September 30, 2005

Beef Wellington, Saag Paner

The UK has the worst reputation for cuisine. People always ask when I get back "How awful was the food?"

Of course the truth is, while England's indigenous cuisine may not be much to write home about, they brought great food back from all the ends of the world, most of which they had colonized. I don't mean this as a slap; they got the Magna Carta, the brits got Abu Mater and asian noodles.

Jonathan Pearce of Samizdata reports on Britain's first known curryhouse, circa 1805.

In my area of Pimlico, central London, there is an Indian restaurant right near my flat (aaahhh!) - said to be one of the oldest in London, dating back to the 1950s. But it appears that this now-established feature of culinary life has been going on since the age of Nelson, Wellington and William Wordsworth. An early example, in fact, of culinary globalization. It is not, in fact, all that surprising, since the desire for eastern spices and foodstuffs was an important economic incentive behind much of global trade at that time.

If you enjoy Indian food, not only will you not starve in the UK, you will come home to find our good ol' 'mercun Himalayan food distictly sub par.

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

Urgent Need To Face Reality

So says my liberal, Democrat, congressman.

SMART Democrats are going to come out of the hurricane relief project and concomitant budget battle very well. Leader Pelosi has already scored 100 points with her agreement to defer $70 million in highway earmarks for her district.

Is it all political? Hell yes. But it's damn good politics, much better than I have come to expect from the House Minority Leader.

Rep Mark Udall (yup, one of those Udalls) has launched his Senate bid in earnest today. He seeks Senator Allard's seat in 2006. And this is good rhetoric in Colorado. Damn good:

Rep. Mark Udall has joined Republican budget hawks on legislation that would give the White House new authority to pare congressional spending bills.

His measure is meant to make up for the massive federal effort to repair damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to reduce what Udall considers to be wasteful spending.


Our red state will have two blue Senators in the next Congress.

Hat-tip: Insty

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:46 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I have been pretty impressed with Mark Udall, he seems like my kind of Democrat, liberal on social issues but reasonably conservative on fiscal ones. I have been getting his email newsletter for several months now and even though I am not sure exactly how I got on his list it has been a good read. Keeps my hope alive for "New New" Democrats to spring up.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 3, 2005 12:09 PM
But jk thinks:

I have been surprised at what a backbencher he has seemed to be.

An ambitious scion of a famed political family, I would think he would be visible, co-sponsoring legislation, &c. Perhaps, considering his Democratic cohorts, that does speak well of him.

I will see if I can get on that mail list, if you have a URL, please forward it.

Posted by: jk at October 3, 2005 3:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That's right, JK, two blue Senators. The Dems have learned from the experience of 2004: Say whatever the voters want to hear and then when you are in office, legislate a huge tax grab like Referenda C & D. It works even better when the so-called Republicans can be nudged, coaxed, bribed, extorted or brainwashed into going along with it. Yes, I'm talking to YOU governor Owens!

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2005 12:57 AM

Party of the Rich

Noam Scheiber at TNR realizes that the GOP is no longer the party of the rich.

Ronald Reagan carried 17 of the 20 most affluent counties in the country in 1984.
[...]
What's changed since the '80s is that a smaller and smaller portion of the party's votes come from affluent voters, even as its funding continues to come from the business community. Bush won less than half of the 20 most affluent counties in 2004. These days, GOP votes come increasingly from working-class whites. Bill Clinton lost lower-middle-class whites--those making between $30,000 and $50,000--to Bob Dole by a single point in 1996. Bush won them by 13 points in 2000 and by 17 points in 2004.

Being Noam Scheiber, he jumps to the wrong conclusion and states (the next sentence, actually) "The upshot is that, while the party must still deliver tax cuts that primarily benefit the affluent, it must also spend lavishly to appeal to the working class."

I can't go along there, the lower income GOPers understand their benefit from tax cuts and do not clamor for more spending.

But Scheiber is correct to point out the divisions exposed by Katrina spending. I have ridiculed Democratic senators that I thought were economic dim bulbs (Michigan's Sen. Debbie Stabenow should have her own TV show) but the Rs I have witnessed are displaying a fearful amount of cluelessness.

Montana's Sen. Burns was facing a grilling from friendly Larry Kudlow last night. The subject was not-taking $4 million for a new parking garage to help fund hurricane recovery. This was suggested by the citizens but rejected by the city council. What was the Senator's opinion? "Well, Larry, these are 'earmarks' and they don't bust the budget." Kudlow enumerat6ed a handful of bike paths and a teleconferencing center and an indoor pistol range. Burns didn't defend any of the projects, he genuinely seemed stumped that anybody would object to any of this.

Who will capture disenchanted small-government voters? I cannot believe the Democrats have a shot. But if the national party cannot catch this zeitgeist, the GOP will be very vulnerable to a Perot-esque third party challenge.

And that, gentle readers, is how we got the first President Clinton...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

4 million here, $4 million there, and pretty soon you are talking real money... The real axis of evil is Pork, Entitlements, and Subsidies. Kudos to Larrry Kudlow for asking the questions, and even more kudos to the blogosphere in general for adding enough voices that some light can be shed on the dark recesses of funding bills. Perhaps if our elected officials actually had to account for and support all the little pork publicly to their constituents instead of passing through riders late at night in near secrecy there could be a real reduction in spending.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 3, 2005 12:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hear, hear!

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2005 12:09 AM

September 29, 2005

DeLay v. Earle

I have little to say on l'Affaire Hammer [Good thing I have a blog -- can you imagine trying to get that by an editor? -- ed]

It's obviously a partisan gesture, but it will hurt the GOP's image. I think DA Earle got lucky with his timing: a good bit of the blogosphere who might normally jump in to defend Rep DeLay is exasperated at his intransigence on spending cuts.

With nothing to say, I'll link to the guy who does: Michael Barone. He makes a great point on Democratic Demographic advantages:

I have written in the past that Republicans have certain structural advantages in our nearly equally divided American politics. George W. Bush carried 31 states that elect 62 of 100 senators, and he carried 255 of 435 congressional districts while winning the popular vote by only 51 to 48 percent. But the indictment yesterday of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay points to a structural advantage for the Democrats: They have majorities in most of the counties containing the state capitals of our largest states. That means that political corruption cases are likely to be handled by prosecutors, judges, and juries that are largely Democratic.

Well, that and the media -- no wonder I feel like the minority with both houses of Congress and the Executive in our column...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

It is reported today that Earle has apparently indicted DeLay for committing a crime that didn't exist at the time. Perhaps if Earle were an attorney he'd understand the Constitutional principle of 'ex post facto.'

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2005 12:53 AM
But jk thinks:

What if the media understood it? If a ridiculous charge were ginned up against somebody whose policies they favored, this would be quickly exposed. Instead the forced correction is relayed as "ANOTHER DELAY INDICTMENT!" Holy cow! They come in almost one a day now.

Posted by: jk at October 5, 2005 4:10 PM

Larry Kudlow - CNBC Website

I have always been surprised at the low level of web integration on CNBC TV shows.

Glad to say, the powers that be have added a Kudlow & Company CNBC web page at www.kudlowcnbc.com.

It is a quick link to the daily poll, previous polls, guest lists, &c.

Now on the Blogroll...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:45 PM

Hail, Chief Justice Roberts!

The Wall Street Journal reports that he has been confirmed 78-22. I like to win as much as the next guy, but am I the only one bothered that Justice Ginsberg got 93 votes, and John Roberts 78?

I guess it will not matter to the Chief Justice, as long as he was confirmed, but I am disturbed that 22 Senators think a well qualified person should be kept from the bench because they don't agree with some aspect of his or her politics.

Among the Senate's Democrats, 22 opposed the nomination, saying the candidate could turn out to be as conservative as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court anchors on the right.

"I hope I am proved wrong about John Roberts," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, (D., Mass.), the Senate's longtime liberal stalwart. "I have been proved wrong before on my confirmation votes. I regret my vote to confirm Justice Scalia, even though he, too, like Judge Roberts, was a nice person and a smart Harvard lawyer."


Sorry Senator. Elections matter.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Kennedy had more than that to say. From: http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00245

"And try as I might, I cannot find the evidence to conclude that John Roberts understands the real world impact of court decisions on civil rights and equal rights in this country. And I cannot find the evidence to conclude that a Chief Justice John Roberts would be the kind of inspirational leader who would use his powers of persuasion to bring all the Court along on America's continued march of progress. Therefore, I do not believe that John Roberts has met the burden of proof necessary to be confirmed by the Senate as Chief Justice of the United States."

What part of the Constitution compels the Supreme Court to consider "the real world impact of court decisions?" That's like saying the "real world" impact of the Constitution should have some bearing on whether or not we abide by it. He is pledging loyalty to only those parts of the Constitution with which he agrees - such parts as are supportive of (or at least, not hostile to) "civil rights and equal rights in this country." I'm quite certain that the oath taken by the senator from Massachusetts was quite different from this.

Kennedy adds,

"Both in committee and on the floor, some have argued that those of us who oppose John Roberts's nomination are trying to force a nominee to adopt our "partisan" positions, to support our "causes," to yield to our "special interest" agendas.

But progress towards a freer, fairer nation where "justice for all' is a reality -- not just a pledge in the Constitution -- is not a personal "cause," or a "special interest," or a "partisan" philosophy or ideology or agenda."

But Kennedy's notion of "fairer" is the antithesis of "freer." If one individual is prevented from keeping all of the fruits of his labors because it isn't "fair" to other, less industrious individuals, then freedom is in descendence. This is what Kennedy means by "justice for all," in direct contradiction to what the founders established.

Posted by: johngalt at September 29, 2005 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

When I say I expected better, I must confess I didn't mean Senator Kennedy.

I could see as many as ten nay votes, but 22 surprises. Bayh, Feinstein and Clinton surprise.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2005 5:48 PM

September 28, 2005

Goram Good Movie!

mal.jpg


Full disclosure: I did not attend the bloggers screening of "Serenity" last night as a fair or impartial observer. I went as a fan, giddy with schoolboyish excitement that my three years of blogging had scored me my first ever perk.

I expected it to be superb and the film met or exceeded all my expectations. Firefly fans will not be disappointed and those who have never seen the TV show will enjoy probably the best space pic ever.

Calling it the best space pic, one has to compare it to popular "franchise" films and there is no comparison. The sterile, pretentiousness of Star Trek cannot measure up to the reality of Serenity. While I have enjoyed Lucas's Star Wars movies since I was 19, the jejune plot lines and thin characters have been getting me down. Serenity truly is "Star Wars for Grownups."

The craft is so real, the mechanical failures are genuine. Not Scotty fighting the flux of dilithium crystals, but big hunks of the ship falling off in re-entry. A Red Dwarfish squalor that spells verisimilitude to anyone acquainted with machinery and Murphy's Law.

I'll give it four and a half out of five stars. It's cruel of me to withhold the last half from such a good movie, but I have one quibble. The TV show blended sci-fi and western into a perfect metaphorical frontier and showcased it with acoustic music: fiddles and dobros, horses and spaceships.

The movie doesn't have time to develop this. so the space and sci-fi part gets the whole show. I don't imagine that they could have pulled anything else off, but some of the Firefly fans might miss it.

Lastly, I will cross the street to avoid an "action" movie, one that substitutes special effects for plot and explosives for acting. Serenity has thought and dialogue but is also a movie with a lot of action well integrated into the plot. The film never lags. It moves along with story, events and Whedonesque one liners. The theatre in Denver was filled with the faithful; the whole audience would laugh out loud every few minutes.

It opens on Friday and I suggest you cancel any other plans and hit the theatre. It is rated PG-13 and I would take older kids who can handle the concept of flesh-eating monsters. It is violent (not prurienlty so), but the swearing is in Chinese, sex is kept to a few verbal references.

Good stuff! Here's the website and trailer.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:28 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

100 percent agreement, JK. 'Serenity' is a great sci-fi movie. Alas, it is a sci-fi movie, which means that anyone who doesn't know or care how things work, or why, probably won't care to see this movie either. Were it more of a fantasy film, like Star Wars or - ack - Harry Potter, the urban shopping mall suckled masses would be queing at the ticket booth. I'm dooming science fiction to the obscurity of geekdom, you say? Don't shoot the messenger.

As for the Serenity story line, it is prodigious. Whedon is quoted saying its where the TV series was ultimately headed, but in dozens more one-hour episodes. While I appreciate the cinematic value proposition this movie delivered on, I feel cheated out of all the doubtless side stories that would have accompanied the main theme over the several years it could have spanned at 1 hour per primetime week.

In conclusion, since I'm loathe to include any spoilers, let me just say that I think Captain Reynolds is the greatest proponent of rational self-interest as a philosophy of life to come out of Hollywood in a long, long time. And anyone who thinks that equality is man's greatest aspiration, and that "violence is never the answer" should all go live on ... sorry, can't give away the name.

This movie is for all of us who love life, and think it is worth fighting for, the way Islamofascist terrorists love death.

Posted by: johngalt at October 5, 2005 12:49 AM

September 27, 2005

Anti-War

When the heroes of the War are enumerated, Christopher Hitchens should be right there in that number. His constant, principled, and eloquent support of the quest for true liberalism against liberals has been stellar.

Andrew Sullivan started out in his league (and his camp) but got too distracted by domestic issues and then lost his gumption when things went poorly.

Hitchens's support has been resolute and indefatigable. I TiVoed his debate with George Galloway on C-SPAN. While I have lost my taste for that fiery, confrontational debate , I have to admit that those two were pretty good.

I was reading "Blood, Class and Empire" in the UK, and one of my associates' wives, a London attorney solicitor, said over the dinner table, in perfect British-chattering-classes pitch: "What's Happened To Christopher Hitchens?" I almost said "9-11" but thought better of it. I replied "Mr. Hitchens has seemed to find that some people on this planet are more evil that the US and UK government." Pretty lame, but I kept my job...

In Slate today, Hitch gives us Anti-War, My Foot - The phony peaceniks who protested in Washington. He knows who's who and where the bodies are buried:

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.

The media treatment of the antiwar rallies make their Katrina coverage look good.

Hat-tip: Protien Wisdom, who links this to other media failures in covering these rallies. This is becoming one of my favorite blogs, and will be on the blogroll later today.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 4:32 PM

September 26, 2005

Arcane Item of the Day

Larry Kudlow dusts off a 19th Century economist to discuss the impact of weather on economics.

The British by repute spend a lot of time talking about the weather and the nineteenth century English economist William Stanley Jevons built a business cycle theory around it—or more precisely built a theory around the weather on the sun! As our readers know, we love classical economists and Stanley Jevons (as he preferred to be called) is yet another whose ideas might need to be dusted off. His theory (he first published on this in 1875) linked sunspots to the weather and, in a much more agrarian economy than we currently have, from the weather to crop production and thus economic growth. Now, there are those who have linked sunspot cycles (which have a cycle of 11 years) with hurricane activity (for example, Jill Hasling and John Freeman—ironically of the weather research center in Houston, Texas—published a paper in December 1993 on The Prediction of Tropical Cyclones or No Tropical Cyclones by Means of the Solar Cyclone Strike Index).

Besides the theories of Mr. Jevons, the article takes a serious look at how the destruction and reconstruction might affect certain sectors of the economy.

I call it a good read, but you know I like this kind of stuff.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM

September 25, 2005

Socialized Health Care

Yup, this is what we need in America -- bring the efficiency of Government and the compassion of bureaucrats to health care.

Samizdata tells the story of a hospital that ran out of mops. I think I liked the happy ending best:

After replacement mops arrived on Thursday, a source revealed that hospital staff celebrated.

The insider revealed: "People were dancing around the boxes, singing and chanting, 'We have mops.' " The source added: "No wonder our hospitals are riddled with MRSA superbugs and such like if they can't get something as simple as this right."


Hate to beat up on our British brethren, but this matches another story I linked to on NHS care.

I owe a lot of money, but my wife is alive because of the amazing treatment received in private American hospitals.

Lots I like about Britain, but let's NOT import the NHS!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 PM

September 24, 2005

The MSM is Not Biased!

No, the MSM is lazy, arrogant, cowardly, and biased!

That's a joke but it's not. Bernard Goldberg is right to say that if you imagine a giant media cabal to distort the news for partisan advantage, you're wrong. And you come off as black-helicopterish.

The real problem is that media folk have many faults that just happen to augment their biases. The best example a guy could hope for is the current blog takedown of Petula Dvorak's WaPo piece, "Antiwar Rally Will Be a First for Many."

In this news piece, Dvorak discuses the appearance of one Patrice Cuddy, who will balance out the professional protesters at the Antiwar rally in D.C.:

Because of that sharp focus, they will be joined by novice protesters such as Patrice Cuddy, 56. Interviewed by phone yesterday, the former public school teacher in Olathe, Kan., said she had to pull off her gardening gloves each time a neighbor interrupted her yardwork to ask about joining the bus she had chartered to go to the nation’s capital.

You know, a middle-aged Kansas woman, who's not political, but Gosh Darn it! has decided she has to speak out against the war.

Fine. But as Spacecraft Blog finds out, with a few minutes on Google(r), This woman is a little more connected than the average retired Kansas schoolteacher: years of advocacy and an A.N.S.W.E.R. email address.

Assuming that the proxy servers at the Washington Post do not block Google, one can claim bias or laziness; I claim the dreaded combination.

I posit that Ms. Dvorak would check out a source who spouted wildly pro-Administration quotes. She would Google, check up to make certain that no Rovian stooge was leading her astray. Yet, a little laziness here helps the cause.

Stop The Bleating has access to this mysterious Google tool as well. He finds even more:

[S]he says openly, on her blog at Greater Kansas City Democracy for America: "I have been in the streets since the beginning of this war . . . " And she advises her readers at Kansas City IndyMedia (where she has been posting since at least February of '03) : "If you ever get an opportunity to go to one of these big rallies, DO IT! A Total rave thing without the drugs and alcohol."
[...]
From reviewing websites (and the Google caches of websites) to which Cuddy-Lamoree has posted messages, she comes across as, well, pretty "out there" from my perspective, but not a complete, raving, America-hating psychotic. Although there's plenty of typical, progressive, anti-Bush, anti-corporate rhetoric mixed in with her stuff, and she thinks Fahrenheit 9/11 was a "state of the art-documentary film!"

That's laziness and no small amount of arrogance directed at the bumptious, bucolic residents of Kansas. What about those other, scurrilous charges I made? Let's look at another story, and a takedown of the Associated Press Wire Service! The takedown comes from Protein Wisdom.

Jennifer Kerr of the AP writes under the headline "Thousands of Anti-War Demonstrators March in Washington, London; Rallies Planned in LA, Rome"

Jeff Goldstein starts with the headline. Yes 2,000 is technically "Thousands" but...

the phrase “rallied by the thousands” is suggestive of a bit more than the bare minimum at which “thousands” is even pluralized.

None of these stories, including Kerr's will tell you the roots of A.N.S.W.E.R. in the Stalinist Workers' World Party, or the extremely radical backgrounds of the organizers.
Two things happen in this section that are worth pointing out—first, that we’re not told a thing about Becker, nor are we told about International ANSWER, a hard-left group that supports the insurgency, other than they are “anti-war” and helped organize the day of “protest, song, and remembrance of the dead”; and second, Cindy Sheehan’s role in the protest is presented in a way that is curiously passive—a sure sign that her credibility and influence is finally waning. Kerr presents her as the grieving mother of a dead soldier, carefully avoiding any of the attendant controversy Sheehan’s public statements in the wake of her celebrity may have attached to the anti-war cause.

This is cowardice. They will NOT break from the groupthink of their 60's inculcated peers and publish inculpatory material about the antiwar crowd.
Lazy. Arrogant. Cowardly. Biased. The whole package.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 PM

Serenity Movie

I had blogged before twice about the upcoming Serenity Movie. My wife and I have been counting the days until the release -- now we may get a three day jump!

They are opening advance screenings across the country to bloggers, who agree to link and review it. Here is another link (the PR firm just sent an email that seemed to imply that I will have to arrive at the theatre 45 minutes early and beg to be let in). It is worth revisiting the site, they have updated it quite a bit since I linked before.

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

If my groveling skills are good, I will have a review for you next Wednesday!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:01 PM

I Voted for Coors!

But I hoped that I would get to like Senator Ken Salazar anyway. He made some moderate noises early on and, knowing he's in a red state, it seemed like the GOP might get a Lincoln Chafee for the other side.

I have been disappointed so far that the more powerful Dems in the Senate have seemed to pull him into the fold. I was pleased by his inclusion in the "gang of 14." That gave me some hope back.

Fast forward to today: What is his position on "Porkbusters" and the rediversion of some earmarks to hurricane relief? Umm, thoughtfully, Bush blew it and we must fire Mike Brown:

Porkbusters update: Sen. Salazar responds (sort of) (Combs Spouts Off)

Contemplate also the concept of evaluating what went wrong after the hurricane that may have resulted in a lack of adequate preparation for the hurricane. I can't wait for him to get to the bottom of that.

Needless to say, Salazar's office completely ignored everything in my message beyond the word "Katrina," which triggered the sending of response 137B or something like that. Not only did he not support any spending cuts, he closed by alluding to how willing he is to throw more money:


I guess there's no law against a form letter, but this seems pretty weak.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:33 PM

September 23, 2005

18-0

WSJ Ed Page:

That was the vote count when the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer in the 1990s, and it should have been the vote for John Roberts yesterday, instead of 13-5. The two Bill Clinton appointees are every bit as liberal as Judge Roberts is conservative, and they were just as unforthcoming during their confirmation hearings on how they would vote on specific cases.

Instead, five Democrats voted "no" yesterday. Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy claimed they didn't know enough about how Judge Roberts would rule on specific precedents. Joe Biden was, well, Bidenesque. Dianne Feinstein apparently thought the candidate had been nominated for Chief Family Man instead of Chief Justice. "Rather than talking to me as a son, a husband, a father -- which I specifically requested he do -- he gave a very detached response," she said yesterday. Imagine that: A judge who is restrained.


I'm happy that the Roberts confirmation looks good. But my rightwing nutjob friends are right. There is ZERO legitimate reason to vote against Judge Roberts; the comparisons with Ginsberg make the Democrats look very bad. It is lucky for them that the media won't point this out to anybody.

UPDATE: I loved John Hinerocker's comment on Powerline:

This may be the most bone-headed statement of the year. I want to go back to the Ruth Ginsburg confirmation hearing and find where the Republican Senators asked her what kind of a mother she is. The feminists would have loved that!

Indeed.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM

Woolworth's' Waitresses

Before I continue, what of the double possessive? I don't think it is legal, but I think it is right.

Anyway, Lee Harris pens a piece in TCS today that I think we might all agree with. He discusses the Nixon-McGovern race, but it reminded me of Reagan's vision of America, not as a land of the rich but a land "where everyone could get rich"

In modern politics, I don't see a clear delineation of the fundamental wrongness and unpopularity of wealth redistribution.

Harris listens to the waitresses disapprobation at McGovern's plan to limit inheritance, even though none will likely create an estate that will qualify:

The waitresses at Woolworth's disliked McGovern's welfare state politics because it was threatening to take away one of life's most important imaginary pleasures -- that of imagining yourself rich. Everyone who is not rich can instantly understand the world of pleasure that the impoverished hero of The Fiddler on the Roof gets from singing the song: "If I were a rich man…." What bliss it is to pretend you are wealthy! -- far far more fun, I would imagine, than actually being it."

There is a cost to being able to imagine yourself striking it rich, and that is for others to actually strike it rich. In a world where all was brought down to the same level, from which no one could ever escape, even the dream of being a rich man would eventually die out, and along with it, the motive power that has produced the enormous wealth of the West: the fervent belief of the poor that they can become rich -- not by stealing from the rich, but from making a pile for themselves. What else, do you think, has released all the energy of capitalism, except the overheated imagination of men who had to make their own fortune in order to have any at all?

Not economic irrationality, but admirable ethical consistency lay behind my waitresses' Red State attitude to the proposed inheritance tax. They did not ask others to give up a right that they would not give up themselves, if they were ever in the position to exercise it. Why? Because they would have regarded it as sheer hypocrisy to prevent people from doing what they knew damn well that they would do themselves, if they were ever given the chance.


The whole piece is great!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM

September 22, 2005

On Religion and Politics

I know a lot of libertarian-style-conservatives who get nervous at the mention of religion. A ThreeSources author even comes to mind...

I see a connection between faith and much that I admire. Freedom, patriotism and self-sufficiency seem to come naturally to many of those who are tethered to the world by a spiritual bond.

I've long been impressed by the piety of the founders of this nation, whom I revere. Jay and Adams are extremely religious; Washington and Jefferson may be less so, but they are a far cry from atheists.

I'm not a churchgoer myself, but as a political hack, I see a natural coalition among freedom lovers, devout Christians, and committed Jews. I give President Bush a lot of credit for opening a connection to the historically Democratic group: an evangelical Christian who has been a firm and fulsome defender of Israel.

What has me opening this bleeding wound on ThreeSources? A very thoughtful post by Attila on Pillage Idiot caught my imagination today. He defends Ryan Church of the Washington Nationals, even after the outfielder said some, like, kinda insensitive things about, like, Judaism.

Many Christians believe as part of their religious doctrine that acceptance of Jesus is necessary for salvation. Pardon me if I disagree with them. I'm a very committed Jew; I don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah; and I have no expectation of ending up in Hell, if such a place should exist. Yet, and this is very important, it's totally out of line to tell these Christians that their views are based on hatred. They are not. They are based on faith and love.

Jews in America need not be so fearful of believing Christians. We are not in medieval or pre-modern Europe, where "the Jews killed Jesus" was incitement to murder. We are in the United States, where most Christians who believe we are "doomed" will figure it's just our dumb choice, and the absolute worst that will happen is that some of them will try to convert us. So what? The correct answer of an American Jew to a proposal to convert is a polite but firm "No, thank you."


Attila, and JohnGalt, and AlexC and I all share a love of liberty and belief in democracy that transcends our Jewish, atheist, Catholic and squishy-agnostic beliefs.

As a hack, I believe that politics is about addition and not subtraction and that coalitions are powerful. Personally, my Catholic upbringing and the friends I have had make me very comfortable with people of faith, and people of all faiths.

Three cheers for those, like Attila, who can bury the hatchet. As a famous felon once said, "Can't we all just get along?"

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:35 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Attila thinks:

Many thanks for the generous comments on my post. I don't mind being mentioned in the same breath as Rodney King; I was once mentioned together with Willie Horton.

Posted by: Attila at September 22, 2005 8:54 PM
But jk thinks:

And he sings much better than Mumia...

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2005 10:52 AM

Ninth Circuit Approved

-- but not endorsed, Samizdata links to:

I pledge allegiance to the curve
Of supply and demand in equilibrium
And to the principle for which it stands
Market pricing, with low transaction costs
Yields utility and profit for all

Amen.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:47 PM

CCW

Counter Conventional Wisdom. It is what blogs excel at. I posted about a Nick Danger piece on RedState.org the other day that defied CW.

Today, Larry Kudlow linked to and agreed with that article, and this one about the President's response to Katrina.

In this piece, Thomas Lifson says that W has been misunderestimated again and puts the big spending response in context.

[an] important lesson the President learned at Harvard Business School is to embrace a finite number of strategic goals, and to make each one of those goals serve as many desirable ends as possible.

The President’s strategic goals remain remarkably consistent: 1) position America to win the War on terror (a goal thrust upon his presidency in 2001); 2) keep America’s economy growing; 3) position the Republican Party to dominate American politics in the foreseeable future.

His response to Hurricane Katrina is being shaped by these three goals, as well as (and even more importantly) by the genuine humanitarian impulse to help fellow Americans and fellow souls when they are most in need.


Lifson then shows how the President’s response serves these goals.

Good Stuff!

But jk thinks:

Well, if it's nitpicking season, I believe it's a bee in one's bonnet or a burr in one's saddle.

How about four years without a serious attack on American soil? It's an amorphous agenda but the length of time without a US attack, the removal of the Taliban from Afghanistan, the removal of Saddam from Iraq, free elections in both nations and spillover into Kuwait (women's suffrage), Egypt (multi-party elections), and Libya (ended nuke program) are substantive achievements. And that if you had dreamed of this in late September 2001, you'd have been a hapless Pollyanna.

For the near term, let’s look at continued protection at home, ability to safely draw down troop levels in Iraq, and some spillover to Syria and Iran.

Posted by: jk at September 23, 2005 5:14 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

There I was, looking foolish wearing a saddle for a bonnet...

I certainly can't argue with the successes you claim, ( I can almost picture the chart on the Oval Office wall, "Days since a terrorist attack" with little numbers that are hung up every day) and I too celebrate them even as I remain a skeptic. The ground rules of this conflict are different, there will be no armistice or surrender, no territory to capture or reclaim, or even a notable collapse of a wall or an empire. The only way to win is to affect a change in the mindset of the would be perpetrators, when freedom and economic prosperity become more important than their cause, a success that will be significant precisely because it is not notable, but a peace that ushers in quietly over time as terrorism becomes so rare as to be largely forgotten. Governments will change and ideologies will soften, but it is a fallacy to think that military intervention is the only or faster way to achieve these goals.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 27, 2005 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Silence, may I please say, politely, "bunk."

I submit that one can never affect a "change in the mindset of the would be perpetrators" of terrorism. Anyone who, as I, has attempted to "change" a spouse's mindset understands this simple fact of life all too well.

The change that is needed here is not external to America, but within it. Terrorists dare to attack us because they know we'll hamstring our own self defense with pacifist navel gazing. They attack us because we attack ourselves (or at least, allow ourselves to attack each other). Free speech is just fine with me - let the collectivists argue that America deserves to be destroyed, or assemble plans for an "International Freedom Center" at the WTC memorial - but to hell with this political correctness that prevents proud individualists from saying "you are wrong." Let the rest of America's individuals decide which camp they'd rather join, but only after they've heard BOTH sides of the argument, not just the MSM and ivory tower party lines.

Military intervention against groups, gangs, tribes, or nations who conduct murders and bombings of civilians is indeed the only way to dissuade them. And if James Earl Carter, Jr. had invaded Iran and rounded up every last "revolutionary" who was involved in the invasion of sovereign US territory at our embassy for trial and imprisonment, perhaps we'd never have seen the slaughter of 9/11 or the scores of smaller "operations" that presaged it.

America is the good. Liberty is her guiding principle. Relentless intolerance of threats to our liberty is the fastest, the surest... the ONLY way to preserve it. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." It remains for every American to choose whether to lead, to follow, or to get the hell out of the way.

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2005 3:10 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I guess we will have to agree to disagree johngalt, or may I politely say "bunk" in return? Fear of retribution will not dissuade fanatic terrorists, neither will the opposite embolden them, they march to their own deluded drummer. Describe for me how someone who views himself as a martyr will be emboldened if he thinks he won't we killed or dissuaded if he thinks he will. It doesn't matter to him, that's the point of being a martyr. Look at how Israel's 40 years of strong response has worked against terrorism. To pretend that a more aggressive response back in Iran for example would have saved us from 9-11 is pure insanity. Insanity as in doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The conservatives have heralded their conclusion that sanctions don't work, the liberals their conclusion that military intervention and government overthrow doesn't work. Funny thing is they are both right, but rather than come up with more options each side claims one as the answer.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 28, 2005 12:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Of course the true fanatics won't easily be dissuaded by a forceful response against them, and may even in their great rage welcome it. But they are indeed emboldened by cowardice and restraint. Or aren't you familiar with UBL's famous "fatwa" statement, "...the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear" after Clinton withdrew from Somalia?

And then we have the followers. These are the ones I think can be deterred, when they see a crushing miltary response to each petty terrorist skirmish. It may occur to them that there's no profit in their bloody agenda if they fail to make any progress or win concessions. Or aren't you familar with Zarqawi's famous courier intercept stating that suicide bombers were getting harder and harder to find?

"Israel's 40 years of strong response," you say? Like evacuating its citizens by force and buldozing their homes so that "Palestinian" cockroaches can call that their "homeland?" That's not the kind of "strong response" I advocate.

If you want to call what America has done in the face of a terrorist threat for the last 26 years insanity then I'll agree with you, but I sure as hell won't abide with any notion that it has been, on the whole, "forceful."

Military intervention and "government" overthrow worked quite nicely in Afghanistan, thank you very much. And the liberals are scared straight to death that it's on the verge of working in Iraq as well. You, on the other hand, appear to be advocating for the elusive "un-thought-of better option" so routinely used as a tool to provoke impotence. Well, I've been talking about such a better option for some time now. The question now is, who doesn't want us to win?

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2005 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Lookit you guys having all this fun on the bottom of the page!

I guess you have exposed a fundamental difference between the supporters and the serious antagonists of the administration’s terror policy.

I have to line up squarely with JohnGalt on this. Osama Bin Laden exploited the Arab street's perception of the US as a paper tiger, following our nation's ignominious retreats in Beirut (Reagan) and Somalia (Clinton), as well as our pusillanimous reaction to the Iranian hostages (Carter), the first Trade Center bombing (Clinton) and the Embassy and U.S.S. Cole bombing (Clinton).

As for Israel, the worst part of the Intifada followed the failure of the Oslo accords, when both the US and Israel looked weak.

What we perceive as kindness is perceived by Islamofascists as weakness.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2005 5:01 PM

jk Agrees WIth President Carter

If that ain't a sign of the apocalypse, I don't know what is.

But the voter fraud commission headed by our 39th President and Secretary Baker is noteworthy. That a liberal of the pedigree of President Carter has admitted that fraudulent voting is not outweighed by tales of minority disenfranchisement is significant.

An editorial in today's WSJ gives high marks to most of the panel's recommendations, but especially supports the ID requirement:

The voter-ID recommendations are particularly noteworthy, however, because for decades the left has maintained that voter fraud isn't a problem. In fact, it's increased in recent years. Former New York Congresswoman Susan Molinari, who served on the commission, notes bluntly in the report that, "In 2004, elections in Washington state and Wisconsin were decided by illegal votes." She continues, "In other states, notably the states of Ohio and New York, voter rolls are filled with fictional voters like Elmer Fudd and Mary Poppins."

This is a clear sign of national interest above politics, and I have accused President Carter of the opposite for several years.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:54 AM

September 21, 2005

When We're All Dead...

When we're all dead , you can say "JK, you were wrong!"

I am going to swim against the blogosphere tide a little here and admit that I am sleeping pretty well at night, in spite of the UPCOMING AVIAN BIRD FLU PANDEMIC!!! (Film at 11, with Natallee Holloway Pictures!!). Blogs have worked themselves into an irrational fear on this front (Oh. My. God! We're the only ones who know what's going on! The people watching MSM don't know. We're all going to die!)

President Coolidge famously said that if ten problems are roiling down the road at you, keep in mind that nine will roll into the ditch. I have no empirical evidence for my sanguinity, but I am counting on this to be one of the nine.

I have already survived the HETEROSEXUAL AIDS PANDEMIC of the 80s/90s, THE SARS PANDEMIC of the 90s/aughts, and it ain't easy in Colorado but I seem to have avoided the WEST NILE VIRUS PANDEMIC that is ongoing around here.

I was on the Atkins Diet through all the MAD COW DISEASE SCARES and I seem to have come through that.

When THE NATION RAN OUT OF FLU VACCINE in 2004, I neither got the flu nor voted for John Kerry.

I have Multiple Sclerosis. My wife had a severe stroke. I'm glad Andrew Sullivan has some flu medication squirreled away, so he will be spared incompetence from that nasty President Bush, but I am gonna tough this one out.

Like I say, if we all die, you can say “I told you so…”

Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM

Zone of Opportunity

I don't know if my beloved Republicans are up to it, but we have an incredible opportunity to rebuild the gulf with conservative ideas. I was happy to see homesteading and opportunity zones in the President's speech. But it is time to engage Congressional GOP members and push for an aggressive, conservative response.

The lead editorial in the WSJ today has a good idea:

The idea is to lure businesses back to the region through lower tax rates, incentives for new capital investment, and low-cost business loans and loan guarantees. So far the details are sketchy. But one promising magnet for capital is the small-business expensing plan, which allows firms to immediately deduct from their federal tax bill the first $100,000 of the cost of a new office, plant or equipment. We're typically against temporary tax incentives, but if anything warrants such a lift, the aftermath of Katrina does -- and especially as an alternative to the "Marshall Plan" for new federal spending via FEMA or a bureaucratic cousin that is already being proposed in Washington.

We only wish the tax incentives went further than what Mr. Bush has proposed. Why not allow the Gulf to operate as a laboratory for a flat tax, with an 18% rate and no taxes whatsoever on capital investment for businesses -- small and large? And if this works for New Orleans, as it has for so many of the former economically ravaged nations of East Europe, then make it the law of the land.

The Bush plan also provides an "urban homesteading" feature, whereby low-income families would be given a free plot of federal land in the ruined areas in exchange for a commitment to build a home there. It's a truism that people better maintain homes that are their own property. The plan also contains what amounts to a voucher for students uprooted by Katrina. They'd be able to use up to $7,500 for public, but also for private or religious, schools -- which has the teachers unions up in arms. Leave it to the National Educational Association to let its own monopoly interests trump the welfare of kids, even in the wake of a disaster.


Pretty good stuff, but I think the NYTimes' John Tierney has an even better idea: abolish FEMA and put Wal*Mart in charge. Ahh, those rightwing kooks at the Times...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM

September 20, 2005

Go Big Pharma!

I haven't linked to Andrew Sullivan in many moons. To be honest, I stopped reading him after the elections in '04. He really has descended into Daily Kos territory, throwing away all of his conservative principles because he disagrees with the President on gay marriage. Sad to lose a great writer, but I couldn't possibly take any more.

One thing we do agree on, is the life giving and enhancing work of the drug companies and astonishmentat the antipathy they engender (maybe I'll get a "Poseur award" for that last sentence). Happily, Sully has been helped by new HIV drugs:

BACK FROM THE DOC: Just an HIV update. I've been on the new meds for a couple of months now and after a week or so of torpor, have no side-effects that I can speak of. My viral load - i.e. the amount of virus in my bloodstream - went from 141,000 particles per cubic mililiter of blood in late May to 1500 after ten days on June 2 and has now come down to a grand total of 121. Still not good enough. We're hoping for under 50 at the next count. My CD4 cell count - a sign of the strength of your immune system - has gone back into its normal range. Thank God for the evil pharmaceutical companies. One day, when the history of this period is written, I have a feeling we will look back with astonishment as we recognize that advances in medical science, particularly pharmaceuticals, were arguably one of the most significant developments of this era. And yet the people who pioneered these breakthroughs were ... demonized and attacked. Baffling and bizarre. I'm merely grateful the attacks haven't stopped the research progress. They've merely slowed it.

The problem, brother 'drew, is that you don't know how much they have been slowed by the lack of capital. Would you invest in a firm that a VP candidate "swears he is going to fight" A sector that the tot bar has its eyes on?

The P/E multiple in this sector is waaaay lower than it should be. With more money, they could discover more amazing drugs.

Hat-tip: Instapundit.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

I wonder if Big Pharma's marketing isn't working against it. The endless TV commercials - "ask your doctor about..." I don't even know what half of these maladies are except that they can keep you from running through a field of flowers with your dog and a beautiful woman. (Do those come with the prescription or does the drug attract them?) My family practice office even has a room set up specifically for the pharma reps, last time I was there I saw 3 reps come through in 30 minutes. These are the folks taking the docs out for dinner and golf and spreading product imprinted tissue boxes, magazine holders and prescription pads around. I had to laugh when the 3rd rep had to move a product imprinted Kleenex box over on the table to fit hers in when that competing one had been placed there not 5 minutes before. This is what consumers see before being hit with the $5 per pill price. Hey, I have been in and out of product development for almost 20 years so I am usually the first to stand up and defend the cost of drugs based on what it costs to research and develop them, but those huge sales forces with their endless perks and prime time TV spots don't come cheap either. Not that they shouldn't be allowed to advertise their products and I am sure they do get people to "ask their doctor about.." but I wonder if it doesn't tarnish their image.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 21, 2005 4:43 PM
But jk thinks:

I have heard a LOT of criticism about pharmaceutical marketing. I am of a different mind here.

I see it as empowered medical consumers. Did you know there was a pill to kill toenail fungus? Are there not people who have tried to control cholesterol through diet but have failed and might need medication?

For me, it is part of a grand movement from the experts in government, medicine, and academia, to the people. You bet I am tired of Cialis commercials, but I think it is a step in a free market, Hayekian distributed knowledge medical environment.

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2005 11:29 AM

Defending Debt

AlexC emails a link to a very interesting article in RedState.org where Nick Danger preaches heterodoxy under the title "I. Heretic."

To me, the exciting thing about the blogosphere is that you can challenge conventional wisdom, get a hearing and people can agree or disagree.

"Nick " tells us that the national debt is not bad (I agree), that President Bush has a keen understanding of money and the ability to use it as a weapon. (I agree up to a point), that pork, per se, is not bad (losing me a little), and that pragmatism precludes small government (he actually sounds like me).

It's a good piece and well worth a read. I'll excerpt the part I most agree with. "What about saddling our beloved children with the national debt?"

Our children are not going to have to pay it back. Institutions are not individuals. For our purposes, institutions are immortal. If some of their debt comes due, they simply roll it over. They can do this perpetually. IBM probably has debt on its books that's been there since the 1920's. It's been rolled over several times. No one cares. So long as IBM sees opportunities for investing cash that return more than the interest rate, they will never pay the debt back... they'll just keep rolling it over. And then the Sun burns out. This can be a difficult concept for non-finance-types to understand. But it is crucial to understanding what's going on here. So long as the U.S. economy keeps growing... so long as we have opportunities to invest cash in ways that earn a higher rate than we have to pay in interest... we should keep rolling over our debt, and adding more as we can, forever. All these people who moan about the chillrun do not understand this game. The chillrun aren't going to pay it back. They don't have to. They're going to roll it over, and add more of their own. As will their children. Until the Sun burns out.

This needs to be said. The Democrats want to raise taxes to pay for Katrina. I'd like to cut spending, but increasing the deficit a half a percent of GDP is a much better choice than turning our back on successful tax cuts.

But johngalt thinks:

I remember being staunchly anti-deficit in my younger "read: Reagan era" days, but my motive was government spending cuts. Back then we were told it would take ninety-nine Hobbit lifetimes to "pay off" the debt. Then, miraculously during the Clinton era, it was forecast to become a budget surplus in less than a decade. If this thing is that volatile then I'm far less inclined to lie awake worrying about it.

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2005 3:39 PM
But jk thinks:

I think the deficit was equal to "small government" in the hands of President Reagan or Speaker Gingrich.

Now it is not (you and I both wish it were). Now, "the deficit" is a code word for the Democrats to raise taxes.

Better to ride the big government conservative wave than raise taxes and spoil the economy (like our beloved legislators would cut spending even then).

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2005 11:38 AM

Clinical Trial

A little personal news. I was just informed that I have been accepted to participate in a clinical trial. The guy who blogs and whines about the importance of medical research will now put his soon-to-be-perforated body where his mouth is.

Oddly enough, though, it is a gub'mint funded study. The National Institute of Health wants to study the effects of two different manufacturers' products when taken together. My neurologist informed me that the pharmaceutical companies were not interested.

The two most popular treatments for my flavor of MS (RRMS) are Copaxone and Avonex. This study aims to test the value of taking both. I am one of 1,000 participants, all of whom will perform all of the eight weekly injections (OW!) and all of whom will be assured of getting at least one of the medications.

The odds are even (500-500) that I will get both. But 250 lucky souls will be injecting a placebo dose of Copaxone every day, and 250 will get a weekly, intramuscular "blank" of Avonex. All the participants, like me, have never taken any medication for MS. They call it "drug-naive, I call myself a virgin.

In addition to seeing my regular neurologist, I will also see a "blind" doctor who just evaluates me, get tests from the nurses at the research lab coordinating the study, and lie still for a very long sequence of MRIs every six months. For three years, the guy who runs from Doctors will be all but living with them. Like Jane Goodall, it's for science, man! It's for science.

The plus side is that I'll get three years of medication paid for, um, by you guys. And my condition has deteriorated in the past couple of months, it will be good to see what treatment can do.

I am excited to begin. Through heavy trepidation, I found that I was quite concerned that I would not be accepted. Some part of me wants to do this and I was happy to hear of my acceptance.

I will probably start medication this week.

Cheers,
jk

UPDATE: Started today (Sep 23). Easy-peasy. No side effects, barely felt the needles....

Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Congrats and Bravo to you JK! Interesting example of where government will go that private enterprise will not. It does not surprise me that neither company would fund a study that included their competitors product. So, just for argument's sake, what would the private enterprise solution to this quandary be? Would you and the other members of the study be willing to pony up 1/1000 of the cost of the study each? While johngalt may wail about altruism I look at my portion more as insurance. I help fund this study and others such that if I am ever afflicted I might have options provided by those that came before and blazed the trail. If I never am afflicted, well then it is like insurance, much of my premium goes to someone else's benefit, but it is there for me if I need it.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 21, 2005 5:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup. I have to admit defeat here. This particular trial would require an outside government or academic sponsor. Even though it could result in increased sales for either company (hey, if both work well, all your competitor's customers are your prospects), even free market me has to admit it is bleedin' unlikely that this would be funded.

A good example, but not necessarily a trend. I don't think I'll start championing Federal research into hybrid cars or wind power.

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2005 11:44 AM

September 19, 2005

One Man's Pork...

The "Porkbusters" project at Truth Laid Bear is a great idea and I excitedly clicked on over and scrolled down to find what CO-2 pork I could hassle my beloved, Democratic Congressperson about. Here it is:

Avista Adventist Hospital, Louisville, CO, gets $640,000 "for the Integrated Community Oriented Physician Initiative to develop common electronic medical record and practice management systems" from the HHS budget, despite the fact that many such systems exist off-the-shelf, and in open source form.

Silence and I discussed this over lunch once. After dealing with my wife's medical bills and now some of mine, it is clear that this could save billions of dollars.

Yes, you bet I prefer a private sector solution, but as Silence pointed out over fois gras or whatever we were eating that day, you may need a little enforcement to get everybody to play. (Language note: "enforcement" is "coercion" of which I approve.)

Sorry, N.Z., and sorry Glenn, but I will not be calling Rep Udall to demand that that (gub'mint chump change) $640K is rediverted to Katrina reconstruction.

I'm starting to feel like Tom DeLay...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Of course you are right, jg. I think the real difference is my dreaded pragmatism

If I could make it all go away, I would opt for a government as bare as you dream of. Knowing, however, that billions are going to be wasted on million-dollar bike paths on Connecticut and Bridges to nowhere in Alaska -- I can't get real worked up over 640000 (the famed Bill Gates maximum) for a project that might yield real value.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2005 9:06 PM
But AlexC thinks:

"On second thought, no amount of money in the world could make a Frenchman fight."
But could you buy them enough deodorant?

(and make them wear it?)

Posted by: AlexC at September 19, 2005 11:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No amount of deodorant in the world could make a Frenchman... well, you get the picture.

Actually, I'm inclined to think we should focus this anti-French sentiment chiefly upon Parisians. It seems that there may be red counties in France too, where the Frenchmen understand cause and effect, life and death, right and wrong. Still more research is required though before a general "pro-France" pronouncement can be made.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2005 2:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

JK, if you're so willing to add "pork" to "death" and "taxes" as the things that will never go away, then at least advocate codifying it.

Every US Representative becomes steward of a clearly accounted "Pork Account" for his district. Regular deposits are made to the account by the US Treasury as a percentage of tax receipts from that district. The Representative has carte blanche to spend the money on ANYTHING, as long as it's done transparently.

Reps in Provo, Lubbock, Abilene and Hialeah can issue tax rebate checks to constituents. Those in Detroit, Gary, Berkeley and Oakland can use it for "free" public housing. Hell, New Orleans Reps can even give it to their brothers-in-law, as long as it's on the public record.

The beauty of this is that politicians could then campaign on WHAT they would spend their pork dollars on instead of HOW MANY they would be able to muscle away from other districts.

Another important caveat would be that the "Pork Tax Rate" would be fixed (as in "frozen," as in "not adjustable by politicians") at a historically average figure, and would be temporarily suspended in time of war.

This plan would satisfy your desire to achieve results that the private sector is "not interested in" while virtually eliminating inequity, politicking and back-room dealing. Whaddaya say, let's write our congressmen!

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2005 2:59 PM
But jk thinks:

I love it. But, sadly, don't think we can sell it.

Like the flat tax, it takes away the power of powerful legislators. Those would be the folks who have to pass it.

But it IS a great idea, man. Very good.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2005 3:16 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Yep, great idea, only 535 reasons it won't pass... Of course I am on JK's side, just slightly to the left, on this topic. I think that government guidance and/or standardization can be a good thing, actually spurring private investment. Look at the internet, if Microsoft had developed it without open standards would it have been as successful? Look back further to 60hz AC and rural electrification. Even Westinghouse and GE would not have had the resources to provide the wiring infrastructure. Compare this to broadband internet access and the lack of "last mile" connectivity. Rural electrification was a huge pork project, so also were the internet and the interstate highway system funded out of the defense budget. Think about the ROI numbers on those projects though! In the case of health care all I am really advocating is a standardized billing system. Beyond that private companies offer fees and services in whatever packages they like but the standard forms provide huge paperwork relief to providers.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 20, 2005 4:29 PM

September 18, 2005

Bush Derangement Syndrome

Anybody catch the big fundraising concert last night?

HOSTED BY LAURENCE FISHBURNE AND FEATURING WYNTON MARSALIS, HARRY BELAFONTE, TERENCE BLANCHARD, KEN BURNS, SHIRLEY CAESAR, CYRUS CHESTNUT, PETER CINCOTTI, BILL COSBY, ROBERT DENIRO, RENEE FLEMING, DANNY GLOVER, HERBIE HANCOCK, JON HENDRICKS, NORAH JONES, DIANA KRALL, ABBEY LINCOLN, JOE LOVANO, IRVIN MAYFIELD, BETTE MIDLER, TONI MORRISON, AARON NEVILLE, DIANNE REEVES, MARCUS ROBERTS, PAUL SIMON, MERYL STREEP, JAMES TAYLOR, MCCOY TYNER, ROBIN WILLIAMS, CASSANDRA WILSON, JEFFREY WRIGHT, BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO AND MANY MORE!

Sounds pretty good, huh?

I couldn't sleep ;last night as I was so offended by the naked politicking. Why I didn't expect it, I'll never know. Here's an upper-west-Manhattan event televised on PBS -- was I expecting Paul Gigot?

Actually, I expected the worst, but they lulled me into false confidence. Laurence Fishburne was awesome, highlighting the Crescent City as a uniquely American example of different races and socio-economic groups working together. Marsalis holds some views which differ from mine, but he spoke with his horn last night: cogently and beautifully.

Ken Burns came on, and I tensed up a bit but it was unwarranted. He was criminally pompous (this coming from a guy on probation!) but he was not out of line. One comment stuck with me. He used the line "shameful Diaspora" discussing the evacuees. I'm sure that sounds good, but what, Mr. Burns, is shameful about people in Maine, Minnesota, Colorado, California and Texas opening up their homes to fellow Americans? Should we make a big refugee internment camp in Arkansas?

Robin Williams -- he was funny once, I remember, now he just preaches in a comic voice -- threw a little red meat to the Manhattenites with [channeling a hurricane]: "I'll hit Kennebunkport, see how fast the relief comes..." The crowd roared its approval, more so than for any of the music. But then it ended, no harm, no foul.

We cruised along this way until Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte came on.

You have TiVo, jk, you don't have to watch!

I wasn't smart enough to act. I listened to every word these two vicious, despot-loving communists said. "The floodwaters revealed a poverty of imagination as we chose to put the shoulder of technology to the wheel of death rather than the wheel of life."

They did give a check for $200,000 to the "Higher Ground" fund, which benefits musicians and the music industry. But their words were hateful, I'll seek another avenue to help musicians (Instapundit has acknowledged another group).

Then Elvis Costello, in his capacity as Mr. Dianna Krall, sang one of Allen Toussaint’s old protest songs, with Toussaint backing him up. On the way onstage he says "I heard on the radio that CONSERVATIVES (surely I can talk, there are none here) say we're spending too much money on rebuilding, but [Costello stops to stare into camera seriously through his dopey-ass Bono sunglasses] no amount of money is too much!" (Cheers...) I respect both of those guys, but they were badly outclassed. No, Elvis, marrying a great jazz player does not make you one. You are still a pop star, enjoy it.

Now I feel like crap. I was gonna give 100 bucks, but now I am too angry to give but not self-aware enough to feel that that is right. Do I send a letter to Marsalis? It would sound awfully petty and petulant.

Yet the PBS-ers so arrogantly feel free to insult half their audience, even on a fund raiser.

I was feeling nostalgic for Kanye West on the NBC benefit…

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:09 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

I can't believe you still watch network television! ;)

Posted by: AlexC at September 18, 2005 10:59 PM
But jk thinks:

PBS no less. You're right -- I really have only myself to blame.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2005 10:54 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Please keep watching JK. I trust you as a conservative who will listen to the other side even if it is through gritted teeth sometimes. I still watch Fox news some, even if they do regularly tick me off. Past the hype and the grandstanding it helps me see issues that are important to people unlike me. If we all retreat into our camps of comfort it is hard to have any real dialog across the lines.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 19, 2005 3:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words, Silence, I agree with you on the perils of intellectual cocooning, but Mr. Glover and Mr. Belafonte have little to offer me (except some nice Jamaican -tinged music).

I read TNR for balance. Those guys are bright and most of them live on the same planet I do.

Not much I'd really recommend on Fox. Brit Hume is good for evening news and "The Beltway Boys" are good on the weekend, but everything in-between seems to be tabloid journalism. ("Natalee Holloway pictures" is still the #1 search string for ThreeSources.com!)

Natalee Holloway Pictures!

Natalee Holloway Pictures!

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2005 12:38 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Point taken on Mr. Glover and Mr. Belafonte. I don't watch the 700 Club after all. It's not just kind words either, right here on this blog is where I get some of the most thoughtful conservative ideas. Maybe it doesn't show, but you guys nudge me ever so slightly to the right on a lot of issues.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 21, 2005 4:48 PM

September 16, 2005

Larry's On Board

Larry Kudlow echoes my belief that there is good polity in the President's speech from New Orleans last night. It's perhaps packed in with a lot of spending, but it is not "LBJ or FDR" as a lot on the right have protested:

So while Congress will flesh out the legislative details, it looks like private capital formation, business creation, and homeownership are key free enterprise approaches chosen by Mr. Bush to revive the Gulf Coast. This is very good. Perhaps Congress will waive any capital gains tax burdens to further attract capital. But certainly Bush has chosen not to create a new New Deal or a new WPA. There will be a lot of federal spending, but there will also be a large private sector component to the recovery plan.
[..]
All in all, the President’s speech last night was a good one. Delivered in his usual plain-speaking manner, it had positive economic growth solutions and an optimistic view of the longer-run. Good for Mr. Bush.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 3:33 PM

Good Speech

I have been trying to absorb some punditry this morning. I sometimes change my position on a Bush speech up or down, but not today, I'm going with initial reaction.

It has surprised me how all-over-the-map the response has been. On FOXNews (Rupert Murdoch -- boo hiss!!!) after the speech, W got pretty good marks from Mort Kondracke, Nina Easton (Boston Globe) and Charles Krauthammer. Speakers Gingrich and Livingstone were both positive, as was Sen. John Breaux.

Then, I clicked over to MSNBC and you'd've thought the President spent a half hour killing puppies. Conservatives Tony Blankley, Tucker Carlson and host Joe Scarborough were excoriating the President. Former Clinton Aide Dee Dee Meyers had the sense to step back end say "if you guys don't like it..."

The jk position:

  • Hell, yes, we're gonna spend money, and much will be wasted. Sorry. This is a huge disaster and will require public funds.
  • This is W. This will be like No Child Left Behind, matching a conservative concept with tons of spending.
  • I was impressed with two significant conservative ideas worked into the plan: calling for a gulf coast "Enterprise Zone" and the "Homesteading Act" (man, Jack Kemp is smiling smugly somewhere...)

He also put his other agenda items back on track, with a comprehensive and sober speech. The imagery of Jackson Square was brilliant. Over one shoulder, St. Peter's, President Jackson over the other. General Jackson would not give up, would not rebuild an American City. And our nation’s religious heritage stands for rebuilding and redemption.

I give it a B+


Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM

September 15, 2005

Bush and Katrina

Peggy Noonan writes a great column today. I have been such a fan of hers for so many years but lately have failed to connect with her ideas and her lyricism. A friend has emailed after a few of her columns "She's on the crack pipe, again!"

Put today starts out with a poignant look at 9/11 which was legitimately personal for her. Her book, "A Cross, A Heart and A Flag," includes some of her best work. Then a perfect segue to Katrina and a realistic assessment of the damage done to the Bush Presidency. She has more and better perspective than me, but we share one idea I had this morning.

A couple of hours before reading Ms. Noonan, I thought: "This is W's first objective failure. He's done a dozen things that I’ve disliked, and a thousand things that Silence has disliked, but those are up for discussion. Yet NOBODY can completely defend the Federal response."

It might be "blood on the floor" as Jack Welch said yesterday, but nobody will defend Mike Brown. I wrote an essay once, saying that the best thing about W was the CEO Presidency, with serious achievers in important posts rather than political hacks. Noonan reminds all of us that Brown was a political hack, He surely gave money or knew somebody, he did not earn the job by competence.

I will go with Margaret that the second term is recoverable, and hope with my friends at the WSJ Ed Page that some enlightened thought is bought to the relief efforts: more Enterprise Zones and less WPA.

Mostly, it is just a great column. I did not excerpt a word, you can read it all here.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 11:35 AM

September 14, 2005

W: 2, UN: 0

I posted a very somber look at the rest of the Bush Presidency. As some of the waters recede and some polls improve, I'll back off of my most portentous predictions, but I'm still not up to sanguine.

Yet, I gotta say I still love this guy. President Bush addressed the UN and called for End of Trade Tariffs, Subsidies

UNITED NATIONS - Saying poverty breeds terrorism and despair, President Bush challenged world leaders on Wednesday to abolish all trade tariffs and subsidies — worth hundreds of billions of dollars — to promote prosperity and opportunity in struggling nations.

"Either hope will spread, or violence will spread, and we must take the side of hope," Bush told more than 160 presidents, prime ministers and kings gathered for three days of U.N. General Assembly meetings aimed at combating poverty and reforming the world body.


Yes, I get down on the failures of a governing GOP majority. But I will give the President credit for deft and firm handling of the UN, from exposing their pusillanimity on Iraq to sending John Bolton over on a recess appointment.

I may not be the happiest boy in town, but at least we're not watching President Kerry bowing and scraping to Secretary Annan.

SIDE-NOTE: Hop in on a very intelligent conversation among Andrew Ferguson, Ramesh Ponnuru, Scott Johnson and Russ Douthat about whether years of governing power has advanced conservatism.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM

Pig to Man; Man to Pig

Andrew Stuttaford in The Corner today:

Tom Delay (reported in the Washington Times ): "House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget."

George Orwell (Animal Farm): No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.


Perfect.

Man, DeLay sure does make me feel good about being a Republican!

Tom: You Could cut the mohair subsidy...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:22 PM

Mental Maturity

In the comments of my 9/11 memorial blog Silence writes, "...I just don't see how it is possible to find all who would do us harm so as to mount a pre-emptive strike." This is his essential argument for choosing defense over offense in the "War on Terror." Why does it seem like I've answered this fallacy before?

Since we can't find all who would do us harm we should not pursue any who would? That's like saying, "Since we can't protect every terrorist target from attack we should not protect any of them." Which, not coincidentally, is another good argument for taking the offensive in this war.

It would also help if the Bush Doctrine were actually a real component of America's foreign policy.

Silence finished by mocking the idea of "some media blackout conspiracy" to obscure the outrages of 9/11. Answer this then: When, pray tell, was the last time you saw this photo anywhere other than the internet?


wtc-person-falling-07-orig.jpg


If it were up to me, I'd show it every day.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

I think we are talking past each other a bit here johngalt. I am not suggesting a nothing approach as the choice in an all or nothing question. I am not sure where you got that impression. The interesting part is that is the response I have gotten from many conservatives, any questioning of our approach or strategy in the war on terror and I am immediately lumped in the do nothing hide under the desk liberal camp. I don't really believe this camp exists, but that is beside the point. My point of frustration is that the Republican party seems to have taken the shrewd(?) tactic that since their President is incapable of communicating complex thoughts that this is to be treated as a strength, and all who would speak of complexity or subtlety must be wishy washy Democrats. The trouble is, no matter how much you want to treat everything as black and white, all or nothing choices, they are not. To borrow a sports analogy for a moment, as JK was recently a bit despondent over the Broncos, which NFL team is successful spending their salary money only on offensive players? If you want to win, you have to have both. Arguing that we can't defend every possible target is a reason for going farther on the offensive doesn't make any sense either. Even defense is not enough, we have to spend money on response, something Katrina has shown us. I know it doesn't fit the macho image to spend money in an area where you are admitting that the terrorist will get through or beat you, but not doing it is (to grab another NFL analogy) tantamount to not running down and tackling a receiver after he has caught a pass deep in your territory.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 16, 2005 12:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and all the while we're talking about complexity, subtlety, defense, response, strength and other "shades of gray" matters, let's suppress the pictures of 9/11 since there are so many mental midgets in this country who might want to RESPOND to it, either individually or nationally. We'd best look out for them lest they do something rash (like vote for Republicans) and embarass us in front of our friends at the United Nations.

The point is that these images ARE being suppressed. We can argue about the effect of that, but not about the reality of it.

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2005 3:48 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I will agree that we are not seeing these images, but that is far different than suppression. The media, conservative and liberal, are not showing the images, but neither are their viewers clamoring to see them; this just sounds like market forces in action. I wonder actually about your desire to see these horrible images regularly. You seem to feel that absent a constant visual stimulus people are not adequately enraged to do something about terrorism. Sorry, but that seems a bit Orwellian to me or at least shades of Clockwork Orange where the public is forced to watch until the appropriate response is obtained, this response defined by the appropriate "more equal" people.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 19, 2005 3:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If market forces were the only thing determining what's reported in the news media then the only thing we'd ever see is, as JK dutifully pointed out once again... Natalee Holloway Pictures! Natalee Holloway Pictures!

Instead, when any anniversary of 9/11 rolls around, some news outlets deign to produce a "retrospective" piece on the "grave misfortune." These pieces ALWAYS include images and descriptions of suffering, shock, and sorrow, but NEVER include images or descriptions of outrage, indignation or "angry emotions and the pictures that engender them."

A deliberate selective presentation of the facts clearly constitutes suppression. And it doesn't require a "conspiracy theory" to explain why they do it.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2005 2:34 PM

September 13, 2005

Jonah!

In the Corner, Jonah Golberg nails Senator Joe Biden:

The man loves his voice so much, you'd expect him to be following it around in a grey Buick, in defiance of restraining order, as it walks home from school.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM

Bush Doesn't Care About Black People

From CNN

    White and black Americans view Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in starkly different ways, with more blacks viewing race as a factor in problems with the federal response, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

    The poll found that six in 10 blacks interviewed said the federal government was slow in rescuing those stranded in New Orleans after Katrina because many of the people in the Louisiana city were black. But only about one in eight white respondents shared that view.

    The numbers were similar on whether the rescues were slower because the victims were poor, with 63 percent of blacks blaming poverty and 21 percent of whites doing so.


I'm going to guess there are more black people per capita in Africa and the Carribean than New Orleans. So how do you explain this?
    "If we can turn the president's bold long term vision into near term results we're excited," Bono said in a statement.

    "Any delay in increased funding means more lives lost and an even bigger cheque in the future."

    Bono was working with Nelson Mandela on an Aids benefit concert

    The singer says the US needs to spend $2.5bn (£1.5bn) out of this year's budget to help tackle the Aids crisis.

    He said Europe must also match the US contribution.

    But he said the American donation was a big step in the right direction.

    "The president's emphasis upon anti-retroviral treatment represents a true paradigm shift and is to be wholly welcomed," he said.


I guess Secretaries Powell, Rice and Paige were unavailable for comment.

Given that the GOP is aggressively courting black voters, and the GOPers are politicians foremost, why would they do something that would be against their interests?

It smells like nearly three weeks of the "Bush & Feds f'd up" drumbeat from the MSM and Democrats is finally sinking in.

But jk thinks:

Taranto does some interesting analysis on these numbers today:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110007253

His thesis is that the holders of these radical views are outliers in a composite view of the country and electorate.

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2005 5:30 PM

Lame Duck

I am completely down in the dumps. Partly from the Broncos' performance in Miami last Sunday, but no, it's political. We lost.

By "we," kimosabe, I mean all of those who would like to see some serious reform of tax policy and Social Security. The bloggers and commenters around here don't all agree on the particulars or the color of sky, but I think we all would like to see some bold discussions of flat-tax, fair-tax, Social Security accounts. All are legislative long-shots, but any one would be almost as exciting as privatizing the post office.

The Democrats, however, with the help of the media, have successfully stalled the President's agenda. He might come through on the Supreme Court nominations (or might not) but he will not be able to mount any bold domestic or foreign policy initiatives. The Katrina cloud will hang over the administration for a year or more and after that, it will be the last session and general lame-duckness will set in.

The Democrats already think that Katrina means that Judge Roberts will have to be examined more closely. And we cannot possibly cut taxes when our neighbors are living in shelters:

The estate tax seemed to be cruising toward inevitable demise. A Senate vote was expected around Labor Day, and the GOP appeared close to the 60 votes needed to permanently abolish taxes on inheritances. Katrina has set the vote back by at least a few weeks, as the Senate attends instead to legislation authorizing relief funds to the Gulf Coast. The hurricane has also provided an argument against repeal to Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. He compared beneficiaries of repeal with hurricane victims, asking, "Shall we give [the estate tax revenues] to the wealthiest people in the country, or should we rebuild New Orleans?" The argument is a progressive classic: Not taxing the rich is the same as taking from the poor.

This is, sadly, going to work.

Federalism is dead too. As certainly as all the Federal failures will prevent making the extremely successful tax cuts permanent, all of the local and state failures will usher in sweeping new Federal powers. FEMA will now decide whether a tornado shelter is built in Lafayette, Colorado. The state national guards might be shifted under federal control so that incompetent governors will not slow rescue efforts. And very few people will take any notice of the liberties we will be handing over.

When the Abu Ghraib story broke, a Marine friend of mine called the miscreants “the six f***s who lost the war.” All wars and all politics are fought out in a media environment that is neither clever nor fair. Did the war effort yet recover from Abu Ghraib? Will the second Bush term recover from Katrina?

UPDATE: Mark Steyn disagrees:

Unlike other dead horses flogged by the media - Cindy Sheehan, torture at Guantanamo, etc - this was at one point a real story: an actual hurricane, people dying, things going wrong. But that wasn't good enough, and the more they tossed in to damage Bush, the more they drowned any real controversy in the usual dreary pseudo-controversy. After watching Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu threatening to punch out the President, a reader e-mailed me Kipling: "If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you."

That's all Bush had to do. The storm has passed.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM

Hail Koizumi!

Many have discussed Japan's elections as yet another global affirmation of the War on Terror, and support for President Bush from allies.

That's great, but it is also worth considering it as a triumph in economics. One of the world's -- no the world's -- most controlled private economy is looking to privatize the post office! I wish we could get a little of that juju over here!

The WSJ Ed Page is pleased as well:

Fortune favors the bold, and on Sunday it smiled broadly on Junichiro Koizumi. Japan's Prime Minister won a stunning victory in snap elections because he stood on principle and called the vote after a reform dear to him, post office privatization, was blocked by the upper house of Parliament. The electorate rewarded him for trusting them.

Mr. Koizumi's governing coalition now holds more than the two-thirds majority it needs to override further upper house intransigence. The unexpectedly large victory means that Japan's voters have endorsed Mr. Koizumi's policy mix of smaller government and an activist foreign policy. The economic paternalism and diplomatic timidity of the post-World War II era are giving way to change. The Bush Administration can also be pleased by this victory for another one of its Iraq War allies. The opposition's promise to have the troops home by Christmas carried little weight with voters.


Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:52 AM

September 11, 2005

It's Official: Environmentalists Don't Care About Black People

Actually, they don't care about any people more than they do about snail darters and spotted owls and the like.

Kanye West charged last week that "President Bush didn't care about black people." West gave no reason for this claim, other than to gripe about non-instantaneous government relief operations and about national guardsmen being in Iraq. But Bush haters have been quick to blame everything from the "slow" relief to the existence of Hurricane Katrina itself on President Bush. Included in this list is the vulnerability of New Orleans' levee system to damage by major storm surges. But 'A Barrier That Could Have Been,' also from the LA Times, explains how that city could have had much greater protection from such surges if a 1974 Army Corps of Engineers project had not been scuttled by a federal judge, a new EPA regulation, and a local environmental group called "Save Our Wetlands."

"If we had built the barriers, New Orleans would not be flooded," said Joseph Towers, the retired chief counsel for the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans district.

Tower's view is endorsed by a former key senator, along with academic experts, who say a hurricane barrier is the only way to control the powerful storm surges that enter Lake Pontchartrain and threaten the city.

Read the entire story if you've got the time. It's a predictable tale of special interests and government regulation.

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 6:28 PM

Bush Panders to Blacks

I don't blog surf enough to know if my comment was an original one, but on Friday I wrote (third comment) that the Democrat charges of "FEMA failure" and "Bush doesn't like black people" were calculated to influence the extent of federal aid sent to hurricane victims by the administration - particularly the black, inner city victims. The LA Times has noticed what's going on too. They call it, "A Comeback for Big Government."

Indeed, it is the size of the administration's relief plan that has taken conservatives and others by surprise. At more than $62 billion and counting, the effort invited comparison with such undertakings as the government's Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II.

[...]

Although Republican leaders insist they have not given up on passing the entitlement cuts, even ardent budget hawks fear that the prospects of making such politically painful changes are dim at a time when disaster relief is flowing from federal coffers at a rate of $2 billion a day.

What's noteworthy, however, is that the Times trumpets the president's spending spree, contrasts it with his planned agenda, seemingly confident that the president has no choice but to dole out the tax dollars. Nothing but this wishful thought from a Heritage Foundation fellow suggests that the spending might be reigned in: "Once the emotional waters recede, then [the administration] will get down to the brass tacks of saying no." The problem with that scenario, however, is that once the "Mardi Gras Marshall Plan" gets rolling it will be damn near impossible to stop. No, the Times understands how the game of "blame the rich" is played, and they know the president has already lost the battle over how much the American taxpayer will have to shell out for the poor blacks of New Orleans' slums.

What's my better idea, you ask? Cut taxes and suspend regulations in the disaster zone.

But jk thinks:

Larry Kudlow calls it the "New New Deal" and has had Jack Kemp and Steve Forbes on to talk about enterprise zones and tax incentives.

I hate to say it but this is NOT the place to trust President Bush. He is not a small government conservative and I fear that he will shovel money as fast as any of them.

Don't know that I'll join you in claiming the racial angle -- Fred Barnes called W a "Big Government Conservative." He will use the power of government here to help and I agree that he will go too far.

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2005 11:40 AM

Remembering 9/11

As memorial to the vicious and hateful act of mass murder of free men by islamofascist cultists that we collectively know as "9/11" I am posting today a Robert Tracinski essay from September 10, 2002: "What Have we Lost?"

Tracinski explains that in addition to the buildings and lives lost that day, America has lost its self-esteem. This is true, at least, for the bulk of America's intellectuals and the MSM decision makers they have trained.

One year later, the hole in New York's skyline where the World Trade Center towers once stood is a visual reminder of something else that is missing: the ideas and attitudes that make a vigorous war in America's self-defense possible.

The idea that makes defending America possible is that the uniquely American way of life is morally just. The attitude that makes America's self-defense possible is the desire to kill our sworn enemies before they can deliver on their boastful promises to kill us. This attitude is a natural, evolutionary component of humanity. It exists in the hearts of all human children, until and unless it is varnished over by the "civilizing" influence of ivory tower intellectuals preaching "maturity."

For many of us, the immediate reaction to September 11 was more than anger. It was a livid indignation that demanded that America strike back with overwhelming force.

But this natural war frenzy was carefully suppressed from the very beginning. A typical news story was one that appeared just two weeks after September 11, presenting one-paragraph descriptions of viewers' reactions when they saw the World Trade Center towers collapse on live television. The interviews expressed sorrow, shock, disbelief--but conspicuously absent were any expressions of indignation at our enemies or the desire to kill them. Such statements were carefully screened out, with one exception. A high-school teacher explained, "There were a lot of kids who said, 'We need to just blow them away.' ... 'I want us to go to war. I want to go over there and kill them all.' And I said, 'Anyone who wants us to go into a war does not have the mental maturity to fight in that war.'"

I would ask that teacher, "How is it more mature to cower in fear than to eliminate a threat to your mere existence?"

Tracinski ends his insightful essay with an an invocation to observe future 9/11 anniversaries, not as merely a memorial to innocent victims lost, but a celebration of America's glory:

By crippling the range of our minds and focusing on suffering instead of self-assertiveness, our intellectual leadership is trying to dampen our pride and blunt our resolve. September 11 should be the one day, every year, that we regain the sense they want us to lose--our sense of America's virtue and of her power--and when we resolve to use the second to defend the first.
But jk thinks:

They righteous anger that was felt in 2001 has dissipated because of the media blackouts of the angry emotions and the pictures that engender them

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2005 12:49 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I don't believe in the get them before they get us strategy. Maybe this is "ivory tower intellectual maturity" but I think of it more as logic. Short of developing some sort of satellite based mass mind scan technology I just don't see how it is possible to find all who would do us harm so as to mount a pre-emptive strike. It rings hollow with me just like the concept of fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them here, there is no limit to the number of fronts terrorists may use to fight upon. Our presence in Iraq did not stop the London bombings and won't stop future attacks either. I felt the urge to strike back as well, but logical thought begged the question of strike back where, against whom? This, coupled with a natural human tunnel vision where we all become preoccupied with our daily lives is what dissipated that anger, not some media blackout conspiracy.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 13, 2005 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

See the "Mental Maturity" post, September 14, above.

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2005 7:22 PM

September 10, 2005

WHO Can You Believe?

Here's a surprising report from the UN run World Health Organization (WHO).

    A total of up to 4000 people could eventually die of radiation exposure from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP) accident nearly 20 years ago, an international team of more than 100 scientists has concluded.

    As of mid-2005, however, fewer than 50 deaths had been directly attributed to radiation from the disaster, almost all being highly exposed rescue workers, many who died within months of the accident but others who died as late as 2004.


There have been some 4000 cases of thyroid cancer reported, however.
    As for environmental impact, the reports are also reassuring, for the scientific assessments show that, except for the still closed, highly contaminated 30 kilometer area surrounding the reactor, and some closed lakes and restricted forests, radiation levels have mostly returned to acceptable levels. “In most areas the problems are economic and psychological, not health or environmental,” reports Balonov, the scientific secretary of the Chernobyl Forum effort who has been involved with Chernobyl recovery since the disaster occurred.

Very interesting report, read the whole thing.

(tip to samizdata)

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 PM

September 9, 2005

Adam Smith was Right!

HOLD THE PRESSES!!!! The Wall Street Journal (news pages, not the right5wing kooks I love) has discovered that that supply and demand thing might be real. Dig the headline:

Less Gasoline Used Amid Higher Prices

Americans used 4% less gasoline amid skyrocketing pump prices last week than they did the week before Hurricane Katrina hit, the federal government reported. But whether that indicates consumers have decided to conserve or merely that they couldn't find all the gasoline they wanted isn't clear.

Of course, real economists realize that this is not price-induced conservation, but millions of Bill O'Reilly viewers conserving at the request of their favorite blowhard cable TV personality.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM

September 8, 2005

Unserious Democrats

A quick rant. But first, I will admit that the GOP does things I disagree with (cf. FMA and Terri Shiavo) and that they frequently fail to live up to their principles (cf. Highway Bill). My fairness disclaimer is now out of the way.

The Democrats are behaving less like a minority party and more like a permanent minority party. Yes, you have to criticize the opposition party in power when you aren't, but the caviling over Katrina has become nothing more than sniping. I think that the country recognizes that, and recent polls seem to back me up.

Calls to fire FEMA chief Mike Brown are likely the most unserious thing hat we have seen any party do in some time. Let me get this straight. In the middle of the worst disaster in the U.S., with 90,000 square miles destroyed and millions displaced, we're going to fire the head of the organization. Maybe we can hold some confirmation hearings for the new guy in the Senate next month and the citizens can listen on those 10,000 radios that are being distributed.

A serious suggestion would be bring another department in, or seek help -- some incremental improvement to the performance of FEMA. Calling for Brown's head in the middle of this is not credible.

You have to be serious to be a serious opposition party. The democrats have failed.

UPDATE: Well, it appears that jk has failed and the unserious Democrats have succeeded. Mr. Brown has been relieved of command. I think he's a media scapegoat but am happy that a military man is taking over -- the military have outshone Federal civilians in this disaster.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:52 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

The problem is not Mike Brown but the guy at the top (Bush?) takes the blame, it's part and parcel of the job. Serious issues? How about FEMA now being under Homeland Security, with much of its budget targeted to terrorism. A statistical cost analysis would surely show that the gulf states had more to fear from mother nature than Al Qaeda. Sadly also many of our best National Guardsmen are in Iraq, not their home states. When deploying these folks I am sure their skills were reviewed with regard to the Iraq mission, but what about the opposite, keeping behind key skills for disaster recovery? President Bush claimed in a speech a few days ago that no one could have foreseen the breaks in the levee system, and yet the Corps of Engineers and local levee engineers did foresee exactly that in the days before the hurricane hit. There were ample warnings that this was going to be a bad hurricane yet response was delayed and slow. The overall goal of Homeland Security was to beef up preventive measures and also to provide quicker more effective response. Four years after 9-11 Katrina gives us a glimpse of the success of that initiative. The fact that this was a hurricane and not a terrorist attack should make no difference to the responders. Quick assessment and effective action is the key to any such situation regardless of type or origin. In fact, hurricane relief should be much more predictable than relief after a terrorist attack and so response should be better. Good, bad, or otherwise the federal government created FEMA and tasked itself with disaster recovery, thus it must shoulder the responsibility for carrying out that mission.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 8, 2005 5:14 PM
But jk thinks:

ThreeSource's own serious Democrat steps into the fray! My "unserious" comment referred to the timing of demanding Mike Brown's head when the water is still standing. Your points exemplify the kind of legitimate discussion that we should have. Sometime soon.

Like many on the left and right, I saw the DHS and FEMA restructuring more as "moving the deck chairs." I'll not provide a full-throated defense of that.

I strongly disagree, however, that the troop levels in Iraq hinder the response. Looking at the actual numbers, this does not seem to be an issue.

There were ample warnings. But I feel that the early failures were in local and state government. We did not have a Giuliani/Pataki combo in Nagin/Blanco. Much discussion should be focused on separation of powers -- we need to find a way to let the Feds take over without giving it all to the Feds (I have a post brewing on this topic, expressing concern against a Federal power-shift).

Lastly, I think critics have to appreciate the scale of this. While Katrina is a trial run as it were for a terrorist attack, the reality is that terrorists will be hard pressed to match this in terms of area and devastation. A dirty bomb or nuke might kill as many or more, but 90,000 square miles across three states seems like a dream scenario for the bad guys.
A realistic comparison to 9/11 shows Islamofascists to be pikers compared to Ma Nature.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2005 3:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let's not forget, Silence, that much of the responsibility for "Homeland Security" efforts in the individual states falls to the "Homeland Security" bureaucracies that were created in each state. I thought a whole new cabinet level agency was a bad idea at the time, and the efficacy of FEMA has certainly not been enhanced, but with Katrina there have been multiple examples of how Louisiana's "Homeland Security" department in particular was not only ineffective, but counterproductive. What is FEMA supposed to do, provide instantaneous relief to citizens in anticipation that the state agency has been a complete waste of federal tax dollars?

As for unserious democrats, I have a different theory. I don't believe the carping about "slow response" and "Bush hates blacks" is primarily intended to damage Bush's poll numbers. I believe it is calculated to amplify the magnitude of federal aid given out. "Look how much I care" Bush seems to be saying with his $52B supplemental appropriation. The problem is, it'll be met with "that's not enough." But that's the nature of altruistic largesse - it is NEVER "enough."

Posted by: johngalt at September 9, 2005 4:54 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

True enough johngalt, the state bereaucracies bear blame here as well. Overall we should re-evaluate again the silly even distribution of Homeland Security funds to each of the 50 states. This, along with giving HS the key to all the FEMA purse strings just doesn't make sense. Forget fair, let's try for efficient. I also agree with your sentiment that the largesse will never be enough. This is true even more so for protection from terrorism, no amount of money will ever make us completely safe and yet any attack will beget reprisals that we didn't do enough.

JK, I can't provide any support for my comment about lack of National Guard expertise, it was more of an open question, wondering as we plucked these folk for foreign duty what if any thought was given to their historical role in disaster relief. I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine over the weekend who strongly laments that the National Guard is being mis-used as a backup for active duty personnel. He is not a classic liberal friend either, but a retired Lt. Col who spent 23 years on active duty with the Air Force. He also mentioned that while we are giving generously to aid the victims of Katrina that still overlooked are the thousands of active duty non-commissioned soldiers and their families who have to be on food stamps due to horribly low wages. Maybe a portion of the proceeds for all those "Support the Troops" ribbons should actually go toward supporting our troops.

I don't see Katrina as a trial run for a terrorist attack either, but more of a trial run for future hurricanes as we enter into a period of increased activity. The terrorists are pikers compared to Ma Nature and we need to remember that when we decide where our FEMA funds will be spent.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 13, 2005 4:24 PM

September 6, 2005

Tale of Two Cities

If you procrastinate and blog, somebody will always write what you want to say. Then you can just link.

When I heard that Texas had set up a procedure where all the evacuees went to same place in Houston and were dispersed from there, I thought "that is the difference between Texas and Louisiana." Texas will know where folks are and where they went, Louisiana will do everything ad hoc until the whole state is submerged.

Noemie Emery at the Weekly Standard does me several time times better in A Two-City Tale

The reason New Orleans slid so quickly from civilization into Third World conditions was that it was pretty much a Third World city already, and didn't have too far to go. In its violence, in its corruption, in its reliance on ambience and tourism as its critical industry, in its one-party rule, in its model of graftocracy built on a depressed and crime-ridden underclass that was largely kept out of the sight and the mind of vacationing revelers, it was much more like a Caribbean resort than a normal American city. Its crime and murder rates were way above national averages, its corruption level astounding. The latter was written off as being picturesque and perversely adorable, until it suddenly wasn't, as it paid off in hundreds of buses--that could have borne thousands of stranded people to safety--sitting submerged in water, and police either looting or AWOL.

And what about Houston?
It is now no surprise that Houston is the place where in days they built a new city in and around the Astrodome, that has taken in 25,000 refugees from New Orleans, and is planning to feed, house, employ, and relocate most of them. Houston is the place where the heads of all the religious groups in the city--Baptists and Catholics, Muslims and Jews--came together to raise $4.4 million to feed the evacuees for 30 days, and to supply 720 volunteers a day to prepare and serve meals. If New Orleans was where the Third World broke through, Houston was where the First World began beating it back, and asserting its primacy. Are we surprised that the star of this show has been Texas, home of Karl Rove and both Bushes, widely despised by the glitterati as sub-literate, biased, oppressive, and retrograde? No.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:06 PM

Our Economy Can Weather This

Larry Kudlow makes an important point on his Kudlow's Money Politic$ blog today.

After more than twenty years of deregulation the U.S. economy is flexible and resilient -- even in the face of short-run shocks.

There is no shortage of folks predicting dire economic ramifications from Katrina, and even hyper-optimist Kudlow admits it will shave a point of GDP growth off the nest quarter or two.

But as I type this, the water level is falling and the DJIA is up 141. Private Enterprise will get the oil supply back online, where it hasn't already. Kudlow reports:

As of this writing, half of the damaged refineries are back in action. That includes names like Valero, Marathon Oil, and Motiva, even while Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil struggle to get their operations up and going in the near term.

In a week’s time, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port moved back to 75 percent capacity, as did the Colonial pipeline. Shell’s Capline system and the Plantation pipeline are almost back to capacity. These are remarkable achievements. Our energy companies should be praised by the public, not sullied by cheap-shot politicians. Widely predicted gas shortages never materialized during one of the biggest driving weekends of the year.


This is an amazing economic engine. I'll steal Larry's column close:
It’s all we can hope for and more. Perhaps our economic success will help relieve the demoralization and misery left in Mother Nature’s wake. But one thing is for sure: Ours is a wealth-creating, opportunity-opening economy that does not teeter on the edge of destruction. We will move to new higher ground before long.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM

September 5, 2005

A Grey, Capable Sheep

Bill Whittle's TRIBES essay is another corker from Eject! Eject! Eject!

Whittle divides us, not into black/white, not into blue/gray, but into Tribes. He discusses capable vs. culpable, pink vs. grey, sheepdogs, wolves, sheep, and even a tribe just for Sean Penn.

He leads with the unpleasantness of actually defining tribes. I would like to think that all us good 'mericans are all one. But that is a "pink" thought and like most of those, it isn't true.

What if you, your workmates, friends had been directed to the Superdome. Can you argue with Bill?

Only a few minutes ago, I had the delightful opportunity to read the comment of a fellow who said he wished that white, middle-class, racist, conservative cocksuckers like myself could have been herded into the Superdome Concentration Camp to see how much we like it. Absent, of course, was the fundamental truth of what he plainly does not have the eyes or the imagination to see, namely, that if the Superdome had been filled with white, middle-class, racist, conservative cocksuckers like myself, it would not have been a refinery of horror, but rather a citadel of hope and order and restraint and compassion.

That has nothing to do with me being white. If the blacks and Hispanics and Jews and gays that I work with and associate with were there with me, it would have been that much better. That’s because the people I associate with – my Tribe – consists not of blacks and whites and gays and Hispanics and Asians, but of individuals who do not rape, murder, or steal. My Tribe consists of people who know that sometimes bad things happen, and that these are an opportunity to show ourselves what we are made of. My people go into burning buildings. My Tribe consists of organizers and self-starters, proud and self-reliant people who do not need to be told what to do in a crisis. My Tribe is not fearless; they are something better. They are courageous. My Tribe is honorable, and decent, and kind, and inventive. My Tribe knows how to give orders, and how to follow them. My Tribe knows enough about how the world works to figure out ways to boil water, ration food, repair structures, build and maintain makeshift latrines, and care for the wounded and the dead with respect and compassion.


After reading it all, follow one of his commenter's links to a "tribe" that stayed in New Orleans, coalesced and "became more civilized."
NEW ORLEANS - In the absence of information and outside assistance, groups of rich and poor banded together in the French Quarter, forming “tribes” and dividing up the labor.

As some went down to the river to do the wash, others remained behind to protect property. In a bar, a bartender put near-perfect stitches into the torn ear of a robbery victim.

While mold and contagion grew in the muck that engulfed most of the city, something else sprouted in this most decadent of American neighborhoods — humanity.


UPDATE/RETRACTION: I wish I had chosen a different excerpt from the Whittle essay. I think the essay is valid and well worth a read (like all of his) but the assertion above of "a citadel of hope and order and restraint and compassion" is unfounded. The trouble with all utopian scenarios is that folks will not always be perfect.

My previous job was at a small (~60 employees) company that was populated with folks from my tribe. Yet am honor-system candy box for the homeless came up short every month. I was always amused by this as I thought it a scam. We had a private-enterprise competitor who provided machines, change, fresher product and better prices -- yet I have never forgotten that some of my workmates took candy and didn't pay. (It could have been Silence or Johngalt, I don't know...)

But I want to retract my agreement that tens of thousands of "my people" would have performed admirably.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:04 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I tried posting my comment on Bill's site but it matched their blacklist somehow. "Use of uninitialized value in substitution (s///) at plugins/Blacklist/lib/Blacklist/App.pm line 44." was the message. Damned if I can figure it out.

Here's what I wrote:

Excellent essay. I particularly enjoyed "Malodorous Michigan Manatee of Mendacity." But I must expand on the colonel's assessment of sheep. It is true that "the sheep generally do not like the sheepdog" because "he looks a lot like the wolf." But some, or perhaps many (TOO many, at least)... SOME sheep don't like the sheepdog because they are not really sheep at all, but rather WOLVES in sheeps CLOTHING. These "shee-wolves" hate the sheepdog because he is ready and willing, and has the courage, to seek out and kick the ass of the wolf. (And perhaps more importantly, because the sheepdog understands that there is SUCH A THING as a wolf.) The shee-wolf believes his life will be better once all the sheep have been devoured - not because he'll be any better off, but because "All those mother-f'n happy sheep will be gone, dammit, and my miserable little existence won't feel so bad by comparison."

Several commenters above are timely examples of shee-wolves.

Posted by: johngalt at September 7, 2005 3:16 PM

Happy Human Capital Day!

I flew the flag today, of course. But part of me asked myself "why am I celebrating organized labor?"

I've read "Grapes of Wrath," seen the movie and have seen "Norma Rae." But organized labor is antithetical to everything I believe. They promote collectivism over individuality, bureaucracy over innovation, and promote stagnancy over Schumpeterian creative destruction.

This is the paragraph where I am supposed to type "Yeah, but I know they did a lot of great things in the past (Tom Joad) and we never could've got here without 'em (Norma Rae) and we should celebrate their achievements (Joe Hill)."

Poppycock, says, I! I posit that the good accomplished would have happened anyway and that the bad so far outweighs the good. These people have RUINED education, bankrupted good companies that were providing important products and services, and stifled innovation. I was told that General Motors cancelled development of the six-speed automatic transmission and the refreshing of two major car lines because they are spending too much on legacy benefits.

I may be asking the wrong group here, but does anybody want to stand up for the unions, past present or future?

In the meantime, I will celebrate the labor that has built this amazing economic machine, from the digging of the Erie Canal, to the guy who loads the Ginger Ale on the Wal-Mart truck -- Happy Human Capital Day!

UPDATE: AlexC emals a link to Blonde Sagacity: Happy Non-Labor Day It's not a ringing endorsement of organized labor...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Huzzah, JK! You are quite right to celebrate labor on the individual level. That guy who loads ginger ale does so for his own purposes, not for those of his neighbor or some union "brother." The guy who dug the Erie Canal, or the Panama Canal, or built the Hoover Dam, did so for his own purposes. Men came from all over the country for the promise of those jobs that paid "cash money." Cash that could be used for anything he wanted to spend it on, rather than corn or wheat or beets that only had limited uses, plus great risks and large investments for their production.

Dagny has defended the good done by unions in the early 20th century, but I remain critical. We'll see if she chimes in to make her case.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2005 1:05 PM

Now THAT'S Funny

I got beat up when I linked to what I thought to be a serious Scrappleface post. Here's hoping y'all will like this better:

"When Sandra Day O'Connor retired, we insisted Bush appoint a centrist to replace her and maintain the balance on the court," said one unnamed Senator. "Now, we demand that the president name a right-wing, conservative, originalist to replace Rehnquist for that same reason."

The Senator explained that balance is the most important feature of the high court, trumping ideology, logic and the intent of the framers of the constitution.

"As much as we'd like to have another lefty like [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg, we must maintain balance," the anonymous legislator intoned. "Even if it means overturning Roe v. Wade, we Democrats shall remain true to our principles."


Hat-tip: Insty

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 1:01 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I can't imagine why that senator would want to remain anonymous with such great insights...

Posted by: Silence Dogood at September 6, 2005 4:20 PM

September 4, 2005

Requiescat In Pace II

Atilla at Pillage Idiot speaks to Cheif Justice Rehnquist's determination and courage. It's easy to forget how liberal the court he joined was.

But those of us who were in law school when Rehnquist was only an Associate Justice have a more vivid memory of him as a principled and lonely defender of an approach to law that had been all but turned on its head during the Warren Court. Rehnquist got the nickname "Lone Ranger" by filing solo dissents and refusing to go along with much of the legal doctrine then prevailing. (It goes almost without saying that Rehnquist was the target of a disproportionate number of barbs in the law school show, a comedy written by students. Students today have a larger number of targets.)

UPDATE: Taranto does a Sunday Best Of The Web, including a transcript of Alan Dershowitz's interview discussed in the comments below.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 7:40 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Alan Dershowitz said some nice things.
"He started his career by being a kind of Republican thug who pushed and shoved to keep African-American and Hispanic voters from voting."

Posted by: AlexC at September 4, 2005 10:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As for Dershowitz, no one can have a higher opinion of him than me, and I think he's a filthy little beast.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2005 12:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Like Krugman, one has to view Dershowitz as a warning against hyper-partisanism.

I read a collection of his "Taking Liberties" essays a long time ago and was enlightened by some of his ideas and elevated opinion of several organizations based on his brilliant exposition.

Sadly, he has become not only a partisan hack, but has truly lost all reason. I think it happened during the Clinton impeachment contretemps, but I'll accept evidence that it happened sooner.

Yet both he and Krugman were once smart guys and serious thinkers. I am glad that I am STARTING life as a partisan hack, so I don't have to worry...

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2005 12:54 PM

Requiescat In Pace

Paul at Power Line does a better job than I could:

Chief Justice Rehnquist graced the Court for three and a half decades. I'm not sure that any Justice in our history has written as many good opinions. And even those who didn't like his opinions will remember him for his gentlemanly demeanor and excellent scholarship.

Unfortunately, Rehnquist was unable to put his stamp on the Rehnquist court. Indeed, it's a bit misleading to refer to such a thing. But that wasn't his fault; three different Republican administrations let him down. If Nixon, Reagan and Bush-I done a better job picking Justices, the Rehnquist court would have been a fitting memorial to the man.


Put Michael Luttig on the court and elevate Clarence Thomas to Chief Justice.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 12:35 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Rehnquist knew right from wrong, and he didn't have to attend Washington dinner parties to figure out where he "should" stand on a given case. He will be missed.

I expect the president will promote Scalia to Chief, and I'm pulling for Janice Rogers Brown to fill the new vacancy.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2005 12:36 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I would have figured Thomas or Scalia to Chief Justice. Whoda thunk Roberts?

Maybe Karl Rove? ;)

Posted by: AlexC at September 5, 2005 11:36 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Media correspondents were discussing this scenario yesterday. I thought Scalia would get the nod over Thomas partially due to seniority. Now the most junior justice of all is being nominated as chief. I'm no fan of "social promotion" as it were, but it certainly seems that the leader of the court should be someone who's actually BEEN there for a while. And the lack of consideration for the service of those conservative justices already on the bench is curious.

As I understand it, the Senate has a role in confirming the elevation of a justice to Chief, so this move reduces the number of rings in the Senate circus by one. Still, I doubt this was the primary motivation for the president. It may be to stack the court for short-term rulings on cases soon to come before the court. If he doesn't nominate a replacement for O'Connor soon then this theory will gain credence.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2005 12:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I heard chatter about this too. I thought "no way" but I picked the Broncos over the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV.

I thought Thomas the natural choice because 1) he's jk's -- and many other conservatives' -- favorite after Raich v Ashcroft; 2) he has more than a decade on the Court; and 3) Democrats would be forced to scuttle the appointment of the first African-American Chief Justice.

I like to trust the President on the big things, but this concerns me. I trust Roberts is a good conservative jurist enough to support his nomination as Associate Justice, not quite onboard for this leapfrog appointment. I will try to keep an open mind.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2005 1:18 PM

September 2, 2005

Happy Labor Day

Some positive economic news for the long weekend.

    The nation's unemployment rate dipped to a four-year low of 4.9 percent in August as companies added 169,000 jobs, a sign that the labor market continued to gain traction before Hurricane Katrina struck.

    The latest snapshot of the United States' jobs climate, released by the Labor Department on Friday, buttressed observations by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues that the hiring situation was gradually improving a bit of good news for workers as they headed into the Labor Day weekend.

    But the future of the nation's employment picture is murky clouded by fallout from the devastating hurricane.


True story...

With a disaster area of some 90,000 square miles, this number might be the lowest for quite some time.

But jk thinks:

Taranto points out something funny. What's the AP Headline for this great news?

"Unemployment Rate Slumps to Four-Year Low."

Slumps?

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2005 9:13 PM

Civil Order

Do ye reap what you sow?

The lead WSJ Editorial today discuses civil disorder in the wake of Katrina.

One frequent reaction we heard yesterday is that the disorder in New Orleans is typical of Third World countries, something that was thought could never happen in America. This happens to overlook a fair chunk of U.S. history, some of it relatively recent, including riots and violence. But it is also a sign of complacency born of prosperity and the resilience of our legal and civic institutions.

This battle of New Orleans should remind us that civic order, even in America, is more fragile than we like to think. After this week and amid the continuing threat of terrorism, our political leaders at all levels are going to have to think harder about how to maintain order in the next crisis.


I have to wonder if some of this is not endemic to New Orleans. I emailed a friend and N'awlinsphile yesterday that "Maybe I'm the rightwing equivalent of Mrs. Sheehan, but the place is lawless, scary, and unstructured on a good day -- that's really part of its charm."

We can see how the rest of the Gulf Coast fares, but I would suspect that centuries of corruption, and the unstructured lifestyle have set the worst possible conditions.

Lenin said "country was more than three missed meals away from revolution." I feared that the crescent city was always only a beniet away.

If only Tilden had defeated Hayes…

Posted by John Kranz at 11:34 AM

September 1, 2005

Relief Supplies

daybyday09-01-2005.gif

I am not as sanguine as Mr. Muir, but I wish our neighbors the best.

I’ll trust everybody ahs a good idea where they can send money to help hurricane victims. Sometimes, I find I have items (a case of band T-Skirts or whatever) that I feel might help, but there is never a vehicle for distribution.

I use CoffeeCup Software's DirectFTP to manage files on this site and on servers at work. The firm is located in Corpus Christi, Texas, and they will deliver items by truck:

CoffeeCup Software
c/o Hurricane Aid
226 South Tancahua Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 7840

You can also order things online at places like Amazon.com, WalMart.com, Target.com, and others and have them sent directly to our offices as well.

Please do not send food, water, or money. This will be handled by Organized Charities. Send what you would personally want if you were placed in a very uncomfortable position for a very long time with little or no money (use your best judgment).


Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM

Don't click this. Comments (2)