January 31, 2006

Buttery Spread

Jeff Goldstein shows that Islamic fundamentalists have no possible response to this free-market discovery: "Smart Balance Spread has introduced a new microwave popping corn with NO trans-fats and NO hydrogenated oils -- and an Omega 3 blend that may in fact REDUCE cholesterol "

Which is sad, because this IS a delicious, buttery-tasting popcorn that literally cleans your arteries while you enjoy its tasty crunchy cornbuttery goodness we’re talking about—versus, like, mandatory prayer, sand, and chicks rolled in burlap like scratching posts. So, y’know—you might not wanna put all your eggs in that “rebuilding the Caliphate” basket just yet, holy warriors.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:01 PM

China, Google, Democracy

I was going to link to this TCS article from James V. DeLong because he echoes several of my themes. And I have been badly outnumbered in the blogosphere of late.

And given this Chinese view, what should Google do? Google should do what Google does, which is search engines. Google is not a Chinese leader, and it is not the role or duty of Google to tell China how to rule itself, or to tell the Chinese leader dedicated to the betterment of the people how to act, even when what the Chinese government does goes against the grain of American views of free speech.

In the end, search engines, even truncated ones, will contribute to the economic and political development of China, as Hazlett noted. The working out of this story will be one of the great tales of human history, for tragedy or triumph, depending on how it goes.

Perhaps more interesting are his projections of anti-democratic forces. If I read him right, he is suggesting that China might be more free than the US in a half century or so. Looking for democracies for China to model itself after, DeLong predicts that Europe will NOT be democratic in fifty years -- and he's not too sanguine about the States:
From an economic point of view, the whole U.S. is turning into a massive anti-commons, where everyone has veto power over every form of productive investment. It has shut down much of its manufacturing and extractive industries. A good symbol is that is a nation with an energy crisis that cannot even find a spot to build a refinery or an LNG terminal. It is now turning on even such innocuous industries as Wal-Mart, for heaven's sake!
Far from a model, the U.S. may be running on the fumes of its human capital of gifted and entrepreneurial people, but is far from clear that current trends will allow for the continuing replenishment of this class. And the nation is pinning a lot on high-tech, since it seems bent on suppressing other forms of economic activity.

He suggests that China is correct to "Focus on perestroika above glasnost." To add freedoms without devolving into mob rule. To establish rule of law before democracy.

It is NOT a Sharansky-esque philosophy and as such it falls roughly on my ears. But it is a serious pro-freedom view that answers the concerns of Fareed Zakaria and others who believe in freedom and self-rule while fearing their possible consequences.

Good stuff.

Google Posted by John Kranz at 3:48 PM


The nearly year long odessey of endless Supreme Court yammering is over.

Justice Alito is now the 110th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

I for one eagerly await the continued strip searches of 8 year old girls, the addition of boys to the list, coathanger abortions and warrantless phone tapping.

Let's throw in checking my library withdrawls too.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 12:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

My inner political hack must point out the obvious: it ends with a big win for President Bush. Roberts and Alito remain stellar picks and constitute a campaign promise kept.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2006 3:51 PM
But AlexC thinks:

It's beginning already! Cindy Sheehan was arrested at to SOTU this evening.

Posted by: AlexC at January 31, 2006 10:01 PM

Who appreciates capatalism?

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page (paid link, sorry!) quotes an interesting survey and concludes "No wonder Mao isn't smiling."

In a poll conducted for the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes between June and August last year, fully 74% of Chinese citizens said they agreed with the statement "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world." The Philippines, at 73%, and the U.S., at 71%, were second and third. The poll, which surveyed 20,791 people in 20 countries, seems like a pretty good snapshot of current sentiment, as such things go.

Remarkable, isn't it, that residents of the Middle Kingdom have maintained their appreciation of the benefits of free enterprise through six decades of oppression and economic backwardness imposed by their Communist cadres? Then again, for a culture in which common New Year's greetings include "I wish you happiness and many riches" and "may you make great profits," should we be surprised? Most Hong Kong residents are spending the current Chinese New Year holiday politely distributing packets of crisp new cash to friends and family. They have to earn this gift cash somehow.

Less encouraging in the Maryland survey was the response of Europeans, who could use a dollop of capitalism given the sclerotic state of their older economies. Fully half of the French disagreed that capitalism is the best way forward. Italians and Spaniards were more supportive of Adam Smith's ideals, with 59% and 63%, respectively, voting for free markets.

I cannot help but feel that China is headed in the right direction with attitudes like this. Personal liberty will follow economic liberty.

The Eurosclerocis is indeed disturbing. With India and China advancing, most countries will now be able to ignore Europe as a major market and allow it to fade away into a dystopia with elderly Europeans and unassimilated Muslims.

Google Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM

January 30, 2006

Cheap Oil!

Joining the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the People's Republic of Philadelphia will be receiving oil from Venezuela courtesy of Hugo Chavez.

Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-Philly) was a part of the negotiations.

    Congressman Chaka Fattah today announced a new program that will offer deeply discounted home heating oil to low and modest income residents in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.

    The program, which the Congressman brokered with CITGO and Citizens Energy Corp. of Boston as partners, will be available to residents who have exhausted their benefit under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program for this heating season.

    The government of Venezuela, which owns CITGO through its national oil company, will make 5 million gallons of heating oil available for 60 percent of the retail price. Up to 200 gallons of oil will be available to each eligible resident.

    “We have developed an extraordinary partnership involving the public sector, the private sector and the nonprofit sector,” said Congressman Fattah. “It will produce real help in the depths of the winter heating season for tens of thousands of people in Philadelphia and the nearby counties.”

    The public sector involves the Congressman’s office and the government of Venezuela, which has provided the oil through CITGO, a century-old U.S. petroleum company owned by the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA.

Actually it's not Philadelphia, but also the surrounding counties. Not that that really changes the deal.

Though I'm sure there are homes in Philadelphia that are oil heated, I thought the vast majority were heated with natural gas, courtesy of the city owned Philadelphia Gas Works.

And an obligatory link to the left.

    When do you know your President is in bed with oil executives?

    ...How about when leaders of other Countries start sending places like Philadlphia foreign aid, in the form of oil to heat the homes of poor people?

Imagine a President forcing a company to give their product away at a steep discount.

A taste of the comments.

    I think this is brilliant- shows up Bush, provides real relief and I like a man who consorts with old-school Latin American Socialists.

How much of Chavez's actions are more a stick in the eye to Bush and Americans vs being humanitarian?

But jk thinks:

I think it is 100% stick in the eye.

Where I am differing from some conservative friends is in asking "Why Not?" Oil is a cartelized commodity. If this loser wants to sell some to my friend AlexC at a discount for PR purposes, it means cheaper oil for me and cheaper oil for my Philly friends.

The moonbat community is amused but is it truly harmful to the United States? I am still thinking -- I loved it when Rudy told the sheiks to stuff their contingent offer, but a little cheap oil? Drink up!

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2006 10:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I heard in an unrelated story on a business program that Venezuela's oil is "high sulfur." Where are the ACID RAIN! howls from the left?

Besides, when Venezuela sells oil at 40 points off they're probably still making a huge profit given their dirt-cheap production costs. Here's my question: "Why is the government of Venezuela gouging these poor, struggling comrades who are poorer than poor?" What a scoundrel!

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2006 3:11 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

It's actually very comical if you think about it. His country's infrastructure is falling apart (See Zimby-land and SA over the water) and he is snuggling up with Iran. He is myoptic (Hate America) and this is primarily due to the tutiledge by Castro. When his neighbors get fed up with his sponsorship of insurgents or the Chinese get shorted due to unfavorable contract terminations he will find himself in a very dangerous place.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 31, 2006 8:45 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Dealing with socialists and their ideas of "forced equality" whether they are Oriental or Latin American seems like asking for trouble.

Even if we're "ripping them off" on the open market.

Could be that whole 1930's Ukrainian Famine thing perculating inside of me.

Posted by: AlexC at January 31, 2006 10:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Surely you're not proposing that a Pulitzer Prize winning, NYTimes reporter was lying about the Ukraine?

Seriously, ac, you make a good point. Any extent that we are propping up and perpetuating his despotism is bad. His oil can be sold anywhere, but if the PR props up socialism and tyranny, it's not worth it.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2006 10:39 AM

The Recreation Crisis

John Merline at TCS has a contrarian view of the soi disant health care crisis. He posits that a 362% increase in health care expenditures is not a sign of runaway costs as much as it is a sign of a wealthy populace choosing to devote its discretionary income toward quality of life. Look at all these crises (Spending increase, 1984 to 2004, courtesy of the Bureau of Economic Analysis);

Medical care362%
Higher education344%
Hair stylists and health clubs301%
Legal services279%
Gross Domestic Product198%

He admits that third-party payer arrangements have impeded market forces, and he fails to admit that more expensive health care is less avoidable than more expensive recreation. But it is incontestable that the bulk of the increase is truly just the choices of a wealthy nation. Hardly a crisis.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM


It appears that it has been almost three years since I linked to an article from Walter Russell Mead. A self-described Democrat, Yalie, and college professor whom I truly admire.

This week, he writes in the Weekly Standard (free link) about Ice Cream and Spinach. Political parties have to offer some amount of good for you but less fun "Spinach," to accomplish long term goals, but to get elected, they must combine it with "ice cream" that voters want now. Mead suggests that the current GOP is providing large doses of wartime spinach, and he suggests some ice cream for the Republicans. Each is, in his estimation. conservative in principle.

The first is one of Silence's favorites: telecommuting/telecom infrastructure.

For New Yorkers, transit strikes aren't the only hazard. Since 9/11 we have lived in a city that knows what catastrophe is. Last summer's terror attacks on the London transit system reminded us that even attacks on a much smaller scale can paralyze a major metropolitan area.

The point is that promoting telecommuting is good civil defense. Whether a disaster is manmade like a terror attack or natural like a bird flu pandemic, it's important to insulate the American economy as far as possible from the ensuing disruption.

Something like 44 million Americans now telecommute at least part time. Working with state and local governments and with business leaders, the federal government should encourage public and private enterprises to develop emergency plans that would allow as many workers as possible to work from their homes or from nearby satellite work sites during an emergency--and develop plans to protect the country's telecommunications infrastructure as well. More than half the American workforce now has jobs that can be done from home at least in part; if public and private employers put emergency plans in place, we can significantly degrade the ability of terrorists to disrupt our lives.

Hardening the telecom infrastructure and requiring enterprises to develop emergency telecommuting plans and the computer and software capacity to make them work wherever feasible would cost money, but it is something the federal government should support, and by the standards of the Homeland Security budget, the investments would be modest.
Listen to the ice cream truck. Encouraging more employers to offer more employees more opportunities to telecommute accomplishes several popular things.

I am a telecommuter myself and a believer. Hours of commuting time every week are now under my control, I will save big money not replacing the granolamobile, I use very little gas, and I feel secure that I will be able to work even as my MS gets worse, and I am around as my wife gets better after her stroke.

I don't want to be stingy sharing these benefits with my fellow Americans, but I don't know why Federal involvement is necessary. My company saves office space and depreciation on furniture, and gets me at a lower salary than some previous positions because the arrangement is favorable to me. Infrastructure? I have my choice of DSL or cable internet (I have Comcast(r)) and my company has Juniper Networks's SSL VPN (very cool!).

Silence and Johngalt used to work at this place and know it's not a spendthrift organization -- yet all of this is in place without government assistance.

His second idea is a very conservative reduction in paperwork and transaction viscosity in real estate transactions. No argument there.

His third is the least conservative. He wants the government to enter the education business and provide certifications to compete with private colleges. This is conservative in a Charlotte Simmons, down-with-Ward-Churchill way, but reeks of nationalizing higher education to me.

His basic point is valid. Americans are forced to endure wartime sacrifices and cede powers to the executive. Tax reform is off the table, tax cuts are unlikely. The President needs to have a little butter brickle in the SOTU tomorrow night.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM


Speechwriting web pages are usually pretty lame.

But here's a good one.

Tip to smedley log

On the web Posted by AlexC at 10:35 AM

Bush Polling

I'm not a big fan of polling. But it's always an easy news story and generally blog fodder.

    Fifty percent (50%) of American adults approve of the way George W. Bush is performing his role as President. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.
    The President earns approval from 82% of Republicans, 25% of Democrats, and 41% of those not affiliated with either major political party.

He's actually up for the month.

I heard this last night radio news.

The line? "Bush prepares for State of the Union, as polls show his approval rating down 12 points from a year ago."


But jk thinks:

Yup, I like Instapundit's headline -- and his commentary:

"BUSH BREAKS FIFTY PERCENT APPROVAL on the Rasmussen poll. He's been trending up there for several days. I'm not sure why, but it seems as if he does better whenever John Kerry and Ted Kennedy get face time on the national news. The Democrats would be wise to let other people represent them."

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2006 1:31 PM

January 29, 2006

Going too Far

When will insanity stop?

    Police in Tampa, Fla. are now using colored targets on their shooting ranges because they fear the traditional black silhouettes on a white background might be sending a racist message, reports the Tampa Tribune.

    Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, whose agency switched to "Smurf Blue" silhouette targets from black ones two years ago, said: "Nowadays, you can never be too sensitive."

You have got to be kidding me.

I expect some sort of a backlash from the Smurf-American community now.

Posted by AlexC at 8:52 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

'bout time those little blue b*stards got what's cummin...

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2006 11:14 AM

The Government You Deserve

There's an old saying that you get the government you deserve. It sounds like there's some buyers' remorse in the formerly "occupied" areas of the nascent Palistinean nation.

    A slew of jokes circulating among Palestinians following Hamas' landslide election victory reflects concerns that the fundamentalist group will impose Islamic law and social codes across the West Bank and Gaza.

    As one goes, all police stations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been ordered shut because all complaints must now be filed directly to God.

    Invoking God and Islamic tradition is the mainstay of all the quips that have been spreading by word of mouth and mobile phone text messages in the past few days.

    Until elections Wednesday, Hamas' goal of installing an Islamic state in the West Bank, Gaza — and Israel — was held in check by the ruling Fatah, which had no religious program.

For what it's worth, I don't understand how this new nation is going to run. Is it really a nation?

Where is their capital?

What is their currency?

Outside of victimhood, is there some sort of unique culture?

I would expect that the United States cuts off it's funding of the PA's government. Since we pay 25% of the UN's budget as well, I would expect that some of that would be cut. Can we expect the same from the EU?

Additionally, I would posit that the change in government is just going to result in continued status quo. There will still be suicide bombers. There will still be hemming and hawwing about the situation. Someone will skim all the money off the top and get rich while the regular people will continue to live in squalor. Yes, Fatah was inept at running the "country," and that won't change overnight.

Posted by AlexC at 8:47 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Its currency is whatever foreign aid rolls in. It would be funny were it not so serious. These guys are far better suited to bringing a government down than building one up.

Yet, I am more sanguine than the punditry I've read. These guys will have a chance to be legit or they will show everybody exactly what they are -- either would be of value.

Lastly, they cannot really be worse off than under Arafat and this government has less credibility in Europe than Arafat's.

Posted by: jk at January 30, 2006 11:07 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you for posting the same reaction to the "Palestinian" elections that I had, AlexC. Whatever happens to the inhabitants of these lands now as a result of terrorist acts, it can no longer be even remotely argued that they are "innocent victims" of the "cycle of violence." Having elected a terrorist government they are now a majority terrorist populace. Now, what was that Bush Doctrine again?

Ayn Rand once said, not so famously, that there are two sides to every issue: one is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. By this analysis the democratic liberty of Israel is right, terrorist thugocracy of Hamas is wrong, and Fatah was evil. Now that "wrong" has defeated "evil" in the PA elections it can only enhance the ability of "good" to destroy them both.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2006 3:26 PM

Continued Googling

"Tiananmen Square" in a free country...


"Tiananmen Square" in an oppressed one.

Google Posted by AlexC at 8:26 PM

Google Flogging


Market Cap: 128.12B
P/E (ttm): 96.03
EPS (ttm): 4.51

Discuss Among Yourselves.

Google Posted by John Kranz at 7:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Sarbanes-Oxley, where are you?

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2006 3:12 PM

Review Corner

A comedy this week. Any political overtones were way too subtle for me.

But I really enjoyed "The Man" with Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson. You know the script: two opposites are drawn together by chance in a cop "buddy" picture and hilarity ensues. Yet this one is well done and you must confess -- you can't get much more opposite than these two.

A good rental, jk gives it pi stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:43 PM

More Google Flogging

"Falun Gong" at the American Google.

"Falun Gong" at the Red Chinese Google.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 6:41 PM

Iconoclast? Or complete Git?

Forty-five entries in Pajamas Media's China Syndrome as I write this. That's 42 admonitions to Google, calls for boycotts, divestiture and general net opprobrium -- and three suggestion for ways to circumvent censorship.

I'm not nearly cool or popular enough for PJM, but I wish one person would take up my mantel. I do realize that I may disagree with every one in the world because I am wrong, but I still think they are missing several things.

1) As mentioned too many times by me before, Google as a corporation has a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders. Having ZERO presence in the fastest growing market in the world is not an option.

2) More information will be better to Chinese Internet users than less information.

3) The comparisons between rejecting government calls for porn queries and its Chinese policy is specious. Acceding to government inquiries could reduce profits (shareholder value again) and whether you agree or not, it seems easy to imagine serious opposition to the DoJ request. The Chinese fiat (small f, not a car) is a positive to valuation. The comparison only serves those who use it to flog Google.

The last guy. I'll turn out the lights when I leave.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I won't leave you standing alone. My basic view is that a little freedom is better than none. A Chinese Google is a step in the right direction (beyond having none). The fact that it doesn't make the leap to the total freedom enjoyed by Google searches here should not be condemned. If the ultimate goal is freedom of information why is everyone so against doing it small steps at a time? The all or nothing approach is not without dangers either, vast and quick change breeds backlash. This is true whether you are talking about racism, religious freedom or freedom of information. In this instant gratification society it would be good to remember how many years it took this country to fully embrace some of these freedoms that we expect emerging countries to adopt wholesale from day one.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 30, 2006 1:52 PM

Happy Valentine's Day

Osama_valentine.jpg Ala at Blonde Sagacity, shares the heartwarming Valentine's Day story of a little Jewish girl who want's to send a Valentine to Osama Bin Laden.
On the web Posted by John Kranz at 1:05 PM

January 28, 2006

New Look?

As threatrened, I played around with a redesign of the blog.

Check it out


Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Can the color on the comments be paler?

But it looks good.

Posted by: AlexC at January 29, 2006 12:25 AM
But jk thinks:

Yes, Mr. Trower (arcane allusion of 2006 entry), try it now.

Posted by: jk at January 29, 2006 12:33 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Very nice, and more readable to my eyes.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 30, 2006 1:54 PM

January 27, 2006

Groovy, Baby!

I am guilty of derisively dismissing a lot of boomer liberals as being stuck in the 60's. It is particularly easy living in Boulder County.

Arnold Kling suggests that many of today's leftists are stick in the Conventional Wisdom of 1968, which he defines as:

  • Anti-Communism was a greater menace than Communism.

  • The planet could not possibly support the population increases that would take place by the end of the twentieth century.

  • Conservatives stood in the way of progress for minorities.

  • Government programs were the best way to lift people out of poverty.

  • What underdeveloped countries needed were large capital investments, financed by foreign aid from the rich countries.

  • Inflation was a cost-push phenomenon, requiring government intervention in wage and price setting.

His great article shows that these were decent assumptions before Woodstock but that, since that time, we have seen empirical evidence to contradict all of these. Yet, these beliefs seem rather fixed in a lot of people I encounter.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 3:32 PM

Google Unwhacking

I thought that I was the only guy on the Internet who did not want to do shock & awe on Google headquarters. I may be, but VodkaPundit has some comments that bolster my case. Stephen Green points out that they are ultimately hurting their own competitiveness.

In a high-tech economy, the free flow of information defines how competitive a people can be. Less freedom, lower competitiveness. There's more to it than that, however. More information means less opacity, and that means more corruption. This, in turn again, means lower competitiveness.

China is trying to compete in the high-tech economy, while crippling the tools that make such competition possible.

I don't mean to say that you shouldn't be mad at Google. I am, and will be so long as they continue with such repugnant business practices. And don't get me wrong – having Google, even a restricted version, will in some small way prolong China's dictatorship. And the Chinese people will suffer, by losing what could have been a sharp weapon in their fight for freedom.

But it's not the end of the world, either.

That's his point. Mine is still that this company is justifying a 50 multiple to its shareholders. If you pay $40,000 for 100 shared of GOOG, you are probably not too keen on their missing an in on the fastest growing market in the world. Just a thought.
Hat-tip: Insty

Google Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

"If you pay $40,000 for 100 shares of GOOG" you are a moron.

Posted by: johngalt at January 30, 2006 3:19 PM

Chinese New Year

I'm a frequent flier, and have been in some cramped conditions... but this has never crossed my mind.

    Sales have soared ahead of the holiday as travelers prepare for long trips home aboard trains so crowded that even the toilets are jammed with people, newspapers said Tuesday. Supermarkets report diaper sales have risen 50 percent since Jan. 14.

    The problem arises from the need to sell twice as many tickets as there are train seats. Those without seats must find some place -- any place -- to put themselves, including in toilets.

I'm not understanding why there's a need to sell 2X the seats.

Here's a question: Will the Google News's Chinese version report on this news? Depends, I guess.

But jk thinks:

Well, it is the year of the Dog...

I suggest that Google will not censor the fact that other, freer countries do not expect their citizens to crowd in the toilet when they have purchased a seat and that that alone will be a freedom enhancer.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2006 1:15 PM

January 26, 2006

Alito Filibuster

Drudge and CNN both are flashing that former Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry is going to initiate a filibuster.

A link off of Google News confirms it.

    Confirmed this info. Kerry's office says he is initiating a filibuster
    . . . of the SCOTUS nomination of Alito. His office is rounding up support now.
    I have confirmed this with John Kerry's office staff.

With Senator Byrd going for Alito, I believe the number of Senators for Alito stands at 54. Certainly filibusterable.

What remains to be seen is how the Gang of 14 will act.

By filibustering Alito, Kerry is definately pandering for the angry left vote.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 4:19 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

This man was almost President. I hope this is not true, even though it might be a great thing for the GOP.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2006 4:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Here we go again. Dear Senator Salazar:

I was disappointed to learn that you were voting against this nominee.

I hope that you do not join a filibuster. I rarely suggest that someone looks to Senator Byrd for guidance, but he is right about the politicization of the confirmation process and right that integrity and qualifications matter.

Judge Alito clearly has a majority of the US Senate, including three Democrats as i write. Please honor your "gang of 14" pledge and do not join a filibuster against this nominee.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2006 4:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Byron York at the Corner thinks it's a bit of harmless Kerry weaseling

From a Senate source: Kerry's call for a filibuster comes after his leadership, that is, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, decided there won't be one. In other words, Kerry was making a brave, Kos-friendly pronouncement in the total confidence that a filibuster will never happen. And now, word is, he is off to Davos to continue what some Republicans are calling a "filibluster."


Posted by: jk at January 26, 2006 5:06 PM

Not Just for SPAM anymore

Virginia Postrel and I know Bayesian filters for their implementations in SPAM avoidance. She links to an article that discusses its promise in clinical trials.

Not many ideas of 18th-century Presbyterian ministers attract the interest of the pharmaceutical industry. But the works of Rev. Thomas Bayes have improved greatly with age. The paper that made his name was published in 1763 (two years after his death), where he proposed a method to decide the likelihood of an event while taking into account one's prior knowledge of what might occur. This idea bounced around through the mathematical literature for the next century or two, but it fell out of favor in the 1930s with the advent of the statistical methods that have been used ever since. For decades, no one heard very much about Bayesian statistics at all. One reason for this was they're much more computationally demanding, which was a real handicap until fairly recently.

I'm a math guy but not a stats guy ay all. I will try to find some rudimentary documentation on this as it has really caught my eye. The current methods in trials are broken, and cannot keep up with subtle interactions. Placebo trials are flat out irresponsible in chronic or terminal illnesses, yet the FDA still demand them.

Hat-tip: Don’t call her “Ginny…”

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM

Byrd to Vote Yea

My brother-in-law just called with the news that WV Senator Robert Byrd will vote to confirm Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. He decried the politicization of the confirmation process and said that it should be about integrity and qualifications.

I hate to spoil the moment, but he will be facing reelection this year in a state that is getting redder by the minute. There may be some politics, but there is more honor. His history in the august body paid off here. Bravo Senator Byrd!

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 3:11 PM

New Sheriff in Town

President Bush reminded Ford & GM that President Carter is writing poetry, building houses and comforting tyrants -- and that he will not be as quick to bail either firm out as our 39thpresident did for Chrysler. "I have been very reluctant -- I'm mindful of the past where at one point in time, a predecessor of mine was faced with that same dilemma," he said. "I would hope I wouldn't be asked to make that decision."

This from a WSJ (News Page) report of an Oval office interview, where the president was cool to the idea of intervention.

Asked if the government should take any pre-emptive action, he said: "I think it's very important for the market to function." He suggested he felt optimistic about the companies' prospects.

The auto industry's struggles could become a big political issue in this year's midterm elections and beyond, especially in Midwestern states such as Michigan and Ohio, where much of the industry's manufacturing base is located. Ford and GM plan to cut at least 60,000 jobs over the next few years, and the fallout could ripple across the auto-supply industry as well, whether or not the companies ever seek bankruptcy protection. While resisting a bailout could cost Republicans support among some voters, it also would serve to shore up their support among those who favor free-market solutions.

This blog has been rough on the GOP of late. I take this and the recent nominations of Chief Justice Roberts and presumptive-Associate Justice Alito as signs that we voted for the right guys (all but Silence anyway...).

Rather than shovel money at the failed business models of the two firms, this president will use their difficulties as a springboard to push market-based reforms of health care. Life is good.

But AlexC thinks:

I wonder if the major shareholders and the board of directors of Chrysler considered the "graciousness" of the American taxpayer when they sold the company to the Daimler-Benz?

Did we get a refund? did they pay the money back?

I say this as a happy Hemi Magnum owner. And I ask this as a salivating car guy who really really really wants this to become a production car.

As far as bailing out Ford and GM? No. What it would be doing is throwing a life preserver to two companies who let their unions dictate obscene terms (like you will produce X explorer this year) to them for too long, as well as sucking for too long. (1972 - late 1990).

Posted by: AlexC at January 26, 2006 2:55 PM

January 25, 2006

Google Capitulates

Ian at Banana Oil is closer to Chinese Google than I am, but he wonders whether anybody at the hypervalued company has read Sun Tzu:

Abject surrender is not the way to foster cultural change for the better.

And don't think for a moment that this will be regarded as a move of strength or integrity. The Chinese will not respect you for this. Read The Art of War. They won, and got you to give them the victory on a silver platter. You are now the Communist government's bitch, whether you know it or not.

Way to go, guys.

I join the blogosphere in disappointment, but I cannot work up the high dudgeon. I wish Google had given the ChiComs a lecture; I wish Microsoft had told the EU to fuggedabout it instead of phony gestures such as hobbled versions and limited source distribution.

But both Google and Microsoft have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders that must supersede a company's desire to change the world. I'd say the same to Ben & Jerry.

In the case of China, I have to think the more information the merrier. The more people on even a bowdlerized Internet, the better chance that the benefits of freedom -- if not Falun Gong movements -- will be understood.

But AlexC thinks:

What works people up about Google is that their corporate motto was "Don't be evil."

Selling out to the red Chinese is a pretty big step in that direction, I'd say.

While I understand the fiduciary responsibility, can't a corporation have ethics? (damn, i sound like a dirty hippie)

Like not selling out to frigging communists?

Posted by: AlexC at January 26, 2006 2:59 PM
But jk thinks:

My opinion is certainly in the minority. While like most West-coasties their bumper-sticker credos do match reality, I guess if you consider filtering results on a search engine to be "evil," then I am wrong.

The ChiComs do a lot of real evil -- keeping one of its unfortunate subjects away from the edifying prose of ThreeeSources.com is a pity but not a piori evil.

My hope continues to be that as the Internet becomes more prevalent, more Chinese citizens find ways around the filters and that the volume of information becomes more than the officials can monitor.

The fiduciary responsibility does not supersede everything but I believe strongly that you are obligated to devote your efforts to increasing shareholder value.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2006 4:18 PM

Firefly Season 2

This will warm JK's heart. Sci-fi nerds are lobbying hard for Firefly Season 2

UPDATE: Sorry, I had to add the button -- jk

But jk thinks:

The long-tail come to life! Excellent find, Alex.

Follow this link to vote on your preferences and tolerance for additional eps...

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2006 6:40 PM
But jk thinks:

...anybody else wonder what he meant by "Nerds?"


Posted by: jk at January 25, 2006 6:44 PM

Scandal Rocks DC

Via email...

    All of the evidence is not in, but it appears that Secretary of State Rice may have slept with Senator Ted Kennedy. Will send details when they become available; all we have now is this photo.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 5:07 PM

Long-tail casualty

Christopher Orr at TNR bemoans the loss of what he calls the B+ movie; you know, a decent film that does not aspire to blockbuster status. I've always sensed this. I'm not a film buff in any sense of the word, but I saw Burt Lancaster in "Come Back Little Sheba" and thought how that movie could never ever be made today. It has a literary feel, solid acting from Lancaster and Shirley Booth, (spoiler!) and an unsettling and unhappy ending. Orr:

There was a time when Hollywood excelled at producing such solid but unexceptional fare--Westerns are the classic example--but no longer. These days, almost every movie needs to have a special hook, a tease, something that will make it new and different and (in theory) better. No one wants a base hit; it's all about swinging for the bleachers.

The reason is clear enough. Back in the late 1940s, when Randolph Scott was making three or four cowboy movies a year, two-thirds of Americans went to the movies during any given week. They didn't need a reason; it was just part of the routine, and as long as the film was moderately diverting they generally felt they got their money's worth. But TV watching has been gradually replacing film attendance for decades, and today, with our ever-expanding array of at-home alternatives (satellite, DVD, pay-per-view, TiVo), just 10 percent of us go to the movies each week. If we weren't actively lured with the promise of something fresh and remarkable--a more radical twist (the lady detective is also the serial killer!), wilder stunt (two helicopters collide in the Lincoln Tunnel!), or bigger star (Russell Crowe as Stephen Hawking!)--we might not go at all.

He answers his own question at the end of the piece. These "films" have gone to the small screen. He uses the example of the "Law & Order" franchise. I've always thought most Buffy/Angel/Firefly episodes to be small films more than TV shows. With the DVD distribution and syndication, the business models have likely blurred.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:35 PM

Jay Leno Again

It is pretty much the apogee of lazy-ass blogging to paste in Jay Leno routines two weeks in a row, but there are some good ones in here. And the Tonight Show is way past my bedtime.

The government is still analyzing Osama bin Laden's latest tape. On his most recent release he called Bush a liar and said that he was just after oil. It's the usual stuff we have heard before. Like at the Golden Globes. ... On the tape, bin Laden has three demands: That we pull our troops out of Iraq, that we pull the troops out of Afghanistan, and he wants to see actual stars on "Dancing With the Stars." ... New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is being criticized for saying that God wants New Orleans to be a chocolate city and that the hurricanes were because God was mad at us. The good news, he was nominated for the Pat Robertson Lifetime Achievement Award. ... Here's your government at work. This week, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall for thousands of Christmas lights that they say may pose a risk of electric shock. They're recalling Christmas lights. Good timing. What is it, January now? You think this is maybe where the ex-head of FEMA wound up? ... The "National Inquirer" has reported that Ted Kennedy has a 21-year-old secret love child. Is that really the most accurate term, "love child"? Isn't "drunken fling child" a bit more like it? ... Senator Kennedy wasn't available for comment on the love child—he was overseeing a hearing on ethics. ... NBC has cancelled the "West Wing." That's when you know things are bad—when even fictional Democrats aren't doing well. Can't even get elected on TV anymore.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

...and a friend who doesn't feel right beating me up in public says "and it's the height of pedantry to say 'apogee' instead of 'height.'"

Guilty. Ouch. Heh.

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2006 1:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'd've used "pinnacle."

Posted by: johngalt at January 25, 2006 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Careful, you'll be elected "ThreeSources Editor" and have to rewrite all our posts...

Posted by: jk at January 25, 2006 6:41 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I'll let you slide (maybe it just the aerospace nerd in me that likes "apogee"). As long as you don't go George Will on me. I often vehemently disagree with his politics but respect his insight, if only I didn't have to keep a dictionary by my side to read his columns.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 26, 2006 2:18 PM

January 24, 2006

Screw Stare Decisis

Judge Alito's recommendation from the Judicial Committee was given today 10-8, and his nomination now heads to the Senate for likely confirmation.

Justice Alito will no doubt vote differently from Justice O'Connor and overturn very soon, the worst Supreme Court decision of my lifetime. I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.

Roe who? I am talking about McConnell v. FEC., where the court determined that First Amendment rights apply only to Illinois Nazis (man, I hate Illinois Nazis) and child pornographers. Those of us who care about the direction of the country and its polity will have to live under McCain-Feingold.

A case is perhaps headed to SCOTUS in time for the next election :Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC that could curb McConnell or give the Roberts Court a chance to revisit it. The WSJ Ed Page sez:

A far better result would be for the Supreme Court to use this as an opportunity to revisit McConnell altogether. There is some hope that this could happen. Let's not forget that the deciding vote to uphold McCain-Feingold came from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who may now have heard her last case. Judge Sam Alito is likely to replace her soon, and his track record suggests he is more sympathetic to free-speech arguments.

Meanwhile, Congress might want to bear all this in mind as it attempts to atone for its own recent ethical lapses by enacting lobbying "reform." The practical effect of any such legislation will be to further curtail political free speech, restricting the rights of citizens to petition their government. If this case shows anything, it's that there is no such thing as "good" restrictions on free speech.

McConnell is, of course, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell who braved scorn from the elites, media and many of his fellow Senators in a brave attempt to defend our rights.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 6:15 PM

Mrs. Sheehan Heads South

BOTW runs the Political Diary today as Mr. Taranto is off. For what it's worth, I really enjoyed Political Diary and pleaded with the good folks at Dow Jones to make it web based. Alas, you can only get it by email and their systems are extremely unreliable. I cancelled some time ago.

Today, Latin America reporter Mary Anastasia O'Grady highlights the inconsistencies in Cindy Sheehan's "Peace Activism" and her decision to attend a possibly violent, anti-globalization moonbat fest in Caracas:

Indeed, the Sheehan tour to Caracas belongs in the "you-can't-make-it-up" category: A bitterly outspoken American citizen who has made a career of lambasting her president, she travels abroad to celebrate with a dictator who has thrown his own critics out of work and even put them in prison, stripped the press of its freedom, destroyed property rights and militarized the government. His political supporters are known to be armed and dangerous and many Venezuelans in poor neighborhoods have reported that they are afraid to dissent from the Chavez agenda. Venezuela's arms build-up is frightening his neighbors and threatening regional stability.

We're glad Ms. Sheehan has the freedom to travel abroad. Many of Chavez's critics are denied that right, as are the critics of Castro. But she shouldn't wonder why, when she opens her mouth in the U.S., nobody takes her seriously.

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 5:40 PM

January 23, 2006

Shape Up With Sam's Club

I'm NOT a Wal*Mart basher. I am a Sam's Club member and I defend the colossus from my "folk Marxist"* friends frequently.

But I have to laugh at this week's email circular. January is National Fitness Month, so we are told to "Shape Up With Sam's Club!"

Put down the bratwurst and potato salad buddy, it's time to get fit -- and Sam's Club is here to help with these invigorating selections:

  • NFL Tailgate Toss beanbag football game (Mistakenly, the advice to consult a physician before trying this activity seems to have been omitted...)

  • A Treadmill

  • a weight machine

  • a 61" HiDef TV (burn some calories draggin' that in from the truck, boy!)

  • 42" plasma HDTV

  • 50" Dell(r) plasma HDTV

  • digital camera, computer, &c. No more exercise gear...

I am beat from all that typin' -- open me up a Little Debbie snack cake to get my energy back...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Hell, they didn't even mention 12-ounce curls! Don't they sell liquor? If not, try Costco instead with wholesale liquor outlets at select warehouses.

There's nothing quite like a Little Debbie creme roll with a Bud Light chaser. Physical fitness AND haute cuisine!

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2006 6:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup, they sell booze as well. I think your training regimen would be ideal for one preparing for a tough game of NFL Tailgate Toss....

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2006 7:12 PM

Folk Marxism

Arnold Kling provides some valuable phrases to better categorize ideas and beliefs that we encounter frequently.

His piece on TCS suggested that we have internalized the writings of John Locke (folk Lockeism) and Karl Marx (folk Marxism).

Folk Marxism looks at political economy as a struggle pitting the oppressors against the oppressed. Of course, for Marx, the oppressors were the owners of capital and the oppressed were the workers. But folk Marxism is not limited by this economic classification scheme. All sorts of other issues are viewed through the lens of oppressors and oppressed. Folk Marxists see Israelis as oppressors and Palestinians as oppressed. They see white males as oppressors and minorities and females as oppressed. They see corporations as oppressors and individuals as oppressed. They see America as on oppressor and other countries as oppressed.

I believe that folk Marxism helps to explain the pride and joy that many people felt when Maryland passed its anti-Walmart law. They think of Walmart as an oppressor, and they think of other businesses and Walmart workers as the oppressed. The mainstream media share this folk Marxism, as they reported the Maryland law as a "victory for labor."

Like Michael Barone's "Hard America-Soft America," this is a useful difference. While I know few who publicly profess fealty to Marx's economic ideas (I do have a niece proud to share his birthday), I know a lot of people who have this internal predisposition. In fact, in present society, you get folk Marxism inculcated by default. The only people I know who do not exhibit it in large quantities make a conscious effort to understand the benefits of the other side.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 4:09 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Sensible Mom thinks:

Great post and so true.

Posted by: Sensible Mom at February 7, 2006 6:35 PM


I bought the DVD to Wonderfalls last year after Tim Minear of Angel & Firefly fame recommended them to Professor Reynolds at Instapundit. The topic has resurfaced on Insty, and a quick search shows that I have not discussed them.

My wife and I really enjoyed the show. When she got her video iPod, it was the first thing she wanted ripped. Fox, in its infinite wisdom, cancelled the show and there are 13 episodes on the DVD. I wouldn't say that it's as good as Angel or Firefly, but it is still better than anything else out there. I would not hesitate to recommend it.

The long tail of TV is here. You don't have to watch what they schedule for you. (By the way Silence, I have been watching Veronica Mars on your recommendation. It's pretty good but it has not captured my heart.)

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Glad to hear you have been watching Veronica. I hope it will grow on you, its one of my favs. I too enjoyed the quirky Wonderfalls during its short network run. What was the name of the Canadian actress who played the lead? I keep waiting for her to show up in something new.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 24, 2006 4:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Caroline Dhavernas. She was very good. Firefly fans will also enjoy a few-episode-cameo from Jewel Staite who played Kaylee.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2006 5:22 PM

Notes from the plantation...

The junior senator from New York is unsurprisingly chastised from the WSJ Ed Page today. Shelby Steele lets her have it for pandering to a black audience on MLK Day.

When political pandering goes awry, it calls you a name. On an emotional level, many blacks will hear Hillary's remark as follows: "I say Republicans run the House like a plantation because I am speaking to Negroes--the wretched of the earth, a slave people--who will surely know all about plantations." Is this a tin ear or a Freudian slip, blacks will wonder? Does she really see us as she projects us--as a people so backward that our support can be won with a simple plantation reference, and the implication that Republicans are racist? Quite possibly so, since no apology has been forthcoming.

More surprising is a brief TNR "Notebook" piece:

When the Daily News asked on Tuesday night if she regretted the comment, she said, "Absolutely not. As I have said many times before, Congress is run in a top-down way." The last time we checked, an overly hierarchic corporate management style was not the biggest abomination of slave plantations, but perhaps congressmen have been separated from their families, chained together, forced to work for tobacco farmers, and publicly bought and sold during those mysterious closed-door sessions. And Clinton has been fond of the plantation metaphor for a while now: In a November 2004 interview on CNN, she said, "[T]hey're running the House of Representatives like a fiefdom, with Tom DeLay ... in charge of the plantation." Plantation, fiefdom: We see a rhetorical style developing here. Why doesn't she reach out to Jews, who've sometimes been wary of her, by comparing GOP K Street's intimidation tactics to pogroms in the Pale? And, come to think of it, why haven't any intrepid Democratic candidates seized the opportunity to describe Jack Abramoff's hustling of Indian gaming tribes as a "Trail of Tears"? Oh--because most of them have better taste, that's why.

I would have thought Senator Clinton to be the only/most likely candidate to appeal to the moderate, DLC-wing , New Republic.

This is a smackdown from a friendly corner -- not a good sign.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Ouch, sounds like a very bad case of mixed metaphors to say the least. Attacking Delay's heavy handed tactics has merit but I don't think fiefdom and certainly plantation references are not valid. The best Sen. Clinton can hope for is that people won't judge a book before they have walked a mile in its shoes....

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 24, 2006 5:04 PM
But jk thinks:

Silence, I am a little disturbed that this woman, whom we all will admit is a Democrat leader, has played the race card in a most callous and heavy handed way. That is more serious than any structural rhetorical problems.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2006 5:25 PM

January 22, 2006

Review Corner

I'm in hormonal confusion today. My wife has purchased the BBC adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" and we are following the romantic and personal trials of the five sisters. 'Tis a lovely literary repast which does speak to the pedant in me. To compensate, I will watch the football playoffs.

It has been a most meritorious drive, Mister Darcy. But as it remains third and long after that willful and obstreperous holding call, I daresay if Coach Shanahan does not implement the draw, or send Mister Plummer onto the bootleg, I shall be most aggrieved!

Go Broncos!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

That's a disappointment. While the Broncos played poorly, that was an almost perfect game from the Steelers side.

The Steelers are a classy outfit. I salute them and wish them well in Super Bowl XL.

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2006 6:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Jake threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. And the Broncos STILL had a chance to pull it out in the end. (Well, before that second fumble, that is.) I'm afraid that Jake just couldn't resist the idea that he needed to do more than just his own, regular job to beat the "woooo, scary" Steelers.

I've had a place in my heart for Pittsburgh since they started drafting so many of my Buffaloes, but my money will be on Seattle in XL.

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2006 10:34 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Seattle, like more formerly beloved Eagles, is long overdue for a choke. They looked good yesterday, but that just is more proof. Look for it in two weeks.

Posted by: AlexC at January 23, 2006 10:53 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm an AFC guy and I think that this Steeler team is for real. When you force two great teams to play poorly in two successive weeks, you're doing something right. I credit Mike Gower's superior preparation more than I'd cite Peyton Manning or Jake Plummer for failure.

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2006 11:06 AM

January 21, 2006

Free Markets

Or, "When I was a boy..." I hate to play the Methuselah of digital storage, but bad things happen when you stop being filled with wonder.

I have discussed, twice, the lack of competition in education and the advances free markets have wrought in other fields. I wanted to share my latest purchase with you (we have a few veterans of the storage industry with this blog). I just bought an LG 1GB, USB disk drive. It weighs less than the nail clippers in the photo. I bought it at Sam's Club for $60.

The first programs I wrote were stored to paper tape on a teletype. The teletype connected to a PDP-8 at Colorado School of Mines over an acoustic modem. I remember very little Fortran IV, but I remember the failures of paper tape. I found a spec for paper tape on the Internet. The ECMA spec from 1965 dictates that the holes shall be 2.540 mm apart, therefore a "gig" of paper tape will be 1024 * 1024 * 1024 * .00254 = 2727304.2 m (1630.9 miles). The spec also dictates that no roll of paper tape shall exceed 190mm in diameter, and that the recommended core is 50-52mm. And "The reel must be tightly wound in such a way as to ensure that a coil which has an outer diameter of 190 mm and an inner diameter of 52 mm shall contain at least 225 m of tape."

So each roll can contain 88682 bytes, and a gig of paper tape on spec will constitute 12,121 rolls. Throwing caution to the wind, and putting the entire gigabyte on a single roll with a 52mm core, the roll will be 18.6 meters wide. This progress marks less than thirty years, from my sophomore year of high school in 1976 to today. What would 30 years of competition and innovation in education have brought?

But AlexC thinks:

Trouble with that stuff being so small is that when you lose it in your couch, car, office, house, train, plane, etc..., you lose a lot more stuff which you were backing up to it!

It's a double edged sword.

Posted by: AlexC at January 23, 2006 10:54 AM

January 20, 2006


Am I beating a dead (hybrid) horse? Perhaps but I am pretty grouchy with the Hybrid phenom.

Richard Burr at The Daily Standard, points out the insanity of tax cuts for the rich hybrid owners. This is germane in my house. I have been invited by some liberal relatives to a meeting with CO-1 Rep. Dianna DeGette to lobby for heightened fuel efficiency standards. Said relatives have a Honda Hybrid which I always thought was a status symbol for their friends. Burr agrees:

SO, HYBRIDS have become the environmental equivalent of driving an Escalade or Mustang. Who cares if they deliver on their promises as long as they make a social statement?

Taxpayers should. The federal government subsidizes hybrid fashion statements with tax breaks that benefit the rich. The average household income of a Civic hybrid owner ranges between $65,000 to $85,000 a year; it's more than $100,000 for the owner of an Accord. The median income of a Toyota Prius owner is $92,000; for a Highlander SUV owner $121,000; and for a luxury Lexus SUV owner it's over $200,000.

This year the government will offer tax credits for hybrid purchases ranging up to $3,400, with owners getting a dollar-for-dollar benefit on their tax forms. This beats last year's $2,000 tax deduction, which amounted up to a $700 benefit, depending on the driver's tax bracket.

So, like recycling, you have a liberal shibboleth that cannot compete in the marketplace (until we get $10 gas). But -- darn it -- it just feels so good we're going to adjust tax policy to make it happen.
HYBRIDS ARE ALSO failing to pay for themselves in gas savings. A study by the car-buying website Edmunds.com calculates gasoline would have to cost $5.60 a gallon over five years for a Ford Escape hybrid to break even with the costs of driving a non-hybrid vehicle. The break-even number was $9.60 a gallon for a Honda Civic hybrid.

Kinda makes me wonder whether it is a good idea to have the government tampering in the free market...

But jk thinks:

We are many things at ThreeSources but I don't believe us to be hypocrites. I would gladly cut corporate welfare as well as these softer subsidies. I have long envisioned a bipartisan, dollar for dollar slashing of corporate and personal entitlements and tax breaks.

Besides which -- who cares where we find oil? It’s not like anybody would let us actually drill anywhere!

Posted by: jk at January 22, 2006 12:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, a chance to beat two horses with one comment!

First, tax breaks for oil exploration should not be cut; tax breaks for everything else should be increased. The simplest approach is what used to be known in the GOP as "tax cuts." (A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.)

Second, why the hell are US markets forced to agonize over whether Iranian oil will soon be off the market when, save a few RINOs in congress, we'd be drilling in ANWR by now? How about some tax incentives for emergency drilling there instead?

Posted by: johngalt at January 22, 2006 10:45 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Johngalt is correct. A sure sign that a facet of our economy requires "corporate welfare" in the form of a tax break to operate or to make something economical is a sure sign that that industry or endevour is overtaxed.
Cut taxes and we wouldn't need "the handouts".

Posted by: AlexC at January 23, 2006 10:59 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Johngalt's point is valid, if a little perversely stated. It goes along with further thought I had on this topic, how perverse is it that the government levies a large tax on gasoline at the pump, then gives it back to the oil companies in the form of tax breaks for exploration to help offset those costs that would otherwise be rolled into the price at the pump? So yes, let's cut out the middle man.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 23, 2006 11:10 AM
But jk thinks:

I might be misconstruing your comment, jg, but I oppose increasing "targeted" tax cuts. Much as I love cutting taxes, you have to cut marginal rates; the subsidies and targeted cuts represent state coercion and undue gub'mint influence in the market.

I'll also make a brave stand for gas taxes. They are avoidable (thanks M. Bastiat!) and as much as they can be related to actual road construction and maintenance, strike me as the most free market taxes out there (honorable mention to state lotteries for taking money from stupid poor people).

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2006 12:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think you're misconstruing, JK. We're on the same page.

When I say, "tax breaks" should be increased I mean "targeted" only insofar as it applies to reducing the burden on tax PAYERS. ALL of them, equally (which, incidentally, requires a gargantuan amount of regression to level our current state of progressiveness. (A truly unfortunate word, in this instance.))

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2006 3:30 PM

Book Report

My librarian niece sends me this alleged book report from an alleged student who was allegedly assigned to read both "Titanic" and "My Life, by Bill Clinton."

To save paper, he wrote one report to compare them:

Titanic: $29.99 Clinton: $29.99

Titanic: Over 3 hours to read
Clinton: Over 3 hours to read

Titanic: The story of Jack and Rose, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.
Clinton: The story of Bill and Monica, their forbidden love, and subsequent catastrophe.

Titanic: Jack is a starving artist.
Clinton: Bill is a bulls**t artist.

Titanic: In one scene, Jack enjoys a good cigar.
Clinton: Ditto for Bill.

Titanic: During ordeal, Rose's dress gets ruined.
Clinton: Ditto for Monica.

Titanic: Jack teaches Rose to spit.
Clinton: Let's not go there.

Titanic: Rose gets to keep her jewelry.
Clinton: Monica's forced to return her gifts.

Titanic: Rose remembers Jack for the rest of her life.
Clinton: Clinton doesn't remember Jack.

Titanic: Rose goes down on a vessel full of seamen.
Clinton: Monica...ooh, let's not go there, either.

Titanic: Jack surrenders to an icy death.
Clinton: Bill goes home to Hilary...basically the same thing.

Cheers, and Happy Friday!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | What do you think? [1]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

HAH! That's my laught allotment for the week. THnx.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 20, 2006 2:32 PM

January 19, 2006

Wild Hair

I've admitted before to a capriciousness in blogging.

I have recently installed MoveableType Version 3.x for a commercial site, and am thinking that it's time to update this Model T blog. At the same time, I thought I would revisit the design. I was pretty impressed with Andrew Sullivan's new site on Time. The dark type on white is an easier read than his old (and our) reverse design.

Please feel free to leave suggestions on design, blogroll, look and feel, whatever.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:35 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Yup. AlexC provided the same, sagacious counsel (could be a PA thing...) There are a couple of goodies in the new interface that I would like and my ISP would like me to be more current as well.

Posted by: jk at January 19, 2006 1:47 PM
But AlexC thinks:

More cowbell!

If the ISP is pushing, then by all means....

Posted by: AlexC at January 19, 2006 4:15 PM
But AlexC thinks:

You cheater! I thought we all agreed to stop reading Andrew Sullivan!

Or least until he has filters for a) gay stuff b) Catholic bashing c) torture d) histrionics.
But I repeat myself.

Posted by: AlexC at January 19, 2006 4:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Did we agree? Actually, I stopped reading AS after the '04 election. The histrionics were getting to me. I followed an Instapundit link to see his new site on Time. I was pleased with the design but aghast at his comment on Christopher Hitchens (he basically compared those who support the war to Lenin, but I digress)

The ISP was unhappy with the CPU overhead of dealing with comment spammers. Since I added the password with the jarring but effective instant death, they have been cool. If I redesign, I might as well upgrade, if I upgrade, I might as well redesign -- it's a losing battle.

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2006 10:48 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Kinda funny to think of dark type on a white background as new.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 20, 2006 6:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But redesign doesn't have to mean wholesale change. "Just a trim" please.

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2006 11:18 AM

Goin' to the Candidates' Debate

The Wall Street Journal has provided a real service by opening its Editorial page to each candidate for Majority Leader:

No surprise that I like Shadegg best in title, text, and concept. Rep Blunt opens his piece with complacency:
WASHINGTON--As readers of this page know all too well, excessive government regulation, taxation and spending strangle economic growth as frequently as runaway litigation and soaring health-care and energy costs do. What politicians say about these issues does not matter much, but what we do about them does. I'm proud of what House Republicans have accomplished on this front over the last several years, but I know that much remains to be done.

This reminds me of Leader DeLay's remark that the GOP had already cut all the pork out of the budget. I feel that the House GOP has more to fear from complacency than from scandal. Abramoff will come and go -- granted with much racket in between. But if the GOP house chooses too run on its accomplishments and not its ideas, we will have to endure Leader Pelosi.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM

Kyoto Bad

ThreeSources readers will be shocked, shocked, to learn that European nations are "all mouth and no trousers (as the brits say)" when it comes to treaties. In this instance, it is Kyoto.

President Bush garnered howls from the "International Community," environmentalists, and his domestic political enemies when he admitted that the US was not going to sign (the 0-95 vote in Al Gore's Senate was deemed inconclusive).

Yet the WSJ Ed Page reports that the US is doing much better than the signatory countries in reducing the rate of growth of CO2:

Let's go to the latest numbers from the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen. Most European countries have seen an increase in greenhouse gas emissions since signing Kyoto with great fanfare in 1997. No fewer than 13 out of the 15 original EU signatories are on track to miss their 2010 emissions targets -- by as much as 33 percentage points, in the case of Spain.

Or consider Denmark, home of the EU's environmental watchdog. Rather than reduce levels by 21% as the accord stipulates, Denmark has so far notched a 6.3% increase in emissions since 1990, the base year used in Kyoto. The likely gap between its Kyoto commitment and its emissions levels projected for 2010 is 25.2 percentage points.

The U.S. dropped its signature from Kyoto because arbitrary emissions targets are both pointless and economically damaging. No proof exists that lower emissions reduce global warming. The idea that human activity influences climate change one way or another is far from proven, given the overwhelming role nature itself plays in atmospheric changes. And if the warming trend of recent decades continues -- by no means a certainty -- it might well be a boon to humanity.

US emissions are up 15.8%, far less than the countries that are berating us -- although we've the highest economic growth. And that is the real problem:
The nonsense that passes for debate at U.N. gabfests isn't news. But it is newsworthy that Kyoto's arbitrary targets were mainly cant. Countries that reduce those emissions potentially damaging to health or property do so by investing in cleaner technology. That is possible because of policies that promote economic growth and business investment. Unhampered by Kyoto targets, America's economy is more nimble and better able to adapt to changing technology. We knew Kyoto was bad for the global economy. It turns out it's bad for the environment as well.

UPDATE: Here are links to the postings in mdmhvonpa's comments: Kyoto, American Style and Northeast US Kyoto Redux. The first has a table on all developed countries.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 11:26 AM | What do you think? [1]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Yep ... detials here: http://mdmhvonpa.blogspot.com/2005/12/kyoto-american-style.html
and more interesting stuff here http://mdmhvonpa.blogspot.com/2005/12/northeast-us-kyoto-redux.html

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 19, 2006 1:17 PM

January 18, 2006


Occasionally there's some discussion of Jazz music on these pages but I've gotta say that anyone who doesn't listen to country music is missing out on some serious "flyover country philosophy lessons." Take the latest release from Trace Adkins, for example. (Links include sound clips) In 4:01 he explains the subtleties of male motivation in virtually all of life's endeavors, boiling it all down to a single word: badonkadonk.

Now Honey, you can't blame her

For what 'er mama gave her

It ain't right to hate her

For workin' that money-maker

Band shuts down at two

But we're hangin' out till three

We hate to see her go

But love to watch her leave

With that honky tonk badonkadonk

Keepin' perfect rhythm

Make ya wanna swing along

Got it goin' on

Like Donkey Kong

And whoo-wee

Shut my mouth, slap your grandma

There outta be a law

Get the Sheriff on the phone

Lord have mercy, how's she even get them britches on

With that honky tonk badonkadonk

(Ooh, that's what I'm talkin' bout right there, honey)

Pure poetry (except for finding nothing better to rhyme with "goin' on" than "donkey kong.") Trace integrates the individual rational components of this and the other two verses thusly:

That's it, right there boys; that's why we do what we do. It ain't for the money; it ain't for the glory; it ain't for the free whiskey; it's for the badonkadonk.

I can make some more recommendations as well. Off the top of my head...

Songs About Me (same album)
Welcome to Hell (Trace Adkins, Greatest Hits Vol. 1)
The Taliban Song (Toby Keith, Shock'n Y'all)

Real. American. Glorious.

But jk thinks:

Don't know Trace (or admittedly much of the "Contemporary Country scene") but you'd be surprised at what the jazzheads around here listen to. For the record, Sugarchuck is an encyclopedia of classic and serious country players, and -- he'll hate my saying this -- an unbelievably awesome country guitar player.

He taught me that Merle Haggard is just jazz with Telecasters and twang, and has turned me on to many many good country songs and performers.

Many guitar players from country are worthy of awe: Chet Atkins and Roy Clark could and did cover a jazz gig and guys like Roy Buchannan and Albert Lee were HUGE influences for me.

MS is crippling my playing pretty bad but I was hoping that my next project would be a jazzy-country thing in the order of Ray Charles and Merle. The second Berkeley Square CD has the Cindy Walker/Eddie Albert "You Don't Know Me" and Brooke and I have an arrangement of "I Fall to Pieces" that I always liked.

And I do appreciate the unabashed patriotism I hear from country artists.

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2006 4:43 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

There is no better place to be, on a Friday or Saturday night, than on the bandstand, pickin' Merle, in a VFW. I've got lots of quibbles with the Music Row/CMT/Nashville, and I think it would serve us all well if the beancounters and producers spent a little more time on Lower Broadway with the real pickers and singers, but when it comes to singing truth to power, country music gets her done. There is nowhere left in music, other than in country music, for God, Family and Country. Country also makes lots of room for those with blue state sentiments, just not room on the radio. Somewhere, there is a book waiting to be written on politics in country music. IF not a book, maybe a WWF cage match pitting Emmy Lou Harris and the Dixie Chicks against Trace et. al... maybe on pay-per-view.
I might add a cool music update, rumor has it that Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin with Dr. John on piano, will do the national anthem at the Super Bowl. Is this a great country or what!

Posted by: Sugarchuck at January 19, 2006 9:53 AM
But jk thinks:

Emmylou on the dark side? Say it ain't so! I have enjoyed her music and never got over a teenage crush on her (now a family genealogist assures me that I'm related to EVERYONE in the US named Harris. Think about it).

I thought I was turning into a Dixie Chicks fan. When Fred (Winifred) dies on Angel, they play "A Place Called Home." As the character was a Dixie Chicks, fan, I assumed it was them. But no, it is Kim Richey (and it is available on iTunes).

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2006 10:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Red state values indeed, Sugarchuck.

From the aforementioned 'Songs About Me,' when asked by "a guy on the red eye" why he sings stuff "'bout that twang and trains and hillbilly things" he "just looked at him and laughed and said

'Cause they're all songs about me,
And who I am.
Songs about lovin' and livin'
And good hearted women and family and God.
Yeah they're all just songs about me.
Songs about me."

Or another favorite from the same album, 'My Heaven' (clip available on link in main post) that proclaims,

"My heaven is a wood frame house with a great big porch goin' all the way around, Sittin' on the swing, listenin' to the sound of the birds singin'. My heaven is a warm summer day in the back yard, WHile the kids all play, flies and mosquitoes stay away while we're eatin' watermelon. That's my heaven."


(Now that's a faith-based song I can get behind, because it celebrates heaven ON EARTH, not in some mythical afterlife.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 21, 2006 11:33 AM

Jay Leno

A buddy emails this from Jay Leno:

Senator Ted Kennedy announced that he and his dog Splash are writing a children's book. Is Splash the best name for Ted Kennedy's dog? Isn't that a bit like Jack Abramoff naming his dog Bribe? ... Have you watched any of these confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito? Senators are given thirty minutes to question the guy: thirty minutes exactly. Senator Joe Biden's question took 23 1/2 minutes. And Alito is smart. He's brilliant. Do you know what he said? "I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?" ... Ted Kennedy got pretty contentious, after he pointed out that Alito once belonged to a club that didn't allow women, it was discovered that Senator Kennedy also once belonged to a club that wouldn't allow women. Of course, with Kennedy those were club rules in place purely for the safety of women. ... Ted Kennedy questioned Judge Alito's integrity when Alito was at Princeton. As you may know, Kennedy was kicked out of Harvard for cheating. So when it comes to questionable integrity in college he knows what he is talking about. ... As you know, Governor Schwarzenegger was caught riding around on his motorcycle without a motorcycle license. I just hope this doesn't encourage other people in California to drive without a proper license. You'd hate to see something like that catch on here.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:36 PM

Carnival of the Clueless

My "Good Taste" - A Children's guide to Politics post from earlier in the week made it up on to the "Carnival of the Clueless."
It didn't make because I'm clueless, but because Senator Kennedy's (D-Beefeater) dog's name is Splash.

Which is either clueless or incredibly sensitive.

Go check out the rest!

On the web Posted by AlexC at 10:27 AM

January 17, 2006

Happy TriCentennial, Ben!

Ben Franklin was born 300 years ago today. I blogged about a new book, but there are several articles today celebrating Silence's hero:

The American Apostle of Thrift, by David Blankenhorn at The Daily Standard

B Franklin, Moralist, by Timothy Lehmann at The Daily Standard

Better Than Well Said, by Pete DuPont at OpinionJournal.com

Revolutionary and Conservative, by Christopher Hitchens at the Wall Street Journal.

Since that last link is paid, I'll excerpt (holler if you want it via email)

In how many dimensions can one observe this figure, on his tercentenary? Unlike most philosophers, he was also an eminently practical man, schooled at first in the most charming and useful of trades -- that of a printer -- but wise in the ways of business and some distance ahead of his time in matters of science. If he did not exactly discover electricity, he did establish beyond doubt that it was a principle at work in the natural universe. And for him, discovery of this kind was intuitively linked to the possibility of the useful: for the lightening of the human load and, more important, the enlightening of the human mind.

Unlike most revolutionaries, he was a conservative. He did not, for example, join Benjamin Rush and Thomas Paine in the Anti-Slavery Society until quite late in his life. I think it may have been John Maynard Keynes who observed that conservatives often make very effective revolutionaries, in that they have tried to make the existing system work and have come to understand very clearly why it must be changed. Benjamin Franklin offered to pay the damages of the Boston Tea Party. If the British authorities had not treated him in such an arrogant and underhanded manner, and had not had such a paltry idea of the man with whom they had to deal, he would very probably have negotiated a brilliant settlement of the outstanding disputes between the colonies and the motherland. This was certainly his wish. But as it was, his full talent as a diplomat was only disclosed when he became the first and best envoy of the American Revolution. (He never lived to see the full effect of the French one.)

One ought, also, to remember his physical courage and his readiness to take risks. He very nearly died on a hazardous expedition to French Canada during the fighting in 1776, and repeatedly stood the danger of first-hand experiments with lightning, which on at least one occasion could have cut his life extremely short. His insouciance about all this must bear some relationship to his dry and highly developed sense of humor. The Founding Fathers were not to be renowned for their joke-cracking capacities: One may page through Thomas Jefferson's elegant correspondence and yet become dispirited by the want of a jest. You can never be sure exactly when Franklin is joking: In the "Autobiography" he boasts with Abramoff-like glee that he both recommended an increase in paper money to the Pennsylvania Legislature and then eagerly received the contract to print it. But in any crisis of seriousness, Franklin was also the main man. He was drafted onto the committee that drew up the Declaration (and may well have been the one who imposed the ringing term "self-evident," as against the more pompous "sacred and undeniable" in its crucial opening stave.) When George Washington's horse bore him into Philadelphia for the grueling meeting that would eventually evolve the United States Constitution, it was at Franklin's front door that the president necessarily made his first stop.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM

Agog at Kos & Co...

Senator Lieberman's former communications director, Dan Gerstein, pens a guest editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (paid link, sorry!) He says the left-wing blogosphere is "agog" that the Democrats were not more vicious, truculent, or obstructive.

He feels, contrarily, that they did real damage to their selves and the party's standing with moderates.

And that's the heart of the problem with our party and its angry activist base. It's not so much that we're living in a parallel universe, but that we have dueling conceptions of what's mainstream, especially on abortion and other values-based issues, and our side is losing. We think that if we simply call someone conservative, anti-choice and anti-civil rights, that's enough to scare people to our side. But that tired dogma won't hunt in today's electorate, which is far more independent-thinking and complex in its views on values than our side presumes.

That point was driven home in an incontrovertible analysis of the 2004 election results by Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck. They found that the American polity has undergone a great shaking out, where conservatives now vote almost universally for Republicans and liberals for Democrats, and that Republicans have won the presidency twice in a row because they're doing a better job of pulling moderates/independents their way -- in particular married women and white Catholics who are uncomfortable with the Democrats on values issues. Judging from the dreadful tack our party took in the Alito process, it's clear that we haven't yet internalized these political realities -- most likely because our anger at George Bush continues to blind us to them. Many Democrats just don't want to acknowledge that he's president and is going to pick conservative justices -- let alone that the two we got, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, are about as good as we could hope for.

This episode shows we don't have any leader in power who will tell our base that we're not going to become a majority party again by telling the majority they're out of the mainstream. We do badly need leaders with courage -- the courage, that is, to push our party (to borrow a phrase) to move on, to accept that we can't win with the same lame ideological arguments in post-9/11 America, and that we must develop an alternative affirmative agenda that shows we can keep the country safer, make the economy stronger, and govern straighter than the ethically challenged Republicans. Then we can worry about picking the nominees instead of fighting them.

Will the last sane Democrats leaving the party please turn out the lights?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM

January 16, 2006

I Rebuke Thee II

I await the Bush Administration's public rebuking of New Orleans's mayor Ray Nagin. After all, a precident has been set.

    Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.

    "Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.

    "Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves.

Shortly after the official political rebuking, I would expect groups like the ACLU and People for the American Way to do the same.

At the time, the most powerful man in the blogosphere, JK, commented...

    Republicans are held accountable for the craziest of their membership; Democrats are not even held responsible for the head of the Party.

We may have to add "teller of futures" to his resume. ;)

More realistically, we'll hear the following from the Democrats...

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Now how can you get angry at a man who just wants to remodel a town after Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory!?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 17, 2006 11:24 AM
But jk thinks:

Tucker Carlson asked NAACP leader Julian Bond last night what he would have thought if a white mayor had suggested that his city will be a white city.

Bond, BTW, was eerily deft and refused to agree with Mayor Nagin or rebuke him.

Posted by: jk at January 17, 2006 11:42 AM
But AlexC thinks:

mdmhvonpa, no! not Willy Wonka.
Hershey Pa. I was there this summer.
The street lights are actually Hershey's Kisses and the town really smells like chocolate!
Main street is called Chocolate Ave and it intersects Cocoa Ave at City Hall!

I understand that Bourbon Street will be renamed Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Blvd.

Posted by: AlexC at January 17, 2006 12:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

So which are we to believe?

That Hizzoner is merely manipulating, for political advantage, the arcane notion of a vengeful God exacting punishment for acts that displease him?

Or, that he really believes this crap?

Either way, proof positive of the corrosive power of belief in the Almighty.

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2006 3:31 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm pretty sure you can be an idiot demogouge AND atheist too, johngalt.

Posted by: AlexC at January 18, 2006 8:36 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I would never accuse mayor Ray Nagin of being an atheist. That would be rude, unjustified, and just downright mean.

But he is absolutely an idiot demagogue.

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2006 3:09 PM

Cookies for Troops!

Silence's daughter is selling girl scout cookies -- and you can have them shipped to the troops in Iraq.

Cool idea -- enabling the young ladies to pry money out of the patriotic Atkins crowd. If you don't have a closer relative, email jk [at] threesources [dot] com and I will help you hook the troops up with some Samoas and Trefoils...

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 4:36 PM

Shad-egg, Shad-egg!

I started that chant yesterday. All three contenders for Rep DeLay's Leader position were on FOXNews Sunday. FOX -- not the NYTimes -- put charts on the screen of filthy Abramoff-related lucre gained by Reps. Blunt and Boehner. Shadegg was not clean as a whistle, but he was magnitudes off the other contenders and it is unlikely that anybody has zero to hide (this was all legal, folks).

Today, Stephen Moore writes in the WSJ Ed Page (free link) that conservatives do have a candidate, and he concludes that the GOP will be in grave danger of losing its majority status if they fail to heed his message.

Still, it is Mr. Shadegg who is unquestionably the primary change agent in this field. He wants the party, in effect, to make a declaration of independence from pork spending and the government-for-sale corruption that has become its abiding image. "The American people are with us on our substantive policy agenda and our Reaganite values, but are becoming repulsed by our behavior," he told me. With a truthful message like that, don't expect him to corral any votes from the Old Bull Republicans or the College of Cardinals appropriators who have turned pork into haute cuisine of late.

I have no GOP rep (sniff) to write. But those of you who do: "Shad-egg, Shad-egg, Shad-egg!"

UPDATE: Should also point out that Shadegg has been endorsed by Larry Kudlow and National Review

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I wrote my congressman:

Dear Congresswoman Musgrave,
I am writing to urge you to support and lobby for Arizona Rep. John Shadegg to replace Rep. DeLay as Majority Whip. Rep. Shadegg has clearly stated his disdain for the type of "bread and circuses" wasteful appropriations of our tax dollars to buy votes that was institutionalized by forty years of Democrat control and, shamefully, adopted in turn by many Republicans. This powerful corrupting influence must be opposed in our government at every opportunity, and this is one gigantic opportunity to do exactly that.
Best Regards,
Eric - www.threesources.com

Posted by: johngalt at January 16, 2006 2:34 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at January 16, 2006 3:37 PM

January 15, 2006

Needing a Clue by Four

If the Nobel Foundation offered a prize for Stupidity, this would be a nomination.
A teacher assigns his/her class homework on porn!

    Superintendent Jeff Lampert said that although the teacher's apparent goal _ to discuss the harmful effects of pornography _ was well- intentioned, he agreed with parents that the assignment was inappropriate for 14- and 15-year-old freshmen at Brooklyn High.

    The assignment asked students to research pornography on the Internet and list eight facts about pornography. Students also were asked to write their personal views of pornography and any experience they had with it.

I'm pretty sure I know how the boys would answer this. If only the kids were taught more than just putting condoms on cucumbers! They wouldn't have to go to pornography for source material.
    Lampert said he doubted the teacher would face any punishment.

I have no doubt that the teachers union would mount a vigorous defense.

But scrapiron thinks:

I see a teacher having (or wanting to have) sex with children and the sex of the children won't matter. I see a teacher that should be working at McDonalds, if he's qualified.

Posted by: scrapiron at January 18, 2006 12:24 PM


Can we please! have the same officials for the AFC Championship game in Denver next week. I like the crew in Indianapolis today -- they obviously hate the Steelers!

I'm glad to be hosting but that has got to be one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen. Glad the Steelers won in spite of it.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:30 PM

Colonial Economics

Friedrich, at 2blowhards, ponders the impetus for the American Revolution. He makes a good point that in the global scheme of things, the colonists did not seem to be aggrieved on the order of other oppressed peoples. Okay, Stamp Tax Bad, tariffs, yadda yadda. We have MUCH more oppressive taxation today and my musket is in its case.

He examines a book with economic and biometric data, William Fogel’s “The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100.” ($65!) and discovers that the colonists were taller, ate better and lived longer.

Given that most Americans of the Revolutionary War period were of British extraction and could hardly have been ignorant of conditions there, it must have been as plain as the nose on their faces that people lived far longer, ate far better and grew up more sturdily in the Colonies than in the Mother Country. So when the British government started tightening the screws on the colonies in the wake of the French and Indian wars, the mental calculation of the colonists must have been pretty simple: “Let me get this straight: you British aristocrats, in your infinite wisdom, want to make us Americans more like the average British working man? In short, you want us to live as poorly as you do? I think not, if I have anything to say about it. Martha, what did you do with my rifle?”

In short, it appears that rather than being the work of ultra-touchy libertarians, the American Revolution was one of the most substantively motivated conflicts in history. The colonists had a good thing going, and didn’t intend to give it up lightly. Who wouldn’t go to war, even today, if the disputed prize was a 17-year difference in life expectancy?

Interesting post. Good Comments. Hat-tip: Pajamas Media

But Silence Dogood thinks:

This is true, taxation without representation makes a great rallying cry, but compared to their compatriots back home they were in much better shape. Why else would folks pay for a long and risky voyage across the ocean if not to improve their lot in life. It could be said that a lot of the impetus for the war was based on propaganda, coupled with some political chicanery. (Any of this sound familiar?) Samuel Adams was a master at propaganda but given his proclivity for inciting the masses (he not once but twice led/advocated the burning of the Governor's house) could be considered a terrorist leader. John Hancock, who supported/bankrolled him (even had to buy him a suit to attend the first Continental Congress) was a steadfast American patriot, who just happened to make his fortune smuggling some of those taxed British items. Anyone who tells you that politics has become so much more corrupt and coarse than it used to be hasn't read much history.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 16, 2006 3:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, they pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor" to line their own pockets. That makes sense.

Or does it? If Hancock got rich smuggling against British taxation then how does he gain be dismantling the unjust taxes?

Surely Silence wouldn't suggest his namesake fell in this rank of self-interested propagandists as well, especially after reading Chris Hitchens' words above:

"Benjamin Franklin offered to pay the damages of the Boston Tea Party. If the British authorities had not treated him in such an arrogant and underhanded manner, and had not had such a paltry idea of the man with whom they had to deal, he would very probably have negotiated a brilliant settlement of the outstanding disputes between the colonies and the motherland. This was certainly his wish."

I have no delusion that America's founders were pure as the wind driven snow but I can't abide wholesale defamation of their character. Have you no sense of gratitude?

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2006 3:27 PM
But dagny thinks:

Very interesting link. Based on the information in the blog and the comments (I probably won't shell out $65?? for the book) I note a few points.

It seems likely to me that the 17 year difference in life expectancy could be a result of the differences in freedom. Therefore they were fighting for their freedom knowing its true worth.

An excellent point made in one of the comments was that it is likely that America started out with hardier, healthier people as those are the types that are likely to emigrate. And since there seem to be a lot of book recommendations flying around, I will add this:

This point is raised by Robert H. Heinlein in several of his books. He writes science fiction so he talks about the results when the best and the brightest go off to colonize some new planet but the analogy holds. I additionally recommend his, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” for a description of a revolution that, although fictional, rings true regarding the motives and methods of revolutionaries.

Posted by: dagny at January 18, 2006 1:37 AM

Review Corner

After being corrected on an earlier post, I am a little fearful to pan another film...

But I think I am fairly safe. I watched "Crash" this Friday on the recommendation of a very liberal physical/occupational therapist I know. I would have steered clear without the tip; with it, I spent my $1 with trepidation.

In short, it's Hollywood's idea of race in America. shorter, it's "Do The Right Thing" without any of the humor or grace. We're all racists down deep, the good people aren't really good and the bad people aren't really bad. We are all racists, but that's okay 'cause everybody is. From the movie, I have concluded that I dislike white people, black people, Asians (PacRim and Persian). The Mexican guy was allright.

That's my synopsis; IMDB sez:

For two days in Los Angeles, a racially and economically diverse group of people pursue lives that collide with one another in unexpected ways. These interactions are always interesting, and sometimes quite unsettling. The film explores and challenges your ability to judge books by their covers.

Save your dollar, save your two hours. jk gives it zero stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM

Good Taste

Earlier in the week, I was hearing some grumblings of Senator Kennedy (D-Glenfiddich) writing a childrens book.

And that's fine.

But how classy is it that it's a book about his dog?

His dog named "Splash."

No. I'm not kidding.

    Meet the latest children's author, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and his Portuguese Water Dog, Splash, his co-protagonist in "My Senator and Me: A Dogs-Eye View of Washington, D.C."

    Scholastic Inc. will release the book in May.

    "I am very excited about the opportunity to create a book for young readers and their families that will deepen their understanding of how our American government works," Kennedy said in a statement Monday issued by Scholastic.

With some illustrations, here's how I would write a children's book about how government works.

(Click Read More, to see the story)

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

"See Dick."

"See Dick lose an election."

"See Jack win."

"See Dick & Dick's friends (also Dicks) pout for years about how we wuz robbed."

"See Jack deal with getting problems solved. We call Jack an adult."

"Go Jack Go!"

"See John. John is Dick's old colleague. They are friends. See John's wife Jane. She makes ketchup."

"See Dick go on a left wing leftist bender. Jane is not far behind him."

"See John try to beat Jack."

"Run John, Run!"

"See Jack continue to the run the country."

"See John's friends go out of their way to help John win."

"Meet John's friend John. They have nice hair."

"See John lose."

"See John's friends also pout."

"See Jack and his friends continue to lead this nation. He is an adult."

"See John and his friends in the Senate get in the way of every thing Jack and his friends want to do. They do it because they are children."

"See Jack and his friends spend money like drunken sailors. They do it because they pretend like they don't know any better and want to make some of John's friends their own. That's not a good idea."

"Iran triggers nuclear armageddon in the Middle East because Jack and John's friends in far away places could not agree on how to deal with bullies."

The end.

It could use some editing.

But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2006 11:24 AM
But Steel thinks:

Now who ya gonna get to do the illustrations?

Gahan Wilson maybe?

Posted by: Steel at January 15, 2006 11:30 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hmmm, I think illustrations may be detremental to childrens. More importantly though, will it be scratch-n-sniff? Vodka, scotch, etc...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 16, 2006 8:50 AM

January 14, 2006

Bartley-Friedman Award

If I had money, I'd forget the Mercury and I would endow a "Robert Bartley-Milton Friedman Award," complete with a generous stipend. The award would be for those rare journalists whose reporting includes good economics.

The award would go to ABC's John Stossel for his work on 20/20. This is primetime, broadcast TV, not a right wing blog or cable show -- and Stossel frequently airs courageous stories. His New Year reprisal of myths is a good example: no, we're not drowning in trash, choking on chemicals, and dying of overpopulation.

But last night’s "Stupid in America" was the bravest, most honest, and most courageous thing I have seen on TV. Stossel suggests (Friedman-style) that revenue should follow the student and not the schools. He blasts government monopoly, sclerotic teachers; unions, and complacency for their parts in preserving this abysmal status quo.

I think that ThreeSources readers have heard all the arguments, but this was packaged up in a moving broadcast with video of children who won -- and lost -- a lottery to get a good education in a charter school.

Stossel doesn't join me in going back to John Quincy Adams, but he does ask us to go back to our youth and remember how things have improved with free-market competition: how the telecom industry blossomed when it was deregulated.

This show is a work of art. I will post if it is rerun, and if any of you would like it, I can make a DVD off my PVR. It's an outstanding program.

UPDATE: Stossel also compares US students’ achievement to Belgian students (hint: ours don't win) It reminded me of Michael Barone's "Hard America Soft America" The Belgians are given an outstanding and rigorous education for a dead-end life in a sclerotic socialist society; their American counterparts are given a substandard education and then thrown into a dynamic, opportunity-driven work culture. The Belgians seem to have Barone upside-down...

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 7:13 PM

January 13, 2006

Getting the Job Done

Praise God for men like this one.

    Gazing through the telescopic sight of his M24 rifle, Staff Sgt Jim Gilliland, leader of Shadow sniper team, fixed his eye on the Iraqi insurgent who had just killed an American soldier.

    His quarry stood nonchalantly in the fourth-floor bay window of a hospital in battle-torn Ramadi, still clasping a long-barrelled Kalashnikov. Instinctively allowing for wind speed and bullet drop, Shadow's commander aimed 12 feet high.

    A single shot hit the Iraqi in the chest and killed him instantly. It had been fired from a range of 1,250 metres, well beyond the capacity of the powerful Leupold sight, accurate to 1,000 metres.

    "I believe it is the longest confirmed kill in Iraq with a 7.62mm rifle," said Staff Sgt Gilliland, 28, who hunted squirrels in Double Springs, Alabama from the age of five before progressing to deer - and then people.

    "He was visible only from the waist up. It was a one in a million shot. I could probably shoot a whole box of ammunition and never hit him again."

But johngalt thinks:

With the greatest possible respect for the sensibilities of patriotic, red-blooded, God fearing Americans, I'd like to politely suggest that NED deserves little credit for the existence of men like this one. Instead, we can give thanks for an important element of American life. It's called "the gun culture."

In a nutshell, the gun culture reveres the power of firearms to equalize might and allow individuals skilled in their use to preserve liberty - for themselves, their loved ones, and ultimately their countrymen. Sergeant Gilliland is not skilled and determined beyond the norm because of his "powerful Leupold sight" but because he started hunting squirrels at the age of five.

For an in-depth description of America's gun culture, refer to the John Ross historical novel 'Unintended Consequences.'

"An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject."

Posted by: johngalt at January 15, 2006 11:47 AM
But jk thinks:

Amen :)

Actually, jg, I do agree. And I would add all the benefits of a free, pluralist society worth defnding.

Posted by: jk at January 15, 2006 12:14 PM

The More Things Change

I've been listening to the greatest American speeches that I blogged about last week.

Here's a speech that's over forty years old. Yet is still relevant.

    Now -- we're for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we've accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.

    But we're against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They've called it "insurance" to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term "insurance" to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they're doing just that.

    A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary -- his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he's 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can't put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they're due -- that the cupboard isn't bare?

Ronald Reagan's "A Time for Choosing"

But johngalt thinks:

Well why then not renounce the resignation of this first paragraph in order to further the obvious choice from the last?

Are we so lacking in any sense whatsoever that we think government can ever do better for individuals than they can do for themselves?

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2006 11:34 AM

Reprehensible Club

It seems the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, who didn’t know how Judge Sam Alito could be part of "that reprehensible club" meaning CAP, is part of a club that does not celebrate diversity. The Washington Times reports:

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy belongs to a social club for Harvard students and alumni that was evicted from campus nearly 20 years ago after refusing to allow female members.

According to the online membership directory of the Owl Club, the Massachusetts Democrat updated his personal information -- including the address of his home, which is in his wife's name -- on Sept. 7.

The club has long been reviled on campus as "sexist" and "elitist" and, in 1984, was booted from the university for violating federal anti-discrimination laws, authored by Mr. Kennedy.

Neither this man, nor his party will pay the slightest price for this stunning hypocrisy, but all four of this blog's readers can enjoy it.

Double Hat-tip: NewsMax.com email & Taranto

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 3:41 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

All four readers? You mean "frequent authors!"

Posted by: AlexC at January 13, 2006 4:31 PM
But jk thinks:

You're right -- make that "five."

I did campus radio once. The same deal, you never really know who's listening...

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2006 4:59 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I don't know JK, takes a lot to stun me these days, even given my own dislike of Sen. Kennedy. Maybe its the 6 years of President Bush's "simple Texas boy" shitck and his rantings against the "East Coast liberal establishment". Yeah, who could trust those pompous children of priviledge attending Andover and Yale....

Skull and Bones, they admit women?

Then again, my Dad's a Mason (queue spooking music here)

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 14, 2006 4:16 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The voters of Massachusetts endure the hypocrisy and shame of having this filthy little man as their Senator for one reason: He has pull.

When the power to distribute the wealth of others is stripped from government then men like Kennedy will take refuge in the only place they can still prosper: College campuses.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2006 11:27 AM
But jk thinks:

Silence, my problem is not a general personality comparison between Senator Kennedy and President Bush (though I have strong feelings there), my point is the amount of time in the confirmation hearings that Sen. Kennedy spent in righteous indignation about Judge Alito's membership in CAP. Listening to that all week and reading this was a little much for me to bear.

Posted by: jk at January 14, 2006 11:46 AM

I sign

A center-right coalition of the willing bloggers seeks to influence the GOP leadership elections. Their petition is well written (you won't be surprised when you see the main co-authors).

We are not naive about lobbying, and we know it can and has in fact advanced crucial issues and has often served to inform rather than simply influence Members.

But we are certain that the public is disgusted with excess and with privilege. We hope the Hastert-Dreier effort leads to sweeping reforms including the end of subsidized travel and other obvious influence operations. Just as importantly, we call for major changes to increase openness, transparency and accountability in Congressional operations and in the appropriations process.

I agree and sign: John Kranz (jk) ThreeSources

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:15 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

The Club for Growth and National Review are also behind Shadegg.
It'd be nice... but I'm pessimistic.

Posted by: AlexC at January 13, 2006 6:41 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I'll add a slightly left signature, just to broaden the coalition.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 14, 2006 4:20 AM

Light Reading

This week's Weekly Standard carries a review (free link) of a book that looks interesting if a bit turgid. Silence's hero is the target of "Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought"

Franklin was a political creature, but one whose philosophical cast of mind inured him against the anger and indignation typical of politicians. He was also a benevolent free spirit, whose aim in writing was nothing less than liberation from the shackles of ignorance for all who would think for themselves. This useful volume has the virtue of being an education in itself, and will pay rich dividends for those willing to learn from this charming American Socrates.

Let me know if you get it, Silence, and I'll give it a shot.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

If only I didn't have half a dozen books on my bookshelf to read.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 14, 2006 4:23 AM

Joe Biden, Time Traveller

D'ja catch this? Senator Biden goes on the Today Show (daring to face the fierce political onslaught from Katie Couric) and complains that Judge Alito didn't answer his question.

Fine, but he hadn't asked it yet:

Three hours later, in Round 4 of the hearings, Biden finally got around to asking the question he used as a defense to Couric three hours earlier. Again, check out the time stamp.

Hat-tip: Insty

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 10:03 AM

Cheap Thrills

This might be the funniest blonde joke ever.

But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at January 13, 2006 10:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yawn. :)

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2006 11:20 AM

January 12, 2006

Government Spending

Saw this on Drudge's page today.

    The federal government posted the first budget surplus for December in three years as corporate tax payments hit an all-time high, helping offset a record level for spending, the Treasury Department reported Thursday.

    The department said in its monthly budget report that government receipts surpassed spending by $10.98 billion last month. A year ago, the government ran a deficit of $2.85 billion in December.

    The improvement reflected the fact that government receipts were up 12.1 percent from a year ago to $241.88 billion while government spending rose by a slower 5.6 percent to $230.9 billion. The figure for outlays still represented an all-time high for spending for any month.

Tax cuts are generating more tax revenue. This is a good thing. (tm)

What I don't like is that government doesn't know how to stop spending. Congress and the President are to blame for that. Drives me nuts.

Having more money doesn't you can or should spend it. Who runs their household that way? Irresponsible people do.

Can't we expect more from our government? Shouldn't we?

But Doctorrick thinks:

What's funny is those who thought the tax cut was a bad idea...no one gave it back! More so, look what it's done. Numbers speak the truth.

Posted by: Doctorrick at January 12, 2006 8:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There's never been a better time to be a tax and spend liberal, or a tax and spend RINO for that matter. A good example is the Democrat speaker of the house in Colorado: On the first day of the new session after SLIM passage of the giant tax grab "Referendum C," Andrew Romanoff said, "This session is not going to be a massive spending binge." Translation: This session is going to be a massive spending binge.

From http://www.adamsmith.org/tax/: "Little else is required to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice." -Adam Smith, 1755

But the same page declares Tax Freedom Day for 2005 was May 31. When precisely HALF of the average taxpayer's income goes to the government this is a LONG WAY from "easy taxes." Imagine how many fewer hours families would have to work if their total tax burden was say, 15 percent instead of 50.

Posted by: johngalt at January 14, 2006 11:18 AM

Ups and Downs

Picks and Pans, Tony or Tacky, Ups and Downs. I have some thoughts from the hearings:

UP Chairman Arlen Specter. No, I can't believe I am writing this. But he was good as Chairman and provided as I suggested the most balanced questioning during his allotted times. He was neither sycophantic nor aggressive. I thought I had lost it, but a friend emails similar thoughts:

I've not seen all of this, but what I've seen of Specter has been impressive. He is engaging in substantive debate, remaining respectful and demonstrating how these things might be conducted if serious people participated. [...] The upside is that most people don't get or care about legal trivia, but they all understand the wife's tearful exit after watching her husband savaged by the compassionate, caring party. Alito wins, and you are right, Democrats, thoughtful ones, have to wonder what kind of hands they are in with leadership like Kennedy, Schumer, Leahy, et. al.

Down Senator Kennedy. I had forgotten just how bad he is. I heard him on the radio (NPR in my rental car) saying that he still can't come to terms with how Judge Alito could have joined "that reprehensible organization" twenty or thirty years ago. Senator, I don't know how you left Mary Jo Kopechne to die thirty years ago. I guess it's all just water over your car after a while. (I apologize to those who expect more reasoned debate from me. A day with the Dems has poisoned me.) I asked my emailer "isn’t anybody in Massachusetts or the Democrat party embarrassed about this man?"

UP Senator Lindsey Graham Senator Graham has not been a team player nor reliable on conservative economic principles. But I was crying as much as the Judge's wife when he did his brilliant defense. My brother-in-law called and insisted that I tape the replay so I could catch Graham. I'm glad I did.

Up with a bullet President Bush and Judge Samuel Alito What a great nominee. I remain pleased by this nomination (and Chief Roberts's)

Level: Schumer, Leahy, Biden, &c. I didn't expect any better; I didn't get any better.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 3:32 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Long time Threesources readers know that I'm no fan of Senator Specter, but when he and Senator Kennedy (D-Tanqueray) were arguing about some letter that Kennedy wrote, it's hard to say he didn't put Kennedy back in his place. That felt pretty good. Finally!

Posted by: AlexC at January 12, 2006 5:11 PM

Fight the Power

Gentlemen's clubs employees took it to the streets in Trenton NJ this thursday to protest government meddling.

    More smoke than fire might best describe an anti-smoking ban protest in front of the Statehouse in Trenton on Thursday.

    There were far less than the 100 strippers promised by New Jersey 101.5 shock jocks, "The Jersey Guys."

    The women waved signs saying, "Defy Anti-Smoking Nazis" and "Tobacco Control Is Out of Control."

    In the background, a loudspeaker blared the songs, "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Highway to Hell."

    The strippers say they oppose the ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other public establishments because it would drive away customers.

I always thought that leaving a "gentlemans' club" stinking like stale beer, cigarettes and perfume was part of the experience.

New Jersey is also the state where you can't pump your own gas for fear of the catastrophe that might result. The N in NJ should be changed to "Nanny."

Funny line...

    Others in the crowd swore they were there because they were on their way back to work.


Freedom of Speech

This picture comes to us from the United Kingdom, where Abu Hamza, a Muslim preacher is in court on terror related charges.

I post the picture in the hopes of noting the irony of holding up signs attacking the goverment which doesn't prohibit you to hold up those signs.

If only this planet had see signs saying "Mullah Omar is go to Hell!" or "Wahabbism is Hypocrisy" would not be finding ourselves in this mess.

But alas, 'tis only a dream.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Somebody forgot to bring the 'Free Speech is Unconstitutional' sign.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 12, 2006 2:18 PM

Welcome To The Blogroll

Blonde Sagacity. Shifting the Pennsylvania/Colorado axis a little to the east, we have added yet another Philly blog.

AlexC has linked here frequently and it is a very good blog.

Check it out!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:58 AM

January 11, 2006

Public Transportation

Here's an idea from YoungPhillyPolitics.

    I’ll start us off by presenting my idea (that has been discussed by many others before) to use an expansion of public transportation to create new jobs, improve the city’s neighborhoods and bridge the gap between all Philadelphians.

It goes on to list all of the ways....
    In total, for the transit expansion projects I propose above, we are talking anywhere from $20-$30 billion in capital spending. This may seem like a lot of money. However, because a lot it could be bonded, the actual cash outlay would be a lot less. A billion dollars a year for 30 years is a better way to think of the expense. And, as I will report in the next section, this level of transit infrastructure investment would have an astounding impact on our city’s economy which would pay for the $1 billion a year in debt service easily.

So the plan is to spend a billion dollars a year to cover a billion dollars a year in debt using money that might come from tax revenue based on new jobs!

I guess compounding interest never figured in to the calculations. To be fair, Ray did admit to some guessing in his calculations.

Nevertheless, I still have a philosophical problem with centrally planned problem solving like this. It would be a total and complete racket. It's begging for mismanagement and graft.

If the objective is to lure better paying jobs BACK into the city, I guess getting the city on the correct side of the Laffer Curve isn't in the cards.

In related news, a new paper from the Cato Institute came out last week.

    Prior to 1964, when Congress began subsidizing transit, the industry was mostly private. Since then, the industry has been almost entirely taken over by state and local governments. Today more than three of every four dollars spent on transit come from taxpayers, not transit riders.

    The effectiveness of local transit systems is undermined by federal subsidies, which encourage the construction of highly visible and expensive services such as light-rail trains to suburban areas despite the chronically low number of riders on those routes. Federal subsidies to transit advocacy groups and misguided environmental and labor regulations also encourage a large investment of taxpayer money in wasteful transit systems.

Public transit is a tricky question. In urban areas, you have to have it.

Mass rail-transit has pretty much been a financial loser since automobiles were invented, and were heavily subsidized by freight reciepts when real railroads has shiny classic passenger trains. However, when your entire income stream is based on passengers themselves that need to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, it becomes very difficult to do.

Subways, "El"s and trolleys, as light rail used to be called, are in that same vein. The physical plant maintenance is high, and you can only make money in high volumes, but even then with government subsidies.

Buses have always been expensive to run, but cheaper than rail, as the "tracks" are someone elses problem.

I think the solution to transit funding is that we need to abandon the idea of public transit monopolies.

With regards to rail, the government should offer tax incentives (not subsidies) for self-contained railcar development and passenger service companies to run them. Though some lines would need to be improved for the additional traffic, they can co-exist with freight traffic when properly dispatched.

The Colorado Railcar DMU is an example.

But here's my twist.

For example on the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, why not allow multiple companies to run the operations? Not just Amtrak sharing with NJ Transit, MTA or Septa, but with an airline style model. The service can either be contracted out by the municipality OR companies could run them on their own schedules, offering first-class, upscale or economy style service. Additionally, premium slots during rush-hour can be sold to the companies. In addition to frequency or quality of service, competition could also be based on speed of service. Trains could make the local stops or the bigger city stops (express), or some mix (limited).

For those locations where rail service might not exist, or exists on terrible economics, why not contract the service out? Instead of completely wasting money, there would be a better return. The competitive bidding process still works... Since we're already paying for some service to these areas, can't we pay less? I'm sure we can.

We can do something similar with buses. It would actually be better than trains. There's a lower cost for the infrastructure. Another government bureaucracy is maintaining the roads. Heck, we could fold some of the rails into the DOT's as well. In any case, a bus can go anywhere. Greyhound, Martz, et. al. do it now.

With unmonopolized public transit any bus company can run a bus from anywhere to anywhere. I bet they would do it at far better efficiency than a "transit authority."

Free our transit.... either that or perfect "tube technology" ala Logan's Run. Except we all know how that turned out.

But jk thinks:

I don't think any of the Colorado folks are going to be real sanguine on the DMU.

The Colorado "FastTrack" boondoggle was passed by voters in the same election where Democrats took both State legislatures. That was a dark day.

You're -- of course -- dead on on the private competition claims.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2006 12:27 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Well, my post regarding the DMU is the technology itself. Self-contained railcars. It's not new, but the DMU is the latest in the evolution of the railcar.

A boondoggle is still a boondoggle, however.

Posted by: AlexC at January 12, 2006 1:12 PM

Kennedy & Alito

The hits just keep on coming.

    During an emotional barrage of questions about 20-year-old written statements by Judge Samuel Alito, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, today inadvertently asked the Supreme Court nominee if he “believes in the principle of one fetus, one vote.”

    Aides immediately alerted Sen. Kennedy that he had co-mingled two major Supreme Court decisions in his question, but Judge Alito chose to answer it anyway.

    “Sen. Kennedy, I appreciate that question,” said the federal appeals court judge. “At no time have I ever opposed the right of a fetus — without regard to political affiliation, race, or sex — to cast a ballot once he or she has reached legal voting age. You raise issues of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, freedom of choice and civil liberties. Far be it from a judge, or anyone else, to ever interfere with those unalienable rights.”

Oh wait. That was Scrappleface. The best satire often has an element of harsh truth.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 4:54 PM

Alito Should Know Better

Ack. One of my personal pet peeves has been tweaked by Judge Alito.

Courtesy of Powerline, to which John Hinderaker, comments "Wonderful."

    "I don't think it's appropriate or useful to look to foreign law in interpreting the provisions of our Constitution," Judge Alito said in response to questions from Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, in the third day of the judge's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    "I think the Framers would be stunned by the idea that the Bill of Rights is to be interpreted by taking a poll of the countries of the world," Judge Alito said. "The purpose of the Bill of Rights was to give Americans rights that were recognized practically nowhere else in the world at the time. The Framers did not want Americans to have the rights of people in France or the rights of people in Russia or any of the other countries on the continent of Europe at the time; they wanted them to have the rights of Americans."

The first part, I totally agree with... in terms of the first paragraph, I agree with Hindrocket. It is wonderful.

It's the second part of the statement that torques me off.

The Framers DID NOT GIVE US ANY RIGHTS the Constitution DID NOT GIVE US ANY RIGHTS and the Bill of Rights certainly did not "give us" any rights.

Rights are endowed by the Creator, or if your an atheist, at birth. No one gives them to you. They can only be taken away. The Bill of Rights sought to enumerate a certain set of rights, that the government has no ability to take away.

Don't believe me? Check the Preamble to the Bill of Rights.

    THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution...

The first ten amendments (twelve originally proposed) were to restrict government, not to give us anything! The Framers had the idea, and the personal knowledge, that governments eventually constrict the freedoms of their people. They wanted to hamstring, for lack of a better term, the government from doing so, or even attempting to do so.

Judge Alito, soon to be Justice Alito, should know the difference.

He better know the difference.

A government that can give you a right is the same one that can take it away.

That's a disappointing answer in an otherwise phenomenal performance.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 2:45 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Bravo and well done, AlexC. Perfect in every detail, right down to the "little a" atheist reference.

I suspect that Alito agrees with us and that this was a case of imprecise language. But Rand taught to take words precisely and literally. I hope that some Republican senator on the committee will ask the nominee about this as a follow-up question.

I propose that you suggest it to one of them!

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2006 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Birthright liberty is the foundation of my belief system. I bore people with my three pillars of law, economics and skepticism, but insist that they are rooted in the foundation of Lockeian, Jeffersonian, birthright liberty.

So we all agree but I am not taking points off. Judge Alito has suffered the most grueling and humiliating three day job interview I can imagine.

The Democrat callers to C-Span say "He looks nervous." I would have been in the hospital yesterday. I'll give him this one.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2006 1:30 PM

Reply From Senator Salazar

Dear John:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to be the next Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

President Bush nominated Judge Alito on October 31, 2005. Since his nomination, Judge Alito has visited with members of the Senate. In addition, the Senate Judiciary Committee has requested more information about Judge Alito in the form of a questionnaire. The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently conducting a thorough examination of his opinions as a judge on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and of his previous professional experience during his confirmation hearings on Judge Alito's nomination.

I met with Judge Alito to learn more about his background, experience and views. While I appreciated his visit, I still have grave concerns about his nomination. That said, I look forward to hearing more from Judge Alito at these confirmation hearings. Until then, I will continue to carefully review and study his background and record in the manner consistent with the previous nominees. I believe the Senatorial duty of “advice and consent” is not to be taken lightly, especially with nomination to the highest court of the land. I will keep your concerns in mind with respect to this duty in the coming days.

Again, thank you for writing me.


Ken Salazar
United States Senator

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 12:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Five despicable words: "Ken Salazar, United States Senator."

I considered taking the time to call or write Salazar's office but concluded I'd prefer he vote to reject and, as a result, be expelled from office himself in the 2010 election. He's nothing but a proletarian lap dog.

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2006 3:25 PM

More Alito

C-Span reran the hearings last night and I was able to see quite a bit more.

I think my prize for tenor goes to Senator Arlen Specter. The Democrats I saw were in attack-dog mode. They have a powerful constituency to oppose any nomination from this President and are looking for any flaw they can hang an opposition movement upon. That is not serious governance.

The Republicans counterbalance this by throwing softballs and highlighting the Judge's achievements. Senator Specter nicely grilled the nominee, which I think is correct. They can have questions, too, and should.

The nominee is very impressive to me. I thought he handled himself with grace and flair.

I hope I live long enough that the court becomes something more important than "The US Board of Abortion Regulation." That all it is now to most of these folks. I didn't hear a question on Kelo v. New London (I didn't listen to it all), I didn't hear a question on McConnell v FEC and the only I time I heard about Raitch was when Sen. Hatch used it to compare Alito to Justice O'Connor (they are both on the correct side of this).

Lastly, it strengthens my resolve to be a pragmatist. We cannot make Senator Leahy Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. We cannot put Senators Schumer, Kennedy and Biden in charge. If that means we have to put up with RINOs like Snowe, Collins, and Chaffee, so be it. The other guys are not ready.

SCOTUS Posted by John Kranz at 10:01 AM

January 10, 2006

Alito Nomination

Being a political junkie, it breaks my heart that I just can't get into the Alito - Supreme Court goings on.

But the general meme from the blogosphere has been that Alito is competent, highly intelligent and killing the Senators. Especially in light of an exchange like this one.

    Like the bad lawyer he has proven himself to be, [NY Senator] Schumer asked one question too many:

      Q: Does the Constitution protect free speech?

      A: Yes, Senator, the First Amendment protects free speech.

      Q. Well, why can you give me a straight answer on that issue but not give me a straight answer on abortion?

      A. Because the text of the Constitution explicitly includes the term "free speech".

    Case closed. It's like watching the Washington Generals play the Harlem Globetrotters.

Wow. Judge Sam "Alioto" should have thrown a brick at the Senator. It would have hurt less.

Hopefully this video turns up.

Update: The transcript has appeared.

    SCHUMER: Does the Constitution protect the right to free speech?

    ALITO: Certainly it does. That's in the First Amendment.

    SCHUMER: So why can't you answer the question of: Does the Constitution protect the right to an abortion the same way without talking about stare decisis, without talking about cases, et cetera?

    ALITO: Because answering the question of whether the Constitution provides a right to free speech is simply responding to whether there is language in the First Amendment that says that the freedom of speech and freedom of the press can't be abridged. Asking about the issue of abortion has to do with the interpretation of certain provisions of the Constitution.

Not quite the same brick as originally described but a good answer, nonetheless.

Update #2 The video is available!.
Tip to my co-conspirators at SantorumBlog.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 7:09 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

Hate to pounce on someone for a slip of the tongue, but my favorite part of the Schumer torture was when he asserted that Plessey overturned Brown v Board.

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2006 7:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I have an unfortunately busy week. I wish I watch them cover to cover. What I saw, Alito comes off VERY well. He is competent and decent and displays an encyclopedic law knowledge.

Remind our Coloradans to send a letter to Senator Salazar, our own Gang of 14 member. You can do it right from his website: http://salazar.senate.gov/

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2006 7:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Alito said there is a right to privacy in the Constitution. He cited both the 4th and 1st amendments. This is good.

He said he would "follow the law" but what exactly does this mean when he's sitting in judgment of that very law? This is the only weakness I can point to in his oratory.

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2006 12:16 AM
But johngalt thinks:

As for Kennedy, he is clearly senile. The voters of Massachusetts have an inflappable brand-loyalty in political representation. I'm fully convinced a plurality of them would vote for Tookie Williams over Tom Brady if he changed his name to Tookie Kennedy. Well, except for the part about him being dead.

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2006 12:20 AM

Heaven, They Name Is...

... Intel Power Mac laptop.

    You’ve dreamed about it long enough. Now it has a name: MacBook Pro. Powered by a dual-core Intel engine. Up to four times the speed of the PowerBook G4. Eight times the graphics bandwidth. With built-in iSight for instant video conferencing on the move. And Front Row with Apple Remote to dazzle everyone in the room. Wait no more. MacBook Pro starts at just $1999.


I bought my first Macintosh in 1995, a PowerMac 8100/80 Mhz with 1Gb hard drive. That machine lasted me through college and in 1999 I ended up back on the Windows platform. Rueing the days. Nothing was simple anymore. It was work just to do work. (of course, I was being paid to do the work too)

Three years ago I took delivery of my Powerbook G4, and 867Mhz machine with 60Gb of RAM and fell back in love. Everything just worked.
Digital Camera, Palm Pilot cellphone, Digital Video camera, etc...

Eventually wear and tear set in. On a laptop you use everyday, these things happen. First was a hinge, then a key, then the powersupply.... and the battery release... and the other hinge. A month ago was the hard drive.

It was tragic.

All I had backed up were my contacts and schedules to my iPod. I had a new HD and enclosure shipped and got back "running." I finally, finally this week got the machine to recognize the old hard drive and copied the archived emails, songs, and most importantly the pictures, from the past three years. I was looking forward to getting a new laptop.

And here it is.

Obviously, in the intervening years Windows got better. I look forward to dual-booting this PC to do those things I just can't do on the Mac yet. Mostly play the latest games.... but this will be awesome.

Posted by AlexC at 4:50 PM | What do you think? [5]
But jk thinks:

We haven't had a Mac-Windows war on this blog. It'll make it seem like we agree on religion and politics...

Posted by: jk at January 10, 2006 5:11 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Uh, bring it on!!!!!

Posted by: AlexC at January 10, 2006 7:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Do they still sell Macs? Hmmm. Hadn't noticed. Maybe that's what that "Linus" thing is for?

Posted by: johngalt at January 11, 2006 12:13 AM
But kaa thinks:

Mac? Windows? Code-bloated resource pigs. Repeat after me: Linux, Fedora Core 4.

Posted by: kaa at January 11, 2006 6:31 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Ha! Linux.
I used to run FreeBSD / Windows dual boot laptop. I found myself in FreeBSD 99% of the time. Now that's a trim system. Especially if you compile everything from ports per your PC's configuration.

But now that I'm drinking the Apple kool-aid, there's just better things to do with my time. Like USE the computer... not "work on it."

Posted by: AlexC at January 12, 2006 1:15 AM

January 9, 2006

Philly Boom

This may be one of the craziest things I've seen in the New York Times, ever.

Headline: Tax Breaks Drive a Philadelphia Boom

    AFTER years of losing population, the downtown region, known as Center City, is booming, with developments going up and old buildings being transformed into lofts and condominiums.

    The construction, fueled by tax breaks, has succeeded in halting the city's 40-year population decline. Center City, which has the nation's third largest downtown residential population, behind New York and Chicago, is experiencing its fifth straight year of increased housing starts, both new and rehabilitated units. Center City's population grew to 88,000 by the end of 2005 from 78,000 in 2000. Even more striking, the number of households rose by 24 percent, according to figures compiled by the Center City District, a business-improvement group.

Cut taxes, and faster please.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 7:56 PM

Chronic of Narnia Rap

From SNL -- very funny!

Hat-tip: Galley Slaves, who point out the quote "You can call us Aaron Burr from the way we're dropping Hamiltons."

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 3:49 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Great line. Reminds of my favorite rap line.
This is by Dr Dre.
"I get so much ass, they call me an astronaut."

Posted by: AlexC at January 9, 2006 5:13 PM

The Cost of Regulation

2005 was a very expensive year for gasoline. And thanks to Washington, 2006 could be even worse.

The feds did not waste any time, with two costly gasoline requirements having taken effect on January 1st. That’s right. The year has already begun with two new regulations that will raise the price at the pump.

I feel better, you? The two regs in this TCS article, for those playing the home game, are mandatory ethanol requirements from last year's energy bill and sulphur restrictions from the Clinton era that just kicked in.

As Mr. Pragmatist, I would trade these for ANWR in the great legislative Sausage match, but to get these without domestic drilling is hard to bear.

Proponents of the bill regulations are eased for new/expanded refineries and other domestic drilling. I hope this is true but have the sinking feeling that we got rolled again.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:54 PM

Ball Players


    A leader from the women's rights group NOW has asked Joe Paterno to resign over comments the Penn State football coach made about an alleged sexual assault.

    Joanne Tosti-Vasey, president of the National Organization for Women in Pennsylvania, said Sunday that she was "appalled" by Paterno's comments last week and that they represent an institutional insensitivity that endangers women.

What did JoePa say?
    "There's some tough — there's so many people gravitating to these kids. He may not have even known what he was getting into, Nicholson. They knock on the door; somebody may knock on the door; a cute girl knocks on the door. What do you do?"

I'm not going to discount the allegations, they're no joke.

NOW's statement goes on...

    "Allegations of sexual assault should never be taken lightly," the statement reads. "Making light of sexual assault sends the message that rape is something to be expected and accepted."

You seriously have to consider what the actual position of the National Organization of Women is in light of their response to the claims of Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Dolly Kyle Browning, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broderick.

Where were the press releases? Who asked the President to step down? At least the President committed those acts.. (well, allegedly), Joe Paterno had misfortune of being the kid's football coach.

But johngalt thinks:

"Allegations of sexual assault should never be taken lightly," says she. "Nor should allegations of witchcraft," say I and the Salem Reverend's girls.

Being a Colorado resident and Colorado University alumnus and football fan, I've seen this all before. I highly recommend Bruce Plasket's book 'Buffaloed' to those who want to know how and why it happens. (ALLEGATIONS of sexual assault, not ACTUAL sexual assault.) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1599710250/qid=1136834909/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-9439318-9679219?n=507846&s=books&v=glance

Posted by: johngalt at January 9, 2006 2:29 PM

Iran Breaking Nuclear Seals

Iran has announced that they will be restarting their nuclear research on Monday.

    "We will remove the seals and we have announced that we are ready to start research from tomorrow," a foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, said yesterday. "It depends on the IAEA to announce its readiness as this will take place under the agency's supervision," he added.

    However, Mr ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, disputed Tehran's assertion that 90 per cent of issues related to the resumption of research had been solved.

Mr ElBaradei has some tough talk for Iran.
    "I am running out of patience, the international community is running out patience, the credibility of the verification process is at stake"

I read the entire linked article and a question remains in my mind.

What happens if Iran gets back to work? What is the IAEA and Mr Elbaradei's next steps?

Actually, it's not a hypothetical. Iran will resume work. This will be followed by caterwauling from old-Europe about credibility and playing nice. Israel will then strike. Old Europe will sigh with relief, though privately.

Then we'll have a big mess on our hands trying to set things straight again.

So what to do? Instead of endlessly sealing these facilities, they should be plowed under by an agency or entity willing to solve problems. All we're doing here is kicking the can down the road.

Posted by AlexC at 12:28 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

"the credibility of the verification process is at stake" I guess the IAEA cheif and I actually agree on something.

Posted by: jk at January 9, 2006 12:23 PM

January 8, 2006

iPod Civics

AmericanRhetoric.com has a listing of the Top 100 speeches and many of them are available in MP3 format.

Now you listen to our nation's greatest speeches AND be trendy.

What a country.

My downloads so far?
MLK's "I Have a Dream" and "I've Been to the Mountaintop"
All of the Reagan speeches, MacArthur and some Nixon speeches.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 6:05 PM

Liberté Chérie

Liberté Chérie is the name of a French, libertarian think tank. In "An Australian in Paris," Paul Belien interviews its leader and popular member (to the media) Sabine Herold.

The article is a good look at French thought that changed my mind about many things.

For many French, ‘liberal’ remains a pejorative. The French Revolution didn’t just lop off the king’s head, it enshrined the State in his place as the new sovereign. In some ways, perhaps, it was easier to kill the king than it was to kill the notion of kingliness. In France, someone is always in charge. Today, the bureaucracy is bloated and all-powerful. Bureaucrats rule their petty fiefdoms like little Napoleons, and the state regulates everything it can see. Welfare rules the lives of millions, and entrepreneurialism as understood in Australia or America is almost non-existent. People don’t just go out and do things, people wait to be told what to do. The king is dead, long live the king.
Okay, that's not surprising. But that only 7% of the French workforce is unionized? That nobody really knows how they are funded?

Very good article. In the lede, he points out that "After all, if one couldn’t believe three contradictory things simultaneously, [liberté, égalité, fraternité] one wouldn’t be French.

Like liberty minded people everywhere, they suffer from a paucity of candidates that really believe.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Let Them Eat Cake Posted by John Kranz at 2:41 PM

January 7, 2006

jk Causes Trouble

I've often mentioned how much I enjoy the quality of Samizdata's commenters (Perry calls them "The Commentariat"). They're a bright and articulate lot and for such a large community have very few trolls.

A post about allofmp3.com caught me eye: "The Future of the Music Business is Here". The poster and first comments were praising this Russian MP3 site for its good front-end, pricing structure, &c.

I commented that "I hate to ruin the party but..." I thought Samizdats in general would be extra sensitive to property rights. And that, as this is not sanctioned by the RIAA, it is likely stealing music, even though you pay ~0.12/track. Thanks to the time zone difference, I went to bed to find the discussion thread taken in many directions, including the Russian Mafia (makes me think of "Blues Brothers 2000), the validity of copyrights, the state's function in preserving intellectual property. Very good stuff

Enough chatter that Perry DeHavilland created a second post directed exclusively toward the property rights issue.

In fact I would say that notion is exactly the wrong way around. Like it or not, music is now a commodity that is traded by weight in an international market and therefore the creator has only residual rights to how that commodity is subsequently resold. The model allofmp3 uses does indeed pay something to the creators of the music and refusing to acknowledge that things have changed and that recorded music is no long a physical good is pointless.

I strongly disagree. Because consumers wish to set their own price does not mean that the producers have to accede. One comment asserts three different ways he will buy music (attend gigs, donate to buskers, donate on your site where you offer free mp3s) and that’s certainly his right. But it is the right of the music producers to tell him whether that model will be honored for a specific artist.

The comparison to resale does not hold because a music sale is a incense to use. Purchasing one of my CDs does not give you rights to rerecord Hoagy Carmichael tunes or to resell my versions on a Russian Web site.

Lastly, he makes a funny point comparing the Russian Mafia to government.

I would say even if it was true that allofmp3 is paying 'protection' to the Russian Mafia and/or using their political influence to shield their business model, the Russian Mafia fulfils certain roles that in other countries are filled by governments and lobbyists to much the same effect, thus I am not sure it makes a company like allofmp3 any different to a company (say Sony) using the force of the state to enforce its business model.

There is really not that much difference and if you do not believe me, I suggest you try telling the state you no longer wish to follow their regulations and wish to make your own arrangements for 'protection' and therefore intend to withhold a portion of your taxes... and then see what happens to you.

Clever, but we still get to vote on our government, flawed though the process may be, and as I recall from Blues Brothers 2000, nobody gets to vote on the Russian Mafia.

By opposing allofmpo3.com on property rights grounds, I was lumped in with the RIAA as unwilling to embrace new business models. Anybody who’s ever read ThreeSources will know that to be untrue. I wrote about eMusic.com on the Berkeley Square Blog in July of 2003 that "Supporting a legal distribution method might bring Schumpeterian-gales of reform to the big-bad music Industry."

I'm all for hating "Big Music" and I am all for mp3 models. But they have to have the acceptance of buyer and seller -- as many sites do -- before I will embrace them

Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Perry de Havilland thinks:

Well we cannot agree on *everything* or people might start to talk!

Posted by: Perry de Havilland at January 7, 2006 1:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I haven't read much of Perry but I wonder what makes him think it proper that a musician's work product may be duplicated repeatedly and sold for profit by others merely because said musician entered into a distribution agreement with "big music?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 8, 2006 12:47 AM
But jk thinks:

JG You should really read Samizdata; I think you’d like it very much. They're closer to your stripe of little-l libertarianism that most folks I read (and probably everyone around here).

I brought it up because I think highly of them and have high expectations. Most people ripping off music, I'd say "yeah, whatever..."

Personal story: I was invited to what I think was the first Samizdata Bloggers' Bash. I was coming back from Ireland to Chichester and didn't think I could pull it off. I ended up doing nothing that night and now the bash is such a big deal that I will never score another invite. I have very few regrets in life, but I wished I had gone to meet th stars of the European right-wing blogosphere that night.

Posted by: jk at January 8, 2006 11:27 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I have had a desire to read Samizdata many times but I have the impression that it would be a larger time commitment than I'm prepared for. I fear it would distract from the limited time I have available to be fully engaged on these pages.

Posted by: johngalt at January 10, 2006 2:32 PM
But Perry de Havilland thinks:

"I will never score another invite"

Sure you will! You just need to let me know when you are around. My spy network is too busy keeping tabs of various ministers to keep me up to date on your movements :-D

Posted by: Perry de Havilland at January 10, 2006 4:08 PM

Someone call Pres Carter!

Democracy is at stake!

    Followers of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have ordered international observers overseeing this month's Palestinian election to leave the Jenin area of the northern West Bank.

    "We are sorry to tell you that you must leave Jenin as soon as possible," said a statement Saturday from the Jenin branch of the Brigades received by AFP.

Well, at least they were polite about it.
    The Al-Aqsa Brigades, a groups of largely automous cells nominally loyal to the ruling Fatah movement, have previously threatened to kidnap monitors in the Gaza Strip unless a series of demands are met, including guarantees that elections take place in east Jerusalem on January 25.

Nevermind. They WANT elections to take place.

I expect the "international community" to have no problem with that.

However, I'm more curious about the rest of the series of demands.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 12:28 PM

January 6, 2006

Training the Insurgents

Well, it's pretty clear we're still being lied to.

    THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME OF Saddam Hussein trained thousands of radical Islamic terrorists from the region at camps in Iraq over the four years immediately preceding the U.S. invasion, according to documents and photographs recovered by the U.S. military in postwar Iraq. The existence and character of these documents has been confirmed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD by eleven U.S. government officials.

Lies! Imperialist lies!
    Many of the fighters were drawn from terrorist groups in northern Africa with close ties to al Qaeda, chief among them Algeria's GSPC and the Sudanese Islamic Army. Some 2,000 terrorists were trained at these Iraqi camps each year from 1999 to 2002, putting the total number at or above 8,000. Intelligence officials believe that some of these terrorists returned to Iraq and are responsible for attacks against Americans and Iraqis.

Again, there were no connections! Do not believe the evidence! There are still no Americans in Baghdad.

But jk thinks:

Stunning article -- also read Bill Kristol's call for the President to more forcefully make these connections known:
"IT'S CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. In fact, it's more than conventional wisdom. It's an article of faith among the enlightened: There was no connection, at least no significant connection, between Saddam Hussein's regime and al Qaeda and other terrorist groups."

Posted by: jk at January 7, 2006 1:20 PM

House Leadership

First JK encourages Tom Delay to step down from his position in the the House, and now some Congressmen are listening.

    About two dozen Republicans have promised to sign a petition calling for elections to permanently replace Rep. Tom DeLay as majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, aides said on Friday.

    "We have commitments for about 25 signatures. The letter calls for a leadership election for a permanent majority leader," said Matthew Specht, a spokesman for Rep. Jeff Flake (news, bio, voting record), a conservative Arizona Republican.

They are only about halfway there to forcing a vote.

Here's to hoping for Indian Representative (and fiscal conservative) Mike Pence.

UPDATE: The AP is reporting (Jan07,2006) that DeLay is indeed stepping down.

But jk thinks:

Now that's pull. I'm sure it's ThreeSources and not the NRO column I linked to and today's WSJ: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110007778

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2006 7:01 PM

I Rebuke Thee


    Speaking on his "700 Club" TV show, Robertson noted the Israeli leader's stroke and suggested God was punishing him for "dividing God's land."

    That was a reference to last year's Gaza withdrawal, which Sharon engineered.

    White House spokesman Trent Duffy calls the remark "wholly inappropriate and offensive." And speaking to reporters as President Bush flew to Chicago, he said it has no place "in this or any other debate."

    Robertson's comment has already been called "outrageous and shocking" by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. And Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid branded it "insulting."

Why does the White House feel it's even necessary to make a statement on Robertson's statement?

He doesn't work in the White House. He doesn't work in government. The Bush White House is not responsible for what Rev Pat Robertson says anymore than it's responsible for what Rev Al Sharpton or Rev Jesse Jackson say in their speeches.

It's not like this is the first time either. I think there was a Chavez / Robertson kerfuffle a while back too.

What's the point? All it does to do is serve to reinforce the idea that there is some sort of connection.

Just ignore him. You can't tell him to STFU.

But jk thinks:

Republicans are held accountable for the craziest of their membership; Democrats are not even held responsible for the head of the Party. It is almost as if the media has some sort of weird double standard. I can't put my finger on it but there's something there.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2006 2:18 PM

Requiescat in Pace

Bad news. Lou Rawls has passed away at the age of 72 from Lung Cancer.

As I moved from being a fan of blues and Motown soul into more of a Jazz (snob, some say), I lost interest in a lot of artists.

Lou Rawls, however, was always hip, always cool. He could hang with Jazz cats or belt out a sweet, baritone pop song.

Thanks for the good tunes, my friend.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:21 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

I was surprised to learn that he was in high school with Sam Cooke. I've been listening to Sam Cooke ALOT lately.

RIP, both of you. Thanks.

Posted by: AlexC at January 6, 2006 12:50 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

I believe that Lou Rawls sang the back up part on Sam Cooke's "You Send Me." RIP...

Posted by: Sugarchuck at January 6, 2006 2:59 PM

January 5, 2006


Talking about Estonia made me look for a blogger in Esonia that I used to read and correspond with.

Holy cow! Sam (Unigolyn) now has a Serenity/Firefly themed blog called "Kojinshugi." It'll be on the blogroll later today.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM

Western Civ...

I felt I should blog about Mark Steyn's long, depressing, and completely correct exegesis yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. I needed at least a day to digest it, though Hugh Hewitt staged a carnival of sorts of commentary about it.

Lileks resuscitates the Screedblog today to comment on it and it is of course great:

I know, I know: I am a hopeless reactionary. I believe in judging a culture on the liberties and prosperity it affords to its people. I believe that the West is an anomaly in human history, and that it is a rare thing to have what we have: information without boundaries, freedom unimagined by those who have gone before, women’s equality instead of the black Hefty-trash-bag dress, respect for gays instead of death-by-stone-walls, and all the other remarkable accomplishments like space probes and plumbing and overnight delivery of Omaha Steaks (track the UPS code in your browser, if you wish.) But it didn’t just happen. As Felix Under said to Oscar Madison: you have to make gravy. It doesn’t just come.

I wanted to sound a more hopeful note. Steyn is correct on the philosophical concerns (highlighted by Lileks) and he's no doubt correct on the Demographics and trends. I have heard many mention this and do not doubt that "Western Europe as we know it" is in serious jeopardy.

But I am reminded of the Population Bomb (which he quotes) and former Governor of Colorado Richard Lamm. Remembering these folks (and a college professor at CU who got to me) I question the extrapolation into dystopia. Might not these Muslims discover the benefits of freedom and plurality?

I hesitate to oppose the piece. We truly need to understand and defend the society we have created -- and it is probably too late for Denmark, The Netherlands and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But I do not concede that it is all over. Arnold Kling has suggested that rising productivity might allow u to fund entitlements. The US birthrate is equal to reproduction.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM | What do you think? [8]
But johngalt thinks:

Ahh, and there's the rub AlexC. What entitlements actually break is the person PAYING for them. (Those receiving them will generally be broken no matter what.) Smart collectivists know that productive individuals are their golden goose and take some care not to decapitate it. Today we see that all the smart collectivists have died off or retired, leaving just the silver spoon crowd to demand more and more and more, unaware of the cliff they are trying to drive us all off of.

The best basis for opposing entitlements is that they are just as immoral as any other type of theft.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2006 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the chance to clarify. I am not going to embrace entitlements because they're affordable. My suggestion was directed toward dystopian, end-of-the-world theories.

I think The Netherlands will fall to Islamic Immigrants and France will fall because of an unsustainable welfare scheme. I bring up Kling to suggest that not all countries will fall to either one.

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2006 5:06 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Wow, very depressing. So, just to keep from drowning myself now I will point out that Mark Steyn nicely ridicules the enviro-disasters predicted 30 years ago and then without a trace of irony launches into a prediction of demographic disasters 30 years out. Also I would point out that liberal western society can be quite seductive it its own right, especially to women. To keep your birth rate nice and high you need at least a 50% female population. All those women growing up in a society part liberal western and part fundamental Islam might find the liberal western concept more to their liking. Fundamentalism relies on stamping out freedom with an iron fist, easy with a quick overthrow, but tougher with a slow change. The surest way to fight a jihadist is to get him a job, and family, and a mortgage.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 6, 2006 4:57 AM
But jk thinks:

You made my point better than I did, Silence. That hurts but I'll carry on.

To our belief that (classical) liberalism will be attractive enough to win the hearts and minds of these folk comes back to a place where we probably do not agree. The courage of asserting, as Lileks did, the superiority of liberalism.

That means celebrating the USA's abolition of slavery rather than wallowing in its sad legacy. Celebrating our commitment to oust Saddam rather than detailing how we propped him up in the Cold War. And unabashedly saying that no, we are not "just like the Taliban because our President goes to church.

There seems a good mathematical point which I must concede to Steyn as well. It is (somewhat) easy for a living person to not reproduce or do so in controlled quantities; it is impossible for a person not born to reproduce. Steyn's dystopian predictions seem less dynamic than Erlich's.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2006 10:58 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

At the risk of questioning a writer with Steyn's stature his math may be missing some elements. He lists birth rates, are those corrected for infant mortality? Many of those African nations also have a 15-20% infant mortality rate, cutting effective births from 6 down to 5 for starters, and the infant mortality rate is only calculated for babies living one year. Starvation is rampant as well in many of those countries so number of babies born and number of grown adults that will produce in 20 years are not one and the same. Secondly there is a huge assumption in his thesis that Islamic parents will be of the radical variety and that their offspring will continue that tradition. (Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be Jihadists.) Third, it seems that he is intimating that millions of Islamic people from the Mid-East and Africa moved to Europe as part of a large plot to convert the continent to Islam. I think that most moved to find opportunity of the liberal capitalist variety. I don't believe Islamic youth rioted in France because the French government would not adopt Sharia law, but rather because liberal French society was not letting them in to enjoy the spoils of that society. Fourth, as Islamic population rises they will undoubtedly elect Islamic representatives but will those folks maintain their hard line stance? If they were to come to enjoy the power of political position and turn to seducing their constituents with silver tongued promises they would not be the first in history to so abandon their initial zeal.

Finally I will defend the power of liberalism but from a more Johngalt position, human nature and the power of selfishness. What you say? Steyn looks at it as the power of religious dogma versus the wishy-washiness of liberalism, but look at it another way, as a contrast in a system of rewards. Islam preaches earthly abstinence for heavenly reward whereas liberalism allows for earthly rewards. The lure of wine, women, and song, or an Xbox and a flat screen TV, or a big Mercedes and a garage to park it in just might have a fighting chance against virgins in heaven. When they tracked back the lives of the 9-11 terror cells, isn't it interesting how many of them spent as much time in strip clubs in America as in their mosques? Fear not JK, western culture has a great track record of corrupting youth of all ethnicities and religious beliefs all over the world!

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 6, 2006 1:15 PM
But jk thinks:

I wondered about birth rate and infant mortality as well. I suspect the US can enjoy a lower birth rate than can Nigeria and still claim replacement.

The indisputable math is that Western Europe is not reproducing at replacement rates and that they must import immigrants to keep their welfare states afloat. Their immigrants tend to be Muslim. I think we are on the same side about the corrupting capacities of liberalism. The scary point on the other side is the assertion that 60% of BRITISH Muslims would like sharia.

These countries do not have strong written constitutions nor a Constitutional heritage. Simple majorities could do catastrophic harm.

I think my post makes clear that I am more sanguine than Steyn (and LOTP actor John Rhys-Davies who discussed this on the Late "Dennis Miller Show"). But I feel that we ignore the underlying problems at our peril.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2006 2:13 PM

The Senator from Nevada

Senator Reid...

    ... joins Clark County Sheriff Bill Young in calling for [Homeland Security Chief] Chertoff to step down as a result of the decision jeopardizing millions in additional federal funding that Nevada currently receives as a result of being considered a potential terrorist target.

    "Anyone who can't see that Las Vegas is a high-risk area doesn't deserve to serve in a position like that," Reid said.

    "We had more visitors on New Year's Eve than they had in Times Square and we're not a high-risk area? For heaven's sakes.

In related news, perhaps Senator Reid would have liked Jack Abramoff to "lobby" Mr Chertoff in favor of Nevada funding.
    Among those named by the NRSC as the worst examples of "Democrat hypocrisy" for taking money from Abramoff and his associates are: Sen. Byron Dorgan, (D-N.D.) who received at least $79,300; Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who received at least $45,750; Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who received at least $68,941 and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who received at least $6,250.

I'm starting to rethink my ideas on "those in glass houses" when it comes to politics. As long as you destroy your opponents glass house more spectacularly than your own, it's fair game.

That's all that it can be.

But jk thinks:

Good Nevada politicians would accept Yucca Mountain for disposal of nooculur waste, then demand stacks of Homeland Security funding to protect it.

Posted by: jk at January 5, 2006 1:02 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:


Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 6, 2006 4:18 AM

Sorry Tom

I have to side with the folks at NRO (holy cow! write this date down!) that Leader DeLay is damaged from the Ronnie Earle imbroglio and will soon be ensnared in the Abramoff contretemps. Whether there is a yet undiscovered kerfuffle, who knows?

I should be serious because this is sad. Rep DeLay, as NRO points out, has done a good job for the GOP. He gets the administration agenda through the house (JohnGalt pointed out that we needed "The Hammer") and he drives Silence crazy; he must be a good guy.

I think he is blameless in the Earle indictment and likely pretty clean, legally, with Abramoff. But we are facing an election year and he will be viewed as damaged goods by the media and moderates.

I don't think it was fair that Senator Lott was forced to step down but he did it for the good of the party. DeLay must now do the same.

We hope Delay clears his name, and it is notable that he wasn't explicitly referred to in the plea agreement. The winds frequently shift in Washington and it might be that a year or two from now — leadership elections are held every two years — a clearly innocent DeLay will be poised for a comeback. It will certainly help earn the goodwill of his colleagues if he realizes the wisdom of remaining, for now, a backbencher.

Another point -- a tipping point -- is DeLay's assertion that years of GOP rule have trimmed all the pork out of the budget. I'll wait for you to get up off the floor now and clean up a bit.

Were he just the victim of un-provable charges, he should stay. But in fact he is emblematic of the shift toward incumbency that we've seen in the GOP house between the 104th and 109th Congress. Thanks, Mr. Leader. Bye.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Drives me crazy doesn't even begin to cover it JK. To me he is emblematic of all that is wrong with politics, power mongering, corrupt, and completely disconnected from real world reality. He openly brandished his "black book" of donors and would refuse to see those that were not in it. Not only his budget pork comment, but his assertion that "luckliy no one actually raises a family on minimum wage" Don't even get me started on his gerrymandering. The fact that he may be innocent says more about our laws and ethics rules than it does about his behavior.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at January 6, 2006 4:13 AM
But jk thinks:

Fair enough. I would ask:

-- Are there other Republican House members you respect?
-- Do you think the Democratic leadership is better on the points you make?

I find leader Pelosi emblematic of what's wrong with Democrats. She brings no ideas to the table, reflexively opposes the administration -- and her quick jump to Rep Murtha's "cut and run" was irresponsible. I do respect Reps. Jane Harman, Stony Hoyer and Harold Ford. Any of these would make a better minority leader.

As for Rep. DeLay, I can take or leave him. He is effective but he does personify the GOP slide I described.

We agree on gerrymandering but I can't say that DeLay handled it any differently than in most other states. Don't know specifics on your "Black Book" story; sounds bad (I'll assuming its true because it's from you).

The minimum wage comment I didn't hear but it should be "Nobody SHOULD raise a family on minimum wage." That would be correct in politics, economics, and morality. Better to let society create better jobs than raise the minimum wage.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2006 11:55 AM

January 4, 2006

We're Number Nine!

The 2006 Heritage/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom is out. As I've mentioned, the individual rankings confuse me. I love the Republic of Ireland and cheer her lowered tax rates and European Freedom. But this country has nationalized health care and a frightening phalanx of targeted tax cuts and regulations which dictate much of a firm's hiring and trading practices.

But the macro view of prosperity's matching freedom is unassailable. Mary Anastasia O'Grady writes in the WJ Ed Page:

Take, for example, the difference between the wealth of "repressed" economies and "mostly unfree" economies. The per capita GDP of the former is $4,239 while of the latter it is a tad lower at $4,058. This suggests that reforms that move a country one step up in economic liberty, on average, produce no material benefit to the population.

The jump from "mostly unfree" to "mostly free" yields a much better return but still leaves a country not particularly well-off. "Mostly free" countries have a per capita GDP of $13,530, while "free" countries have, on average, a per capita GDP of over $30,000.

O’Grady compares the Latin American countries which are her beat to the eastern European countries which have improved substantially under free-markets and flat taxes.


But johngalt thinks:

Estonia's 63% tax burden is huge, but certainly much better than the old Soviet system. And despite the massive tax rate (supposedly "fair" because it is flat) this tiny nation is STILL ranked ahead of the good ol' USA on the economic freedom index.

Hey governments, be more afraid of your people!

Oh, and good to hear from you again Sam! I looked for you some time back but had less success than JK. Maybe you were still crossing the border, you Canuckistanian.

Posted by: johngalt at January 5, 2006 3:10 PM
But Sam Muldia thinks:

And compared to most everyone else in Europe, we're a veritable anarcho-capitalist Shangri-La.

Case in point - Sweden:

Local income tax - 26-35%
National income tax - 20-25% (progressive)
Payroll tax - 32.8%
VAT - 25%

So let's say you make $60,000 a year. Your employer pays the state an additional $19,680. $9,364 of the 60K that's supposedly yours is taxable in the 25% bracket, meaning you lose $2,341. The next national bracket includes an additional $17,951 of your money, of which you lose a mere 20%, i.e. another $3,590. That's national taxes, totalling $5,931.

Next up, local taxes. To be cautious, let's just use the median number, 30%. That's 30% of the entire 60K, meaning a whopping $18,000 deducted from your paycheck. Grand total of local and state income taxes paid - $23,931. You're left with $36,069, 25 percent of which is dead weight because it's lost to VAT.

That leaves you with $27,051 out of the $79,680 your employer was willing to spend on you, barely a third. Make more money and the amount you keep is even more disproportionate.

Estonia's flat rate of 24% and 18% VAT seem lavishly generous in comparison. (out of the $79,680 you keep $37,392 - almost half of it)

Posted by: Sam Muldia at January 5, 2006 5:34 PM
But Sam Muldia thinks:

And incidentally, if I were to move two provinces over to Alberta, I'd get to keep $49,652 out of $60,000, and only 7% of it would be lost to sales taxes.

Europe is insane.

Posted by: Sam Muldia at January 5, 2006 5:49 PM
But Sam Muldia thinks:

Whoops, forgot about the 'no payroll tax' thing. Out of the $79,680 you'd get get to keep $58,735 in Alberta. And that includes universal health care.

Posted by: Sam Muldia at January 5, 2006 6:04 PM
But jk thinks:

But you have a better hockey team in BC...

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2006 10:44 AM
But Sam Muldia thinks:

Dunno, the Maple Leafs got their asses handed to them by Calgary Flames last night...

Haven't decided on an NHL team yet, though.

Posted by: Sam Muldia at January 7, 2006 9:12 PM

Call Jesse Jackson!

I cannot imagine how people can equate requiring a photo ID for voting with poll-tax-style disenfranchisement. A vote stolen by fraud is as much of a theft as stopping another from voting. You need an ID to board a plane or buy beer.

Well, much as I have celebrated TNR as a responsible voice from the other side, today's web article by John B. Judis is insane. Ballot Blocks: The Republican Bid to Suppress Minority Turnout.

Republicans have been working hard to nullify Democratic support from blacks and Hispanics. But instead of promoting programs that might appeal to these voters, they are trying to pass legislation that, while ostensibly aimed at reducing voting fraud, is in fact intended to depress turnout among minorities.

Over the last 14 months, Republicans have backed bills and initiatives in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Ohio that would require voters to present special kinds of identification at polling places or in order to register. These sorts of requirements inordinately affect black and Hispanic (and in South Dakota, Native American) voters who are less likely than whites to have government-issue photo IDs. And the Bush administration isn't just looking the other way as these efforts unfold. It's actively aiding and abetting them.

Imagine! The executive branch actively trying to reduce voter fraud!

All the diatribes are in there: no DMV offices in Atlanta, a $20 fee, percent of drivers' licenses by ethnicity.

Voter fraud is a huge problem in this country and the race card is played against any effort to fix it. Maybe we should just go to purple fingers...

But AlexC thinks:

In Pa, a card for the purposes of voting would be free, yet they complain. http://youngphillypolitics.com/node/489

The bill passed both the house and senate and awaits the Dem governor's veto.

Posted by: AlexC at January 4, 2006 7:30 PM

Privatize the FDA

I think new media may be the answer to the FDA. I don't know whether overblown rhetoric will help or hurt but I contend that they kill a lot more people than hurricanes, wildfires and mudslides put together.

Instapundit links to "Fckng Ralph Nader, fckng Public Citizen" on the Making Light Blog. How's this for a Christmas Present from Ralph Nader and the FDA:

Cylert (generic name “pemoline”) has been the most effective treatment for Teresa’s narcolepsy in 24 years since she was first diagnosed. She’s been taking it for most of that time. Now it’s gone.

We discovered this when we tried to refill her standard prescription, just before Christmas, and the pharmacy didn’t have any—and, after some confusion, reported back that the wholesaler didn’t have any either, because (surprise!) it’s no longer being made.

Cylert has been implicated in some people’s liver problems. Teresa is regularly tested and her liver is fine. Evidently Abbott, makers of brand-name Cylert, discontinued it in March—but Sandoz intended to keep making the generic version, until the FDA, pressured by Nader’s group, weighed in to discontinue it entirely—despite a last-minute appeal from the Narcolepsy Network. Thank you, Public Citizen, for completely shafting my wife.

I am stunned to read about people traveling to the Pacific Rim to get procedures not allowed here. Take a minute and read some of the comments (there are a lot!). This seems common on this site and some of the MS blogs I get on.

Abolish the FDA. Privatization is the best option. Hands off our bodies! How's that for a motto?

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I hijacked the discussion from blaming Mr. Nader to blaming the FDA. The delightfully subtitled "Armed and Dangerous" blog challenges her on this exact point.

Teresa, even as I feel your pain, I’m wondering if you’re going to learn the right lesson. The Cylert ban isn’t an accidental failure of the system, it’s an essential one. It wasn’t perpetrated by villains, but by well-intentioned people working the levers of a system designed to elevate “public safety” above individual choice. That system functioned as designed; it’s the design that’s broken.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Government types just don't think the same way as normal people, JK. To them, failure of government is NEVER cause for privatization, merely more "reform." The greater the failure, the more "reform" they'll reach for (at a million dollars of OPM per unit.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2006 3:20 PM

V for Vendetta

Whilst waiting in the lobby of a theater after viewing 'The Chronicles of Narnia' (don't wait for a review from yours truly) I perused the posters for coming attractions. One caught my eye. It read - "PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR GOVERNMENTS. GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE AFRAID OF THEIR PEOPLE." Hey, this could be my kind of movie, I thought to myself! The title was 'V for Vendetta' and it was billed as, "An uncompromising vision of the future from the creators of the Matrix trilogy." Yeah, the Wachowski brothers... red pill, blue pill. Very interesting, I thought.

Here's what they offer by way of synopsis on the official site:

Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (NATALIE PORTMAN) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (HUGO WEAVING) known only as “V.” Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself – and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plan to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.

Other than the fact that totalitarian Britain isn't very futuristic, this idea has promise. We'll see. It's at least worth keeping an eye on leading up to the March 17 premiere.

But jk thinks:

It sounds interesting, and a couple hours looking at Ms. Portman cannot be called a waste.

I am skeptical of all things Hollywood and the choice of "totalitarian Britain" concerns me. I am guessing they don't mean what you and I think about the UK.

Yes, it is the land of Orwell and they have taken all the guns. But these guys would never find a bad word to say about Cuba or Syria or the Soviet Union yet they will go after our #1 ally in the War on Terror. Am I scratching too deeply?

Posted by: jk at January 4, 2006 10:38 AM

January 3, 2006

Thought for the day

Is Samizdata's quote of the day:

Last century over 170 million people were murdered by their own governments, and your government doesn't want you to have a gun. Doesn't that bother you just a little?
- Unknown

or "The Second Amendment ain't about duck hunting" -- Redneck bumper sticker

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 6:58 PM

Talkin' Trash

I resolve in 2006 to figure out how the trash business works. I have a Tuesday pickup, but if Monday is a holiday, it's bumped to Wed. I assume they pay double time on Saturday to make up, but why not pay more on the day and keep the schedule? Where does the extra day come from?

Plus, you never know if you'll be bumped or not. I was surprised when they showed up on the right day after Christmas; now they have not showed after New Year. From this I conclude that my trash is picked up by godless, heathen party animals...

I don't mind, I just don't get it -- anybody know how this works?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Having observed this precise sequence of events myself, I too tried to figure out the mystery. Since I was in Seattle when I received the "your pickup is delayed one day due to the holiday" message, I asked my mother-in-law if their trash is delayed one day after a holiday and she said, "No."

But they have municipal (read: government funded) trash service. My guess is that they only work about half a day all year long, and on the day after holidays they work a full 8 hours to catch up. (Sure it's a hell of a workload but hey, they're professionals!)

As for the scheduling of private, for-profit waste disposers I can only file it among the great mysteries of the universe. Like... "How can the people we hire to teach our children be, all too often, Complete Blithering Idiots?" (CBI is my term for 21st century Marxists.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 4, 2006 1:08 AM
But AlexC thinks:

John Galt is precisly correct. When you pick up your route's trash and drop it off, you're done. It's an incentive to get done. So instead of doing the regular route, they do yesterday's as well.

Works the same with the post-office. It's not like pizza-delivery. You don't go deliver more mail because you're done your last batch.

You get your batch.

Posted by: AlexC at January 4, 2006 7:32 PM

New Year at the VFW

From the red part of the purple Midwest, I found this email very moving.

Sugarchuck was playing a gig at a VFW and they were doing karaoke while the band set up and:

They had some sort of Karaoke thing going while we were bringing stuff in and they sang that Lee Greenwood song, "Bless the USA." Anyway, everyone on the dance floor formed a circle and held hands, raised their hands in the air and swayed back and forth singing at the top of their lungs. everyone else in the bar stood as well and raised their hands and sang.

No irony, no cynicism, no post-modernism, and everyone of those guys fought overseas, mostly in Korea and WWII, but there were a lot of Viet Nam guys and A few Desert Storm guys too. They've put their money up and when they sing that stuff it is moving beyond description. Most of us walk around every day never knowing how incredibly blessed we've been to have these people willing to protect us and fight for us.

Happy New Year to all who serve or have served.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM

Do Teachers Object?

The lead WSJ Editorial today (free site) suggests that the new accountability rules will hurt the Teachers' Unions. When members see how their dues are spent, they will demand reform.

If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you'd probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy. In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

I am all for transparency and I am all for anything that might harm a Teachers Union.

But I spent time over Christmas with some of my family members who are public school teachers. I don't know if it's a good sample or not. The people I am referring to are not "political" like I am. They don't read books, contribute, participate in GOTV drives. What they are -- frighteningly to me -- are complete Marxists. "How can we spend billions in Iraq and not provide a free ride to any kid at any college?" and "I am owed health care for life with no personal contribution because I've done a good job for my employer."

These people are kind and decent and intelligent. I cannot see any of them complaining about millions for Jesse Jackson and they will all applaud the donations to AIDS Walk and Transgender education.

The public unions do not require subterfuge -- they have successfully inculcated all private market instincts out of their members.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM

Let The Games Begin

Abramoff flips:

WASHINGTON -- Lobbyist Jack Abramoff was expected to plead guilty to federal charges in Washington and Miami, clearing the way for him to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress, lawyers said Tuesday.

As part of the deal, prosecutors were filing conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges against the embattled lobbyist, a Justice Department official said.

I'd suggest everyone buy a fresh supply of barf bags. The moral preening from those who feel they can hurl stones from a safe distance will be nauseating.

But some key Republicans are going down on corruption charges in an election year with a media that is quite friendly to the opposition.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM

January 2, 2006

Madison and the NFL

Not sure where he would have come down on the DH or the infield fly rule, but I posit that President Madison would have appreciated the structure of the NFL playoff system. If nothing else, it proves the importance of the structure of laws and governments.

I heard a commentator discussing the playoffs yesterday. Some Kansas City players are understandably upset at fielding a great team, finishing 10-6, and watching the wild card games from their barcaloungers. They probably deserve a shot. But LaDanian Tomlinson of San Diego thinks they deserve a seed as well at 9-7.

Said commentator pointed out that every game counts in the NFL and that strikes me as true. The wild card brings in good teams who did not win their divisions, but the league has not devolved into the NBA/NHL world where you play all year to decide which two teams won't make it.

I think the NFL has structured it correctly. (Oh, and go Broncos!).

UPDATE: To tie my self-serving football post back to politics I offer this link. Jay Cost at RCP suggests that he President did not appreciate the structure of Congress any better than Mr. Tomlinson grasped the wild card. Good Read, hat-tip: Insty.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM

January 1, 2006

Respecting Your Mom

I pity tha fool that doesn't respect his mother.

But in this case, I kind of pity Mr T. I can't imagine this was his idea.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 9:22 PM

New Years Resolutions

I resolve to:
Never ever ever never never eat a hot roast beef sandwich with hot peppers and horseradish along with guacamole, bruschetta, artichoke and crab dip, various chips, strawberry cheesecake and wash it down with some microbrew I've never heard of and three glasses of whisky.

I've been paying for it all day, and I didn't even get drunk last night.

Oh, and Pepto-Bismol is the worst tasting and feeling medicinal product to yet cross my lips.


But jk thinks:

-- and a Happy New Year's to you too, Alex!

I think this is advice we all can use...

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2006 11:30 AM

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