August 31, 2005

Oceanside, Colorado

I fear our friend James Taranto has been had, or else his humor has been desiccated by global warming. A humorous letter writer on the topic of global warming is identified as:

"reader Eric Free of Oceanside, Colo."

Oceanside, Colorado! Global Warming! Get it?

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:02 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Hey, I heard recently that Colorado has the highest per capita number of licensed scuba divers, go figure.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 31, 2005 5:52 PM

Is that like Ethanol?

I like The Economist Magazine though I frequently disagree with my perceived slant of their coverage. This cover, however, set me aback:


Umm, guys, those would be the two countries (add India for good measure) who are GROWING! The rest of the world wants to settle for sclerotic, socialist-growth, they can use less energy.

And what countries are most likely to make other energy sources available? Just shooting from the hip, I'd guess an American firm doing some manufacturing in China.

But johngalt thinks:

There's a remarkable resemblance between this bloated "Uncle Sam" and United States Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), don't you think?

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2005 9:43 PM
But jk thinks:

And the Chinee dragon has a Sen Pat Leahy vibe as well...

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2005 11:06 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Man that resmeblence to Ted Kennedy is amazing, didn't see it till johngalt pointed it out. Kinda sad I suppose that white hair and jowls looks like Ted Kennedy.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 1, 2005 3:17 PM

Kill This Meme Early

I see this getting out of hand. Like President GHW Bush's amazement seeing the supermarket scanner, it will soon be accepted as fact that hurricane Katrina is the result of "global warming." It is already being promoted as such by the Independant, Boston Globe and some others.

Jim Glassman makes a trenchant case for nipping this in the bud, but it ain't gonna be easy.

My daughter, her husband and their little baby managed to get out of the city ahead of the flood on Sunday, driving 14 hours into Texas with the few belongings they could stuff into their car. They have no idea what has become of their house and their possessions, not to mention their friends, their pets, their jobs, their way of life.

Tragedies happen, and my daughter and her family are happy just to be alive. Their losses and those of hundreds of thousands of other innocents deserve mourning, prayer and respect.

That is why the response of environmental extremists fills me with what only can be called disgust. They have decided to exploit the death and devastation to win support for the failed Kyoto Protocol, which requires massive cutbacks in energy use to reduce, by a few tenths of a degree, surface warming projected 100 years from now.

Katrina has nothing to do with global warming. Nothing. It has everything to do with the immense forces of nature that have been unleashed many, many times before and the inability of humans, even the most brilliant engineers, to tame these forces.

Giant hurricanes are rare, but they are not new. And they are not increasing. To the contrary. Just go to the website of the National Hurricane Center and check out a table that lists hurricanes by category and decade. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per year. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5; and for 2001-04, there were 3. Category 4 and 5 storms were also more prevalent in the past than they are now. As for Category 5 storms, there have been only three since the 1850s: in the decades of the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s.

Kudos to the New York Times (I love typing that phrase!) for this bit of honest reporting:
"Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming. But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught 'is very much natural,' said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.'"

'Course, the NYTimes is just another corporate organ, hopelessly in the pocket of the Bush Administration -- of course they'd say that.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg writes, in The Corner:

I've decided that every nice, cool, breezy day which happens to come along until the day I die, I'm going to credit global warming. Absent other data, it makes exactly as much sense to blame weather we don't like on global warming as it does to credit global warming for the weather we do like.

"What a lovely day, thank goodness for fossil fuels!"

But johngalt thinks:

Good post, but I'll take issue with the line, "the inability of humans, even the most brilliant engineers, to tame these forces."

If this refers to engineers not being "brilliant" enough to create massive levees that are fully financed by bake sales, then I'd agree. The reason the Big Easy flooded is that the single line of levees that protect the city from hurricanes was designed to withstand a category 3 hurricane, but no more. Why on earth would this be, given that we could have built it stronger? For the same reason building codes require 110 mph wind resistance, but not 120. The line has to be drawn somewhere.

Now in the case of hurricanes and a major American city, one might make the case that the potential loss is so great that the levee should be designed for the strongest hurricane ever known. And that back-up levees be built as was done in Holland. And that federal subsidization of these projects is warranted, given that the savings to federally subsidized flood insurance and FEMA obligations would offset it.

But when the decision was made to build them, in 1927 so far as I can tell, America was far less wealthy. Judging from recent history of federal involvement with natural disasters, I suspect that New Orleans is about to get that new, triple-layer category 5 levee system.

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2005 9:38 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

As well it should. If they are going to rebuild they should do it right. I also have to wonder about the local building codes when viewing the photos of piles of sticks where houses used to be. If they were 1930's era houses that would be one thing, but these are new communities, golf course communities, upper middle class communities, etc. Hopefully local building codes will change as they did in Florida a few years ago.

Ok, now stick the Liberal label on me while I berate big business for a moment. I have to wonder about the large nationwide home builders who build the same house all across the country. I realize the cost benefit from this, but somewhere there has to be allowance for local conditions. If they led the way on this they might have fewer headaches with building codes in the future. Just as you don't build masonry in earthquake areas or wood roof homes in fire areas, construction in hurricane prone areas should have their own set of requirements. I think I am with johngalt on this engineering wise, at some point it does become cost prohibitive to design structures for every conceivable disaster, but I do believe we have the knowledge and capability to do better. Currently the only differences between a $100,000 house and a $1,000,000 house are the countertops and the plating on the faucets. Now before JK gets on my case about free markets and the demands of consumers consider what the options really are, take a mass produced house or build a custom one. Custom builders don't exist much in the sub million range and even then they don't really offer anything different than the mass producers other than custom floor plans. A few years back I was looking into buying a lot and building a house. I wanted to use some modern components like structural insulated panels. Reviews and estimates consistently put the construction cost at about 15% higher than tradition stick building. As I found out though, that was if you could find a builder who had worked with these panels or was willing to start.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 1, 2005 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

We have strayed a little fron Global Warming, gents, but I'm in.

I guess I will take the big-biz side of mationwide home builders up to a point (as Evelyn Waugh would say).

On the one hand, the one-sixe-fits-all structures have allowed millions of Americans to own their own home, which I see as an unalloyed good.

The other side just needs a little Virginia-Postrelizing. Consumers are demanding different styles in these homes, and it would be a short step to incorporating modern materials and regional weather protections in the final house.

On the levees, it seems obvious that state of teh art structures will be built and that no more hurricanes will ever go by there...

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2005 3:29 PM

August 30, 2005

Your Oil $$ at Work

A friend emails this picture -- believe it at will. It is a Silver (That's Ag, not the color) Audi A8 for a sheik in Dubai.


Now you feel better paying for $3 gas, don't you?

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [5]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Hmm, silver what plated? The Audi A8 is somewhat unique in its extensive use of aluminum body panels instead of the normal steel. Great for weight savings, not so great if you get in an accident - few auto body shops can deal with the cutting and welding of aluminum. Aluminum also does not plate well, so the claim of real silver seems questionable.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 30, 2005 12:29 PM
But Michael Cummins thinks:

This is already in SNOPES.

It's not true.

Posted by: Michael Cummins at August 30, 2005 1:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Truth, schmuuuth -- we have a blog to run!

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2005 1:46 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

That's the spirit! Man can you imagine the sun glare off that thing?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 30, 2005 2:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Here's what I wrote back to my mother-in-law when she forwarded this picture to me two weeks ago:

This looks like an Audi A8 with aftermarket work by MTM (whom I’ve never heard of.) Sort of like AMG though I’m guessing.

Now let’s talk about this philosophically:

Saudi sheiks have an obscene amount of money from profit on selling crude oil. This is fine.

Saudi crude oil is pumped from the ground by (largely) American companies in partnership with the Saudi government. This is also fine.

The Saudi oil fields originally belonged to American and English private oil companies, who bought the land only to have it gifted to the Saudi royal family, aka the Saudi government, by President Eisenhower. This is NOT fine.

The thought of these hypocritical playboys of the middle-eastern world driving around in a car like this is obscene. Where is Howard Roark!

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2005 3:07 PM

August 29, 2005

Border Controls: About F'ing Time

It's about time Mr President.

    "I understand it's putting a strain on your resources," said Bush. "It's important for the people of this state to understand, your voices are being heard in Washington, D.C."

    Bush, a former Texas governor, told a crowd dominated by retirees that he will work with Gov. Janet Napolitano and other border governors to address the problem, declaring: "We have an obligation to enforce the borders."

    More people, detention space and resources will be made available in border areas, Bush said.

Of course, it's easy to say something, another to do it.

Let's get on with it.

    U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Bush has not been getting credit for addressing border issues.

    "I have no doubt that he is clearly at this point strongly embracing immigration reform that would secure our borders," Franks said.

    The issue of security should be addressed first, he said, and after that, questions about guest worker programs, illegal immigrants who are already here and employer sanctions can be addressed.

    "Until we secure the borders, we cannot even begin that debate," Franks said.

Exactly right. However, Bush hasn't recieved the credit, because NOTHING has been done.

But jk thinks:

I completely disagree. I actually typed an eight letter word that begins with B and ends with T but thought better of it.

President Bush has made the first realistic and viable proposal for the border we have seen in some time. Unlike President Clinton's "amnesty" and Tom Tancredo / Bill O'Reilly military solutions, W's guest worker program meets the needs of the business community, supports the exigencies of millions of current workers, and allows for more enforcement down the road.

Just because the GOP legislators are ineffective and the Democrats are intransigent does not mean the President has done nothing.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2005 12:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, but the fact that he has done nothing DOES mean that the President has done nothing. Notably absent from your brief list of the President's "proposals" is anything at all having to do with SECURING the border.

The lawful and honorable efforts of free Americans living along that border haven't even been enough to persuade the "law and order, make America secure" president to even make a PROPOSAL for securing the border. Instead he calls them vigilantes. Disgraceful.

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2005 3:04 PM

Mrs. Sheehan

Judging from some recent comments, I am suddenly not very popular around here. I was going to reply in the comments but I wanted to link to a couple of other pieces.

Sugarchuck has consistently called for a hands-off, tolerant approach, based on who she is and what she has already given. I appreciate that. He and Silence would like to see commentators (especially me) lay off.

While I am also tired of vituperative attacks on Mrs. Sheehan by the right, I am NOT going to concede ground to her because I am not comfortable asserting my beliefs against one who has "laid such a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom."

Byron York details that she is the public face of one Lisa Fithian.

To anyone familiar with the world of professional protesting — protests against globalism, capitalism, war, police tactics, and dozens of other causes — the presence of Fithian is a sign of how far Cindy Sheehan has strayed from the roots of her "one mom" crusade against George W. Bush. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is a sign that the "one mom" crusade was never just one mom. Fithian is a legendary organizer who operates in the world of anti-globalism anarchists, antiwar protesters, and union activists; an advocate of aggressive "direct action" demonstrations, she protested the first Gulf war, played an important role in the violent shutdown of Seattle during the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting, was a key planner in protests at the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2000 and 2004, and organized demonstrations at trade meetings in Washington, D.C., Prague, and Genoa.

I can sit still when she lines up with Michael Moore, or Al Sharpton, but this alliance has me concerned. Dang them for putting a sympathetic face on lunacy. But I am not going to let them offer lies and denigrate the mission, because of her.

Silence doesn't seem very chipper either. As to his first point, that's the idea: comedy writers are penning better White House communications than does "White House Communications."

As for the "No WMD's" comment, I offer two rebuttals. The first comes from that crazy, right-wing, in the pocket of the Bush Administration magazine, The New Yorker. Nicholas Lemann wrote in February 2003:

Has a war ever been as elaborately justified in advance as the coming war with Iraq? Because this war is not being undertaken in direct response to a single shattering event (it's been nearly a year and a half since the September 11th attacks), and because the possibility of military action against Saddam Hussein has been Washington's main preoccupation for the better part of a year, the case for war has grown so large and variegated that its very multiplicity has become a part of the case against it. In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular.

My second defense is a plea to recall discussions we had over lunch. You thought that the Neo-Wilsonianism was a ruse and said that if you believed that they were serious about propagating democracy then you'd be on board. (This is all from memory, if I have it wrong tell me and I will retract everything I said.)

As for the Vietnam comparison, I don't see where that happened in this post but I am very interested in that. The assertion that "they didn't want is there" was constantly cited by the antiwar crowd, but my experience with South Viet Namese as completely orthogonal to that.

I have met a few families that came over after, and they really resent the inference that "the simple little rice farmer doesn't care if he lives under democracy or Communism." That is patronizing to the highest degree.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

I'm still pretty chipper, really! I was not actually lumping you in with the "conservative commentators" but referring more to the endless stream on TV and in print. (Nicely balanced in idiocy by liberal commentators in the same media I freely admit.) I think you gave Mrs. Sheenan a very fair shake. I also completely agree on the circus of leaders, activists, and protestors who are just there for the publicity. As for the media circus itself, putting aside the cynical slow news cycle theory, (not discounting it, just putting it aside for a moment) I wonder if Joe Klein isn't on to something with his theory that what is captured here is sort of a national mooring for all who have fallen. As many soldiers have stated, there is a disconnect between those fighting this war and the general public here at home that seems to be living through a time of peace. For political reasons we have not been shown returning caskets or military funerals in the idea that this will help us persevere. Perhaps we are seeing a bit of the opposite, a public that not being able to comprehend the sacrifice is not fully engaged in the cause.

You are also correct in your memory of my comments regarding propagation of democracy. I am on board for that, but if we are serious I would think we could come up with a better overall plan. We are really just hoping that this experiment in Iraq goes well enough that it crosses borders in the region. We cannot topple every brutal regime and toppling one and expecting the rest to fall like dominoes is hopelessly optimistic.

The Vietnam comparison was in another post and has been tossed about pretty loosely by the liberal side. I too know people who came over after. The rice farmer very much did care about which form of government he lived under, that was precisely the lure of communism, the power to the people toppling the corruption of above. That is also why I called it the "promise of communism" and not communism itself, as the reality was much different than the promise.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 29, 2005 6:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Exactly right, Silence. It's not just a coincidence that communism and corruption start with the same letter - they are blood-brothers.

And just exactly why does Cindy Sheehan deserve any more than a week of patient understanding from those whose values and motives and life-threatening efforts she denigrates? Because her son was one of those who made that effort? When he insisted upon re-enlisting, knowing full well that he'd be bound for Iraq, he told us what he thought of what his mother and her handlers are doing now, in his name. If he were able now to "punch someone out" you can bet it wouldn't be the guy who called him a "merchant of mercy who export[s] freedom and import[s] honor." But it might well be the person who said this when asked how Casey's three siblings were coping with his death and the role his mother has assumed as a critic:

"Carly the oldest has coped by throwing herself into school. Andy is coping by becoming Casey. Janey is coping by drinking and partying.

Unfortunately, I am not able to help them that much because of my pain, and because I feel so compelled to fight the injustice and bring the troops home.

I know they believe that what I am doing is right, but they wish we weren't in the situation, as do I."

That person is Casey's mom, Cindy Sheehan.
Cindy is "not able to help them" [her other three children] because of her "pain" and, oh by the way, that she "feels so compelled to fight the injustice and bring the troops home." Well, by God, it might just be too bad if Casey's little sister becomes an alcoholic, or worse, but at least mommy "fought injustice!"

Is this the first time in recorded history that a son has disagreed with his mother? If not, then why would anyone assume that Cindy speaks for Casey?

Posted by: johngalt at August 30, 2005 2:59 PM

August 28, 2005

Crawford Media Circus

Al Sharpton has arrived in Crawford, and is praying with Cindy Sheehan

But jk thinks:

The Crawford circus may be over. The hurricane will absorb media focus until labor day. Then it's back to Washington and a more substantive news cycle.

Intersting to see how the Sheehan and antiwar folks will do back in Washington. It will be tough to compete for air time and will be tougher to hide the far-left A.N.S.W.E.R. types.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2005 10:53 AM

Hurricane Katrina

When facing an impending collossal hurricane like this one, the only things you can do are take your family to a safer refuge and pray that what you leave behind will still be there.

Our prayers are with the Gulf Coasters.

A coworker of mine is from New Orleans, and he's been saying for as long as I've known him, that New Orleans is just one storm away from being gone.

With the reports saying that this storm is huge, it will be extremely catastrophic. Given that New Orleans is 6 to 10 feet below sea level, it stands to be in a lot of water.

Can a city be destroyed and abandoned?

Do we do that? Does American culture / society provide for something like that?

We always rebuild. Better. It's the American way.

But if it's left a lake, can we rebuild?

But jk thinks:

Well, it looks like New Orleans may not get it as bad as it looked last night.

As for not rebuilding, I'd add up the property values of what's under there, starting with the Marriott on Canal Street. I think it looks pretty good to do whatever it takes.

Besides which, I don't really want to live in a USA with no New Orleans. I am very fond of it and know Sugarchuck is as well.

Good luck to the Crescent City residents and all the folks on the Gulf Coast.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2005 11:13 AM

Operation Yellow Elephant

Operation Yellow Elephant a blog who main goal seems to be to harrass College and Young Republicans into enlisting has targeted the Montgomery County YRs, an organization to which I belong.

They note on their website, "It's their war. Why aren't they fighting it?" They encourage readers to send emails to the young (lowercase Y) Republicans.

Some choice quotes...

    First up, Sarah Holcome [sic], a real looker who works with Senator Rick Santorum (R-Canine) in the Philadelphia office. She's the Chairman, and as such probably has more balls than the rest of the lot.

    And then there's Avedis Boornazian, who looks far too much like an ARAB (gasp!) to be in this group. OK, maybe an Armenian. Likely he is a good Christian, don't you think? How else could he rise to the leadership position of Treasurer?

Must be some of that famous liberal compassion on display there.

Of note, the former Secretary of the MontcoYRs is "former" because he's currently a JAG, serving in Iraq. The previous Chairman was in 1991's Desert Storm.

As to the tired "chicken hawk" argument. I think it's the last refuge of those that have no other argument.

Potential answers to this group:
"You've never been in Saddam's torture chambers! What give you the right to deny their liberation?"

"You're not the President, what gives you the right to question what he does?"

"You want to send someone else out to fight crime? How about you go be a cop!"

"Don't like oil prices? Go drill for your own!"

"Don't like the current foreign policy? Go run for office! Or get you guy elected!"

Basically anything in the form "You want someone to do X for you, go do X yourself!" will work.

Yawn. Is their campaign harrassment? Nah. It's free speech, and their time, I suppose. It's more indicative of their desperation than anything else.

Since they are targetting those who may have political aspirations, or those who are politically involved do they really want more politicians with military service? Maybe they want ONLY politicians with military service? The list of politicians who have led Americans to war is long, and contains both Democrats and Republicans, some of them civilians. Surely they're not criticizing them as well.

I wonder if they're also going to target Young Democrat groups in states whose Senators and Reps voted for the Iraq war. New York comes to mind.

I'll quote NRO's Rich Lowry.

    The chicken-hawk argument is nakedly partisan. During the Kosovo war waged by Bill Clinton and supported by Democrats in 1999, a cry didn’t go up from the Left that no one could support the war unless they were willing to strap themselves into B-2 bombers for the 33-hour ride from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to Belgrade and back to degrade Serbian infrastructure.

And to answer you... No. I haven't served. And you're not a high school teacher, so you can't comment on the quality of algebra education. Go be a teacher!

That's how mature it is, thanks for playing.

But jk thinks:

Where can we sign up to get a liberal blog writing hateful things about us? That'd be fun: "J.K. is extremely attractive but believes in a Neanderthal economics that is considered too right wing to be taught at Bob Jones U..."

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2005 9:07 PM

Among Heroes

Caelestis at The Makaha Surf Report (Forward Deployed) pens a stirring piece called In the company of heroes. It is hard to pick an excerpt -- I'll go with the close:

I have spent nearly a year in Iraq in my three tours here, and my spirits are always buoyed by watching my countrymen and potential countrymen at work and at play. They go out everyday and face mortal peril, they go out and have to confront the evil of our time, they go out and see friends killed or maimed for life. They do that and still they smile much more than they scowl, they show love and compassion to the Iraqi people instead of fear and hatred. They still believe in the mission even after nearly 1900 of them have been cut down in the sands of Mesopotamia. Being here with them reinforces my beliefs in humanity and my idealism, with brave and selfless men and women such as these, anything is possible. The fires of human passions are often at their hottest in war, the fires of evil seek to scorch and destroy all that is good, in our men and women I see the fires of righteousness in action. Good done for the sake of good, selflessness for the sake of your brothers and sisters in arms, sacrifice in the name of love, and honor in a battle against those without honor. I truly have been blessed these last 2 and 1/2 years, I have lived in the company of heroes. Heroes of America, heroes to the downtrodden and dispossessed, heroes to the persecuted and brutalized, heroes descended from the peoples of every nation under heaven.

Thanks to all who serve. And Hat-tip to Mudville Gazette.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM

August 26, 2005

Reardon Metal

Samizdat Brian Micklethwait got a laugh out of me with his comment that he "regards the word 'nanotechnology' as nerd-speak for it will never happen."

But he links to a nanotubes article that you'd have to be comatose to read without excitement:

The nanotubes are made of carbon and possess incredible strength. The sheets of nanotubes measure just a few times wider than the actual carbon atom, or 2 millionths-of-an-inch (2000 times thinner than paper). A square mile of this will could weigh as little as 170 pounds. The sheets are transparent, flexible and stronger than steel or high strength plastics.

The sheets will emit light when they are heated. The nanotubes are similar to solar cells because they can produce electricity when exposed to sunlight. It is hoped that other future applications can be developed including artificial muscles, faster race cars and better batteries.

The sheets can be produced very quickly. The real breakthrough is the automated process that can produce a 2 ¾ inch (5 centimeters) wide strip at a rate of 47 feet per minute. Previous methods have been much slower.

So, it's Reardon Metal, but it has photovoltaic properties and can emit light. Hank would be proud...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:15 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Yes, but what *color* is it?

I'm not sure I'd go as far as Micklethwait, but I read about nano-tech (particularly instapundit's excitement), and i'm saying to myself, "where's the nanotech?"

Promises are only exciting for so long. Let's see practical.

Posted by: AlexC at August 28, 2005 1:25 AM
But jk thinks:

Well, I've been called a technocrat before but I think nanotech is poised to be "the next big (little) thing."

I'd compare it more to the transistor than the computer. It has applications in electronics, medicine and mechanics.

The excitement of the nanotubes is the suggestion that it is closest to commercialization. I'd have to think there will be a Moore’s Law of nanotech once it starts to show some ROI for the capital markets.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2005 10:24 AM

GOP Partisan Hacks!

Is it me, or is there a lot of gloating on the right over Senator Thune's saving Ellsworth Air Base?

I love to see Republicans win but I love to see politicians lose. I bet the military would be well served by closing a lot of bases. Too many are not strategically important, yet they have some powerful Senator or Congressman who will protect it at all costs. Is Ellsworth strategically necessary? I don't know but I would like to see all the Pentagon suggestions taken, even if it doesn't help a Freshman Republican.

PowerLine disagrees:

Thune unseated then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle partly on the strength of his claim that he would be better positioned to help save the base. The Democrats gloated when it looked like Ellsworth would be closed, but now Thune gets the last laugh.

I am a small government Republican and I ain't laughing!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:47 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I read recently how the redevelopment of Lowry and the new homes and businesses there have had a very positive effect on the ecomonics of the area. Seems there is much more tax revenue now than when it was a military base.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 26, 2005 2:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Excellent point.

I don't know where Ellsworth is (SugarChuck?) but Lowry Air Force Base and the old Stapleton Airport were prime real estate parcels that were developed in the Denver market at the perfect time.

UPDATE: Their web page ( says:

Ellsworth Air Force Base is located 7 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota and 2 miles north of I-90, Exit 67 in the town of Box Elder.

The weather conditions can vary from
-5° to 105°, from rain, snow, and hail throughout the seasons. For the latest Weather conditions on the area, click here.

Hmmm, doesn't seem the "location. location, location" that you're looking for...

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2005 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Fred Barnes on "The Beltway Boys" suggested that the WWII bases closed by BRAC have all been accomplished and that further base closings were not likely to increase efficiency or save money.

I can't speculate on the veracity of that but it sounds reasonable. I also wonder about the value of having bases dispersed among communities and geographically disparate.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2005 1:25 PM

On Constitutions

Hand-wringing over perceived inadequacies in the draft Iraqi constitution do not concern me as much as your average NYTimes columnist.

First, we should smack our heads with wonder every time we read a headline about factional conflict in the Iraqi Parliament. These folks are discussing, arguing, and when they get really grouchy, threatening to boycott or walk out. Not shooting, not bombing. Elected leaders behaving no more childishly than US Congresspeople.

Secondly, this is a draft. There will be many opportunities to amend and repair flaws. The US Constitution did not outlaw chattel slavery and we did okay.

Thirdly, as the WSJ notes, Britain has done pretty well with no written Constitution, the USSR had a great one that was never enforceable, let's keep an eye on reality, not clauses.

Lastly, Michael Barone observes another thing about representative democracy:

They make the point that Iraqis are not necessarily going to make the same constitutional and policy choices that Americans would. This is of course true of other democracies. Britain has an established Church of England, and the prime minister effectively (and the Queen formally) chooses the Archbishop of Canterbury. Canada provides public funding for Catholic and other religious schools. France bans girls from wearing headscarves in schools. Germany prohibits the publication of Nazi materials. We don't do any of these things, and most Americans wouldn't want to. But who would argue that Britain, Canada, France, and Germany are not acceptable representative democracies with acceptable levels of human rights? They just have different histories and different traditions, and have made different choices.

Some have argued that Iraq is a poor testing ground for democracy in the Middle East because it has multiple sects and ethnic groups—the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. But I think the multi-sect, multi-ethnic character of Iraq is actually helpful in forging an acceptable democracy. It forces constitution-makers to confront squarely the age-old dilemma of representative government, how to reconcile majority rule with minority rights. In a mono-ethnic, mono-sect state, or one in which one group is the overwhelming majority (Shiite Iran, Sunni Egypt), that issue doesn't necessarily present itself, and you risk getting the tyranny of the majority that our own Founding Fathers strove to prevent.

Long as they're arguin'...

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 12:57 PM

August 25, 2005

That's Not Funny!

Scrappleface's Leak: Draft of Bush Answer to Cindy Sheehan is not funny. Here's a long excerpt, but you're gonnaa wanna read eevry word of this:

You ask for what noble cause your son died?

In a sense he died so that people like you, who passionately oppose government policies, can freely express that opposition. As you camp in Crawford, you should take off your shoes, for you stand on holy ground. This land was bought with the blood of men like your son.

Now, 25 million Iraqis cry out to enjoy the life you take for granted. Most of them will never use their freedom to denigrate the sacrifice of those who paid for it. But once liberty is enshrined in law, they will be free to do so. And when the Iraqis finally escape their incarceration, hope will spread throughout that enslaved region of the world, eventually making us all safer and more free.

The key is in the lock of the prison door. Bold men risk everything to turn it.

Mrs. Sheehan, everyone dies. But few experience the bittersweet glory of death with a purpose -- death that sets people free and produces ripples of liberty hundreds of years into the future.

Casey Sheehan died that freedom might triumph over bondage, hope over despair, prosperity over misery. He died restoring justice and mercy. He lived and died to help to destroy the last stubborn vestiges of the Dark Ages.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But sugarchuck thinks:

I think Casey Sheehan loved his mother and would have punched this guy out and every other knucklhead critical of her; though I doubt he would have agreed with her politics.

Posted by: sugarchuck at August 25, 2005 6:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I did not find the Scrappleface letter to be harshly critical of Mrs. Sheehan. Not really worth punching anybody for.

I think it states -- brilliantly -- why good folks enlist, reenlist, and tolerate all the harshness of military life. I won't presume to put words in anybody's mouth but I would like to send Ott's letter to every living member of our forces with my signature stating that it represents my beliefs.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 7:24 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Pretty high and mighty rhetoric for a President who didn't feel that freedom and liberty for Iraq was anywhere near strong enough of an argument to go to war against Saddam. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt that this was his true purpose all along he was compelled to ride on the coat tails of the battle against terrorism and tout the possibility of WMD's in the hands of a brutal tyrant.

Forget the Vietnam comparisons, there we were fighting against the will of the people, who much as we might not have wanted to admit did actually prefer the promise of communism over corrupt dictatorship. Here we do have the will of the people on our side and will likely have a democracy as an outcome. The comparison that I never see is the comparison of free trade and free information versus sanctions and isolation. Compare Cuba and China, even look at the gains in Ireland as its economy flourishes versus the many British attempts at military style crackdowns. Forget Rep. Tancredo's plan to use nuclear weapons, the real WMD's to defeat brutal dictators and terrorism are free information and free trade. Let the people have a taste of freedom and economic prosperity and they will change their system of government to bring more, often peacefully over time as the old systems rot from within or become marginalized by the power of personal freedom and wealth. The generals and pentagon planners may be convinced that military overthrow is faster and more efficient but they tend to have a rather short view of active combat or tenure of election. We compare Iraq today to Iraq a few years ago, but we never compare Iraqis to Chinese. China's leaders may have lacked Saddam's maniacal tinge, but they were every bit as powerful and could be every bit as brutal in wielding that power. As the argument for the strategy of bringing freedom in Iraq goes, it is a stepping stone to promote freedom throughout the Middle East. As such it should be looked at closely and with a long view lens. If our goal is a free and prosperous Middle East is military intervention or radical revolution the best strategy to achieve that goal?

Mrs. Sheehan is a grieving mother and her words may be rightfully viewed through that filter. She certainly does not speak for all mothers in her position. What I find maddening is the number of hours, words, and pages devoted to analyzing her political positions through microscopic evaluation of her spoken views. She is not a policy maker, planner or elected official of any kind. Send the conservative commentators off to analyze our actual government's plans, policies, and strategies.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 29, 2005 11:59 AM

Okay, then, in MY name

I am on the Not In Our Name mailing list. A couple of years ago, James Taranto pointed out that people were signing their petitions with silly names, so I signed as Hadda V. Shinynoz (it was close to Christmas as I recall).

I have enjoyed the emails. They are infrequent, and remind me with whom we are dealing out there. They're waaaay left, but not much further out than some of my family and friends.

Today's features calls to support Mrs. Sheehan, buying an ad in the Waco Tribune-Herald, Upcoming events, call to volunteer in the Statement of Conscience National Office...and this item:

2. Responses to the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes
Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.

Work is progressing on the Commission. Our goal is to continue to build
on the impact of the Not In Our Name statements and the World Tribunal
on Iraq by holding a court of inquiry that will both frame and fuel a
discussion that is urgently needed in this country: Is the
administration of George W. Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?

Check for updates on our web site - there's a special section for the

Some responses we have received:
I wholeheartedly support the public holding a public inquiry and public
trial. If the government stops representing us then we must represent
ourselves. Bush claims to act in our name. We have a right to say NO! I
hope the trial will be televised on C-Span!
PAH, Houghton, MI
Thank you so much for making it possible to voice my outrage at the
stupidity, ignorance, lies, intolerance and barbarism of the Bush regime.
Regime-change is necessary: in Washington! You're right, that he did
get the popular vote does not legitimate his acts. It does question the
validity of democracy in the US. Enclosed please find my contribution.
Sincerely, PH, Paris, France ( & LA, CA)
Frankly, I think President Bush should be impeached for his constant
lying to the American people and for a war based on lies.
BW, Westport, CT
Thank you for the excellent Statement of Conscience and for planning
the Commission of Inquiry. These provide a solid foundation for taking
action in these repressive times and re-energize us. Enclosed is a check
for $100.00. In solidarity, AG, Oakland, CA

Click "Continue Reading..." if you'd like to see the complete email

Subject: From the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience
From: "Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience" Add to Address Book
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2005 14:34:10 -0500

E-Message from NION SOC: August 23, 2005

1. Support Cindy Sheehan! Dubya does not speak in our name! Donate to
the publication of the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience in
Crawford, Texas.

2. Responses to the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes
Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.

3. Upcoming events:
-- National Organizers Conference Sept 3-5 NYC World Can't Wait -
Drive out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2nd.
-- Join the Not In Our Name Project on September 24 in Washington, DC
to End the War on Iraq. Check out the new Not In Our Name Project
merchandise annex

4. From the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience National Office:
-- Volunteer to work in the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience
National Office
-- New on the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience web site


1. Support Cindy Sheehan! Dubya does not speak in our name! Donate to
the publication of the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience in

Cindy's Sheehan's face off with G. W. Bush at Crawford, Texas, has
become a lightning rod as millions around the country have organized
support for the mother whose son, a US soldier, was killed in Iraq in April
2004. Millions around the country have demonstrated their support.
Others have arrived at Crawford to join the encampment.

To join in the support of Cindy's stand, the Not In Our Name Statement
of Conscience will be published in the Waco Tribune-Herald (circulation
40,000) midweek. A half page ad costs just under $5000.00. Your
contribution can be made at: or mail to: Not In Our
Name Statement of Conscience, 305 West Broadway, #199, NY, NY 10013.

Support Cindy:
-- Read a first hand report from Crawford Texas on the Drive out the
Bush Regime web site World Can't Wait and on our web site
-- Visit
-- Send emails of support to
-- Write letters to the editor of your local paper

Cindy was also a participant in the Not in Our Name sponsored Military
Voices Against Endless War ( event
held Memorial Day weekend. The audio of her presentation, as well as a
back stage video interview, is available online at the link above.

2. Responses to the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes
Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration.

Work is progressing on the Commission. Our goal is to continue to build
on the impact of the Not In Our Name statements and the World Tribunal
on Iraq by holding a court of inquiry that will both frame and fuel a
discussion that is urgently needed in this country: Is the
administration of George W. Bush guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity?

Check for updates on our web site - there's a special section for the

Some responses we have received:
I wholeheartedly support the public holding a public inquiry and public
trial. If the government stops representing us then we must represent
ourselves. Bush claims to act in our name. We have a right to say NO! I
hope the trial will be televised on C-Span!
PAH, Houghton, MI
Thank you so much for making it possible to voice my outrage at the
stupidity, ignorance, lies, intolerance and barbarism of the Bush regime.
Regime-change is necessary: in Washington! You're right, that he did
get the popular vote does not legitimate his acts. It does question the
validity of democracy in the US. Enclosed please find my contribution.
Sincerely, PH, Paris, France ( & LA, CA)
Frankly, I think President Bush should be impeached for his constant
lying to the American people and for a war based on lies.
BW, Westport, CT
Thank you for the excellent Statement of Conscience and for planning
the Commission of Inquiry. These provide a solid foundation for taking
action in these repressive times and re-energize us. Enclosed is a check
for $100.00. In solidarity, AG, Oakland, CA

3. Up coming events:
Below are some upcoming events. The Not In Our Name Statement of
Conscience informs its list of events and campaigns in the spirit of the
content of our statements.

-- National Organizers Conference Sept 3-5 NYC World Can't Wait -
Drive out the Bush Regime! Mobilize for November 2nd.
Where: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, 208
W. 13th St. New York City, NY
Register: 347.693.3319,
More info:, $25-100 fee

Come be part of developing and organizing the mass outpouring needed to
Drive out the Bush Regime. Be part of putting together the
organization, plans, and structure needed to do this. Download the flyer at:

Public Forum: Why & How to drive out the Bush Regime. Initiators of
the World Can't Wait call. Saturday September 3, 6pm 208 W. 13th Street,
NYC. For info: 347.963.3319

-- Join the Not In Our Name Project on September 24 in Washington, DC
to End the War on Iraq
Where: Washington, DC

On the East Coast: If you are in the NYC area, join the Not In Our Name
Project bus going down to DC. Call Not in Our Name NYC to reserve your
seats at 212-760-1722. Consider purchasing a ticket for someone who
cannot afford to pay. Tickets are only $35 each, $20 for students/low

Check out the new Not In Our Name Project merchandise annex. Let people
know that we say: Not In Our Name.

4. From the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience National Office:

-- Make a difference in the world. Volunteer with the Not In
Our Name Statement of Conscience (NION SOC) national office. People have
written to us about how much it meant to see the statement published -
how it put words to their feelings as well as a sense of not being
alone. Help publish, distribute and otherwise make good the words of the
statement. You don't need to live in New York city to volunteer. Write:

-- Check out what's new on the Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience
web site. Additions to the issues page
( with new articles (including a
letter from Eve Ensler about the June 2005 World Tribunal on Iraq in
Istanbul), blogs, links

Not in Our Name Statement of Conscience
305 West Broadway #199, New York, NY 10013
Donate at

Change Subscription:

Cancel Subscription:

But johngalt thinks:

Another reminder that we're witnessing a real-life struggle amongst the people of the world, between 'Atlas Shrugged' and 'Animal Farm.'

It's almost as if there's a Marxist shadow government of the U.S. in exile - on America's college campuses.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2005 3:04 PM
But jk thinks:

I fear the book is "Ecotopia" by Ernest Callenbach (I actually read this piece of drivel when I was young...)

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 9:22 PM

NEVER Too Early

Not for me, nosir! You could do an exit poll on the next election and I'd look it over. So Patrick Ruffini's 2008 Straw Polls are right up my street.

I wouldn't put too much stock in them, but I think the skeptics are wrong to discard the results entirely. As I read the results, they scream:

1) Weak Bench!
There's still plenty of time for a candidate to catch our imagination, but I don't see anybody in the basic slate who excites me at all. I'd take a bullet for Rudy Giuliani, the "mayor of America" and I'd certainly support him, but he has too many things to overcome: the health and family issues that pulled him out of the '00 Senate race, plus some positions on social issues that are at odds with the GOP base. I just don't see this guy winning.

2) Fantasy Candidates
Hence the need for a "fantasy candidate" section with three solid picks: Gov. Jeb Bush, VP Dick Cheney, and Secretary Condoleezza Rice. I'll work for any of those, But Senator Allen and Gov. Romney will have to earn more than tepid support (I started out tepid on then Gov. George Bush). If Senator Frist is the nominee, I may switch to the Democrats...

3) Senate-itis
Allen's a good guy, McCain could get me, Jon Kyl, Mitch McConnell -- I love Senators! But they make terrible candidates (cf. John Kerry). Just say "NO!"

I'm surprised that the GOP bench seems weaker. The Ds have the Senate-itis problem worse than the Rs (Sen. Biden? Yawn.) But Senator Clinton and Gov. Richards both look very strong. And they seem to have an okay second tier with Gov. Vilsack and some folks I am ignoring.

Two funny things on the Junior Senator from New York:
-- She doesn't suffer from Senate-itis; she's the Democrat queen. Senator Edwards, as a one-term Senator, was too inexperienced for VP but those charges will not stick to Sen. Clinton.

-- People talk of the Giuliani-Clinton matchup as a "subway series." I guess that she has completely shed the carpet-bagger thing. It frustrates me that the MSM goes so easy on her, but I like to live in a vibrant nation where one can remake himself or herself in another image -- Go Yankees!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM

August 23, 2005

Altruism and Organ Donations

Johngalt's extremely candid comment in our running discussion of altruism has made my heart grow to three times its size.

I post a link to an article I suspect we will both like: The Limits of Altruism and the Power of Self-Interest (I bet I got him at the title!)

For the last thirty years, many well-meaning organizations have spent lots of time and money trying to convince more Americans to donate their organs after they die. These efforts have relied exclusively on appeals to altruism, and they have failed. It's time to use self-interest to relieve the organ shortage.

The demand for organ transplants has skyrocketed, but the number of donated organs has remained relatively flat. As a result, over 89,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant in the United States. Another 40,000 names will be added to the list in the next twelve months. In 2004, 6,529 people on the waiting list died waiting for a transplant. Another 1,594 were removed from the list because, while they were waiting, they became too sick to undergo a transplant. More than half of the people who need transplants in the United States die before they get one.

The authors suggest that a financial market is over debated and they prefer a system where preference will be given to registered organ donors.

I like the idea of incentives and I could live with the one they suggest.

I, however, would prefer financial incentives. It might seem importune, but the fact is that markets works and that we have a currency-based economy, why not use it? This seems to comport with the rest of the article.

After all, we use the incentive of self-interest to increase the supply of food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. There is every reason to think it will also increase the supply of organ donors.

Markets work, it's a wonder we are so afraid to employ them.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

It's no wonder JK. If scarce organs went to those who could afford most to pay for them then "only the rich could be saved." Better to let them go to waste and save nobody, don't you think?

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2005 3:15 PM

Hooray for High Oil Prices!

Man, I thought I was a contrarian. Larry Kudlow takes the prize!

Permit me to take a contrarian view on the oil price shock. I say three cheers for higher energy prices. Why? Because I believe in markets. When the price of something goes up, demand falls off (call it conservation) and supply increases (call it new production). We're seeing a tectonic shift.

As Dan Yergin has advised us, energy supplies in the next few years will explode. Now the public is even favoring nuclear power. And the government is stepping out of the way by giving FERC the authority to override localities who oppose nuclear power, liquefied natural gas or other forms of energy.

I don't know how many of you watch his show on CNBC, but he has been doing this great riff: after an analyst attributes Wal*Mart's bad numbers to high gasoline prices, Kudlow says "Are gas prices cheaper for Target shoppers? Their numbers are up. So are Lowe's and Home Depot."

Prices are how information gets conveyed and ultimately how capital gets allocated. Prices are telling that it's time to invest in production.

On a side note: I am a big fan of Tennessee Congressman Ford, but he showed a tin ear last week on "Kudlow & Company," saying "It cost me $51 to fill my Tahoe. My salary is set by law at $158,000. These prices are real and that will make it hard for me to fill up every week.

I asked my wife to hand me a tissue...

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 5:03 PM

Military Enlistment

Meeting and exceeding their goals.
Yeah, I know!

    Let's look at the numbers, which offer a different picture of patriotism than the editorial pages do.

    * Every one of the Army's 10 divisions — its key combat organizations — has exceeded its re-enlistment goal for the year to date. Those with the most intense experience in Iraq have the best rates. The 1st Cavalry Division is at 136 percent of its target, the 3rd Infantry Division at 117 percent.

    Among separate combat brigades, the figures are even more startling, with the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division at 178 percent of its goal and the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Mech right behind at 174 percent of its re-enlistment target.

    This is unprecedented in wartime. Even in World War II, we needed the draft. Where are the headlines?

    * What about first-time enlistment rates, since that was the issue last spring? The Army is running at 108 percent of its needs. Guess not every young American despises his or her country and our president.

    * The Army Reserve is a tougher sell, given that it takes men and women away from their families and careers on short notice. Well, Reserve recruitment stands at 102 percent of requirements.

    * And then there's the Army National Guard. We've been told for two years that the Guard was in free-fall. Really? Guard recruitment and retention comes out to 106 percent of its requirements as of June 30.

But jk thinks:

Thanks for the post. It is unusual that this doesn't get quite the coverage that it does when it appeared that they mught miss their targets.

Most of all thanks to these brave men and women. What an honor to share a nation wuith them!

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2005 1:22 PM

Sarcasm Alert

Judge John Roberts cracks me up.

Here's why.

    "How fascinating and edifying it must have been for you to review the files I compiled during my service to the attorney general," Roberts wrote. "I assume that the archivist will deposit my files in one of those hermetically sealed display cases that drop into a concrete vault in the event of nuclear attack, similar to the cases housing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Once this is done, I will consider donating my personal papers, at a time to be determined by my tax advisers."

Tip to Chappy who writes... If the Post recognizes the sarcasm dripping off the page of this note they do not note it. Instead, they report it as straightforward, which I doubt it is.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 1:00 PM

August 22, 2005

Sheehan : Letter to the Editor

A friend of mine sent the following letter to the editors of Norristown's Times-Herald.

    Dear Editor-

    Your article “Rallying together” of Thursday, August 18th covered the rally held by Colonial Area Democrats and in support of Cindy Sheehan.

    I am curious if the Colonial Area Democrats and their candidates for school board and municipal office support Mrs. Sheehan’s statements such as, “the biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush,” “get…Israel out of Palestine,” and “this country is not worth dying for,” as well as her decision not to pay taxes?

    Such views and actions seem to be radically out-of-step with the views of most voters in Conshohocken, Plymouth, and Whitemarsh, regardless of their stance on the war.

    Jim S,Plymouth

It's clever that the stars on the flag are colored like the peace sign. I wonder if that woman, along with Joan Baez got the message that the 60's ended quite a few years ago.

Reliving the heydays, I suppose.

I can't help but think of the lack of retrospection on the parts of those who would compare Iraq to Vietnam, and agitate for our withdrawl.

It wasn't too long after our withdrawl from Vietnam that the place went to hell. How many died? How many fled? I've got a friend who was a "boat person." Harrowing tale. Perhaps I'll blog it one day.

How many millions died in Cambodia, whose oppressors had nothing to fear from a neighboring American military?

It that a legacy that the 60's generation is proud of?

Withdrawl means consequences for everyone. Something the "anti-war" activists don't say too much about.

But jk thinks:

The self-outing of "Deep Throat" and the return of Joan Baez and Jane Fonda have had me thinking quite a bit about the 60s and their devil-spawn of a decade the 70s. I was born in 1960 so I got heavy doses of both.

You have hit the nail on the head. The problem is that the intellectual children of the 60s are convinced they were right. The media think the greatest thing they did for the world was to end American participation in Vietnam and chase President Nixon from office. Those are their big wins and they both damaged the country immeasurably.

We should look at this war through the prism of Vietnam. It would be good if we hadn't learned all the wrong lessons.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2005 10:24 AM

1,000 Bin-Ladens

My antiwar friends believe, as absolute Gospel, that our efforts in Iraq provide a breeding ground for terrorists, and that President Bush is manufacturing terrorists with his aggressive posture.

Yet Michael Barone looks at 'The Pew Global Attitudes Project's recent survey of opinion in six Muslim countries and sees progress being made.

Minds are being changed, and in the right direction.

Most importantly, support for terrorism in defense of Islam has "declined dramatically," in the Pew report's words, in Muslim countries, except in Jordan (which has a Palestinian majority) and Turkey, where support has remained a low 14 percent. It has fallen in Indonesia (from 27 percent to 15 percent since 2002), Pakistan (from 41 percent to 25 percent since 2004) and Morocco (from 40 percent to 13 percent since 2004), and among Muslims in Lebanon (from 73 percent to 26 percent since 2002).

Support for suicide bombings against Americans in Iraq has also declined. The percentage reporting some confidence in Osama bin Laden is now under 10 percent in Lebanon and Turkey, and has fallen sharply in Indonesia.

I have seen this referenced in a few blogs, but I am not expecting coverage anywhere else.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

Hmm, I think support for terrorism and the number of terrorists are two separate things. I suspect that the Pew researchers may not have been conducting their polls in terrorist enclaves, something about living to tell the story... Maybe breeding ground is the wrong term, maybe it is more of a consolidation of terrorists, drawing fanatics from all over the world who are sold on the idea of holy war against the infidels. Does it sway Muslims with no prior fanatical tendencies? I doubt it. Does it provide encouragement, training, and an outlet for would be terrorists? I think it does. The scariest part is the attraction of Europeans and Asians to the cause, folks who can go back home and travel abroad more easily. Is president Bush manufacturing terrorists with his posture? That seems an overstatement, but we could do our job combating terrorism and bringing freedom to Iraq just as well with less angry rhetoric. No need to poke the rabid dog with a stick.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 24, 2005 7:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Valid points. Likewise, a little multiplication takes the bloom off this rose, 14% of billions of folks supporting terrorism is a lot.

Certainly the poll results are very suspect because they lack infrastructure for polling and tyrannical governments are not conducive to candor.

Yet I find the results STARTLING. And I suspect that most of my anti-war friends (few of whom are as rational as you) would be certain that terrorism against the US would be held in much higher esteem after the Iraq war.

I am going to throw your analogy back at you, though: do you just let a rabid dog be because it is difficult to deal with?

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 11:05 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

No, you shoot it, but no need to poke it with a stick while you wait for a clean shot. The tough guy bluster may win points in some political circles but it also tends to be good fodder for the extremists recruiting for the other side.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 25, 2005 1:23 PM
But jk thinks:

Let's leave that poor ol' dawg alone for a bit...

I see the Pew numbers as contradicting your concern. I think that the appeasement and soft response to terror by Carter, Reagan and Clinton were much better for recruitment and operations.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 2:04 PM
But dagny thinks:

Sorry, I have to beat the dead horse errr dog a little more.

Shooting a rabid dog is clearly the best way to deal with it.

Unfortunately, the world is currently refusing to shoot the rabid dog of terrorism since a few innocent fleas might get killed in the process.

Posted by: dagny at August 25, 2005 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

The French Prime Minister wants to give sanctions a few more weeks. If they fail, he has assured our diplomats he will support other measures against the animal...

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 5:13 PM

The Vioxx Verdict, II

When I calmly think a situation over and refrain from making a rash decision, as I did in my first posting on the $229 Million Texas Vioxx Verdict, I reserve the right to change my mind.

Like Trivial Pursuit, sometimes your first answer is the best. And my first answer is that Merck in no way deserves this company-threatening decision. Two columns in today's Wall Street Journal have put me back on-track.

Both detail facts I did not know when I let the silver tongued lawyer calm me and Larry Kudlow on CNBC's "Kudlow & Company." Although some data exist showing accelerated heart risk, there is actually little chance and no evidence that Vioxx contributed to this death at all. The widow's husband had 70% blockage of his arteries, did not suffer a heart-attack according to the death certificate, and had only taken Vioxx for eight months (elevated risk usually shows up after 18).

First is a Wall Street Journal editorial that questions Merck's viability "if you multiply the number of suits by only the $25 million in economic losses imposed by the Texas jury you have a company that could soon be turning over most or all of its earnings to the trial bar."

The verdict is also more bad news for the millions of Americans who suffer from the kind of chronic pain for which stomach-friendly Cox-2 inhibitors like Vioxx provide welcome relief. Before Vioxx, Celebrex and other Cox-2 inhibitors, patients relied on pain medications like aspirin and ibuprofen, which are harder for some to tolerate. There are 15,000-plus deaths a year from gastrointestinal bleeding in people who develop full-blown stomach ulcers on this older class of drugs.

The cardiovascular risk that led Merck to withdraw Vioxx appears only in patients who have taken the drug for more than 18 months. The husband of the plaintiff only took it for eight. Merck had kept the Food and Drug Administration fully aware of its clinical results showing the relatively small heart-attack risks.

Like all drugs, Vioxx has risks and side-effects but was hardly an "unsafe" drug. Earlier this year, an FDA advisory panel recommended that the drug go back on the market, with appropriate re-labeling. But after Friday, and given the brutal vagaries of the American tort system, the question is less about Vioxx's survival than Merck's.

The second is a guest editorial by Richard Epstein, Ambush in Angleton, which questions the size of the award and the effect on the whole pharmaceutical sector.
Forget the jury's whopping quarter-billion-dollar verdict in Ernst v. Merck, because it's cut 90% by the caps that Texas law places on punitive damages. Still, where do $25 million in actual damages come from? Robert Ernst died in his sleep, without pain and without medical bills. His lost income as a Wal-Mart employee was small. But the $24 million price tag for anguish and loss of companionship to his widow Carol is off the charts.

It seems the doctors were arrogant and the jurors wanted to send a message.
So, in return, I would like to send my message to Mr. Lanier and those indignant jurors. It's not from an irate tort professor, but from a scared citizen who is steamed that those "good people" have imperiled his own health and that of his family and friends. None of you have ever done a single blessed thing to help relieve anybody's pain and suffering. Just do the math to grasp the harm that you've done.
Ah, you will say, but we're only after Vioxx, and not those good drugs. Sorry, the investment community won't take you at your word. It realizes that any new drug which treats common chronic conditions can generate the same ruinous financial losses as Vioxx, because the flimsy evidence on causation and malice you cobbled together in the Ernst case can be ginned up in any other. Clever lawyers like Mr. Lanier will be able to ambush enough large corporations in small, dusty towns where they will stand the same chance of survival that Custer had at Little Big Horn. Investors can multiply: They won't bet hundreds of millions of dollars in new therapies on the off-chance of being proved wrong. They know they'll go broke if they win 90% of the time.

Mr. Epstein contends that "Much as I disapprove of how the FDA does business, we must enact this hard-edged no-nonsense legal rule: no drug that makes it through the FDA gauntlet can be attacked for bad warnings or deficient design."

It’s hard to pick a villain between the tort bar and the FDA. I would not choose to further empower the Government as an absolute arbiter of safety and efficacy, because I wish to reduce the FDA’s role. But we have to do something. I need new drugs today, we will all need them, someday.

But johngalt thinks:

The problem here is that the current system is not a compromise between these two villains, but the WORST of both! If drug companies are not protected from predatory lawyers by the FDA seal of approval, what good is it? If companies submit to the FDA's labyrinthian trial and approval process, intended to uncover every possible flaw in the drug or its application, how can they be judged "incompetent" or "negligent" thereafter?

Government's ox is not gored, nor is the trial bar's, but the businessman - he gets the royal treatment. Why? Because, just like Dillinger said about banks... "That's where the money is!"

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2005 4:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Agreed. BUT if we make the FDA responsible for protection from redress, than they will want to be more cautious, which will fit their bureaucratic desires as well.

Tempting to say "make it good for something," but I fear it's counter-productive.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 4:35 PM

Unemployed claims drop by one

Joan Baez now has something to do, she is going to Crawford.

I love the AP headline: "Folk Singer Supports Anti-War Protesters." As we all know, without folk songs, there would be no peace. Getting somebody of the stature of Ms. Baez is certainly a coup for the other side. Now they've got Joan Baez and Senator Chuck Hagel.

But AlexC thinks:

"No Folk, No Peace" or is it "Know Folk, Know Peace"?

Posted by: AlexC at August 22, 2005 5:41 PM
But jk thinks:

The answer would be blowing in the wind...

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2005 6:22 PM

Ex Nihilio

Pundits on both sides are making a huge mistake in both Iraq and Gaza. I wish I had an influential blog because I would like to make an economic correction to the Conventional Wisdom.

CW states that an agreement to share oil revenue is important in Iraq. This has been floated by the left and right and is currently thought to be one of the stumbling blocks for Sunni approval of the draft Iraqi Constitution. Meanwhile, pundits on the left are concerned that Palestinians in the newly autonomous Gaza strip will need buckets of aid to become anything but an economic backwater. (NPR’s Juan Williams was in good metaphorical form on FoxNews’s “The Beltway Boys” this weekend. Fred Barnes said that the ball is in their court; Williams rebutted that they don’t have a mitt to catch it or a bat to hit it back. Maybe a tennis metaphor would have served better, but he made his point.)

Oil wealth did, in fact, do wonders Jed Clampett, allowing his entire family to enjoy the high life in their Beverly Hills mansion. But when you look at the per-capita GDP figures for oil exporting nations, it looks less like a gift. Saudi Arabia has per Capita GDP of $10,430 in 2004; oil-rich Venezuela’s is $4080. (Source: ) Israel, for natural resources, has pretty much sand – and a per-capita GDP of $17,380.

Israel has created an economy, ex nihilio. Next week I will start a drug regimen from an Israeli Pharmaceutical company. They have tourism from holy sites – not second to Saudi Arabia – but they have not relied on natural resources. The new economy of the Gaza strip must look to its human capital for prosperity, not for aid. We’ve seen how well aid works in Africa. Likewise, a look at oil exporting nations shows the new Iraqi economy would be better served by diversifying itself.

Yes, the US still provides aid to Israel (what’s the use of having a powerful, Zionist neocon lobby if you can’t use it?) and, yes, I would support a similar aid package for the Palestinians. But I would like to see it structured as micro-loans or targeted development aid. And it will of course have to be contingent on peaceful behavior.

And yes, the oil revenues can be a big boost to Iraqi reconstruction and development. But rather than distributing shares to every citizen, why not finance the government and infrastructure with oil revenues. Entrepreneurs in Iraq could then enjoy a low tax climate with modern infrastructure and have access to inexpensive energy (no, I don’t mean buying Iran’s nuclear electricity). This would be a foundation for a long-term prosperity that would be protected from price volatility and less susceptible to terrorism or corruption. Give the Kurds the oil wealth; in time, the Baghdadian traders would be richer.

But johngalt thinks:

Great statistics JK. We aren't seeing those in the MSM anywhere, are we? You are, of course, correct in saying that selling a nation's natural resources without any value added is the route to subservience rather than prosperity. But the obstacle to the sort of creation from Iraqis that you rightly admire in Israelis is not the absence of either oil wealth OR foreign aid. That obstacle is altruism, as I explained in 'Altruistic Military Service.'

To the extent that each Iraqi man acts in ways to advance his own happiness and prosperity ON EARTH without killing his neighbors or foreigners there to help him, the future of Iraq will be a bright one. To the extent that he chooses the culture of death, enabled by altruism, Iraq's dark age will return.

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2005 3:13 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Thank you for citing the Israel's successes.
There's a whole lot of nothing where they're at, and they've managed to far surpass those that happened to be on top of oil.

Posted by: AlexC at August 22, 2005 5:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Thank you both for the kind words.

JG, I think we agree politically but not philosophically here. I am pretty much on-board for the importance of individualism and I remain sympathetic to the disapprobation toward altruism.

Yet to claim the difference between Israel and other MidEast economies is altruism is more than I can bear. The difference is a belief in the value of trade and commerce, respect for the rule of law, and the innovation that freedom facilitates.

Israel is pluralist but still a religious country. Islam forbids usury; Judaism quite famously does not. Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive, foreign investment is severely restricted or prohibited in many of Israel’s neighbors. I just cannot agree that the difference is a delta in altruism.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2005 10:47 AM
But johngalt thinks:

You are right, JK. I overreached. (A predictable occurence in comments written under time constraints of my lunch hour.)

I must be more careful in my elucidations on the evil of altruism, for even Dagny surmised I was ascribing altruism as the ENTIRE cause of suicide bombers. I want to emphasize that it is A cause, AN enabler, of murder, suicide, and the culture of death.

We are in agreement on the causes of peaceful and beneficial societies: Trade and commerce (advancement of happiness and prosperity); rule of law (without killing his neighbors or foreigners); and the innovation (IBID 1) that freedom (IBID 2) facilitates.

We both (and Alex too) hold forth on a blog named "Three Sources" for a reason. And it's NOT just that we're unabashed apologists for Israel.

Posted by: johngalt at August 23, 2005 2:15 PM
But Attila (Pillage Idiot) thinks:

Actually, Judaism does prohibit charging interest to fellow Jews. Lev. 25:37. I assume you're thinking about the Jews' role as moneylenders to non-Jews.

Paul Johnson wrote this in his History of the Jews:

"One of the greatest contributions the Jews made to human progress was to force European culture to come to terms with money and its power. Human societies have always shown an extraordinary unwillingness to demystify money and see it for what it is – a commodity like any other, whose value is relative. * * * Men bred cattle with honour; they sowed grain and reaped it worthily. But if they made money work for them they were parasites and lived on 'unearned increment,' as it came to be termed.

"The Jews were initially as much victims of this fallacy as anyone else. Indeed, they invented it."

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at August 23, 2005 10:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the info. The Catholic church prohibited usury until the 16th Century. Perhaps we could all agree to keep religion out of economics...

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2005 11:08 AM

August 21, 2005

Air Americsam

I've been mostly silent on Al Franken's woes. While it seems a lot worse than Rush Limbaugh's "little problem," I cannot imagine it will rise to the level of scandal in the MSM. Hell, these folks can't even report on the UNSCAM Oil-for-Food scandal, I can't imagine they'll get around to investigating Mr. Franken.

The New York Sun ahs done yeoman work on this, just as they did for Claudia Rosset's work on UNSCAM. PowerLine reports they have now set up a special web page with all of their stories. Good Stuff!

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 3:34 PM

"Altruistic" Military Service - Repost

JK's August 13 post on altruism and military service didn't get a reply until August 19. It dropped off the main page the next day, so I'm reposting it now (through the preceding hyperlink.) It's five comments are worthwhile reading, and will lead to a new posting from me (as soon as I can make the time for it) about modern views of military service.

Philosophy Posted by JohnGalt at 2:12 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Prior to the invasion of Iraq one of my "altrustic" ideas was that an free and democratic Iraq would cause oil prices to drop, as the fields would be run by people interested in making as much as possible.

Being in the oil biz, I didn't believe that that was the case.

With cheaper oil, more marginal operations, including American ones would be hurt by cheaper oil imports.

Am I way wrong? Or is that still going to happen?

Posted by: AlexC at August 21, 2005 5:48 PM
But jk thinks:


You know the biz better than I, but I suspect that the demand side of the equation has changed irreversibly. Demand from China and India will keep even marginal sites pumping.

As for Iraq, one of the concerns with an oil sharing scheme as I posted above is that government might get overly involved in production. A heavily nationalized Iraqi oil company would not necessarily optimize production.

Better to hatch a neocon plot to invade Venezuela! Kick Luis out, steal their oil!

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2005 1:36 PM
But AlexC thinks:

No you're correct. The demand is up dramatically. Three years ago, gas was cheap. It's just amazing that the demand has changed like it did.

Posted by: AlexC at August 22, 2005 2:14 PM

August 20, 2005

Why They Hate Us


I suggested last week that Silence Dogood be ThreeSources's Fashion Editor. Publius brings us the latest swimsuits from Saudi Arabia, plus a link to an amusing mock interview with the Saudi Minister of Tourusm.

I guess it's okay that her knuckles are exposed, because men and women cannot swim together anyway!

But AlexC thinks:

Great graphic, I'm going to post it on my pstupidonymous as well.

Did you see the one picture of the girl showing her knees and her neck! *very* provocative!

Posted by: AlexC at August 20, 2005 3:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And dangerous too, at least to "law and order," Sharia style. What chance does the promise of 72 virgins 'in the bush' stand to one smooth skinned young lass in the hand? Before they know it young muslim males will start questioning the authority of Allah, or at least of the neighborhood mullah.

Great work JK.

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2005 7:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinking this could be the first annual ThreeSources "Swimsuit Issue." We'll do this every August to drive up readership...

Posted by: jk at August 21, 2005 3:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Why just August? I vote for babes whenever news warrants!
I think those powerline guys flog the Miss Universe contest quite a bit.

Posted by: AlexC at August 21, 2005 5:48 PM
But jk thinks:

Good point -- why wait for news? Ian at Bannan Oil used to post one every day...

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2005 1:39 PM

August 19, 2005

The Vioxx Verdict

Sounds like a Ludlum book...

I went to write a knee-jerk, pro-Merck, "are you joking?" post about the award of more than a quarter billion dollars to the widow of a 59-year old Wal*Mart manager.

I own the high horse of "chasing capital out of the pharmaceutical sector," and my Multiple Sclerosis gives me what Maureen Dowd would call "absolute moral authority."

But I counted to ten and watched Larry Kudlow's show, and I am having second thoughts. The widow's attorneys were on and made a compelling case to Larry, who is at least as tough on tort reform and crazy awards as I am. One said that the juries were conservative, many Republican; most favored tort reform and the forewoman said during jury selection that she thought Merck was a great company.

The guy watches Kudlow & Co., and said "Larry, that's how strong the evidence was -- you'd've voted for this settlement."

Kudlow was surprised and so was I. Color me suspicious still, but perhaps there is real evidence of malfeasance, in which case I will not blindly back the corporation.

Hinderacker at Power Line notes that the settlement will get a serious haircut in the appellate process, which is good. The amount was outrageous.

The problem is that this was the first of several thousand Vioxx cases to go to trial. It isn't feasible to try them all, so the first few verdicts will tend to set the ground rules for future settlements. Even though the plaintiff will never collect the bulk of this particular verdict, it likely will cost Merck more than $250 million in the years to come. The company's stock lost more than $5 billion in value today.

No word on whether John Hinderacker saw Kudlow & Co. today.

UPDATE: I have had a change of heart.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 8:16 PM

Ken Salazar for Guv?

Yeah, I'd rather be Governor than Senator, but this post really surprises me.

Two years after being elected Senator, Ken Salazar is considering a bid for the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination in Colorado. A Democratic poll apparently reports that he is a strong candidate against the leading Republican, Congressman Bob Beauprez. Were Salazar to run, I imagine that Republicans would be ecstatic. Not only would it give them an opportunity to win the Senate seat back two years earlier than expected, but if Salazar were to lose, he would be practically roadkill in 2010.

The bad news I keep trying to forget is that we lost both houses to the Democrats in 2004. Governor Owens has kept us afloat with his veto pen but a Democrat gov would be very dangerous in Colorado.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:50 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Did Salzaar break some campaign promise in a big way once he got into office?
What was the impact in Colorado?

Posted by: AlexC at August 21, 2005 5:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I believe he said he'd give the president's judicial nominees an "up or down vote." Once he got to Washington and finished freshman orientation he said he had, "learned more about the matter and had reconsidered," or some other such nonsense.

I don't think it's done him much harm because the "gang of 14" bailed him out. Every Republican though should be telling every moderate, "See, told you so."

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2005 8:35 PM
But jk thinks:

I don't think he did anything that would hurt his gubernatorial chances.

He has good name recognition and a moderate label which would wear well in increasingly purple Colorado.

But it would give the GOP a good shot at his Senate seat. And my Congressman, Mark Udall (yes, one of those Udalls) would probably run on the D side. That's the only way we'd ever get him out.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2005 1:48 PM

Who would think the economy good?

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page this morning carries the unsurprising news that Americans think the economy is bad because they've been told it's bad.

The middle editorial, Media Bears, quotes an MRC study that shows "negative full length TV news stories on the economy outnumbered positive stories by an overwhelming ratio of 4 to 1,"

To cite just one example, a CBS Evening News story on July 22 said that the economy is "very tenuous. It could fall apart at any moment. One piece of bad news, one additional terrorist attack, one negative corporate earnings, and it goes right down again." Contrast that funeral dirge with what Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress that same day: "The outlook is one of sustained economic growth." And this was after Dan Rather had departed Planet CBS.

Media coverage of President Bush's tax cuts has been particularly slanted. During the 2003 tax-cut debate, three of every four major TV network news stories were negative. The favorite criticisms were liberal echoes that it would bust the budget and favor the rich. Earlier this year, a news story on National Public Radio announced that "as everyone knows, the primary cause of the budget deficit was the Bush tax cuts." No word yet on whom NPR is crediting with this year's revenue surge of $262 billion. Robert Rubin?

This is a great opportunity for bias in that they can just select the stories to present, the experts to cite, and write the headline. The economy is complex and partisan enough that you can always find somebody to say what you want.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 10:11 AM

August 18, 2005

Canadian Health Care

Captain Ed looks at health care from the North and comes to the same conclusion as Silence and I did this week.

The Captain complains that "While Americans tend to think of the Canadian health-care system as a model of nationalized medicine, many Canadians have to travel to the US in order to get timely treatment. " I fear he is right, many Americans do think highly of the Canadian system. I will have to continue blogging until that notion is disabused!

What Canadians have discovered is that government-rationed health care provides slow and limited options for patients, just like everywhere else it has been tried. The American healthcare system, in comparison, uses the market to ration care and results in much more responsive providers. It also provides higher degrees of innovation and gives doctors incentives to specialize. In Britain, for example, hospitals discarded viable transplantable organs due to a lack of trained physicians to perform the operations -- a shortage caused by the lack of compensation for transplant surgeons despite the increased cost of certification for the procedure.

Market-based rationing may have its flaws, especially in a litigation-heavy arena like health care. However, those rarely get solved by government-based rationing, which not only make the same flaws worse but compound them with a raft of other destructive practices. The CMA should be congratulated for starting to comprehend this pattern. Their patients have already made their diagnosis.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 6:20 PM


Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton were my idols as a young guitarist. I was disappointed when Mr. Santana showed up at the Oscars in Che-wear, but I'm now pretty glad I don't work for him.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. -- A former personal assistant to Carlos Santana has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the veteran rocker, claiming he was fired after his consciousness was calibrated and determined to be too low.

Bruce Kuhlman, 59, charges that Santana's wife, Deborah, brought in a man known as "Dr. Dan" so employees could grow closer to God and become better workers.

"In Deborah's view, the higher a person calibrated with Dr. Dan, the better employee they were because they were more `spiritually evolved,'" the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, filed in Marin Superior Court, alleges that "spiritual calibration" allowed a person to develop a deeper level of consciousness.
Kuhlman is seeking monetary damages for lost wages, emotional distress and unpaid overtime, among other demands.

A Clapton biography I read a while back makes me think he was nuts as well, although I think he has grown into a credible role as an "elder statesman" of sorts; I hope he's okay.

Now I like Jazz, home to all kinds of lowlifes, dopers and psychopaths (cf. Stan Getz) but I think Tal Farlow was a pretty good guy as was Joe Pass.

Hat-tip: The Corner

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:58 PM

Last Word om Mrs. Sheehan

-- matches my first, so I will attempt to make these posts bookends, and let this August contretemps die like a parched and dehydrated flower -- or photojournalist -- in the Crawford sun.

Much as I enjoy pointing out the far left and anti-Semitic nature of her outbursts, the best argument consists of saying "fine, let's listen to all the families."

The WSJ Ed Page brings a good one and posts it on the free site: "She Does Not Speak For Me."

Although we all walk the same sad road of sorrow and agony, we walk it as individuals with all the refreshing uniqueness of our own thoughts shaped in large measure by the life and death of our own fallen hero. Over the past few days I have reached out to other parents and loved ones of fallen heroes in an attempt to find out their reactions to all the attention Mrs. Sheehan has attracted. What emerges from those conversations is an empathy for Mrs. Sheehan's suffering but a fundamental disagreement with her politics.

The author is Ronald R. Griffin, who also lost a son in Iraq. He goes on to enumerate other families, whom they lost, an their opinions on the mission. As Maureen Dowd would say, they have "ultimate moral authority."

But johngalt thinks:

And this goes to the explanation JK sought for why a man who hates anti-war activists would drive over the crosses they erected "memorializing fallen soldiers." Of these reported 800 crosses that, reportedly, have the names of other fallen Iraq war soldiers on them, how many of those families have consented to the use of their fallen hero's name in this political theatre? Isn't this the quintessential case of "not in my name?"

Make no mistake, those crosses are not there to "memorialize" the fallen heroes whose names adorn them. They are there as an attempt to confiscate the moral support of those honored dead for this despicable and dishonorable traitorous travesty we know of as "Cindy's fight" or some other such euphemism.

Posted by: johngalt at August 18, 2005 3:22 PM

Crawford Crosses

The Sheehan media circus in Crawford Texas is bringing out the best in people.

    Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan tried to calm tensions on Tuesday with area residents upset by her vigil but expressed outrage after a pickup truck driver ran over crosses at her campsite near U.S. President George W. Bush's ranch.

    Some 800 white wooden crosses, bearing the names of soldiers killed in Iraq like her son, have lined the road near the area where Sheehan has pitched a tent. Witnesses said they saw a truck dragging a pipe and chains drive over some of the crosses on Monday night.

It's unfortunate that Mr Larry Northern would desecrate the wooden crosses like that.

He could have just called the ACLU. They would have been more than happy to file a lawsuit to have them removed.

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

If they had a Karl Rove, I would suspect that Mr. Northern was a Karl Rove plant.

I can't quite get in the guy's head: "I hate these anti-war folks so much I am going to drive over crosses memorializing fallen soldiers."

Wonder if the PowerLine post is correct that a Bush support who was rectifying them was forced to stop so the other guys could get a picture

It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, 'cept for Lola.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2005 12:16 PM

August 17, 2005

jk's Expired Plates

I did mention before that I needed an emissions test this year to get my new plates.

And Silence noted in the comments that drive-by tests are now as accurate as the torture.

Well, it's August and my plates are now expired. But Virginia Postrel has a posting claiming nefarious reasons for bureaucrats to keep the old system.

Remote sensing is about cleaning up the air, not changing lifestyles or collecting a general tax on cars. It doesn't make any interest groups rich, and it reminds (some) drivers that they, not anonymous big corporations, are now the major sources of smog.

Meantime, I am admitting to a crime on my blog. If I ever run for office or get nominated to the Supreme Court, this blog will be my death knell.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM


Leahy Lambastes Roberts' 'Radical' Stands

WASHINGTON - Sen. Patrick Leahy (news, bio, voting record) says Supreme Court nominee John Roberts holds "radical" views and has been an "eager, aggressive advocate" for policies of the far right.
It's true y'know. Senators Leahy and Kennedy have seen evidence in the 5000 pages that Roberts:
In material released Monday, Roberts emerged as an attorney serving in the Reagan White House who held views generally in line with those of other conservatives. He was sympathetic to prayer in public schools, dismissive of "comparable worth," referred to the "tragedy of abortion" and took a swipe at the Supreme Court for being too willing to hear multiple appeals from death row inmates.
What a troglodyte! How insanely ideological can one guy be? How far out of the mainstream?

I would laugh if I weren't certain that the MSM will take these comments seriously.

UPDATE: The WSJ Ed Page weighs in:

It's no news flash that organizations like the Alliance for Justice, People for the American Way and are influencing Democrats' attack on Judge Roberts. But the rapidity with which Senators Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy jumped this week to follow the groups' orders is nonetheless remarkable, and politically revealing.

Within hours of publication of the first Post story, Mr. Leahy hit the barricades with a statement calling Judge Roberts "an eager and aggressive advocate" of policies "deeply tinged with the ideology of the far right wing of his party." During the Reagan years, the Senator added, the nominee held views "that were among the most radical being offered by a cadre intent on reversing decades of policies on civil rights, voting rights, women's rights, privacy, and access to justice." At least he didn't call Judge Roberts a member of the Taliban.

As for Senator Kennedy, he sent a letter to colleagues claiming the Reagan documents show that Judge Roberts "was on or beyond the outer fringe of that extreme group eager to take our law and society back in time on a wide range of issues of individual rights and liberties."

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 1:49 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

The only thing I know he has taken back in time is fashion. Did you see the photos of his family at his announcement at the White House? I thought at first that the caption must be wrong, that the photo was actually of a 5 year old Judge Roberts 40 years ago not of his son current day. An Eton suit and saddle shoes? Yikes.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2005 1:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Silence, I think you should take over as ThreeSources Fashion Editor. I'd have never recognized an Eton Suit.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2005 3:53 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Yes, fashion deity that I am. Truthfully I had to do a Google search on "suit with short pants" to find the name. They did go out of style about 1960 and some say that now more are sold in doll sizes as no 5 year old will consent to wear one. Just injecting a little pithiness really, not sure there is any big cultural insight into the man based on how his family dresses, but just as some here have talked about the "dirty hippies" you gotta wonder about a guy whose family dresses straight out of 1955.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2005 5:20 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I don't think I coined "dirty hippies" but I love using it.

The difference between the Roberts family and the dirty hippies, is that in a social setting you probably wouldn't be offended by the fetid odor and grooming skills of the Roberts. Yeah, the clothes are a little, ahem, "classic." But they're clean, pressed and acceptable.

Dirty Hippies, on the other hand, if you can cut through the stench, you still have to contend with the tofu crumbs and bong water stains.
Never mind the lice in the armpits.


Posted by: AlexC at August 18, 2005 5:30 PM

If a Boom Happened in the Forest

... and the President were a Republican, would the New York Times hear it?

That line wasn't worth the torture, sorry. But Larry Kudlow is wondering why this administration allows so much great economic news to be quiet.

Liberal economists like Paul Krugman ridicule the Bush boom as nothing more than a housing bubble destined to burst. But if the numbers-challenged Krugman would do some homework he would find that the GDP contribution of residential investment has dropped from 15 to 8 percent in the last two years. For that matter, the consumer contribution to GDP has slowed from 90 to 75 percent. By taxing investment less, the economy is generating more of it.

With comparable economic numbers in 1983 and 1984, President Reagan enjoyed a tremendous “morning in America” popularity that won him a 49 state landslide. Similarly, the economic boom of the late 1990s helped President Clinton withstand the political slings and arrows of impeachment. But for some reason this economy is not working for Bush.

Most pundits blame rising gas prices and Iraqi war difficulties for Bush’s slump. While these are involved, they’re not the whole story. The unwillingness of the Bushies to communicate and market an economic-recovery message is also to blame.

Larry's point is that the silence not only hurts the President, it hurts future tax cuts and the power of the Laffer Curve. By claiming more credit than was due, President Clinton established Rubinomics as valid; Mr. Kudlow (and I) would like to see the Administration similarly cement the idea of supply-side tax cuts.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM

The First Cindy Sheehan?

Christopher Hitchens pens a nice piece on l'affaire Sheehan. As with all of his stuff it's worth a read.

But I was drawn by a link buried within to President Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby. I'm a Lincoln aficionado, and during the first Gulf War, a Boulder Bank, mirabile dictu, published it as an ad in Lincoln's own hand. I cut it out and pasted it to my office door for months. I love the language:

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
Abraham Lincoln

I followed Hitchens's link to read it again and was devastated by the commentary on the site which carries it. It seems that:

  • Mrs. Bixby lost two sons, not five -- and one of the others lived by deserting!

  • Mrs. Bixby was a CSA sympathizer -- and destroyed Lincoln's letter

  • President Lincoln may not have even written it: "many scholars believe it was actually written John Hay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries"

Whew. Next time, Mr. Valence, go with the legend!

Hitchens misses the parallel, but I wonder if Mrs. Bixby isn't the moral and intellectual great-godmother to Mrs. Sheehan? Is not history repeating itself as farce this August in Crawford?

But johngalt thinks:

Denver radio jock Peter Boyles argues that Bush should just meet with the woman and take whatever heat she can manage to dish out. If he were to do so in private, as he does with every other personal meeting, I'm thinking it's not a bad idea.

The biggest argument against is the precedent it sets, but of the 1800 soldiers killed in Iraq how many have leftist mothers? Maybe two dozen? And of those, how many are willing to subject themselves to the thought-control of Michael Moore et. al.? Not enough to worry about.

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2005 3:36 PM
But jk thinks:

JG comes out for appeasement? I'm stunned!

I guess my problem is that an audience with the Chief Executive is a privilege that Mrs. Sheehan does not really deserve as she has made it abundantly clear what she would say.

Probably, if you roll back the clock and have W agree the first day, just to show compassion, that would have been good.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2005 4:04 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm with JK. The President met her once, and in fact kissed her.

I worked to get him elected, and I didn't even a card!

(My 2 year old daughter got a "hand written" letter somehow though)

Posted by: AlexC at August 17, 2005 9:01 PM

August 16, 2005

Talkin' Trash!

I'm a recycling skeptic, which is heterodoxy -- nay heresy -- in Boulder County, Colorado.

My problem is economic. Recycling has had more than 30 years of advantageous publicity, regulation and taxation. In that time, it has not established itself as a viable enterprise.

Recycling costs more than traditional waste disposal. I paid extra for several years to have two trash trucks come to my home and for the privilege of digging through my own trash to sort it. And, my personal favorite, washing the items headed for recycling so they did not smell or attract bugs. What war did we lose that we have to wash our trash?

Goods manufactured from recycled materials are more expensive and inferior. There was always a loud undercurrent of people in our Boulder-based company to use recycled paper and soy inks for company brochures and datasheets. They cost more and they don't look as good, but...

But what? If these procedures and processes cannot establish themselves in 30 years with huge moral and economic subsidies, then they are bad ideas. If it were better to make paper out of old paper (I cancelled my extra money for recycling when I changed my WSJ subscription to online and cancelled the local daily) then it would pay for itself.

They say it's cheaper to recycle an aluminum can, and there actually is a market for the scrap, but do they consider the energy burned by the extra trucks? The hot water to wash them? The productivity loss of sorting?

Glenn links to a New York Times piece that captures the other side of the equation. While recycling has been failing, good ol' landfilling has been getting more productive, more efficient and concomitantly cheaper.

The thesis of the NYTimes piece is that there's a glut of landfill capacity.

At $35 a ton, the 330 million tons buried nationally cost $11.6 billion. (Actual prices are typically lower than gate rates.) Had rates merely kept pace with inflation, disposal in dumps would average $39 a ton, or a collective $12.9 billion a year. And the annual cost would be $16.5 billion had prices, as widely predicted years ago based on an expected shortage, hit $50 a ton.

Dennis Pantano, chief operating officer at Regus Industries, a regional waste company based in West Seneca, N.Y., and a former executive at a national waste company, said he had expected "at least $45 to $50" by now. Instead, he said, "In Ohio we're still beating our heads against each other to get $18, $20 a ton - $25 in western New York. It really hasn't gone up in 10 years. That's obviously because of capacity."

Follow the money. The weekly trash truck may not feel as planet-saving as loading your old pizza cartons into the Saab, but costs do not lie.

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 3:52 PM

Free Market Health Care

Just got back from the new Boulder Community Foothills Hospital, where I had some MRIs done on their new "open" MRI machine. A couple of observations on health care and health care finance seem germane.

1) Supremacy of US Health Care.
There is much anecdotal evidence to the superiority of out health care system. One of the quantitative facts I look to is the availability of MRI imaging equipment and the public access to it. MRIs are important diagnostic tools, yet they are expensive to purchase and operate. Socialized systems such as Canada and the UK have to severely restrict access to the few machines they have available. In Canada, there is a $1000 fine for veterinary hospitals which use Phideaux's machine to view a tumor on Phideaux's owner. (The latest Canadian Supreme court ruling allowing private medicine might alleviate this.)

I called to schedule my MRI last Wednesday, and was given a choice of three machines, from one hospital network. There are certainly more available from the other hospital chains. But BCH has one in its main hospital, one in Lafayette where I live, and the new open machine in the new hospital. I opted for the open. My waiting time -- non-emergency -- was five days.

2) Role of the free market in health care.
Our hybrid private-public-insurance fiasco of a financing system is indeed weak. But the cure is more private funding, not more socialism: more distributed market forces and less centralization.

As proof I offer the new hospital. It's primary function is childbirth. Expectant parents, like patients for vision corrective surgery, have a choice of facilities. Insurance may pay but there is a whiff of choice. The result of this is that new hospitals are spring up and they are designed to close the sale.

The new hospital was described to me by a friend "It's like the Marriott!" Seeing it this morning, I will say it is like a brand new Marriott in a high-rent location. Virginia Postrel call your office! The waiting areas are very Marriott-esque, with four soft chairs around a small table. This morning's New York Times, Boulder Daily Camera and a few Wall Street Journals are available.

Coming out, the nurse told me to drink lots of liquids to flush the dye out of my veins. So I got a cappuccino. The barista asked me in a European accent, "Do you want a real cappuccino, or do you want it wet?" "Real, please; I like mine dry."

The other area that has seen market forces is vision-correction. Insurance plans will generally not cover this, so people shop. People shop and the prices have plummeted; people shop and the systems have improved; people shop and the warranties have been extended.

Health Savings Accounts would throw a lot of market forces at health care. We could serve the indigent with subsidies to shut up some of the lefty chorus, but real market forces are the solution to our problems.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

I agree JK. (Hey, I have to chime in and agree sometimes too!) I don't think that Canada's( or Sweden's) medical care is better or cheaper really than ours. At the end of the day medical care is expensive and socialized systems end up having to effectively ration it to pay for everyone. There is probably a valid argument that basic care is more available in a socialized system and some savings does result from catching maladies early when treatment is less expensive and shorter rather than have an uninsured group that must wait till they need to avail themselves of emergency care. On the flip side however is that beyond basic care are many diagnostics such as MRI's that have to be rationed due to cost. I believe the real savings in a socialized system is reduced paperwork via the single payer system. I really see no reason why the overhead part of medicine could not be made more efficient even in a multi-payer system, in fact competition in this arena might take you even further. Part of this problem is insurance companies who seem to count on getting out of honoring claims by tying them up in paperwork. It almost seems as if this is part of the business plan. Again, choice is the answer, if I had a choice of group coverage plans and had trouble with company "A" then I could switch to company "B" or "C" until I was satisfied. Enough people doing this and the system would change to be more attractive to consumers, much like the new Boulder hospital.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 18, 2005 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I remember at lunch once your suggesting that a universal form and transfer capacity among the different insurance carriers would save buckets of time and money.

Just having dealt with so much of this, I wonder -- can we write it and sell it to the providers. Perhaps the insurance folks really do see themselves' benefiting from tie-ups (I doubt it but have no proof). The Hospitals and care providers, however, have every incentive to pursue efficiency.

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2005 4:00 PM

August 15, 2005

Motor City Blues

So, how is life in the #1 liberal city in the nation?

Umm, a little less than perfect...

There are more than 12,000 abandoned homes in the Detroit area, a byproduct of decades of layoffs at the city's auto plants and white flight to the suburbs. And despite scores of attempts by government and civic leaders to set the city straight, the automobile capitol of the world seems trapped in a vicious cycle of urban decay.

Detroit has lost more than half its population since its heyday in the 1950's. The people who remain are mostly black -- 83 percent -- and mostly working class, with 30 percent of the population living below the poverty line according to the US Census Bureau.

Hat-tip: PoliPundit via Power Line Blog News (on which I am officially addicted)

But jk thinks:

Governor Granholm: why don't you set up downtown Detroit as a (State) tax free zone. You have tried every loopy idea on the left -- see what business would prosper.

This has been proposed for Washington D.C. (#4) before and could be executed by an act of Congress.

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2005 4:59 PM

Diplomacy's Downside

It's easy for sneaky people to stall the easily suckered for "just long enough."

    An Iranian foreign policy official has boasted that the regime bought extra time over its stalled negotiations with Europe to complete a uranium conversion plant.

    In comments that will infuriate EU diplomats, Hosein Musavian said that Teheran took advantage of the nine months of talks, which collapsed last week, to finish work at its Isfahan enrichment facility.

    "Thanks to the negotiations with Europe we gained another year in which we completed the [project] in Isfahan," he told an Iranian television interviewer.

    Mr Musavian also claimed that work on nuclear centrifuges at a plant at Natanz, which was kept secret until Iran's exiled opposition revealed its existence in 2002, progressed during the negotiations.

    "We needed six to 12 months to complete the work on the centrifuges," said Mr Musavian, chairman of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council's foreign policy committee. He made his remarks on August 4 - two days before Iran's foreign ministry rejected the European Union offer of incentives to abandon its uranium enrichment programme.

Nuclear weapons? Nah... A petroleum rich nation just wants to have green energy.

But jk thinks:

Not to mention the years North Korea got to develop its nuclear program thanks to Secretary Albright's diplomacy.

Diplomacy with rogue regimes does not serve the United States.

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2005 4:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

... which combined with Clinton's missile tech sale to China is about all the proof you need to show that Democrats and their fellow travelers in the U.N. actually WANT nukes in the hands of America's enemies.

How else do you explain the complete and total ignorance of Iran's duplicity by the aforementioned, and the MSM to boot? Merely Bush hatred? Well, maybe.

Here's a question: How do the Dems feel about Iran's version of Yucca Mountain? Would they have the U.N. Consulate of Environmental Pristineness issue a permit for such a storage site?

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2005 3:32 PM

Elections Don't Matter

Not to TNR. The smartest lefty read in the country still has its share of partisan hacks.

I was surprised, reading T.A. Franks's "What the NARAL Ad Got Right."

In other words, NARAL, which had been trying to play as sleazy as its opponents, stepped in it. But, instead of jumping on them, let's give them an "A" for effort. At least they stayed awake at a time when many of us were asleep.

As NARAL seems to have recognized, the rest of us are currently undergoing the Wishful Thinking Phase of a Supreme Court nomination. WTP, which can afflict both sides of the aisle, is when we get to meet the candidate, hear many flattering and endearing stories, and begin to hope--despite evidence to the contrary--that we'll like the jurisprudence.

No. We do not expect the TNR to approve of Roberts's jurisprudence. No more than the Weekly Standard digs Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg's. But President Clinton won two elections and got to appoint two justices. National Review did not get a veto, nor does TNR get one today.

The best reason for President Bush to get his judges is still "elections matter." Nowhere is it mentioned in the article that perhaps the President can appoint a conservative. The real problem, as usual, is that lefties are too nice:

Liberals feel queasy about going after Roberts because they think that the alternative might be someone even farther to the right of Roberts. This may be the case. Either way, however, they have little to lose from promoting the notion of Roberts as a hard-right warrior. Done right, it makes them look moderate and the GOP look extreme--which, these days, it is. NARAL's TV ad, then, was a good thought. Unfortunately, its blatant griminess would have made legitimate accusations against Roberts look equally dubious.

Sorry, liberals--you can't do Karl Rove. Only Karl Rove can do Karl Rove, and the rest of world must wait patiently until prison or old age makes him stop. Meanwhile, liberals can step out of the WTP, remember that Bush's favorite justices are Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, and run negative ads that are tough but--in un-Rovian fashion--actually fair. Even though it will not stop Roberts from being confirmed, it can still cost the White House political capital. There should not be too many qualms over this. After all, Roberts has to please a lot of people, and if he's fooling anybody, it's probably not conservatives.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 12:46 PM

Props to Hugh

I read Hugh Hewitt's blog everyday and I enjoy his work with the Weekly Standard / Daily Standard. I do not link that frequently. He is much more of a social conservative than I am, and we have substantive disagreements on culture, economics and immigration.

I have to give him props for the quality of his writing, and today I will highlight his humor. Ruminating on how various bloggers would handle imprisonment a la Judith Miller Hugh sez:

I think any of the Fraters would crack in a week given the lack of beer in such facilities. Ditto Bainbridge because of the wine. Lileks wouldn't budge, but he'd drive his jailers to plead with the court. MichelleMalkin would stay long enough to get a Dylan song written about her. I am not sure if Glenn would notice he was in jail. The Powerline lawyers wouldn't have lost the case in the first place.

Good stuff!

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM

August 13, 2005

Altruistic Military Service

JohnGalt said some nice things about me in comments last week. Before this comity gets out of hand, I thought I'd better pick a fight!

I'll join you in denouncing altruism when it is some crackpot gub'mint coercion wealth redistribution scheme. This morning I was thinking that military service was the highest mark of altruism.

I know that you also value military service highly. Surely it is not in the best interest of a single person or that person's family to risk life for a nation. Yet, thankfully, they do.

I'm sure you've thought of this -- is this the altruism loophole?

UPDATE: I should be clearer. This question was inspired by the concept of service to country. I just finished Walter Stahr's excellent biography of John Jay. Jay, like so many of the founding fathers, gave his adult life in service to American liberty. Indeed while Jefferson took time off to build Monticello, and Washington retired early to Mount Vernon, Jay went from Chief Justice to diplomat to Governor. When he finally retired to spend time with his wife, Sarah Livingston Jay died.

Was it not altruistic to give so much to a cause?

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:46 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Russell Shurts thinks:

Altruism is the moral code of self-sacrifice and sacrifice is giving up a greater value for a lesser one or a non-value. Given these basic definitions, in what way was John Jay behaving according to the altruistic code of morality?

There are those of us who prefer death to living without freedom. Living without freedom is simply unending misery, hardly a value.

I can't say for certain this is how John Jay viewed his situation, but given how much all the Founding Fathers risked, their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, in order to establish a free society, I suspect it was.

Posted by: Russell Shurts at August 19, 2005 9:10 AM
But jk thinks:

I've read one whole book on Mr. Jay, so I better be careful about passing myself off as an expert.

But Jay's service to the inchoate nation included several assignments he didn't want and that took him overseas and away from his beloved wife.

Some of these were necessary for liberty but like today's marine deployed in Iraq, it is beyond the call of personal liberty. It is, umm, altruism and I applaud it.

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2005 10:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

No, it is not altruism.

From what you've told us of John Jay I discern that he apparently believed the assignments were important and necessary, and that he was the right man to take them. Regardless, he had a CHOICE in the matter. He traded one value, that of individual personal happiness derived from time with his wife, for another, that of individual personal happiness derived from his invaluable efforts in creating a nation founded in liberty. John Jay was one of the men who, with Benjamin Franklin, gave us a Republic, if we could keep it.

This brings us to the marines in Iraq. (And soldiers, and sailors and airmen.) Each man's value is derived from defending that Republic. When his buddy is killed by a roadside bomb, a lucky shot, or some nutjob wannabe martyr at the wheel of a bombmobile, he is devastated. But he goes on. He continues the fight. Don't demean his effort, dedication and patriotism by arguing that he is "obligated" or "bound by contract" or "only following orders." The greatest threat of these restrictions is a few years behind bars at Fort Leavenworth. No, the American soldier is not a human automaton. He fights for a value. He holds that value higher than his own life, if need be. That value is liberty.

Toby Keith wrote-

"I’m just tryin’ to be a father, raise a daughter and a son
Be a lover to their mother, everythin’ to everyone
Up and at ‘em bright and early, I’m all business in my suit
Yeah I’m dressed up for success, from my head down to my boots
I don’t do it for the money, 'cause there’s bills I that I can’t pay
I don’t do it for the glory, I just do it anyway
Providing for our future’s, my responsibility
Yeah I’m real good under pressure, being all that I can be
I can’t call in sick on Mondays when the weekend's been too strong
I just work straight through the holidays, and sometimes all night long
You can bet that I stand ready, when the wolf growls at the door
Hey I’m solid, hey I’m steady, hey I’m true down to the core.

And I will always do my duty no matter what the price
I’ve counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice
Oh and I don’t want to die for you, but if dyin’s asked of me
I’ll bear that cross with honor, cause freedom don’t come free.

I’m an American Soldier, an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand
When liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right
I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight
American Soldier, I’m an American, Soldier."

Yes there is a sacrifice, but it is not of a greater value for a lesser one, as altruism describes. It is of a great value for something greater - not just liberty, but the honor of defending it. Fighting to defend your values is, in reality, a selfish act.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2005 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

As for Mr. Jay, you hit the nail on the head. He thought all of his tasks important for the country and thought himself the best man for them.

I'm about to cry "Uncle" but I still don't get something. You say that free choice disproves altruism. So if I choose to quit my job and work for a soup kitchen, that's not altruism?

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2005 7:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not exactly. One can choose altruism, but if he does so he has no one but himself and those who taught him to blame.

If you choose to work for a soup kitchen and endure a reduction in material compensation for doing so, you have chosen to act altruistically. But this is not a FREE choice. It is made not by a free mind, but one held captive by a code of altruism that has been taught to it.

It is the code that, taken to its extreme application, allows suicide bombers to act as they do. It is a poison to human life, and therefore to human minds. A tiny amount of this poison is no more beneficial than a lethal dose.

In Islamic societies altruism is taught in the name of God. In western societies altruism is taught in the name of God and of "society" or "the state." In all the world, the effect is the same. The only difference is degree.

The antithesis of altruism is individualism. Instead of teaching our children that their entry to heaven will be judged, after death, by their sacrifices in life, we must teach them to "live, as if the Earth was a heaven." (Because if everyone lived that way, it WOULD be a heaven!)

Posted by: johngalt at August 20, 2005 1:00 PM

No, no -- James Woods!

A thousand pardons, but when I saw an Instapundit link to Christopher Walken for President, I confused him with James Woods and thought it might be a good idea.

WRONG! Walken is Walken and his website outlines all of his serious polity concerns in a single paragraph:

"Our great country is in a terrible downward spiral. We're losing jobs, losing benefits, and losing lives. We need to focus on what's important-- paying attention to our children, our environment, our future. We need to think about improving our underbudget educational system, making better use of our resources, and helping to build a stable, safe, and tolerant global society. It's time to be smart about our politics. It's time to get America back on track."

If I may quote Andrew Sullivan, "Puh-Lease!"

If you want a rugged, tall actor with a deep voice at 1600 Pennsylvania, might I suggest James Woods. I don't know where he is on free trade, but he is the first Hollywoodian to voice a strong antiterrorist stance. Snopes confirms:

Woods took a flight from Boston to Los Angeles one week before the World Trade Center attacks. The only other people in first class with him were four men "of Middle Eastern appearance" who acted very strangely. During the entire cross-country flight none of them had anything to eat or drink, nor did they read or sleep. They only sat upright in their seats, occasionally conversing with each other in low tones. Woods mentioned what he had noticed to a flight attendant, "who shrugged it off." Arriving in Los Angeles, Woods told airport authorities, but they "seemed unwilling to become involved."

I'll never confuse the two again.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM

August 12, 2005

Mrs. Sheehan

A friend emails that the right's attacks on Mrs. Sheehan could easily backfire and that t’affaire Sheehan is somewhat predictable: an angry mother, the approbation of her friends on the left, the thrill of publicity and righteous indignation...

I agree with the premise but support -- and once again proffer -- RESPECTFUL contradiction of her pronouncements.

Taranto hits it just right today. Linking to a transcription of one of her speeches. She says some abhorrent stuff:

I'm gonna tell them, "You get that evil maniac [the president] out here, cuz a Gold Star Mother, somebody who's blood is on his hands, has some questions for him."

And I'm gonna say, "OK, listen here, George. #1, you quit, and I demand, every time you get out there and say you're going to continue the killing in Iraq to honor the fallen heroes by continuing the mission; you say, except Casey Sheehan.' "

"And you say except for all the members of Goldstar Families for Peace' cuz we think not one drop of blood should be spilled in our families' names. You quit doing that. You don't have my permission."

And I'm gonna say, "And you tell me, what the noble cause is that my son died for." And if he even starts to say freedom and democracy' I'm gonna say, bullshit.

You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me that, you don't tell me my son died for freedom and democracy.

Cuz, we're not freer. You're taking away our freedoms. The Iraqi people aren't freer, they're much worse off than before you meddled in their country.

You get America out of Iraq, you get Israel out of Palestine.

(massive round of applause)

And if you think I won't say bullshit to the President, I say move on, cuz I'll say what's on my mind.

My friend suggests this is a good time for the right to pull the shades and move on.

He might be right (this person tends to be), but then you just let her define the agenda and say whatever she wants without fear of contradiction.

I don't want to see Ann Coulter and Michael Savage beat up a Gold Star Mom, that point is taken. But so far, I have been pleased with what I have seen.

But sugarchuck thinks:

I do not believe this woman is setting an agenda, although she may wish to. Her arguments/positions, the Bush bashing and the anti-Americanism were part of the national discourse long before her son lost his life and we will be agruing them long after her fifteen minutes have expired. Any condemnation of this woman reflects poorly on those of us who support the war effort and dishonors her son's memory, and it fuels the money machine. The pitting of letters from pro-war mothers who have lost children, against this woman is particulary tawdry and somewhat voyeuristic.
Mrs. Sheehan has sacrificed much and if she chooses to be exploited by the types (or if she chooses to exploit them, whichever it may be) it is her business. The principles she raises are best debated in another forum, leaving us for now with a woman who needs our consoling, our prayers and the freedom to express her grief as she sees fit. There is a high road here, a road universally scorned by the left; we, on the right, should take it.

Posted by: sugarchuck at August 12, 2005 6:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Thoughtful words. I will try.

When the truth is completely misrepresented, and it is implied that the President never saw her (her initial reaction was positive), I cannot let it sit still. There are too many lies here that might be absorbed into the consciousness like "Bush pere was amazed at the sight of a supermarket scanner." I can't leave it be.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2005 1:35 PM
But jk thinks:

John Podhoretz is on SC's side:

Cindy Sheehan's makeshift protest camp near the president's ranch in Crawford is a brilliant piece of political theater, and it's beginning to make people say things they almost surely know they shouldn't say about a grieving mother, but just can't quite help themselves. One blogger over at used a term relating to prostitution to describe her, and Fred Barnes -- one of the nicest men on earth -- called her a "kook" on Fox. By allowing her to get their goat in this fashion, Mrs. Sheehan and her friends are getting exactly what they want, which is a cultural confrontation between a mother who lost a son in Iraq and some pundits (like me) who don't seem to have her moral authority.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2005 1:53 PM

Iran Decision 'Irreversible'

... but let's talk some more anyway. That was the incongruous message from multiple official Iranian sources today.

At Friday prayers in Tehran, Expediency Council (whatever that is) Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said, "The Westerners can drag things out, but Iran's decision is irreversible."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, "This resolution [Thursday's IAEA resolution calling on Iran to reinstate suspension of all nuclear fuel related activities] is politically motivated and has been approved under pressure from the U.S. and its allies and is void of any legal or rational basis and (therefore it) is unacceptable."

On Wednesday, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA Sirus Naseri said, "Iran will not bend. Iran will be a nuclear fuel producer and supplier within a decade."

Fair enough, discussions are over then, right? Not so fast. Kofi "Cash Register" Annan intends to press the negotiations further next month. (Maybe he can arrange an "Oil for Plutonium" programme under U.N. supervision!) But it's not just the U.N. Iran is running a shell game too. Mister "Iran will not bend" also said Iran would maintain its suspension of enrichment activity at another facility, in Natanz, "to keep the door open for negotiations." Negotiations on the method of delivery of Iran's bomb to Tel Aviv, no doubt.

Iran is clearly manipulating the 'never say die' nature of international diplomats to buy more time to achieve its goal. And what is its goal? In that Friday prayer speech, Rafsanjani spelled it out for us:

"The IAEA Charter clearly says that Iran has the right to make peaceful use of nuclear energy, and we are currently preparing to enrich the uranium that exists deep in our lands in order to use its energy for scientific purposes."

This is, however, false. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty the conduct of a secret nuclear development program is a breach of the treaty. Iran worked in secrecy for 18 years to enrich unranium. They therefore have no rights whatsoever regarding nuclear technology.

And earlier, Rafsanjani said:

"It [uranium enrichment] is very important and will create new conditions for our country and the region. It will turn a new leaf in the history of our revolution."

One of the admirable traits of Islamic fundamentalists (and all religious fundamentalists, really) is that they have no qualms about clearly stating their intentions. This is because, in their minds, they are 'righteous.' But taking steps toward production of nuclear bombs, under any pretense whatsoever, is clearly not a natural right of a tyrannical regime bent on propagating its religious revolution from a single nation, throughout the region and around the world. It is a right only of a nation of free men. Tyranny has no natural right to anything but to be destroyed.

War on Terror Posted by JohnGalt at 3:25 PM

August 11, 2005

Gitmo Repatriation

For weeks and months the Bush administration has been hearing the "close Gitmo" from the usual suspect choir on the left.

The US Government is going as far as closing it down completely, but they are sending the terrorists back to their home countries.

    The Bush administration is nearing agreements with 10 Muslim governments to return their detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, part of an effort to quicken the pace of transfers and increase the role of countries whose nationals are alleged terrorists. Washington hopes to conclude the agreements within the next two months, a senior State Department official said.

This is a good thing right?


    A human rights group welcomed the U.S. effort to return detainees, but said the administration is setting up a double standard about where detainees can be sent. "There are two sides of the coin. It's definitely good to be sending detainees home with proper assurances of humane treatment, but there's no way to get credible assurances from a country where torture is standard operating procedure, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia," said Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human Rights Watch. "They are doing the right thing with the Uigurs and the Uzbeks, but they should do the same with the Saudis -- either find a third country or keep them."
I could have sworn that the facilities in Gitmo were horrible. Deplorable even!

As it turns out, there's some place out there even worse.

It might even be the home of Islam!

Here's a perfect example of why it's impossible to take these people seriously.

You're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

But jk thinks:

I think we should give them their Geneva Convention rights. As I understand it, as they were caught fighting without uniform and nisignia, they can be shot.

It's not what I want, but the lefties keep demanding that we treat them under the Geneva Convention. It was good enough for Hogan and LeBeau...

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2005 11:08 AM

Barone on the NARAL Ad

Or as he calls it: the Disgraceful NARAL ad. Today he takes no prisoners.

In my experience as a Democratic campaign consultant from 1974 to 1981, our clients were careful to put up ads that were factually correct and readily defensible. They did that because they thought it was the right thing to do and because a false ad could boomerang and end up costing them votes. If I'm right about the mindset of the NARAL people, they and their consultants don't share this view. Perhaps they believe that mainstream media will leave their ad unchallenged. But even the New York Times notes, in the 11th paragraph of a story on the subject,'s conclusion.

Democratic senators do not like people to think that left-wing groups like NARAL lead them around like dogs on leashes. They have a chance to prove that by denouncing the NARAL ad.

"But even the New York Times notes..." I am so glad Barone is blogging. That is a gift.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 5:13 PM

Most Liberal Cities

I'm hurt that Boulder didn't make the list, but this is interesting stuff.

America’s 25 Most Liberal Cities
Rank City State
1 Detroit Michigan
2 Gary Indiana
3 Berkeley California
4 Washington , D.C. Dist. of Columbia
5 Oakland California
6 Inglewood California
7 Newark New Jersey
8 Cambridge Massachusetts
9 San Francisco California
10 Flint Michigan
11 Cleveland Ohio
12 Hartford Connecticut
13 Paterson New Jersey
14 Baltimore Maryland
15 New Haven Connecticut
16 Seattle Washington
17 Chicago Illinois
18 Philadelphia Pennsylvania
19 Birmingham Alabama
20 St. Louis Missouri
21 New York New York
22 Providence Rhode Island
23 Minneapolis Minnesota
24 Boston Massachusetts
25 Buffalo New York

America’s 25 Most Conservative Cities
Rank City State
1 Provo Utah
2 Lubbock Texas
3 Abilene Texas
4 Hialeah Florida
5 Plano Texas
6 Colorado Springs Colorado
7 Gilbert Arizona
8 Bakersfield California
9 Lafayette Louisiana
10 Orange California
11 Escondido California
12 Allentown Pennsylvania
13 Mesa Arizona
14 Arlington Texas
15 Peoria Arizona
16 Cape Coral Florida
17 Garden Grove California
18 Simi Valley California
19 Corona California
20 Clearwater Florida
21 West Valley City Utah
22 Oklahoma City Oklahoma
23 Overland Park Kansas
24 Anchorage Alaska
25 Huntington Beach California

The info was compiled by the (suspicious sounding) Bay Area Voting Research Center

Hat-tip: ThreeSources blogger AlexC's pstupidonymous

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:35 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Well, you actually did the research man.

I'd like to overlap these stats with the following:
1) crime rates
2) "bastard" children rates
3) tax rates
4) unemployment rates
5) personal savings / debt rates
6) abortion rates
7) how many copies of Atlas Shrugged were purchased or loaned *

You could do all kinds of fun number crunching given the right source data.

* Patriot Act - F*ck yeah!

Posted by: AlexC at August 11, 2005 10:38 PM

Mrs. Sheehan

Like the 9/11 families, it is unsurprising that some people would use the death of a loved one to acquire a forum for their political views. The only moderately unusual thing is the antiwar bias of the MSM who glorify this woman.

I think the moms who supported their sons' and daughters' service would love an opportunity to speak out against the people and associations which defame their noble missions. But I doubt if there is much opportunity to be heard.

I did like this commenter to The Anchoress

Slightly OT and probably uncharitable but here it is anyway: a year or so ago I wrote to my Marine son (then in Iraq) and told him not to get killed because there were certain among his relatives whom I would not put it past to use the coffin as a soapbox for an anti-Bush rant. His reply was, “Don’t worry. If anyone tries that, I will sit up in the casket and fargin’ STRANGLE them.'’ I wonder how many servicemen would say the same.

Semper Fi! And thanks to all who serve.

But johngalt thinks:

JK, you are reading my mind today with your posts. But I had another angle to this "Gold Star" mom who apparently can't get along with her husband any more than she can with the president.

How long do you suppose it will be before Mrs. Sheehan makes a pilgrimage to Sadr City to "grieve at the site of her son's senseless death, precipitated by nothing more than Bush's decision to conduct an illegal war?" Not long after that you can expect to see video of the "reluctant" activist with a terrorist's turban on her head, sitting on top of a suicide bomber or some other such terrorist "weapon system." We'll be calling her 'Sadr Cindy.'

Too bad she's not at least good looking like Jane Fonda used to be.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2005 2:51 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I've got a post on pstupidonymous ( about this.
It's flared up between me and some other philly bloggers, otherwise I'd post it here.

Posted by: AlexC at August 11, 2005 10:40 PM

New On The Blogroll

I added:

Holler if you'd like any added...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM


Sure you did yesterday, do it again today!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM

Claudia Rosett for Queen

Not Freddie Mercury and Brian May -- I am talking about journalism royalty. You cannot deny it exists, and that we have seen everyone swear fealty to the co-Kings, Woodward and Bernstein.

I hate to denigrate their achievements, Watergate was a good story and it changed the country. It changed it for the worse, but whatever.

Ms. Rosett has almost single-handedly exposed UNScam trough her tenacity and indefatigable reporting. This is a huge story, detailing the corruption at the United Nations and the proximity of this corruption to different governments' views and actions in the Iraq war.

You folks want peace, here was the chance: a non-corrupt UN whose leadership was not on the payroll of Saddam Hussein and one with fewer security council governments tied to Oil-for-food funds -- that organization could have held firm and provided a peaceful solution.

Rosett is still on the case, telling the story and still speaking plainly.

Thus do we come to the case of Benon Sevan, a longtime U.N. staffer, who according to the Volcker committee was having trouble in the mid-1990s simply managing his own household budget. With a wife who also worked at the U.N. and a combined household income of close to $200,000, Mr. Sevan was nonetheless overdrawing his bank account and running up high-interest debts on his credit cards. This was the man whom Kofi Annan--who had some acquaintance with money matters himself, having worked in the early 1990s as U.N. controller--picked in 1997 to run Oil for Food, the biggest relief program in U.N. history, administering tens of billions in oil sales and relief purchases by Saddam. Even then Saddam was notorious both at the U.N. and beyond as one of the kickback kings of the Middle East. It wasn't long before Mr. Sevan accepted what was effectively Saddam's offer to bail him out of his restaurant bills.

What followed, on Mr. Sevan's end, was amateur hour, as Oil for Food money laundering went; but a highly efficient use of Saddam's graft money to corrupt the core of a huge U.N. program, tasked with the important job of supervising aid to Iraqis while preserving U.N. sanctions on Saddam's regime. Mr. Sevan collected cash in Geneva via an Oil for Food contractor on whose behalf he solicited lucrative deals from Saddam. And for about three years, starting in late 1998, Mr. Sevan made dozens of cash deposits, largely in $100 bills, into family bank accounts in New York.

Mr. Sevan's take, as far as Mr. Volcker was able to document, came to just over $147,000. Compared with the billions grafted out of Oil for Food by the true pros, this is a sum so low it suggests Mr. Sevan sold himself and the U.N.'s integrity for chump change. Indeed, if Mr. Volcker's figures are in the ballpark, then Mr. Sevan as head of Oil for Food collected less in bribes than Kofi Annan's son, Kojo, collected in payments from 1999 through 2004 from a major Oil for Food contractor, his former employer, as compensation for not competing with their business in West Africa.

If her peers really believed in the power of Journalism and not partisan protection, she would be held in the esteem of Woodsteen and Burnwood.

But johngalt thinks:

You blogged this more thoroughly than I had planned, JK. Kudos and gratitude to you.

Bullet-brains like me say "sanctions don't work." Well, here is one major reason why. And not until such corruption of high-diplomacy is wiped from the face of international relations will it ever be different. Got that, Cactus-heads? Your "dialog" with our enemies is the problem, not the solution.

Posted by: johngalt at August 11, 2005 2:38 PM

August 10, 2005

A Dignified Hearing

The President and the Senate have both publicly committed to a dignified hearing process. I think that WuzzaDem has a good idea of just how dignified it will be.


This is a funny site. I found it this morning following Instaguest's link to "Political Stones."

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM

Wish Me Luck

I am headed in to see my neurologist after a year of playing hookey.

I know, I pound the drums around here for less regulation of the pharmas and more research and then fail to avail myself of what is there...

I hope to be blogging real soon.

UPDATE: What a baby! 15 minutes, schedule MRIs, quick blood test and out. Easy-peasy as Capt Reynolds would say. I will likely start giving myself steroid shots (shhh -- don't tell Congress!) but Doc is pretty impressed with my condition so far and thinks treatments will limit my chances for a bad remission/exacerbation. Life is good, thanks for all the kind thoughts.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:50 AM | What do you think? [1]
But sugarchuck thinks:

Best of luck to you today. I hope all goes well. You and Rizza are always in out thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: sugarchuck at August 10, 2005 10:34 AM

August 9, 2005


This is no news to folks who read blogs, but the WSJ Ed Page has a quick roundup of the major findings of the Volker report.

Imagine an American administration in which the Attorney General secretly derives nearly half his income from the Gambino crime family. Imagine, too, that this hypothetical AG is a longstanding confidant of the President. That is what Paul Volcker's investigation of the Oil for Food Program has now demonstrated was roughly the case with Kofi Annan's United Nations.

Everyone -- myself included -- was concerned that the Volker report would let the UN off too easily.

Does it matter? Even with these findings, I can't see this getting a lot of play. Senator Biden was on Fox News Sunday saying that we should have had a multinational approach "like we did in Bosnia."

Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM

The Democrat Message

From the AP

    Howard Dean gives Republicans credit for one thing: They have put the Democrats on the defensive and forced them to fight on their turf. That, he said, is about to change.

    "What the propagandists on the right have done is make people afraid to say they are Democrats," Dean told a gathering of Vermont Democrats. "We have to be out there. We have to be vocal. We have to be pushing our version of the facts because their version of the facts is very unfactual."

I don't think anyone told Ohio Congressional candidate Paul Hackett to run a commercial like this one that hides his political affiliation. An ad that would make you think he's on the President's side.

Watch the linked ad, and tell me what party he belongs to.

Why would he do that? Because Bush/Cheney/Rove and the GOP hate machine told him so? Or he's trying to win in a Republican district and knows that the Democrat message (obstruct, abort, obstruct, hate Bush, obstruct) won't get him to the finish line?

    "We need a message. It has to be clear," he said. "The framing of the debate determines who wins the debate.

    "Running away from issues is how you lose elections," said Dean, a former Vermont governor.

Isn't that right, would-be Senator Bob Casey? (from the Inquirer)
    "The point is, Santorum is saying something, consistently - while Casey isn't saying much," a top Washington Democratic strategist said privately. "And that gets back to the problem we still have as a party. The Republicans have a broad cultural message, and they know how to communicate it."

While I'm on the subject, just what is it that Bob Casey stands for? I know he's pro-life... but what about the other issues? How would you vote on John Roberts? Should we assume the DNC party line?

At least I know where Chuck Pennachio stands. He looks like a Democrat, and not ashamed. I can respect that.

I go to Bob Casey's website, and I have no idea what his positions are.
Bob Casey stands for Bob Casey for Governor Senate, I suppose.

Governor Dean continues...

    Dean detailed his 50-state strategy to hire and finance from national coffers organizers in every state, saying that the party is on track to have organizers in every state by the end of the year.

    "Vote by vote, precinct by precinct, door by door, year by year and election by election, we will take this country back for the people who built it," he said.

Wow, that sounds incredibly like "all politics are local."

This is the Democrats strategy? Presented as if it's a revolution in Political Science?

I'm not a career politician or a politcal expert and I know this.

    In his speech Dean talked about the growing diversity in America and how well that diversity meshes with the message and membership of the Democratic Party.

    "The face of the Democratic Party is such that it looks like all of America will look in 2050," said Dean.

That's a stunning admission, because I thought the Democrat party is the party of the people. I guess not.

In the end I disagree with Dean, the Democrats do have a message, and it's clear.
No matter what Bush and the GOP do, do the opposite. It's a party of negativity, sadly circling the toilet bowl of irrelevance.

This is the best they can do?

Politics Posted by AlexC at 11:00 AM

12,000 Votes

From the NYTimes...

    In a three-page letter to Judge Roberts, Mr. Specter raises pointed questions about two recent court decisions invalidating legislation Congress passed under its authority to regulate interstate commerce. That power has for decades been used to produce expansive legislation, including environmental protections, civil rights laws and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    "I think Republicans have a duty to pursue this line of questioning and any relevant line of questioning," Mr. Specter said on Monday in a telephone interview from his home in Philadelphia.

    He said he was particularly upset that the court, under Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, had questioned lawmakers' "method of reasoning" in striking down laws.

    "Well, that's just another way of saying Congress is incompetent," Mr. Specter said, adding, "I'm not suggesting we pack the court, but at a minimum, the Senate is determined to confirm new justices who respect their role."

    Democrats and liberal advocacy groups, caught off guard by Mr. Specter's letter, were elated.

    "Arlen Specter sounds exactly like Chuck Schumer," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the Judiciary Committee.

    Mr. Schumer said that he viewed the letter as "a vindication of the campaign I've been waging" to have the nominee answer detailed questions about cases.

12,000 more votes would have saved Pennsylvania, and the country from having two Chuck Schumers in the Senate.

(tip to Instapundit)

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 12:40 AM | What do you think? [4]
But sugarchuck thinks:

Arlen Specter was, is and always will be a disaster. It would have been better to have lost his seat in the Senate than have him in the position he is in now. It is a shame that Bush lent support to this knucklehead and that support will come back to haunt him. Of course when Roberts turns out to be another Souter we might well wish Specter had been able to derail him.

Posted by: sugarchuck at August 9, 2005 10:41 AM
But jk thinks:

I am still stumped that the Administration supported Specter in the primary. I think he must've had pictures of W freebasing with Rick James or something -- it was clearly not in the President's interest.

I must protest the Roberts pessimism, I trust President Bush on the big things, and this is a big thing. If it makes you feel better, NARAL is spouting scurrilous lies about Judge Roberts

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2005 1:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Hence the 12,000 vote mention... that's how close Pat Toomey was to taking down the Senator in the primary. Sadly Bush and Santorum went for party over principle.

Posted by: AlexC at August 9, 2005 2:01 PM
But jk thinks:

... and got neither.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2005 3:11 PM

August 8, 2005

Good Stuff in the NYTimes

I beat them up, but they still put out a great paper.

With the August news doldrums in full swing, take a break and enjoy an interesting interview with V. S. Naipaul.

''If you write a novel alone you sit and you weave a little narrative. And it's O.K., but it's of no account,'' Naipaul said. ''If you're a romantic writer, you write novels about men and women falling in love, etc., give a little narrative here and there. But again, it's of no account.''

What is of account, in Naipaul's view, is the larger global political situation -- in particular, the clash between belief and unbelief in postcolonial societies. ''I became very interested in the Islamic question, and thought I would try to understand it from the roots, ask very simple questions and somehow make a narrative of that discovery,'' he said. To what extent, he wondered, had ''people who lock themselves away in belief . . . shut themselves away from the active busy world''? ''To what extent without knowing it'' were they ''parasitic on that world''? And why did they have ''no thinkers to point out to them where their thoughts and their passion had led them''? Far from simple, the questions brought a laserlike focus to a central paradox of today's situation: that some who have benefited from the blessings of the West now seek to destroy it.

Hat-tip: Publius

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:13 PM

Daylight Savings Time Changed

Look, I've got enough on my plate at the office, and I don't need more.

Now the government has gone and done me a favor.

    When daylight-saving time starts earlier than usual in the United States come 2007, your VCR or DVD could start recording shows an hour late. Cellphone companies could give you an extra hour of free weekend calls, and people who depend on online calendars may find themselves late for appointments.

    An energy bill President Bush is to sign today would start daylight time three weeks earlier and end it a week later as an energy-saving measure.
    And that has technologists worried about software and gadgets that now compensate for daylight time based on a schedule unchanged since 1987.

At least it's in 2007, not this November.

Which means it can be recinded in the meantime.

Laffer Curve on Film

One of my favorite movies is Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which features economics guru and Nixon speechwriter Ben Stein. It happened to on Cinemax this morning.

You will all remember the roll-call scene were Ben Stein is going down the roll name by name looking for Ferris Bueller... later in that scene, Ben Stein is teaching about the Laffer Curve and has a line like "what was described by Vice Presidential Candidate George HW Bush as "something" economics. Anyone.. Anyone? "something"-doo economics."

Best part about that scene is that it wasn't scripted.

Ben Stein doing economic ad-libbing!

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 12:00 PM

Blog Taxonomy

By now, you have probably come across the Conservative Blog Taxonomy entry at Mithras' blog, Fables of the Reconstruction.

It has been favorably linked to from the left side of the blogosphere, and not so favorably from the right.

Perhaps it was lines like this one:

    Michelle Malkin - Far-right affirmative action hire who is so bigoted she'd arrest herself for trying to cross a border. Famously published a book praising internment of Japanese-Americans that was (a) incoherent and (b) probably not written by her. If she didn't have tits, she'd be stuck writing at

I guess suddenly liberals are against affirmative action.

In anycase, not to be outdone, rightwingnuthouse comes out with their own list. This one with a heretofore unique "reality quotient."

His comment on the 0.4 RQ rated DailyKos...

    What makes Kos such a ball and chain for the Democratic party is that despite his ability to raise money, the fantastical conspiracies given prominence on his site regarding Bush, the war, elections, Gannon/Guckert, Rove (again and again), Cheney, Haliburton, and on and on – give the party a patina of psychosis that leaves conservatives laughing and rational Democrats scratching their heads. His “0 for 16” record when supporting a Democratic candidate also prove he’s a loser. If he couldn’t raise money, he’d be out of business since a political consultant is only as good as his won-loss record.

This will be a blogosphere mud-slinging. But it makes for great entertainment.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 11:07 AM

The Bush Jobs Boom

It was only a year ago that John Kerry was blasting the "jobless recovery." Lou Dobbs was flogging "outsourcing" every night on CNN as a sign of peril for the American workforce. That criticism now looks wildly off base. The 5% jobless rate today is almost a percentage point below what it was during the same stage of the business cycle during the vaunted "Clinton expansion."

In the past 24 months 3.5 million more Americans have found work, which is the equivalent of a new job for every worker in the entire state of Indiana. Every single job that was lost during the bursting of the technology bubble and stock market collapse of 2000-01 has been matched by a new job, often in a new industry. As the nearby chart shows, the bottom of the jobs recession hit in mid-2003 -- and the recovery began at the very point that the Bush marginal-rate tax cuts were enacted into law.


So says the lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal.
First, more Americans have jobs today than at any other time in history. Second, over the past two decades or so, the U.S. has created more than 40 million jobs -- twice as many as Europe and Japan combined. And third, the U.S. has one of the lowest jobless rates of all developed nations.
Part of the explanation for this success is that, especially compared to Europe, the U.S. has imposed fewer taxes and regulations (even though we have plenty) that make it onerous for employers to hire and fire workers. A unique feature of the U.S. economy is that Americans move in and out of jobs -- usually to rise up the income elevator -- at a rapid and persistent pace. This is the key to the Great American Jobs Machine, and it explains why Europe and Japan should be more like us, and not the other way around.

But why am I blogging this? Surely you saw this chart in the New York Times and on CNN. Right after the story of "Air America's" unconventional-to-say-the-best funding and before the story of the women's rights protests in Iraq.

But AlexC thinks:

Whoa whoa whoa..
Aren't there more jobs on the right side than there are on the left?
I thought Bush was hemmoraging jobs for the US.

My whole world view is being shattered!

Posted by: AlexC at August 8, 2005 12:28 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I was jobless from about July of '02 to October '04. That tax cut came just in time! I'll add that the worst part about the Clinton recession was not how low it went but how LONG it continued on a downward trend. Until, POOF, it magically reversed course. Looking at the graph provided, I wonder why? Must've been the Iraq War that turned it around. Yeah, that's it. Hey, let's invade some more countries!

Posted by: johngalt at August 8, 2005 3:29 PM

August 7, 2005

Nanny State Nonsense

Another "good" idea from a Democrat...

    Motorists filling up in this borough are allowed to pump their own gas - but only if they're supervised by an attendant.

    It's been this way for three decades, ever since a motorist overfilled a car tank, sending some 50 gallons into storm sewers.

    Mount Pleasant's ordinance, which requires an attendant within 15 feet of the pump, is apparently unique in Pennsylvania. A recent effort to allow self-serve gas in the borough failed, but a state legislator is pushing a bill that would require stations to offer full service.

    W. Curtis Thomas, D-Philadelphia, said his bill wouldn't eliminate self-service gas pumps. The bill is still being tweaked, but Thomas said he favors offering full-service along with self-service, which he says would be helpful to the elderly and disabled.

These are the kind of nanny-state nonsensical ideas that we laugh at over-taxed and under-gunned New Jersey over.

Has Rep Thomas paid for gas lately? It's nearly $2.50 a gallon. What do you think forcing a gas station to have a babysitter or a pumper on hand going to do for the price of gas?

Any article like this needs to be replete with quotations.

I present some for your consumption.

    My biggest concern as a fire chief was the overflow of gasoline which can go in the storm sewers," said [Mount Pleasant's mayor and fire chief] Gerald Lucia.

    Besides the spill three decades ago, there have been other accidents, Lucia said, including one about six years ago where a trucker was pumping diesel. Even with an attendant within the required 15 feet, "I don't know how it happened ... but (the trucker) ran about 100 gallons of diesel fuel down the street," he said.

100 gallons of fuel? Me thinks this is a wee bit of hyperbole. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a pump that pumps more than a few gallons per minute. I've got an 18 gallon tank, and five minutes at the pump is not out of the question. This must've been a firehose of a pump, or the pumper (and the attendant) both dosed off.

Perhaps from the fumes.

I stick the pump in the tank all the time and wash my windows. It cuts off when the tank is full. I like to have an even amount of money on the meter (to the nearest 10 or 25 cents). I have to work to put more gas in the tank. How is a hundred gallon spill possible?

I suspect screwing around. Or huffing.

Let's continue...

    One of them is Diane Pieszak, who was having her Dodge Durango filled up on Thursday.

    "I don't like to pump my own gas," she said, as she was out running errands.

Her SUV Durango? I really feel for her. I mean, my heart weeps.

Drive a PRIUS. You won't need as much gas.


And another one..

    Rachel Williams, also of Mount Pleasant said, "Having an attendant around to check my oil while pumping my gas is a great thing. Think of how it will lower the local unemployment rate."
Ok, I made that one up.


I've got an idea.

All of those overpaid State Reps and Senators.... maybe they can start pumping gas for the elderly, the lame and indigent.

(thanks to Kathy for the tip)

But jk thinks:

Well, as some gas purchased in Pennsylvania might spill into New Jersey, I think the Supreme Court might get involved. Pretty soon we will have a national "right" to full service.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2005 10:34 AM

The Most Conservative Movie Ever

Not "The Incredibles," it is Coach Carter.

I just finished watching this movie on DVD and I am still shaking. On one hand, it is pretty obvious what it is if you know the story at all. I expected something highly formulaic and I still expected to like it. Yet this movie is so well done and so strong in moral tone -- you're gonna need a box of Kleenex.

I call it "Conservative" because the message was individual (and team) achievement through hard work, discipline, and respect for yourself. And the lack of political correctness was stunning. Mommy and Daddy Hollywood were out one night and left these folks the keys to the car! The mediocrity of the education establishment, the surrendering of these youth's dignity because of their situation, and the need for respect, structure and self-discipline are very un-Hollywood.

There's even a serious whack at multiculturalism. A young, pregnant, African-American woman is brainstorming names for her child. "Loquisha," she says. Her friend's laugh -- one saying "The Ghetto called, they want their name back" and another saying "Why don’t you just call her 'foodstamps?'"

I liked "Boyz in the Hood," but there always an undercurrent of apology. This movie calls upon its characters to pull themselves up. It's closer to "Stand and Deliver" But the addition of the sports scenes is riveting.

Billy-Jo-JK-Bob gives it five stars! Rent this. Buy it.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:01 PM

August 6, 2005

Stunning Bias at the NYTimes

John Hinderocker at Power Line links to a NYTimes article that has to be seen to be believed.

The Times has internalized the fevered musings of the Democrats' weirdest precincts:
Senate Democrats remain divided about how hard to challenge the nomination, but some of them clearly worry that the gentlemanly Mr. Leahy, the leader of any nominal opposition, might prove too accommodating.

You might wonder: where on earth could the Times find someone who would call Leahy a "gentleman" and worry that he may be "too accommodating"? No problem. The Times found two sources: Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer! (Is this what they mean by the "two source" rule?)

It's one thing when they play with "ultra-conservative" labels and try to shift the mainstream left. But Leahy is a partisan attack dog, and everybody but writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg knows it.

No real crime in being an attack dog mind you, I wish that my beloved GOP had a few more in the Senate. But it is unconscionable to say this about Senator Leahy -- hell, the Times will probably get him in trouble with NARAL.

But johngalt thinks:

Leahy is a "gentleman" and Current TV is "cool." Does anyone else see the pattern here?

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 11:15 AM

Go Eliot!

No, not Thomas Sterns, but rather NYAG Eliot Spitzer.

It seems that he is taking a break from harassing honest businesspeople to investigate the possibility a real crime was committed in the unusual-appearing funding for Air America.

August 6, 2005 -- State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer yesterday opened an investigation into the Bronx social-services agency that made $875,000 in bizarre loans to Air America radio, The Post has learned.

"We are looking into it in consultation with the city's Department of Investigation," Spitzer spokesman Darren Dopp revealed.

The highly unusual loans to the left-wing radio network were made by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club — which was visited by one of Spitzer's investigators yesterday, officials said.

Dopp said Spitzer's probe is examining "the conduct of the board of [the] charitable not-for-profit organization. The question is: Was their action appropriate?"

Spitzer has jurisdiction because his office oversees charities in the state.

This will be an interesting case, as the AG will have to risk offending his future funding base versus a comprehensive investigation -- which the Post and bloggers will no doubt pursue.

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 3:03 PM

August 5, 2005

Did I Mention the Laffer Curve Works?

Jerry Bowyer's BuzzCharts on NRO point out that the deficit is "sinking like a stone."

Today's job numbers show 207,000 new jobs, an upward revisal on last month of 42,000 and personal incomes up 0.4% A fell a might suspect that that will lead to more tax revenue.

Now if we could just shut down some spending from both parties.

But johngalt thinks:

You and I see this as an inevitable and incontrovertible result of tax reduction policy. Hilary and the NY Times, et. al, see this as bad news for Democrat re-election prospects that is best swept under the carpet. I predict they'll distract from this rosy good news under a Republican administration with their old standby message that the "rich" aren't doing enough to help the "middle-class" in this, the wealthiest nation on earth. "More bread and circuses!"

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 11:11 AM

No, It's real money

John Derbyshire is 100 times the mathematician I am. I met him at Boulder Bookstore and got a signed copy of his book "Prime Obsession" which I recommend highly.

But I don't see how this brilliant mind doesn't grasp economics -- even with his Wall Street experience.

He regularly boasts of mowing his own lawn. I think that's virtuous if he enjoys it, but he wants everyone to discard the theory of Comparative Advantage and do their own gardening.

Today, he cheerfully reports a net worth with seven decimal places but thinks it unreal because it is illiquid:

John Derbyshire on Housing Boom on National Review

Well, no, wait a minute, hold the bubbly. That million dollars is all faery gold, the sort that looks dazzling to the eye, but melts into thin air if you try to touch it. We need a house to live in. If we sold this one, we’d have to buy another one, and they don’t come much smaller or older than this. As for all those bulging mutual funds: I am reliably informed that if I were to actually attempt to cash in any of that “money,” Uncle Sam would come down on me like a wolf on the fold — aye, and Uncle George, too — so I had best not even think of doing so. It’s all faery gold. I must continue to drive a 12-year-old car, my garage is never going to get that makeover it needs, and if my kids are to go to college, I shall have to work till I drop.

Mr. Derbyshire: first, congratulations, you're doing better than I am! Secondly, call your banker. Both your retirement portfolio and your home on Long Island are very real assets and both can be collateral if you want to access some of the asset value of either, I am sure your banker would gladly hook you up with a loan for that new car.

If Polonius's advice rides too loudly in your British ear for the loan, may I suggest you sell out. You can move next door to me for ~230,000. I'll introduce you and Rosie to Phyllis and John across the street -- I think we'll all get together just fine!

I'll even pay you to mow my lawn...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:12 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

You're 100 times the economist I am, but haven't some basics of macroeconomics changed in the last two decades? Consumer spending used to be a constant force in the economy, averaging in the low 90% of income range. Since about 1990 this has risen to neary 99%, but income is no longer based solely on salaries. With most of the middle class in the stock market through 401k's and in real estate through the spiraling value of homes, the old standard has shifted. In time of economic downturn consumer spending would often stabilize the economy. Now if a recession were to include the market, real estate, or both it could have an unprecedented effect on consumer spending, rather than being the old stabilizer it could actually further fuel the recession. We middle class folks are certainly better off, thus diversified, but it does change some of the old economic theory does it not?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 8, 2005 7:44 AM
But jk thinks:

The economy is certainly susceptible to a price shock in equities or real estate. We saw some of that when the NASDAQ tanked in 2001.

I would argue that the better diversification between people's capital and labor (human capital) assets would protect people in a downturn.

I am not trying to get my buddy overly-leveraged into the housing boom but I do reject his assertion that it is "faery gold" and not actual, valuable assets.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2005 11:07 AM

Tough Times in Liberal Media

Well, everybody deserves a voice, but the market seems to be telling VP Al Gore and SNL Host Al Franken that, just maybe, CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, PRI, and most of the major dailies are enough.

Air America is involved in a funding kerfuffle with non-profits while ratings disappoint. (Maybe they should have given the Bronx Boys & Girls Club a network instead.)

VP Gore's "Current TV" network invites the cool kids to supply their own programming. I'm sure he didn't expect great reviews from the WSJ Ed Page, but you've got to admit there's some verisimilitude in this:

The stated premise of Current TV, the new channel co-founded by Al Gore, is that today's youth feel shut out by traditional media and yearn to be seen and heard on a station of their own. If its first few days on the air are a guide, however, Current TV has not yet discovered the magic recipe for sucking in the coveted 18-34 age group. Any adults who were worried that Mr. Gore and his Democratic partners might use their investment to indoctrinate and arm a generation can probably rest easy for now. Newsless, often clueless and usually dull, the new channel is a limp noodle.
The content pods, also repeated ad nauseam like CNN items on a foreign hotel-room TV, are thin stuff. Many offer little more than brief action shots of guys doing guy things like base jumping and skateboarding. Some simply showcase "hotties" like the L.A. model who crows: "Apparently, I have the perfect black butt." And then there's visiting "Mentor" Deepak Chopra, dispensing such gems as: "The best way to find out who you are is to ask yourself, 'Who am I?'"
Mr. Gore is said to be actively involved in programming decisions. With luck, he may figure out before it's too late that just because you call something "cool" doesn't make it so.

I certainly don't care for most of the right-wing talk radio, but admit that they have found a market and succeed with ratings and revenues.

Lefties have a tilt in all the media I listed above, and very strong Internet presences for partisan sites like Daily Kos (the biggest blog ion the web), democraticunderground, huffingstuff, and dare I include Slate.

I have watched their attempts to clone Rush Limbaugh with amusement. It's good to watch them waste their money (not Boys & Girls Clubs' money) on harmless things.

But johngalt thinks:

What Algore seems to have forgotten is that a prerequisite for any propaganda press entity is to outlaw all competition. Pravda and Izvestia didn't get where they did because of "pods."

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 11:01 AM
But jk thinks:

The saddest part is likely their genuine belief that a) Conservatives own the airways and b) there is real demand for what they are peddling.


Posted by: jk at August 7, 2005 1:07 PM

August 4, 2005

Bonus Miles

Earn 10,000 Bonus OnePass Miles to Aruba

So boasts a Continental OnePass "getaways" offer.

Welcome to an island of unusual landscapes, white-sand beaches, exotic birds, sunken ships, and the Caribbean's highest and most dramatic natural coral structures. In addition to the warm Dutch hospitality, Aruba offers a myriad of historical sites, restaurants featuring every type of cuisine imaginable, and a wealth of beautiful crafts and exciting casino action. Come to the perfect vacation destination for the active traveler.

Now when you book your Aruba vacation package of 5 nights or longer, you'll earn an extra 10,000 bonus OnePass® miles. Be sure to enter promotion code: COVAUAMILE when making your reservation.

So, did all those FOXNews reporters score a sun-drenched story destination AND pocket 10,000 miles? It is starting to make sense...

ON THIS TOPIC: I looked at the logs for July. Webalizer shows statistics for hits and sites and referrers, &c -- and also what search strings were entered when a ThreeSources page was recommended to a reader. These are frequently amusing, but in July the top three were:

1 39 12.87% natalie hollaway missing
2 30 9.90% natalie hollaway
3 18 5.94% natalie hollaway aruba
12 3 0.99% pictures of natalee Hollaway

I'm thinking this adds up to 89 very disappointed ThreeSources viewers. Of course, this post will only draw more.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:37 PM

August 3, 2005

Maybe Headline of the Century!

Jonathan Last at Galley Slaves calls it the "Headline of the Year," but I have to suggest an upgrade:

Young Boys Wankdorf erection relief

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:52 PM

Your Money Is Not Welcome Here

Larry Kudlow conducted a poll "Should China be permitted to buy U.S. Companies?" And the results were 73-27% against.

Larry's fans don't like it but Larry, jk, and the WSJ ed page are okay with it. Why not allow them to drive up share prices and finance new business in our capital markets? I just don't get it.

The WSJ Ed Page wonders "why the celebration?"

China Paranoia

The mystery is why the Washington celebration over Cnooc's stand-down. To be sure, China is a nation with inexcusably suppressed political freedom and way too much state intrusion in the economy. We too were troubled that Cnooc is quasi-state owned. But it is a good thing for Americans if the Chinese use their increasing economic clout and the dollars they accumulate from trade to bid up the value of U.S. assets.

And since there is one global price for oil, whether Unocal's resources are owned by a Chinese or American firm has no bearing on the price Americans pay for gas. China, like the U.S., is a major importer of oil; Cnooc would have had every incentive to pump oil to keep it on the market.

A zero-sum neurosis has taken hold on Capitol Hill that the Chinese, with their double-digit rates of economic growth, are creating too much wealth and that all this wealth is coming at America's expense. The real lesson of China's economic miracle of the past decade is that capitalism works. The lesson of the failed Cnooc deal with Unocal is that there are still too many mercantilists in Washington.

But johngalt thinks:

WHOSE money is not welcome here? That of a totalitarian government. Even if CNOOC was a "private" Chinese company the risk of nationalization is great. Just look at Yukos in Russia.

While we're discouraging foreign governments from buying American private corporations, China is severely restricting "foreign investment" in Chinese press entities:

"The arrest of Ching Cheong, who was detained on April 22 in southern China and has been held incommunicado ever since, comes the same week that the Chinese government has released a long list of new regulations limiting foreign investment in everything from book publishing to movie production."

All the better to keep you misinformed, my dear.


Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2005 4:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Your point is taken (but whom are you calling dear?)

Larry just read some letters on his show, and one viewer pointed out that they can manipulate the currency to participate in acquisitions. Even Larry relented, noting that the WTO would not allow the US government to purchase a foreign company.

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2005 5:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

For the record, "dear" refers to the Chinese public.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 10:27 PM

A Whole New World

Don't look for the big story in the NYTimes, but President Bush has led the world in a multilateral environment and climate change agreement. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up!

Jim Glassman has a great piece in TCS, Way, Way Beyond Kyoto

While given short shrift by the puzzled media, this is a big deal, in many ways.

First, it breaks the climate-change deadlock. This is the agreement that responsible scientists and public officials have been seeking since the failure of the Kyoto Protocol became evident at the global warming conclave in Delhi two years ago. Call it "Beyond Kyoto" - Way Beyond Kyoto.

Second, the new deal was negotiated and settled without the involvement of the United Nations or the European Union - a clear message from the United States that multilateralism does not have a single definition. In fact, according to The Guardian newspaper, the agreement - called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate -- was kept secret by President Bush from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an uncompromising champion of Kyoto, during last month's G8 meeting" in Scotland.

Third, the agreement comprises countries that account for 45% of the world's population and about half the world's economic output and greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, implicated in raising surface temperatures. More Asian countries may soon join the pact.

Fourth and most important, it takes a pro-growth approach to combating the possibility of global warming in the century ahead. The new Beyond Kyoto agreement focuses on innovative technology as the antidote, not only to carbon-dioxide emissions but also to dirty air and economic deprivation. The very first statement in the pact is: "Development and poverty eradication are urgent and overriding goals internationally."

I haven't shilled for The President in a while, but I will here. This is the difference between W and his detractors: the goal of a Madeline Albright or a Kofi Annan is to get a signed piece of paper; W, conversely, will seek to place a pragmatic, verifiable, viable program in place. He chooses results over appearances.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM

August 2, 2005

Quote of the Day

It's Samizdata's quote of the day, which I am appropriating because I have no respect for property rights on the Internet.

Economic freedom begets political freedom. Democracy alone, a la elections are not enough, we need a liberal democracy that circumscribe the domain of government to what Martin Wolf says "Under liberty, the state protects everybody from predators, not excluding itself". Property rights begets individual ownership and that in turn promotes individual as well as economic freedom
- Franklin Cudjoe discussing what Africa really need.

One of these guys for every 10,000 Bonos and we should be okay. Follow the link to his Freedom Wings blog for more hope.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM

"The List"

On July 15th, 2005, Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo engaged in a radio interview wherein he brought the crux of the problem with the "War on Terror" into the mainstream of public discourse. Since that fateful day in September of 2001, Americans have been led far away from thinking about such things as life-and-death survival of our nation and its principles.

We're not shown the video of our countrymen, and men of virtually all western nations, throwing themselves from the roof of thousand-foot tall buildings to escape the flames. We're not encouraged to remember the months of clean up required at the WTC site and that virtually no human remains were found of the thousands of victims, having all been reduced to dust. We aren't supposed to feel the insecurity that comes from the fact that those responsible for this mass murder of free men are still alive and plotting ways to murder even more free men.

Then along comes a former Israeli counterterrorism expert who hypothesizes that the means for staging radiological or even atomic explosive attacks in multiple US cities are already within our borders, and that we have no leads on where they are or how to stop them. "Worst case scenario, if they do have these nukes inside the borders and they were to use something like that, what would our response be?" That's the question posed to Tancredo that touched off the "Tancredo says, nuke Mecca" kerfuffle.

The question we should ask is, alternatively, "Worst case scenario, if they do have these operations in place and they were to fly jetliners into the World Trade Towers and kill thousands of people, what would our response be?"

The point is that secular, rational, western civilization is under mortal attack by nihilistic medieval religious fanatics who despise life on earth and seek a perverted notion of life after death as their highest ideal. We should have no other response than to use any and every means available to us to help them reach their afterlife. Does this include nuclear weapons? Yes. Of course.

When a rabid animal comes to your farm and starts attacking and killing your livestock, with no sign of stopping, do you ignore your guns in the house and go after it with a hunting knife, or your bare hands, or send your children against it similarly equipped? Doing so is lunacy. One need not attempt it to have certain knowledge of that fact. You get the gun. You shoot the attacker. You bury its dead body in a hole.

If other rabid animals follow, and your efforts to kill them individually do not abate them, then you find out where they're coming from. You get as close as you can to the source until you can safely go no closer. Then if, perhaps, they all come from a specific section of forest where the conditions are ripe for breeding them, you burn down the forest. Bunnies and other innocent animals may die, but there is no other way to destroy the threat.

These are just analogies, and any card-carrying pragmatist can construct similar analogies that "prove" we should just build stronger fences and have fewer animals in the first place, but that fact does not infringe upon my right to live my life on my property as I choose.

Tom Tancredo merely opened the door, but the discussion lies on the other side. The topic for debate is not how to respond to murderous terrorists, but where. Leonard Peikoff explained where, and he did it on October 2, 2001 in his essay, "End States That Sponsor Terrorism."

"If one were under a Nazi aerial bombardment, it would be senseless to restrict oneself to combatting Nazi satellites while ignoring Germany and the ideological plague it was working to spread. What Germany was to Nazism in the 1940s, Iran is to terrorism today. Whatever else it does, therefore, the U.S. can put an end to the Jihad-mongers only by taking out Iran.

Eliminating Iran's terrorist sanctuaries and military capability is not enough. We must do the equivalent of de-Nazifying the country, by expelling every official and bringing down every branch of its government. This goal cannot be achieved painlessly, by weaponry alone. It requires invasion by ground troops, who will be at serious risk, and perhaps a period of occupation. But nothing less will "end the state" that most cries out to be ended."

Regular commenter Silence Dogood remarked [third comment], "Does Tom further feel that the concept of deterrent will be successful against extremists, or that such threats will provide the power to the people required to topple or change governments such that an Islamic uprising within the ranks will quell the terrorist menace? If he really expects his remarks not to be taken as throw away rhetoric then he needs to stand up with a real thought out plan."

Perhaps deterrent will have no effect upon Iranian Mullahs, but the destruction of their regime will certainly have a deterrent effect upon their surviving minions. You asked for a thought out plan. Here is that plan: America creates The List of targets for the largest of our nuclear ICBMs. This is no secret list, but is printed in bold text for all the world to see. Target #1 on the list is Iran's most valuable atomic development site. Then the rest of them, followed by Lebanon's Bekka Valley, and then other terrorist strongholds in Syria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. We inform the world that failure to disarm and imprison terrorist forces within sovereign nations will grant us blanket authority to attack targets within that nation. Then we unilaterally destroy target #1.

What happens after that depends largely upon the choices of others but, either way, the United States and the rest of the free world will be protected from destruction. It's time to start drafting "The List."

But jk thinks:

As usual, we agree on much. Not airing the 9-11 video is a tragedy -- and more importantly -- a serious tactical error. America cannot lose this war militarily, but without sufficient support at home, all current progress is at risk. Disturbing people with those images is a good place to start.

RE your defense of Rep. Tancredo: I'll be the first to admit that he does not get the benefit of the doubt from me. At best, I differ with the man on economics and politics; at worst I think he is willing to damage the party because he enjoys showboating.

The man is gifted with a tin ear. He lurched into the national spotlight when he thought that an immigrant honor student and class valedictorian was a good target for a new round of deportations. Nuking Mecca and Medina should simply not be said. If it was overblown or repeated out of context that's too bad; he should not supply his enemies with that kind of ammunition.

Dr. Peikoff occupies a cell in my heart adjacent to Rep Tancredo. Perhaps we do have a philosophical right to nuke Iran, it's a non-starter. We're not beginning to use the strength of our conventional forces, losing brave soldiers everyday so that we can fight a "nice war."

A party that called for a tactical nuclear strike against another nation with clear provocation would be swept out of power. You may think that's wrong but it is an aspect of democracy. And as Sharansky has stated, peacefulness is one of the great advantages to democracy.

Posted by: jk at August 2, 2005 5:05 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

That's a plan? What pray tell is the objective of this plan? Do you expect the terrorist groups to capitulate and disband? You are still stuck on the concept of strikes against geographic targets. This list of targets includes terrorist training camps? If so, it will be updated daily with the new coordinates as these groups move? We are fighting small loosely connected cells of terrorists across multiple state borders. Suggesting nuclear war against such groups is akin to swatting flies with a shotgun.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at August 3, 2005 6:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

JK, I'll have to reply to what I think you MEANT to write.

Intentionally overlooking your character assassinations of Tancredo and Peikoff, you said that advocation of a nuclear strike against another nation WITHOUT clear provocation would not be a popular strategy. I agree. However, we HAVE been provoked, hence my use of the word "response" in my post. How much more provocation do you suggest the American public needs? But to the extent what you say is true, it is merely proof of what we agree upon in your first paragraph: We cannot lose militarily, only morally.

You also said, I think, that we're not losing brave soldiers every day so that we can fight a "nice war." But that's EXACTLY what we're doing! Even Fallujah, the epitome of a terror swamp, was not leveled. Brave marines went door-to-door. True, individual buildings were leveled, but not until after our marines were fired upon and the target determined to be impenetrable without artillery. The lives of our soldiers are worth far more than the "innocent" civilians these murderers hide behind. If they weren't an all-volunteer force then ordering them to do what they do would be breathtakingly immoral. As it is, it's a balancing act between our troops welfare and best interests vs. "international opinion." It is only because our soldiers are so capable and effective that we can begin to afford to conduct the war in this way.

The objective of this plan is not to persuade terrorists and their leaders to become rational. Such would be impossible. The objective is to persuade the various governments of the states who give them safe harbor that they have more to fear from the most powerful nation on earth than from a few handfuls of two-bit fascist thugs. They can pursue the terrorists on their soil with flyswatters, hand-to-hand, or we will pursue them with nuclear weapons from a safe distance. Either the state ends its sponsorship of terror or we will end the state.

If we don't do this now, then when? AFTER radiological attacks on US cities? Do you really expect the terrorist groups to capitulate and disband because we FAILED to direct our full might and determination toward their destruction?

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I think you misread my "nice war" stance: I fully agree that we are losing our bravest in attempts to be nice. Not returning fire at a Mosque is the best example. We agree that that has gone too far.

And we agree that the outrageous superiority of our troops -- and the substantial arsenal of freedom -- allow this peculiar dance.

And we seem to both support a more muscular approach to the Bush Doctrine with conventional arms.

I would NOT, however, agree that a nuclear strike on a civilian area would be an appropriate response to a terrorist attack. And I say that an attack on Mecca or Medina is completely off the table. As such, I find it irresponsible to discuss it.

I, therefore, think it irresponsible and counter-productive that Dr. Piekoff and Rep. Tancredo bring this up. Sorry if I have been unfair to either, I will admit that I find little common ground with either of them, which is odd because I consider myself a Republican and a devotee of Ayn Rand. Yet I never see either of these people representing my views.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2005 8:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair enough JK. Other than the visceral value of blowing up the religious shrines of these "nihilistic medieval religious fanatics" destroying them would possibly do more harm than good. I would appreciate your input into the targets that rightfully belong on "The List." I started with Iranian nuclear development sites, clearly NOT civilian targets, and terrorist camps beginning with the Bekka valley.

As for whether to use nuclear or conventional explosives, let the generals decide but give them explicit directive that the targets are to be COMPLETELY destroyed.

One final criticism however: Whenever you say that any of the enemy's targets are "completely off the table" then you've begun to surrender.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2005 10:48 PM

August 1, 2005

Next Best Thing

No word yet as to whether Hugo Chavez has expressed any public disapprobation to CAFTA's passage, but Nancy Pelosi is upset.

The political recriminations from the cliffhanger passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement last week are even worse than we thought. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, is contemplating revenge against the 15 Democrats who had the nerve to vote for hemispheric growth and progress.

The San Francisco Democrat called a caucus gripe session in the wake of last Wednesday's vote, and an article in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call suggested that Democrats who voted yes may lose their favorite committee assignments. Our John Fund reports on that Democratic leaders are especially mad at two Black Caucus Members from New York, Edolphus Towns and Gregory Meeks, for voting aye. Apparently if you're from the financial capital of the world, you're not supposed to favor free trade.

Given that they may face retribution for doing the right thing, we thought we'd list and salute the other 13 Democrats who supported Cafta: Vic Snyder of Arkansas, Melissa Bean of Illinois, Dennis Moore of Kansas City, William Jefferson of the port of New Orleans, Ike Skelton of Missouri, Jim Cooper and John Tanner of Tennessee, Ruben Hinojosa, Solomon Ortiz and Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jim Matheson of Utah, James Moran of Virginia and Norm Dicks of Washington.

Mr. Cuellar, who holds the seat that runs from San Antonio down to Laredo, was especially gutsy in voting aye. He won a bitter primary last year and has already been targeted by unions for next year because of his Cafta vote. "Since he's a freshman, we think he's pretty vulnerable," Chuck Rocha, political director of the United Steelworkers, recently told Congress Daily. We trust the business community will appreciate that Democrats who break with their party's new liberal isolationism deserve support.

How is she going to prevent economic growth if she cannot keep her own caucus in order?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM

Bolton Deserved Better

Color me unhappy with the recess appointment of John Bolton as U.N. Ambassador. - Bush Appoints Bolton As U.N. Ambassador

WASHINGTON -- President Bush sidestepped the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, ending a five-month impasse with Democrats who accused Mr. Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology.

Bolton was a good pick, and I love the high ground on this nomination. If the Democrats want to say that we need a "nicer" representative to this corrupt, arrogant and pusillanimous organization let them. Let them be the party that supports Kofi through UNScam and let the GOP -- again -- be the party of reform.

You picked the wrong fight to avoid, Mr. President.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Did Voinovich cry again?

The Democrats will have another chance in 2007 to get him out. If they can't get it together enough to go up or down, the Senate loses it's chance.

It's in the rules! ;)

Posted by: AlexC at August 1, 2005 12:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not quite sure how much more you think W could have fought, JK. Anything more directly critical of the UN than "the organization needs reform" would have been exceedingly "un-diplomatic." Then who would have the upper hand in this arena of posturing?

I was amused by Kofi Annan's reaction: "From where I stand we will work with him as the representative of the president and of the government." He says this as though he has any choice in the matter! Arrogance on parade.

Posted by: johngalt at August 1, 2005 3:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Point taken -- perhaps it is Senator Frist and not the President. But I think the party should have pushed the Democrats to clearly and publicly side with Turtle Bay.

Posted by: jk at August 1, 2005 3:46 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)