December 31, 2005


My wife and I were early adopters of eBook technology. I had a Gemini Rocket (Five stars) a Franklin something-or-other (1.5 stars) and I now read books on my Palm. The two great things about eBooks are being able to carry a dozen large books on a small device and incredible ease of reading in any light situation.

I can only read paper in very good light but I can read the eBook on a plane or in dim light.

Sony is unveiling a new piece4 of hardware at the CES show next week. Business Week reports:

Back in 2000, a bunch of e-book readers hit the market, only to tank because the technology didn't adequately duplicate the book reading experience. Now, with everyone from Google (NasdaqNM:GOOG - News) to Microsoft (NasdaqNM:MSFT - News) to HarperCollins (NYSE:NWS - News) digitizing books, plus the arrival of slick new display technology, Sony figures the time is right for a handheld e-reader in the U.S.

But while Sony's iPod-like strategy -- seamlessly wedding content to hardware -- has promise, reading books on a digital device still feels nothing like the real thing to most consumers. As such, it will be an uphill battle building a sizable market for e-books, which accounted for an estimated 0.2% of the 944 million books U.S. publishers sold worldwide in 2004. "No one has created a device compelling enough to have mass appeal," says Nick Bogaty, executive director of the International Digital Publishing Forum, an industry group.

That's the conventional wisdom. The right hardware has just not appeared yet. Bulltwinkies.

The holdup for adoption of this technology is business failure, not any technical hurdle. We loved our eBooks but an eBook costs the same as a Hardcover and could not be shared with another device. I can lend a book out when I'm done, give it away, sell it, donate it to a thrift store, but I have to lend my hardware out to share an eBook. I get zero credit for the printing, inventory and shipping I saved the publisher, the selection is limited. After time, it seems not to be worth it. The exception is public domain material which is available free or cheap (Riza bought Dickens's "Bleak House" for my Palm for two dollars and change).

I wish Sony the best. I really believe in this technology and hope their device is cool. But the deciding factor will be its arrangement with publishers even more than the user experience.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:31 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

It appears that publishers' fears of lost profits the old fashioned way are hindering their progress toward a superior delivery system. But if this is true, won't the "Schumpeterian gales" eventually blow the old school boys away?

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2005 5:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Schumpeter is exactly what it's about and Google may indeed be the gale.

There is another issue if I may put on my tinfoil hat and wait for the black helicopters to pass overhead. Publishers can now manipulate sales figures very easily (weaselly) by shipping product that is not really purchased in the classical sense. Ship two million copies of Senator Reid's "Searchlight Cowardice" and you can perch the book on the bestseller lists. When the unsold copies are returned or remaindered, nobody puts an asterisk by the title.

I fear publishers are as afraid of real sales numbers as a new business plan. These folks are few and solidly entrenched; it will take a Google or one of their members straying from the fold (TimeWarner?) but I do believe Schumpeter will prevail.

In the meantime, they can claim that the right hardware has not been invented yet. I don't believe it. But I will buy one of the new Sonys. I can put it on the shelf by my Betamax and AIT tape drive...

Posted by: jk at January 1, 2006 12:03 PM

WaPo vs Roggio

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 1:14 PM

December 29, 2005

Plame Kerfuffle

I could never really get worked up over the whole Valerie Plame outing. Especially with the NSA Intercept, CIA "Con Air" charter flights, the outsourcing of imprisonment to Poland leaks out there in the ether.

But this story, I gotta love.

    The Washington couple at the heart of the CIA leak investigation had their cover blown by their small son as they tried to sneak away on vacation on Thursday.

    "My daddy's famous, my mommy's a secret spy," declared the 5-year-old of his parents, former diplomat Joe Wilson and retired CIA operative Valerie Plame.

    The former spy, who just retired from the agency, and the diplomat have been at the center of a CIA leak scandal that has reached into the White House.

The headline?

CIA couple outed by 5-year-old son


(tip to LGF)

But jk thinks:

The kid is a Karl Rove plant!

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2005 12:47 PM

December 28, 2005

Great Paper, Great Reporting

I do love to beat up the MSM but admit that bloggers could not live without them. Open source media experiments show promise but I feel they will always be wikipedia to the NYTimes's Britannica. Great papers have reach, depth and a seriousness and honesty because the markets demand they uphold their reputations.

The NYTimes sponsors lunatics on its Editorial Page and features very biased reporting on its news page. They also feature Virginia Postrel. A search for "NYTimes" on ThreeSources reveals eight posts where I supplied approbation (still 1:2 vs. opprobrium). But I salute the great papers.

The Chicago Tribune shows itself to be a great paper today. Hardly in the Administration's pocket, the Trib publishes an important editorial today: "Judging the Case for War."

I'm not going to excerpt. The editorial asks and answers the assertion "BUSH LIED!" by combing through the early speeches, enumerating the reasons for going to war, and evaluating each of nine on "What was said." "What we know now," and "the verdict."

It is honest and comes out pretty substantively in the President's favor; I wouldn't have scored much if any more kindly.

I try not to say this, but read the whole thing.

Hat-tips: Taranto and Insty

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 5:29 PM

Serenity, Post XIV

TNR gives "Serenity" a great review for the DVD market.

Sadly, it points out that Serenity only earned $25 million box office. It got clobbered by all the bad films with the big stars. Nothing makes me rethink my dedication to free markets than entertainment -- I can be a real neo-Hamiltonian: make them watch good stuff; make them like it!

But hope is not lost

Still, as Whedon and his "Firefly" cohorts have already shown, there's more than one way to skin a human (and sew him into a nice little Reaver ensemble). Theatrical box-office makes up an ever-shrinking portion of a film's total receipts (now a mere 15 percent, according to Slate's Edward Jay Epstein), with the vast bulk of the revenues coming from DVD sales and rentals on the one hand, and broadcast licensing (pay-per-view, network, and cable) on the other. And while Serenity was never well-positioned for the box office, it should, like "Firefly" before it, make a killing on DVD. (My own exceptionally scientific survey of a couple of local outlets would tend to confirm this: By day two of its release, Serenity had sold out from one and was only available in the less-popular fullscreen version from the other.) Once the movie hits cable, it should be set for life--I envision it running three nights a week on the Sci-Fi Channel for at least the next decade. Will this be enough to ensure a sequel? You can cast your own vote at the local Blockbuster.

Here's my idea, Mr. Whedon. Create two more one-hour episodes and release it as a movie. A short theatre run, then to DVD sales, then licensed for syndication after. You wouldn't need $40 million to make it and you could release these pairs twice a year.

Robin Wilcox compares Whedon to Charles Dickens (Whedon is a big fan of the big man). Dickens released novels as weekly serializations. Other novelists looked down at him but the folks loved it.

To be honest, most Firefly fans would like two more "eps" than another movie. Am I lyin'?

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:48 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Honestly, I think the Browncoat community would be thrilled with either. The episodes provide a larger feast but the movie delivered better continuity of an impressive story line.

The problem I see with your idea is that one of the factors making episodes less costly is that one set up cost is amortized over many episodes. There's not going to be a lot of difference between one 2-hour movie and two 1-hour "eps" per year.

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2005 5:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm sure you're right. You caught me pushing a personal agenda here as I have concluded that -- as good as the movie was -- the TV show was a little better.

I was looking for savings in the quality of special effects and CGI work. The greatness here is the storyline, writing, ensemble cast and general cinematography. I don't know that the better/more expensive effects of the film made it better.

Posted by: jk at January 1, 2006 12:09 PM
But Sam Muldia thinks:

The movie was awesome, but I personally have preferred TV shows since the X-Files. Firefly was the apotheosis of good, arc-driven, episodic TV. River's seemingly psychotic and irrational behavior in earlier episodes all of a sudden makes perfect sense in retrospect. Jayne's betrayal in Ariel leads to remorse and a crate of apples in the next, which jump-start the theme.

And I for one have not seen or read or heard stories more beautifully told than in Out of Gas and especially Objects In Space.

I NEED this story to continue. It was perfectly played, perfectly written, perfectly shot, designed and produced from the first second. Other shows need time to find their legs - Firefly was born standing tall. Those fourteen episodes were better than the entire run of anything I've ever seen before.

The day I hear the Ballad of Serenity again will be a very happy one.

Posted by: Sam Muldia at January 5, 2006 6:32 PM

December 27, 2005

Minimum Wage

Here's an idea you don't hear very often.

    Good intentions, when guided by error and ignorance, may have undesirable consequences. There is no better example than minimum wage legislation.
    It means to raise the wages and improve the living conditions of poor workers but actually condemns many to chronic unemployment. It forcefully raises the costs of unskilled and inexperienced labor and thereby lifts it right out of the labor market. Yet, many politicians who neither own nor manage a business and do not employ such labor never tire of lamenting and deploring low wages and promising to raise the wage minimum by law and regulation.

Woe to the politician who would dare speak of repealing the minimum wage.

(tip to CF's Policy Blog)

But jk thinks:

Thomas Sowell makes a forceful argument that minimum wage laws are racist as well. Without it, employers cannot afford to be racist -- they would be undercut by a more open-minded employer and could not compete.

Only rent control is more damaging and equally pernicious. It's a failure everywhere it is tried, but as you say, you cannot get elected trying to repeal it.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2005 6:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And think how restoring freedom in the labor market might effect all those "jobs that Americans refuse to do" vis a vis illegal immigration.

The minimum wage debacle is an example of Democracy's failure. Like the inverse relationship between higher tax rates and tax revenues, legislating higher wages actually reduces real incomes (through unemployment). Yet an unwary electorate continues to reward those who bring us both, because "everyone knows" that wages would be higher if only business owners weren't so greedy.

But as Robert Heinlein said, "If "everybody knows" such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one."

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2005 1:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Time for my old whine (a '73 beaujolais?): you have to explain supply&demand to show why minimum wage doesn't work, you have to explain the Laffer curve to show why lower taxes work; the "other folks" can just claim efficacy.

Posted by: jk at December 29, 2005 12:05 PM

Maybe Kofi Will Buy Me a Car

I posted last week about UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's outburst and refusal to answer a reporter's question.

Said reporter, James Bone, has a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today. He covers the outburst -- but more importantly gives the background for what prompted the question.

It was with some amusement that I found myself the target of a decidedly undiplomatic tirade by the U.N. chief at a news conference last week. The usually mild Mr. Annan erupted in an ad hominem attack, calling me "cheeky" and belittling me as an "overgrown schoolboy." Although I have covered the U.N. in minute detail for The Times of London since 1988, and have known Mr. Annan for almost all that time, he suggested I was not a "serious journalist."
This is where the missing Mercedes comes in. The Mercedes was purchased by Kojo Annan in his father's name four days before the Hotel de Crillon meeting--and about two weeks before Cotecna won the U.N. contract. The use of the U.N. chief's diplomatic status qualified the car for a $6,541 discount on the purchase price and a $14,103 tax exemption when it was imported to his native Ghana.

Mr. Volcker's investigators found a memo on the computer of Mr. Annan's personal assistant asking him to authorize a letter to Mercedes. "Sir, Kojo asked me to send the attached letter re: the car he is trying to purchase under your name. The company is requesting a letter be sent from the U.N. Kojo said it could be signed by anyone from your office. May I ask Lamin to sign it?" the assistant wrote.

Neither Kofi Annan, his aide Lamin Sise, nor his assistant, Wagaye Assebe, can recall what happened, and the original documents have disappeared--but somehow the Mercedes was purchased with the diplomatic discount anyway. Abdoulie Janneh, the U.N. official who arranged the tax exemption in Ghana was recently promoted to U.N. under-secretary-general, in charge of the Economic Commission for Africa.

Amid the clutter of unanswered questions, one query has the virtue of simplicity: Where is the car? I have been asking this for weeks at the U.N.'s daily briefing. It was this question that triggered Kofi Annan's outburst. He clearly wants me to shut up. I'm afraid, Mr. Secretary-General, that would be the wrong thing for me to do. Every schoolboy knows that.

Remember, Democrats and lachrymose Senator George Voinovich thought that John Bolton was somehow too mean to represent our nation's interest in this august body.

And remember that the anti-war crowd has no better plan for what could have happened than that we would "let Sanctions work." A few more years and I might have gotten a car with the UN discount...

United Nations Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Mercedes' "diplomatic discount" is one thing, but what about the $14,103 tax exemption? It's that sort of thing (tax evasion) that got Al Capone busted when none of his other voluminous crimes could be pinned on him. If the U.N. is immune to even tax prosecution then it is clearly an organization with NO limits.

As for Kofi's outburst, it is entirely understandable. In order to circumvent punitive, confiscatory taxation he pulled some strings. It's a natural human trait - selfishness - and proves that even those who condone and levy such taxes against others are loathe to submit to their own rules.

Here we have evidence of two corrupt institutions of society: Subjective tax policy and the United Nations. Both will become extinct when the chicanery that preserves them eventually peters out.

Posted by: johngalt at December 27, 2005 5:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I think you're being very cheeky to bring this up...

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2005 6:49 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Political chicanery is in danger of petering out?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at December 29, 2005 11:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps that's a bit of a reach but, as an optimist, I believe that the intelligence and rationality of the masses will tend to increase rather than decrease. As this happens it will be more difficult to pull the wool over voters' eyes.

I'm judging subjective tax policy and worthless bureaucracies, as machinations of socialist ideology, to be ultimately unsustainable against the irrepressible force of individual selfishness. In other words, socialist policy has to be continually propped up by new and not yet discredited explanations, while individual selfishness is self-sustaining (except in individuals who completely abandon it.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 29, 2005 5:06 PM

December 26, 2005

Limones Verdes

I've been in San Antonio Texas since last friday celebrating Christmas, and came across this story in today's San Antonio Express-News.

    San Antonio's leading Spanish-language radio station could be forced off the air or face fines over a quirky controversy juxtaposing immigrants and green limes.

    A recurring segment started five years ago by KROM-Radio "Estéreo Latino" involves people calling in to report sightings of immigration agents in the city. The station's disc jockeys then alert listeners, particularly undocumented immigrants, to steer clear of the named locations.

    No actual mention of federal agents is made — DJs speak of limones verdes, or "green limes," a euphemistic reference to Border Patrol agents, who traditionally don olive-green uniforms and drive green-lined SUVs.

That's actually a pretty clever bit.

As luck would have it, KROM is operating with an expired license because a Houston-based attorney is gumming up the process.

    Stopping in San Antonio in 2000, Joe Ray Blalack read an article in the San Antonio Express-News about KROM's agent-spotting segment. Fuming over what he interpreted as the station's obstruction of the work of federal agents, Blalack wrote the FCC, demanding it deny the license renewal.

    Since then, the FCC has received 38 additional citizen complaints against the station, all from outside Texas.

    The FCC, which regulates the broadcast industry, declined to comment on the case. The station's renewal application is under review, and there is no timetable for a decision, spokeswoman Rebecca Fisher said.

It's nothing personal of course.
    "It should serve as a stern warning. People can't engage in any activity against our national interest," said Blalack, 69, who also would like a law forcing Spanish-language TV stations to use English subtitles.

I would normally file this kind of activity under "sticking it to the man," but I'm agreeing with Mr. Blalack.

You wouldn't want to find yourself alerting criminals to pending busts by the boys in blue. Just because they're wearing government issue olive green doesn't make it any better... or legal.

Immigration Posted by AlexC at 8:31 PM

Cognitive Dissonance

Innocent man jailed!

    A DUTCH businessman was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to 15 years in prison yesterday for helping Saddam Hussein to acquire the chemical weapons that he used to kill thousands of Kurdish civilians in the Iran-Iraq war.

Saddam never had WMDs. Ever. It was a lie. This man should go free!

Quite a character this Frans van Anraat was.

    Prosecutors accused Van Anraat of delivering more than 1,000 tonnes of thiodiglycol. It can be used to make mustard gas, which causes horrific burns to the lungs and eyes and is often fatal.

    He was also accused of importing chemicals to make nerve agents. The prosecution said that the lethal cargo was shipped from America via Belgium and Jordan to Iraq. He also imported other shipments from Japan via Italy.

    Van Anraat was first arrested in 1989 in Italy on a US warrant. He then fled to Baghdad where he lived for 14 years under an assumed name. After the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 he made his way back to the Netherlands, where he was arrested a year ago.

Call me crazy, but I can't imagine he was living on Iraq public-assistance in those fourteen years.

(tip to CQ)

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 11:12 AM

December 25, 2005

Batman, Begin Again

Here's my Christmas present to JohnGalt: yet another admission that he is right about something.

I rented and re-watched "Batman Begins" this weekend, based on his comments correcting a review I posted a few weeks ago. Upon further review, what I had seen as soppy altruism was misguided.

I'll also revise my positive review upward as well. It's indeed a good movie.

The rest of you, however, are still all wrong! Merry Christmas!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:52 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

What a thoughtful and heartwarming gift, JK. Merry Christmas to you as well!

P.S. I received a DVD of Serenity for Christmas. Perhaps you'd like to make me 2 for 2?

Posted by: johngalt at December 25, 2005 9:00 PM
But jk thinks:

A ThreeSources search for "Serenity" yields 12 posts. Admitting I have a problem is a start...

I read each and can't really see a substantive disagreement. We have an ongoing disparity that I think is half language and half philosophy. This difference turns up in our attempt to ascribe motive to Mal.

Otherwise, our reviews are very similar. I did preorder it and enjoyed watching it again. I have not heard Joss Whedon's commentary yet; that's next. Problem? I don't have a problem, I can quit anytime.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2005 12:54 PM

December 24, 2005

Wanting to Believe

You will remember this story I blogged about earlier in the week.

    It rocketed across the Internet a week ago, a startling newspaper report that agents from the US Department of Homeland Security had visited a student at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth at his New Bedford home simply because he had tried to borrow Mao Tse-Tung's ''Little Red Book" for a history seminar on totalitarian goverments.

    The story, first reported in last Saturday's New Bedford Standard-Times, was picked up by other news organizations, prompted diatribes on left-wing and right-wing blogs, and even turned up in an op-ed piece written by Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the Globe.

    But yesterday, the student confessed that he had made it up after being confronted by the professor who had repeated the story to a Standard-Times reporter.

At the time, I threw a bullshit flag on the play. It sounded too made up.


    But yesterday, the student confessed that he had made it up after being confronted by the professor who had repeated the story to a Standard-Times reporter.

    The professor, Brian Glyn Williams, said he went to his former student's house and asked about inconsistencies in his story. The 22-year-old student admitted it was a hoax, Williams said.

It breaks my heart.

Really. It does.

    ''I feel as if I was lied to, and I have no idea why," said Williams, an associate professor of Islamic history. He said the possibility the government was scrutinizing books borrowed by his students ''disturbed me tremendously."

He has no idea why?

That's really surprising. There are two possibilities.

1) He was a willing dupe.

2) Click to view...

But johngalt thinks:

3) All of the above.

Great coverage AlexC!

Posted by: johngalt at December 24, 2005 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Great work indeed. The root cause of bias is that an anti-American story always gets the benefit of the doubt, a pro-American story is scrutinized beyond legal standards.

Posted by: jk at December 24, 2005 4:47 PM

December 23, 2005

Good News for Kianna

The WSJ Ed Page reports progress in the FDA:

Cancer victims got some holiday cheer Tuesday when the Food and Drug Administration approved Bayer's Nexavar for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer. Nexavar is the first new treatment for this particularly deadly cancer to be approved in more than a decade. And it's an easily administered pill that produces minimal side effects compared with chemotherapy.

Nexavar also happens to be one of the two promising developmental drugs we highlighted earlier this year in editorials on the plight of Kianna Karnes, who died in March, unable to obtain either of them for treatment. Tuesday's approval by no means makes full amends for that scandal. But it does show that the FDA is finally taking seriously complaints about tardiness, and at least acknowledging the ethical issues involved in giving people placebos (i.e., sugar pills) when testing drugs for terminal disease.

On the rapidity front, the important news is that the Nexavar approval was granted based on a new way of measuring the effectiveness of cancer therapies. Until now, believe it or not, the FDA's cancer division has usually focused on crude mortality statistics when approving new drugs and scoffed at other possible metrics such as tumor shrinkage and improved quality of life. But in conjunction with the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, the FDA has recently decided to recognize "progression-free survival" -- no tumor growth or metastasis, and no death -- as a sufficient clinical benefit.

To put it plainly, the FDA is no longer insisting that we wait around for people to die to get statistics when a drug is obviously working. This should enable faster approval of other drugs in the future. Nexavar, by the way, doubles the length of progression-free survival in advanced kidney cancer.

I blogged about Kianna's Law last March, and Senator Brownback from Kansas is still pursuing it. Miles to go, but much good news for the season.


Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 1:12 PM

December 22, 2005

Trust these guys?

I saw video of this on FOXNews. UN SecGen Kofi Annan is asked a question, becomes petulant and attacks the interrogator.

I tried to imagine an elected official in the US behaving this way. But as a UN official, Annan is --of course -- responsible to no one. Claudia Rosett (who else?) has an article on this latest Annan misstep:

The broad answer is that the U.N. Secretariat, despite all the recent talk of reform, evidently remains a place of secrecy and privilege, run by high officials who don’t mind talking about their global goals and grand legacies, but find it highly irritating to be held to normal standards of good governance or subjected to anything resembling the workings of a free press. And in this particular case, given the ferocity of Annan’s reaction, one has to wonder if there is even more to it.

The real reminder here is not the misuse of privilege, it's the absolute unaccountability of anybody at the UN. If a reporter cannot ask them a question, they can certainly not be trusted with anything of any importance.

I don't want to go black-helicopter, but the Democrats still insist that we could/should have/can still do more through the UN. If the organization cannot be fixed, it needs to be discredited so that Americans stop believing that it is an alternative to anything but enforceable parking tickets.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

I agree wholeheartedly about the lack of accountability at the UN, but I have to wonder, given our current President and Sec.of Defense, can you really not image petulance and derogatory attacks by a US official on the press?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at December 23, 2005 12:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes. I don't know if you saw the exchange or were able to get the character of it from the story, but I can really not imagine President Bush nor Secretary Rumsfeld insulting a reporter and refusing to answer the question.

Helen Thomas's outrageous, fever-swamp questions were always treated seriously in Presidential Press Conferences. I always wanted to see the President treat her like Annan treated Bone, but he never did

A politician can duck a question, spin off an answer to different question -- all manner of trickery. But you would not see someone insult the questioner and move along. Governor Bush in the 2000 election refused to answer cocaine questions but he treated each new instance seriously.

Posted by: jk at December 23, 2005 4:38 PM

I Might Need a Car

A young man fell asleep at the wheel last week and hit both an RTD bus and my 1999 Subaru. The Subaru is probably reparable, but close enough to totaled that the estimator hinted we could get there if I wanted.

I thought I'd fix the Outback (although a conservative friend asks why I drive "such an Earth-Muffin car"). But that was before I saw this piece in TCS on the Bugatti-Veyron:

The Bugatti-Veyron, which will be formally debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show, in January, certainly appears to have the steak to match its sizzle. Its wondrously compact V-16 engine displaces 488 cubic inches but, thanks partly to four (yes, folks, four) superchargers, it develops 1001 horsepower. That’s no typo -- one thousand and one horsepower -- enough to slam your head back into the leather headrest when the two-seat coupe accelerates from a standing stop to 62 miles an hour in 2.5 seconds. In normal use, it will burn 1.3 gallons of high test per minute.

A thousand and one ponies...

Photo credit:

UPDATE: Jeremy Clarkson has a review of this car in the Times of London. He has said some hateful things about America, but it is still worth a nine hour flight to Britain just to watch his TV show "TopGear."

From behind the wheel of a Veyron, France is the size of a small coconut. I cannot tell you how fast I crossed it the other day. Because you simply wouldn’t believe me. I also cannot tell you how good this car is. I just don’t have the vocabulary. I just end up stammering and dribbling and talking wide-eyed nonsense. And everyone thinks I’m on drugs.

This car cannot be judged in the same way that we judge other cars. It meets drive-by noise and emission regulations and it can be driven by someone whose only qualification is an ability to reverse round corners and do an emergency stop. So technically it is a car. And yet it just isn’t.

Other cars are small guesthouses on the front at Brighton and the Bugatti is the Burj Al Arab. It makes even the Enzo and the Porsche Carrera GT feel slow and pointless. It is a triumph for lunacy over common sense, a triumph for man over nature and a triumph for Volkswagen over absolutely every other car maker in the world.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:40 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

Holy crap.

Posted by: AlexC at December 22, 2005 4:23 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Forget 1.3 gallons per minute, I am betting the sticker price is above $1000/hp - equivalent to your Subaru going for about 160 grand.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at December 22, 2005 5:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I think I'll wait for the Hybrid. For $3000 more, it only uses 1.0 gallons per minute...

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2005 6:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nice car JK. I say, dump the granola moblile.

In "normal use" it will burn 1.3 gallons of high test per minute. What is "normal use" for a 1000 hp car? Certainly not highway cruising at the double nickel. At that speed I'd guess its consumption is not altogether different than your average SUV.

But here's what caught my eye: "Bugatti enthusiasts (the originals remain perhaps the most sought after of all vintage collector cars) reportedly have mixed emotions about the revival of the name, some feeling that this new machine is too in-your-face, too ridiculously expensive, too flamboyant." Ah yes, the inescapable "tall poppy" syndrome. Too expensive? Too flamboyant? That's like, "too fast, too pretty, too fun, or too much money." Ain't no such things as those!

Hat tip: Darryl Singletary -

Posted by: johngalt at December 24, 2005 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

I think Misters Clarkson and Singletary are on the same page: "a triumph for lunacy over common sense, a triumph for man over nature and a triumph for Volkswagen..."

Sadly, the gronola-crunchin', earth-muffin car is perfect for me. Goes in the snow, carries the band's PA, my dog has the second seat to herself -- I didn't know what else I would buy. On a serious note, I think that CAFE standards have kept the other car companies from offering something in this marketspace; it would be counted as a car and the other guys have to make SUVs instead.

On the lighter side, I did keep my W2004 sticker on it way too long, so the Boulder types would know I had not been assimilated. Every other dark blue Outback has a Dean or Kucinich sticker.

Posted by: jk at December 24, 2005 5:01 PM

December 21, 2005

Not in MY name!

A couple years ago, I signed a "Not In My Name" petition under the name "Hadda V Shininoz" (as in Rudolph...)

Taranto put me up to it. It was juvenile. I'm not proud. But it did get me on the email list. I don't browse or read Kos or read The Nation, but my semi-monthly emails from "Not In Our Name Statement of Conscience" keep my ties to the moonbat community alive. I know you can see all of this stuff you want on the net, but I thought I would share my mail today.

You're welcome!

They are raising $50,000 for a war crimes trial, because "These Commission hearings will make a profound difference on today’s political terrain, where all too often Bush’s actions are viewed as blunders, not crimes, and the full scope of his administration’s criminality is obscured. Please contribute immediately and contact your friends to contribute. Mail checks made out to “Not In Our Name” to..."

Dear friends and signers of the Not In Our Name statements of conscience,

Each passing day brings new charges of high crimes committed by the Bush administration and highlights the timeliness and importance of the Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity by the Bush Administration ( They underscore the urgency for our concluding session on January 20-22 at The Riverside Church and Columbia University Law School in New York which can profoundly recast the terms of debate about Bush and his administration throughout society.

Are their actions “mistakes” born of “faulty intelligence” and legitimate responses to real threats -- or are they crimes against humanity consciously committed?

There is a moral imperative to make this determination and this cannot happen without $50,000 to assemble and present the witnesses (including Iraqis) and documentary evidence that will make the case.

In the face of daily exposures of grave crimes -- from torture, rendition and illegal detentions; to escalating bombings, the use of white phosphorous, the destruction of whole cities, and ongoing torture in Iraq; to the destruction and abandonment of New Orleans; and now to illegal spying in the U.S. -- the Bush response has been more lies, more threats, and more arrogant declarations that it will continue to wage war, torture, and spy as it sees fit. Meanwhile, no effective opposition has been mounted to these intolerable outrages through official or government channels.

This extreme situation demands that we work -- and donate! -- so the Commission can fully realize it’s aim to compel a national debate on whether the administration of George W. Bush actually is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The basic budget for this final session is $50,000, not counting the video and printing of the reports. So we need your immediate help. We are not bashful about asking for money, because we know, as you also know, that money is what it takes to make a serious impact in society.

To see the visual impact of the first session of the Commission’s hearings, go to for a 12 min video. This video is also available in DVD format as a fundraiser for the Commission for $25.

These Commission hearings will make a profound difference on today’s political terrain, where all too often Bush’s actions are viewed as blunders, not crimes, and the full scope of his administration’s criminality is obscured. Please contribute immediately and contact your friends to contribute. Mail checks made out to “Not In Our Name” to Not In Out Name, 305 West Broadway, #199, New York, NY 10013. Or contribute on line right now at

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 12:41 PM

Berkeley Square -- Banned In Iran!

The madness continues in Iran. The government will now choose music for its lucky subjects, increasing their decency substantially. The WSJ Ed Page says in "The Non-Music Man:

Now the Islamic Republic has taken another bold step on the road to Year Zero, this time by banning Western music. Tehran commuters, who in recent years have grown accustomed to listening to Eric Clapton or Kenny G., will now have to put up with whatever Mr. Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council deem "decent." Don't expect "Crosstown Traffic" or "Baby You Can Ride My Car" to make the list.

Iranians have been here before, as have other victims of dictatorship. Ayatollah Khomeini banned all forms of music after the 1979 revolution, but the rules were gradually relaxed after his death. In the Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge, music was banned along with all other expressions of art and culture, and hundreds of musicians were murdered. The Nazis extolled the music of Wagner, yet they famously tore down the statue of the Jewish-born Felix Mendelssohn in front of the Leipzig Gewandhaus.

Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world, and the youth are acclimated to American music and culture. I agree with the WWSJ Ed Page that the ultimate hope for Iran is likely an internal revolution.

I confess I had hoped for a fast domino-effect revolution after Iraq was liberated. I take full responsibility for that mistake but still hold that we will have to support an internal revolution if tacitly and covertly.

Sadly, the opposition party deals with this by contriving arguments about Valerie Plame, faux-outrage over NSA eavesdropping, and filibustering renewal of the Patriot Act.

UPDATE: TCS has a good column with more specifics.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I wonder if they are going to ban Butthole Surfers too!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 21, 2005 12:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Naaah! I'm sure Butthole Surfers will pass Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council muster...

Posted by: jk at December 21, 2005 12:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It takes one to know one.

Posted by: johngalt at December 24, 2005 3:25 PM

Steady growth

Well, they have tinkered a little more with the 3Q GDP numbers and revised inflation up a little, but the +4.1% figure is still amazing in light of the hurricanes. The chart looks pretty good: stable growth since let's see, what happened in 2003 that frequently spurs economic growth? The Wall Street Journal:
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic growth, expanded at a seasonally adjusted 4.1% annual rate in July through September. The report was the government's third and final reading on the economy's performance in the third quarter.

The revised growth rate was lower than the earlier estimated 4.3%, a figure issued a month ago, but better than the second quarter's 3.3% rate and first quarter's 3.8%. It was the strongest quarterly gain in GDP since the first three months of 2004, when GDP rose at a 4.3% rate.

UPDATE: Larry Kudlow has good stats on housing as well, Dosn't look like the "housing bubble" will destroy this economy. Although I cannot recommend investing in the $1.5 million studio apartment Lileks's links to.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:59 AM

December 20, 2005

Constitutional Usurpers

Give thanks this holiday season for Jeff Goldstein's Protein Wisdom.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) expresses his rage at the Bush administration’s pretensions to monarchical power to a sales associate at his local Footlocker store
Feingold: “I mean, you seem like a nice ordinary Joe. Would you want that cowboy doofus and his NSA goons unilaterally deciding to listen in on your phone conversations? Because the fact is, the president cannot make up authority and legislative power when it isn’t there. He’s President. He’s not King George Bush."*

Footlocker sales clerk: “Of course he isn’t. A King might presume to tell us when it’s okay to, say, exercise our First Amendment rights to political speech—including how we can spend our money, and how close to elections we can broadcast arguments like the one you just made.”

Footlocker sales clerk:: “And sorry, sir, but as I already told you once, I don’t care who you say you are. I still can’t let you try on the Pumas without any socks.”

Perfect pitch humor. Which impingement on the Constitution affects me? scares me? Senator Feingold's.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:08 PM

Economic Development

Via Jay Nordlinger, here is an incredible story in the Memphis Business Journal. A Tennessee National Guardsman bringing entrepreneurship to Iraq.

His business dream represents a big dose of Tennessee entrepreneur spirit transplanted to the Middle East by Wayne Culbreath.

Culbreath was working in the realm of economic development when, two years ago, his National Guard combat unit was activated and sent to Iraq. For five months he was stationed at Forward Operating Base Cobra, east of Baghdad and 20 miles from the border with Iran.

An Army captain, Culbreath commanded a unit that spent most of its time finding and disposing of improvised explosive devices, typically a couple of artillery shells wired to detonate with a trigger.

"We found that a lot of the guys who planted the bombs weren't foreign fighters," he says. "Most of them were getting $60 to shoot at Americans, and they were only doing it to feed their families."

That led to a new initiative: American style, grass roots economic development.

I suggested pre-war, that the Iraqis would have a predilection toward entrepreneurism. To an extent, the satellite dish vendors and automotive sales have shown that to be true.

But the article discusses a long-term reliance on centralized command and control. People wait for Baghdad to fix the electrical grid rather than envisioning a private solution.

Lastly, it shows yet again that our troops are not slack-jawed yokels from the ghettos and rural outposts. They are bright and talented professionals -- I thank my lucky stars for each of them.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 3:15 PM

Psychiatric Christmas

John Derbyshire posts these on The Corner:

Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Queens Disoriented Are

Dementia --- I Think I'll Be Home For Christmas

Narcissistic --- Hark The Herald Angels Sing About Me

Manic --- Deck The Hall and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and Fire Hydrants and.........

Paranoid --- Santa Claus Is Coming To Get Me

Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts Of Roasting On An Open Fire

Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder --- Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

ADHD -- Hark the herald angels sing ba-rum-pa-pum-pum in the little town of Bethlehem up on the housetop in a winter wonderland one foggy Christmas Eve hey how bout them Bears no I don't want to switch to Sprint but thank you for shopping at K-Mart.

Really, isn't making fun of the mentally ill what the season is all about?

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 2:30 PM

Dumb Lawyers


    Four white men fired by the Philadelphia School District have won a racial-discrimination lawsuit, and a federal jury awarded them nearly $3 million in damages.

    After Friday's verdict, Carl E. Singley, a prominent African American lawyer who represented the school district, exchanged words with some members of the all-white jury as they rode a courthouse elevator. He called them "crackers," four jurors said in interviews.

The defense lawyer in a racial discrimination lawsuit slurs the plaintiffs who just beat him?

That went over real well with the judge.

    Within 30 minutes, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle 3d brought Singley and five of the seven jurors in the case back into his courtroom. Singley, a former Temple Law School dean, promptly apologized.

    "What I did and said was inappropriate," Singley said, according to a transcript. "I should not have disrespected you, and I do apologize."


(tip to GrassrootsPa)

On the web Posted by AlexC at 12:30 PM

December 19, 2005

Modern Art

In case you needed any more proof that "modern art" is a racket and a monkey could do it.

    A GERMAN art expert was fooled into believing a painting done by a chimpanzee was the work of a master.

    The director of the State Art Museum of Moritzburg in Saxony-Anhalt, Katja Schneider, suggested the painting was by the Guggenheim Prize-winning artist Ernst Wilhelm Nay.

    "It looks like an Ernst Wilhelm Nay. He was famous for using such blotches of colour," Dr Schneider confidently asserted.

I'm sure.

My 3 year old daughter's finger painting also makes extensive use of blotches of color. I'm framing it all for sale to suckers.

    "I did think it looked a bit rushed," she told Bild newspaper.

No doubt. But much of the world will savor for some time your "misjudgement."

For what it's worth, I'm not an art basher. My favorite artist is probably Andrew Wyeth. Though no one would confuse his work with modern art.

(tip to The Steel Deal)

But Steel thinks:

There's an elephant that gets 500 bucks for its art in Portland Oregon.

The image I used for that post was done by 'Washoe' of Koko fame. She has her own website and gets 100 bucks a pop.

P.T.Barnum was a visionary.

Posted by: Steel at December 19, 2005 11:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well heck, that's your problem AlexC... your favorite artist is of the "realist" school. Modern "art" deals exclusively with the non-real.

My favorite remains... James Russell Sherman:

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2005 4:04 PM

Economics and Pricing

Nick Shultz at TCS (That would be the new, improved TCS) has an interview with Tim Hartford, author of The Underground Economist. Lots of cogent thought on organic food, fair-trade coffee, the environmental impact of tariffs -- man, what else do you need?

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM

A Chill Wind

The Little Red Book draws out Homeland Security in Massachusetts.

    A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung's tome on Communism called "The Little Red Book."

    Two history professors at UMass Dartmouth, Brian Glyn Williams and Robert Pontbriand, said the student told them he requested the book through the UMass Dartmouth library's interlibrary loan program.

    The student, who was completing a research paper on Communism for Professor Pontbriand's class on fascism and totalitarianism, filled out a form for the request, leaving his name, address, phone number and Social Security number. He was later visited at his parents' home in New Bedford by two agents of the Department of Homeland Security, the professors said.

    The professors said the student was told by the agents that the book is on a "watch list," and that his background, which included significant time abroad, triggered them to investigate the student further.

I'm not saying that this event is totally made up, but given that the Patriot Act is up for renewal AND one of it's biggest problems (according to the left) is that library book borrowing is under it's perview, color me a little skeptical.

Besides that, am I to seriously believe that a major university does not have a copy of Mao's Little Red Book? He couldn't ask a professor for his copy or the local college socialists?

I'm afraid I might be forced to throw the "bullshit flag" on this one.

But jk thinks:

After further review, we see nothing conclusive and let the ruling on the field stand.

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2005 1:04 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Motion moved and seconded. All in favor, say Yea. Against? Motion granted.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 19, 2005 2:49 PM

December 16, 2005

Two Words

New JibJab

On the web Posted by AlexC at 9:21 PM

Car Break-in

Depending on your perspective, it's heartwarming Christmas tale.

    Imagine getting off the train after work and finding a $15,000 diamond ring in your car.

    A Westborough, Mass., man says that’s what happened to him.

    It seems the ring was left in his unlocked car by a total stranger, heartbroken over a lost love.

Lucky day! But the heartbroken suitor left a note.
    The ring came in a box topped with a white bow. A note with it read: “Merry Christmas. Thank you for leaving your car door unlocked. Instead of stealing your car I gave you a present. Hopefully this will land in the hands of someone you love, for my love is gone now.”

The suicide note has yet to be found.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 9:11 PM

DNC Christmas List

(hat tip to Club For Growth Blog)

Politics Posted by AlexC at 4:27 PM

Four-year old ambush

A friend of ThreeSources emails a link:

A hero's welcome at preschool

Just one day after an emotional reunion with her husband and two young daughters after a year in Iraq and Kuwait, Army Reserve Maj. Denise Wurzbach was doing what she'd done every weekday before being sent overseas: taking her oldest daughter to preschool.

But unbeknownst to the major, her arrival at 10 a.m. yesterday would be marked by a chilled, squirmy but determined band of children outside the Goddard School in Blue Bell.

Each was armed - with a piece of cardboard painted with a letter that together spelled "Welcome Home Major Wurzbach."

When the major's vehicle pulled up, the 38-year-old Whitpain Township servicewoman leaped out with her 4-year-old daughter, Maggie.
Maggie's classmates broke into a cheer, and her mother broke into a huge smile, waved and said: "Thank you. Wow!... It's good to be here. It's good to be home."

Thanks to all who serve!

But AlexC thinks:

Blue Bell?! That's not far from me! JK is scooping me in my backyard! ;)

Thanks to all of the troops, as well.

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2005 3:15 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Sorry Alex ... I leaked this one. Just call me Scooter.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 19, 2005 2:48 PM

Aeronautic Schadenfreude

The Weekly Standard's Daily Standard website carries an interesting description of the Airbus - Boeing rivalry that's well worth a read.

The column is very Boeing-biased but so am I. James Thayer points out that Boeing has pulled back into a dominant position against its European rival by better predicting airline trends, specifically the emergence of point-to-point over hub-and-spoke; better technology, with fuel efficient composites; and what this software guy would call "legacy support:" Boeing planes don't need new airports to land in.

I see, unsurprisingly, parallels to EU and US economics. I'll admit I was surprised to see the A-380 take-off so well as it were. The monster jet is like the monster governments that build it. Everybody will go the same place at the same time (and they won't mind waiting an hour to deplane...)

The Boeing Dreamliner is more American in spirit. It's lighter, goes farther, is more-fuel efficient, and more comfortable than competitors' and legacy planes. Companies and countries all around the world are choosing the Dreamliner over the A-380. Let's hope they see the parallel and choose American freedom.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

btw, India just agreed to buy 68 Boeing craft.

Just a little purchase for 8.2 BILLION. That, and they were going to buy 43 airbust too ...
We'll see who delivers, eh?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 16, 2005 12:51 PM

Critics Come Around?

It is gong to be more difficult for war critics after the elections yesterday. Tucker Carlson last night defended the achievements against Air America's Rachel Maddow. (I plan to write a letter today pointing out that the Carlson-attacks-the-war-from-the-right vs. Maddow-attacks-the-war-from-the-left is getting tiresome). Carlson had to admit that this was a big deal, though he quoted a private email from The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash that any good outcome will be an accident, in spite of not because of the administration's efforts (friends like these, huh?). But a defense from critics all the same.

Today, The New Republic has a web article from Lawrence Kaplan teased as "Again and again, we have been wrongly assured that Iraq was turning a corner. But yesterday, it may have actually happened."

Contrary to prevailing wisdom, Washington's political strategy in Iraq has always made more sense than its military strategy. In its essentials, the logic of the former was straightforward: Induce the Sunnis to surrender violence in favor of political participation and create a broad-based, cross-sectarian coalition that can govern Iraq effectively. Although yesterday's elections hardly guarantee that outcome, they do amount to its necessary precondition. Whether the aim can actually be achieved is up to the Iraqis.

In this regard, yesterday offered reason to hope. Having now moved beyond the mechanics of democracy--that is, the process of choosing leaders--Iraqis may also begin to move beyond a zero-sum brand of politics and toward the sort of compromises essential to a broader conception of democracy.
If a stable democracy emerges, it will not be a perfect one. But, then again, Washington isn't chasing an idealism so pure it defeats its own ends in Iraq. Quite the contrary: Today, at least, it seems like the United States knew what it was doing all along. Savor the moment.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

December 15, 2005

Sour Grapes

Talk about not moving on.

    About 100 campaign vets gathered at Finn McCool's bar in D.C. to hear him. In a short speech, Kerry praised Dems who were working on Senate and House campaigns, and then said, according to one listener: "If we take back the House, there's a solid case to bring articles of impeachment against this president." Another listener heard a slight variation: "If we win back the House, I think we have a pretty solid case to bring articles of impeachment against this President." Kerry then quickly added, according to several in the audience, "Don't tell anyone I said that."

Why would impeachment take winning back the House? A solid case is a solid case.

Perhaps the Dems aren't so sure about it?

Politics Posted by AlexC at 9:25 PM

Bullish on Iraq

Larry Kudlow posts an optimistic look at Iraq today. It's wild eyed, it's rosy -- and I can't find one place where I think that it's wrong.

Let’s be perfectly clear. This wasn’t any ordinary step, not by a long shot. What the world witnessed today was a historic moment. A moment where fifteen million Iraqis—the very same people who suffered for years under the tyrannical dictatorship of Saddam Hussein since Jimmy Carter was in office—boldly walked to the polls with their children and cast their ballots for a first full-term parliament.
Sooner rather than later, our brave troops will be returning home to America’s shores. They will have participated in one of the grandest campaigns in all of history. Much like the courageous, battle hardened GIs returning from World War II, these young men and women will one day be able to tell their grandchildren that they helped change history for the better. Duty called and they not only answered, they delivered.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:40 PM

On Patience

Two great thoughts on how fast the Iraqis are establishing a representative government.

1. Bobby Eberle from wonders what today's naysayers would think of a ten-year interim Constitution like our Articles of Confederation:

It took America ten years to get things right, and we still have to fight to stay true to the Constitution’s meanings. Iraq has been at it less than three years. The progress can only be described as remarkable.

2. A better voicing of the same sentiment comes from my buddy Sugarchuck: "MSM have gotten every single prediction and assessment they've made wrong. I am convinced they should turn Iraq coverage over to sports writers who understand the difficulty of turning a losing program into a winning one and have at least a minimal amount of patience with the process. Hell, Nebraska has given Calahan two years to implement a west coast offense."

You'd think we might be as generous with Middle Eastern Democracy as Cornhusker fans are with Big Red.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 2:04 PM

Purple Fingers

Bill Roggio writes that he's watching Iraqis vote in droves:

I’m in the town of Barwana, one of the three Triad cities which include Haqlaniyah and Haditha. The poll site sits right where Zarqawi’s terrorists executed residents for not conforming to al-Qaeda’s perverse brand of Islamic law. It’s currently 8:20 am Iraqi time, and turnout is heavy so far, with several hundred voters showing up. The polls opened at 7:00 am and the first handful arrived minutes afterward. There is a steady line of voters waiting to vote.

Thanks to all the brave men and women who wear our nation's uniform who have made this possible. And I salute the Iraqis for their personal courage in voting.

Another great day, whether the MSM think so or not.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal (news pages, not my right-wing crazies) reports that polls were kept open an extra hour to accomodate high tirnout. Better than St. Louis.

But AlexC thinks:

Bill Roggio has been doing incredible work in Iraq lately. He's an self-embedded blogger!

Posted by: AlexC at December 15, 2005 6:46 PM

December 14, 2005

Socialism At Bay

Milton Friedman was interviewed by the Washington Times recently.

An excerpt.

    As for our economy, "the best laws we could pass would be to cut taxes and cut government spending and leave more money in the economy." Still, Mr. Friedman cautions against taking economic freedom for granted. "Public opinion is free market" but government still plays a more intrusive role in our lives.

    "This is a great country. We've been able to hold socialism back and keep it at bay, but we haven't defeated it," he said.

Cut taxes and cut government spending? Faster please.

But jk thinks:

Ludwig von Mises -> FA Hayek -> Milton Friedman. A direct line of economic deities.

I especially liked his confidence that economic freedom in China will spill into the political arena.

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2005 2:20 PM

Men At Work

Tim Blair has long been on my list of daily reads.

Lately he's been covering the Australian race riots, and he shares this exchange between Prime Minister Howard and a "reporter."

    Reporter: "Do you think anything the Government said over the last few years has set the tone for the actions on the weekend?"

    PM: "Which Government?"

    Reporter: "Your Government."

    PM: "My Government?"

    Reporter: “Yes.”

    PM: "Certainly not. What do you have in mind?"

    Reporter: "Your position on Iraq."

    PM: "My position on Iraq?"

    Reporter: "Do you think that’s had any influence on people feeling alienated?"

    PM: "My position on Iraq? You’ve got to be joking."

I guess some people down under are also stuck on stupid.

But Phoenix thinks:

"You've got to be joking." ha ha.... Oh, I have wished Bush would say something like that SO many times! General Honore is my hero for his 'stuck on stupid' comment. Bravo! Too many journalists stuck on stupid AND themselves....

Posted by: Phoenix at December 15, 2005 12:36 AM

More Please

On the eve of Iraq's election, Iraqi citizen Betty Dawisha:

    “Anybody who doesn’t appreciate what America has done and President Bush, let them go to hell.”

Don't forget, December 12th through 15th are Purple Finger for Freedom Days, but tomorrow the polling places are open.

Officially, you're supposed to ink the index finger, but I suspect that Ms Dawisha would have inked her middle finger if that were an option.

But jk thinks:

I saw that on TV (FOXNews, mirabile non dictu!) I thought it would make a great RNC ad...

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2005 12:08 PM
But AlexC thinks:

No way. Too aggressive. The DNC would complain like they have sand in their shorts.

They'd say it was a plant. The Pentagon was propagandizing over there you know. ;)

Better to let the Dems hang themselves with their own words. The GOP doesn't control Dean, Pelosi or Kerry. It's a more "pure" attack.

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2005 3:03 PM

December 13, 2005

Senator McCarthy & Campaign Finance

I steal reprint a WSJ Editorial in full.

Clean Gene's Other Legacy

Eugene McCarthy's death Saturday at age 89 has offered antiwar liberals an opportunity to relive the glory days of 1968, when then-Senator McCarthy embarrassed President Lyndon B. Johnson out of the race with an insurgent run on an anti-Vietnam line.

We hate to interrupt the self-reverie, but it's worth noting that Gene McCarthy's achievement in driving his own party's sitting President out the primary campaign is unlikely to be repeated any time soon. And the reason is campaign-finance reform.

McCarthy took pleasure in being a maverick politician; he endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980 because, he said, "anyone would be better" than Jimmy Carter. And party mavericks are just the sort of people that party machines love to keep down, or out. McCarthy himself could never have mounted his last-ditch campaign against Johnson without the backing of industrialist Stewart Mott and banker Jack Dreyfus. But it was not self-interest that motivated McCarthy's long opposition to campaign-finance reform. It was, rather, the conviction that restricting the supply of money would do more to entrench party establishments than it would to "take the money out of politics."

The money will always be there, because politics will always cost money. Restricting the channels through which money can flow into politics does not "keep it clean." It merely empowers the gatekeepers.

The irony of campaign-finance reform is that in the name of reducing financial contributions from the rich and powerful, it has made candidates far more likely to be either rich or powerful. A genuine believer in free speech, Gene McCarthy understood what too many of his fellow liberals have forgotten.

Incumbency protection through gerrymandering and campaign finance reform have stolen much of our ability to influence our representative democracy.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

JK, the primary process still works!
Like Toomey over Specter.... or Laffey over Chafee! ;)

FWIW, I would favor unlimited hard-money donations to a political candidate, so long as those contributions come from within the district, and are fully disclosed.
It would be self-policing. It would look bad for any candidate to get $100K from Joe Blow CEO of EvilCorporation,LLC. Think of the political ads the other side would run.

From outside the district, I'd limit it some number (yet to be determined), so long as there is disclosure.

That way the people who are to be represented from that district can really kick in, if that's their guy... and it limits the "auslanders" from getting a result that the electorate might not want.

The 527, (soft money) etc, really can't be controlled. It's called free speech, let's get over it. But I'm abridging speech for the "auslanders." Nah.. they can still give unlimited sums of money to their own local candidate... or a 527.

Posted by: AlexC at December 13, 2005 4:36 PM
But jk thinks:

527s would not exist nor need to be controlled if there weren't regulations on hard money. I say give all the hard money you want but it must be disclosed before it is spent.

If you can provide a good reason why you accepted $1,000,000 from EvilCorporation, fine. Let the people decide.

Without incumbency protection, you'd see primary challenges and all manner of democracy.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2005 11:23 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Well maybe 527 should have been replaced by "Issue oriented lobby groups." I don't think groups like the NRA are 527s.

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2005 3:04 PM

December 12, 2005


Mike Farrell aka BJ Honeycutt on the Schwartzenegger clemency denial.

    "The governor's 96-hour wait to give an answer was a cowardly act and was tortuous," said former "M A S H" star Mike Farrell, a death penalty opponent. "I would suggest that had he the courage of his convictions he could have gone over to San Quentin and met with Stanley Williams himself and made a determination rather than letting his staff legal adviser write this garbage."

For those who aren't aware, Stanley Williams stands convicted of the following acts...

  • Williams, at gunpoint, ordered [Store Clerk] Owens to "lay down, mother f*****." Williams then chambered a round into the shotgun. Williams then fired the round into the security monitor. Williams then chambered a second round and fired the round into Owens' back as he lay face down on the floor of the storage room. Williams then fired again into Owens' back. (TT 2162).

  • Williams, using his shotgun, killed seventy-six year old Yen-I Yang; Williams also killed Yang's wife, sixty-three year old Tsai-Shai Yang; lastly, Williams killed Yang's daughter, forty-three year old Yee-Chen Lin. Williams then removed the currency from the cash register and fled the location

I'll disagree with Mr Farrell's opinion of the Governor's decision, but for the sake of argument, I'll say Schwartzenegger was cowardly.

Does Mr Williams, clearly a coward, deserve any better?

For the sake of argument, I'll say the Governor tortured Mr Williams. Does Stanley Williams deserve better?

For what it's worth, if the Governor had not acted, the lethal injection would have been given tonight anyway. It was neither cowardly nor tortuous. The only instances of cowardly and tortuous behaviour are of the guilty. Shooting the unarmed might rate as such.

But jk thinks:

I am pretty squeamish on capital punishment; I hate to give the right to life and death to folks I don't trust with my tax dollars.

But the salvation for me is the jury system and a generous opportunity for appeals. The Governor trusted the jury and the appellate process.

It would have been a lot less courageous to buckle to Farrell, Bianca Jagger, and the Hollywood intelligentsia.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2005 10:47 AM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

During W's days as governor of Texas, a convicted murderer on death row found Jesus and completely turned her life around. While there was support from the usual death penalty foes, I don't remember Snoop Dogg, Mike Farrrel, Jamie Foxx or anyone else from Hollywood protesting her execution. I don't know what it is about writing a book that sends the Norman Mailers and Bianca Jaggers over the moon, but I doubt they would have the time to spit out a soundbite for a woman, full of remorse and dedicated to God and doing His will. This woman went to her death with Christ at her side, not Hollywood.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at December 13, 2005 12:29 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Somewhat lost in all the stories is also the fact than Stanley Williams was the co-founder of the notorious Crips gang. As such, like a mob boss he was likely responsible for the deaths of hundreds of others. I am an opponent of the death penalty for much the same reason as JK but the hand wringing about his innocence rings very hollow to me.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at December 13, 2005 11:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm the last one to defend government or its employees, but the judicial branch has little control over your tax dollars. Despite their maddening subjectivity, virtually ALL of which is slanted to benefit the accused, if a death penalty verdict can survive as many appeals in as many different courts as Williams' did there's only rational conclusion: GUILTY.

Posted by: johngalt at December 14, 2005 1:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Chris Matthews talks about "Mommy Party/Daddy Party" and I am afraid enforcing the law as written comes a little easier to conservatives. It is always easy to find a reason to be compassionate to an individual. Farrell, Jagger & Co. have an easy job.

Silence: Tucker Carlson made your point last night, noting that the Crips have terrorized the neighborhoods that Williams's defenders claim to care about.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2005 11:29 AM

Polling Iraqis

I find polls interesting, but really more for in the meta-news sense. On a slow news day, it's always easy to commission a poll for something.

    An ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead.

How does ABC News regard the optimism?
    Surprising levels of optimism prevail in Iraq with living conditions improved, security more a national worry than a local one, and expectations for the future high.

Well I guess if you read the mainstream media, it'd be surprising.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 1:42 PM

RINO Slaying

So which Republican Senator voted with John Kerry 70% of the time? Which Republican senator voted against the average Republican senator more often than anyone else?

Arlen Specter? No.

Olympia Snowe? No.

Which Republican Senator did not vote for George Bush in 2004?

Lincoln Chafee? Yes.

The same Lincoln Chafee that the National Republican Senatorial Committee is defending against a tax-cutting, spending cutting fiscal conservative Steve Laffey.

    “They claimed that they weren’t interested in defending Lincoln Chafee,” says Laffey. “But they talked about party building and suggested that I run for lieutenant governor. In Rhode Island, the job of lieutenant governor is to ride a bicycle around the state and wait for the governor to die. I wasn’t persuaded. And now these ‘party builders’ are spending thousands to defeat me, a Republican.”

The Club for Growth came out with an endorsement of Steve Laffey. It's a risk, to be sure but...
    First, it wouldn’t be much of a loss if a new Democrat Senator were elected, as he would vote much the same as Chafee does now. Second, it is unlikely this loss would result in tipping control of the Senate back to the Democrats — though that, too, can’t be ruled out. If Republicans lose so many seats that the Rhode Island race is crucial, Chafee would probably lose too. Third, it is a risk worth taking because of who Laffey is. There are too many politicians, in the bad sense of the word, in the Senate. Laffey will shake up Washington. He is a true outsider who comes to the nation’s Capitol to put an end to business as usual.

Read the entire endorsement.

Update: Pat Toomey, President of Club for Growth, and himself a RINO slayer, opines in the Wall Street Journal.

But AlexC thinks:

Contributing is not the same as voting.

For the most part, I trust a guy like Joe more than Arlen. He's sincere. Senator Specter seems do things just to get on R's nerves or for his own self promotion. Like "voting Glenfiddich" on impeachment.

But like CfG and John Galt said.... when the control of the Senate hinges upon Senator Chafee's relection, the Republicans have bigger problems that retaining control of the Senate.

At that point, they're broken.

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2005 3:14 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Oh, and that "very special" two hour episode of Internecine would be include a 112 minute self-flaggelation session of how the GOP lost it's mandate with the nation for abandoning it's core principle of limited government.

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2005 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen on the "core principles" segment.

In the end, that is what this argument is: Are the Rs so bad that folks like you and me and Stephen Moore would be as well off with Ds?

I have to say no. And everything after that decision is tactics. Campaign funds are a scarce resource, are there not better uses than trying to unseat a popular RINO in a very very liberal state?

I have to say that money would be better spent to elect a Republican over a Democrat.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2005 5:02 PM
But jk thinks:

A little research (it only hurt a little). I see from my 2006 Almanac of American Politics that RI went for John Kerry in 2004 59%-39%, yet Senator Chafee won in 2000 57%-41% over Democrat Robert Weygand.

Mr. Barone also gives us his "key votes" and they are all opposite the President. A real Wall of Shame: N to ANWR, Y to Assault Weapons ban, N on energy bill, N on the Bush Tax Cuts.

Again, an execrable man -- but as good as we gonna do in a state that went for Kerry by 20 points.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2005 5:54 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Can you look in the almanac at how Senator Kerry voted on those votes? I bet they're the same.

Basically, what I'm understanding is that a "Republican" Senator got nearly the same vote count as John Kerry by apeing one of the most liberal Senators in Washington?

To add insult to injury the NRSC is spending money to keep him in!

Not a penny will come from me.


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, but the only argument I see that holds any water is the leadership vote.

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2005 7:36 PM
But jk thinks:

You're gonna love this: Kerry missed 7 out of the 12 votes that Barone and the boys track. He has more asterisks than Barry Bonds!

The five he did make were the same as Chafee, you're right (though he did vote for the war before he voted against it...)

Leadership is my ONLY argument for Chafee. He voted exeactly the same as RI-D Jack Reed. But Chafee voted for Bill Frist as leader.

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2005 2:39 PM


I just pre-ordered Serenity (Widescreen) on Amazon. It will be released on December 20 and it is already #4 in DVD! I'd say there's hope for a sequel.

Long live the long tail!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM

Day By Day

Here is the article that the comic is referring to.

Posted by AlexC at 1:25 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Thanks Alex! I almost posted on this yesterday but the DayByDay cartoon is a great segue!

Everybody can believe what they want but I, like Chris Muir, see the exact opposite. The Corner, Instapundit, Daily Standard, Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, Best of the Web provide a wide diversity -- just on ThreeSources you see very different attitudes.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2005 10:32 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Liberal blogs are in competition with the mainstream media in getting the liberal news memes out in the open.

Almost by definition, blogs are in second place in the news cycle. They analyze news, not break it.
If the news is broken with a slant, of course anything successfully combatting would be seen as effective.

While cheerleaders are nice, they don't make the plays.

Posted by: AlexC at December 12, 2005 2:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Liberal blogs, like liberal talk radio, doesn't have a chance of succeeding. The reason is that, while conservative alternative news/analysis sources feed the listener's "inner selfishness," the liberal outfits depend on the selfLESSness of the listener.

Before you recoil in horror at my assertion that conservatives are selfish, hear me out: Conservatives are far more compassionate than liberals BECAUSE of their selfishness. They want to keep their own money and be charitable with it instead of empowering the government to ostensibly do the same thing. (The government DOESN'T do the same thing, but that's another story.) But when liberal cheerleaders take their 'Robin Hood' morality to the airwaves the typical American with a job wonders how much of HIS riches they want to steal.

Liberalism is like belief in Santa Claus - It's fun as long as you don't know the truth but eventually you grow up and realize the whole thing is made up from whole cloth.

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2005 2:53 PM

December 11, 2005

Voter Identification

YoungPhillyPolitics has an interesting twist on PA House Bill 1318 that would change voter eligibility requirements.

Among other things, HB1318 would require one form of photo identification and would make released felons in-eligible to vote.

Here's the twist...

    This is basically a version of what Southern states tried to do in the 1930s. [states run by Southern Democrats? -ed.] The ID requirement was understood then explicitly as being a way of keeping poor people and black people - all of whom were Democrats [well... maybe those blacks were Republican -ed.]- from voting. Poor people didn't have cars, so they didn't have driver's licenses, so they were the ones turned away. [Maybe true then, but total red herring today. You can get a non-drivers ID -ed.

    Insofar as felonies go - this is totally also a race thing. The whole system is racist: the incarceration rate for black people is way higher than for equivalent crimes committed by whites. Regardless of your take on this, if you serve your time, I think you should be able to reengage with society.

    I basically see this as Republicans gearing up for the Senatorial campaign in 2006. We all know how much Karl Rove and friends want to protect Santorum - this smacks of some awful national-Republican-party move to try to keep Philly and Pittsburgh from going to the polls.

I guess there are no poor people outside of Philly or Pittsburgh. If you actually follow the link and read the bill, PennDOT will issue a voter ID card for free.
    Similiar laws have cropped up in other states over the last few years (including Mississippi) and I feel that this is a national-party directive.

Because sensible national trends and laws always come from the party's inner-sanctum.

I can't wait to hear the analysis on the new electronic voting machines that counties are required to use.

In any case, our Republic is only as good as the system which installs it. If we can remove more doubt from the operation of the electoral system it's a good thing(tm).

Politics Posted by AlexC at 5:36 PM

Fiddling About Iran

Two columns out there today about the growing Iranian problem, and the world's reaction to it.

First, Dennis Prager writing about the religious left.

    Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the Jewish religious left's convention was how clearly it revealed the supremacy of leftist concerns over Jewish ones. History will record that a month after the Islamic Republic of Iran called for the annihilation of the Jewish state, 5,000 Reform Jews passed resolutions calling for District of Columbia voting rights and "workers' rights" but none about a call for what would amount to another Holocaust or about Islamic anti-Semitism generally, the greatest eruption of Jew-hatred since Nazism. History will likewise also note that two years after the United States made war on a bloodthirsty tyrant who paid the families of murderers of Jews $25,000 each, Reform Judaism passed a resolution condemning that war.

... and Mark Steyn:
    We assume, as Neville Chamberlain, Lord Halifax and other civilized men did 70 years ago, that these [Iranian] chaps may be a little excitable, but come on, old boy, they can't possibly mean it, can they? Wrong. They mean it but they can't quite do it yet. Like Hitler, when they can do it, they will -- or at the very least the weedy diplo-speak tells them they can force the world into big concessions on the fear that they can.

Is there some sort of psychological condition that makes people unable to realize threats? I suppose it's called denial, but this goes far beyond denial. It's almost suicidal.

Here's a case of a nation on the verge of going nuclear that has made very clear and explicit threats about the absolute and complete destruction of a free, soveriegn nation. The response from those that can exact a change? "[These comments] further underscore our concerns about the regime," or even worse (and more vapid), Iran's comments are part of "a consistent pattern of rhetoric that is both hostile and out of touch with values that the rest of us in the international community live by."

The only other option left in the debate is that I find myself (and the other pro-Israel, conservative types) in the "chicken little" category. We're doomed! But nothing is really going to happen.

If only...

Update: Hugh Hewitt writes on plan for Iran...

    It would be far better for the world to act together to strike at Iran, and if the world will not agree, than the West, and if not the West, a coalition of the willing.

    The worst situation will be for Israel to have to do what all the world knows must be done.

    It is a terrible task that cannot be postponed much longer.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 2:06 PM

1971 Redux

You may recalll the kerfuffle caused by 2004 Presidential Candidate and Junior Senator from Massachusetts John Kerry's statement last sunday of CBS's Face the Nation.

    "There is no reason ... that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the ... of ... the historical customs, religious customs."

Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette we have the sourcing of those claims.
    David Wade, Kerry's communications director, responded promptly after we spoke.

    Mr. Wade's e-mail message attempted to summarize the information in the four attachments. It also referenced an accusation by the virulent anti-American scold the International Committee of the Red Cross, which demands terrorists be treated as prisoners of war.

    Three attachments were very old newspaper stories from The Sun of Baltimore (June 18, 2003), The New York Times (Aug. 7, 2003) and The Washington Post (Jan. 23, 2005). The fourth, a U.S. Institute of Peace report, stated that even creating a profile of the "insurgents" is "a daunting task."

    The Sun story states "someone or something" struck a retired Iraqi high school teacher who walked into the street and died, and "Just who or what caused his death is a mystery." Then the story all but blames our soldiers.

    The Times wrote that "The American military ... has decided to limit the scope of its raids in Iraq after receiving warnings from Iraqi leaders that the raids were alienating the public." That was just a few months after the invasion.

    The Post article "is the story of how the U.S. military made an enemy of one man during a 20-minute encounter" -- a man who hates Jews and felt so violated when his stash of girlie magazines was discovered that he started to slap his own mother.

Jeez. That's open and shut.

The column is called "Genghis John Rides Again," if you were curious.

But jk thinks:

This guy was almost President. And he may have a shot at the Democratic nomination again. He supports our troops but has accused them of atrocities in three differnt conflicts.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2005 1:22 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Another shot? Only in his mind.
Hillary '08! Unless the leftists get their way. She is pro-war you know.

Posted by: AlexC at December 11, 2005 4:15 PM
But jk thinks:

You got me. I almost said parenthetically that I didn't think he had much chance at another run. He's a long shot for certain, but if Hillary should scare everyone else off and really muff it on the war, it *could* happen...

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2005 10:38 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I was discussing this with a co-worker. The reason Bill Clinton was popular was that he really didn't do much in eight years. The health care thing went down in flames... but there really aren't many "Bill Clinton" accomplishments. He was there for a good time, and not to rock the boat. People like that.

His wife on the other hand, will want to change things. People don't like that.

Posted by: AlexC at December 12, 2005 6:51 PM

December 10, 2005


Drudge links to two articles about Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman's "trouble" within the Democrat Party.

NY Times

    Much of the open criticism has been from liberal groups and House members. But his comments have also rankled Democrats in the Senate. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, phoned Mr. Lieberman this week to express concerns with his views, Mr. Reid's aide said.

    "Senator Reid has a lot of respect for Senator Lieberman," said Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman. "But he feels that Senator Lieberman's position on Iraq is at odds with many Americans."

    An aide to another leading Democratic senator who insisted on anonymity said the feelings toward Mr. Lieberman could be summed up as, "The American people want to hold George Bush accountable for the failed policy in Iraq, and Senator Lieberman doesn't."

    Mr. Lieberman, who remains immensely popular in his home state, is aware of the hornet's nest he has stirred.

    "Some Democrats said I was being a traitor," he said in an interview on Friday, adding that he was not surprised by the reaction, "given the depth of feeling about the war."

    Liberal political groups, including Democracy for America and, are considering ways to retaliate, including backing a challenge to Lieberman in next year's Democratic primary. Former senator and Connecticut governor Lowell P. Weicker Jr., an opponent of the war, has vowed to run as an independent, absent a strong Democratic or Republican challenge to Lieberman.

    The administration, on the other hand, can't stop gushing over Lieberman. Vice President Cheney called him "a fine U.S. senator," and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman contrasted him with his "retreat and defeat" Democratic colleagues.

Add to this the latest meme of the Senator replacing Donald Rumsfeld at the Department of Defense, and you have an interesting story playing out.

Am I the only one who thinks that the Senator better serves the country by staying a Democrat? He's like the fox in the henhouse. Senator Lieberman, by staying true to principles, is disrupting the whole gestalt over at the DNC.

By being where he is, he serves as a great gauge for just how far left the rest of the Defeaticrat party has gone. Without him and Senator Zell Miller, the Democrats would not be much different than the Greens... hell... the Socialist Party too.

The party that once included Ronald Reagan lost him because of their leftward drift. Might this party of Dean and MoveOn repeat history this time with Joe?

But johngalt thinks:

It never ceases to amaze how the so-called "party of free speech" is so quick to shout down speech that opposes theirs, even when it comes from their own caucus. Aren't their minds open to different ideas? Is it possible that, from each of their points of view, they are BOTH correct? Couldn't Senator Lieberman be correct from HIS perspective? The answer, to moral relativists (whose ideology has driven much of the democrat agenda since the sixties) is YES.

But the problem for the Dems in this case is that, from the perspective of "many Americans," Mr. Lieberman's position sounds MORE correct than that of the Defeaticrats. And what's more, he has the all-important qualifier (in the liberal academia and political classes) known as "standing." When Republicans say the war is good for America's future and our progress in it is impressive, they can be dismissed as "war mongering, poor hating, racists." It's a lot harder to say that about the vice-presidential nominee from your very own party.

So the DNC is transforming before our eyes from an open and self-examining political party into a rigid, centrally controlled power base. They certainly deserve the name I've recently heard attributed them - DCC: Democratic Central Committee. "Get back in line, comrade Lieberman!"

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2005 11:24 AM
But AlexC thinks:

An aside... Ever find it hard to argue with a moral relativist? Shouldn't they be agreeing with you?

Posted by: AlexC at December 10, 2005 12:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I completely agree that it serves the nation best for Senator Lieberman to remain a Democratic Senator from Connecticut. It is good for the Administration to have one quotable member of the opposition party.

It amazes me that the VP candidate from five years ago is now in a "Zell Miller" position.

The Democrats problem is McCain-Feingold. Without George Soros and they cannot raise the money they require to be competitive. They have to chase the radical fringe and must swear fealty to Labor positions and minority leaders.

All this takes them away from mainstream positions.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2005 3:52 PM
But AlexC thinks:

The GOP doesn't have George Soros / MoveOn equivalent yet they are raising the money. So it's possible.

The cure for the Dems would be change their message to get regular people to actually buy in their "new" message. Then they'd get the money.

But it's a bitter pill to swallow.

Posted by: AlexC at December 10, 2005 5:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Actually, Alex, no. By definition moral relativists can't agree with anyone, including themselves.

But you're right, when you apply garden variety logic to their mindset you conclude that if they don't have the conviction of their own values then why not just agree with yours! At least for as long as they're in your presence, then they can agree with the next sap the come across after that.

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2005 3:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I should add this too: Rand said, "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny its existence can not be persuaded by it. They can not help you. Leave them alone."

Those who deny the existence of an objective reality that is the same for all individuals, regardless of their personal perceptions of it, and also deny the existence of objective cause and effect within that reality, are utterly powerless to understand your rational dialectic.

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2005 3:05 PM

December 9, 2005

Government Worries

The Club For Growth Blog has become my new favorite.
Witness a post called Worried About the Wrong Thing...

      “Worried that too many young Americans are turned off by the idea of working in government, Congress has provided $600,000 for a research project to develop strategies to raise interest among college students in federal service.”

    The fact that the government has to spend $600,000 to make itself more appealing should reveal the obvious fact that it needs to be reform. But heavens, that’s just flat out crazy talk for bureaucrats.

It's fiscally conservative and snarky.

I would love to get paid just to blog like that everyday. I don't have the ability to be full-time snarky at my current position!

Internecine, Part XLIV

Pick a little fight on a Friday, shall I?

The Lead Editorial in the WSJ Ed Page today (free link) is a call for GOP politicians to reject the restrictionist elements in its party. Despite Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly and Rep. Tom Tancredo, the special election in California proved traditional GOP issues to fare better than immigration restrictionism by a wide margin.

Mr. Campbell, who ran on traditional conservative themes of lower federal spending, tax reform and national security, won the five-man contest in a walk with 45%. Mr. Gilchrist is a co-founder of the Minutemen citizens' border patrol promoted relentlessly by CNN's Lou Dobbs and his Fox running mate, Bill O'Reilly. Mr. Gilchrist made militarizing the Mexican border the centerpiece of his campaign, raising some $600,000 and getting extraordinary media attention. Yet he still came in third with 25%, trailing a Democrat who won 28% despite spending only one-fourth as much money.

This in a very conservative locale very near the border. The better political ploy would be the better economic ploy, a jk supported plan to combine enforcement improvement with a guest worker program.
A recent story in the Sacramento Bee led with this: "A growing labor shortage in California's agricultural industry has local farmers bracing for a tough--and expensive--winter harvest." Among the causes: "increased border enforcement that is reducing the number of illegal immigrants entering the country," competition for workers from other industries, and "the lack of a guest-worker program to allow undocumented immigrants to work legally."

We get the same message from nearly every business executive who comes through our offices: Without immigrants, they couldn't possibly find enough willing workers to do the available work, no matter what the available wages. Yet Republicans seem intent not merely on increasing border patrols but also on further harassing law-abiding businesses that happen to hire illegals, as if anyone can tell the difference between real and fake immigration documents. Only Republicans would think it's smart politics to punish their supporters for hiring willing workers.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 12:50 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

I find it ironic that those who support closing the border are on the same side of the battle lines as big labor and its democrat supporters, for they know that more people on the bottom of the wealth redistribution pyramid means less for those who are already there. I don't think Dobbs and Gilchrist are trying to protect union interests, but the private property rights of those along the border whose homes and land are routinely overrun, looted and vandalized by illegals.

The ultimate moral solution is to close the border to unfettered immigration, allow virtually unlimited LEGAL immigration of anyone without a criminal record, and eliminate all the welfare programs that attract deadbeats - both immigrant and resident.

I could support a guest worker program if I thought it might ultimately lead to the situation I just described, but since I doubt it'll lead there I fear that "guest worker" would be just another regulatory band-aid with greater unintended consequences than the original problem. If it can be shown to disincentivize gold bricking then I might jump on board.

Posted by: johngalt at December 9, 2005 3:34 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Eliminate welfare programs? Johngalt have you lost your mind? There is no politician on earth who has the testicular fortitude to even broach that subject.

Sadly, I think the only way to end government programs is to let them atrophy from disuse.
Of course they won't totally go away. It's government. But shrinking it that way might be easier. It's certainly not happening the more direct way.

In a way, this is the Bush Social Security plan, which is now seemingly relegated to the dust-bin.
America's youth can save better than the government. They're not going to want the government SS in 30, 40 years. They'll have their own... and it'll be better.

The generation(s) that are currently suckling on the teet of the nanny state are immovable. We need to concentrate on those who aren't yet on welfare, but perhaps "aspire" to it. They can be educated in self-relance.

Otherwise, we'll just keep on going. It doesn't stop.

Posted by: AlexC at December 9, 2005 11:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I asked Dagny, "Who would you consider to be an 'anti-welfare' politician." She replied, "Are there any?" So your point is well taken, but that doesn't prevent legislative advances like the 1996 welfare reform act. I don't expect welfare to go away overnight, but I do argue for a gradual move toward LESS welfare instead of MORE. There's nothing that says all able bodied Americans won't support themselves if given a fair chance to do so, and disabled Americans will be supported VOLUNTARILY and PRIVATELY by the rest.

And without a European welfare state in that giant space between Mexico and Canada there will be much less attraction for warm weather deadbeats to make such a great effort to come here illegally.

And another thing - To my three point plan outlined earlier should also be added: Stop granting unearned citizenship to the illegal immigrant children born in the US, and to illegals who marry citizens. Citizenship must be earned (but MAY be earned by everyone).

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2005 11:38 AM
But jk thinks:

With all due respect, jg, you've done it again.

By making "elimination of welfare" a prerequisite for meaningful immigration reform, you have changed the debate (right here) and postponed any fixes to the serious problem of illegal immigration until hell freezes over.

You have to fix immigration in the context of our current welfare system. And I posit that a guest worker program, combined with tougher enforcement will do that.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2005 10:22 AM
But jk thinks:

As blog pragmatist, I'll answer Dagney & Alex's question.

Where are the anti-welfare legislators? They all lost and their colleagues who held sympathetic views quickly found other things to talk about.

Johngalt is dead-on that a brave war exists around the margins. We can and should fight for fewer and less-intrusive entitlements, but there is no plurality for a serious reduction or elimination.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2005 11:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

In fairness JK, please note that I did make a pragmatic concession at the end of my first comment.

Now, let me borrow from this morning's WSJ lead editorial: "We realize that our views on this subject won't carry the day, at least not until the U.S. suffers a more serious attack. (...) We still wish the President would take his case to the public, and perhaps even request hearings next year on Capitol Hill, because Americans are more sophisticated about the reality of what it takes to break these terrorists than are most journalists."

There's that word again... REALITY.

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2005 3:10 PM

Imagine There's No Moonbats

I lived through the 60s, though I was too young to "do" the 60s. I dug the Beatles, and my sister and I cried when John Lennon was killed (I was 20 at the time).

I still appreciate his music on some level, but the fawning media is really stating to get me down. He was a man of some talent, in a group of some talent, but let's watch the lionization. His social views were deeply flawed and he allowed himself to get caught in a lot of bad artistic and business judgments in his day.

The Solid Surfer speculates that Lennon's iconoclastic non-conformism would make him a Republican today. Interesting, macabre, and disprovable as this is -- I have to dissent. If I may be forgiven de mortuis nisi non bonum, I fear Lennon would be one more moonbat in the chattering class parade.

Sadly, I cannot find George Will's column online. But I had a book of collections of his columns, and it had a devastating, line-by-line takedown (we'd call it "Fisking" today) to the Lyrics to Imagine. Sorry, kids, it is sophomoric twaddle, not high social thought. I for one, am content to let the lefties keep this one.

Sorry for the grouchy post, but I can't let this bit of history be rewritten.

UPDATE: Atilla at Pillage Idiot, is less sentimental than me...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I remember an exchange with a co-worker at the time (at my part-time job during high school) where, in reaction to the 79th playing of "Imagine" that day I said, "Imagine no possessions? No countries? That's impossible!" To which my contemporary replied, "Well, that's why the song is called IMAGINE!"

I couldn't say it better if I tried.

Posted by: johngalt at December 9, 2005 3:20 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Put me down in the "definately maybe" column. While the right and Republicanism is rife with ex-liberals who have cleaned the socialism out of their ears, there are a lot of dirty hippies from the sixties who just can't let go of their "inner liberal."

I think peer pressure might have kept him a liberal. Afterall, how many recording artists are Republicans? Only a handful... and the rest of the Beatles? McCartney is a lib, Ringo? George? I dunno.

The entertainment industry is full of people who want to be liked. Peer pressure is a mofo.

Posted by: AlexC at December 9, 2005 11:03 PM

Tax Cuts!

Mmmm.... Tax cuts.

    The House successfully passed a $56 billion tax cut this afternoon, designed to further spur economic growth. Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) said passage of the bill would be good for the economy.

    "Republican efforts to deliver hard earned money back to American taxpayers is sparking America's economy, creating jobs, strengthening markets, and improving the lives of every American" DeLay said. "Republicans will continue to create an economic atmosphere that expands our nation's economy and provides entrepreneurial and job opportunities to all Americans."

Not ready for Presidential signature, but it's only a few weeks away.

Now how about some more spending cuts?

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Spending Cuts!? My GOD man, have you gone mad!? It would take a miracle for that to happen. Then again, perhaps there will be a Christmas miracle and we will start taxing the ACLU as a For Profit organization.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 9, 2005 9:48 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:


A few of our more favored leaders will be in town Monday.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 9, 2005 10:18 AM
But jk thinks:

I want pictures for the blog!

Posted by: jk at December 9, 2005 3:07 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm in Alaska plundering as usual. Had I know, I'd probably be able to snag some tix.

Posted by: AlexC at December 9, 2005 11:04 PM

December 8, 2005


The lads from TopGear blow a hippie car around with a 747. I think some of the engineering-inclined, or hippie-disinclined, might dig this..

Hat-tip: Banana Oil

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:48 PM

Two Denver Airports

I enjoy Virginia Postrel's writing on many levels and have linked to her blog frequently. Her fusion of design, economics and politics intrigue me. And her appreciation of Buffy just adds...

She writes about the benefit of competition, which is dear to my heart, and she chooses an interesting example, about 30 miles from my heart -- Denver International Airport.

The reporters had missed the main problem: The city had eliminated the most obvious source of feedback--competition from the old airport. It had made DIA a protected monopoly rather than an experiment subject to competitive trial. By shutting down Stapleton, DIA's political sponsors had made it impossible to rule the new airport a definite error. No matter how many complaints passengers lodge, officials can always point to other advantages. At the same time, however, DIA's monopoly keeps it from becoming an accepted success. Without a genuine trial, we simply have no way to tell whether travelers (or airlines) would rather trade a convenient location for fewer weather-related delays. One airport must fit all: Love it or hate it, if you're flying from Denver you don't have a choice.

I consider this long settled, kind of stare decisis from my 20s. I fought the airport then (If Mayor Pena wanted it, it had to be bad!) but have grown to like its style and efficiency.

The urban-renewed Stapleton district is pretty impressive as well. I worked at the airport as a teen, and my wife grew up just south of there, and that area needed a little renewing.

But her stats on the costs are sobering, and it is a looooooong drive. I never really considered the idea of both staying open. The government has me pretty inured to public monopolies.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:43 PM

Party of Sam's Club

If you like plain ol' raw politics, I haven't read a more interesting magazine article in many moons than the Weekly Standard's cover story from Nov14: "The Party of Sam's Club." I blogged about it when it came out, but the Weekly Standard has just moved it onto its free site. If you missed it, it is worth a read:

The Party of Sam's Club

jk's take

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM

Most Important Vote This Year

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page says (free link) that the tax cut extension vote "may be the most important vote on the economy the House has taken all year." And correctly says that its closeness shows "how far Republicans in Congress have stumbled of late."

A moment to preach to the choir, though, for their enumeration of what an extraordinary policy success the tax cuts have been:

• The stock market has risen by about $4 trillion in value, and an estimated 40% of that gain is directly attributable to increases in the after-tax return on equities, thanks to the tax cut. (If the tax cut expires, the market will instantly give back those gains.) Housing values have soared so rapidly that the fear is we now face a bubble. Household net wealth has climbed by $10 trillion.

• Business investment--which had sunk into the abyss during the recession, falling by 21% between 2000 and 2002--has roared back to life. Spending is up nearly 25% over the past 30 months.

• Dividend payments to shareholders have doubled in two years, according to data gathered by the American Shareholders Association. The cumulative impact of the tax cut and the higher dividend payments has put $100 billion into the pockets of America's burgeoning investor class.

• The macro-economic signs all point to a solid, sustainable expansion. Employment is up 4.4 million and real GDP growth has averaged 4%--or twice the OECD average--since 2003. Today's unemployment rate of 5% means there are now roughly one million more Americans working than were projected before the tax cut.

• Oh, and yes, there was a $120 billion reduction in the budget deficit in 2005. That's because tax receipts rose by more than in any previous year in U.S. history, even adjusting for inflation. Receipts were up by $55 billion above projections in 2004; $122 billion above projections in 2005; and are already running well ahead of projections so far in fiscal 2006 (which began in October).

• Finally, we wonder if any of the faux debt-hawks in Congress noticed that thanks to the sizzling economy, states and localities are now running hefty budget surpluses, reversing years of red ink and painful service cutbacks. Even New York City--which for years looked like the U.S. version of debt-plagued Argentina--is back in the black.

The GOP can't win on that, how will they expect to win the debate on the war?

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Oh, and yes, there was a $120 billion reduction in the budget deficit in 2005. That's because tax receipts rose by more than in any previous year in U.S. history, even adjusting for inflation. Receipts were up by $55 billion above projections in 2004; $122 billion above projections in 2005; and are already running well ahead of projections so far in fiscal 2006 (which began in October).

I just heard on NPR that the democrats are complaining that the tax cuts have caused an increase in the deficit spending for the budget. I nearly choked on my own bile.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 8, 2005 12:51 PM
But jk thinks:

We have to break the CBO of static scoring models if we ever want any tax cuts or meaningful reform.

Without certifying that tax cuts would pay for themselves (though I think most all do), it has to be considered that the economic stimulus will aid the revenue side. Anti-tax-cutters will always have the edge until that happens.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2005 2:26 PM

TNR back to form

I have had nice words for TNR two days in a row, I can't let that go too far.

Today, John B. Judis defends DNC Chair Howard Dean:

There are, however, two very different questions to ask about Dean's statements on Iraq. The first is whether they are politic--whether they have advanced his own or his party's electoral chances. Probably not--I am no fan of Dean as a national politician or party chair; and I would certainly concede that a Democrat in Georgia, Florida, or Nebraska might not want to run on what he says.

The second question, though, is whether his judgment on Iraq has been sound. And there I would say that it certainly has been. During the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, and during the invasion and occupation, Dean has been almost consistently correct in his statements. He has been the Democrats' and the nation's Cassandra--willing to reveal bitter truths about which Republicans and his fellow Democrats would prefer that he remain silent.

He continues to say that Governor Yeeeeahhh has been right all along about Iraq.

I have to call "broken clock twice a day" on Dean. More fairly, a Wall Street Bear. If you stand up everyday and say "everything's going to hell" you are gonna be right now and then. But, you're gonna miss all the opportunities to make money in the more prevalent Bull sessions.

Maybe TNR went too far with Byron York and Professor Stuntz, but rushing to defend Gov. Dean is a mistake for the DLC-centrist book.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM

December 7, 2005

Bias By The Numbers

The President delivers a speech (which I have not seen yet) and the AP has posted a bylined article describing it.

The AP piece opens with a bit of commentary:

WASHINGTON - Trying to build support for his Iraq war strategy, President Bush acknowledged Wednesday that reconstruction has proceeded with "fits and starts" but asserted that economic progress is lifting hopes for a democratic future.

"Trying to build support..." okay. That would be contrary to most political speeches which are purely informative. She then gives three short paragraphs to the speech, two of which are positive.

Then a paragraph about violence in Iraq.

Then a paragraph about Rep. Murtha

A response from the Pentagon about Mutha's charge that $100 billion will be requested.

Two paragraphs about Rep. Nancy Pelosi

Two more on Murtha

A paragraph on Senator Reid's response.

A paragraph on the tepid reaction the speech received.

A paragraph on the President's low poll numbers.

A quote from the speech [!!!]

Critics of the administration's reconstruction strategy in Iraq say...

Three paragraphs about a report Senate Democrats critical of Iraqi reconstruction progress.

Bias by the numbers:

4 paragraphs with quotes
11 paragraphs about opposition, including Nancy Pelosi, John Murtha, Harry Reid, "Critics of the administration," and a panel of Senate Democrats.
3 paragraphs of negative or contradictory news
2 paragraphs setting a negative context for the speech.

This in a story supposedly about the speech.

Churlish of me to keep score?
(Click "Continue Reading..." to see the story I scored)

Bush Admits 'Fits and Starts' in Iraq Plan By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Trying to build support for his Iraq war strategy, President Bush acknowledged Wednesday that reconstruction has proceeded with "fits and starts" but asserted that economic progress is lifting hopes for a democratic future.

"In places like Mosul and Najaf, residents are seeing tangible progress in their lives," Bush said. "They're gaining a personal stake in a peaceful future and their confidence in Iraq's democracy is growing. The progress in these cities is being replicated across much of Iraq."

There's still plenty of work to do in cities like Najaf and Mosul, he said.

"Like most of Iraq, the reconstruction in Najaf has proceeded with fits and starts since liberation," Bush said. "It's been uneven. Sustaining electric power remains a major challenge. ... Security in Najaf has improved substantially but threats remain. There are still kidnappings and militias and armed gangs are exerting more influence than they should in a free society."

Bush's speech came amid new violence in Iraq. Gunmen killed three police officers in the northern city of Kirkuk and freed a wounded man who had been arrested for plotting to kill a judge in the Saddam Hussein trial. A day earlier, two suicide bombers detonated explosives inside Baghdad's main police academy, killing at least 43 people and wounding more than 70.

Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, said the military has told him it plans to ask for $100 billion more for the war next year. That's in addition to the $50 billion that Congress is expected to approve for this year before adjourning, and the $200 billion that lawmakers already have given the president for Iraq since 2003.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said "it would be premature" to discuss next year's budget, which the administration has not completed but will submit in February. Military commanders have told the administration the next $50 billion should last through Memorial Day.

"The president says the security situation on the ground is better. It is not," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "More of the same in Iraq is not making us safer."

After a caucus meeting on Iraq, she and other Democrats in leadership sought to project a unified front on the war, even though they disagree over just when U.S. troops should return home.

Murtha criticized the way the president and his administration have handled Iraq, and said Bush lacked credibility.

"It's been poor planning from the start," said Murtha, a Vietnam war veteran, who added that as far as he can tell, Bush's plan is "stay the course and hope."

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Bush failed to provide a strategy for success or speak honestly about the failures in rebuilding Iraq and the challenges ahead. "Instead, he cherry picked isolated examples of Iraq's reconstruction from two cities that provide an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the situation on the ground for most Iraqis," Reid said.

Bush's speech, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, was the second in a series of four to answer criticism and questions about the U.S. presence more two and a half years after the war started. He spoke to a group of foreign policy experts, many of whom have been critical of his policies. They gave him a cool reception. Some in the audience interrupted to applaud when Bush said the U.S. would not run from Iraq, but most sat stoically during the entire speech.

Bush is shouldering the lowest job approval rating of his presidency, and the latest series of speeches amount to a public relations campaign to respond to political pressure that has mounted as U.S. deaths have eclipsed 2,100. He and other administration officials are working to shore up slumping public support for the war in the run-up to the Dec. 15 vote in Iraq to create a democratically elected government that will run the country for the next four years.

While Bush talked about reconstruction projects and the reopening of schools, markets and hospitals, the upgrading of roads and the growth of construction jobs in some cities, he also acknowledged that both cities still face challenges.

"Iraqis are beginning to see that a free life will be a better life," Bush said. "Reconstruction has not always gone as well as we had hoped, primarily because of the security challenges on the ground. Rebuilding a nation devastated by a dictator is a large undertaking."

Critics of the administration's reconstruction strategy in Iraq say not enough has been done since the U.S.-led invasion to reduce unemployment, step up oil production and keep the lights on.

Senate Democrats issued a report saying the U.S. faces a reconstruction gap. While the administration cites the number of new schools built, roads paved and businesses created, "the simple fact is that basic needs — jobs, essential services, health care — remain unmet," according to the report obtained by The Associated Press.

"Iraq's economic progress has fallen significantly short of administration's goals," the Democratic report said. "Clearly, efforts to grow Iraq's economy have been challenging because Saddam Hussein left his nation's economic infrastructure in shambles. However, the Bush administration has exacerbated the challenge by its poor planning and policies."

Billions of dollars have been lost waste, fraud and abuse, the report said.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM


Adjacent items in my email today:

1) The TNR mailer with a link to "Fortunate Son" by Byron York. The teaser: "Six years after South Carolina, John McCain is not a Republican maverick. He's the darling of the GOP establishment."

The article is good -- and fair. It matches my occasional lapses into supporting the Senator from Arizona (though I like the other one better!)

2) Next was mail from the Center for Individual Freedom, subject line: "McCain Refuses to Yield on Pro-Terrorist Amendment."

Guess you can't please everybody all the time.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM

December 6, 2005

Democrat Recap

Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom has a nice, short recap of what the Democratic Leadership is saying about the war:

To recap: The leader the of Democratic party has stated publically that we won’t win the war. The most recent Democratic presidential candidate has accused our soldiers of terrorizing women and children (for the second time). The Democratic House minority leader is taking the position that we should withdraw from Iraq immediately, backing the plan of a Democratic “hawk,” who continues to step up the rhetoric. And a former Democratic Attorney General is in Iraq, defending the murderous tyrant our military deposed, losing over 2000 troops in the process[...]

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:12 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

That last one is the most egregious. The only aid he can bring to the doomed "Down with the dictators!" dictator ( is an institutional size can of moral relativism, but the very notion of a former US cabinet member legally defending the enemy DURING wartime is putrid.

I think it's also germane to add that the "most recent Democrat presidential candidate" thinks "terrorizing" women and children is just fine as long as Iraqi's do it, saying: ( "And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs. Whether you like it or not... ...Iraqis should be doing that."

Posted by: johngalt at December 7, 2005 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Nope. I'm going to defend the defender at great personal peril.

AG Ramsey Clark is an anti-American buffoon (we are talking Carter administration here) and the preening and idiocy we will hear from him during the trial will be mournful. But, if we are to have a trial, the defendant is entitled to a spirited defense and I do not object to a lawyer's taking the case.

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2005 7:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You are right, JK. I went too far in my condemnation of a former government attorney defending the dictatorial head of a defeated nation. I was overzealous in denying his right to a free and fair trial for numerous reasons:

1) In the postmodern, moral-relativist world, there is no longer ANY SUCH THING as an objectively fair trial.

2) The idea that as demented a soul as Ramsey Clark could ever hold a position in the government of this nation.

3) The effort in some quarters to grant federal criminal trials to wartime battlefield detainees, as though the soldiers who captured them (instead of riddling them with lead in self defense) had the time, resources and inclination to mirandize the enemy combatants and conduct a thorough forensic investigation of the battle scene. PLEASE!!

4) Saddam wasn't just shot in the head like his sons. (Although I suspect he'll prefer to have had their fate by the time his multiple trials are over.)

5) John Heinz-Kerry's repeated acts of sabotage against the Department of Defense and everyone who serves our national security.

But yes, give the megalomaniac ( his lawyers.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2005 3:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Does he deserve a trial? I don't know. But if he has a trial, he deserves a lawyer, and in a great karmic balance, he truly deserves Ramsey Clark.

I have always read that the Nuremberg trials were a good and cathartic enterprise which both exposed the world to Nazi depravity and provided closure to the families of the victims. Jay Nordlinger claims that the real crime is that there were no equivalent events for the Soviets.

Saddam's trial could do the same -- or it could prove several of your points correct.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2005 5:18 PM

That Sucking Sound

That sucking sound you hear is ten thousand Democrats canceling their subscriptions to The New Republic. And 20,000 Harvard alumnae writing nasty letters.

For Harvard Professor William J. Stuntz has a piece on TNR's website today that will not go over with the MoveOn Crowd or Leader Pelosi. In Lincoln and Iraq, Stuntz compares the Iraq war to The Civil War.

n 1861 Abraham Lincoln led what was left of his country to war to restore "the Union as it was," to use the popular phrase of the time. Free navigation of the Mississippi River, the right to collect customs duties in Southern ports, the status of a pair of coastal forts in South Carolina and Florida--these were the issues over which young American men got down to the business of killing one another that sad summer.

It was all a pipe dream. "The Union as it was" was gone, forever. Events proved William Tecumseh Sherman--the prophet of that war--right, and everyone else wrong: An ocean of blood would be required to reunite the United States, and once that blood was spilled, the country over which James Buchanan had presided was as dead as the soldiers whose corpses littered the battlefields of Shiloh and Gettysburg, Antietam and Cold Harbor.

But there was a much bigger, much better, and above all much nobler dream waiting in the wings: "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" (to use Lincoln's own words)--that the chains of four million slaves might be shattered forever, that freedom and democracy might prevail against tyranny and aristocracy in a world still full of tyrants and aristocrats.
Freedom and democracy, justice and the equality of all men before God and before the law--those causes were very different. Shedding an ocean of blood for them was terribly sad but not tragic: The essence of tragedy is waste, and the blood shed on the Civil War's battlefields was not wasted. Horrible as its killing fields were, those young men accomplished something profoundly good: Their deaths ensured that (to use Lincoln's words again) "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." That is why the Civil War has gone down in history not as America's own World War I, but as the war of America's true "greatest generation," the generation that preserved freedom and democracy for us and for the rest of humankind.

Stuntz continues [I don't know whether the link requires subscription, holler if you want it emailed or longer excerpts -- this is a stunning piece!] to compare the Iraq War as being longer, bloodier and more noble in cause that its original intentions.

He accepts that mistakes have been made, but again compares to Lincoln's

None of this excuses the bungling and bad management that have plagued the Iraq war. The administration has made some terrible mistakes that have cost precious lives, both among our soldiers and among Iraqi civilians. But bungling and bad management were far more evident in Lincoln's war than they have been in Bush's. Most wars are bungled; battle plans routinely go awry. Sometimes, error gives rise to larger truths; nations can stumble unawares onto great opportunities. So it was in the 1860s. So it is today in the Middle East.

Two-and-a-half years ago, our armed forces set out to fight a small war with a small objective. Today we find ourselves in a larger war with a larger and vastly better purpose. It would be one of history's sadder ironies were we to turn away because that better purpose is not the one we set out to achieve. Either we fight the fight our enemies have chosen until they are defeated or (better still) dead, or millions of Muslim men and women may lose their "last, best hope"--and we may face a mushroom cloud over Manhattan, the work of one of the many Mohamed Attas that Middle Eastern autocracies have bred over the last generation. The choice belongs not to the president alone, but to all of us. Here's hoping we choose as wisely as Lincoln's generation did.

Amen. If somebody still thinks like that at Harvard, and the Democrats at TNR will still print it, there's some hope, Professor. Some hope.

But johngalt thinks:

Great excerpts JK. Bravo to the Harvard professor. He evokes comparisons to Victor Davis Hanson.

I too am heartened by the venue of this essay. Perhaps the cancerous sore of the anti-war, anti-prosperity, anti-human faction of the Democrat party has sufficiently swelled and discolored that it may be crusted over by the rational, self-interested majority and allowed to shrivel and die the death it so profoundly deserves. A key factor to observe will be how long it takes for Howard Dean to be fired as chairman of the DNC.

Posted by: johngalt at December 6, 2005 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

It amuses me that many Democrats write off Gov. Dean as a clown. Last night Rachel Maddow was asked about the latest Dean-burst and replied that "Rep Tom Tancredo wanted to nuke Mecca!"

Tucker rejoined that Dean was head of the party and that Tancredo was "a congressman from Colorado." That is what I have tried to get my Democrat friends -- and Andrew Sullivan -- to admit. (Note to his fans, Carlson said “he wished” that Rep. Tancredo had a leadership position.)

The minority leader of the House has now seconded Rep. Murtha's plans for "immediate redeployment" and Dean has one-upped them.

Were I a candidate for the House (stop laughing!) I would ask my opponent "Would you vote for Ms. Pelosi for leader?" I am not sure that even the Third Colorado District can muster a plurality for cut-and-run.

Posted by: jk at December 6, 2005 4:14 PM

December 5, 2005

EU Constitution

Samizdata points out this gem (follow the link for triple hat-tips)

The US Constitution begins, famously, "We the People...". The European Constitution begins, "His Majesty the King of the Belgians...". That gives you a fair idea of the different spirit of each document.

His Majesty, the King of the Belgians, you really can't make this stuff up.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:10 PM

Say What?

Deposed murderous dictator Saddam Hussein's "trial" resumed today. After his "attorneys" were advised their procedural complaints would only be considered if submitted in writing, and warned that another instance of walking out of court would result in replacement by court appointed lawyers, Saddam and his half brother protested.

Saddam and his half brother Barazan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, then chanted: "Long live Iraq! Long live Arabs! Down with the dictators! Long live democracy!" (emphases mine)

You read that right. "Down with the dictators!" Well for once, I agree with Saddam.

But jk thinks:

'course he likes democracy -- I seem to remember his getting 100% of the vote a few years back.

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2005 3:39 PM

Apology: Condi Style

While the EU leaders squawk about whether their airspace was used to transport prisoners and call for apologies, Secretary Rice replies "buddies, we saved your ass yet again [okay, I'm paraphrasing...]"

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice turned the tables on European critics of tough U.S. tactics in the war on terror Monday, maintaining that intelligence gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency has saved European lives.

Responding for the first time in detail to the outcry over reports of secret CIA-run prisons in European democracies, Ms. Rice said the U.S. "will use every lawful weapon to defeat these terrorists." But in remarks delivered as she got ready to leave on a trip to Europe, she steadfastly refused to answer the underlying question of whether the U.S. had CIA-operated secret prisons there.

"We cannot discuss information that would compromise the success of intelligence, law enforcement, and military operations. We expect other nations share this view," Ms. Rice said in a statement at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

The secretary said that information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies from a "very small number of extremely dangerous detainees," has helped prevent terrorist attacks and saved lives "in Europe as well as in the U.S. and other countries." Reports of the existence of the secret prisons has caused a trans-Atlantic uproar. The European Union has asked the Bush administration about these reports.

I'm glad somebody in this administration does not believe that a demand for an apology always requires one. Bill Kristol was pretty eloquent about this this weekend on FOXNews Sunday. Discussing the 'alleged-paid-editorial" SCANDAL, Kristol issued a loud "so what [paraphrasing again...]"

What he did say was "we're fighti9ng a war." And I have to agree. If the worst thing we do in a global war against fascists who think nothing of bombing a wedding reception is to engage in some borderline PR tactics, I can still call us the good guys.

Bully for Kristol. Bully for Sec. Rice. We should respect our allies' sovereignty (more than Iraqi press scruples) but we deserve more doubt-benefit from EU nations.

The only real crime here is the CIA leak to the WaPo. Only about 10,000 times more significant to national security than Valerie Plame's identity.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

Iranian Nukes

Move along, nothing to see here.

    IAEA chairman Muhammad ElBaradei on Monday confirmed Israel's assessment that Iran is only a few months away from creating an atomic bomb.

    If Teheran indeed resumed its uranium enrichment in other plants, as threatened, it will take it only "a few months" to produce a nuclear bomb, El-Baradei told The Independent.

If anything, this calls for another round of strongly worded international resolutions condemning Iran for defying the will of the nations who were signatories to the LAST strongly worded resolution.
    On the other hand, he warned, any attempt to resolve the crisis by non-diplomatic means would "open a Pandora's box. There would be efforts to isolate Iran; Iran would retaliate; and at the end of the day you have to go back to the negotiating table to find the solution."

Yep. That's what would happen alright.

Here's what's going to happen.

Israel somehow found out that Iran is as far along as they are. It was merely Mr Magoo who confirmed it. They know what Iran is up to. Israel is going to do an Osirak style bombing run to all of the Iranian sites.

There will be much consternation and condemnation from the Middle East and Europe, but mostly private sighs of relief from those same Europeans.

The only snag is that to get to Iran from Israel, they will need to cross over Iraq. I would find it pretty hard to believe that the United States is not blanketing Iraq with radar from border to border. We'd see them sneaking over. Even if we didn't the usual suspects would think we did. That's a little trouble.

Update: Call me master of the obvious.

    Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that he could consider a pre-emptive air strike against Iran's nuclear installations if he were to be re-elected. Netanyahu, who is widely expected to regain the leadership of the right-wing Likud party later this month, said Israel needed to "act in the spirit" of the late premier Menachem Begin who ordered an air strike on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 11:14 AM

Supporting the Troops

Since when does supporting the troops involved putting up a child to write a "Thank You Card" to a soldier which says:

    Dear Soldier,
    Have a great time in the war, and have a great time dieing [sic] in the war.
    From Miguel Gallier.
    P.S. Die.

Follow this link for a screenshot.
They're against the war, but they support the troops.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 11:05 AM

December 2, 2005

Supply Side Sketch

Convincing threesourcers that tax cuts are a good idea is impossible. We already agree.

But sometimes you have to see it anyway. (Click to expand)

Ahh... The air smells fresher.

(tip to Club for Growth)

But jk thinks:

And you can go back through historical data and see the same trends for Kennedy's and Reagan's tax cuts, yet still many serious people do not believe.

Rubinomics worked once -- there is no historical correlation between debt, interest rates, employment, and GDP growth. Yet everybody seems to believe in Rubinomics. Sad.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2005 11:27 AM

Think Tankery

Pennsylvania is pretty fortunate to have it's very own free-market private-sector think tank.
The Commonwealth Foundation.

    The Commonwealth Foundation is an independent, non-profit research and educational institute that develops and advances public policies based on the nation’s founding principles of limited constitutional government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility for one’s actions.

They've actually started their own policy blog, which can be found here.

No, I don't work for the Commonwealth Foundation, but they do great work, and their white-papers are top-notch. Between the CF and PA Club for Growth Pa and American conservatives have two great public policy resources.

Philosophy Posted by AlexC at 9:33 PM

Life Imitates Art

For those you who have seen the movie "Team America" by the creators of South Park, you will remember the catchy Broadway song, "Everyone Has AIDS".

It was an upbeat musical type number, including the following lyrics.

    Everyone has AIDS!
    Everyone has AIDS!

It turns out, that wasn't as crazy as we thought.

It's an actual campaign.

    More than two decades into the worst healthcare crisis the world has ever known, STIGMA still challenges efforts to prevent, to treat and to ultimately cure HIV/AIDS. The awareness of such STIGMA is a necessary step towards the prevention, containment and eventual eradication, and is fortunately something we can all effect.

    Because if one of us has AIDS, we all have it.

    The WE ALL HAVE AIDS Campaign is a show of solidarity among, and an acknowledgment of, many of the world’s most accomplished, devoted and inspiring AIDS activists and scientists of the last 20 years.

No one is going to disagree with the need for AIDS awareness. Afterall, it will kill you.

But isn't this idea a little over the top? Not all of us have AIDS. Not all of us will get it. It's not like the plague, or the pending Avian Flu outbreak (potentially) or the cold.

It's just not that readily communicable.

Outside of a freakishly rare blood transfusion, or getting it from your mother, getting AIDS is pretty much a personal decision or a consequence of an individual's lifestyle selection.

Hat tip to (ALa)

But jk thinks:

You guys all have MS as well!

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2005 6:02 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Well, that song kind of breaks down on that one JK. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at December 2, 2005 9:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not me, man. I'M A LEPER

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2005 10:41 AM

Suicide Bombers

Western civilization has apparently created it's first jihadist suicide bomber.

    Mireille, who was born in Belgium to a white, middle-class Christian family, blew herself to pieces last month in a suicide attack against American troops near Baghdad.

    In one of the most extraordinary tales of Islamic radicalisation, she is thought to be the first white Western woman to carry out a suicide bombing.

    Belgian investigators, who arrested 14 people associated with her, are keeping the 38-year-old woman’s true identity secret, but details have started to emerge. She was from the southern Belgian town of Charleroi, married to a Moroccan and converted to an extreme form of Islam.

The Belgian's Moroccan husband was also killed by American soldiers in a separate incident.

Which is a perfect example of how the insurgency is not Iraqis fighting to end our occupation of their country. It's outsiders coming to fight Americans... the fly paper theory, in other words.

I would also add that the family that terrorizes together stays together. Unless they're suicide bombers. In which case, that really doesn't apply. He gets his virgins and she gets .... ?

But johngalt thinks:

The news is not that western civilization has produced its "first jihadist suicide bomber" but rather, what took them so long?! If western society is such a threat to islam and such an evil manifestation of immorality then why have none of the millions of western muslims resorted to this ultimate measure before now? Because muslims love freedom too! When given the chance they choose life in a pluralistic society over death in supposed defense of monotheism.

Furthermore, why did this western white woman travel to Iraq to scatter her body parts? Ostensibly it's because she wanted to directly retaliate for the death of her husband (at the hands of western troops) but could it also be the lack of available bomb belts in western nations? Just wondering...

Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2005 2:23 PM

Nattering Nabobs?

Brian Wesbury (or a clever editor) calls them "Pouting Pundits of Pessimism." In a guest editorial today (free link) he details a topic I have hit with some force on this blog: the negative press this good economy gets.

During a quarter century of analyzing and forecasting the economy, I have never seen anything like this. No matter what happens, no matter what data are released, no matter which way markets move, a pall of pessimism hangs over the economy.

It is amazing. Everything is negative. When bond yields rise, it is considered bad for the housing market and the consumer. But if bond yields fall and the yield curve narrows toward inversion, that is bad too, because an inverted yield curve could signal a recession.

If housing data weaken, as they did on Monday when existing home sales fell, well that is a sign of a bursting housing bubble. If housing data strengthen, as they did on Tuesday when new home sales rose, that is negative because the Fed may raise rates further. If foreigners buy our bonds, we are not saving for ourselves. If foreigners do not buy our bonds, interest rates could rise. If wages go up, inflation is coming. If wages go down, the economy is in trouble.

I'll up the ante: if home prices go up, it's proof of a bubble.

The article is excellent and detailed (a pedant would call it an "exegesis" but I'm trying to cut down...) He also hits on the effects.

This onslaught of negative thinking is clearly having an impact. During the 2004 presidential campaign, when attacks on the economy were in full force, 36% of Americans thought we were in recession. One year later, even though unemployment has fallen from 5.5% to 5%, and real GDP has expanded by 3.7%, the number who think a recession is underway has climbed to 43%.

This is a real conundrum. It is true, bad things have happened. Katrina wiped out a major city and many people are still displaced. GM has announced massive layoffs. Underfunded pension plans are being handed off to the government. Oil, gasoline and natural gas prices have soared. Despite it all, the U.S. economy continues to flourish.

He does not point out that these negative folks might withhold investment or fail to take an employment risk, both of which make us all poorer. As Taranto said, maybe you have to have Bill Clinton in the White House to get a good economic headline.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM

December 1, 2005

Bulgaria & Ukraine Pull Out

The war is looking pretty grim to the folks at the Associated Press:

Two U.S. Allies Leaving Iraq, More May Go
Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December.

How will we continue?

Don’t get me wrong, I thank them for their brave service and am disappointed to see them go. But the portentous tone of this "news" piece is humorous. I think we'll get by somehow without Bulgaria...

The url for the story ends in "iraq_crumbling_coalition." Even the webmasters are biased...

But Silence Dogood thinks:

Yeah, even the / slants down to the left...

Posted by: Silence Dogood at December 2, 2005 12:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Start some UNIX wars around here, willya? Like we don't have enough to fight about.

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2005 12:49 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Damn Mac Insurgents, laying JPEGs (as opposed to IEDs) all over the internet ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 2, 2005 3:29 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Whoa whoa whoa...I thought it was a unilateral invasion.

Posted by: AlexC at December 2, 2005 3:42 PM

Shh, 4% GDP growth

Don't tell the MSM, but the third quarter GDP numbers have been revised up from 3.8% to 4.3. Without the hurricane, most feel it would be over five. The WSJ Ed Page says "We interrupt your daily doom-and-gloom programming with a word from the real economy: It's even better than advertised."

This represents the fastest expansion since the first quarter of 2004, as well as the 10th consecutive quarter of growth averaging close to 4% on an annual basis. So much for those predictions of recession we heard in the spring, and again in September. In fact, has there ever been a U.S. expansion this robust that has been accompanied by so much disbelief and predictions of imminent collapse? Not since the 1980s, we'd guess.

The third-quarter GDP revisions were especially notable for showing strength nearly across the board. Durable-goods orders were particularly strong, increasing at an annual rate of 10.5% and up 6% from the third quarter of 2004. Gross private investment grew at 5.8%, real equipment and software spending at nearly 12%. In other words, business investment has been a major growth driver, contrary to the conventional wisdom that consumers have been sustaining growth only by emptying their "over-extended" wallets. This bodes well for future growth, even as the housing market continues to cool.

Almost everyone I speak with talks about "this economy" as in "I'm lucky to have a job in 'this economy'" "It seems crazy to buy a car in 'this economy'"

It's one thing that President Bush doesn't get the credit -- but it is insane -- and damaging -- that the tax cuts get no credit.

As for budget deficits, we've been harder than anyone on Congressional spendthrifts. But it'd be nice if the OECD conceded that the Bush tax cuts of 2003 had something to do with the recent American, and global, boom. Those 10 quarters of 4% growth happened to begin almost precisely at the time it became clear tax cuts on dividends, capital gains and income were going to pass the Congress.

The risks they see are possible inflation and:
The other big danger is policy mistakes out of Washington. With President Bush's approval at low tide, all sorts of bad ideas are on the loose -- from "windfall profits" taxes on oil companies to tariffs against China. The Republican Congress is in such disarray that it hasn't been able to extend even for two years -- to 2010 from 2008 -- the 15% tax rates on capital gains and dividends that have contributed so much to this expansion. The threat of their expiration will start to affect business and investment decisions well before the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2008, unless Congress acts.

And how will they act to extend tax cuts if their constituents don't know that they work?

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

JaneGalt has an interesting view on this:

And an additional data point of interest; what impact did Greenspan's departure have?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 1, 2005 2:58 PM
But jk thinks:

I agree with Ms. Galt that government can do no better than stay out of way. Government does not create prosperity, but it can suppress it.

Don't quite hold that there is a better metric than GDP growth. The median income device has all the problems she mentions plus a large latency. dGDP/dt is a simple, easy to catch and compute metric that is very valuable in comparing different sized economies in different times or different countries.

As a veteran of the 90's (a programmer no less!), I also posit that it most directly correlates to how the economy "feels." Nay saying in the MSM notwithstanding, you can sense the opportunity and promise when it is highly positive -- and feel the anxiety when it is zero or negative.

Most folks I trust think that Chairman Greenspan has been a little too activist at times, but that the stability and prosperity during his tenure speak for themselves. I'm personally real happy with the Bernanke pick.

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2005 3:38 PM

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