. assault in November, a steady stream of people turned out, confounding expectations. Lines of veiled women clutching their papers waited to vote.

    "We want to be like other Iraqis, we don't want to always be in opposition," said Ahmed Jassim, smiling after he voted.


27 dead vs millions voting? Looks like the terrorists are really losing. Each death is obviously tragic, but this is still good news on the whole.
The turnout?
    An electoral commission official said 72 per cent of registered eligible voters had turned out. While no figures were provided to back up the claim and many Sunnis would not have registered to vote, it was clear that millions of Iraqis took part in the country's first free elections for more than 50 years.

    Heavy voter participation was reported in the Shia south and in the Kurdish north, and in Baghdad the turnout was 95 per cent. And even in troubled cities such as Baquba correspondents said polling stations had been full all day despite five bombings and a mortar attack.


I will remind readers that 60% of eligible voters voted in November's election to re-elect George Bush.
72% is even better than anyone could have hoped for.

A great day indeed.

(photo caption & link)

But jk thinks:

An incredible and wonderful day unless you happed to be an elected Senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I have little to add to this excellent post but to point out that very few people thought this would work. Last week, last month and last year we heard calls to pospone or simply surrender the election.

As Senator Kerry hastened to point out, this does not mean all the problems are over. You'd think a Naval veteran would understand that all victories in freedom and politics are temporary. Baghdad and Boulder must both be ever vigilant.

I will not forget the Iraqis dancing out side the polling places, nor the pride of the expats. A great day for freedom and a great day for Iraq.

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2005 5:47 PM

January 29, 2005

More evidence that Beer makes you live longer

What better encore for a serious post about the meaning of life than a lighthearted post about saving one's life? And man, what a way to get out of a predicament! It seems that Richard Kral was driving his Audi through the Slovak Tatra mountains when it was buried on the road by an avalanche. He couldn't open the door, but did open the window and started trying to dig his way out.

"But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through." Additionally, his car might be damaged by the snow. As an Audi owner myself I can relate to his desire to protect it, but what alternative did he have? Fortunately Mr. Kral was going on holiday and had... sixty bottles of beer in the car! These were half-liter european bottles - not the measly 12 ouncers we're accustomed to here in the states, but a healthy 16.9 ounces!

In indomitable fashion, the stranded motorist "Peed way out of avalanche." "...after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it, local media reported. He said: "I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there."

Here's hoping he was fortunate enough to have brought along 30 liters of Pilsner Urquell, and not Pandur. But as Mortimer admitted, even bad Slovak beer is better than England's best!

Hat tip: Drudge Report.

On the web Posted by JohnGalt at 7:46 PM

Ayn II

Alex's Wednesday post of one sort of a thumbnail biography of Ayn Rand was timely. On the one hand, because we're approaching February 2, 2005, her hundredth birthday. On the other, because the column he linked to was published on the very day that I posted my bio on this new blog. (25 Jan at 23:14 MST, as I now note the blog has moved to eastern time.)

The author of the unappreciative vignette lamented the dearth of publications on this notable anniversary. While it's true that the event will garner somewhat less attention than, say, the private life of Brittney Spears, there are important things being said about it if you care to look for them. A friend has saved me some trouble, sending me a link to the essay, 'Ayn Rand: A legacy of Reason and Freedom.' This is a rather different sort of biography. Namely, an appreciative one. It's neither long nor tedious so I encourage you to follow the link, but I can't resist highlighting two excerpts:

Ayn Rand understood that to defend the individual she must penetrate to the root: his need to use reason to survive. "I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism," she wrote in 1971, "but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows." This radical view put her at odds with conservatives, whom she vilified for their attempts to base capitalism on faith and altruism. Advocating a government to protect the individual's right to his property, she was not a liberal (or an anarchist). Advocating the indispensability of philosophy, she was not a libertarian.
(...)
A sui generis philosopher, who looked at the world anew, Ayn Rand has long puzzled the intellectual establishment. Academia has usually met her views with antagonism or avoidance, unable to fathom that she was an individualist but not a subjectivist, an absolutist but not a dogmatist. And they have thus ignored her original solutions to such seemingly intractable problems as how to ground values in facts. But even in academia her ideas are finding more acceptance, e.g., university fellowships and a subgroup within the American Philosophical Association to study Objectivism."

This is Ayn Rand. Those who fault her for a few bad decisions in her personal life can generally be assumed to prefer that you not know anything of what you've just read.

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 2:22 PM

January 28, 2005

She Should've Had an Abortion...

Best of the Web highlights this story in the Haverford (PA) delcotimes.com:

Zero tolerance: Student suspended for taking medicine

HAVERFORD -- A Haverford High School honor roll student, known to all as a conscientious, high achiever, was suspended from school last week for taking what might be considered the equivalent of an aspirin. The suspension was based on a zero tolerance drug and alcohol policy, which expressly forbids any form of self-medicating -- including use of over-the-counter products -- without proper authorization. The incident sparked an outraged response from parents, and raised questions about school policy.


The drug in question was a generic version of Aleve. The honor-roll high school student who took it, and her friend who provided it were both suspended.

I post this because it is silly -- but also because of NOW and NARAL's take-no-prisoners demands that these same young women should be allowed an abortion without parental consent. Major surgery, fine. Aleve, no way.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:11 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

Argh! You beat me to it! I was going to do this and link to this rant!
http://pstupidonymous.blogspot.com/2005/01/abortion-weekend_25.html
I was going to make the same point! Ya bastaahd!

(good point, btw)

Posted by: AlexC at January 28, 2005 9:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not sure how to do this without sounding condescending so I'll just say up front that I'm not trying to be condescending.

Much as I agree with both of you that the PC "zero-tolerance" BS that has infected our public schools since Columbine is ludicrous, I have to disagree with your implied relationship with abortion-on-demand for minors. Your linkage of the two is contextless. The students would not be suspended for popping Aleve in a doctor's office, or a friend's house, or in the park, and NOBODY would demand their right to said abortions performed on school property.

"Zero-tolerance" of drugs and alcohol in schools is not the answer to school violence, but it is also certainly not an argument in favor of parental notification. If you want to debate that subject there are numerous better points to be made. (None that persuade me, I must disclose. It is MY job to know what my -3 week old daughter is up to, not the state's. Here's hoping she's not a Tribble!)

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2005 11:35 AM
But jk thinks:

No, It is not completely contradictory to have zero tolerance drugs on school grounds and lax rules for parental notification of abortion. But it does strain the mind to imagine those emanating from the same society, much less the same political subsection.

And, to run with your analogy, I'm not sure that the young lady would have been given an Aleve(r) in a doctor's office without parental consent.

Your comment was not condescending. I think that a parent has the right to raise a child that supersedes the right of the child to privacy. Do you disagree?

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2005 6:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You know me, JK. You know I place a high value on parental guidance. But what do we do when the parent fathered the teen daughter's unwanted child? Let the government decide? Maybe, but usually not my first choice.

I am convinced that the "militant anti-abortionists" use this as a wedge issue, subservient to their broader agenda.

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2005 3:56 AM
But jk thinks:

I think that the militant pro-abortionists use "her daddy fathered the child" as a wedge issue. I seem to remember Gov. Dean getting in trouble for claiming that that happened to him when it did not. If it were to happen, that is a special case that probably warrants something more life-changing than a surreptitious abortion.

I don't know that you and I are that far on abortion. But I still claim that the problem is Roe v. Wade. By making abortion a sacrosanct Constitutional right, the legislative branch lost the opportunity to make some common-sense regulations.

If it comes to a vote in Colorado (after Chief Justice Thomas overrules Roe v. Wade), I would vote for legal abortion but I would institute parental notification and ban D&X.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2005 10:17 AM

Ringing Freedom's Bell

... except they're not in Iraq.
They're in Australia and Michigan and Nashville and California and Washington.

    The Australian head of the Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program, Bernie Hogan, said a crowd of people was waiting outside the Fairfield centre when he arrived.

    "We had a line-up of probably 60 or 70 people at the front door at seven o'clock," he said.

    "They've been slowly but surely being processed and showing their registration certificates and casting their vote."

    Voting in Iraq's transitional national assembly elections will continue in Australia until 5pm (AEDT) on Sunday.

    Voting inside Iraq is scheduled for Sunday only.

    Voters are electing a national assembly that will appoint a provisional government, write a constitution and organise further elections.


....
    Joyful tears and frequent applause marked the start of U.S. voting Friday in Iraq's first independent elections in more than 50 years.

    Security was tight at the abandoned store-turned-polling place in this Detroit suburb, with guards checking IDs at the parking lot entrance and using metal detectors at the doors. Inside, an oversized, homemade Iraqi flag hung from the ceiling. One poll worker could be seen weeping.

    "We feel happy now. This is like America, this voting," said Zoha Yess, 64. "We want fair, good government."


Here's where you'll disagree with me.

I'm all for letting Iraq's freedom bell ring, but I'm not sure we should be ringing it from here or Australia, or anywhere else other than Iraq.

The 26,000 expatriates fled Iraq for better, greener pastures. American or Australian pastures. They're Americans now. They're Australians now. They're not recent Iraqis. No matter how much of a connection to the people they may have, they're not there.

Let the people in Iraq vote for their leaders.

Let the Iraqis vote for their Constitutional Congress, not Americans. The Iraqi people have an opportunity to turns things around for the better. The people on the ground know what they want. Let them vote. And only them.

The same idea applies for Poles who voted in Chicago a few years back during one of their elections.

Give them the bell, let them ring it.

But jk thinks:

I see your point. I have two reasons, however, to be glad that ex-pat Iraqis are voting.

First, they fled Tyranny. Unlike someone moving to Canada from the States or here from the UK, these people can keep their homeland and still choose to leave it.

Second is a pragmatic desire to have those who have seen functioning democracies in Australia, UK, and the USA contribute to the process. They might be metaphorical big brothers who can show the others how it is done (Iraqis from Washington State do not apply and should be disenfranchised).

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2005 5:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Um, just in King county Washington, JK. The non-urban remainder of the state is red, and only votes once per living registered individual.

Third, a great number of these expats would like to return to their homeland one day, either permanently or just to visit. This is another reason why they have a rational self-interest in the future of Iraq's government.

I think I understand your stance on this Alex. I too would prefer to see American expats in Europe barred from voting for ABB, but this is one of the drawbacks of our current democratic system where citizenship and enfranchisement is a birthright. It's one more reason why restricting citizenship to those who've earned it (military vets is the best measure I've yet seen) would be an improvement.

Posted by: johngalt at January 29, 2005 11:08 AM
But jk thinks:

Okay, but the State of Washington certified the fraudulent election and has therefore earned my opprobrium.

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2005 6:14 PM

FoxNews, Hell, they could use al-Jazeera!

Bret Stephens has a short piece in OpinionJournal's Political Diary today titled "Why Europe Can't Be World-Class: No Fox News"

DAVOS -- Iraqis go to the polls for the first time Sunday, by any measure a historic event for Iraq and the Arab World at large. But at the World Economic Forum taking place here this week, the subject barely rates a mention. Instead, the headliner themes are climate change and the plight of Africa.

Why? One reason is that Europe's agenda-setters have already written off Iraq's election as a failure. That, in turn, is a function of the news they watch and read. Roland Schatz, who runs the Bonn-based media-analysis company Media Tenor, says: "European media is trying to justify a longstanding bias that the war in Iraq was a mistake." The idea that something good could come of it is therefore anathema.

Media Tenor recently analyzed hundreds of news stories from "quality" print and broadcast sources in Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain. Conclusion: European media focused almost exclusively on security problems and low Sunni participation. Hardly any stories dealt with how Iraqis themselves felt about the elections, and none cast the election in a positive light.

Of course, it isn't really news that European media are unalterably hostile to the Bush administration. But here's a surprise: Mr. Schatz conducted a similar analysis of Arab media, including outlets such as Al Jazeera and the Hezbollah-run Al Manar. Conclusion: the Arab side, Mr. Schatz says, presented "much more diversity of opinion than European media, and a more relaxed position regarding the question of whether Iraq's elections will turn out well."


My UK and Irish friends would have better sentiments of the Iraqi War, then, if they watched al-Jazeera. I have had good conversations with bright people there, but I cannot really make my case because they see only a cartoonish caricature of President Bush and constant, constant, constant, negative reports from Iraq on the Beeb.

Even Rupert Murdoch's SkyNews is no better -- this sister station to Fox shares no familial resemblance. At least here, you can find differing views on FoxNews, or talk radio, or blogs. Over there, our greatest allies only have the Internet. It is no wonder that they have a poor perception of the Coalition efforts.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM

Iraqi Election News

For Fair and Balanced (© Rupert Murdoch) reports from the elections, may I recommend: Friends of Democracy a blog associated with the Spirit of America folks. Jim Hake says:

Spirit of America has been supporting Friends of Democracy in Iraq to provide a ground-level view of the election from the people and bloggers of Iraq. It seems that major media often focuses on the violence and terrorism. Given the historic nature of this election we think people deserve better. The goal is to offer a full picture of the elections from the perspective of Iraqis. There are lots of good reports already on the Friends of Democracy site at http://www.friendsofdemocracy.info. It is not "candy coated" - it includes good news and bad. Take a look now and make sure to check it on Sunday.

A report on the debates includes the line: "Corruption is a chandelier on which the others hang their mistakes." I am guessing that sounded better in Arabic...

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM

January 27, 2005

"Iran, Do as you will"

President Clinton, speaking in Davos.

    Former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged the Bush administration Thursday to stick to diplomacy to get Iran to abandon its nuclear program, which the United States and other countries fear is part of a plan to make nuclear weapons.

    Clinton also said that even if Iran developed such weapons, it would find it tough to use them.

    "If they ever use them, they'll be toast," the former U.S. president said in a freewheeling, 90-minute appearance at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.


Mr President, tell that to the people who will be toast first. He might as well have said that any hijackers who fly into buildings with American aircraft will be toast.
    He said that when the Israeli air force took out an Iraq nuclear plant in 1981, it successfully denied the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, the ability to manufacture nuclear arms.

    "I don't know if that option is now available" in Iran, said Clinton.

    "That was then. It is much more difficult now," he said, adding that today there are several nuclear powers in the region.


Israel did the world a favor 23 years ago. But if you keep saying "use diplomacy, to the exclusion of force" against Iran, it's not going to work.

Clintonesque third-way "diplomacy" did us a world of good in Iraq. It wasn't until we got boots on the ground nearby that we got a peek.
Even then, the Iraqis were still hoping diplomacy would stop the coalition of the willing.

Posted by AlexC at 11:01 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

Sorry I won't shut up about the Sharansky book. But his chapter on "moral clarity" and his indictment of appeasers were both the perfect descriptions or the opposition to the Iraq war

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2005 10:25 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And looking more closely at the 42nd president's stategy, he's advocating a policy that if (no, make that, when) it fails, will call for the wholesale slaughter of the entire Iranian population. Or does he mean something else when he says "If they [Iran] ever use them, they'll [Iran] be toast?"

What is Bill afraid of here? Not that his successor might actually succeed in protecting America, even for the duration of the short four years of his final term, but that 43's use of a more forceful strategy will reveal 42's approach for the empty, impotent, self-defeating farce that it was.

Posted by: johngalt at January 28, 2005 2:49 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, my wife's been wondering about you and the inauguration! :)

johngalt, he's worried about his legacy. He wants be remembered as a "statesman." Instead, he's stuck with the stain of his presidency. Pardon the pun.

Posted by: AlexC at January 28, 2005 3:12 PM
But jk thinks:

That's okay. My OWN wife has wondered about me since President Reagan was inaugurated...

Posted by: jk at January 28, 2005 5:08 PM

Mother Overjoyed - Bishop Repulsed

On Sunday, January 16, in a Bucharest hospital, 66-year-old Adriana Iliescu delivered her first child - a 3 pound, 3 ounce little girl named Eliza Maria. Though the infant was six weeks premature the mother is "more than happy" with her new daughter.

What a joyous occasion! Mother and baby are both "in good condition in intensive care." Everyone is overjoyed that the first-time mother's 9-year struggle to become pregnant finally came to fruition. Not so fast: "This case has shocked us all," said Bishop Ciprian Campineanul of the Orthodox Church. "This was a selfish act." It seems some reflection may be required to determine if one belongs to the "all" who are shocked or the "everyone" who is overjoyed.

The bishop pointed out that it isn't merely 66-year-old (or 57-year-old) mothers who act "selfishly" when they pursue in vitro fertilization. Clerics disagree in principle with the procedure whatever the woman's age. Why? This cleric didn't say. But how can it be "selfish" to give birth? Clearly, what the man of faith objects to is not the birth, but the conception. Everyone can thank NED that Romania's government is not a theocracy - or is it?

"There is no law in Romania stipulating a maximum age for artificial insemination. [However,] A draft law awaiting approval in parliament bans fertility treatment for women who are above the normal reproductive age." (emphasis mine)

It's a damn good thing. We certainly wouldn't want to see anyone else repeat such a "selfish" and "shocking" act.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

I assume that the mother is completely privately insured for the cost of the preemie care and has provided a financial trust to care for her child should she not live to raise her to adulthood?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 31, 2005 12:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Why? Are you insinuating that for the public to be saddled with the burden of caring for the child is in some way...immoral?

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2005 2:25 AM

January 26, 2005

Secretary Rice

I like this headline:

January 24, 2005
Dem. Strategists Slate 88 Year-Old Kleagle to Harangue Well-Loved Black Lady From Birmingham

MSM is obviously going to give Senator "Crazy old Aunt in The Attic" Byrd a pass on this. To be fair, they were going to give Senator "Insert favorite Lott jibe here" Lott a pass as well. But the blogosphere, led by Andrew Sullivan, would not let the story die.

I wouldn't mind breathing a little life into this story either. President Bush nominates the first female African-American Secretary of State. And his nominee is a brilliant person and passionate spokesperson for liberty.

If Senator Boxer wants to attack her, that's fair. Senator Kerry, go ahead. That will play to their constituents. But who's runnin' the D's PR? Byrd? Kennedy? (Taranto says when Senator Kennedy means to "sink a woman" the threat should be carefully considered...)

It's a shame that her nomination was not advised-and-consented in time for either the US or Ukraine Inaugurations, but -- like the Zarqawi tape -- I am glad to see somebody show their true colors.

So, I will show mine: Rice in 2008!

UPDATE: I was premature but accurate: Confirmed: 85 to 13

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM

About Those Debt Numbers

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page has a different view of the latest CBO figures.
All you really need to know about the latest Congressional Budget Office figures is contained in the nearby chart. The darker bars at the bottom measure the annual budget deficit as a share of the U.S. economy, showing that it will steadily decline throughout the rest of this decade. From 3.6% of GDP in the 2004 fiscal year, the deficit will fall steadily to an insignificant 0.5% of GDP in 2011, assuming continued economic growth.
There is no shortage of caveats with any future projections. This does not include war spending and the new Medicare drug bill and we would have to see some government restraint on spending. But this does put the current situation into perspective.
   
Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:48 AM

Ayn

A bit of a biography of JohnGalt's favorite author.

But jk thinks:

My favorite Ayn Rand story: I stayed at a friend's house and left my copy of "Atlas Shrugged" out. My friend's new-dealer father read it in one sitting and asked me "Who wrote that, James Watt's Mother?"

I, conversely, was quite taken and credit her writings and President Reagan's "New Federalism" speech with bringing me into the conservative fold. But man, I wish I could read 1000 pages in one evening...

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2005 12:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As you would expect from JohnGalt, this column taught me more about Andrew Stuttaford than about the woman who's "strangely" important life he wrote about. Like the fact that he surmises Rand's creed as "ego and laissez-faire" instead of "Objective Reality, Reason, Self-Interest and Capitalism" as she so famously summarized it herself. And the terms he uses to describe the woman and her ideas: creepy, harangue(r), cult, propaganda, "somehow" enduring.

It isn't clear how much Rand the good Mr. Stuttaford has read, (whether by accident or ignorance he misspelled Nathaniel Branden's name) but it's certainly clear he didn't fully grasp the enormous importance of her work. Or, perhaps he did and he's merely hostile to the idea of rational self-interest and its natural place as the underpinning of liberty.

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2005 4:18 PM

War For Freedom

Jonah Goldberg points out that, in spite of what Richard Cohen or Pat Buchanan says, the recent statements of al-Zarqawi prove that the war is a fight for freedom.

In short, the notion that America is in a war for freedom over tyranny has elicited bipartisan snickering and guffawing. In the wake of Bush's inaugural, the chorus of complaints intensified. And understandably so, given the fact that his address was the most forceful articulation of his "freedom" vision to date.

But before the cackles could reach their crescendo, the naysayers hit an inconvenient snag. Musab al-Zarqawi, the "prince" of al Qaeda in Iraq, appointed by Osama Bin Laden, came out and agreed with President Bush. "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," Zarqawi declared in a statement. "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God."

You can almost hear Cohen and Buchanan snapping their pencils "Darn it, stop stepping on my message!"


I drove to work today behind a car that had a bumper sicker inside the back window. The first line "The War on Iraq" was clearly visible through the defrosted region of the glass but the second line (certainly a snarky-anti-Bush, anti-War comment) was obscured by ice. I laughed in my car, "Man, I thought I was a supporter! This guy has a 'War on Iraq' bumper sticker..."

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM

johngalt bio

"I will stop the motor of the world!"

Well, maybe not, but I endorse the idea. I was reticent about adopting this literary moniker as my blog identity, but concluded it was appropriate as long as the opinions I professed always adhered to Galt's philosophy: "I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values." ... "I will not sacrifice myself for others, nor ask another to sacrifice himself for me." And this is exactly my philosophy so it's been a natural process.

Real Identity: (deleted to protect himself from others who insist upon anonymity) - 41. I am an engineer/amateur farmer and horseman living in the Platte river valley in Colorado with my wife of 2 years and a baby girl on the way. My wife occasionally comments on the blog under the pen name "dagny." We sacrifice ourselves for no one and ask no one to sacrifice for us. We have named our home "Atlantis Farm."

On Blogging: I call attention to the philosophical roots of current events. For example, the natural human tendency toward compassion and kindness to others has been perverted by the anti-life morality of altruism, which values the most worthless members of humanity while sneering at the achievers amongst us and loots the fruits of their labor for all manner of otherwise unsustainable programs. My blogging is less prolific than I would like, primarily due to time constraints.

On Politics: A large portion of modern liberals are insane and ultimately suicidal. They don't want to advance the cause of humanity, but to punish any man they consider to be "too rich." Modern conservatives, or "traditionalists" as O'Reilly calls them, place too much value on a code of morality transcribed by intellectuals thousands of years ago in the name of a non-existent deity. Neither camp embraces the idea that man's greatness comes from his cognitive mind, and that his life is a possession of no one but himself. That is the meaning of liberty as the preeminent right of the American people as specified by America's founders. This right is a product of man's nature and ability, notwithstanding the founder's reference to "his creator" as the source of this right of man. In other words, who is a better judge of a man's best interests than himself?

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:14 AM

January 25, 2005

The Inaugural Speech III

"Iranian's Cheer Massively Mr. Bush's Inaugural Address" reads the headline at SMCCDI. In other words, the audience for this speech was the Iranian democracy movement -- and they got it!

Reports from across Iran are stating about the massive welcoming of President George W. Bush's inaugural speech and his promise of helping to bring down the last outposts of tyranny.

Millions of Iranians have been reported as having stayed home, on Thursday night which is their usual W.end and outgoing night, in order to see or hear the Presidential speech and the comments made by the Los Angeles based Iranian satellite TV and radio networks, such as, NITV or KRSI.

The speech and its package of hope have been, since late yesterday night and this morning, the main topics of most Iranians' conversations during their familial and friendly gatherings, in the collective taxis and buses, as well as, among groups of young Iranians who gather outside the cities on the Fridays.

Many were seen showing the " V " sign or their raised fists. Talks were focused on steps that need to be taken in order to use the first time ever favorable International condition.


I have my last Orange shirt on today for the Ukrainian inauguration, but as a commenter on Pejmanesque says:
It is already being planned.

There is a massive hajj taken to Najaf by perhaps 1 million Shiite Iranians every year. Next year, or perhaps the year after, a million extra Shiites are going to come back with them and together the free Iraqis and enslaved Iranians will stage a massive sit-in. It will be a no-win situation for the mullahs: crush the dissidents, and the US will step in with broad international support and overthrow them; do nothing, and the dissidents will take over.

It will be the Orange Revolution all over again.

Iranians have the internet. They saw what happened in Ukraine when the people stood up for democracy. They heard Bush's speech. They want freedom.


Let Freedom Reign!

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM

January 24, 2005

The Inaugural Speech II

I finished Sharansky's book on Saturday and I considered myself fortunate to be in the middle of it during President Bush's second inaugural address. It is clearly a source. LyingInPonds notes the similarity:

I finally had the chance to view President Bush's Second Inaugural Address, this evening, and I was struck by how familiar it was.

This familiarity was a good thing. The speech (at least, the foreign policy aspect) was clearly based on a book that I recently read, and one that I know President Bush read in the last few months: Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror.


Jim Geraghty says "I think that speech is going to do wonders for Natan Sharansky's book sales." But he also points out something:
Still, this speech is being intensely analyzed and discussed far beyond the Beltway - in Pyongyang, Riyadh, Tehran, and in other unfriendly foreign capitals. While some conservatives might have a quibble or a question or two, this speech will be despised by all the right people.

Amen. I'm very sorry that Frum, Noonan, and a lot of speechwriters that I trust did not like it. I enjoyed reading it better than hearing it (My President is not the best orator...) but I thought that it was important, that democrats in Tehran would be passing it around their jail cells. That it would make the right enemies.

I heard on FoxNewsSunday that it may have made the right friends. Bill Kristol told that Sharansky himself had watched the speech, that the tough man's voice broke a little as he said "I only wish Sakharov were alive to hear an American President give this speech."

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM

The Freedom Engine

... is working abroad.

    - With $2.3 million from USAID, the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) began providing emergency services to victims, including shelter, water, food and medical services.

    - With $3.5 million from USAID, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) began transporting and delivering relief supplies (water, food, plastic sheeting, generators, fuel and medical supplies).

    - Embassy staff in Jakarta, Banda Aceh and Medan are coordinating with the U.S. Military on logistics, especially to prioritize the delivery of relief items. TNI (Indonesian military) are assisting in loading relief planes and are accompanying U.S. helicopter sorties and trucks delivering relief supplies.

    - On average we have four C-130 aircraft/day airlifting support to Jakarta, Medan and Banda Aceh for transport of relief supplies, including shelter, water, food and medical services.

    - Eleven USN ships and one USCG vessel are operating near Indonesia and supporting the relief work there.

    - Thirty-eight American helicopters are delivering supplies (16 from USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN Carrier Group; 22 from the USS BONHOMME RICHARD Expeditionary Group; another 4 are on the way from the USS FORT MCHENRY). The USS BONHOMME RICHARD is ferrying supplies to shore via amphibious landing craft (LCACs).

    - U.S. Navy/Marine pilots have flown 600 humanitarian missions.

    - Water-production facilities are being established working with the Indonesian government.

    - The Combined Support Group - Indonesia has flown 1,056 sorties to deliver 1,447,700 lbs of food, 989,200 lbs of water and 1,067,800 lbs of medical supplies, and evacuate 420 Indonesian tsunami victims. CSG-I has delivered more than 3 million pounds of material to tsunami survivors.

    - Some 8000 Marines and Sailors are assisting in this relief effort.

    - The majority of U.S. service members are “afloat”. Approximately 200 personnel on the ground in Indonesia.

    - To aid reconnaissance and humanitarian relief planning, the US has flown P-3 aircraft, which provide real time imaging and damage assessment of the hardest hit areas.

    - With USAID support, 220 IOM trucks are distributing relief supplies in and near Banda Aceh and Meulaboh. [Note: Despite UN attempts to claim IOM as one of its "agencies," IOM is an NGO, which in Indonesia receives the overwhelming bulk of its funds from the USG.]

    - With USAID support, CARE is working with 30 centers at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps to prevent needless deaths-- especially of mothers and children. They have trained 40 volunteers on basic primary health care and education, and provided information regarding safe water systems (SWS) and the importance of SWS for staying healthy. USAID/CARE has provided hygiene improvement kits to 30,000 IDPs. SWS and hygiene kits are being distributed in 96 IDP camps in Banda Aceh, Aceh Besar, and Aceh Jaya.

    - 70,080 bottles of Safe Water System (SWS), a home water chlorination kit pioneered by the US Centers for Disease Control (USCDC), have been provided by USAID. One capful purifies about 20 liters of water (5-6 gallons.) [Note: it tastes lousy, but it's safe.]

    - The USG provides 16,400 metric tons of food daily to victims.

    - 40,000 liters of USG-purchased UHT milk packed in school packs for children has been airlifted from Jakarta.

    - The USS Abraham Lincoln is supplying thousands of families with potable water.

    - Two USAID-chartered planes have delivered thousands of water containers, jerry cans, and other relief supplies to Medan, including plastic sheeting to shelter over 5,000 families.

    - USAID-funded partners are providing hundreds of generators, refrigerators for medicines, communications equipment and basic emergency and shelter kits for families, temporary water and sanitation facilities, trauma counseling, clean up and access to other basic services.

    - USAID approved nearly $300,000 to International Medical Corps (IMC) for 25 to 30 medical personnel and logistics coordinators to provide emergency services in Aceh.

    - USAID provided $250,000 to the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) to establish a sentinel health surveillance system for tsunami-affected areas of Aceh and Northern Sumatra provinces. [Note: WHO personnel are being flown around the region by US helicopters.]

    - USAID provided $579,000 to establish a US Navy "WHO Reference diagnostic laboratory" in Banda Aceh to diagnose diseases posing the greatest risks: cholera, malaria, dengue, Hep A &E and others.

    - USAID provided $1.5 million to UNICEF for child protection activities in Aceh Province.

    - USAID provided $5 million to Development Alternatives, Inc. for immediate rehabilitation interventions, such as focused cash-for-work clean-up programs, short-term employment schemes, and community-based, small social infrastructure activities.

    - USAID awarded four grants, using $2 million in emergency funds immediately after the tsunami: $249,985 to World Vision for shelter and household kits, $285,428 to International Relief and Development (IRD) for water and sanitation; $254,023 to Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO) for maternal and child health activities, and $292,060 to Mercy Corps for emergency response activities.

    - As part of the contribution to UNHCR’s regional appeal, USAID designated $2 million for emergency shelter programs in Indonesia.

    - USAID provided $2 million to IMC for mobile health units, rehabilitation of local health clinics, malaria control, and psychosocial support in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.

    U.S Private Sector support:

    - American corporations have been quick to help, especially those based in the region. According to the American Chamber, "American companies and their employees with offices in Indonesia, have so far contributed in excess of $97 million in cash, products and services toward earthquake/tsunami relief and reconstruction."

    - The American people have responded. It is difficult to tabulate private contributions, however the most recent estimates put private contributions by the U.S. public at large at over $325 million for the region.

But jk thinks:

And the engine started swiftly because of a Hayekian, decentralized structure. TCS has a good article from a Swedish think tank that points out how the Swedish government was too centralised to respond quickly: http://www.techcentralstation.com/012405C.html

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2005 1:23 PM
But AlexC thinks:

A lot to be said for decentralization. That's why I think that while the upcoming Iraqi election is a great milestone, the most unreported story is that local elections have been on going for quite sometime!
Federalism kicks ass.

Posted by: AlexC at January 24, 2005 1:46 PM

Supply Side In Action

Economists think themselves rational and scientific, but so many become so involved in political agendas that the science does not follow the rules of the traditional "hard sciences."

We have more than a hundred years of economic data. You can do regression on the data and see what policies have worked and which are a fluke -- that is if you really want to see.

Time and again, tax cuts have lead to economic growth and concomitant gains in tax revenue. That's predicted by my hero, Professor Art Laffer. The WSJ Ed Page notes today (paid site, sorry!) that the previous cut in Capital Gains rates has, yet again, proven Dr. Laffer right:

Some people continue to believe, or at least still assert, that tax rates don't influence taxpayer behavior all that much. We therefore direct their attention to the Treasury Department's latest historical data on revenues from taxes on capital gains.

The numbers look like a 25-year demonstration of the Laffer Curve in action. Taxes paid on capital gains have been highly responsive to the maximum capital gains tax rate. Especially notable is how, over the years, capital gains realizations and the taxes paid on those gains have tended to increase in the years following a cut in the capital gains tax rate.

The reductions highlighted in the chart include the famous William Steiger tax rate cut that passed Congress in late 1978 over Jimmy Carter's objections, the Reagan tax cut passed in 1981, and the cut that was part of the Clinton-Gingrich balanced budget deal of 1997. All of those reductions caused taxpayers to cash in more of their gains and thus yielded revenue windfalls for the federal Treasury in succeeding years.

On the other hand, the capital gains tax increase of 1986 -- which moved the rate back up to 28% from 20% -- proved to be a revenue disaster. Taxes paid on long-term capital gains (those typically held longer than one year) fell off a cliff to $33.7 billion in 1987 from $52.9 billion a year earlier. And they stayed at close to that mediocre lower level for nearly another decade. In other words, higher rates didn't do anyone any good, not even the politicians who thought they'd be getting more tax revenue to spend.


Compare this to "Ruebenomics" which dictates that if we raise taxes enough to pay off the deficit, that will lower interest rates and spark a boom, like it did in the 1990s.

Side note: this dot-commer would do anything to bring back the 90s. I am reading Dinesh D"Souza's "Virtue of Prosperity" which chronicles the rise of Yahoo and Sun and Silicon Valley dotcom fever. Never has a four year old book seemed so dated.

Though that was a fun time to be a computer programmer, few economists will admit that there is zero historical correlation between government debt and interest rates. Yet there is a half-century of direct correlation between lower marginal tax rates and prosperity. "Who you gonna believe, say the Reubenomics boys. Me or your lyin' eyes?":

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM

January 21, 2005

Courage

As Alex points out below, the elections in Iraq are on schedule and the population seems very interested. I don't think any of us think it will be pretty but I, too, predict good turnout. And they can't screw it up any worse than Washington State, right?

I want to commend the candidates, workers, and voters, who are all standing up for their democratic rights -- at literal mortal peril. We have much to teach but much to learn about freedom.

Taranto, at Best of the Web, highlights two stories in the United States where people are too afraid of terrorism to allow votes. I repeat, these are in the USA: Illinois and Tennessee:

Groups want Iraqi voting moved

A prominent local Catholic priest is supporting a movement of businesses and churches who are demanding that city leaders move one of the Nashville polling sites in the upcoming Iraq elections.


And in Illinois:
Suburban village tells Iraq election group to leave

NILES -- An organization assisting in voter registration for the upcoming Iraqi elections left their headquarters Thursday in this suburb north of Chicago after village officials expressed security concerns, officials said.

The International Organization for Migration said Niles officials told the group they had concerns that the building could be a target for violence. The organization plans to move its administrative operations to the northwest side of Chicago.

"We are having to move our offices, and we are moving to continue serving the Iraqi community in the best possible way," said Oliver Vick, head of the organization's Chicago office. Vick said the move was involuntary.


After our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and guardsmen risked their lives for this, these suburbanites are "uncomfortable." I am rarely ashamed to be an American, but I am ashamed of sharing a country with these. Taranto asks "What kind of people are so pathetic and cowardly?"

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 3:57 PM

Election Optimism

Freshly liberated Iraqis head to the polls in nine days. As it the election year custom in our nation, a new one is trying to start itself in Iraq.
Election polling.

    An overwhelming majority of Iraqis continue to say they intend to vote on Jan. 30 even as insurgents press attacks aimed at rendering the elections a failure, according to a new public opinion survey.

    The poll, conducted in late December and early January for the International Republican Institute, found 80 percent of respondents saying they were likely to vote, a rate that has held roughly steady for months.


First Afghanistan, next Iraq.
    "I think the real story of this election is what's gone on beneath the radar," the [anonymous] official said. "They may not know what they're voting for. But I think they recognize it's something called democracy."

I would add voting for freedom and standing up against oppression to the statement.

Freedom on the March Posted by AlexC at 1:06 PM

Losing a Great One at FCC

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page breaks some bad news today:

Michael Powell, one of Washington's better bureaucrats, is calling it quits today after four years at the helm of the Federal Communications Commission. You read it here first.
[...]
Mr. Powell's deregulatory instincts led him to make broadband development and deployment a priority. By declaring cable modem an "information service" in 2002, the FCC was able to block efforts to apply the entire telephone regulation boondoggle to new broadband technologies. Last November, the FCC accomplished a similar goal with respect to VOIP, which enables consumers to make phone calls over the Internet.

Powell is a true free market force in Government. I wrote an essay on his contributions to the public sector. I wish him good luck on new challenges but he will be sorely missed at the FCC.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 AM

January 20, 2005

The Inaugural Speech

Hugh Hewitt pulls out a great quote from today's speech:

"From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"

I was excited to launch this blog on the day of President Bush's second inauguration. The name of this blog and the heart of the speech are both Sharansky's book.

Did our character give credit to the cause? The transformative effects of freedom and democracy is at the heart of this blog and the second Bush term.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 PM

Stalin World

    You may have thought Disneyland and Stalin-era mass deportations had nothing in common. They do now—thanks to enterprising Lithuanian Viliumas Malinauskas. The 60-year-old canned mushroom mogul recently opened an odd-ball park that mimics a Soviet prison camp. The facility—part amusement park, part open air museum—is circled by barbed wire and guard towers, and dotted with some 65 bronze and granite statues of former Soviet leaders Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, and assorted communist VIPs.      

    Organizers say it’s the first and only Soviet theme park in the world. Officially, the 30-hectare complex is called the Soviet Sculpture Garden at Grutas Park. But residents of the nearby village of Grutas have dubbed it Stalin World—a name that’s stuck.        

    During a recent gala opening, thousands of invited guests were greeted at the gate by an actor dressed as Stalin; a Lenin look-a-like, complete with a goatee and cap, sat fishing by a nearby pond. Guests were invited to drink shots of vodka and eat cold borscht soup from tin bowls, while loud speakers blared old communist hymns. Nearby, red Soviet propaganda posters read: “There’s No Happier Youth in the World Than Soviet Youth!”       

    “It combines the charms of a Disneyland with the worst of the Soviet gulag prison camp,” Malinauskas told assembled journalists, including a handful from abroad who’d flown in to report on the bizarre spectacle. 

Perhaps this is the next logical step in Che chic? (tip to RachaelC)
On the web Posted by AlexC at 8:51 PM

AlexC Bio

Real Identity: Alex Charyna, 27 year old child of immigrants. Live in Pennsylvania, work for big oil in Alaska. No, I don't know Dick Cheney.
Lovely wife of two years, nine months, and a daughter that turns two this weekend. Yeah, we're Catholic.

On Blogging: I do it, I suppose. On my other blog pstupidonymous. My hope is that this blog will become a clearing house of discussing freedom and liberty issues. Pstupidonymous will hang out as my local and state blog. I'll cross post as appopriate.

On Politics: I'm a libertarian conservative registered as a Republican. What does that mean? It means government's role domestically is to get out of our way, while spreading freedom and liberty abroad.
I'm also involved with the Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania as the Chairman of the Montgomery County chapter.
Libertarian conservatism will become clearer to long time readers.

Posted by AlexC at 4:45 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Michelle Hanson thinks:

I'm married, 3 kids, nurse, 39, Catholic, Republican. I'm still not clear on what a libertaran is.. I'll have to reseach more. I'm following you from pstupidmyous where you are fairly amusing (like today's little poem) and always entertaining. Let's see where this goes in the great cosmos of blogdom...

Posted by: Michelle Hanson at January 20, 2005 6:01 PM

jk Bio

Welcome to ThreeSources.com! This is an exciting project for me. I look forward to blogging with folks that I agree with frequently, and disagree with frequently. Fun.

Real Identity: John Kranz. "jk" is a nickname and a stage name. I invite you to check out Berkeley Square's web page. I am the guy with the guitar but subtract 70 pounds for a more current look. Buy a CD if you like jazz standards, the new one is pretty good!

Lafayette is in very blue Boulder County in the Red state of Colorado. I work in Boulder, rubbing elbows with the Che Guevara t-shirt crowd.

On blogging: There’s a great line in George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s “You Can’t Take It With You.” From memory it goes something like this: “Your father raises orchids because he can – my mom writes plays because a typewriter was delivered here by mistake several years ago.” I set up a blog to try and sell a web design to somebody. I didn’t sell the design, but I didn’t stop blogging. My "Berkeley Square Blog" lasted just under two years, now I have set up shop here at ThreeSources.com.

I am intrigued with business, markets and economics -- and especially their effect on lifestyle. I like a lot of stuff, but am especially partial to the writings of Larry Kudlow, Virginia Postrel, and Susan Lee.

On Politics: Milton Friedman said it best: " I'm, a little-l libertarian and a big-R Republican. I want liberty for myself and don't mind trading some property to finance the advancement of Freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and North Korea. I'm not socially conservative. Glenn Reynolds famously did not say "I'd be delighted to live in a country where happily married gay couples had closets full of assault weapons," but I share that sentiment.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:56 PM | What do you think? [3]
But sugarchuck thinks:

It looks as if folks are introducing themselves, so as not to be out done, I'll do likewise. I'm Sugarchuck, married, 3 daughters, Big R Republican and living in the People's Republic of Minnesota, though, as a state, we are moving towards the red. I want to wish the good folks running this blog all the best. I came over from Berkeley Square and I must confess that I'll miss the jazz and guitar, but look forward to right wing politics as per usual. Perhaps my befuddlement over libertarians will be lessened through reading the various posts here. God Bless and Good Luck!

Posted by: sugarchuck at January 20, 2005 11:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't know that jazz and guitars will be forbidden around here!

Posted by: jk at January 21, 2005 12:07 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

As Sugarchuck says, introductions seem to be in order so I will jump in as well having followed the esteemed JK over from Berkeley Square. I am 39, married 15 years, two daughters and will stay with the moniker Silence Dogood in honor of my favorite of the founding fathers Ben Franklin, and to hide my true identity in case I ever decide to run for public office and need to deny any comments made here. I was the resident liberal at Berkeley Square, but after a year and a half am well used to being outnumbered. As JK says though we probably agree on 90% of political issues even though we probably have never voted for the same candidate.

I a socially liberal, whatever floats your boat basically, as long as you leave my boat alone. On fiscal matters however I tend toward the conservative or at least pragmatic side. Social programs first and foremost need to work efficiently, which alas most of ours don't. Libertarianism has always seemed to me a good concept but hard to put into practice but I look forward to becoming more educated about their ideas. I am not a big fan of "bringing" democracy to the world as I believe that a democracy is incredibly hard work (much easier to have a despot) and that the people of a nation contemplating it have to want it more than anything, even religious beliefs or ancient customs. I am not sure it is something that can be given as a gift. That said, I do believe it is the best form of government, and its partner capitalism is the best way to bring freedom and happiness to people.

And so, Blog On! I am sure I will enjoy being forced to question my beliefs by sharp writing here and hope to be up to the challenge of providing an occasional counterpoint.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 21, 2005 10:47 AM

Condi!

Larry Kudlow points out that the reports of Dr. Rice's diplomacy that focus on fence-mending with Old Europe are only half right.

As more of the story emerges, it appears that Condi Rice's "public diplomacy" involves more than just fence-mending with France and Germany -- she is very serious about advancing Bush's vision of the transformative power of democracy as the best solution to our problems in Iraq and elsewhere. She, too, is a believer in Natan Sharansky's "town square" test.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM

January 19, 2005

Brass Monkey Weather

 

AlexC is currently raping the environmnent working in Alaska at the Kuparuk River oilfield, operated by ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. See Map for location.

He sends a QuickTime video of his throwing a glass of hot water into the air at -35F.

Alex says: " We're making about 200,000 barrels of oil per day. Dig it."

Alaska Map

 

Posted by John Kranz at 4:05 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Brrrr!

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2005 3:37 PM

The Dumbest Idea



 

I am always happy to meet a progressive who pays attention, has a grasp of issues and can define his or her intellectual philosophy. I went to lunch with an old friend who fits that bill. Unfortunately, in catching up we had little time for politics.

Now that I have established some credibility for managing opposition, I want to rant a moment on a "protest" that is so insanely stupid that it makes me angry.

Once again, the Naderites of this great nation are declaring "Don't Spend a Dime Day." This time, it is to protest the war and is set to coincide with Inauguration Day.

"On 'Not One Damn Dime Day' those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending."


Funny, it seems that we just had an opportunity to speak. It was called an election. And those who opposed the war and consumerism could vote for Mr. Ralph Nader. And, about nobody did -- give or take some.

The same folks are now dreaming of empty Wal*Marts, and a whole nation saying "What Happened?"

On what level is this not insane? All these people are going to heat their home, eat food, burn gas, and consume normally. They are just choosing not to replenish on that day. Even if effective, they wouldn't influence any suppliers, all of whom certainly look at weekly, monthly and quarterly sales.

So, they have nothing to win. They can't really make a point. Their only choice is to lose: be even more ineffectual than in the election.

And there's where we can help. I am going to gas up both my cars, eat every meal out, and my lovely wife is planning to join me downtown for a shopping trip, right in the belly of the beast, Boulder Colorado.

Some have suggested wearing a dollar ribbon. Instructions for "rolling your own" can be found at http://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/lewisandclark/dollarribbon.html

If you want a more cogent critique of "Not One Dime Day," let me recommend Tech Central Station.

You mention the five freedoms our country was founded on, and I agree with them if you are counting those freedoms as found in the First Amendment-although I count six. If you mean the freedoms as enumerated by FDR, there were four, and, of course, he looked "forward to a world founded upon" them. I pause to note none of these freedoms existed in Iraq before the U.S. liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Now they are beginning to.

You also cite the preamble to our Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…."

Why do we think all of these foregoing treasures belong only to Americans? When we see an oppressed and immiserated people, should we not do our best to liberate them? Is this not why, for example, so many looked to the U.S. after the Asian Tsunami and why, for further example, we have 13,000 U.S. troops there now? A mere 2,000 less troops than we have in Afghanistan?


Thursday -- TiVo the Inauguration and shop 'till you drop! Our very democracy may depend on it!


But jk thinks:

Between mollie's birthday in Minnesota (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!) and my wife's new Nintendo DS(r) I think the ThreeSources blog team is doing its part!

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2005 8:05 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Tivo it so I don't miss the suprise ending?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 21, 2005 11:27 AM

New Jib Jab

 

I can't say that I like it as well as "This Land is Your Land," but the new JibJab is well worth a look/listen (It's a five meg download, but W's banjo playing during the d/l is strangely comprelling..

Give it a look.

 

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 2:50 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)