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March 31, 2005
Giving W his Due
If George W. Bush were to discover a cure for cancer, his critics would denounce him for having done it unilaterally, without adequate consultation, with a crude disregard for the sensibilities of others. He pursued his goal obstinately, they would say, without filtering his thoughts through the medical research establishment. And he didn't share his research with competing labs and thus caused resentment among other scientists who didn't have the resources or the bold--perhaps even somewhat reckless--instincts to pursue the task as he did. And he completely ignored the World Health Organization, showing his contempt for international institutions. Anyway, a cure for cancer is all fine and nice, but what about aids?
Weekly Standard? National Review? A new Ann Coulter Column? Nope Martin Peretz's The Politics of Churlishness
in TNR. Subtitled "Giving George W. Bush his due on Democracy."
I don't know if it gets better from there, but it holds the tone throughout:
So the situation is certainly complex. But complexity is not a warrant for despair. The significant fact is that Bush's obsession with the democratization of the region is working. Have Democrats begun to wonder how it came to pass that this noble cause became the work of Republicans? They should wonder if they care to regain power. They should recall that Clinton (and the sanctimonious Jimmy Carter even more so) had absolutely no interest in trying to modify the harsh political character of the Arab world. What they aspired to do was to mollify the dictators--to prefer the furthering of the peace process to the furthering of the conditions that make peace possible. The Democrats were the ones who were always elevating Arafat. He was at the very center of their road map. After he stalked out of a meeting room in Paris during cease-fire talks in late 2000, Albright actually ran in breathless pursuit to lure him back. It was the Democrats who perpetuated Arafat's demonic sway over the Palestinians, and it was the Democrats who sustained him among the other Arabs. And so the cause of Arab democracy was left for the Republicans to pursue. After September 11, the cause became a matter also of U.S. national security.
It has been heartening, in recent months, to watch some Democratic senators searching for ways out of the politics of churlishness. Some liberals appear to have understood that history is moving swiftly and in a good direction, and that history has no time for their old and mistaken suspicion of American power in the service of American values. One does not have to admire a lot about George W. Bush to admire what he has so far wrought. One need only be a thoughtful American with an interest in proliferating liberalism around the world. And, if liberals are unwilling to proliferate liberalism, then conservatives will. Rarely has there been a sweeter irony.
Strong medicine for the Democrats again from TNR. Will they take it or will they hide the pills in the drawer?
Posted by John Kranz at 7:48 PM
I cannot clear from my mind the term "South Park Republicans." Stephen Stanton credits the term's coinage to Andrew Sullivan, but has written the most comprehensive exegeses on the species in TCS.
His first column asked how the GOP could do so well in elections if only a group of stodgy old rich evangelical white millionaires voted for them:
The answer could very well be the "South Park Republicans." The name stems from the primetime cartoon "South Park" that clearly demonstrates the contrast within the party. The show is widely condemned by some moralists, including members of the Christian right. Yet in spite of its coarse language and base humor, the show persuasively communicates the Republican position on many issues, including hate crime legislation ("a savage hypocrisy"), radical environmentalism, and rampant litigation by ambitious trial lawyers. In one episode, industrious gnomes pick apart myopic anti-corporate rhetoric and teach the main characters about the benefits of capitalism.
South Park Republicans are true Republicans, though they do not look or act like Pat Robertson. They believe in liberty, not conformity. They can enjoy watching The Sopranos even if they are New Jersey Italians. They can appreciate the tight abs of Britney Spears or Brad Pitt without worrying about the nation's decaying moral fiber. They strongly believe in liberty, personal responsibility, limited government, and free markets. However, they do not live by the edicts of political correctness.
I suspected I fell into this taxonomy, so I started watching the show. I find it humorous but (pardon the pun) one-dimensional. It's funny but it's only funny. Buffy,
by comparison, is artful, thought-provoking, dramatic and funny. But South Park is REALLY funny!
Last night's episode really blew me away. It was well crafted. A tight plot with two well-integrated sub plots: Kenny's selection to lead heaven's army based on his performance in a video game, and Kenny's drifting between heaven and earth as other, disinterested parties fought over his feeding tube.
How did they get this out so quickly? I expect even some hard-to-offend South Park folks may be offended. It was irreverent.
But it was good. The Archangel Michael, who swears like Patton at every setback, is an image that has kept me laughing all day.
Last night clears up their politics for me. They are even more libertarian than Stanton allows. They take a great whack at Republicans ("Satan, the forces of heaven have a Keanu Reeves, what shall we do?" "What we always do: we'll use the Republicans!")
What I liked was that they make of Republicans for what they are and for what I make fun of them for. Hollywood movies and network sitcoms ridicule a straw man Republican that I don't recognize, and I'm not sure exists. But the GOP officials in last night's South Park definitely exist.
Am I a South Park Republican? (Well, Terry, labels can be so constricting...) yeah, I guess I am.
Great post JK! Maybe it'll even convince Dagny to let me watch SP in her presence. Got my fingers crossed!
That latest SP episode was great. No matter how stand on the Schiavo matter, allying Cartman with Heaven and the rest of South Park with Hell was a clever way of offending everyone at somelevel.
They get them out so fast because it's no longer animated with construction paper cut outs like the first season was. It's all CG. And they're fast.
Here's some info.
March 29, 2005
Instead of a wave of Terri's Laws that will introduce government intrusion into private family decisions, The Wall Street Journal suggests Kianna's Law, for Kianna Karnes, who died at the age of 44 from kidney cancer. She was denied any chance at clinical trials because our beloved FDA has a public to protect.
After her write-up in the Journal, the drug manufacturers and the FDA called to help. But...
But isn't it a national scandal that cancer sufferers should have to be written about in The Wall Street Journal to be offered legal access to emerging therapies once they've run out of other options?
The FDA's oncology division has proven to be essentially incorrigible on this point in recent years, so it's time for Congressional action mandating that the agency use 21st-century science and statistical methods to get these therapies to patients sooner. More specifically, drug approvals could be based on large trials open to all comers and analyzed with so-called Bayesian statistics, as already happens in the FDA's medical device division. (Yes, the agency at least recognizes that studies involving, say, "placebo" defibrillators would be beyond the pale.)
Mrs. Karnes's father John Rowe -- himself a leukemia survivor -- plans intense Congressional lobbying in the coming weeks, and he's had some interest from Congressman Dan Burton's (R., Indiana) office in the possibility of sponsoring a "Kianna's Law." No doubt there will be others willing to sign on.
Terri Schiavo was well served by the law. She got multiple chances for redress, and in the end got what her husband said she wanted. Kianna Karnes received no chances at what she clearly wanted -- to purchase drugs that might save her life.
Yes, interesting that we can allow (in some states) access to marijuana for medical purposes but not unapproved drug therapies. To my knowledge marijuana has never passed any FDA approval testing.
You'll get me started on another rant if you're not careful. Although 11 states have passed Medical Marijuana statutes, the feds will still not allow it. In California, they throw terminal cancer patients in jail for using the only thing that brings them relief.
I don't believe the government has any business restricting marijuana use any more than it does alcohol, which is to say - apply the current alcohol laws, don't abolish them all for both substances.
However, I sympathize with the conviction that so-called "medical marijuana" is a canard to get the drug legalized by deadbeat low-lifes.
I'd support this compromise: Marijuana can be legally sold at regulated stores (like liquor stores) but only to people over 21 AND ... clean shaven with a neat haircut, no odious personal odors and closed shoes of some kind. And any straight-laced proxy buyers caught aiding the sandal wearers would be prosecuted for felony mischief.
Okay, I'll contravene my libertarian ideals to go with your dress code requirements.
I am in favor of BOTH legalization and medical, although I don't think of one as a loss-leader.
I am gonna try to convert you, though, jg. Even if you do not believe in the efficacy of doobage for pain management, do you really approve of the gub'mint telling an MS or terminal cancer patient that they cannot even try it?
I have read of terminal cancer patients thrown in jail, because that is all that works for them (this is in National Review, not Rolling Stone or High Times). And, in the MS world, it is very popular. If 11 states' voters say they think people should get this chance, why is it the Fed's job to meddle? Tenth Amendment anybody? Federalism? If you can't allow Interstate Commerce, I suppose they can grow it locally.
No, I'm honestly with ya on this JK. Ward Churchill's just got my dander up at the moment.
The drinking age should be abolished as well.
The US Medical System
That is, the much maligned U.S. Medical system. You'd have to be an idiot to say that it is perfect. It is expensive, swarmingly bureaucratic, and the payment system is broken.
But, as I wrote 18 months ago, when you need it, you have to be glad it's there Any other country in the world, and I would be a widower today. That sounds melodramatic, and it may be, but it is true.
A good friend of mine who was raised in the USA has spent two years in the U.K. He made an insightful comment in casual conversation. He said people in the US would never tolerate the bad health care provided by NHS, but people in Britain would likewise not put up with our broken, hybrid financing system. I think he's dead on.
Yet, today, I am very happy to be here (Chuck Berry knew it) the full court press of ICU care, the professionalism of the nurses, the labor and technology thrown at life -- it's beautiful baby!
HEALTH UPDATE: Three good days in a row for the patient. Thanks for all the prayers (AlexC Attila, Sugarchuck) and kind thoughts (Johngalt and Dagny). They both seem to be working...
Posted by John Kranz at 11:32 AM
March 27, 2005
I Am Michael Shiavo
Life is weird. This post will be emotional, short and will lack editing. I hope nobody is offended.
Saturday afternoon, my lovely bride of almost 22 years suffered a large stroke. She was fine all morning. At 1:00 we were preparing to leave to see our nephew play drums in the Blue Knights. She said "I don't think I better go, I am not feeling well. Her next sentence slurred and she fell over shortly after. She went to the new Lafayette hospital in an ambulance, and was taken by helicopter to a larger hospital in Boulder.
At 5:30, she had three hours of surgery to fix, as best as they can, a large hemorrhage inside the brain. Saturday, I held little hope for her to survive but Sunday all signs have been very hopeful. She recognized me, held my hand and has been stable all day.
We discuss politics all the time and agree most of the time. I had never seen her so interested in a news story or political issue as she was the Schiavo case. She read all the dispositions and followed all the commentary. She sided staunchly with Michael. I basically agreed but would offer that the other side has pure motives. This would engender one of those spousal-fire looks. She thought the husband should choose and she thought -- in spite of all the conflicts -- that he was making the right choice.
I had a very good talk with her neurosurgeon about her beliefs and I think he read me loud and clear.
Her performance today tells me that there is not a decision in my near future. She is "in there." I quizzed the nurse this morning, and although she is hooked up to every machine in the whole hospital, she is "driving the train," able to respirate and regulate her heartbeat without aid (again, even though she is hooked up).
But I know her wishes and I see her discomfort. One nurse thinks I watch too much TV and that this is not that case at all. And yes, I see the differences but it is hard to watch her endure discomfort after a week of very very clear wishes.
UPDATE: Family, friends, I will offer updates on her health (sans politics) on her blog, tat ergo sum, which I will hijack for her recovery. And holy cow, please accept a blanket thanks for all the kindness and compassion shown to me. It is truly overwhelming.
My prayers for a speedy recovery. She sounds like a strong-minded woman, and that should really help her.
Thanks. She is doing pretty well Monday morning. She has some color back and some large motor skills on her right (bad) side.
Your strength and perspective are inspirational. We are very heartened by the positive post-op indications.
We also appreciate your taking the time to keep us informed of developments here in blogland.
Best possible wishes to both of you from Jodi and I. We'll be in touch.
Thanks for the kind words. A very good day today and a GIANT step away from Schiavo-land. She is doing well and settling in to the groove.
We will pray for you and your family.
If there's one good thing to come out of the Schiavo case, it's frank family discussions of what do to do "if"...
Thanks, Alex. Things are going pretty well.
March 26, 2005
The freedom and democracy bug continues to spread.
Hundreds of thousands of people chanting "Oppose war, Love Taiwan" joined President Chen Shui-bian Saturday to protest against China's anti-secession law that sanctions the use of force against the island.
Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party hopes the protest will draw international attention to the new law and put pressure on China to scrap it.
Organizers said 1 million people joined the show of people power against Beijing's military threat, but Taipei police estimated the crowd at just over 240,000.
"I am here to protest against a barbaric China which looks down upon the Taiwanese people," said 70-year-old businessman Fan Wen-yi, adding he was not affiliated to any political party and had never participated in a protest before. "The anti-secession law, simply put, is a law that authorizes war."
The protestors chanted slogans and waved green flags that read "democracy, peace, protect Taiwan" as they marched toward the presidential office from 10 locations around the capital, symbolizing the 10 clauses of the anti-secession law.
had a heck of post
about China & Taiwan and any potential military confrontations that may arise.
Go read it.
A world gone mad! Who do these people think they are? ;)
March 25, 2005
Open the Lockboxes
The most interesting number in the Social Security and Medicare Trustees' Report, claims the WSJ Ed Page, is 2.2 Trillion. That's the surplus amount that will be generated before the ponzi sch--I mean trust account-- starts paying more than it receives.
And what will happen to that surplus cash during these next 10 years? Every dime of it will be spent by politicians on current government. Not a nickel will be saved; nothing will be invested in accounts with anyone's name on it. Instead of building assets, or contributing to an increase in net national saving and thus investment, all of it will finance current government consumption.
The reform debate so far has too often detoured into the cul-de-sac of "transition costs" and IOUs and what's going to happen in 2041 when the Trust Fund itself is empty -- or is it really 2042? Who cares? The far more urgent issue is how to capture today's surplus payroll tax revenue and put it to more productive use. If Social Security reform means anything, it ought to mean recapturing some or all of that money.
Yet politicians on both sides of the debate rarely talk about this. That's probably because over the years both Republicans and Democrats have been complicit in spending this Social Security surplus on their own pet causes. We can understand why Democrats would want to continue this ruse even today, since most of them want to pretend there's an account in a bank somewhere that taxpayers own.
But what's up with Republicans? Some of them may fear that if this secret gets out to enough voters, they'll have to stop using that excess revenue to make the budget deficit look smaller than it is. But if they believe in smaller government, they should consider this $2.2 trillion revelation to be truth-in-advertising that shows just how spendthrift Washington is.
Letting individuals keep and invest this excess payroll tax money, which they've earned, is the nub of the entire Social Security debate. And we suspect it's the only argument that reformers have that will trump the scare tactics and accounting obfuscation of opponents.
I think that the U.S. Capital markets could find more productive uses for that money than our good representatives in Congress. But maybe that's just me...
Posted by John Kranz at 2:00 PM
Libertarians and Conservatives Living together...
Apocalyptic stuff. But Pejman Yousefzadeh at TCS has covered this topic in two columns in two weeks. Today's is Saving the Marriage (Cont.), Last week’s was Saving the Marriage: Conservatism and Libertarianism.
They are germane to this week, because the Terri Schiavo case served up a big helping of internecine strife -- and I think it is germane to this blog, where Conservatives and libertarians and partisan hacks like me play pretty well together. Yousefzadeh makes a point that the blogosphere binds us:
It doesn't have to be this way. Libertarians can work to influence politics and policy in a manner that is both noble and effective. As I noted in my article last week, I have long believed that the Blogosphere can help bring conservatives and libertarians together into a political cyber-coalition. We are seeing more evidence of that with posts like this one which serve to define alternative libertarian pathways, and the often friendly and sympathetic interaction between conservatives and libertarians in the Blogosphere is working to create the very kind of political alliances Harry Browne assures us are impossible to create. Nothing is set in stone and success in this project is not inevitable, but right now, the cooperation between libertarian and conservative bloggers is doing more to get libertarian ideas out into the realm of public discourse than any radio or TV appearance by a losing Libertarian candidate ever could. Just imagine what could happen if this level of cooperation wasn't limited to cyberspace.
There are a few issues that really drive me. Loosing regulations on Medical Research and pharmaceuticals, and making a home for little-l libertarians in the GOP.
I don't want to chase the social conservatives out, because division is the key to a Hillary Administration. But I want to have a table at the picnics to hand out literature and continue to suggest that our alliance is electorally worth it.
Tenured CU Professor Ward Churchill should not be fired for saying stupid things, that's his job.
But somebody should look at what an incredible academic lightweight he is. And it looks like they are.
UC Chancellor Phil DiStefano has released the University of Colorado's report on its review of the Ward Churchill situation several days early. The report was originally scheduled for release on Monday, March 28. DiStefano stated that "Because of extensive public interest, I felt it was important to release it as soon after completion as possible." Bottom line: Ward Churchill will not be fired for his 9/11 comments, but will be investigated for issues concerning his research. He will not be investigated on issues concerning his teaching. He will be investigated for issues concerning his Indian ethnicity, because he portrayed that ethnicity as being integral to his scholarly research.
This week's National Review has a cover story of VDH devastating academia. I cannot help but feel we have not heard the last, that Wolfe's book and l-affaire Ward Churchill have got a lot of people rethinking education.
I say welcome to celebrity Dr. Churchill! With the good, publicity and speaking engagement fees comes the bad, folks poking around in your life and digging up skeletons. Live by the sword, die by the sword, this is the most fitting punishment.
I respectfully disagree that this development is "Right on." As I said on February 6 (http://www.threesources.com/archives/001403.html) Ward Churchill's statements and writings are criminal and morally wrong. Absolutely so.
I'm coming to the conclusion that the CU "inquiry" by its Standing Committee on Research Misconduct is intended from the very start to be a smokescreen.
First, the interim chancellor completely dismissed the treasonous or otherwise illegal statements and writings of Churchill from any evaluation. He did this on the grounds that the only exception to First Amendment protection is, "advocacy of concrete or imminent violent action, as opposed to political hyperbole or advocacy and teaching of illegal violent action as an abstract principle." But how many angels are dancing on the head of that pin?
Article III. Section. 3. of the US Constitution states: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." I don't see the words "concrete" or "imminent" anywhere. Do you? "Giving them Aid and Comfort" through "advocacy and teaching of illegal violent action as an abstract principle" is most certainly treasonous. Both in the intent of the Founders and as an objective fact.
Second, he referred this matter of "henhouse security" to the "foxes" on the Standing Committee. "Please, please don't throw me in that there briar patch brer fox!"
The strategy of the University administration is compartmentalize, delay, obfuscate, delay some more, and capitulate. Mark my words.
I would have to disagree with John Galt on the meaning and intent of Article III Section 3. I believe that the founders did expressly intend to limit treason to physical acts of outright war or material support of such. They did not want the sweeping definition of Mother England that included speech and writings. These folks had just been through a major act of treason and I believe they so valued and intended to protect speech and writings that they limited the definition of treason in our Constitution. The time of 1760-1780 could be thought of as the first coming of American blogging when the pamphleteers of the time took to writing and publishing on their own outside the major gazettes or MSM of the day. Hence my resurrection of Silence Dogood in honor of Ben Franklin, one of the first "bloggers".
First, for future reference, it's "Johngalt" not "John Galt." The latter refers to a fictional character. (And a copyrighted one at that.)
I do agree with you Silence regarding basic interpretation of Treason in the Constitution. But let us remember the context in this case: We are not talking about a man on the street, or even an executive of a private or publicly held company. We are discussing the "advocacy and teaching" of a government official at a government sanctioned university, which thus confers the sanction of the state upon those teachings. While the Constitution's punishment for Treason (something about a noose?) must certainly be reserved for those who commit said offense materially (which, it can be argued, Churchill has done and has actually bragged about doing) the lesser sanction of removal from office is certainly a valid consequence of Treason "as an abstract principle."
Thank You, TR!
I like TR, and will stand to being corrected if he is not the villain in anti-trust legislation But whoever got the ball rolling deserves disapprobation.
The current crop of deal breakers are myopic to what constitutes competition. It's a fact that DirecTV and Echostar should merge and use their combined assets to take on Comcast. But no! You can't have a single satellite TV provider.
Today Blockbuster is backing out of M&A for fear of sating the trust lawyers. A WSJ news story gives the facts right up top:
Blockbuster Inc. said it won't pursue its $991 million offer to acquire rival video chain Hollywood Entertainment Corp., clearing the way for Hollywood to pursue a previously agreed deal with Movie Gallery Inc.
Blockbuster, Dallas, said it was dropping its unsolicited pursuit of Hollywood because obtaining antitrust approval likely would be difficult. The company said it will promptly return any shares that had been tendered under its offer. Earlier this year, Hollywood accepted an $850 million, or $13.25 a share, offer to merge with Movie Gallery, Dothan, Ala.
Anti-trust? Blockbuster is about to get smooshed like a bug by NetFlix and online content delivery. Why not allow them to bulk up and defend their sector with all available means?
Oh, right, you've got a public to protect...
March 24, 2005
The Michael Moore Bank Robberies
Detroit is facing a string of bank robberies from a guy they say resembles Michael Moore
The man, who police say earned the nickname because of his resemblance to the filmmaker, is wanted in the armed robbery of a Standard Federal Bank at about 9:20 a.m. on Saturday.
Police said the man entered the bank at 602 Monroe Avenue and implied that he had a weapon. An undetermined amount of cash was taken in the robbery.
The man was last seen walking south from the bank.
He's described as white, in his 40s, 6 feet tall, with a beard and wearing a plaid shirt and a baseball cap.
So it's just another dirty fat white guy? I don't see the resemblance.
Maybe if he was stuffing his face with hot dogs or donuts, THEN we'd be talking.
We all know that Michael Moore owns a gun. It was given to him by... a BANK! Wonder if it was the same bank he robbed? Anyway, they gotta get that dangerous slob. When they do his conviction will be a slam dunk. Seems he FILMED HIMSELF receiving the gun! Idiot.
The Land of Orwell
I really fear for our good friends and brave allies in Britain. Did you see this in Lileks today?
A pubowner posted a sign in his parking yard, that said "porking yard." He was cited with an Asbo, which the headline writers assumed its readers would recognize as an "Anti-Social Behaviour Order." (George! Please pick up line one -- it's urgent!)
In case you haven't recognized the racism yet, the sign is "deeply offensive to Muslims."
“I regularly use the learning centre in Wade Street, which is near to the pub, with my fellow Somali friends.
“Muslims do not eat pork but the sign has a picture of a pig and the words ‘porking yard’.
“My friends and I were angered and upset by the sign and we have welcomed the court ruling ordering the sign to be changed. I definitely think it is provocative and insulting to Muslims.”
Beat manager Adrian Williams, of Avon and Somerset Police, welcomed the Asbo.
He said he had received complaints about the sign from school teachers, community leaders and members of the Somali community.
He said: “We are very pleased that the order has been made following complaints from the community.
“It shows that this kind of behaviour, which is provocative, will not be tolerated.”
Maybe they do need a monarch over there to slap this silly nonsense down...
I have a suggestion for our dear pub owner. Take down the "offensive" sign and replace it with an "unoffensive" one. For example:
"George W. Bush is a F-ing Twit! He is not welcome in my porking yard." Go ahead and leave the picture of a pig. You'll never hear another 'oink' from the authorities and their hASBrO.
Excellent idea, JG. But how about this one: The pub owner says his intention was not to insult Muslims; it was to insult Jews. The authorities would shut up pretty quickly, I suspect.
Ain't Gonna Study War No More
At a recent White House press conference, New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller called Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Bush's nominee for president of the World Bank, "a chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history."
Larry Elder asks
"One of the most unpopular wars in our history"? Hmmm, sounds like another editorial masquerading as a question. To the history books!
Larry follows with an entertaining exegesis on just how much opposition there has been to other wars in our history, from the Revolution (supported by a third of the populace) to Vietnam ("71 percent called the Vietnam War a mistake, and 58 percent called the war immoral.")
This brings us to the "unpopular" Iraqi War. Bush obtained a resolution from Congress (which passed the House 296 to 133, and the Senate 77 to 23) authorizing the use of force. At the time of America's entry into Iraq in 2003, a CBS/New York Times poll found that 76 percent of Americans approved of the U.S. military action against Iraq.
Even now, the majority of Americans want us to stay the course.
Aside from that, the New York Times reporter pretty much nailed it.
As they say in my country: "Read the whole thing!"
Posted by John Kranz at 2:32 PM
GayPatriot has a different concept of "protest babes," than we do around here. To each their own, I suppose...
Freedom may be on the march and it's blinded me in the process.
March 23, 2005
Get Your Fusion On!
Just got a nice email from the folks at www.fusiongroovin.com/ They are readin' and we are listenin' (great thing, this Internet -- well done, VP Gore!)
Seriously, if you want to hear some vicious instrumental fusion, click on over!
On the web
Posted by John Kranz at 4:57 PM
The Campaign Finance Reform Scam
JK mentioned this story earlier, but I haven't seen the following questions asked...
CAMPAIGN-FINANCE reform has been an immense scam perpetrated on the American people by a cadre of left-wing foundations and disguised as a "mass movement."
But don't take my word for it. One of the chief scammers, Sean Treglia, a former program officer of the Pew Charitable Trusts, confesses it all in an astonishing videotape I obtained earlier this week.
The tape — of a conference held at USC's Annenberg School for Communication in March of 2004 — shows Treglia expounding to a gathering of academics, experts and journalists (none of whom, apparently, ever wrote about Treglia's remarks) on just how Pew and other left-wing foundations plotted to create a fake grassroots movement to hoodwink Congress.
"I'm going to tell you a story that I've never told any reporter," Treglia says on the tape. "Now that I'm several months away from Pew and we have campaign-finance reform, I can tell this story."
Here's the story...
"The target audience for all this activity was 535 people in Washington," Treglia says — 100 in the Senate, 435 in the House. "The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot — that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform."
A few questions beg to be asked...
Who were the reporters and from which newspapers and television agencies are they from? This meeting took place a year ago, and as Ryan Sager points out, not a single one reported on it.
The answer is simple. News agencies stand the most to gain from campaign finance reform. With limited commercials, limited campaign spending, there is no other source to turn to than the media for the issues, who have an unrestricted license to broadcast as much or as little about candidates and their positions as they desire.
Not to mention the monopoly on the audience that they would hold during the run up to an election.
If these "journalists" are really objective about their profession, why don't we know about this?
How can anyone conclude that the reporters sitting in the audience were part of the story, not part of the reporting?
With their now year long silence, how can we conclude anything but their tacit approval of this fraud?
Who were the academics? Who were the "experts?" Who were these people?
... and why are they in on the plan?
Cui bono? The incumbents and the media both benefit from "reform." Who made the most noise? Incumbents and media.
Three dark days for this great nation:
-- McCain Feingold passes
-- President Bush signs it (Breaking his oath to uphold the constitution)
-- SCOTUS blows it in McConnell v. FEC
The left, the left, the mad, whacko left. There's little they love more than a boycott. It doesn't matter that they tend to be wildly ineffective, impossible to trace and chock full o' unintended consequences.
I got an email from my buddy (I offered to help her set up her own blog) with "something simple we all can do." That is, follow every drop of oil from ANWR through refining and refuse it at the pump.
Well, no, that would be a lot of work -- so, what you can do is sign an online petition that you will boycott the gas stations affiliated with the companies who are drilling:
If you want to inform BP, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell that you will boycott their gas stations unless they pledge not to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (see the text of your message below), just click reply and send. [Boilerplate language on if you are not a member]
Imagine if millions and millions of us, young and old, progressives and conservatives, make it clear to these companies that they stand to lose big-time if they drill for oil in the wildlife refuge. Polls show that most Americans are on our side. Let's walk our talk.
Yeah, you walk the talk, brothers and sisters.
Arrrrgh! Do any of these effing knuckleheads know that gasoline is fungible?
A drop of gasoline that enters the national pipeline system can exit it anywhere at anytime to any one who contributed into the system!
A gallon of ARCO gas is the same as Phillips 66 is the same BP Amoco's etc.
It's all the same!
The local distributors just add their own special additives to make it distinct.
Arrrggh! Alex still angry.
Are they going to boycott all of those gas stations with those signs? There are a lot of independant franchisers who don't make but a few cents per gallon (make more on soda and snacks inside).
Perhaps they will focus on the just the corporately owned stations, who (at the today's prices) could weather a boycott storm for a long long time.
Glad you're angry. It is so stupid it gets me mad as well.
I presume that the oil companies all know that these idiots will sign a petition but very few will change their buying patterns and those who do won't affect sales much if at all. These guys are used to being the demons, I trust.
Look at the bright side. It is better to keep such people busy with this agenda -- imagine the trouble they'd cause by doing something useful
Let's start an online petition to stop online petitions. This is something simple we can all do, pledge to not support online petitions.
Got a good chuckle from your comment, Silence. But I have readily signed petitions supporting the troops, celebrating Reagan's birthday, and most recently supporting up-down votes on W's judicial nominations.
A funny aside, I joined a WSJ-Best-of-the-web drive to sign Not in Our Name petitons with silly names. Now I get NION email sent to: Hadda V. Shinynose....
Which reminds me.. senior year in HS I was newspaper editor. One issue he had a byline by "Heywood Jablomey." Never did figure out who put that in there, ;) but it was our last issue.
A Jazz Aristocrat
You could live to be 80 years old, as Bobby Short did, and never read a kinder obituary/eulogy. Jazz trumpeter Eric Felten pens a poignant tribute to the cabaret singer in today's Wall Street Journal.
I'll confess to having just the slightest acquaintance with Mr. Short's music, but I will rectify that in the days ahead. I, too, like the standards, the ballads, the cabaret style. It's what I love.
I also liked this paragraph:
Mr. Short was born in 1924 and grew up in Danville, Ill., the penultimate of 10 children. One could say that it was ironic that Mr. Short--a Midwestern kid--became an iconic New Yorker. Ironic, too, that an African-American man would come to embody the sort of glittering, bygone world of high society that, in the 1930s, would hardly have welcomed him. But then again, it isn't really ironic at all. Mr. Short lived an American life that was in perfect harmony with the songs he sang, one in which any man, every man, can be an aristocrat if he just takes the trouble to gain some sophistication.
As my buddy AlexC might say: "F*ck Yeah!"
On the web
Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM
March 22, 2005
Turned The Corner
Last night, Larry Kudlow asked Austin Bay if we had now "turned the corner" in Iraq. The Colonel responded that, by his observations in theatre, we had done so long ago.
A little good news today bolsters the case:
Baghdad Residents Kill Three Militants
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Shopkeepers and residents on one of Baghdad's main streets pulled out their own guns Tuesday and killed three insurgents when hooded men began shooting at passers-by, giving a rare victory to civilians increasingly frustrated by the violence bleeding Iraq.
The news is great but I hope that the AP reporter (Traci Carl) was not too overwhelmingly optimistic. "a rare victory to civilians increasingly frustrated by the violence bleeding Iraq." Absolutely nothing in story backs up that particular editorial comment in the lede.
NRSC Petition to Support Judicial Nominees
Sign an online petition if you so choose -- I did. Don't be terribly surprised if they ask for money -- I wasn't.
Posted by John Kranz at 5:25 PM
a friend emails this photo:
"Still safer here than at Michael Jackson's"
Posted by John Kranz at 5:20 PM
Buy The Dip!
Holy Cow! This market is skittish! The FOMC raises rates 25 basis points and the Dow loses 95 points? What did they think -- Alan Greenspan was going to hand out Ice Cream sodas?
I have to make an IRA deposit this month and I am thinking I'll buy some Spiders or something. I'd like to buy this dip but I bet it'll rocket back up tomorrow.
Crazy, man, crazy:
Blue chips skidded Tuesday after the Federal Reserve expressed concerns about inflation's impact on the U.S. economy. The Dow industrials bounced briefly after hitting break-even before losing more ground and slipping into the red.
Buy the dip. Tell 'em you heard it on ThreeSources Blog!
Wrong Man for a Column
Peter Beinart says that John Bolton is the Wrong Man for This U.N. Writing in the WaPo today, he seems to imply that Senator Moynihan was the "first neo-con."
In 1975, when anti-Americanism was on the march, Gerald Ford chose a distinctly undiplomatic diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, to represent the United States at the United Nations. Unlike his predecessors, who had listened politely while America was defamed, Moynihan denounced the tin-pot dictatorships running wild at the United Nations. And a new movement called neoconservatism -- of which Moynihan was a leading voice -- made its entrance onto the international stage. Six years later, Ronald Reagan gave the U.N. job to another prominent neocon, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and she proved equally blunt.
It took me a moment to shake that unconventional labeling off. The rest of the piece doesn't improve too much. Beinart is a responsible thinker and a very good writer. But this one is a swing-and-a-miss.
Problem is, the history's misleading. Moynihan and Kirkpatrick were effective because their oppositional styles suited the time -- a time when there was little the United States could do at the United Nations other than oppose. Today the United States has an opportunity to lead. And by choosing Bolton, the Bush administration may be squandering it.
Sorry, Pete, we may have a rare chance to lead at the U.N., but it won't occur with another striped-pants get along guy from State. We have just as much to assert to the U.N. as Moynihan did in the 70s or Kirkpatrick in the 80s.
A much more cogent assessment can be found in Amity Shlaes column on TCS:
Multilateralists around the globe ought to be thrilled about these choices. These men are not going to endanger the future of the UN or the World Bank. Those futures are already in danger. Rather, the new candidates may turn out to be the institutions' salvation. For both men are strong enough to bring about change when change is necessary.
The CEO Presidency, Part Deux
"The CEO Presidency" was a popular moniker early in the first term. President Bush, it was said, was bringing his Harvard MBA skills to the Oval Office. His appointments were less political and his work hours were less frenetic than those of his predecessor.
I applauded and confirmed those observations back then, but I am now convinced that they apply better to the second term. For the second term, W has staffed important positions with those who share his vision and have the tenacity to pursue it.
Fred Barnes writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today (click away, it's on the free site) looking at the appointments of Wolfowitz, Bolton, and Hughes not as separate events, but as a coalescing of an administration devoted to Sharansky-esque ideals of freedom.
[...]But in jobs he views as critical, especially in foreign affairs, he prefers a known quantity, usually a tough, loyal administration veteran with an agenda. His agenda. Two other Bush nominees, John Bolton as ambassador to the U.N. and Karen Hughes as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, are also in the agenda category.
Anyone shocked by the nominations of Messrs. Wolfowitz and Bolton doesn't understand the president's approach to multilateral organizations. The conventional idea is that these organizations are wonderful, though perhaps flawed and infused with too much anti-American sentiment. And the chief task of U.S. representatives is to get along amicably, not buck the system and cause problems. This idea is popular in the press, the State Department bureaucracy and diplomatic circles, and with foreign-policy "experts." But not with Mr. Bush.
This man is putting a team together to change the world. I even read (I'll keep looking for a link) that he is "talkin' less Texan now that he don't gotta face re-elecshun..." He is planning, CEO-style for a consequential second term. No wonder his detractors are worried...
Where Are The Dogs?
A quick peek through webstats shows that many viewers come to this site seeking "Dogs For Bush." I did that during the election and have since parked the domain pointing to threesources.
Fear not, the adorable GOPooches can still be seen at: www.threesources.com/dogs
Posted by John Kranz at 10:02 AM
March 21, 2005
Campaign Finance Reform
"If Congress thought this was a Pew effort, it'd be worthless..."
So confides Sean Treglia, of Pew Charitable Trusts, as part of a stunning admission that eight liberal groups bankrolled and orchestrated the supposed grassroots effort behind McCain-Feingold.
John Fund details the story (Although Chris Muir hit it pretty succinctly in a cartoon).
The efforts of Pew and the other liberal foundations, which include George Soros's Open Society Institute and the Carnegie Corp., were aided by the news media's complicity. The American Prospect, a liberal magazine, put out a special issue on campaign finance reform in 2000 that was paid for by a $132,000 Carnegie grant--a fact the magazine failed to disclose.
National Public Radio openly accepted $1.2 million from liberal foundations to provide such items as "coverage of financial influence in political decision-making." Its campaign finance reporter, Peter Overby, is a former editor of the magazine put out by Common Cause, a major supporter of McCain-Feingold. No one suggests there was direct collusion between NPR and campaign finance lobbies. With the money and personnel available to NPR, there didn't need to be. Sympathetic stories on the need for campaign finance reform flowed naturally.
So, much of the good press was bought. And, one suspects, the rest flowed very naturally as this ill bill would empower media sources over real grass roots organizations.
The real chance to kill this bad law was missed by SCOTUS, when they amazingly failed to shrike it down. Porn is protected, political speech can be legislated. I think the bill might get a good challenge as they try to use it on bloggers but I am not optimistic about reversing this unconstitutional mélange.
One possible, positive outcome would be to have this take the bloom off a McCain '08 run once and for all. I laud his patriotism and marvel at his courage but tire of his CFR sanctimony. I think exposing him as a Pew lapdog should be all the opposition research that a primary opponent would need.
Guess jk is a Liberal...
I am going to break with my friends at the WSJ Ed Page, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and I suspect half of the ThreeSources.com crew.
I support Michael Schiavo's decision to remove the feeding tube from his wife. He may be an execrable man who is looking to cash in the chips of her malpractice award and her parents have certainly made a bold proposition to assume all responsibility for her continued care, but I have to feel that the spouse has a right to speak for one who cannot speak for himself/herself.
The state courts of Florida have taken that view, as have some portion of the 80% in an online Wall Street Journal poll, who have said that it was wrong for Congress to intervene.
William Kristol and Fred Barnes made eloquent and reasonable appeals this weekend on FOXNews's "Fox News Sunday" and "The Beltway Boys." The WSJ Ed Page even lumps me in with the liberals:
We'd have more sympathy for this argument if the same liberals who are complaining about the possibility of the federal courts reviewing Mrs. Schiavo's case felt as strongly about restraining the federal judiciary when it comes to abortion, homosexuality, and other social issues they don't want to trust to local communities. In any event, these critics betray their lack of understanding of the meaning of federalism. It is not simply about "states' rights." Conservatives support states' rights in areas that are not delegated to the federal government but they also support federal power in areas that are delegated.
Think of an analogy to the writ of habeas corpus. As John Eastman of the Claremont Institute points out, "We have federal court review of state court judgments all the time in the criminal law context." The bill before Congress essentially treats the Florida judgment as a death sentence, warranting federal habeas review. Mrs. Schiavo is not on life support. The court order to remove the feeding tube is an order to starve her to death. Moreover, Mrs. Schiavo is arguably being deprived of her life without due process of law, a violation of the 14th Amendment that Congress has the power to address.
For the record, I do support states' rights in Roe
if not Lawrence
, and have always held that Federalism is the solution to the homosexual marriage contretemps.
My legal claims coincide with my personal claims. I hope that, mutatis mutandis, my wife would have intervened about 14 years before Mr. Schiavo.
According to this timeline:
Terri's husband first asked that her feeding tube be removed almost 7 years ago.
For the first 4 years of Terri's incapacitation her husband apparently attempted everything possible to revive her congitive function. For the next 4 years he apparently anguished over the inevitible, finally asking the court to allow him to stop feeding her. For the ensuing 7 years Terri's parents, and many others, dragged the couple through every court that would let them in the door.
So in summary, of the 15 years this ordeal has lasted (thus far) Michael spent 8 of them trying to nurse Terri back to health and the Schindlers, et. al., spent 7 more trying to prevent him from doing what JK (and, we're led to believe, Terri) would have wanted all along.
strangely, he's been living with his fiance for 10 of those past 15 years.
... and has two children with her.
Yes, there are some odd possibilities of motives and conflicts in the husband. And it is certainly legitimate to question his decision.
What I think is beyond question is his being empowered to make the decision. If she were conscious, she could refuse treatment and I think her spouse is best able to make the decision for her when she cannot. The husband, not the parents, not Congress.
AlexC, Do you know the specific course of events that led him to a new intimate relationship? And how those events correspond to the attempted rehabilitation of his wife who "has no cerebral cortex" and all the angst that must have caused?
His in-laws and other interested parties refuse to allow this chapter of his life to close. Should this obligate him to forego any happiness for as long as they may demand?
I can tell you that a time comes in a man's life when he recognizes his own mortality. (Not from personal experience, mind you. I just "know." ;)
March 19, 2005
Anti War Protests
Iraq liberation started two years ago Saturday.
And the idiot brigade was out protesting.
Why am I not outraged?
But I AM outraged. Outraged that our public schools teach a worldview that allows young women like this to be outraged over an act of principled self-defense and the liberation of millions of oppressed subjects of a bald-faced tyrant.
March 18, 2005
We're All Doomed
I don't want to ruin anybody's Friday but the world is ending.
John Derbyshire (not exactly an "up" guy but certainly very bright) has long predicted that the end of the world may well be caused by physicists creating a black hole with a particle accelerator.
The BBC reports:
The Brown researcher thinks the particles are disappearing into the fireball's core and reappearing as thermal radiation, just as matter is thought to fall into a black hole and come out as "Hawking" radiation.
However, even if the ball of plasma is a black hole, it is not thought to pose a threat. At these energies and distances, gravity is not the dominant force in a black hole.
On second thought, bartender, why don'tcha put that on my tab...
Dual hat-tips: PillageIdiot and Galley Slaves
It's difficult to take anything seriously in modern particle physics given that theories as inconsistent with reality as HUP (i.e. precise position AND momentum of a particle are INTRINSICALLY unknowable, not merely technologically unfeasable at the present time) and Schrodinger's cat (i.e. quantum indeterminacy, which violates the identity theorem applicable to actual matter) have not yet been repudiated. At least inasmuch as they have any manifestation in reality as opposed to theoretical mathematical constructs.
In the event that this phenomenon is actually what Nastase thinks it is, i.e. a process analogous to that in a black hole, there is little to worry about. The event lasts some 1E-23 seconds, or 10 thousand nano-nano-nanoseconds. Hardly even getting started, much less becoming a self-sustaining or runaway energy conversion process.
It also bears mentioning that Mr. Nastase may be another in the proud tradition of our friends Pons and Fleischmann. (Anyone want some palladium? Cheap!)
A note on the BBC science editor: Couldn't he find a better way to express 1E-23 seconds than "10 million, billion, billionths of a second" which actually represents 10 million seconds? (What is a billion, billionths of something equal to, after all?) 10 million-billion-billionths would have been better, as would 0.00000000000000000000001 seconds.
The only good thing about physicists killing us with a black hole is that it will be pretty quick.
So we got that going for us. ;)
No, I am not really scared -- and I am certainly not scared of this one. Yet the race is now on to make a bigger and a longer lasting one.
Ice-nine, here we come...
ANWR, Finally Part II
AlexC's awesome ANWR post/pictoral immediately got me thinking of Jonah Goldberg's cover story for NR in 2001.
The good people at NRO have reposted it as a flashback piece.
In this sense the whole area is really just a Rorschach test for the imagination. There's little doubt that for much of human history most reasonable people would have considered this spot the definition of the word "godforsaken." You need not look back, for evidence, to the ancient pilgrims who died on the frozen tundra. You could simply read an old copy of the Washington Post from 14 years ago: "[T]hat part of the [ANWR] is one of the bleakest, most remote places on this continent, and there is hardly any other where drilling would have less impact on the surrounding life."
Two decades have intervened, and an environmental fatwa has been issued declaring that the word "pristine" is synonymous with "beautiful" or "sacred." Of course, anyone who has seen a mint-condition AMC Gremlin knows that pristineness and aesthetic appeal have only a coincidental relationship. Even ANWR fetishists concede that in the winter, with its complete darkness and 70-below-zero temperatures-not counting wind chill-this is no paradise.
It's a great story and well worth a read.
The smut collection in Deadhorse, while largest above the Arctic Circle (not really that hard to be), really isn't more impressive than what you'd see at a newsstand.
Though, I must admit, I had never seen inflatable sheep until that day.
Whatchya think, kids:
- How's it look?
- Do we really want folks knowing what we do around here?
I was thinking of placing a blogad on DayByDay. Chris Muir did a cool
illustration for the last Berkeley Square CD and never accepted adequate
payment. So I thought I could buy some of his ad space and get some publicity
for the site.
It looks great and I like the synergy of your advertising plan. I'll chip in.
I will roll this Monday if nobody objects...
aren't those the three sources too?
send me the bill for the 1/3rd.
Day By Day
It breaks my heart that Senator McCain, whom I admire as much as any living American, has dedicated his Senate career to stripping our First Amendment rights. The First Amendment protects porn dealers -- I can handle that. Yet somehow, it doesn't apply to political speech?
Chris Muir nails it.
But, then, everybody reads DayByDay everyday, right? He came back from his hiatus even stronger, I think. More political. A little harder-edged.
My suspicion is that he has given up on MSM syndication and is following his heart. He seems to be doing well on blog ads. I plan to place one for ThreeSources as a partial payment for his kind work on the cover of my last CD (and drum up interest in our pontifications). It would be great to see this model prevail -- have a talented guy avoid the bias of syndication firms and make it with a direct appeal to the people. Hello long-tail!
Republicans and Asphalt
The WSJ Ed Page wonders what the connection is.
What is it about freshly laid asphalt that causes Republicans to abandon their economic principles? In promoting the bill, Messrs. Hastert and Young described this higher federal spending as an economic boon that will create some "47,500 jobs" for every $1 billion spent. But by that logic, why not spend $1 trillion on highways? They seem to have forgotten that the money has to come from somewhere, which means it will be taken from the more productive private sector in the form of higher taxes now, or down the road (painful pun intended).
Republicans also aren't using their majorities to rework transportation spending to fit their federalist principles. GOP highway bills are just as bad as those Democrats used to pass, with their top-down, feds-know-best direction. States and localities would know better how to spend the money by working with private companies on toll roads and private-public partnerships to ease congestion. But of course that would reduce the political leverage of individual Members doling out the cash.
Republicans are slowly figuring out the damage that these spending binges are doing to their fiscal image, which is why their new budget resolution claims to be tough. But a budget outline means nothing if actual spending continues to increase. It's true that the highway boondoggle is bipartisan, but as the party in charge Republicans will get the blame if all of this spending forces them to raise taxes.
The greatest danger for the inchoate GOP majority is for their legislators to abandon principles. They enjoy demographic momentum, a surfeit of good ideas, and what seems to be some good trends (or lucky breaks if you're on the other side) from history.
Good for the President for trying to keep them in check. We have had some great comments below on the danger of losing the evangelical vote, it would be no better to chase away the fiscal conservatives, most of whom are watching a Republican-controlled Congress very nervously.
UPDATE: Larry Kudlow piles on!
Members of the U.S. Senate are reneging on their promise to cut wasteful and unnecessary federal budget spending. And I'm talking Republicans here.
Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia is whittling down the farm subsidy cuts, which are corporate welfare and agriculture welfare queens. Minnesota Senator Norman Coleman is trying to stop more corporate welfare cuts, by preserving community development block grants. Oregon Senator Gordon Smith is preventing Medicaid cuts, which represent wasteful overspending, not real health services. This makes my blood boil.
Supply-side tax cuts have done their job by growing the economy and throwing off 10 percent increases in tax collections. But the Republican Senate is not doing its job to hold back the budget, which is still growing at 7 percent.
You know what? Taxpayer money should be protected, not wasted. Republicans are supposed to be the fiscal conservatives.
Amen brother Larry.
I have come to believe that anything that makes the tax code more complicated, even if it is a tax cut or a tax break is a bad thing. Simplification is the only thing that will really solve the problems. 47,500 jobs per $1 billion? Those are $21,000 jobs, which ones are those? If even the marketing part of the math is bad you know you are in touble.
The numbers work, Silence. The Feds are simply ignoring the tax liability of those 47.5K jobs per billion, since they figure they'll get all those dollars back anyway. That brings those $21K per year jobs closer to $40K.
As to the subject at hand, this is more evidence that Democrats and Republicans are, at least in the realm of spending the taxpayer's money, "two wings of the same bird-of-prey."
The only solution I can see is to take away their (congress's) power to write checks. Yeah... right.
I am always hesitant to equate the two parties when I have such a strong preference for one over the other. I tell people that the Republicans promise more liberty and frequently fail; the Democrats promise less liberty and usually succeed.
The issue here is not Dem vs. GOP but incumbents vs. the rest of us. Looking at spending and campaign finance reform, this seems to become a better way to divide the different players and their different incentives.
March 17, 2005
In his Weekly Standard online column, Let Us Now Praise Claudia Rosett Hugh Hewitt says:
Bloggers and Internet columnists often find easy marks in the ranks of old media, so they ought to pause and hold up for admiration and emulation those who do the job that a free press was intended to do. Claudia Rosett is as "old media" as they get, and the single best advertisement for what journalism can be when practiced with skill and passion.
Whether or not the Pulitzer committee recognizes Rosett for her incredible contribution to freedom through her superb journalism over the past few years, those who follow the media know she is the standard setter.
It is odd that bloggers love to bite the ankles of the mainstream press, without which, there'd be no credible blogosphere.
Not that they don't deserve it, but cheers to Hewitt for reminding us of one that does it right for the right reasons.
The old Denver Post building had an inscription "O Justice, when expelled from other grounds, make this thy dwelling place." I grew up believing in the high ideals of journalism -- then ended up decrying its activists. But Ms. Rosett is freedom's correspondent. Thanks, Hugh, for the reminder.
Media and Blogging
Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM
Bad Bush Appointment
I go out of my to support this administration, even on some topics about which I am skeptical. But -- holy cow -- NO!
The media is busily distracted by the Wolfowitz World Bank appointment. Though I backed Carly Fiorina, I support that appointment. But nobody noticed the new FCC Chairman to replace Michael Powell was Powell's nemesis, Kevin Martin.
Martin was the FCC answer to Jim Jeffords, a soi-disant GOPer who opposed free market reform and created a de facto Democrat majority (Hey French and Latin in one sentence -- what a pedant!) and precluded real regulatory reform.
Like Senator Specter, the administration rewards its enemies with public support and a lemon poppy seed cake. I'm not sure about the cake, but the appointment is astonishing. The WSJ Ed Page is cautiously going to give him a chance:
The White House is counting on its next chairman to put his considerable political adeptness to use creating working majorities to continue down Mr. Powell's deregulatory path. This is especially important with regard to broadband deployment. We're not sure that the Bush Administration fully appreciates the extent to which high-speed communication networks drive competition, productivity and ultimately GDP. But Mr. Martin is well aware of broadband's potential, and we hope he has learned enough from the past four years to do the right thing.
Well, yeah, and Nancy Pelosi may find her inner-free-marketeer as well, but let's not make her Ways-and-Means Chairman.
This assures the world that the technologically gifted USA will be hard pressed to hang onto its thirteenth place showing in broadband adoption. I'm not sure a President Kerry could have done much worse.
March 16, 2005
Long time readers will know that I live in the "House that Oil Built" owing to the fact that I've been working at one of Alaska's North Slope oil fields for nearly 6 years.
The Senate today voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
The Senate was sharply divided, however, voting 51-to-49 in favor in what is considered a major energy policy win for President Bush.
In approving the measure, the Senate rejected an attempt by Democrats and GOP moderates to remove a refuge drilling provision from next year's budget. That move prevented opponents from using a filibuster -- a tactic that has blocked repeated past attempts to open the Alaska refuge to oil companies.
Drilling supporters say the action clears the way for approving drilling in the refuge later this year.
This year's drilling season is already accounted for, they're not going to get rigs anywhere near ANWR this season. However, next November and December the ice roads are made, and the rigs can get going.
Ice roads are one of the most environmentally friendly ways to move around.
Here's a picture of an ice road.
Step 1. Wait 'til it's cold.
Step 2. Pour a lot water on the ground.
Step 3. Drive on it to get where you gotta go.
Step 4. Get done before it melts in the spring.
Step 5. Nothing left behind.
(photographer & location unknown)
The north slope looks like that between October and May.
And in the summer (not the same place as above)
There's a pipeline directly behind me and there's a drilling rig on horizon.
Only one well has been drilled within ANWR. There might be a few dozen people in the country who know how that well produced. Most cited estimates are from USGS geologist's/geophysist's guess work. A million barrels per day is about 50% of today's North Slope production. The Trans Alaska Pipeline is capable of 4 million barrels a day. National consumption is roughly 20 million barrels per day, with half of that being domestically produced. Yes, we need to be more efficient in it's consumption.
Environmentalists, however, have fought opening ANWR to oil development. They say an animal refuge is no place for drilling rigs. And they say drilling will harm calving caribou, polar bears and millions of migratory birds that use the coastal plain.
Never seen any!
Actually, this herd of caribou trapped me on a peninsula I was on last summer. I was doing some work at our Seawater Treatment Plant, and they decided to walk out there. It took me an hour of stop and go driving in order to get back to camp. You see, caribou have the right of way, and you can't honk. You just gotta wait.
And in the meantime they're relieving themselves all over the road and the tundra. So it's a pleasant drive!
So what happens if an exploration well doesn't hit?
Well, it looks like this.
All in all, radical environmentalist fears are largely unfounded. Yes, accidents do happen, but we're not actively negligent as some would have you believe. The oil producers have spill response teams, they train often; corrosion departments whose entire mandate is watching the pipes; automation systems dedicated solely to leak detection; as well as infrared flights to observe the pipelines. (I do that as a volunteer). There are also millions of dollars spent on environmental compliance issues, including reporting to both the EPA and the state. As part of my job, I maintain some of those reports, in addition to the efforts of the environmental departments.
A timeline for production?
The first year or two will be spent looking for oil. If they find enough to warrant a full scale facility, then there will be more drilling, as well as engineering and environmental studies. Figure on lawsuits too.
It's not an answer for today's oil and gas prices.
But it is an answer to being held hostage by foreign sources of oil. It's also a project with national involvement. People up there are mostly from Alaska, but there are many from the lower 48. A lot of Texans and Oklahomans, but also Washingtonians, Oregonians and Californians. And yes, even a few yanks like me.
We'll need to build the facilities, and drill the wells, and then operate them. Including newly hired and newly trained employees.
And it generates an enormous amount of revenue for both Alaska and the feds.
Thanks for the report, Alex. I was happy to see the Senate pass the ANWR drilling amendment.
It's funny, but the AP Photo that accompanied the story showed a herd of caribou and a picturesque mountain vista. I remembered Jonah Goldberg’s cover story to National Review last year. He described the place where drilling is proposed more as a barren mosquito-filled tundra.
Mosquitoes? They looked like bats to me.
ANWR does have mountains in it, but like you said, the drilling is only going to be allowed on the plains. Near the ocean.
You've be propagandized.
Look at the pictures I posted. No mountains there. ;)
Thanks for the report and the great photos Alex. I too am happy to see this ammendment pass. Yeah I get my Democratic Party card yanked on a regular basis, but I am an engineer too and realise that this can be done without creating an environmental disaster. I always hope the companies involved can do this with a protective eye on the environment, good shining examples of this could do wonders to speed up (and thus cost reduce) the next project that comes along.
BIRDS! Where are the BIRDS? Those evil oil rigs and pipelines and smelly white men have driven them all AWAY! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!
Sorry. Delayed Boulder Stress Syndrome.
Seriously though, excellent post. Thanks for the executive summary and interesting photos.
Top TV Theme Songs
Jonathan Last from Galley Slaves links to this list: top 100 TV Theme Songs. But I cannot condone it. No way.
7. I Dream of Jeannie
6. The Green Hornet
5, Miami Vice
4. WKRP in Cincinnati
3. Sanford & Son
2. Barney Miller
1. The Rockford Files
Disagree if you want, but you know that I'm right.
What? No Starsky and Hutch? JK... massive oversight there.
Hmm, afraid our age difference might be showing. I was in my late teens and thought TV a vast wasteland. Missed that show. I remember a Ford (Torino? I was a MoPar guy) and I remember "Huggy Bear." The theme song escapes me, I'll go check the web...
M*A*S*H and Hawaii-five-O?
Hawaii five o gets honorable mention. M*A*S*H Top 100 maybe, but not my top 10.
I'm thinking of a whole post on commercial art, kind of a jk-does-Virginia-Postrel.
When I was looking at a musical career, I was intrigued by jingles and station promos and throwaway themes to newscasts and Public service programming. I saw a sub-art layer of art and was keen to participate.
I found overwhelming satisfaction in middle management, of course, but am still intrigued by this art in our life. TV theme songs have touched all our lives. I can name the composers to just a couple of my picks, yet they have touched me as much or more than a lot of music I buy.
(The omission nobody's pointed out yet is Paul Anka's theme to "The Tonight Show" Daa da dant dah-duuuuuh... )
I have to admit actually owning the theme from SWAT on 45, must have been mid-70's, still had to play it on my parents phonograph.
Somebody needs to mention Larry Carlton's great guitar playing on the Hill St. Blues theme. Guess that would be me.
Reaction to Ebbers's Conviction
Two great reactions to the guilty verdict, from two of my favorite sources. First, Larry Kudlow tells the jurors to Take A Bow
Free market capitalism must be based on the rule of law. By enforcing the law, the twelve Ebber’s jurors did far more for honest accounting and healthy, functioning markets than thousands of regulatory pages, such as the onerous Sarbanes Oxley. The brave jurors dealt a serious defeat for CEOs who want their subordinates to commit crimes while they maintain plausible deniability. The dumbo defense is finito.
The vast majority of Americans in business are clean and honest entrepreneurs who innovate, build businesses, and create jobs. Business is the backbone of our economy despite the fact that there will always be a few rotten apples. That the Ebber’s jury convicted one of the most rotten apples will strengthen business and improve our free enterprise system. Jurors, take a bow. You deserve it.
Then my pals at the WSJ Ed Page back up my contention that the conviction does more good than Sarbanes-Oxley, then go one better to compare it to NY AG Eliot Spitzer's non-convictions
But under Mr. Spitzer's business rules, what matters is what he claims is proper behavior now, whether or not it was considered improper in the past. Unlike the prosecutors in the Ebbers case, the Attorney General knows he can get what he wants by hammering a business in the press and undermining its stock price, without ever going before a jury. This practice strikes us as fundamentally unfair, and contrary to the rule of law, but Mr. Spitzer knows we're the only sour note in his media chorus.
Well, guys, the Weekly Standard did a very non-flattering cover story a few weeks ago. And you can count Three Sources Blog on your side as well. Let the tobacco lawyers and ambulance chasers seek settlements. Attorneys General should seek convictions and enforcement of the laws that are on the books.
AlexC's observation that pro-democracy protests seem to feature the most beautiful women is catching hold with the rest of the blogosphere.
Riding Sun references a political cartoon in a Jordanian newspaper that compares caricatured hotties to their grizzled, bearded opponents. (Follow the link to links galore of freedom babes.)
It's good marketing to capture the West's imagination but it is also especially germane to the MidEast as many of the autocratic regimes also impose religious dress codes that are not terribly flattering to the female form.
I'm even more convinced that we are called on to liberate Beverly Hills (Did you see the cover of "The Economist?"). Expressing one's sexuality is a part of freedom. Which they can now do in The Ukraine.
UPDATE: Yeah, I changed the headline from "Freedom, Whiskey, Sexy" Get me a job at the Sun.
The miniskirt is definitely in vogue in the Ukraine. What does this illustrate? Individuality, first and foremost. Also a healthy joy for life and endorsement of western ideals like competition and ambition. But most importantly, celebration of the joy of life on earth (as compared to the "afterlife.")
We can clearly discern the values expressed by the fashions of these 'Hezbollah girl scouts' too:
Uniformity, utility, equality, repression, duty. "Don't worry girls, you'll get to be one of the 72 virgins in waiting for our heroic suicide martyrs."
March 15, 2005
Ebbers Goes Down!
I've been called a shill for business (and that's by my Mom!) because I defend corporations from the Jose Bove/Michael Moore/Hollywood crowd. I have had mixed feelings on New York AG Spitzer, I think Martha Stewart got a raw deal.
But I am dancing into the night with this news:
WorldCom's Ebbers Convicted of All Counts
NEW YORK - Bernard Ebbers, who built WorldCom from a humble Mississippi long-distance concern into a telecommunications titan, was convicted Tuesday of engineering the colossal accounting fraud that sank the company.
For business to be defensible, it has to play by the rules; for markets to work their unique magic, the assets must exhibit a high degree of transparency. All these were broken by the firm that James Cramer always calls "WorldCon" and the concept that its CEO didn't know what was up was ludicrous.
Bye Bye Bernie!
But since JK neglected to mention it, I'll point out that Silence has made an excellent analogy between the looting that occured at the UN through the 'Oil for Food' scheme and the looting that occurs in capitalist economies through unnecessary rules, regulations, taxes and tariffs. The cry of progressives should become, "UN out of the U.S. - U.S. government out of the economy!" That's my cry and I consider myself a GENUINE progressive.
Oh NED! I consider myself a genuine Liberal and Johngalt is a genuine Progressive. The world is doomed!
I HATED his analogy (but let it slide). It is a huge, erroneous leap of moral equivalence to equate those yahoos who would steal money from their shareholders with those who would prop up despots, impoverish an entire nation, and preclude any offer of real relief for filthy lucre. I cannot put those two criminal acts on the same table.
JK is right that one of many byproducts of UN perfidity was prolonged tyranny and more dead Iraqis at the hands of the Hussein regime. The irresponsibility of this is indefensible.
On the single issue of looting by regulating bureaucracies, however, the analogy holds.
Yikes, my analogy has been pretty perversely twisted. Sorry John Galt but I was actually referring to the cozy (and profitable) relationship between investment houses and analysts who should be knocking down the cheats but instead are in on the game. So JK, a CEO who engages in the despotic behavior of skimming money and thereby impoverishing his company, its employees, and its customers, all the while colluding with investment and analysis firms that should be raking him over the coals, that is so different from Saddam and the UN oil for food bunch how? Yes, the torture and violence are light years apart, I am equating the financial aspects only.
Yes, Silence, wrong is wrong. But I see a difference on scale and severity. Scale based on the incredible numbers: $21 Billion. Severity based he victims' ability to avoid the problem. Enron and MCI were growth stocks. Nobody deserved to be hoodwinked but those shareholders should have had some diversity to cushion the blow. As it stands, they have shareholders' lawsuits and other opportunities for redress,
The Iraqi people could not diversify their despot portfolio. They were forced to live in tyranny and terror while their supposed protectors at the UN profited from the status quo.
A Capitalist Cuba
My XM radio is almost always tuned to Channel 73, "Luna." They play Latin Jazz and some traditional music from Latin nations.
It is commercial free, but they have brief station IDs, all delivered by a young lady with a hot-voice and a trace of an accent. Today I heard "From New York, Miami, Havana, and beyond -- Luna!"
I wondered how many of El Jefe's subjects had Satellite Radio. And got to daydreaming about how prosperous a free Cuba could be today with tourism, joint-ventures, cultural exchange and the like.
Then at work, I encounter this gem from the WSJ Ed Page: WSJ.com - Fidel's Fortune
He didn't make it into the billionaire category, but Fidel Castro nonetheless earned an honorable mention on Forbes magazine's annual list of the World's Richest People out this month. And why not? With a net worth of $550 million, this is one bit of media recognition that El Jefe actually deserves.
According to Forbes, the Cuban leader committed to "socialism or death" has made a killing from a "web of state-owned businesses" -- all of which have no competition in the worker's paradise. Castro's most profitable operations include a convention center, a retail conglomerate and a company called Medicuba that sells pharmaceuticals made on the island, reports the magazine. Not mentioned are Cuba's biggest exports -- seafood, tobacco, sugar and nickel -- which, as El Maximo Lider of the communist regime, Fidel naturally benefits from too.
Meanwhile, the rest of Cuba is so poor that food is rationed; as of 2003 each person was limited to a pound of chicken a month, according to the Cuba Transition Project at the University of Miami. But at least Cubans aren't being exploited by wealthy capitalists.
Cuba -- the next Iraq? El Cuba Libre!
Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM
March 14, 2005
Root Out the Responsible
Jim Geraghty posts an interesting political speculation. A primary challenge to Joe Lieberman in 2006:
The theory is that Connecticut, a fairly liberal northeastern state, is prime territory for a further-left candidate to get a boost from the Internet-based fundraising from the grassroots. And the Dean-Kos-Boxer axis of the party would love to punish their least favorite Democrat.
Driving Lieberman from office - yeah, that's just what the Democratic party needs.
I guess it's fair. I cheered Toomey's challenge to Specter. But I don't think Democrats had the great love for Specter that the center and right does for Lieberman. Bad politics, kids.
Posted by John Kranz at 6:22 PM
Lebanese Revolution Scarves
Five bucks on eBay Lebanon Independence 05 Collectible Red Scarf (Harriri). There is also a white scarf with red lettering.
Hat-tip: Publius Pundit
On the web
Posted by John Kranz at 5:26 PM
March 13, 2005
Condi & Abortion
A friend asks:
Did Condi just sink her best shot at an '08 run with
the pro choice bit? I’ve felt all along that, as a
party, we are in for a bigger free fall than the dems
if someone like Arnold or Rudy gets the nomination. I
assumed Condi was hard pro life and that she could
keep the religious nuts and that she world pull in
faithful on the dem side too. The rest of the
moderates republicans would go for her for obvious
reasons. Now I think we might actually have another
president Clinton, as Hillary continues to
Hmm, maybe my heart is talking and not my wise political head but I think she's still viable.
I think that she is religious by nature and that will keep the "nuts" in line. I think the GOP is best served by continuing to oppose abortion but you have to keep in mind that a large libertarian wing is up for grabs, and that she could be having her Sister Soljah moment very early in the campaign...
Again, it could be my heart talking. I want a Rice '08 run very badly and her announcement describes my feelings pretty accurately. So, she didn't scare me off. She could come out in favor of the Ten Commandments in courthouses and out-triangulate Senator Clinton.
Pro-lifers, I love to hear: did she scare you off?
I fear that you might be right, sc, but I hope that you are not. If I were President (don't laugh, Silence, and I'll get you a good cabinet position) *I* would Appoint -- and back to the hilt -- strict constructionist justices.
And yet I describe my position, mirabile dictu, almost exactly the same as does Secretary Rice!
This is an interesting conversation about political philosophy and as such, I am compelled to add a couple observations.
First, one must be specific about his usage of the term "moderate." One Barry Goldwater changed positions from anti-abortion to pro-choice (http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/barry.html) yet is also famous for the assertion, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
Second, I believe JK has let slip evidence that he simply doesn't understand what the abortion debate is all about. He writes, "Guys like us want abortion to go away like the presidents between Tyler and Lincoln wanted slavery to go away. I don't think it will happen until Roe v. Wade is overturned, and the individual states can enact their own laws." The laws that states may enact if Roe is overturned are laws of prohibition on individual liberty. History has proven such laws to be a waste of time. Prohibition comes to mind, as do the totalitarian rules in places like Ukraine, Lebanon and Iran.
Yes, no matter how you slice it an abortion is a homicide, but imposing a law against it denies self-determination for the greater of the two parties involved - the mother. If individual liberty is your highest value then a law against abortion is immoral. If your morality calls for outlawing rational individual self-determination then you are a collectivist.
Any abortion alternative, and I support them all, MUST be chosen by the mother without duress.
IF this were a dinner party, my wife would have long ago told me to shut up and pulled me from the table, before further embarrassing myself, but she is not here, so I'll dribble rebuttal down my shirtfront.
Keep in mind there is abortion and there is Roe v. Wade. They are not the same thing. The strict constructionist will object to Roe, not because of his moral views on abortion but because of the way it was decided. For an excellent explanation of Roe, I would suggest Robert Bork's "The Tempting of America."
The problem for supporters of abortion rights, that might otherwise wish to see a strict construcitonist on the bench, is that that judge will be a "no" vote, should the court revisit Roe. Any justice willing to give Roe a pass will be at best a situational constructionist, deciding more on personal whim that on text and intent. So do you pick a president that will undermine your moral stance on abortion in order to have decisions on security, commerce, environment etc... based on the constitution, or do you pick a president who will want to preserve Roe and accept the crapshoot of emanations and penumbra that will certainly follow.
Sometime remind me to tell ya'all about the time me and Al Gore's best buddy squared off on the Supreme Court, abortion and Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. That was a wang dang doodle!
Sugarchuck: You must share that tale with us. If you'd be so kind as to email it to me, I would give it its own post, which it obviously deserves.
Johngalt: Man, I pay money to be insulted like this -- that must be a failure of free market capitalism on some level. I think I profoundly and dispassionately understand the abortion debate, but that's just my trademark modesty.
If the good people of the great State of Nebraska wish to legislate, through legal means, that D&X abortions will not be performed in the state, or that no doctor shall perform any abortion on a minor without a "reasonable effort" to notify a parent or guardian, I am all for it. Surely you are not countenancing the judicial overreach that is Roe v. Wade just because you approve of the outcome?
And while I'm defending myself: of course, sc, I expect my strict constructionist to strike down Roe v. Wade. But that is a byproduct of intellectual honesty, not a raison d'etre. I absolutely do not want to keep Roe v. Wade, but I can look moderate voters in the eye and tell them that I am not doing this to outlaw abortion. Principled Leadership in a jk administration (Silence, how about Education? Interior? EPA? HUD?)
At the risk of jeopardizing my cabinet appointment I have to disagree a bit with JK and I guess quite a bit with sugarchuck. My reading of the Constitution and the 9th and 14th amendments (those most specifically claimed to have been infringed by the Texas criminal statutes that brought about the suit by Jane Roe) in particular lead me to a rather different analysis of what constitutes a "constructionist" judge. The 9th and 10th amendments were meant to be catch-alls, namely the 9th did not limit citizen's rights to those specifically enumerated in the Constitution and the 10th gave to the States powers not claimed by the Federal government. The 9th has always seemed to me to be one of those far sighted pieces of the Constitution that provided for change, even change that the framers might not be able to imagine. So in this amendment, part of the Bill of Rights without which we likely would not have had a Constitution, is a specific reference to a multitude of personal rights both those not stated at the time and those not even imagined at the time. Next up is the 14th, often thought of as the right to privacy, but in fact encompassing due process, the right to life, liberty and property, and equally treatment under law. This was a direct result of the 13th amendment ending slavery and was meant to bestow upon all citizens a right of freedom to live their life as they should so choose, to have free choice in all matters concerning their life, liberty and property. The reality of the times was that even though slaves had been freed from their masters, many state laws and regulations existed to deprive former slaves of true freedom to determine their own lives. So in the 9th amendment the Constitution granted unenumerated personal rights directly to the citizens themselves and the 14th strengthened this by specifically forbidding States to pass laws infringing these rights. I would say that both by wording and by spirit the amendments sought to construct a Constitution with vast personal freedom not to be abridged without due process.
Does your constructionist argument against Roe stem from the 10th amendment that the States have the power to enact laws against abortion? The actual Roe decision sought very specifically to enumerate a viability point before which a fetus was part of the mother's body and thus covered by Constitutional protections afforded to her, and after which the States would have a right to regulate abortion except for preservation of the mother's life. The decision did not trample the 10th amendment but sought to balance it with the 9th and 14th. The point of viability is of course a sticky wicket and one that medical science has and will continue to change. This however begs the question of how the baby's viability would be protected, by forcing the mother to carry to term, by removing the fetus and using a surrogate or laboratory? Seems to me there would be just a few Constitutional issues with any of those outcomes, thereby putting you right back in the Constitutional interpretation area that you sought to avoid
Excellent analysis Silence. One with which I agree except for your choice of the word "change" as a characteristic of the constitution that the framers intended. Instead I would say that your catch-all characterization is correct, and that the ninth amendment was the framers' way of telling the government to "leave people alone."
I'd also like to add to your analysis that the fourth amendment is germane to this issue: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, ... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated," to which I say what is more unreasonable than to search a woman's uterus? I believe that this is the infamous "right to privacy" that the anti-abortionists cite as an abominable revision of the framers' intent. But, especially when coupled with the ninth amendment, this is a perfectly valid conclusion as to the broad meaning of the fourth. Once again, leave the people alone.
Why Men Earn More than Women
Yahoo Finance brings us an explanation of the market forces that lead to higher earnings for men compared to women, and it has nothing to do with child bearing. Women just need to do what men more often do and they can, in fact, earn more than men.
The book's main message is good news for women: If women do one or more of the 25 things men more often do, women can earn more than men.
The 25 can be reduced to three:
1. Choose careers that pay more.
2. Put in more hours.
3. Be more productive in the hours you do work.
I asked Farrell, "But apart from the 25 nonsexist reasons men earn more, isn't sexism still a factor?" He responded, "There are instances of discrimination against both women and men, but on average, no. If you knew you could hire a woman for less than an equivalent man, you'd hire women to get a price advantage over your competition. Do you think businesses so hate women that they hire more expensive men even though they'd lose so much money?"
Since Yahoo links are notoriously non-permanent I've reprinted the entire article under Continue Reading.
Hat tip: My wife's 'article of the day' email. Subscription service only, and subscription is limited to... ME. (sorry) :)
Why men earn more than women
Monday March 7, 6:00 am ET
For decades, we in the media have reported that women earn less than men. As a result, we've created a generation of angry women and self-conscious men.
A new book, "Why Men Earn More," by Dr. Warren Farrell, shows we've been dead wrong: For the same work, women earn more than men. His findings are based on a comprehensive review of government and other statistics.
Farrell is no right-wing misogynist. He ran for the Democratic nomination for California governor. He's the only man ever elected three times to the board of the National Organization for Women in New York City. And he's no intellectual lightweight; the Financial Times named him one of the world's top 100 thought leaders.
The book's main message is good news for women: If women do one or more of the 25 things men more often do, women can earn more than men.
Farrell does not encourage nor discourage women from doing these 25 things: "Each of the 25 usually requires trading quality of life for money. I just want women and men to be aware of their options so they can craft a life rather than just accept what drops in their lap."
The 25 can be reduced to three:
1. Choose careers that pay more. Because of supply and demand, you'll earn more by choosing a job that:
is in an unpleasant environment (prison vs. childcare facility);
requires harder-to-attain skills (hard science vs. liberal arts);
requires longer work hours (executive vs. administrative assistant);
is unrewarding to most people (tax accountant vs. artist);
demands financial risk (commission-based sales vs. government job);
is inconvenient (traveling salesperson vs. teacher);
is hazardous (police officer vs. librarian).
Many more men than women are willing to accept such jobs, even when women are paid more. For example, women sales engineers earn 143 percent of their male counterparts' salaries, yet less than 20 percent of sales engineers are women.
2. Put in more hours. That's obvious, but key. For example, Farrell cites research that "Fortune 1000 CEOs typically paid their dues with 60- to 90-hour workweeks for about 20 years. Yet women are less than half as likely as men to work more than 50 hours a week. And women are less likely to agree, every few years, to uproot themselves and their families to far-flung places to get the necessary promotions."
Why? Because women, on average, are more involved in childrearing and other domestic activities. So, if a woman (or man) expects to rise to high-paying jobs, she may need to push harder to get hubby more involved in those activities, pay for childcare and domestic services, or decide not to have children.
I asked Farrell, "But shouldn't workplaces not expect a woman (or a man) to work so many hours that family life is undercut?" He responded, "Yes, absolutely, but we must be gender-fair. If a male corporate manager chose to take care of his children, we'd applaud him but not expect the workplace to promote him as quickly. Yet when women do the same, women's advocacy organizations often expect just that. Both men and women must accept the consequences of their choices."
3. Be more productive in the hours you do work. If women produce as much as men, the good news is they will likely be rewarded. For example, women's advocacy organizations complain that female professors earn less than male professors, but Farrell cites research that among professors who produce an equal number of journal articles, "men were likely to be paid the same or just slightly less than women."
I asked Farrell, "But apart from the 25 nonsexist reasons men earn more, isn't sexism still a factor?" He responded, "There are instances of discrimination against both women and men, but on average, no. If you knew you could hire a woman for less than an equivalent man, you'd hire women to get a price advantage over your competition. Do you think businesses so hate women that they hire more expensive men even though they'd lose so much money?"
In reflecting on Farrell's book, I wonder if, rather than denigrating men for earning more, we should respect them for their willingness to do unpleasant, but necessary, work that few women will do such as roofing, coal mining or guarding a prison -- often working themselves into an early grave. There are four widows for every widower.
And men, you might learn a lesson from women and consider trading money for quality of life.
March 11, 2005
What Freedom Buys
Larry Kudlow "reviews" a new publication from the Federal Reserve: The Wealth of America.
In their "flow of funds" report, the Fed tells us that the U.S. just hit a record of $48.5 trillion in net wealth of American households. That represents an 8.8 percent gain over 2003. That, by the way, is our true savings rate.
Inside the wealth report, real estate was the big winner, rising by $2.1 trillion. Financial investments of stocks, mutual funds, and pensions rose $1.5 trillion. In total, netting out assets and liabilities, the wealth of America increased by $3.9 trillion.
Now, I say that's pretty good. Free markets, free trade, and add a dose of lower tax-rates, deregulation, and technology-driven productivity. Oh, and by the way, a $48.5 trillion net wealth is 121 times the 2004 federal budget deficit of $413 billion.
Publus Pundit notes
that collectivist Venezuela is not doing nearly so well -- even with $55 oil.
Good stats, all. One picky point though, wouldn't it make more logical sense to compare the $48.5 trillion net wealth to the $7.7 trillion national debt not an annual deficit?
Your criticism is fair, but I think that Mr. Kudlow's point is illustrative against the tide of hand-wringing over the deficit.
As a supply-sider, he consistently claims that it is growth that will lead us out of d e b t, so he focuses more on pro-growth policies, even if they present short-term increases to the deficit.
History has been good to the supply-siders!
Indeed it has. Capitalism is the only economic system that functions properly without an element of force.
To realize just how important an attribut this is, see my comment below on the 'Urban Politics' post.
The Union Label...
Chester Finn makes an astonishing observation on the WSJ Ed Page today, in a guest column entitled Teacher Can't Teach.
Over the past half-century, the number of pupils in U.S. schools grew by about 50% while the number of teachers nearly tripled. Spending per student rose threefold, too. If the teaching force had simply kept pace with enrollments, school budgets had risen as they did, and nothing else changed, today's average teacher would earn nearly $100,000, plus generous benefits. We'd have a radically different view of the job and it would attract different sorts of people.
Yes, classes would be larger -- about what they were when I was in school. True, there'd be fewer specialists and supervisors. And we wouldn't have as many instructors for youngsters with "special needs." But teachers would earn twice what they do today (less than $50,000, on average) and talented college graduates would vie for the relatively few openings in those ranks.
What America has done, these past 50 years, is invest in more teachers rather than better ones, even as countless appealing and lucrative options have opened up for the able women who once poured into public schooling. No wonder teaching salaries have just kept pace with inflation, despite huge increases in education budgets. No wonder the teaching occupation, with blessed exceptions, draws people from the lower ranks of our lesser universities. No wonder there are shortages in key branches of this sprawling profession. When you employ three million people and you don't pay very well, it's hard to keep a field fully staffed, especially in locales (rural communities, tough urban schools) that aren't too enticing and in subjects such as math and science where well-qualified individuals can earn big bucks doing something else.
He then lists three reasons for this, but I'll collapse them into one: Teachers' Unions.
They have not only destroyed the education system -- as a byproduct they have prevented teachers from making six-figure salaries.
(As it's on the paid site, I am going to purloin the entire article. Click "Continue reading..." for the rest of the piece.)
Why did we triple the size of the teaching work force instead of paying more to a smaller number of stronger people? Three reasons.
First, the seductiveness of smaller classes. Teachers want fewer kids in their classrooms and parents think their children will be better off, despite scant evidence that students learn more in smaller classes, particularly from less able instructors. Second, the institutional interests that benefit from a larger teaching force, above all dues-collecting (and influence-seeking) unions, and colleges of education whose revenues (tuition, state subsidies) and size (all those faculty slots) depend on their enrollments. Third, the social forces pushing schools to treat children differently from one another, creating one set of classes for the gifted, others for children with handicaps, those who want to learn Japanese, who seek full-day kindergarten or who crave more community-service opportunities.
Nobody has resisted. It was not in anyone's interest to keep the teaching ranks sparse, while many interests were served by helping them to swell. Today, we pay the price: lots of money spent on schooling, nearly all of it for salaries, but schooling that, at the end of the day, depends on the knowledge, skills and commitment of teachers who don't earn much and cannot see that they ever will.
Compounding that problem, we make multiple policy blunders. We restrict entry to people "certified" by state bureaucracies, normally after passing through quasi-monopolistic training programs that add little value. Thus an ill-paid vocation also has daunting, yet pointless, barriers to entry. We pay mediocre instructors the same as super-teachers. Though tiny cracks are appearing in the "uniform salary schedule," in general an energized and highly-effective classroom practitioner earns no more than a feckless time-server. We pay no more to high-school physics or math teachers than middle-school gym teachers, though the latter are easy to find while people capable of the former posts are scarce and have plentiful options. We pay no more to those who take on daunting assignments in tough schools than to those who work with easy kids in leafy suburbs. In fact, we often pay them less.
Instead of recognizing that today's 20-somethings commonly try multiple occupations before settling down (if they ever do), then making imaginative use of those who are game to teach for a few years, we still assume that teaching is a lifelong vocation and lament anyone who exits the classroom for other pursuits. Instead of deploying technology so that gifted teachers reach hundreds of kids while others function more like tutors or aides, we assume that every classroom needs its own Socrates.
Despite all that, and to their great credit, most teachers are decent folks who care about kids and want to help them learn. But turning around U.S. schools and "leaving no child behind" calls for more. It also requires passion, brains, knowledge and technique. Federal law now demands subject-matter mastery. Such qualities are hard to find in vast numbers, however, especially when the job doesn't pay very well. Yet fat across-the-board raises for three million people are a pipe dream. (Adding $10,000 plus benefits to their pay would add some $40 billion to school budgets.)
Maybe we can't turn back the clock on the numbers, but surely we can reverse the policy errors. With hundreds of thousands of teaching jobs now turning over each year, at minimum we should insist that new entrants play by different rules that reward effectiveness, deploy smart incentives and suitable technology, compensate them sensibly, and make skillful use of short-termers instead of just wishing they'd stay longer. And this time let's watch what we're doing.
Mr. Finn is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and president and trustee of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.
What about the highly skilled professionals who go into the profession for the right reason (the OUTcome rather than the INcome)? I am a 23 year old teacher who has been in the work force for 2 years teaching a special needs class. I am deemed "highly qualified" according to state law and am dual certified in two states...not to mention, I have spent countless hours taking and passing 8 different tests for certification. The article did a good job making teachers look like we are motivated by the amount of money we make. True teachers know what they are getting into when they go into the field. We know it is not a high-paying job, we know it is going to be tough, we know our own teaching philosophies are going to have to take second seat to school budgets and state law, but more importantly, we know why we continue teaching...the children. Someone once asked me (on an interview actually) why I wanted to teach. I didn't say "because I like kids" or "because I want to help people". I simply replied, "It is my calling." True teachers, empty wallets and all, have a gift. I chose to use my gift to benefit students with special needs. My reward at the end of the day is not whether my prescription gets paid for, or whether I can visit a specialist with only $10.00 in my pocket. It is not being able to pay my rent on time or have a few extra dollars to get take-out. My reward is seeing one of my students succeed in something. I do agree with the article when it states that more people would be attracted to the profession if it paid better. However, it would not attract the right teachers; those who we may not want our own children to have as a teacher...those who are motivated by the income instead of the outcome.
Just one more thing...in case any of you were wondering. My $42.00 prescription is not included in my health insurance. My co-pay is sometimes more than $10.00, and my rent is not always on time.
Thanks for the comment.
I think it is great that you have found your calling and that you work in an important field and that it gives you satisfaction.
I make the assumption that you are a very good teacher -- why shouldn't you make good money? Would you rather manage a little larger class and get paid more and have access to better equipment?
I am also curious whether you feel the certifications you have worked so hard for are valuable or "just something you have to do."
Many of my relatives are teachers and I have nothing but respect for you and them. I just feel that the good teachers could have a better satisfaction without the union involvement.
First off, thank you for the positive comments.
To be honest with you, in my field of working with students with special needs, I think smaller class sizes are more beneficial. With a class of 4-6 students I am able to direct my attention to the students that need it most. I am happy with my small class. To better prove my point, let me share a personal experience with you (and others who read this). When I was student teaching, I was assigned to a special education class in Philadelphia. The class had one teacher, no assistants, and 11-16 students at a time in grades K through 3. Let's assume that the teacher got paid a salary of 35,000 per year. One may think that is too little for a class as challenging as that. However, if the class size was cut in half, the salary would be well worth it. The teacher would be able to teach each individual student better and really hone in on the children's specific needs. With large classes, general ed or special, students often slip through the cracks.
In response to my certifications, I do not feel they were something I "had" to do. Pennsylvania is one of the most difficult states in which to obtain certification, with 6 or more tests to pass. New Jersey only requires one test for general ed., and no test for special ed. Besides having the certifications make my resume look good, I feel that they have not only boosted MY pride and confidence, but also that of my district for having hired me.
I hope this has answered some of your questions.
True teachers do have a gift, but I see their empty wallets as an effect, not a cause. Must a teacher suffer for their craft, and is this a prerequisite for being a good teacher? Private industry has thrived on the concept that compensation is a motivating factor, not a bribe to sell out. I worry that we cannot continue to fill our schools with teachers motivated by a calling. The level of education and expertise required to be a teacher, to say nothing of the importance of the work should command a better salary.
But then again, the growth in salaries in industry for the past few decades has been mostly due to increased productivity, a rather technical way to say doing more work with fewer people. The law of economics would indicate that teaching needs to see the same productivity increase to see the same salary increase. Harsh, but reality. I certainly do not have all the answers, or perhaps even any good ones, but what about using some of the methods of industry? Utilize technology - teleconference a language arts teacher for example into many classrooms simultaneously. Yes, something is lost without the human touch but which is better, a dynamic energetic teacher on video or bored downtrodden one in person? Use double shifts - half the class size for 5 intensive hours a day and each teacher teaches two 5 hour shifts to get the same number of students through the class. Outsource - take some of the drudgery of paper grading and assign it to part time assistants - stay at home parents with some ability and aptitude perhaps? Then meet with those assistants to communicate pupil progress. I suspect most teachers can assess a student's performance and identify areas for improvement without slogging through grading each and every assignment.
I wish basically AM that we could provide you more than just our gratitude. Being paid well for your work does not diminish its importance.
You sound like a very educated person in the field of economics. I am curious...where did you get all this knowledge about the economy and industry? Where do your solution theories come from? Was all this from a dynamic energetic teacher or a downtrodden one? How many kids were in the class?
I would like to address your idea of having the assistants take home paperwork and do the grading. That may work, IF the only method of measuring students' successes were from pencil and paper tests and papers (and even with those, teachers have their own way of evaluating). Teachers take advantage of the many methods of assessment. When they assess their own students, they are better able to pinpoint the area of difficulty and help fix the problem. It would be like standing in a courtroom for six hours presenting your case to a judge, but having the stenographer decide if you are guilty or not guilty. One more question for you...what economic theory states that one should get paid more for doing less work?
With regards to your idea of teleconferencing classrooms instead of having a live teacher, I would like to know what you would do with students with behavior problems. Hire a babysitter to sit there? Let me share my knowledge with you about elementary education philosophies. If you look at the developmental theories of psychologists in the field, you will find that at the elementary level students are motivated by pleasing others. They thrive on getting personal attention and creating positive relationships with their role models. They search for approval from adults, thus developing their self esteem, and later, their character and personality.
Five intensive hours a day? I assume you mean one hour for each subject...reading, math, science, social studies...and one for lunch? Where does character education fit in? Social development? Creative writing? Library? Computer class? Recess? Physical education? Art? Music? Are you thinking kids should go to school for 10 hours a day to fit it all in? Should kids start adopting early the 10-12 hour work day like parents often do? Have you thought about attention span? ADD or not, it is difficult for kids to be productive for more than an hour without some kind of break...snack, lunch, recess, choice-time, sustained silent reading, etc.
What's your next outlandish idea..paying teachers commission according to the letter grades students get on tests??? Before you say that is a good idea, consider students with special needs in regular ed classrooms that do not test well or students who are just bright enough to figure out that if they fail a test from a teacher they dislike, they can really screw her/him over with their paycheck...
Do more research in education rather than economics. Maybe that will change your solution ideas...
Joel Kotkin deserves some props, having written both for The Weekly Standard and The New Republic in the space of a couple of months.
I blogged before about his "Cities of Aspiration."
His TNR piece is about the LA Elections. While I didn't pay them much attention, it dovetails into his urban projections. He says it's not about who won, it's about who lost.
The problem? Middle-class residents here may no longer have large enough ranks to elect one of their own to citywide office. This may have turned the famously energetic Hertzberg into the little engine that could not climb the demographic hill. Whatever the merits of the candidates in this particular election, one thing is clear: The underlying demographic factors that doomed Hertzberg's campaign spell bad news for Los Angeles, and for the American city in general.
Across the country, major cities are continuing to lose middle-class residents as they flock either to the surrounding suburbs or to less congested, more affordable, and more business-friendly smaller cities, particularly in places like Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. The group that is leaving--upwardly mobile people in their thirties and forties--represents a particularly important part of the urban mix. Historically, when this strata has abandoned cities, urban society has shifted toward a more bifurcated makeup: the wealthy few residing among a growing underclass. This occurred in late imperial Rome, in seventeenth-century Venice, in eighteenth-century Amsterdam--and has become a common prelude to urban disaster in American cities during the past half-century.
I'd have little to pay attention to a mayoral election, but I think Kotkin's point is well taken here. Is this an inexorable, self-propogating demographic shift?
A recent History Channel program about the unpublished "second book" of Adolph Hitler (after Mein Kampf) claimed that Hitler observed this same phenomenon, the flight of the ambitious creator class from areas of social collectivism, in post-war (WW I) Germany. In that case it was ambitious Germans leaving increasingly socialist Germany for the greener pastures of America. The "second book" apparently includes his solution to this "problem." He intended to invade and colonize the USA to reclaim not only the "cream of the aryan race" but the tremendous natural resources of the US.
The moral of the story is that ambitious individuals will not subject themselves to the looting of a socialist society willingly. Such subjection must be done by force.
In answer to your rhetorical questions, self-propagating - yes; inexorable - yes, except by force.
March 9, 2005
Freedom of Speech has its Limits
The pariah of "higher" education - The University of Colorado's Ward Churchill - is under fire, rightly so, for numerous idiotic utterances he's made since September 11, 2001. Some nine percent of the academic "elite" on CU's campus have fallen all over themselves to defend his "right to free speech."
But this post isn't about the idiocy of that defense of the indefensible. It is about double-standards...the goose and the gander...the pot calling the kettle black.
Seque to a classroom on the CU campus: In the words of the unofficial campus newspaper 'Colorado Daily,' "The story went like this. At the end of a class in the Muenzinger Psychology building, the white kid pointed out to the black kid that he'd talked through the entire lecture. The black kid invited him to go sit up front where he could hear. The white kid then said "maybe I should; I don't need to be sitting next to some loudmouth n----r." And then the fight was on."
So why is this "news" you may ask. Is one of the kids pressing charges? No. An expose on the state of the learning environment on campus? Nope. Can you believe that "some stupid white kid in a CU class this week hurled the n-word at one of his black classmates?!"
There you have it. In a climate of "anything goes" and "absolute freedom of speech" we have the editor of this smarmy little paper decrying an individual who spoke freely because they didn't like what he said. Apparently there's an absolute right to free speech except for the word "nigger." (Which is interesting because, as far as I can tell, the word has not been banned from the English language.) But something tells me that even that would be OK if Ward Churchill said it.
This was all the Daily needed to judge the white kid "stupid," which is a disparaging term itself. Worse yet, they judged him "deserving" of being beat up (provided, that is, that he lost the fight. The objectivity of this source is in serious doubt.) Do they really believe the black kid actually "invited him to go sit up front where he could hear" instead of something like, "get your skinny white ass up in the front where I don't have to look at your sorry shit." Nah, I'm sure he was the perfect gentleman. Just like Ward Churchill.
Any white kid stupid enough to call a black kid a "nigger" in a college classroom is "stupid". Calling someone a name like that anywhere is else isn't red hot smart either. I'd agree with JK that this isn't the best example of a free speech double standard.
A better example might be found in the plight of the CU prof who quoted Thomas Sowell and mentioned God in one of his lectures. If the accounts of this are true and he has been effectively fired for what he said, then this better illustrates the pathology in academia. Where are the protester supporting his right to free speech. Where is the supporting letter signed by two hundred of his fellow profs? This man has been called a racist, in spite of his two black, adopted children; perhaps we should defend him before we defend some cracker kid with a big mouth.
CU is a cesspool and Ward Churchill is most likely a very typical, garden variety nutjob in a hot house of nutjobs. Go Gonzaga!
So your combined points are.. That it's a "poor example of double standards" not because it isn't a double standard but because it's one we should all want to live with? And that calling someone a nigger in a college classroom, that absolution zone for free speech, the incubator for unpopular ideas where "even the most reprehensible things" must be allowed fair hearing, is marginally WORSE than doing so anywhere else?
The word "nigger" is not part of my vocabulary, nor that of most enlightened individuals, but if on occasion it ever happens to pass someone's lips it should not automatically - and with social sanction - inure the speaker to a physical assault. Should it? As a jurist, would you truly acquit a black man of assault (or worse) under a defense of "But, but, but...he called me a nigger?"
I expected this posting to be controversial but as I thought it through I concluded that my premise is rational and defensible. The revulsive response it precipitated shows just how deep the political correctness has penetrated into the subconscious beliefs of even those who decry political correctness.
As for the wrongfully fired CU prof, you are right. Look for a post on him soon. (My sister in law knows him, and feels betrayed by the university over his firing.) But his is a case I expect to see on Hannity and Colmes before long. They won't touch the radioactive "n" word, though. That is left up to wingnuts like myself. By the way, did you know that "nigger" is derived from a French word? Makes sense to me.
If I'm wrong, I'm sure it will be pointed out, but it's my understanding that the Supreme Court recognizes that fighting words don't constitute protected speech and I can't imagine any word more inclined to provoke a fight than "nigger", when directed by a white man, in anger, towards a black man. And yes, politically correct or not, I do hold the classroom in higher regard than the barroom when it comes to the free exchange of ideas, but that isn't what happened here; this was an exchange of epithets. This wasn't Thomas Sowell vs. Cornell West...this was David Duke stuff and it doesn't belong in a classroom.
Perhaps I should have said, in my original post, that this wasn't a poor comparison becasue the two situations are not comparable. Ward Churchill, as reprehensible as I find him, was expressing the same academic train of thought that probably got him his job in the first place and it is probably mirrored all over that campus (thus the strong show of support). Granted, some of what Churchill has said, falls into the same category of fighting words I refered to earlier, and perhaps he will be fired for that, but by and large he is a typical acedemic, living off of the tax dollars of those he pisses on everyday.
This kid, on the other hand, was not expressing any academic viewpoint, or initiating a debate. He was starting a fist fight and the first amendment does not protect him. This isn't an example fo a double standard, this is oranges and rotten apples.
As staff pragmatist, I must say that one has to pick one's battles. I'd love to dismantle the Federal Department of Education on philosophical grounds but I saw how well that worked for President Dole in 96.
Say what you will, but say something offensive and don't be surprised if people take offense. The real difference in these cases is one of protection. The professor has it from tenure, the white student does not Dr. Churchill seems to me a mediocre academic who found that few really listened to his ideas so he did the modern combative political thing, ratcheted up the tone of his views until he was heard. Many here complain about the MSM, but what about the GMF, the Great Media Filter? This filters out rational speech as not newsworthy and brings us instead the most offensive, all the better to offend us into listening.
So free speech is only protected when it's not in anger? That's not in the constitution. The fact remains that sticks and stones may break one's bones but resorting to violence against another because of ANY words that pass his lips is indefensible.
Force against another is only justified in self-defense... defense from FORCE (or a reasonable anticipation of it), not "epithets."
Leave it to a collectivist rag like the Colorado Daily to claim otherwise: "Believe what we believe or we'll sanction beatings of you. You'll soon be a GOOD comrade citizen."
The Sharansky of Saigon
Claudia Rosett, who deserves a freedom-rewarding prize as much as any journalist today, gives that sobriquet to democratic dissident Nguyen Dan Que of Vietnam. In her OpinionJournal piece today, she highlights his courage and ends with hope.
Dr. Que does not have access to the daily diet of news that feeds the free world. But given the feats of modern technology to spread information, he knows enough about what is now happening in the Middle East so that he wished to share his views on how America's intervention in Iraq is like the war in Vietnam, and how it isn't. The similarity, he says, "is the same fighting spirit for freedom." The difference, he adds, is that in the fight for freedom, the side America is on "will triumph this time."
"The world is changing," says Dr. Que. "There are more opportunities than ever."
He is right, and if the world is changing, it is because the U.S. is hardly alone in prizing freedom. In every country are people who care about liberty--and in most places there are a few willing to pay dearly and take extraordinary risks to lead the way. Dr. Que is one, and as we watch the Middle East, it bears remembering, as he says, that these are "universal values," that in many places there are people who given any chance at all will answer freedom's call.
The sub-head is so good that Instapundit wants bumper-stickers: "Vietnam -- The Next Iraq?"
Let Freedom Reign!
March 8, 2005
Democrats For Free Trade?
There are a few grownups left in the Democratic Party. Today in a WSJ Guest Editorial, former Clinton Staffers STUART E. EIZENSTAT and DAVID MARCHICK tell today's Democrats why they should support CAFTA.
Democrats should, however, support Cafta for two fundamental reasons: First, the agreement is deeply in our national interest and will create, not destroy, jobs. Second, if the Democratic Party wants to regain the White House and control of Congress, it has to take pro-growth, pro-jobs positions on key issues, including trade agreements.
Cafta follows the same template as the United States' free trade agreements with Australia, Singapore, Jordan, Chile, Morocco, Canada and Israel -- agreements which garnered substantial Democratic support. Cafta would also open markets to U.S. goods and services, lower tariffs, create transparent government procurement processes and adopt trade facilitation measures. In fact, exporters from Central America can already sell products in the United States at zero or low tariffs. Cafta lowers tariffs on U.S. products exported to Central America.
The implications of Cafta extend into regional geopolitics. The agreement would solidify the United States as the leading supplier of goods and services to Central America and the Dominican Republic at a time when China is making serious inroads as an investor and exporter in the Western Hemisphere. Late last year, for example, China's president announced with great fanfare plans to invest $20 billion in Latin America. The United States needs to maintain its leadership position in Central and Latin America -- and this agreement would help American exporters retain a competitive edge.
It amazes me that President Clinton gets so much credit for Reubenomics, which was an anomality, yet his party claims no credit for his breakthroughs on NAFTA, GATT, and China's introduction to the WTO. That's a great legacy that today's Dems are too willing to throw away.
March 7, 2005
Bold Claim: America Was Right
Krauthammer: "History has begun to speak, and it says that America made the right decision to invade Iraq"
To what do we attribute this Arab spring? While American (and European) liberal and "realist" critics are seeking some explanation, those a bit closer to the scene don't flinch from the obvious. "It is strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt explained to David Ignatius of the Washington Post. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
Bah! It's just Krauthammer. But then there's this...
It is barely six weeks since the US President delivered his second inaugural address, a paean to liberty and democracy that espoused the goal of "ending tyranny in our world". Reactions around the world ranged from alarm to amused scorn, from fears of a new round of "regime changes" imposed by an all-powerful American military, to suspicions in the salons of Europe that this time Mr Bush, never celebrated for his grasp of world affairs, had finally lost it. No one imagined that events would so soon cause the President's opponents around the world to question whether he had got it right.
That debate is now happening, in America and beyond, as the first waves of reform lap at the Arab world. Post-Saddam Iraq has held its first proper election. In their own elections, Palestinians have overwhelmingly chosen a moderate leader. Hosni Mubarak, who for 24 years has permitted no challenge to his rule in Egypt, has announced a multi-candidate presidential election this year. Even Saudi Arabia is not immune, having just held its first municipal elections. Next time around, Saudi spokesmen promise, women too will be permitted to vote.
Most remarkably of all, perhaps, popular demonstrations in Beirut last week brought the downfall of one pro-Syrian government and - with the help of fierce pressure from Washington and the EU - the agreement by Syria to start withdrawing its troops in Lebanon.
How much Mr Bush is responsible for these development is debatable. The peaceful uprising in Lebanon was provoked by outrage at the assassination of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri, in which a Syrian hand is suspected, although not proven. Then the man who insisted on elections in Iraq when the US wanted to postpone or dilute them was Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani, leader of Iraq's majority Shia community. And the death from old age of Yasser Arafat, not machinations in Washington, led to the election that might break the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock.
Indubitably, however, even his most grudging domestic opponents and his harshest critics in the region admit that Mr Bush is also in part responsible. The 2003 invasion of Iraq may have been justified by a giant fraud, but that, and above all the January election to which it led, transfixing the Arab world, has proved a catalyst.
Robert Fisks paper? Nah... pinch me.
Posted by AlexC at 9:27 PM
NYTimes Paean to Wal*Mart
If you live long enough, you really do see it all. David Akst writes a story on Wal*Mart that is not apocalyptic and the Grey Lady publishes it.
These investors must be charitably minded because they aren't the main beneficiaries of Wal-Mart's business.
For several years now, the shareholders, who have more than $200 billion tied up in the company, have not done especially well. Since the end of 1999, Wal-Mart stock is off 23 percent, while Target is up 43 percent and Lowe's is up 95 percent.
The big winners during this period were the juggernaut's customers, who gained by having Wal-Mart drive down the price of consumer goods. Assuming that Wal-Mart investors are more affluent than its shoppers, the system offers a progressive transfer from rich to poor - from capital owners to less prosperous American consumers and hard-working Chinese factory hands. It's like Robin Hood, only with parking.
It's tempting to say that some of the benefits to shoppers come at the expense of Wal-Mart's roughly 1.2 million employees, but it's a tough case to make. Many Wal-Mart employees presumably can't get better jobs; if they could, they would. By continuing to work at the chain, they are showing that they prefer the jobs they have to no jobs at all. If Wal-Mart vanished, in fact, they would be in big trouble indeed.
If you don't have much money, Wal-Mart is a godsend, and, in a way, that's the trouble. Wal-Mart's hold on its shoppers is largely mercenary, and therefore tenuous. To me, shopping at Wal-Mart feels like a chore, and Sam's Club is better only if there's no Costco nearby. In other words, I think the juggernaut is vulnerable. It may well be, for the foreseeable future, that it's smarter to buy stuff at Wal-Mart than to buy stock in Wal-Mart. The stock may or may not be a good deal. The stuff is a sure thing.
I hope some of the activists who succeeded in depriving the folks in Queens of the price, selection, and job opportunities that a Wal*Mart would have provided see this.
Boy, Bush was right and Wal*Mart isn't completely evil. Tough days for the Times...
Hat-tip: Virginia Postrel
On the web
Posted by John Kranz at 6:27 PM
The Manolo speaks of writing the book:
At the first, the Manolo he was resistant to the idea of the book. Who would pay the $18.99 in the American dollars to read the blatherings of the humble Manolo, especially if this it can be obtained for the free at the Manolo's blogs.
But then the literary agent of the Manolo he convinced the Manolo that the book it was the very good idea, that perhaps many people they would pay this money to hear the Manolo pontificate on the fashion and the celebrity, and that this world of ours, this crazy mixed up world of ours, it needs the Manolo now more than the ever.
I discovered Manolo's Shoe Blog on Virginia Postrel's site
. And Chris Muir featured him on Feb 25th's DayByDay
. Gotta read the Manolo!
UPDATE: Not that it matters, but I hereby take The Manolo No Poncho Pledge
On the web
Posted by John Kranz at 6:15 PM
Bolton Gets High Marks
When I saw the AP Headline "Bolton Named Ambassador," I of course hoped that President Bush was sending Michael Bolton to some backwater where he would be unable to record.
I didn't know anything about John Bolton before today. But Larry Kudlow likes him
Congratulations to John Bolton for his appointment to be US Ambassador to the UN. Bolton is a tough player who strongly believes in President Bush’s new foreign policy of freedom and democratization worldwide. He has a distinguished track record on security and proliferation matters who helped lead the American withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. He has never been bashful about blasting North Korea. He also criticized China for selling missile technology to Iran and other rogue states. This is an excellent appointment.
Better still, it seems that Kofi Annan doesn't.
a good appointment.
I thought it was Officer Joe Bolton, the guy who hosted the Three Stooges afternoon show on a local channel in New York in the 1960s.
John Bolton is a very tough guy. I'm not sure I'd want to work for him, but I sure want him working for me.
The Sharansky Moment
Caroline Glick writes a column in The Jerusalem Post about Natan Sharansky's influence in the United States.
In the history of Israel's relations with the US, there has been no precedent for the influence that Minister-without-Portfolio Natan Sharansky has had on US foreign policy. While in the past Israeli leaders have worked closely with their American counterparts, no one other than Sharansky has managed to actually influence the way that American policymakers think about foreign affairs or perceive the role of the US in the world.
Today it is beyond debate that Sharansky has deeply influenced US President George W. Bush's thinking on international affairs. After reading Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy, Bush told The New York Times that Sharansky's worldview "is part of my presidential DNA." This Sharansky-inspired "presidential DNA" posits that the Arab world's conflict with Israel, like its support for global jihad, will end when the Arab world democratizes. In Sharansky's view, once Arabs are governed democratically, they will not wish to sustain the conflict.
If Sharansky and Bush are correct, then the past week has been one of the greatest weeks in the history of the Middle East. Syria's puppet government in Beirut has resigned and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is being squeezed from all directions. He has declared that he will end Syria's occupation of Lebanon and has turned over Iraqi Ba'athists to American forces in Iraq in the hope of stemming the seemingly inexorable demise of his regime. Egypt's dictator, Hosni Mubarak, under attack from Washington and from his democratic opposition – that for once is being supported by the Western media – has announced that he will enable other candidates to run against him in the upcoming presidential elections.
Driving through Boulder to get to work this morning, I was behind one of 10,000 old cars that are covered in "Peace," "No Iraq War," anti-Bush, anti-capitalism, and generally anarchic bumper stickers.
I thought to myself, this guy just needs one big bumper sticker that says "Appeasement!!" I think Sharansky is shaping that view in the Administration and its successes are shaping that view elsewhere.
It may never come to Boulder, but the "Peace Protesters" may not be viewed as good-intentioned if a little naive but for what they truly are: appeasers who would rather deal with dictators than make a stand for liberty.
Sharansky was of course liberated by Thatcher and Reagan. My favorite story is of the two of them watching some peace protest and Maggie saying "Whose Peace, Poland's?" I still say that to peaceniks around Boulder but they don't get it.
Sharansky's "moral clarity" and his call for moral clarity in the free world may be his greatest gift.
Hat-tip: Pillage Idiot
March 6, 2005
Government and the Internet
Another reason why government should not be involved in "free internet" initiatives.
The Utah governor is deciding whether to sign a bill that would require Internet providers to block Web sites deemed pornographic and that could also target e-mail providers and search engines.
Late Wednesday night, the Utah Senate approved controversial legislation that would create an official list of Web sites with publicly available material found to be "harmful to minors." Internet providers in Utah must offer their customers a way to disable access to sites on the list or face felony charges.
Here's a case where the government isn't involved in distribution of content. They want to impose these rules on private entities.
Can you only imagine if they had control over it?
Opponents, though, worry that the legislation could go far beyond just broadband and dial-up providers. "Does this cover only major Internet providers, or are they talking about the local coffee shop that offers Wi-Fi?" asked Kate Dean, manager of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association in Washington, D.C.
The measure, S.B.260, says: "Upon request by a consumer, a service provider may not transmit material from a content provider site listed on the adult content registry." A service provider is defined as any person or company who "provides an Internet access service to a consumer."
Of course, it billed as "for the children." Maybe the parents should take the initiative in watching their kids.
Is that really too much to ask?
If signed, this will pretty much immediately go to court.
Where who knows what will happen?
Adult content registry? Hah! Good luck keeping that up to date.
March 4, 2005
Shhh -- supply side tax cuts work -- don't tell Paul Krugman, it would ruin his day....
Yahoo! News - February Job Growth Best in Four Months
WASHINGTON - America's employers added a sizable 262,000 jobs in February — the most in four months. The new hiring, however, wasn't sufficiently brisk to accommodate a wave of job seekers, and the overall unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent.
Life Imitates Python...
Gerard Baker does a nice riff on Monty Python's Life of Brian, updated for 2005 in (London) Times Online.
“All right, all right. But apart from liberating 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan, undermining dictatorships throughout the Arab world, spreading freedom and self-determination in the broader Middle East and moving the Palestinians and the Israelis towards a real chance of ending their centuries-long war, what have the Americans ever done for us?”
This is GREAT to have this in a European paper. The Times is more conservative and they know Baker to be an atalanticist, but I am happy to see it.
Also, on the Python front, Three Sources regulars seem to have spent time in the backup industry. Check out John Cleese's "Backup Trauma Center."
Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM
A New Martha Fan
KATONAH, N.Y. - Martha Stewart (news - web sites) strolled outdoors with her dog and fed her horses Friday morning, hours after returning from prison to the multi-million-dollar estate where she will remain under the watch of federal authorities while trying to revive her homemaking empire.
She supports causes and candidates with whom I disagree, and her perfection homemaking is not my style, but I have a ton of respect for Martha Stewart.
Her prosecution was an insane, jovert-esque abuse of state power. She lied about a crime she was not charged with? (Don't get me started on insider trading -- it's called capital market efficiency in some quarters.)
Yet, she does the executive thing and decides to serve the time and move on. CEOs get knocked around in the news, entertainment, and on the Senate Floor. But that's what the good ones do. See where they want to go and take the hard road there if necessary. Ms. Stewart thought five months in prison was better than a year or two of professional limbo.
It looks like her customers and Wall Street are both ready for this redemption story. Call me naive, but I'm in as well.
Welcome home, Martha and good luck.
Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM
March 3, 2005
Me and the Maestro
(And even Silence I believe....) are fans of consumption based taxation. It offers privacy, simplicity, facilitates collection even from black and grey market activities, and it encourages savings and investment instead of discouraging production.
Fed Chief Greenspan likes it.
In his prepared remarks to the panel, the Fed chief said that "a consumption tax would be best from the perspective of promoting economic growth" because it would encourage saving and the capital formation that the economy needs to expand and modernize.
"However, getting from the current tax system to a consumption tax raises a challenging set of transition issues," he added.
Greenspan also said he supported tax incentives to encourage savings, despite what he called conflicting evidence about the incentives' success at increasing the national savings rate, because they enhance individuals' retirement accounts.
The Maestro and I differ, however, in that he calls for a hybrid sales and income tax -- specifically to allow the Democrats to continue social engineering. He will pay that political price to move onto a new system.
Larry Kudlow and I are concerned that we will end up with both an income tax and a sales tax, which would really provide the worst of each. Drive a hybrid car, but be cautious of a hybrid tax.
Speaking of hybrid tax, I understand California is now contemplating a use tax for autos based on miles driven. Seems that hybrid and high mileage autos have been so popular in the state that the gas tax revenues are falling short. Maybe we can send John Galt out there on a road trip in the truck to replenish the coffers?
I ma surprised that the gas demand is that elastic. Not doubting you, just suspect that any new tax opportunity looks good to California legislators.
Kill PBS Funding!
George Will writes an awesome column about PBS. It's a relic of the Johnson Administration, like an appendix it wavers between being irreverent and troublesome, but Will agrees with me that it is totally superfluous.
In 1967 public television did at least increase, for many, the basic television choices from three — CBS, NBC, ABC — to four. Not that achieving some supposedly essential minimum was, or is, the government's business. In today's 500-channel environment, public television is a preposterous relic.
Not too long ago the Public Broadcasting Service tried an amazingly obtuse and arrogant slogan: "If PBS doesn't do it, who will?" What was the antecedent of the pronoun "it"? Presumably "culture" or "seriousness" or "relevance." Or something. But in a television universe that includes the History Channel, Biography, A&E, Bravo, National Geographic, Disney, TNT, BBC America, Animal Planet, the Learning Channel, the Outdoor Channel, Noggin, Nickelodeon, and scads of other cultural and information channels, what is the antecedent?
Best of all, a proposal for killing it will generate another decade of left-wing spam to "write your congressman to keep big bird on the air!"
Will ends his piece asking "Would it vanish without the 15 percent of its revenue it gets from government? Let's find out."
A New Job for Carly
Larry Kudlow was pretty tough on Carly Fiorina's tenure at HP. I was a little easier on her, but the market seemed to agree with Mr. Kudlow.
He posts today on a WSJ story suggesting that she is a leading contender for President of the World Bank. Larry is on board in a big way:
After six years at the helm of a global technology conglomerate, she has the management skills, the business acumen, and the policy vision to turn the World Bank into a 21st century institution.
For too long, the bank has relied on government-to-government lending without imposing free market conditions. Literally, hundred of billions of dollars may have been wasted in developing countries with very poor economic growth performance.
Ms. Fiorina is a strong believer in free markets and open trade. She understands the need for competitiveness among nations and businesses. She believes in lower taxes and private investments. She will insist on technological advance. Accountability and conditionality will be her watch words. She will spend U.S. taxpayer money wisely. Her leadership and communications skills are superb.
Imagine -- a capitalist
heading the World Bank. What a concept!
March 2, 2005
I thought that my hope for a Condi 2008 candidacy was
something of a pipe dream. And that realists in the party would impose
a more sober vision.
online poll from The Weekly Standard caught my eye. That's the exact
location where I would expect to find those realists to shut me down --
and, to be fair, 66% of them are trying. Yet my candidate still leads
Vision, strength, principle, and the chance to beat Senator Clinton while
breaking forever the Democrat's 90% share of the African-American community.
Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 PM
A Long Way Baby!
Reuters "news" "service" reports
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan Wednesday named its first female provincial governor, a step forward in the slow political progress of women since the fall of the Taliban more than three years ago.
Three years from "be stoned to death if you are caught walking outside the house without your husband" to "provincial governor." I would call that pretty quick progress, but I am one of them polyannacons...
Hat-tip: The Corner. (And the "news" "service" joke is, of course, stolen from Taranto...)
Bush Demands Syria Withdraw from Lebanon
That's the headline of this AP wire story
On Syria, though, there appears to be no give in the hard U.S. position that it must withdraw its troops and security forces from Lebanon and permit the neighboring Arab country it has long dominated to run its own political affairs.
Speaking at a community college in Maryland, Bush demanded Syria give democracy a chance to flourish in Lebanon.
With France solidly aligned with the United States — in contrast to France's dissent from the Iraq war — Bush said, "The free world is in agreement that Damascus' authority over the political affairs of its neighbor must end."
Brilliant. Glenn points out
that the Lebanese have a choice between:
Pretty easy to pick!
UPDATE: Friend of this blog, PubliusPundit, has been leading the pack on this story he posts about brewing action in the House:
WASHINGTON, March 2 (AFP) - A US House of Representatives subcommittee on Wednesday approved a resolution blasting the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, and called on President George W. Bush to tighten the screws on Damascus.
The resolution, introduced by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, expresses “the grave concern of Congress” regarding Syria’s occupation of Lebanon.
The resolution describes Lebanon as a “captive country” and states that Syria’s occupation “represents a long-term threat to the security of the Middle East, as well as US efforts “to promote political and economic liberalization in the region.”
Have you noticed that the freedom protestors (where ever they are) are usually good lookin' babes?
Instapundit has shown five in row from Lebanon, all of whom are very attractive. It strikes me as a "Free Beverly Hills!" opportunity.
"There's always hope that this might not work!"
Most Three Sources readers probably also tune in to WSJ's Best of the Web every weekday, but for those who don't (and also because this is just so damn fun) I have to call attention to Taranto's journaling (thanks to TiVo) of last night's episode of Jon Stewart's 'The Daily Show' on Comedy Central.
Stewart was interviewing former Clinton aide Nancy Soderberg who was there to promote her book 'The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might.' You'll want to read the whole thing, but here are some astonishing excerpts:
Soderberg: Well, I think, you know, as a Democrat, you don't want anything nice to happen to the Republicans, and you don't want them to have progress. But as an American, you hope good things would happen. I think the way to look at it is, they can't credit for every good thing that happens, but they need to be able to manage it. I think what's happening in Lebanon is great, but it's not necessarily directly related to the fact that we went into Iraq militarily.
Stewart: He's [George W. Bush] gonna be a great--pretty soon, Republicans are gonna be like, "Reagan was nothing compared to this guy." Like, my kid's gonna go to a high school named after him, I just know it.
Soderberg: Well, there's still Iran and North Korea, don't forget. There's hope for the rest of us.
Stewart: [crossing fingers] Iran and North Korea, that's true, that is true [audience laughter].
Soderberg: There's always hope that this might not work.
So there you have it. A published Democrat apparatchik admits that freedom is indeed on the march, that it is likely unstoppable, and that there's a good chance our military invasion of Iraq was the catalyst. She used the half-empty terms to describe the situation, but this is the essence of what she said. Having said all that though, she concludes "There's always hope that this might not work." Ah, "progressives."
Taranto's analysis of the episode is excellent. Be sure to check it out at the bottom of the piece.
Yes, keep that flame of hope alive -- things could still be really, really bad!
Post-Vioxx Twilight Zone
Apologies to Dow Jones, but I must post (steal is such a charged word) a Wall Street Journal Editorial in its entirety today. Subscribers who want to read it legally may click here
Still don't think political frenzies have consequences? Consider the weird and troubling inversion this week regarding the promising new treatment for multiple sclerosis, Tysabri.
The biotech partners Biogen and Elan pulled their drug from the U.S. market following just two reports (including one fatality) of serious complications possibly linked to the compound. Meanwhile, officials at the FDA went out of their way to defend Tysabri. Steve Galson of the agency's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said the FDA "continues to believe Tysabri offers great hope to MS patients." Added drug evaluator Douglas Throckmorton, "It makes meaningful differences in people's lives."
Welcome to the twilight zone of pharmaceutical development post-Vioxx, in which the natural hyper-caution of regulators is exceeded only by the hyper-caution of terrified drug makers. Perhaps Biogen and Elan possess some information that the rest of us don't. But on the face of it the Tysabri withdrawal appears to be an overreaction that will harm MS patients in the near term, and all of us who depend on a healthy drug-development culture over the long run.
Tysabri had received accelerated approval from the FDA just three months ago because clinical trials had shown it to be twice as effective as alternative therapies in preventing flare-ups of MS, which is a degenerative and eventually fatal disease. Tysabri is also easier to take than alternative treatments, and tolerated by a subset of MS patients who can't take the others at all.
But for the indefinite future everyone will have to do without because two of the thousands of patients who've received Tysabri developed a rare neurological disorder. Those two patients happened to also be on another immuno-suppressive MS treatment called Avonex. There is no reason to believe that Tysabri has caused this disorder when used alone.
There's plenty of blame to go around here, starting with the trial lawyers and their climate of fear. Congressmen who demagogue about non-existent FDA safety "lapses" aren't much better. But we're also disappointed with CEOs who imagine they're doing patients and shareholders a favor with such rash decisions. In retrospect, Merck CEO Ray Gilmartin only strengthened the hand of the lawyers by withdrawing Vioxx when the FDA would have been content with relabeling.
Biogen and Elan seem not to have learned Merck's lesson and paid for it by having $17 billion wiped off their market caps on Monday. Litigation is in fact less of a risk in the smaller MS market than it was to Merck. But there's also political risk, and the last thing Biogen and Elan probably wanted was to have their names dragged before Capitol Hill cameras by Ted Kennedy or Chuck Grassley. On the other hand, withdrawal only attracts more media attention than the more sensible move of product relabeling.
Whatever the corporate motivations, it's obvious that no one benefits from this climate of drug-development fear. Just about everyone agrees that Tysabri will return to the market at some point, to be taken by many patients whose MS will have progressed further than it would have otherwise. Meantime, another bad business precedent has been set. Sick patients everywhere should stand up and cheer for the next CEO who keeps a beneficial product on the market, despite news of a troubling side effect.
L'audace! guys, l'audace! Timidity will not help your shareholders, will not score points with regulators -- and it woun't do a lot of good for us MS patients, either!
(For those keeping score, I am taking no medication at present. My neurologist suggests that steroid treatments might help but I am overdue for a return visit.)
Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM
March 1, 2005
The folks at The Corner have had an excellent thread running today about Justice Kennedy's opinion and Justice Scalia's dissent in Roper v. Simmons.
Beyond what one thinks of Capital Punishment (I think 72 brutal murderers are now set to be released into society and countless others will be empowered as was young Simmons who "bragged that he could get away with it because of his age.") the problem is Kennedy's capitulation to international treaties and opinion. He cites two treaties. One hasn't even been ratified by the USA and the other makes specific mention that it may be limited by its constitutionality.
The folks at Amnesty International are very pleased, as was the AP "news" "reporter" who wrote the wire story
WASHINGTON - A closely divided Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that it's unconstitutional to execute juvenile killers, ending a practice in 19 states that has been roundly condemned by many of America's closest allies.
I would posit that a true ally would be supportive of a country's sovereignty.
Thanks for the link to the discussion on NR. There I also followed a link to Kennedy's opinion and read about half of it. I support the death penalty and have no compunction with applying it to 16 and 17 year olds. But I found all of the arguments I read in Kennedy's opinion at least arguable, even if I disagreed with his conclusion.
Here's my first objection though - the final order of the opinion states: "The Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed. The judgment of the Missouri Supreme Court setting aside the sentence of death imposed upon Christopher Simmons is affirmed. It is so ordered."
The first sentence here is factually erroneous. The court INTERPRETED that the 8th amendment, coupled with societal norms, is the basis for this ruling. The phrasing of the ruling is imprecise and overreaching. This is important as it will be the basis for citation in future cases.
And then we have the law of Unintended Consequences. Will a police officer be more likely to use deadly force against juvenile criminals, given his knowledge that said juveniles lack the death-penalty deterrent from killing him? We can also naturally expect the juvenile homicide rate to increase with this elimination of the deterrent. A deterrent that the court argued is ineffective and therefore should be considered cruel.
On the bright side, this reduction in cases where the penalty may be imposed should logically lead to less ambiguity in its application to the "truly heinous" criminals. But I'm not holding my breath.
I still have a tough time with a justice quoting international law as precedent for a SCOTUS opinion. Justice O'Connor did this last session drawing jeers from my crowd. (O'Connor's dissent makes sense to me in this case, mirabile dictu.)
The Military as Hiring Pool
Virginia Postrel posts on a WaPo story. It seems Walter Reed hospital has become a corporate recruiting center:
executives seeking out wounded soldiers claim that many of the skills acquired in the military are applicable in the private sector -- particularly within companies that serve the government. A soldier who has led a platoon into war is probably capable of leading a unit at a private company, executives say. With government contracting in the midst of a boom, the security clearances and knowledge that soldiers bring home with them are also highly valued.
We're a long way from the plaintive TV commercials of the 1970s, which begged employers to hire Vietnam vets. The recruitment trend represents a triumph for the All Volunteer Force--a military of skilled professionals.
Here's hoping that the 60's might end in our lifetime...
On the web
Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM
Evil Drug Firms
Not all of the bad luck that can befall a drug firm comes at the hand of government. Yesterday, an MS treatment was voluntarily withdrawn from the market, following a death and a serious complication.
I mention it because I want to beat that lifeless equine: low multiples in the pharma sector. The cost for this voluntary yanking was $17 Billion in market capitalization for the two firms involved. The Wall Street Journal sez
Biogen and Elan characterized the withdrawal as a "voluntary suspension" and said the product may find its way back to the marketplace at a later date. The Food and Drug Administration offered some encouragement, saying in a statement that the agency "continues to believe Tysabri offers great hope to MS patients."
Shares of Elan declined $18.90 to $8 as of 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange trading. Biogen Idec shares were down $28.63, to $38.65, as of 4 p.m. in Nasdaq stock-market trading.
The decision to halt sales of Tysabri comes amid wider controversy about the safety of other drugs approved by the FDA, particularly whether regulators have been correctly balancing the risks of new drugs with their benefits. The FDA has come under scrutiny in recent months over the safety of widely used painkillers, following the voluntary decision by Merck & Co. to pull its best-selling painkiller Vioxx last September after a trial tied it to higher rates of heart attacks and strokes.
Now the regulators are ready to roll back the gains of the FDA Early Approval Process. But in spite of regulation, the point is the vicissitudes of the industry. The good folks at Biogen and Elan are trying to develop compounds to cure my MS, and they just lost 17 billion dollars. John Edwards may be happy, but these guys are not evil – when they make money, they use it to make our lives better.
Expect the share prices of Biogen and Elan to recover in less than six months when the drugs are re-released, a la Vioxx. And expect Elliot Spitzer to go after them for artificial manipulation of their valuations.
Even if recovers, it has added to a beta (risk factor) that will continue to depress valuations in the sector. The higher cost of capital means less money to fund research.
Nothing nefarious here, the market is doing its job -- funnel capital toward things perceived as more successful. My point was just leveled in opposition to those who demonize the drug companies -- they have their share of problems, too.