February 28, 2006

Do I Have To Vote For Sen. Kennedy?

What City am I?




You Are Boston



Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.

Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.

And quite frankly, you think you are the best.



Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block


I am not a big city guy and I am usually not an East-coast guy, but I have to admit that I really liked Boston. Hmm, I can always pretend to be educated...Hat-tip: Virginia Postrel (who is L.A.)

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:06 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Las Vegas baby! Bring on the hookers and 7 dollar surf & turfs!!!

Posted by: AlexC at March 1, 2006 12:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Austin? Well, okay. Much better than Boston or Las Vegas, which seemed to be the only two possible answers for a while.

***You Are Austin***

A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
You're totally weird and very proud of it.
Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.

Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick

Posted by: johngalt at March 1, 2006 3:15 PM

February 27, 2006

Cuts!

When is a cut not a cut?

When you slow the growth of Medicare spening from 8.1% per year to 7.7%.

Some cut.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 9:31 PM

Socialized Medicine III

It has been a tough week for government run health care on ThreeSources. Today, Cafe Hayek reports on The Death of the Canadian Model

We pointed out things were bad at the NHS. Our neighbors to the north allowed the crack in the dam when its supreme court ruled that private medical purchases could not be outlawed. Freedom is now rushing in. The NYTimes reports:

The country's publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

I flog this deceased equine because many people still want to bring this model here.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM

Harvard as GM

I have posted before about Professor William Stuntz of Harvard and his articles in The New Republic. He is on fire again. In What Summers's fall says about the future of higher education he takes the educational establishment square on with a prescient metaphor about Harvard as GM: on top, yet unable to see the problems on the horizon.

Harvard is the General Motors of American universities: rich, bureaucratic, and confident--a deadly combination. Fifty years from now, Larry Summers's resignation will be known as the moment when Harvard embraced GM's fate. From now on, the decline will likely be steep. And not only at Harvard: Among research universities as in the car market of generations past, other American institutions will follow the market leaders, straight to the bottom. The only question is who gets to play the role of Toyota in this metaphor.

At the end he suggests that Chinese or Indian Universities might take over, or that Bill Gates might start a University from scratch. Of course, he admits the current universities might wisen up, but it does not seem likely.
Problem is, university faculty don't want to talk back to their bosses; they don't want to have bosses. And their preferences matter. The past 40 years have seen faculty take near-total control of leading universities. These institutions are democracies of a peculiar sort: Only a part of one constituency gets to vote. Two kinds of people teach in universities: those who invest in some combination of teaching students and writing scholarship (the best people invest in both), and those who go through the motions. Which group do you suppose is more likely to attend the meetings and write the memos and vote on the motions of no confidence? The correlation isn't perfect: There are great teachers and scholars who do invest in institutional governance, and thank God for them. Over time, though, general tendencies swamp individual variations, and the general tendency here is disastrous. It is as if you took the bottom half of GM's factory workers a half-century ago and told them to run the corporation, promising that whatever they did, their jobs were guaranteed and their pay could only rise. It's a great gig while it lasts.

In between, he makes a serious defense of Summers as a man of ideas and a true reformer. This has exposed the seriousness of the problem to a few more people. A competitor for traditional higher education would have a great opportunity; sadly, none exist now.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM

If you can't lick 'em

Instead of complaining about Kyoto adding 20% to the cost of energy in the EU, I should have been playing the future's market. Iain Murray writes in TCS Today about "The Kyoto Bubble."

It is well known that Enron was a keen enthusiast for limits on carbon dioxide emissions under the aegis of a cap and trade scheme, which would enable companies to trade permits for the right to emit carbon dioxide. Enron documents released to the public reveal that executives thought such restrictions would, "do more to promote Enron's business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States." We can now see why. In Europe, such a scheme has been introduced, and the energy companies and their advisers are very happy.

"The carbon market is going very well. We've seen tremendous growth this year," Henrik Hasselknippe, senior analyst at Point Carbon, told Agence France Presse on February 12. "Carbon is now being used as a commodity on the same lines as other energy commodities." According to his estimates, CO2 trading will be a $40 billion annual industry by the end of this decade. The current price for a metric ton of carbon is $31, while a year ago it was $8. Others are equally bullish. Thierry Carol of Powernext Carbon, a CO2 trading market, told the same reporter, "Things are taking off. This is just a start."


" UBS itself concluded that there is a significant risk of a windfall profit tax being placed on the industry." Talk about full-circle -- whom would I root for if there were a windfall profits tax on greenhouse gas markets? I get dizzy just thinking about it.

I know we have some fundamental disagreements on global warming around here, but perhaps we can all agree that Kyoto is a bad idea? Oddly enough, the free-marketer in me loves the idea of cap and trade. But I would like to use it for real pollutants, not what plants breathe.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM

WSJ Answers Fukuyama

My wobbly moment is solidifying without any help from PM Thatcher. Rather, it comes from today's lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal,(free link) which matches my objection to Fukuyama's "end of neocon history," namely, what else do you do?

Then there is the supposedly failed policy of the Bush Administration. In five years, it has brought four democratic governments to power in the Middle East: by force of arms in Afghanistan and Iraq, and through highly assertive diplomacy in Lebanon and Palestine. Mr. Fukuyama tells us that "by definition, outsiders can't 'impose' democracy on a country that doesn't want it."

Leaving aside the niggling examples of Japan and Germany, exactly how are we to know that country X does not want democracy, except democratically? Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese have all made their democratic preferences plain in successive recent elections. And with the arguable exception of the Palestinians (arguable because Fatah was as undemocratic as Hamas), they have voted to establish considerably more liberal regimes than what existed previously.

This is not to say democracy is a cure-all. It is also not to say that the peril these democracies face, from terrorist insurrection or ethnic or religious feuding, isn't grave. Nor, finally, is it to say that the "Hitler scenario" can be excluded in a democratizing Middle East; that possibility is always present, especially among nascent democracies.

But democracy also offers the possibility of greater liberalism and greater moderation, possibilities that have been opened with the courageously pro-American governments of Hamid Karzai, Jalal Talabani and Saad Hariri. And as we stand with them, it seems to us that America's bets are better placed promoting democracies--even if some of them succumb to illiberal temptations--than acceding to dictatorships, which already have.

Or does someone have a better idea?

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM

Bereft of Ideas

I'm gonna beat up on a good friend who is a committed liberal. He keeps me on his e-mail list, which has some intelligent commentary and interesting articles from time to time.

Today, it was a poem called "Make the pie higher" assembled entirely from supposed W malapropisms (click "Continue..." if you really want to read it).

It struck me that "his side" has had several important victories this week, He could have sent me a link to the Fukuyama piece in the NYTimes, he could have sent me a link to Bill Buckley's article which claims the war is lost, he could have pointed to the Dubai port contretemps to highlight GOP rifts and signal what FOXNews commentators called "creeping lame-duckism," et cetera, et cetera...

Instead they have made the discovery -- five years into his presidency -- that the President is not a skilled orator, and ask the question whether this might indicate a lack of intelligence.

Just one guy who is not a moonbat but runs with them from time to time. But I think it shows the lack of seriousness from their camp. Even when the president is in real political difficulties, they come out blasting with 3rd-grade humor.

MAKE THE PIE HIGHER

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?

Will the highways of the Internet
Become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.

I know that the human being
And the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope,
Where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!
Make the pie higher!

Pass this on.
Help cure mad cowboy disease in the next election!

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM

February 26, 2006

Lighter Fare

Steven Den Beste: Why I want Roe v Wade Overturned.

Powerline: Saddam Had WMD

On the web Posted by AlexC at 8:50 PM

WSJ Ed Page on Drug War

I've always looked to National Review (and Instapundit) for common sense about the "War on Drugs" feeling that The Weekly Standard and the WSJ Ed Page were on the wrong side of this issue.

Today, Ed Page Editor George Melloan has a "Featured Article" (free link) that makes me think my favorite economic folks are coming around.

Economist Milton Friedman predicted in Newsweek nearly 34 years ago that Richard Nixon's ambitious "global war against drugs" would be a failure. Much evidence today suggests that he was right. But the war rages on with little mainstream challenge of its basic weapon, prohibition.
[...]
Milton Friedman saw the problem. To the extent that authorities curtail supplies of marijuana, cocaine and heroin coming into the rich U.S. market, the retail price of these substances goes up, making the trade immensely profitable--tax-free, of course. The more the U.S. spends on interdiction, the more incentive it creates for taking the risk of running drugs.

In 1933, the U.S. finally gave up on the 13-year prohibition of alcohol--a drug that is by some measures more intoxicating and dangerous to health than marijuana. That effort to alter human behavior left a legacy of corruption, criminality, and deaths and blindness from the drinking of bad booze. America's use of alcohol went up after repeal but no serious person today suggests a repeat of the alcohol experiment. Yet prohibition is still being attempted, at great expense, for the small portion of the population--perhaps little more than 5%--who habitually use proscribed drugs.


Melloan also discusses the rise of leftists in Latin America and the corruption of drug gangs in Mexico: anti-freedom movements exacerbated by the US position.

I hope this "libertarian" issue will come out into the mainstream (not only because my MS might get much worse). This is as issue of basic freedom and economics to me. Freedom because people should be allowed to do very bad things if they don't hurt anybody else. Economics because criminalization funds the street gangs and their high-end lifestyle.

Prohibition has failed twice now; let's try something else.

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

I'm all for ending prohibition. But I can't get past the "victimless" angle. Even for liquor.

If you abuse it, you may screw up your own life. Since there is a dearth of responsibility in this country, we're all going to be stuck trying to fix you, or at least making your last days "not as bad."

And MADD didn't get to be as powerful as they are/were because alcohol "didn't hurt anybody else."

If we could get more personally responsible in this country, I'd say smoke 'em if you got 'em....

Until then, "smoke 'em if you got 'em, then stay right where you are."

Posted by: AlexC at February 26, 2006 3:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Not sure we disagree. If the police are not chasing down possession charges, I'd suggest that they'd have a lot more time to catch those who are hurting other people. This is similar to my (and the NRA's) stand on guns. Put away an armed robber or a stoned driver. I'm all for it.

And, yes, we'll probably spend more government $$ on treatment and rehab. Stepping out of pure libertarianism, I'd say if you're going to spend money on anything beyond national defense, that's a pretty good place to put it. It would be humane and a much better value than the drug war.

Like Melloan, I'm against drug use. But I am more against capricious, un-Bastiatian, enforcement of unavoidable drug laws and of propping up gang economics. The novel "Clockers" by Richard Price cemented my position: the use of drug money to recruit a good kid to sell drugs really hit home. Let's take that tool away.

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2006 3:41 PM

Socialized Medicine II

A couple days ago JK made a post comparing the survival rates of cancer patients between socialized medicine nations and the United States.

Unsurprisingly, Americans have a higher survival rate.

I commented somewhat sarcastically...

    Yet another unsurprising factoid from the ills of socialized medicine.
    I can't wait until euthanasia becomes prescribed by the health systems of those countries.
    It's the most cost-effective, after all.
    Then we're one step closer to Logan's Run. ;)

Well, here's a case, where I'd rather be wrong.

    The parents of Charlotte Wyatt have been told that doctors are to be allowed to let their profoundly ill baby daughter die if they feel it is in her best interests.

    A High Court judge yesterday lifted a previous ruling that she should always be resuscitated, on the grounds that the two-year-old was now on a "downward rather than an upward trend".

    Mr Justice Hedley heard an emergency application from doctors treating her that she had developed an aggressive chest infection and was unlikely to survive any moves to keep her alive.

    "Medical evidence speaks with one voice, that ventilation simply will not achieve the end for which no doubt the parents would wish," he said.


It's not quite a prescription for death by bureaocracy.... but it's awfully close.

But jk thinks:

Very sad. The mother believes "that if her daughter were ventilated she would recover," but the UK's NHS doesn't think her chances are worth the investmnet.

It amazes me how many people think it's okay to give government control over life and death.

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2006 2:08 PM

Self-Immolation

Everytime I read DailyKos, I have to ask myself why I do it.

Witness.

    This is an interesting take on the world situation.

      NEW YORK - The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Saturday that the world body is hobbled "by bad management, by sex and corruption" and a lack of confidence in its ability to carry out missions....

      "We find an organization that is deeply troubled by bad management, by sex and corruption and by a growing lack of confidence in its ability to carry out missions that are given to them," Bolton told an audience at a Columbia Law School symposium held by the Federalist Society, a conservative law organization.

    What is the bizarre preoccupation these guys have with sex? Really? Sex is one of the UN's primary problems? I'd think it might have something to do with the fact that the world's greatest power refuses to participate in a meaningful way in any international effort or to recognize international law or the Geneva Conventions or to sign onto critical international treaties. But maybe that's just me.


Well, I cant hold being completely uninformed against someone. Hint: It's the molestations of boys and girls in Africa by blue helmeted men. ABCNews

But then it gets worse.

    In the comments, TPaine suggests that Bolton was referring to sex crimes by U.N. personnel in the Congo. If this is what Bolton was talking about, the story is even worse. Equating these heinous crimes with bureaucratic mismanagement is dismissive and offensive. What's more, rape isn't sex. It's violent crime.

Ok. so it's corrected, yet that makes it worse?

Worse because why exactly?

Bolton is not equating them, he's listing them.

Oy.

From the other side Posted by AlexC at 12:32 PM

Engima

Apparently there are some Engima codes for World War II that remain unbroken.

If you'd like to help to crack them, click here.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 12:06 PM

February 25, 2006

Door to Door

So I was going around door to door today to my neighbors to collect signatures to get my Congressman Jim Gerlach on the ballot. I went around with one of my solidly R neighbors, who happens to be a recovering Liberal.

On the way out of my house he was saying, "What is Bush doing?"

Shrugging my shoulders, I said, "I have no idea..."

I had the neighbors pretty much pegged D or R. We've never been overly political in the neighborhood, except for a few comments over the years, so I knocked on the definate R doors. In BS'ing with the Republican neighborsI heard more than once, "yeah, I'm a Republican... but I've been disappointed lately."

How do you say anything else but, "Yeah, me too?"

But jk thinks:

I recently commented on Samizdata:
"I think ALL conservatives are upset with President Bush.

"When I look at the choices, however, it seems clear that GOP control is the least worst option. I know Samizdats tend to be purists, but a dirty pragmatism seems a better friend to liberty than would a 'Speaker Pelosi.'"

On the lighter side, we are asking Iraqis to accept compromise from feuding tribes. I suppose we have to accept compromise from RINOs and Democrats.

Posted by: jk at February 26, 2006 11:03 AM

Starbucks Libertarian

I read this article last week off a Pajamas Link. Employment demands and the Fukuyama post crowded it out but it has stuck in my mind.

So I entered the title "starbucks libertarian" into Yahoo search and got 224,000 hits, with the story I wanted represented four times in the top five. I have a lot of liberal friends who will not set foot in a Starbucks. Fine, I'll go with them to an independent place (we're blessed in Boulder and Lafayette with several good ones). But I always say -- or want to say -- that big green created the market and awareness.

Jacob Grier backs this up with Statistics and puts the "Starbucks drives out independents" meme to bed. The piece is even-handed as Grier voices many serious objections to Starbucks's style and quality.

Dave and I come from often opposed ends of the political spectrum. He runs a "red meat" progressive weblog, while I'm loosely affiliated with the libertarian public policy scene in Washington, DC. But we're united by our desire to cross ideological boundaries and by our love for great coffee. So when Dave invited me to write a guest post on "a libertarian perspective on coffee," I was intrigued.

By way of an introduction, I should note that I'm not a full-time policy analyst. I left the 9-5 think tank world a couple years ago to work behind the bars at two of Washington's top coffee shops, places committed to elevating coffee and espresso preparation to a culinary art. In this world, Starbucks is an apparent nemesis, replacing skillful baristas with automatic machines, driving indie coffee houses out of business, and submerging its burnt espresso in heaps of milk and syrup.


Grier describes three waves of coffee adoption and even links to the famous "Coffee Achievers" ad.

I ask people to believe counter-intuitive things on this blog all the time: lower taxes increase Federal revenue, imports make us richer, freer immigration will raise wages, &c. I'll add this to the list: Starbucks is the best thing in the world for independent coffee houses

According to the Portland Yellow Pages, before Starbucks came to Portland in 1989, there were 28 coffee shops in the city. Today, there are 91 non-Starbucks coffeehouses in Portland proper, compared with the chain's 48 stores within city limits.

An excellent article, near and dear to all of our hearts.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM

February 24, 2006

T-Shirt Poll

CafePress has 345 Dick Cheney Shooting Items. I love this country!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:40 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Heh. You can devine left vs right from them. Some of them Dems are angry!

Posted by: AlexC at February 24, 2006 5:08 PM

Bake Sales

I love these things.

The College Republicans at a local university setup an affirmative action bake sale.

    When Ahmirah Cottman walked into the student center at Kutztown University earlier this month, she was appalled by the insinuations she thought were being made by members of the college Republican club standing behind a table with cookies, brownies and cupcakes.

    Prices at the so-called ''Affirmative Action Bake Sale,'' which was actually against affirmative action, varied depending on the race of the customer, with whites paying more than minorities.

    ''The sign said $1 for whites, 25 cents for blacks and women got a 25-cent credit, so they told me, 'Go ahead and take it, it's free for you,''' said Cottman, a black woman.


That's a good deal.
    ''I got here because I'm bright,'' said Cottman, a junior studying political science.

I'm sure you did, Ms Cottman. That's precisely the point. You have to defend your admission to KU because of the taint of affirmative action.

Witness some silencing of dissent.

    About 100 students — black, white and Hispanic — marched Thursday on campus to demonstrate their concerns about the Feb. 8 bake sale, allegations of offensive comments made by Republican club members, and why the university administration allowed the sale to happen and has not done anything to punish those involved.

Too bad the CR's didn't have the Mohammed comics. It would have been open and shut.

Here's another case where an offended group wishes to silence an opinion contrary to their own.

    [University President] Cevallos said he understood why the students were upset, but added the campus has to accommodate a free exchange of ideas and can't silence political viewpoints some find objectionable. He offered to host a forum Tuesday where all sides could share their opinions and learn about the university's admissions policies, which do not give preference based on race.

Can't silence is the correct answer. Thank you Mr President.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 10:55 AM

Howdy From TX

Thanks JK! The name and password worked, and here I am. I'll be working in San Antone this weekend, so I'll see ya'll next week!!

But jk thinks:

Welcome aboard.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2006 10:15 AM

February 23, 2006

Neoliberalism

Earlier I posted about liberals and leftists being defined not by what they're for, but what their against.

The Environmental Republican labels these people neoliberals.

    Today we have the neoliberals. You can spot a neoliberal by these telltale signs:

    An unflinching hatred of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, etc. Watch a neoliberalhenever W is shown on TV--they actually develop a tic and get a crazy-assed look in their eyes. Kind of like Pavlovs dogs at the sound of the bell. They go insane.

    Depending on the company they are in, they may suffer from symptoms that look alot like those associated with Tourette's Syndrome. They'll uncontrollably start saying things like "Bush is a new Hitler" or "It's all for the oil" or my personal favorite: "He was selected and not elected".


It goes on to list a number of other ways to spot them, as well as including some situations.

He ends...

    In conclusion; neoliberalism rules the left and paleoliberalism is dead.

Yeah.

But jk thinks:

My (very conservative) brother sent me this link. I guess it's funny:

http://www.cronyjobs.com/

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2006 10:16 AM

US / UAE Bi-lateral Relationship

I got the following email forwarded to me.
It originated in the Jewish liason's office at the White House.

    Below you will find facts and comments from the Administration about the bilateral relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, as well as information on the DP World transaction. As the President said two days ago, "this is a company that has played by the rules, that has been cooperative with the United States, that's an ally in the War on Terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."

Click read more to see the bullet points...

    The United States – UAE Bilateral Relationship

    "But I also want to repeat something again, and that is, this is a company that has played by the rules, that has been cooperative with the United States, a country that's an ally in the War on Terror, and it would send a terrible signal to friends and allies not to let this transaction go through."
    - President Bush, 2/21/06

    "[T]he military-to-military relationship with the United Arab Emirates is superb. … They've got airfields that they allow us to use, and their airspace, their logistics support. They've got a world-class air-to-air training facility that they let us use and cooperate with them in the training of our pilots. In everything that we have asked and work with them on, they have proven to be very, very solid partners."
    - General Peter Pace, Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff, 2/21/06

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Is A Longstanding Friend And Ally Of The United States. The United States and UAE have a longstanding alliance. The UAE is a key partner of the United States in the War on Terror, helping to advance Middle East peace efforts. The UAE is also a vibrant trading partner and has provided critical support in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    The UAE Is A Key Partner In The War On Terror. The UAE provides U.S. and Coalition forces unprecedented access to its ports and territory, overflight clearances, and other critical and important logistical assistance. Today, the UAE is providing assistance to the missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, combating terrorists by cutting off their financing, and enhancing America's homeland security by actively participating in initiatives to screen shipments and containers.

    UAE Ports Host More U.S. Navy Ships Than Any Port Outside The United States. The UAE provides outstanding support for the U.S. Navy at the ports of Jebel Ali – which is managed by DP World – and Fujairah and for the U.S. Air Force at al Dhafra Air Base (tankers and surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft). The UAE also hosts the UAE Air Warfare Center, the leading fighter training center in the Middle East.

    The UAE Is A Partner In Shutting Down Terror Finance Networks. The UAE has worked with us to stop terrorist financing and money laundering, including by freezing accounts, enacting aggressive anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws and regulations, and exchanging information on people and entities suspected of being involved in these activities.

    The UAE Is An Established Partner In Protecting America's Ports. Dubai was the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Container Security Initiative (CSI) – a multinational program to protect global trade from terrorism. Under CSI, a team of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers is permanently stationed inside Dubai's ports, where they work closely with Dubai Customs to screen containers destined for the United States. Cooperation with Dubai officials has been outstanding and a model for other operations. Dubai was also the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Department of Energy's Megaports Initiative, a program aimed at stopping illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material.

    The UAE Is A Critical Partner In Afghanistan. The UAE extends vital military and political support to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and substantial financial and humanitarian support to Afghanistan and its people.

    The UAE Is Supporting The New Iraqi Government. The UAE has provided significant monetary and materiel support to the Iraqi government, including a pledge of $215 million in economic and reconstruction assistance.

    The UAE Is Supporting Middle East Peace Efforts. The UAE is a moderate Arab state and a long-time supporter of all aspects of Middle East peace efforts. The U.S. and the UAE are also working together to create a stable economic, political and security environment in the Middle East.

    The UAE Provided $100 Million To Help The Victims Of Hurricane Katrina. The UAE was one of the first nations to offer financial aid to the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. UAE's $100 million donation was one of the largest by any nation.

    The CFIUS Process And The DP World Transaction

    “If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward. The company has been cooperative with the United States government. The company will not manage port security. The security of our ports will continue to be managed by the Coast Guard and Customs. The company is from a country that has been cooperative in the war on terror, been an ally in the war on terror. The company operates ports in different countries around the world, ports from which cargo has been sent to the United States on a regular basis.”
    - President George W. Bush, February 21, 2006

    President Bush Strongly Supports The Decision To Move Forward With The DP World Transaction

    The Administration, As Required By Law, Has Reviewed The Transaction To Make Certain That It Does Not In Any Way Jeopardize National Security.
    Under the process conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), officials carefully reviewed the national security issues raised by the transaction and its effect on our national security. Twelve Federal agencies and the government’s counterterrorism experts closely and carefully reviewed the transaction to make certain it posed no threat to national security.

    DP World Has Provided Strong Security Assurances To The United States. DP World has signed a letter of assurances making commitments to meet and maintain security standards for the port terminals that they will own and operate in the United States. There are a number of safeguards that are in place in the agreement, and the American people should feel confident that the transaction will in no way harm the security of the Nation’s ports.

    DP World’s Bid For The London-Based Peninsular And Oriental (P&O) Steam Navigation Company Was Announced Last Fall. DP World, a UAE-based commercial entity, is purchasing the U.S. subsidiary of the London-based P&O Steam Navigation Company. The announcement of DP World’s bid for P&O was made in November 2005, and the news was widely reported in the press and international financial trade publications. The formal CFIUS process was set into motion in December, and the Federal government conducted a thorough review to ensure that port security would in no way be compromised by the deal.

    The Administration Has Taken A Principled Position Based On The Security Of Our Nation And Careful Review Of The Transaction. The President has made clear that he stands firmly behind the decision to allow the DP World transaction to move forward. Preventing this transaction by a reputable company to go forward after careful review would send a terrible signal to friends and allies that investments in the United States from certain parts of the world are not welcome.

    The Port Security Of the United States Is The Administration’s First And Foremost Concern

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Is Always In Charge Of The Nation’s Port Security, Not The Private Company That Operates Facilities Within The Ports. Nothing will change with this transaction. DHS, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other Federal agencies, sets the standards for port security and ensures that all port facility owners and operators comply with these standards.

    The Transaction Is Not About Port Security Or Even Port Ownership, But Only About Operations In Port. DP World will not manage port security, nor will it own any ports. DP World would take on the functions now performed by the British firm P&O – basically the off- and on-loading of cargo. Employees will still have to be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. No private company currently manages any U.S. port. Rather, private companies such as P&O and DP World simply manage and operate individual terminals within ports.

    Background On The CFIUS Process

    The CFIUS Process Was Rigorously Followed, And CFIUS Agencies Carefully Reviewed The Transaction. Ensuring the protection of our national security is the top priority of all members of CFIUS. In reviewing a foreign transaction, CFIUS brings together 12 Federal agencies with diverse expertise to consider transactions from a variety of perspectives and identify and analyze all national security issues.

  • The Department of the Treasury, which chairs CFIUS, receives notices of transactions, serves as the contact point for the private sector, establishes a calendar for review of each transaction, and coordinates the interagency process.
  • During the initial 30-day review, each CFIUS member agency conducts its own internal analysis of the national security implications of the transaction under review. CFIUS also consults with the intelligence community. In this case, the Departments of Transportation and Energy were also brought in to widen the scope and add to the expertise of the CFIUS agencies involved in the review process.
  • All CFIUS decisions are made by consensus of the entire committee. The review process allows any agency that sees a potential credible threat to the national security to raise those concerns.
  • In the course of the review of this transaction, DHS reached an agreement with DP World to mitigate security concerns.

    DP World Has Played By The Rules, Has Cooperated With The United States, And Is From A Country That Is A Close Ally In the War on Terror. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been a solid partner in the War on Terror. The UAE has been extremely cooperative on counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation and has provided considerable support to U.S. forces in the Gulf and to the governments and people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • The UAE Is A Partner In Shutting Down Terror Finance Networks. The UAE has worked with us to stop terrorist financing and money laundering, including by freezing accounts, enacting aggressive anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorist financing laws and regulations, and exchanging information on people and entities suspected of being involved in those actions.

  • The UAE Is An Established Partner In Protecting America's Ports. Dubai was the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Container Security Initiative (CSI) – a multinational program to protect global trade from terrorism. Dubai was also the first Middle Eastern entity to join the Department of Energy's Megaports Initiative, a program aimed at stopping illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material.

    Port Security Begins Abroad. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) created the CSI to enable CBP to inspect 100% of high-risk containers at foreign seaports before they are loaded onboard vessels destined for the United States. Dubai was the first Middle Eastern entity to join CSI. Cooperation with Dubai has been outstanding and a model for other operations.

  • DP World currently manages 19 container terminals and has operations in 14 countries. The United States government has a strong working relationship with DP World.

Posted by AlexC at 7:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Strange... The UAE supports Hamas.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21413

If in doubt, don't sell out...?

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 10:42 PM

Socialized Medicine

In The Big Idea, AlexC asks what the Left stands for. If we had more progressives running around here (for better or worse), I've no doubt we would hear something about healthcare and some very large number n of uninsured Americans. If they have an idea, it includes greater government involvement in health care

They have an idea, and it's bad -- check out these statistics from a WSJ ed, Cancer Prognosis (paid again, sorry!) about how Cancer rates are dropping in the US.

Both are the result of medical innovation funded by government, private donations, and profit-making bio-medical and pharmaceutical companies. Colonoscopies, mammograms and other tests are more widely publicized and utilized. And new drug therapies, less punishing and invasive than surgery or chemotherapy, have been developed thanks to the incentives of a private medical marketplace.

This is in marked contrast to the anti-cancer record of government-run health systems elsewhere in the world. As Michael Tanner, health-care expert at the Cato Institute, notes: "Because cancer is a slow moving and expensive disease to treat, it is not cost-effective under socialized medicine to treat the disease too aggressively. This saves governments money but at a high human cost."

The statistics bear out Mr. Tanner's point. Only about one in five men with prostate cancer in the U.S. will die from it. But, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund, about 57% of British men, and nearly half of French and German men, will do so. In Britain only 40% of cancer patients are even permitted to see an oncologist to treat the disease. Two-thirds of Canadian provinces report sending their colon cancer patients to the U.S. for treatment. Government-run medical systems can be as cruel to cancer patients as the cancer itself.


Twenty percent vs. 57%? Yeah, let's bring that great idea to this country!

But AlexC thinks:

Yet another unsurprising factoid from the ills of socialized medicine.

I can't wait until euthanasia becomes prescribed by the health systems of those countries.

It's the most cost-effective, after all.

Then we're one step closer to Logan's Run. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 7:29 PM

The Downside of Outsourcing

Remember when outsourcing was going to destroy the domestic IT sector? Lou Dobbs had a hard-on for that line of thinking, and it was a bullet point in the Kerry/Edwards run in 2004.
Well...

    "Despite all the publicity in the United States about jobs being lost to India and China, the size of the IT employment market in the United States today is higher than it was at the height of the dot.com boom," said the report. "Information technology appears as though it will be a growth area at least for the coming decade, and the U.S. government projects that several IT occupations will be among the fastest growing occupations during this time."

    And even with greater globalization, the report argues that the lower wage scales in India and China are not pushing down pay for U.S. IT workers. Citing information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it said that IT workers have seen steady gains in average annual wages for different fields in the sector of between about two to five percent a year.


I'll be darned.

But jk thinks:

Great Post! I don't quite get the headline; are you suggesting that there is a downside?

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 4:41 PM
But AlexC thinks:

The hardest thing about blogging is coming up with a title. Sometimes I go 180 on the title vs the post.
It's an old habit, when my old blog was syndicated on a liberal one. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 5:28 PM

Common Sense on Ports

Isn't this precisely what the United States preaches? Don't we want places like Dubai to fight terror and to grow, to invest, to buy, to trade, to adopt Western commercial practices, to expose themselves to the rest of the world and thus become tolerant and moderate?
Yes, James, it seems to have worked well everywhere else.

My right wing bloggers are in a full blown tizzy over the United Arab Emirates port deal, but the free marketers are finally getting their side out. And I have to agree with folks like James Glassman in TCS.

Instead, congressional leaders are trying to kill the deal, which is set to go into effect next week. Why? "Outsourcing the operations of our largest ports to a country with a dubious record on terrorism is a homeland security and commerce accident waiting to happen," says Schumer.

This is rank racist nonsense. Schumer knows very well that responsibility for port security in the United States lies not with DP World or any other operator, but instead with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs. "Nothing changes with respect to security under the contract," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "The Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation."

Using Schumeresque logic, the U.S. should ban flights into the U.S. by airlines from Arab countries, and we should certainly bar any cargo from being loaded in Arab ports and bound for the U.S. ("If you are worried about a bomb in a box going off in New York, you need to worry about who loads the container overseas rather than the terminal operator who unloads it in the U.S.," says someone who actually knows something about port security, Theodore Price of Optimization Alternatives, a Texas company that provides terminal-operating software.) In fact, one would suppose that Dubai, with billions at stake, would be more careful -- not less -- about assisting in anti-terror activities at U.S. ports if it is actually operating them.


Nationalist undertones are a great tool for protectionists. Now that their arguments have failed economically, they will seek to use security. Sorry gang, free trade not only makes us all richer, it also promotes freedom without endangering a single US Marine.

Zachary Karabell, in a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal, sounds the same themes (paid link, sorry!)

Most troubling of all is the larger pattern of hyperbolic and xenophobic reactions against the tide of globalization. Strip away the particulars and the response to this current deal is almost identical to the reactions last summer when oil giant Unocal was nearly purchased by the Chinese company Cnooc. Then, Republican Rep. Richard Pombo warned that the deal could have "disastrous consequences for our economic and national security," while Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden noted, "Being a free-trader isn't synonymous with being a sucker and a patsy."

Then and now, the response to an economic challenge has been to raise the flag of national security to prevent foreign companies from acquiring U.S. assets. At the time of the Unocal deal, a common rejoinder was, "Well, the Chinese wouldn't let us acquire a vital asset of theirs," but then China began selling portions of its primary state-owned banks to the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. The specifics of the Dubai deal aside, there are signs that our preferred way to meet the challenge of a globalized economy is not to innovate and compete but to erect walls, invoke sovereign rights and bury our heads in the sand.


But mdmhvonpa thinks:

A minor point ... but, the ports are not currently managed by a US company. They are under Brittish control. Yeah, the same country that is soooo welcoming to the Radical Islamic blow-hards that preach our destruction. Besides, why the hell should you worry about this. I would be more concerned about pirate terrorists putting a nuke at the bottom of an oil tanker. Have we EVER turned away an oil tanker!? Just sail that baby up the Hudson and ... err, yeah.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 23, 2006 3:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There's a very large oversight going on in some of this commentary. These "foreign companies" that are trying to acquire US assets are not private firms. They are wholly owned organs of totalitarian governments. There's quite a difference in motivation (and everything else)between the two.

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2006 3:26 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I was wondering when the Ports would come up here. I've been linking like mad to stuff about it at SantorumBlog because he's one of the early voices against it.

This sounds to me like one of those big deals that probably isn't a big deal. Except for, as JohnGalt points out, they're not exactly private firms.

Another point that is lost. It's not to turn over ownership in the port, it's turning over the operation of it. One of the threats that the Governor of Pennsylvania is using is that if it goes through, the port contract is up in May, and he'll make sure that the UAE company doesn't get it.

Actually it's more the management of the operation. There will still be union labor unloading the ships.

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 3:34 PM
But jk thinks:

FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) is an unalloyed good. Denying an organization participation in our asset markets because they dress like our enemies or because their corporate structure does not mach our ideal reduces our asset values.

Free trade, free movement of capital, specialization, comparative advantage. Good stuff.

Senator Santorum is unfortunately in good company. Holy cow, AlexC, he's with Senator Schumer and Senator Graham -- he's obviously wrong on this one!

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 4:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Denying an organization participation in our asset markets because they ARE our enemy will also reduce our asset values, but only in the near term. Long term it increases our asset values because our assets and infrastructure and countrymen are not blown up.

And if said FDI enables capital growth on the part of our enemy, how is that good for us?

I'm not saying that UAE is our enemy, in fact I'm more inclined the other direction. I'm just disputing the finer points of your argument. The classification of FDI as an unalloyed good assumes that all participants in a capitalist system are capitalists.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2006 3:46 PM

The Big Idea

Jane Galt compares the ideas of the left and the right in America.

    Conservatives have a few things that pretty much all of them can agree on: the lower taxes are, the better; government programmes and regulations often create more problems than they solve; keep your damn hands off our guns. Pretty much everyone from the Libertarians to James Dobson and Co. can get behind this platform, and sell it to the American public. You can even add "The US military should be able to kick the [expletive deleted] of anyone who threatens us in any way" and keep all but the most hard-core Libertarians. I'm sure there are a couple of other things you could throw in, and still get a platform that is reasonably large, coherent, and agreeable to not only pretty much the entire conservative movement, but a fair number of moderates besides. There are lots--LOTS--of things that the conservatives disagree on, from gay marriage to flag burning. But there are enough that the conservative movement can craft a mission statement and sell it to America.

    What's the liberal Big Idea? Raise taxes? I'd say pretty much all the liberals I know are for that . . . but raising taxes, even "raising taxes on the rich", is not an ends, but a means, unless you're the kind of emotional toddler who wants to take other people's things away just because you can't have them. And the left (into which I throw moderate Democrats, just as I'll throw moderate Republicans on the right) does not agree what it wants to do with the taxes it raises. The DLC types (and swing voters) want to close the budget deficit in a (IMHO futile) attempt to build the Clinton legacy. The left-liberals want a big government health care programme, and other sorts of Great Society style social programmes. The far left wants . . . ohhh, a lot of things, but they're not going to get any of them, so that hardly seems relevant.


The idea that the left is defined not by what it stands for, but for what it stands against has been percolating for a while.

I've been seeing a lot of evidence of it in my alternate life on SantorumBlog. Senator Rick Santorum is the new Jesse Helms. No matter what he does, the left hates him. Now he's up for re-election, the Democrat's establishment candidate is not really their kind of guy (pro-life... also pro-Alito). As you can imagine, they're not for Bob Casey. They're against Rick Santorum.

Kind of like Rick Lazio was. He ran against Hillary Clinton in 2000 for the Senate. Yeah, you remember him. Right?

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

It's always easier to attack than to defend. Really. You just need one weak spot to exploit. Given this, you can deduce that the left is ... lazy.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 23, 2006 3:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The left definitely has a plan, but they dare not speak it. It's the same plan they've always had, and the last time it's name was spoken was in the Johnson administration. Then it was called, The Great Society. It amounts to "equality for all." Equal misery, that is.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2006 10:21 AM

Remember!

Always remember....

    Paul Trost, 20, a student at Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Mass., says he was upset by an introduction of Kennedy given by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., in which the congressman noted how the long-time senator overcame hardship in life on his way to success.


    Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

    "Lynch said Kennedy had overcome such adversity to get to the place he was, and that's a bunch of bull," Trost said of the introduction, which occurred in the school's student center Tuesday morning.

    Just as Kennedy began speaking, Trost was walking out of the room when he shouted, "Remember Chappaquiddick!"

    "Most of the crowd gasped," Trost said. "Then I walked out of the student center."


Gasped.. I bet.
    The student said one of his teachers confronted him after a class about the Chappaquiddick issue.

    "One of my teachers called me ignorant and told me this was an embarrassment to the school," Trost told WND. "She said to me, 'Can't you forgive him after all these years?' And I said, 'No, he killed somebody.'

    "If it had been me or any other person, we'd be in jail," Trost says he told his instructor.


It is unknown if Senator Kennedy's face got any redder than usual.

Posted by AlexC at 11:52 AM | What do you think? [6]
But jk thinks:

Ahh, the hardships young Edward faced, growing up a Kennedy in Hyannis port. Really, it drives me to tears thinking about it. Which Harvard fraternity would he join? What ARE the restrictions on his trust fund? Truly a hardscrabble existence.

Chappaquiddick kept him out of the White House, at least. If the Commonwealth wants to send this drunk, vicious, murderer to the Senate every six years, that is their Constitutional right.

I can respect most every holder of elective office on some level, but after the Alito hearings, I can no longer extend this courtesy to Senator Kennedy.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 2:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not in defense of Ted, but of the veracity of information on our dear blog, I'll correct your otherwise perfect characterization of him as "drunk, GUTLESS, murderer." The murder he committed was an act of cowardice, not viciousness.

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2006 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Senator Kennedy is a vicious man. He attacks his enemies publicly with distortions and lies. When he is attacked with truth he shows indignation. I will not take that adjective back.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 4:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair enough... you had a comma betwixt them.

"Drunk, vicious, gutless murderer."

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2006 5:09 PM
But jk thinks:

You're right. Again, be very careful. That Threesources Editor position is still open...

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 5:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Most errors I let slide. This one was material: A United States senator who should be in prison.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2006 10:24 AM

The Wake of War

Vietnam: beacon of freedom?

In another sign that Vietnam is beginning to attract a critical mass of foreign investment, Vietnamese regulators approved Intel Corp.'s plans to proceed with the country's single biggest technology project to date, a chip-assembly plant in Ho Chi Minh City.

Intel's arrival is expected to be announced Tuesday at a ceremony with political leaders and Intel Chairman Craig Barrett. The size of the company's investment, likely to be several hundred million dollars, and its prominence in the technology sector signal a turning point in Vietnam's economic emergence.

The country is already an important exporter of food and textiles, and its success in attracting capital is growing. Merrill Lynch estimates that foreign direct investment in Vietnam reached $5 billion in 2005, an eight-year high. The influx helped lift annual economic growth to rates approaching those of Asia's biggest booming economies, China and India. During the past six years, Vietnam's gross domestic product has grown at an annual average of 7.4%, adjusted for inflation.


Like my Fukuyama post (for which I expected severe opprobrium), it makes me question my neoWilsonian beliefs. We failed to install capitalism and democracy in Vietnam, but they found it. Estonia found it, Socialist India and Communist China are finding it.

I definitely veered toward some basic precepts of isolationism in 2005. Not just the tough times -- a better feeling for the difficulty of affecting change from outside.

But AlexC thinks:

I wonder if the Soviet Union communist/socialist system not collapsed, if "creeping capitalism" would have had a chance to settle in?
They were the hardest of the hard core, keeping their satellites in line.

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 12:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Man, I just think you have to look at what works. I love the Cuban exiles in Miami for their anti-Communism, but you have to call the embargo a 40 year failure.

This grabs me because Vietnam would seem to have everything against it, but it finds success and freedom -- how do you spread THAT!

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 2:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Yeah, but what if you can't see how good it is on the outside?

F*ck. Even the CIA didn't think the Soviets would call it quits in the 80s.

If you don't know any better, and only know what your told, I can see how you wouldn't understand that there is another way.

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 4:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I recently watched a History Channel program on the Vietnam war. The lede promised to relate that war to the one in Iraq. There weren't any direct mentions of Iraq during the program itself but the parallels were there to see.

An invading army attempts to (reject or unseat) a tyrant's hold on the throats of an unwilling populace. Defeating the tyrant is also in the interests of the invading army, for reasons of capitalism and freedom. But there was a difference in Vietnam: a huge proportion of the populace was not only willing, but fiercely dedicated to the communist cause. Ho Chi Minh was a shrewd and effective politician with the persuasive power of Billy Graham. He had plenty of material to work with in his propaganda effort, given that France had been occupying the place as a colony since the end of WWII. And for what reason? Rubber plantations. Michelin tires.

The distinction in Iraq has been and must hasten to materialize, "we are here to liberate and stabilize, then we're going home." I say split the place up into three soverign states and move our forces to the borders between them. Help each state eradicate hostile elements within their state and then let the UN replace our border forces with UN forces.

Whatever the specific route we take to get there, we must let these people run their own affairs entirely as soon as we can. We are not their keepers.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2006 10:39 AM

Who Will Google Censor Next?

Our friend Cyrano sent me this link under the email heading, "Google Censoring Mohammed Cartoons?" I can't tell if any censorship is in play here, but how many people even suspected this sort of thing before Google caved to the Chicoms? This is an apt example of why Google is playing with fire by agreeing to censor certain content for certain markets. So far it's only the Chinese market, as far as we know, but once they show their willingness to bow to one master, how can we have any trust in them ever again?

Besides that, you just can't win the censorship game. No matter how much you hide there will always be something that gets through and pisses off "mastah." According to Brit Hume's Political Grapevine today:

The popular Internet search engine Google has come under fire for giving in to Chinese demands to filter out politically sensitive search results, but China is complaining that Google hasn't gone far enough. Unnamed officials tell one Beijing newspaper that Google needs to cooperate further in blocking "harmful information" and an editorial in another state-run paper accused the firm of sneaking into China like an "uninvited guest," then complaining about having to follow the law.

The Washington Post reports that the government has even raised issues with Google's Internet license to pressure the firm to comply with its demands, which include making a larger investment in China.

You can't lie with dogs without getting fleas.


On the web Posted by JohnGalt at 4:09 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Administrative note: Cyrano and I have been in email contact to rejuvenate his Berkeley Square Blog login and add him to ThreeSources.

This moves the geographic mean of ThreeSources South and the philosophical average more toward -- I'll let y'all figure that out -- anyway, welcome aboard!

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 11:09 AM
But johngalt thinks:

What? Heavy commenting on multiple "Google censorship" posts and not a whimper about the possibility that Google is censoring some of the "free" world's net traffic? Are Pamela and I the only conspiracy theorists around here?

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2006 10:42 AM
But jk thinks:

Sadly, we all recognize that the real threats to free speech come from the multicultural-diversity-no-hate-speech crowd.

Well, them and Senator McCain...

Posted by: jk at February 25, 2006 12:29 PM

February 22, 2006

On Free Speech

Philadelphia's chapter of CAIR had a panel this past weekend to discuss the offensive to Prophet cartoons and free speech. UPenn's paper, the Daily Pennsylvanian covered it.

    During their introductory speeches, several panelists denounced the cartoons as slanderous while discussing limitations on free speech.

    "People have every right to give an opinion on something," Rachel Lawton, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, said. "You cross the line when you threaten, intimidate or harass, and that is when free speech is limited."


The trouble is that when that line is defined by the threatened or the harrassed, freedom of speech itself is threatened. ... and that offends me.
    CAIR board member Mazhar Rishi agreed.

    "The right to free speech is not absolute," Rishi said. "It does not give a right to defame Prophet Muhammad or any other" religious figure.


See what I mean?

If I were a trouble maker, I could do down to Penn's campus, (it's perhaps a forty minute drive) and take an inventory of things I was offended by. Philadelphia has more artwork per capita than any other major city. Surely there is something around that I will be offended by.

Opponents of the death penalty often quote Gandhi, "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind," I would say that "muzzling offense leaves the whole world muzzled."

But johngalt thinks:

And if I were a troublemaker (if?) I would point out that this sounds a lot like my point about "fighting words" back on March 9th of last year.

http://www.threesources.com/archives/001487.html

At the conclusion of a contentious and emotional comments debate I declared, "Force against another is only justified in self-defense... defense from FORCE (or a reasonable anticipation of it), not "epithets." To this we can now add, "... or defamation of religious figures."

My point then was that a free society must not condone acts of violence by individuals who are offended by the speech of others, no matter how universally offensive it is. Today we have a textbook example of why defending a "stupid white kid's" right to say nigger without being physically assaulted is important: Who then could say that such physical assaults are proper in response to unflattering cartoons about a muslim prophet?

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2006 3:57 AM
But jk thinks:

A moment of shame for my old hometown of Denver was when they buckled to threats of violence from Russell Means and shut down the Columbus Day parade.

I'm pretty lukewarm on the European explorer. Bully for him for pluck and vision and all that, but American exceptionalism is based on ideas and I would rather celebrate those who made this country (When is Hamilton Day?), not the (perhaps) first European to wash ashore.

Yet the Italians celebrated this day with parades and pride -- and were shut down with threats of violence from indigenous american groups. Shame.

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 11:39 AM

Must Read

Eric S Raymond writes a great piece on memetic warfare.

    By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

    But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

It's not so much that they use/used liberty and the freedom of choice/speach against us as a weapon, but rather, the inate stupidity that comes along with making all the wrong choices. We are helpless against that and can only use (GASP!) our own propaganda to combat it internally and externally. Something that the Saudi's picked up on but we have forgotten.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 22, 2006 2:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Must read, indeed! I dug hi list of the Soviet Unions memetic weapons.

-- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
-- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the Wests history of racism and colonialism.
-- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
-- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
-- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
-- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
-- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But oppressed people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
-- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorists point of view, and make concessions.
A fine collection of anti-Sharanskyism. I think these live on as Arnold Kling's "Folk Marxism."

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 4:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hi, my name is johngalt. I'm an "evil oppressor."

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2006 3:26 PM

February 21, 2006

Screen Names

The Register...

    Yahoo! is banning the use of allah in email names - even if the letters are included within another name.

    This was uncovered by Reg reader Ed Callahan whose mother Linda Callahan was trying to sign up for a Verizon email address. She could not get it to accept her surname.

    Enquiries to Verizon revealed that a partnership with Yahoo! was to blame. Yahoo! will not accept any identies which include the letters "allah".


I suspect it's a way to prevent trouble making infidels from coming up with screen names like F-Allah1234 or something. Because that would be offensive.
    Nor will Yahoo! accept yahoo, osama or binladen. But it will accept god, messiah, jesus, jehova, buddah, satan and both priest and pedophile.

    Ed Callahan told us: "On one level this is just silliness. But we have a war on terrorism and it's migrating to be a war on Muslims - this just shows the confusion there is between the two and how pervasive this is."


Yeah.

Update: Unbanned!

But jk thinks:

AlexC said jehovah!

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2006 1:10 PM
But AlexC thinks:

No, you did! I only quoted it!

Posted by: AlexC at February 22, 2006 4:05 PM

Twenty Years of Zelda

Americans of a certain age can certainly remember endless days in front of a TV trying to beat one of the greatest games ever.

The Legend of Zelda.

It's been 20 years now.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 2:34 PM

Global Warming

JK alluded to this effect in last week's post.

    Yet again, frozen Canadians weather-cultists risk hypothermia to complain about global warming:

      The weather may belie their message but devoted fans of the outdoor hockey rink plan to brave Alberta’s arctic-like weather as part of a statement against global warming ...

      Michael Kalmanovitch, organizer of the event in Edmonton, says the skate will go ahead in Edmonton despite the -23 C temperature. He admits the cold snap is a touch ironic but stressed the above average temperatures that have dominated the winter thus far.

    This phenomenon has been observed once or twice previously.


Just a reminder. It's not global warming. It's climate change.

But jk thinks:

This proves their ability to disregard empirical evidence in favor of near-religious beliefs.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2006 9:21 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Near? I would say it goes to full-on religion.

Witness what they did to the heretic that wrote "Skeptical Environmentalist"... he was a believer. But Mr Lomberg went against the litany and is now reviled.

If burning a tire with a man inside it wasn't so damaging to the environment, Bjorn Lomberg would have been in one.

Posted by: AlexC at February 22, 2006 11:28 AM

First Quarter Economic News

Usually we hit these stories after the fact, but here's an interesting economic prediction.

    The U.S. economy was expected to expand at an annual rate of 4 percent this quarter and at a 3.4 percent rate in April through June after growing at a 1.1 percent rate in the final three months of 2005, based on the median estimate of 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News earlier this month.

    Economists have since raised forecasts after a report last week showed stronger-than-expected retail sales. Morgan Stanley raised its estimate for first quarter economic growth to 5.9 percent, up from a previous prediction of 5.5 percent.


5.9%!!!

But jk thinks:

The headline of the Rocky Mountain News yesterday was "Welfare up 45%" The subhead said this was the result of a "tough job market." Unemployment is less than 5%, kids, only the MSM could possibly spin that as a tough job market.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2006 9:20 AM

Free Market Health Care

Not as fun as a hunting accident, but the President's health care ideas are getting high marks. The WSJ says (paid site, sorry!):

Washington denizens who say the Bush Administration is out of domestic ideas haven't been paying attention. The more we look at the fine print in the health-care reforms President Bush is now stumping for, the more we see the potential for the most sweeping and beneficial changes in half a century.

One way to think about the Bush reforms is as HillaryCare in reverse. The former first lady sought to mandate employer-based coverage and then hold down costs by brute government force ("managed care"). Mr. Bush is instead attempting to revitalize the private market for individual health insurance, so employees are ultimately less dependent on their bosses' coverage and can ultimately buy the kind of insurance that makes better sense for them. Along the way, Americans would also become wiser consumers of health-care services.


When you start to think that the Democrats and Republicans are all alike -- which they too often are -- contrast command-and-control-HillartyCare to Hayekian-free-market-HSAs and walk proudly, Republicans!

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 9:27 AM

February 20, 2006

Voter Integrity

The Pennsylvania legislature passed a voter identification bill recently which the governor, "Fast Eddie" Rendell (D-Comcast) is promising to veto.

VoterIntegrity.com is a clearinghouse for information.

Posted by AlexC at 8:21 PM

Lack of Blogging

So I haven't been blogging much... or reading blogs for that matter.

Last week my primary computer a Powerbook G4 finally kicked the bucket after 3 years, and many many many miles. Despite it's problems, it was miles better than this Gateway laptop, I'm suffering with (for as little time as possible) now.

My MacBookPro is still reportedly a month away from delivery... but we're calling the Apple store in town to see if they have any in yet.

Ugh.

Posted by AlexC at 8:16 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I almost posted this but I didn't want to step on your beat.

Rendell has been one of my favorite Democrats since he stepped down from his party post. But not a guy I would count on to oppose party principles (if it once had a pulse, it can vote once or twice.)

Sad.

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2006 9:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, that's strange. I had heard (not from you, admittedly) that not only do Macs NEVER get viruses, they also NEVER break! I think I'd call Cupertino about that one. They'll probably want to take a look at it and figure out how Microshaft sabotaged it. :)

Posted by: johngalt at February 21, 2006 4:27 PM

Re-accessing Iraq

The best anti-war piece you're ever going to see is in Sunday's NYTimes Magazine. After Neoconservatism is an adaptation of Francis Fukuyama's upcoming book, "America at the Crossroads."

I confess that I was thinking of Fukuyama's "End of History" over this weekend as I tired of the Cheney hunting accident. These are hard times for neocons; hard times for Sharansky-ites; and pretty tough times for Republicans (though it appears they're going to let us play the Democrats again this year...)

I was re-accessing the Iraqi liberation just before this came out. And it is a thoughtful exegesis. Fukuyama is no moonbat. I find much to agree with. Especially his retrospective questioning of the neo-Wilsonianism I felt so strongly.

The way the cold war ended shaped the thinking of supporters of the Iraq war, including younger neoconservatives like William Kristol and Robert Kagan, in two ways. First, it seems to have created an expectation that all totalitarian regimes were hollow at the core and would crumble with a small push from outside. The model for this was Romania under the Ceausescus: once the wicked witch was dead, the munchkins would rise up and start singing joyously about their liberation. As Kristol and Kagan put it in their 2000 book "Present Dangers": "To many the idea of America using its power to promote changes of regime in nations ruled by dictators rings of utopianism. But in fact, it is eminently realistic. There is something perverse in declaring the impossibility of promoting democratic change abroad in light of the record of the past three decades."

The Romanian model was expected to repeat in Iraq, and the insurgency was underestimated. I yield to no-one in my support for this administration and the war on terror. But I am frequently asked to look people in the eye and say we did the right thing. To fail to reevaluate is stubborn. Am I still a Sharansky-ite? Yes. Am I still a neoWilsonian? I don't know.

What is certain, and only partially conceded by Fukuyama, is that it is hard to conceive a pleasant counterfactual. Had we not invaded Iraq, Saddam would still be in power, Iran would be making nuclear noises, payments to suicide bombers' families would still be occurring, training camps would still be open. Fukuyama has no great illusions about the UN's being able to sort this out.

The conservative critique of the United Nations is all too cogent: while useful for certain peacekeeping and nation-building operations, the United Nations lacks both democratic legitimacy and effectiveness in dealing with serious security issues. The solution is not to strengthen a single global body, but rather to promote what has been emerging in any event, a "multi-multilateral world" of overlapping and occasionally competing international institutions that are organized on regional or functional lines. Kosovo in 1999 was a model: when the Russian veto prevented the Security Council from acting, the United States and its NATO allies simply shifted the venue to NATO, where the Russians could not block action.

Yet, in the next breath (or page) he is ready to hand it off to USAID, and the State Department, which I consider our own, local, UN.
If we are serious about the good governance agenda, we have to shift our focus to the reform, reorganization and proper financing of those institutions of the United States government that actually promote democracy, development and the rule of law around the world, organizations like the State Department, U.S.A.I.D., the National Endowment for Democracy and the like.

In fact, I will bend quite a ways to agree with Fukuyama on problems, philosophy, and past history. It is his present and future to which I cannot subscribe. In fact this startling assertion undermines his entire argument:
The most basic misjudgment was an overestimation of the threat facing the United States from radical Islamism. Although the new and ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction did indeed present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem more generally. The misjudgment was based in part on the massive failure of the American intelligence community to correctly assess the state of Iraq's W.M.D. programs before the war. But the intelligence community never took nearly as alarmist a view of the terrorist/W.M.D. threat as the war's supporters did. Overestimation of this threat was then used to justify the elevation of preventive war to the centerpiece of a new security strategy, as well as a whole series of measures that infringed on civil liberties, from detention policy to domestic eavesdropping.

Watching the Cartoon Wars for a couple of weeks, I cannot believe that we overestimate Islamicist Terror. And I accuse Fukuyama of underplaying the domestic safety that our foreign actions have produced. Robert Kaplan, quoted in the story, has stated that the original war was not worthy but that the larger conflict in which we are now embroiled is worthy of the blood and treasure.


Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM

Happy President's Day

Take the President's Day Quiz!

ALa from Blonde Sagacity and I tie at 14-20. She apologizes; I do not.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:23 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Ha! 17!!! Re-spect!

Posted by: AlexC at February 20, 2006 7:41 PM

Darkness

There has been good discussion on these pages about "The Bush Doctrine" and the application of absolutes toward questionable regimes like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Good stuff, but let me pull up one I bet we can agree on: North Korea. I like the ThreeSources logo because it associates prosperity to politics and freedom. No segment of the map is clearer than the Korean peninsula. Dynamic, free, South Korea is vibrant and prosperous; their cousins in the north are dark as the sea. Here's a full-size look at the area:


earthlights_korea.jpg


Claudia Rosett today wonders why the US, through the UN is subsidizing this despotic regime.

It's bad enough that North Korea's Kim Jong Il is starving his people while building nuclear bombs. But why are we helping him?

In theory, we're not. But the U.S. has been by far the largest donor to the aid appeal under which the U.N. World Food Program has shipped $1.7 billion worth of rice, corn, wheat and sugar into North Korea over a decade. Last summer the regime declared itself self-sufficient in food, ordering the WFP to wind down operations by the end of the year. But North Korea also let the WFP know that it would be happy to start receiving aid for state-run development projects. Obediently, the WFP has come up with a plan, awaiting approval from its executive board this coming week, to "work with the Government to support its strategy of moving towards development and away from humanitarian assistance." The "Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation" has a $102 million budget to deliver food and "transitional assistance" for Pyongyang's "strategy for recovery."


Just like Saddam, the UN will provide not only cover, but political favors Kim can dispose at his discretion.
If the WFP's new plan goes forward, Kim will be in the pleasant position of receiving free goods, enjoying plenty of control over who gets what, and taking credit for the handouts. Part of the WFP plan, for example, is to provide supplies for food-processing factories where the government will hire the workers, operate the plants, and in some cases -- how many is not clear -- "transport the product to the beneficiary institutions."

There is no question that many people are hungry, and, as the head of the WFP office in Pyongyang, Richard Ragan, described it in a recent interview, "living on the edge." In the field of good works, one of the worst dilemmas is what to do when a tyrant holds hostage his own population -- trading on their deprivation to lever out of well-meaning donors whatever it is he really wants. But in North Korea, the WFP -- America's main conduit for aid into the country -- is losing whatever leverage it ever had. Big brother China and eager-to-appease South Korea are shipping substantial aid with few strings attached. Meanwhile, the U.S. is trying to corral Kim over matters as mortally important as nuclear bombs. This new program whipped up by the WFP to suit Kim's palate sends just one message: Yes indeed, we are chumps.


Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM

February 18, 2006

The Spirit of '94

From Mr. Speaker himself. The WSJ has an interview (free site!) with Speaker Gingrich.

"Do I think it's possible to offer a Social Security plan for people under 40 years of age in a positive savings account model that you could pass? Yes. Do I think it's possible to make it so complicated, so impossible to understand that you can't build any momentum for it? Yes." Then the wrap up (after a digression into football): "Let me be quite clear. I don't think 2005 was a good year for Republicans. I'd like to not repeat it. So I'm for doing things differently."

Was 1995 a good year for Republicans? I ask, a little timidly, leaning farther back in my tippy chair. It was the year Mr. Gingrich was sworn in as speaker to much euphoria on the right. But it ended with a rout by President Clinton in a budget standoff that shut down the government and, in the standard telling at least, left the Republicans in Congress looking a little bit like antigovernment extremists.

The response is sharp. "Yeah, it was a great year. It set the stage for us to balance the federal budget, reform welfare, cut taxes, strengthen defense and get re-elected for the first time since 1928." And the budget showdown? "I've never said publicly we lost that. The news media said it." True, but . . . does that mean he doesn't think it was a defeat? "Let me go back and try again. We were the first re-elected majority since 1928." That again! "Why is that a defeat?"


I was a big fan of the Speaker, watching his Pepperdine lectures and enjoying his problem solving and enthusiasm.

Oddly enough, I cannot get excited about a 2008 run. There's nothing in the piece with which I disagree but I do not see him as the man for the times.


Spirit of '94 Posted by John Kranz at 3:48 PM

February 17, 2006

Bottom Story of the Day

If you were on a sci-fi series, which would it be? For jk, it's Firefly. I know, you're shocked! I was too.

You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Serenity (Firefly)

100%

Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)

81%

Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)

75%

Moya (Farscape)

69%

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)

69%

Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)

63%

SG-1 (Stargate)

63%

FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)

63%

Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)

56%

Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)

50%

Enterprise D (Star Trek)

44%

Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)

44%
created with QuizFarm.com
Hat-tip: Samizadata

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM

Word of the Day

Condign: adj., deserved, adequate.

The WSJ Ed page says, in Chertoff's Penance: "It sounds like the man has actually thought about this, which is more than most of Congress has done. Rather than replace [Michael Chertoff] with some other punching bag, a more condign punishment for Katrina would be to insist that he stick around and finish the job".

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM

The Democrats have a plan!

Rep Rahm Emmanuel, who famously said that "the Democrats will have an Iraq plan before the elections," hits the pages of the Wall Street Journal today with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. Their guest editorial outlines a tax plan called the "Fair, Flat Tax."

The plan has three brackets: 15, 25 & 35% and promises equal treatment of capital and labor (Silence will approve); enough progressivity, presumably, for Democrats; abolition of the AMT; and a one-page 1040 form.

The editorial is an overview without a lot of details and I fear that the devil might be hiding in them. Democrats love to give targeted tax breaks. It's a great form of social engineering. So is this really flat? What about the home interest deduction? What about tax rebates for hybrid car owners or purchasers of diversity rich co-op housing?

The 35% rate strikes me as high, especially if a lot of deductions are removed. I would prefer lower rates on capital but I would trade that for a truly simplified tax plan. One could get it back through productivity.

The worst feature is that it is DOA. Serious legislators would involve the other party (especially if they are in the majority). Then this could be proposed and debated as a serious idea. I feel this is a campaign issue:

By eliminating scores of tax breaks for the fortunate few, reforming the corporate code, and refusing to renew the disproportionate Bush tax cuts, we can give significant relief to those who really need it -- and cut the deficit by $100 billion.

Lastly, you gotta pay money to read it (holler if you'd like me to email you a copy.)

UPDATE: It is pretty short -- I copied the text into extended entry -- click "Continue..."

It's that time of year again -- when millions of Americans begin the mind-numbing chore of doing their taxes. Once again, they'll collect W-2 forms and call for missing 1099s, sift through shoeboxes for receipts and cancelled checks. The typical taxpayer needs more than 30 hours to complete this process, struggling to comprehend a tax code that contains more than 10,000 sections. That's why taxpayers spend more than $100 billion annually on tax preparation. But it doesn't have to be this way.

We have proposed the Fair Flat Tax Act, which would require most taxpayers to fill out a simple, one-page Form 1040. There would be just three personal tax rate brackets -- 15%, 25% and 35% -- instead of the current six. Gone would be the maze of regulations and loopholes. The tax code would receive what it desperately needs: a good cleansing.

And it should not just be simpler, but fairer as well -- especially for the middle class. Under the current system, a police officer walking the beat pays a higher effective tax rate than someone who makes their money from capital gains and dividends. The policeman who makes $70,000 in annual wages pays almost 25% of that salary to the federal government, while an executive who makes five times that in capital gains pays just 15%. Today's tax code has not just become anti-middle class, but anti-worker. Wealth and work should be treated equally.

There are other ways to help the country's middle-class families. By eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, which our plan does, we can put an end to the process that forces millions of Americans to do their taxes twice. These measures can help taxpayers without eliminating the incentives used most by the middle class: home mortgages, retirement savings and education.

Our aim is not to soak the rich but to make the tax system fairer. Every American has a right to build and grow wealth. Eliminating the unfair ways wages and investment income are currently treated can allow markets -- not government -- to drive our country toward the best use of investment capital.

Can we afford fundamental tax reform, given our record deficits and tight budgets? We believe America can't afford not to reform. And it can be done without exploding the deficit. By eliminating scores of tax breaks for the fortunate few, reforming the corporate code, and refusing to renew the disproportionate Bush tax cuts, we can give significant relief to those who really need it -- and cut the deficit by $100 billion.

Every year, the tax rigmarole takes more time and leaves more Americans more frustrated. It's time for a change. If we make the tax code easier and fairer, come Tax Day, more Americans will have more sanity, more freedom -- and more money.

Mr. Wyden is a Democratic senator from Oregon and a member of the Senate Committee on Finance. Mr. Emanuel is a Democratic congressman from Illinois and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

But johngalt thinks:

What a miserable bunch of crap. "Our aim is not to soak the rich but to make the tax system fairer." But if the rich have to be soaked to achieve their idea of "fairer" I suppose they'll just grin and bear it.

And as JK has told Silence enough times that he should remember by now, the problem with taxing capital growth is that the seed capital was already taxed, and often at a much higher marginal rate than our "poor" policeman. The "fortunate few" that these demogogues want to soak are yesterday's ants, ostensibly for the benefit of today's grasshoppers.

And hello, what part of "flat" do these mathemagicians not understand? I know, I know, a REAL flat tax isn't "fair" so this "progressive" "flat" tax is the "FAIR flat" tax. Yawn. Hell, even a flat tax RATE is not a flat TAX. Poor mister policeman pays almost $19K in federal taxes but the executive pays "just" $52K. How is that "fair?" And this is just on the executive's investment income. How about his payroll taxes?

It is painfully clear that modern Democrats are no different than classical Soviet Socialists - our society won't be fair in their eyes until we all take home the same amount, and accumulation of wealth will be virtually impossible unless you're one of them.

NPR reported last night (or the night before) that of the billions in tax revenue that goes uncollected, IRS efforts to "crack down" this tax year will net a fraction of a percent of the underpayment because there are so many ways to avoid reporting income. Unless, of course, you are an employee. Payroll tax collections are enforced by employers as the government's proxy. The loser? Mister policeman.

Wan't a "fairer" tax? Replace income taxes with a consumption tax.

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2006 7:43 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll put you down as a "no," then.

I agree that it is seriously flawed. The things that interested me were:

1) The Democrats were saying something besides "We're not George W. Bush:" actually defining themselves with a positive program. (This would be Rep Rahm Emmanuel's work. He drove me mad as a Clintonista, but he is a very smart guy.)

2) They have internalized the mantra of "flat" and "fair" even though they do not implement it as I see those terms. This might grow someday into a willingness to accept pieces of plans that I do like.

3) They are embracing reform and mention in the first paragraph the productivity loss of the status quo. Compare that to their obdurate opposition to Social Security reform. It will be harder for them to stand and cheer next January if the President says they have blocked it.

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2006 11:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

While you are encouraged by engagement with the Robin Hood crowd, I will always be skeptical of their intentions when the only thing that changes about their "plan" is the rhetoric - and the redefinition of the english language that comes along with it.

I couldn't find the mention of productivity loss you referred to. I wanted to compare it to the evidence from a very influential economic blogger who said real incomes are increasing.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2006 1:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Hope I didn't oversell -- I was referring to the admitted productivity loss in filing taxes. The article said "The typical taxpayer needs more than 30 hours to complete this process, struggling to comprehend a tax code that contains more than 10,000 sections. That's why taxpayers spend more than $100 billion annually on tax preparation."

It would be good to have that effort directed at wealth creation, which either a consumption or flat tax would do.

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2006 3:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A consumption tax would eliminate the filing overhead, but I'm more and more convinced that any kind of real-world "flat" tax would not. The targeted tax breaks you mentioned are not going to go away.

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2006 3:32 PM
But dagny thinks:

The tax the democrats are proposing is neither fair nor flat. If they say it often enough, however, the sheeple will believe it. This is a problem for more than just the tax system. This twisting of word meanings results from the philosophical point of view that, nothing is certain, and, the meaning depends entirely on your perspective.

These concepts are eroding our individual freedoms in all areas of our lives from taxes to the, re-interpretation, of the constitution to say that the second amendment does not mean what it says. The recent eminent domain supreme court disaster is another example. The difference between a Public Use and a Public Benefit was entirely obliterated.

The democrats should be allowed to put forth any tax plan they see fit BUT they should be required to label it accurately. We just got burned on this in Colorado as turncoat governor Bill Owens convinced large numbers of people that a tax increase (referendum C) was not a tax increase.

Im afraid this stuff makes my blood boil. Can you tell?

Posted by: dagny at February 22, 2006 2:56 PM

February 16, 2006

Double Heh

Insty links to Jessica's Well for a funny photo.

Word has it that Sens. Kennedy and Clinton were publicly joking together about the VP contretemps, but I have to wonder if this is not bringing up more Chappaquiddick comparisons than the Senior Senator from the Commonwealth would appreciate.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:54 PM

He really doesn't look like a chimp...

James Taranto has an interesting post today responding to a blogger who thinks that conservatives are smearing their opponents with the word "liberal." It's a good piece and goes beyond my description.

One comment really hit home for me:

To some extent, too, the pro-Bush sentiment on the right that so upsets Greenwald is a product of the anti-Bush fanaticism of the left. There is a sort of Newton's Third Law of politics, which was at work during the previous administration as well. People on the left who reviled Bill Clinton's policies in such areas as trade, welfare and capital punishment nonetheless backed him, and supported him fervently when Congress impeached him.
For most conservatives, Bush is not perfect but he is far better than the alternatives that were on offer in 2000 and 2004. Those on the left who look at the right and see blind loyalty for the most part are actually viewing a reflection of their own blind hate.

I certainly feel that way frequently. Perhaps less around here, where we frequently take a whack at the current administration.

But out in polite society, I feel it my job to defend President Bush -- in many ways because his attackers are so strident. Politics.

President Bush Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM

Earmarks

If you have a legislative assistant for appropriations isn't that a sign that maybe this whole earmarks thing has gone too far?

    Sen. Arlen Specter helped direct almost $50 million in Pentagon spending during the past four years to clients of the husband of one of his top aides, records show.

    Specter, R-Pa., used a process called "earmarking" 13 times to set aside $48.7 million for six clients represented by lobbyist Michael Herson and the firm he co-founded, American Defense International. The clients paid Herson's firm nearly $1.5 million in fees since 2002, federal lobbying records show.

    Herson's wife, Vicki Siegel Herson, is Specter's legislative assistant for appropriations. She deals with Specter's work on the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense subcommittee, where all the earmarks originated. Siegel, who uses her maiden name at work, is a former lobbyist for defense contractors who has worked for Specter since 1999.

But jk thinks:

She reports to the Deputy Administrator of Graft...

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2006 3:26 PM

Pro-Union.... Pro-worker...

... but pro-Parent? or pro-Student?

    Bosses, have I got an idea for you: Don't pay your best employees more, don't ease out your least productive workers, and for crying out loud, never fire anyone, not even for the most blatant misconduct on the job.

    It works for the public schools, doesn't it?

    Actually, it doesn't, but since they're government monopolies, they don't care. They never go out of business. They just keep doing what they're doing, year after year, churning out class after class of students handicapped by a poor education.

But jk thinks:

My favorite line is "The Teachers' Unions insist that their members be treated like professionals but paid like factory workers." Sorry, I cannot attribute.

Larry Kudlow is asking "Where are the government plant closings?" It's a great point. Ford and GM have to shut down ostensibly good plants to stay competitive but government never has to trim at all.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2006 1:30 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Funny, as a software consultant, I'm treated like a factory worker and paid like a professional. Dammit, wrong choice AGAIN.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 16, 2006 1:45 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Heh. That's funny. I get paid like a professional, but act like 12 year old.

Posted by: AlexC at February 16, 2006 1:52 PM

As Night Follows Day

An earnest young woman comes to my door last night, about 7pm. I'm with so-and-so action group, says she, we're a state environmental &c...

I'm trying to be cheerful, as it's my nature, but when she says "now, we're targeting 'global warming!'" my face fell and she saw it. "No," asks she? "I think not," replies me.

She kindly and professionally took her leave, then. And I snidely added as she left: "You won't need a coat! (It was about 30 degrees.)" I wished that I had not said that -- if I could take it back, I would. She believes, I believe. We may as well respect each other.

But I had to laugh when I got up this morning and saw the (predicted) three inches or so. Here's a shot of my adorable Skylark enjoying the global warming.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:58 PM | What do you think? [8]
But jk thinks:

Agreed that one snowstorm does not refute or confer climate change (yet a record year for hurricanes does?)

I refute global warming by citing Karl Popper's epistemology of science that things are not proven true, only proven false. As climate modeling has not matched computer modeling predictions, it should be called false and not morphed into a similar theory.

alexC's point holds as well. There are many people who would benefit from a longer growing season in cold climes (which matches the original predictions).

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2006 7:17 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Now you are in the realm of science. I am just amazed that intelligent people who I know have had some scientific training could be so blinded by the political dogma on this issue that even your semantics are wrong. Belief is not the right word and really has no place here. The theory of global warming is a valid scientific theory in that it is currently undergoing the rigors of experimentation and mathematical analysis. You can choose to accept that the current evidence is sufficient to support the theory or claim that it is not. (or even that sufficient contrary evidence exists) You do not believe or disbelieve, it is not a tenet of faith, it predicts outcomes and can be tested.

The term "global warming" is based on predictions of an average increase in the temperature of the earth by a few degrees per century. Thus expecting it to suddenly be warmer outside misses the point. So too do you miss that all important word "average". The predictions are for lower low temps as well as higher highs (and the resultant increase in the intensity of weather patterns) that compute to a slight increase in yearly average temperatures. Thus even if global warming turns out to be valid your comment about not needing a coat in winter would be wrong.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 16, 2006 8:00 PM
But jk thinks:

The original global warming theory included very specific suggestions, based on computer modeling, of when and where the changes would manifest. The actual data did not match the model or predictions, but since it seemed to indicate warming (at the surface but not satellite later, again contra predictions) they proceeded undeterred.

We should have a more serious airing. You are throwing my jokes and flippant comments back at me. I understand averages, and I know the young lady will still need a coat.

Nor do I say that global warming does not exist or even that it is not possibly man made. My concern is that people are rushing to make policy decisions on unproven theories.

Lastly, I can certainly suspect that a theory is false. I cannot claim it is false until disproved, perhaps, but scientists have opinions. My opinion is that any human contribution to climate change is very small.

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2006 12:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And the opinion of a scientist who receives government funded research grants to study climate change will invariably be, "further study is required." (Let's see ANYBODY disagree with THAT!)

I am actually impressed that Silence is arguing from the basis of objective reality. The earth IS actually warming, on the average, or it is NOT. And it IS or is NOT related to human activity, and IS or is NOT subject to alteration by human economic policy. These observations are absolutely correct. But the evidence, my good man, is not so cut and dry. The "evidence" is collected, processed, and presented by humans. If these humans were true scientists (objective, consistent and dispassionate) and if they were in near universal agreement that their theory is consistent with reality it would be far more difficult for partisans to be "blinded by poliitical dogma" and dispute the "science." Conversely, since there are virtually as many respected scientists who dispute the theory as who swear by it, we have our current state of polarization.

Oh, and if I remember correctly, we're talking about changes in the temperature of the earth by a few TENTHS of a degree per century.

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2006 7:58 PM
But jk thinks:

My brother-in-law treats me to a New England joke:

Where'd all those rocks come from? The glaciers brought 'em.

Where are the glaciers? Gone to get more rocks!

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2006 7:56 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Yes johngalt, I am arguing from an objectivist point of view. (you have taught me well Obi-Wan) Seriously I just wanted to make the point that global warming theory is not junk science. It is an incomplete theory and could very well be proven wrong, but it is a valid theory that can be tested. I too am skeptical but I do believe there is enough evidence not to dismiss it out of hand. Yes JK I realize you were being flip but with so many good points to stand upon to be critical of global warming the weather jokes just seem silly.

Now johngalt I will disagree with you a bit on the motivation for further study. I see top level scientific researchers motivated more by ego than money. Those folks want to make the big discovery or write the earth shattering analysis and this dictates that they be correct. I do not see the motivation as simply following the research grants. I have not looked at the studies in many months so I will have to do some more research myself, but I would love to see the statistics that show the scientific community nearly equally divided on this issue. I think though that most of the competing claims here are not comparing the same things. There seem to be two facts that garner nearly 95% agreement, that data exists to show that the earth has warmed more in the last 100 years than it has in any such period for the last 10,000, and that there appears to be a correlation between this rise and the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Beyond that is where the real discussion begins, that correlation is not a proven cause and effect and the modeling is incomplete to be able to extrapolate the current trend. The rush to enact policy may be way ahead of the science, but given the potentially catastrophic effects I personally would appreciate further study.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 20, 2006 11:45 AM

February 15, 2006

You don't need me

Great new blog: The Everyday Economist. It's like a jk who doesn't misuse the work "like." Seriously, Josh Hendrickson has a common-sense, free market view of economics and a clear writing style.

I met him reading his TCS article, Snow Job. With his blog entries, this article presents a convincing case against the current naysayers who claim that real wages are declining. I keep hearing that this is true but it does not seem to pass the smell test.

Hendrickson, and Thomas Sowell (linked off his blog), explain it clearly:

1) Real wages are wages - inflation; CPI is used for inflation;

2) CPI overestimates inflation by 1-1.5% (How many hours do you have to work to buy a mid-range laptop and a mobile phone? This is important to most people, but is not captured at all in cpi.)

3) Real, real wages are not declining. Those who claim they are have a political or economic interest in failure.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 7:40 PM

Oh yeah, that "Bush Doctrine" thingy

"Tonight we are a country awakened to danger and called to defend freedom. Our grief has turned to anger, and anger to resolution. Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." - President George Bush, September 20, 2001.

In recent elections, voters in Iran and the "Palestinian Territories" have spoken, and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice showed today that she has heard them. 'Rice Says Hamas-Led Government Will Not Get US Aid.' 'Rice Seeks $75 Million to Support Iran's Democrats.' FINALLY!

For over four years I've been apologizing for the policies of MY president, George W. Bush. On issue after issue, time after time, he has disappointed me. Steel tarriffs, education bills, new Medicare benefits, negligence or, at best, covert support of the Iranian freedom movement. It appears the time has finally come to once again be proud of my president's administration.

My ideal president would not need such a validation, but my real president did: A majority of those casting ballots in two nations apparently chose to be ruled by terrorists. There can be no more claims that the civilians in these lands are somehow "innocent" of the crimes committed in their names. Those who voted against tyranny will have more than enough time to flee their failed states before justice is meeted out against their governments.

Now the US State Department has decided to reduce the flow of US tax dollars to terrorists, and increase our spending to support their enemies. I believe more is in order. MUCH more. It is time for the President to ask Congress for a formal declaration of war against Iran and the Palestinians. As he said on September 20, 2001, in what I will henceforth refer to as "The Speech:" (Re-read the whole thing. It is as germane to current events as it was to 9/11.)

"Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime."

A - f'n - MEN

But Silence Dogood thinks:

Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? You can pretend that the world is as simple as with us or against us, but that doesn't make it so.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 16, 2006 12:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Those nations at least TACITLY support our anti-terror efforts. I support the use of diplomacy to guide their policies toward us rather than away from us.

Iran and the PA/Hamas support terrorists in every possible way. It's high time we stop supporting them and support their internal enemies instead.

Posted by: johngalt at February 16, 2006 12:50 PM
But dagny thinks:

Just because we do not yet know something or it is difficult to determine does not mean that an answer doesnt exist. This is the, we can never know anything for sure, philosophy that leads directly to moral relativism. If I have bad eyes and cannot tell whether the top of the eye chart says E or F does that mean that there is no specific letter on top of the eye chart?

The fact is that these governments, at their roots, are with us or with the terrorists and we should be putting more effort into making that determination instead of insisting that since we cant tell which side they are on, the distinction must not exist. Worse than that is the concomitant assumption that since we cant tell, all governments must be morally equal.

I am not saying this is easy. I am saying it is straight-forward.

Posted by: dagny at February 16, 2006 4:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I heartily agree that we should not send aid money to Hamas (they should continue to have faculty fund raisers in Florida like always...) And I am very keen on supporting internal democratic opposition in Iran. And I join Johngalt in celebrating Secretary Rice's clear determination to proceed.

I am not comfortable dooming the inhabitants of the PA territories and Iran beyond either of these measures because they voted the way they did. I suggest that the vote in Iran was not fair enough to determine what voters really wanted and that the PA elections provided a choice between Hamas and Yasser Arafats long-corrupt Fatah parties. The Hamas vote might have been a respectable "throw the bums out" decision.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2006 5:17 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Very true as far as you go dagny, but as in your example, the eye chart could actually have one of many letters on the top line, it like world diplomacy, is not limited to two choices or two sides. One thing I do know for sure is that each nation of the world is first and foremost on its own side regardless of whether we call them an ally or an enemy. Which of these two titles we bestow on them is based upon a relative system of merit, or how closely our ideals and goals fall in line. Johngalt's call to support our enemy's enemy draws a conclusion that this makes them our friend and thus worthy of support, but this is a dangerous fallacy. The evidence for this is all around us, from the mujahadeen in Afghanistan who morphed into the Taliban and Al-Quaeda to Saddam himself. The problem with much of our diplomacy is that we have this overriding two sided view of the world that forces us to make determinations in the short term as to who is "on our side"; in short to make relative judgments based upon a snapshot it time. By its very nature it does not allow for the reality johngalt let slip, that nations are fluid, and may be moving toward or away from our views and interests.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 16, 2006 6:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wait a minute. Didn't Jimmah certify those elections? If not then whoever rigged them missed a golden opportunity to purchase some "validity." Besides, I don't hear anyone in the MSM doing exposes on voter fraud in either instance.

I'm not saying "let the bombing begin, women and children first." What I am saying is that one of the arguments for impotence in the face of these threats is now off the table. If we must take defensive military action against enemy military assets situated in urban areas there will be no moral justification for risking a brave American soldier in street fighting. Bunker busters, MOABS and MIRV warheads riding US aircraft fueled by mideast oil will be in order. We can use our accumulated wealth to defend our lives, liberties, and happiness.

Don't get me wrong Silence. I'm not celebrating the fact that diplomats at Foggy Bottom may soon be choosing which dissident groups to clandestinely shower with my hard earned tax dollars. What I'm celebrating is that those same dollars will STOP going to those who openly embrace terrorism. The fact that Washington's favorite diplomatic tool is American greenbacks means that the flow can't just be stopped, it has to be redirected somewhere else. In this particular case I take a certain perverse joy in knowing how much this will piss off those who USED to receive it.

In the big picture, nations are collections of individuals. No collection of individuals is ever homogeneous on any policy but when it comes to life and death, individuals in western nations are as unanimously as possible in favor of life. Islamofascist individuals, wherever they exist, are even more unanimously in favor of death. That, my friend, is black and white, and that is what the Bush Doctrine is all about.

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2006 8:16 PM

We Got Questions

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page has a list of questions about the VP's hunting "accident" that demand answers:

WSJ.com - Cheney's Coverup
• 5:30 p.m., Saturday (all times Central Standard Time). Mr. Cheney sprays Harry Whittington with birdshot, and the Secret Service immediately informs local police. Who is Harry Whittington and whom does he lobby for? Does he know Scooter Libby?

• 6:30 p.m. White House Chief of Staff Andy Card informs President Bush that there's been a hunting accident involving the Vice President's party. Did Mr. Bush ask followup questions? Was he intellectually curious?

• 7 p.m. Karl Rove tells Mr. Bush that it is Mr. Cheney who did the shooting. Why was this detail withheld for a full 30 minutes from the President? Who else did Mr. Rove talk to about this in the interim? Was Valerie Plame ever mentioned?

• 5 a.m., Sunday. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan learns that Mr. Cheney is the shooter. He also fails to alert the media. Did he rush to write talking points or fall back to sleep?

• 11 a.m. Katharine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where the shooting took place, blows the story sky-high by giving the news to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. According to Ms. Armstrong, Mr. Cheney told her to do what she thought made sense. Has Ms. Armstrong ever worked for Halliburton?

• 11:27 a.m., Monday. Mr. McClellan finally holds a press conference and gets grilled. One reporter actually asks (and we're not making this one up), "Would this be much more serious if the man had died?"

• 1:30 p.m. The Texas paper posts the story on its Web site, after calling the Veep's office for confirmation. Everyone involved confirms more or less everything, or so the official line goes. Their agreement is very suspicious.

For the record, Mr. McClellan replied, "Of course it would." We hope the 78-year-old Mr. Whittington recovers promptly after his heart attack yesterday. As for the Beltway press corps, it has once again earned the esteem in which it is held by the American public.


I was in a store last night that had Chris Matthews’s "Hardball" on. Chris was in highest dudgeon "Could a regular American citizen," he spewed at his guest, "wait 18 hours to notify the authorities after someone was shot?" (I hoped the guest was Senator Kennedy, but I was out of luck).

This is a good example of press bias -- not against a GOP VP -- but against a culture of hunting and shooting. Unfortunate as this is, the press corps can no more imagine a hunting trip than a lunar walk. Buffy might say "overreach much?"

Posted by John Kranz at 9:41 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

If by "the authorities" Mr. Matthews means MSM prima donnas then yes, a "regular" American citizen could do exactly the same thing. According to this timeline (admittedly from the editorial pages of a right wing rag) the Secret Service informed local police of the incident "immediately."

I don't know about Dick Cheney but when I do something that embarrasses the living crap out of me the first thing I think of is "how can I get this out on the AP wire pronto?"

Good analysis JK - the MSM bias is definitely anti-hunting and anti-gun. But it is still, no less, anti-GOP VP.

Want to see how horrible gun accidents can happen to even the most experienced LEOs? Check out: http://www.thegunzone.com/mos/ad.html
or
http://www.thegunzone.com/nd.html
or
http://www.thegunzone.com/timm-nd.html

Posted by: johngalt at February 15, 2006 10:41 AM
But AlexC thinks:

18 hours to tell authorities?

You mean 18 hours to tell the Washington press corp.

No. He was in the hospital shortly after getting shot. The local sheriff's office did the investigation.

The authorities were fully informed.

Posted by: AlexC at February 16, 2006 1:29 PM
But jk thinks:

To Chris Matthews, the Washington Press Corps ARE the authorities.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2006 1:38 PM

February 14, 2006

Giving the Philly Inquirer Credit

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran the Muhammed "offending" cartoons last week and was met with a few hundred protesters.

John Grogan writes:

    The protesters spoke their minds - loudly and forcibly - and made their disgust known.

    Elsewhere in the world, Danish embassies have been burned, and riots have turned bloody. And that is hugely ironic, considering the whole point of the cartoon is that Islam has been hijacked by a minority of violent extremists who act inconsistently with the religion's tenets.

    What better way to sustain post-9/11 stereotypes of Muslims as prone to religious violence than to protest an image by... turning violent?

    Fortunately, that did not happen in Philadelphia. Not even close. While there was some hostility in the crowd, everyone behaved.

    There were some who shouted ugly things and distributed unsavory images, but they were in the minority. And even the worst of it fell well within the bounds of a cherished democratic tradition: the right to free speech and open assembly. The right to disagree and be heard.

    Some protesters called for a boycott of the newspaper, and for readers to cancel their subscriptions. It's all fair game, and a rich part of that crazy, messy, not always pretty institution known as democracy.


Amen.

Jihad Posted by AlexC at 12:28 PM

Half Million Rally in Beirut

... no Danish flags burned.

    Half a million flag-waving Lebanese packed central Beirut on Tuesday, a year to the day after the assassination of former premier Rafik al-Hariri, giving new impetus to Lebanon's anti-Syrian coalition.

    The turnout was reminiscent of huge protests after last year's February 14 killing of Hariri and 22 others.

    Those demonstrations, coupled with international pressure, forced Syria to end its 29-year military presence in Lebanon, although Damascus denies any role in the assassination.

    Syria's Lebanese foes said Tuesday's rally would revive a campaign to force pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud to quit and to punish those behind the truck bombing that killed Hariri.

    "By being present here today, you foil the conspiracy ... against Lebanon, against Rafik al-Hariri, against Lebanon's freedom, independence and dignity," the former prime minister's son and political heir Saad al-Hariri told the crowd from behind bullet-proof glass.

    Believing he too could be killed, Hariri has spent more than six months abroad, but returned to Beirut for the anniversary.


Bring on the protest babes!

Freedom on the March Posted by AlexC at 12:26 PM

In Defense of Big Profits

Steven Green writes a must-read about what big profits for oil companies mean.

    It is more profitable to compete in an industry where profit margins are fat. That should be self-evident, but it's not. Politicians and populists can see only the bigger numbers – they can't (or won't) see the bigger margins.

    During the late-'70s Oil Shock, President Carter convinced a willing Congress to slap a "windfall profits tax" on oil producers. The net effect was to reduce the net profits of the oil industry. And just like in the examples I gave you, Carter reduced the incentives for getting into the oil business. Carter, through malice or ignorance, helped to keep oil prices artificially high.


...
    Do you know what those profits mean? That's right: an industry ripe for competition. That competition could be new oil finds, or previously-unprofitable old oil wells, or oil shale or sands, or even alternate energy sources.

I'm a witness to this process as we speak. A lot of smaller companies are trying or are getting into the North Slope oil business. Looking at operating smaller oil assets that aren't lucrative for a major oil company. But for a smaller "independant" oil company? It's huge.

Even the big company that I contract to is ramping up production / exploration in the harder to access heavier oil deposits.

This is a good thing.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 12:16 PM

jk AWOL

I leave the wheels of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy in the able hands of my blog brothers this week. We are "kicking-off" a major software rollout at work. I'll be reading but not writing 'till Thursday -- Cheers!

Posted by John Kranz at 9:04 AM

Political Heroes

Interesting post at Right Wing News this morning...

    When 2009 rolls in, two of the last three Republican Presidents will have been 2-termers, and very successful in the more important parts of their job. In between them is a Republican who won a solid majority in his election, and generally did an above-average job in the Oval Office. Even the most disgraced Republican President in memory had achievements in his work which commiserate his historical position.

    Compare with them the Democrats; the last Democrat to serve as President was impeached, and later admitted to the essential facts in the charges against him. The last Democrat before him to win election, was a one-term Democrat who managed to create two simultaneous conditions which economists previously thought impossible; Consumer Price Index showing Inflation above ten percent, at the same time as wager-earner Unemployment above ten percent. The last Democrat before him to hold office, chose not to run for re-election because his own party said they wouldn't support him. Not a happy string of terms and results.


Thankfully my parents had more sense than to raise me to be a Democrat. Being on what seems like history's losing team would really chap my ass.

No wonder they're so angry.

Posted by AlexC at 2:24 AM | What do you think? [7]
But AlexC thinks:

Hmmm. I guess in the light of the those free-trade (aka non-protectionist / anti-labor) policies Carter and Clinton put into action, yeah, the Democrats have reason to be pissed. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at February 14, 2006 12:15 PM
But AlexC thinks:

While I forgot about airline deregulation (good for me as well), Carter also was the originator of the windfall profits tax.

Not good economic policy. ... that and the misery index was invented during his administration, I think.

Posted by: AlexC at February 14, 2006 12:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not waxing nostalgic for the Carter years. I just cannot agree with the RightWingNews piece that the GOP presidential excellence comparison is so clear.

Reading yesterday's BOTW about Al Gore's shameful anti-Americanism in Saudi Arabia, I will say that our losers (Ford Bush Dole) would have likely been decent presidents, but imagining McGovern, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore or Kerry in the White House induces nightmares.

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2006 2:59 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Uh huh, denounce Cliton for his impeachment but just give Nixon a "pass"? Wake me when the partisan hack fest is over.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 15, 2006 11:52 AM
But jk thinks:

Gee, Silence, I was expecting approbation for diffusing partisanship, but I don't always get what I expect.

I give Nixon "a pass" because I think his presidency was worse than his scandal; Clinton's was better than his.

Group hug?

Posted by: jk at February 15, 2006 12:42 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

OK. Maybe I misunderstood?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 16, 2006 12:27 AM

February 13, 2006

The Shooting II

Ok.. Last post on the Vice Presidential Gun Play.

I'd rather hunt with Dick Cheney, than ride with Ted Kennedy

But jk thinks:

Triple Heh!

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2006 9:03 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Dick Cheney's gun has killed fewer people than Senator Kennedy's car.

Posted by: AlexC at February 14, 2006 12:31 PM

The Shooting

I've been pretty down on my homestate's Senator Arlen Specter lately. [lately? how about always? -ed.] I don't need to list the reasons. However, he did make up for it a bit with his effort during the Alito hearings.

So here's another chance.

Senator Spector should head up a commission to determine exactly what happened on the Cheney Quail Hunt and it's attempt to hide the truth from the Washington Press Corp.

Anyone with me?
Senator Kennedy could sit on the commission as well. It'd be a "hoot!"


Bird-shot Gate?

Yes, the Vice President accidentally shot a fellow hunter. Thankfully that man will fully recover.

But that doesn't stop the feeding frenzy.

    But GMA host Charlie Gibson later claimed that there was "growing political fallout" from the incident, wondering:
    "Why didn't the White House tell everyone when this accident happened? Why did they wait so long and did that make a bad situation even worse?"

    Normally, the MSM loves to hate talk radio and the pajamahadeen of the blogosphere, but when it suits their purposes . . . ABC White House reporter Jessica Yellin stated that it took the VP's office nearly 24 hours to go public with the incident, adding:

    "That delay has prompted speculation online and on talk radio that perhaps Mr. Cheney was hoping to cover up the incident.


So the media that refuses to show the cartoons that have lead to the deaths of nine and riots in the Muslim world is demanding to know about the delay?

I'm tempted to mention something about delaying the reporting of a certain vehicle belonging to a certain Senator driving off of a bridge into a certain body of water killing a certain woman. But I will refrain.

Current Events Posted by AlexC at 2:53 PM

February 12, 2006

The Great Snow Fall

Well, when a big snowstorm comes through on the east coast everyone knows about it. Probably because all of our media is based out of there.

In suburban Philadelphia, about 35 miles northwest, we look to have recieved about 18 inches.... drifts maybe to 24 inches.

If you're a kid, that's great fun.


(that's mine in the pink on the right)

If you're a miniature wiener dog. It's work to take a leak.

Our Colorado friends are probably yawning out of boredom. Oh well...

As has been my luck, I'm out of town for it, so my wife was home alone to clean up the mess. Luckily we have some kick-ass neighbors who take pitty on her. ;) Thanks guys!

Other local Philly types "suffering"...
Blonde Sagacity
TrekMedic

Posted by AlexC at 5:14 PM | What do you think? [1] | TrackBack
But jk thinks:

Nope, no yawning here -- it has been many moons since we have seen 18". Sugarchuck in Minnesota, on the other hand...

Stay warm -- thanks for the pics!

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

Inspiring Fear


A little Dick Cheney gun play.

    Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and doing fine" after Cheney sprayed him with shotgun pellets on Saturday while the two were hunting at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.

    Armstrong said Whittington was mostly injured on his right side, with the pellets hitting his cheek, neck and chest, and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

    Whittington was in stable condition Sunday, said Yvonne Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Christus Spohn Health System.


Live in fear, Democrats. VP Dick Cheney shot his friend. Think of what he'd do if he didn't like you.

BOO!

(that's an actual picture of Cheney off of CNN.com, can they pick a scarier one?)

Update: DemocraticUnderground's take.

But Silence Dogood thinks:

Is there a happy, smiliing picture of Cheney?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 15, 2006 11:54 AM

Vice President Burr Did This Too

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter - Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.

Just think about it Mr. Fitzgerald, just keep it in mind...

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:12 PM

Boehner Bribed to be Republican!

Pretty serious charges against the new GOP leadership over at TNR. Kim Clark pens a piece called "Loan Shark" which alleges that the new GOP leader is in thrall to lobbyists just like his predecessor.

Now, I was a Shadegg man, and would have preferred somebody with zero ties to lobbyists, but I don't know that Diogenes could find such a man in Congress.

Clark offers evidence. It seems Rep. Boehner has collected contributions from the higher-education-lending industry. And -- dang it all -- the new bill out of the House has provisions that would be favorable to....REPUBLICANS!

The platitudes apparently resonated. Boehner won. But anyone wanting proof that Boehner is no reformer need only look at the changes to federal student-loan programs that he just helped push through Congress as part of this year's budget reconciliation bill. The alterations reduce government subsidies for student loans by $13 billion over the next five years. One of the key provisions: higher fixed interest rates that will increase the payments of students and their parents by hundreds of dollars a year.

Not subsidizing the interest rate? You think he just hates kids, but Clark knows it is based in graft and corruption
[...] more than half a million dollars went to just two men: the chairmen of the subcommittee and committee that handled the changes to the student-loan program. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of Santa Clarita, California, chairman of the Twenty-First Century Competitiveness Subcommittee, collected the most: $262,000. Boehner, who headed the House Education and the Workforce Committee until stepping down to assume his new leadership post, came in a close second with $236,000. Sallie Mae, the nation's largest educational lender, has been the single biggest donor to Boehner's PAC since 1989, contributing a total of $122,000, according to CRP data.

Of course, many of the provisions were not favorable to the lenders, but where there's smoke there's fire! Why, President Clinton had a perfectly good program that took over all the application, risk and administration -- just have the gub'mint do it, they're very good at borrowing money.
Congress could have achieved the same or even greater savings without forcing already financially pressed students and their families to shoulder even more debt had it been willing to take some business away from Sallie Mae and other lenders. Congress could have expanded a Clinton-era program in which schools forward loan applications directly to the federal government, rather than to middlemen. Several GAO and CBO studies have found that the direct-lending program costs taxpayers much less than extending loans through lenders like Sallie Mae. Government watchdogs have estimated that every dollar loaned through these middlemen costs the federal government at least 9 cents. The government, of course, can borrow more cheaply than businesses can. And it doesn't have to pay investors dividends or CEOs eight-figure pay packages like the $95 million taken home from 2000 to 2004 by Sallie Mae Chairman and former CEO Albert Lord.

So let me get this straight. A Republican adjusts a Federal program to have less involvement, pushing more administration and risk to the private sector, and setting a realistic interest rate for those who choose the program. And TNR sees this as proof of corruption.

It's going to be a long election cycle. If the Democrats want some free advice from jk -- as wrong as they are on this -- this is a good issue. Give away the store on student subsidies. The soccer moms will swoon and the moderates will see it as "a good investment in our nation." Only stingy old cruel weasels like me will point out that the private sector could likely do it better. And there is not a plurality of me. This is a winner.

Spirit of '94 Posted by John Kranz at 2:37 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Just like slowing the growth of government spending is a "budget cut" so are curbing subsidies "raising interest rates"

Posted by: AlexC at February 12, 2006 5:33 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I have never understood the details of student loans but they have always seemed a bit screwy to me. I would think that interest rate would be based on risk, yet unless I am wrong, the federal government guarantees the loans. Does any of this pushing of risk to the private sector include changes to the federal guarantee program?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 16, 2006 12:41 AM

February 11, 2006

Call Me Crazy...

... but I think Denmark's Queen Margrethe has a great body for a woman her age.

(tip to Michelle Malkin, who remembers the last Muslim bikini incident)

Jihad Posted by AlexC at 7:31 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I cannot look at that without hearing the "Monty Python" theme. Da dun da dun da dun da dun. Da dunnuhnuhnuh da nuuuh...

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2006 2:50 PM

Review Corner

Even I must put away my politics sometime. Some ThreeSourcers will need to do that to enjoy "Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit" It is anti-gun, skeptical toward science, and seems to celebrate appeasement.

But it is fantastic! Park's stuff is art of the highest order and this is no exception. The W&G films just get better every time and Were-Rabbit continues the trend.

jk gives it 4.5 stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:20 PM

Jimmah

One of the reasons why I stopped listening to Sean Hannity in favor of Michael Medved was that Sean Hannity played the "well, the Republicans do it because the Democrats did it first!" game far too much.

Wrong (or stupid) in my book is still wrong or stupid.

So allow me to play the "they did it first card".

President Jimmy Carter performed warrantless eavesdropping way before the current administration thought it was OK. He did it for much the same reasons.

    [I]n 1977, Mr. Carter and his attorney general, Griffin B. Bell, authorized warrantless electronic surveillance used in the conviction of two men for spying on behalf of Vietnam.

    The men, Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey, challenged their espionage convictions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which unanimously ruled that the warrantless searches did not violate the men's rights.

    In its opinion, the court said the executive branch has the "inherent authority" to wiretap enemies such as terror plotters and is excused from obtaining warrants when surveillance is "conducted 'primarily' for foreign intelligence reasons."

    That description, some Republicans say, perfectly fits the Bush administration's program to monitor calls from terror-linked people to the U.S.


They did it first! They did it first!

Since Democrats are hot lately on the idea of stare decisis, I wonder if the fact that it was ruled "ok" by the 4th Circuit matters.

Stare decisis or not, at the time Democrats argued for its constitutionality.

    When Mr. Bell testified in favor of FISA, he told Congress that while the measure doesn't explicitly acknowledge the "inherent power of the president to conduct electronic surveillance," it "does not take away the power of the president under the Constitution."

    Jamie S. Gorelick, deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, agreed. In 1994 testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Miss Gorelick said case law supports the presidential authority to conduct warrantless searches and electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes.

    Earlier this week, however, Mr. Carter said it was "ridiculous" for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to say the spying is justified by Article II of the Constitution.


Jamie Gorelick was also the creator of the infamous "wall" preventing domestic law enforcement agencies from exchanging information with foreign surveillance agencies within the US government.
    Republicans say they welcome such criticism because it proves Democrats can't be trusted with national security.

    "Just when you thought that the Democrats' image of being soft on defense issues couldn't get any worse, enter the sage wisdom of President Jimmy Carter to save the day," said Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.


Yes, Mr Nick, relying on Democrats shooting themselves in the foot is good strategy now, but how about giving people reasons to vote FOR Republicans (fiscal disipline, for example), not just against Democrats?

(tip to the Captain)

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 1:51 PM

Data Entry Error

Maybe it's just me, but I'm a little sensitive to any kind of government's bass-ackwards usage of common words when it comes to taxation.

    A house erroneously valued at $400 million is being blamed for budget shortfalls and possible layoffs in municipalities and school districts in northwest Indiana.

    An outside user of Porter County's computer system may have triggered the mess by accidentally changing the value of the Valparaiso house, said Sharon Lippens, director of the county's information technologies and service department. The house had been valued at $121,900 before the glitch.

    County Treasurer Jim Murphy said the home usually carried about $1,500 in property taxes; this year, it was billed $8 million.


Budget shortfalls? It's not like they "cut taxes." They overspent! Waaaaay over spent money they never had.
    Most local officials did not learn about the mistake until Tuesday, when 18 government taxing units were asked to return a total of $3.1 million of tax money. The city of Valparaiso and the Valparaiso Community School Corp. were asked to return $2.7 million. As a result, the school system has a $200,000 budget shortfall, and the city loses $900,000.

    Officials struggled to figure out how the mistake got into the system and how it could have been prevented. City leaders said Thursday the error could cause layoffs and cost-cutting measures.


Lesson here? Any government will spend as much money as it thinks it can.

If I were an up and coming Porter County politician, I might be campaigning on a "rainy day fund" platform.

But jk thinks:

Now THAT'S a housing bubble!

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2006 1:11 PM

February 10, 2006

Roll Back the Tax Cuts


How can people with good sense argue that cutting taxes means less in the treasury?

    The U.S. budget registered a surprisingly big surplus of $20.99 billion in January as strong receipts outweighed spending, a Treasury Department report showed.

Isn't this a repeat of President Kennedy and Reagan's tax cutting? Lower taxes, more capitalism. More reciepts, more taxes.

The down side to all of this, is that we're still spending far too much money as a federal government.

For my money, we need to keep moving left on the curve. Call me a leftist.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 4:55 PM

I bet Rove could get it down further

Yahoo/AP Headline: Bush's Job Approval Stuck Near Bottom

But if you follow the link:

Bush's job approval is now at 40 percent and his approval on handling the economy at 39 percent. Those numbers haven't budged over the last month even with the public's confidence in the economy growing and the president delivering an upbeat State of the Union address.

Don't think of 39% as a bottom, Mr. President! -- show those right-wing b*stards at the AP you can do worse!

But AlexC thinks:

Whats even more f'd up is that the Democrats can't get it together!

Posted by: AlexC at February 10, 2006 5:01 PM

Getting to the bottom of that Plame thing..

Yawn. I really cannot take any more of the Fitzgerald case. But it has heated up again as Fitzgerald tries to get a frightened Libby to rat on superiors. Yahoo/AP thinks it might be working.

I cannot dive back into the muck today, but I did want to share some indignation from the Senior Senator of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

"These charges, if true, represent a new low in the already sordid case of partisan interests being placed above national security," Kennedy said. "The vice president's vindictiveness in defending the misguided war in Iraq is obvious. If he used classified information to defend it, he should be prepared to take full responsibility."

I hope you all read that aloud in your best Ted Kennedy voice.


But AlexC thinks:

Make sure you slur your voice, and soften the "r"

"These chaaaages, if true.... (HIC)....."

Posted by: AlexC at February 10, 2006 12:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Save those unused R's, you'll need them to say idear!

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2006 12:12 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Texas stole them.
Example...
"Yall's shirt is dirty! Put it in the warsh!"

Posted by: AlexC at February 10, 2006 2:16 PM

Tap Water FOR Conservation

Bottled water drinkers of the world, STOP.

You're destroying the environment.

    Bottled water consumption, which has more than doubled globally in the last six years, is a natural resource that is heavily taxing the world's ecosystem, according to a new US study.

    "Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing, producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy," according to Emily Arnold, author of the study published by the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based environmental group.


...
    The study said that demand for bottled water soared in developing countries between 1999 and 2004 with consumption tripling in India and more than doubling in China during that period.

    That has translated into massive costs in packaging the water, usually in plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is derived from crude oil, and then transporting it by boat, train or on land.

    "Making bottles to meet Americans' demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 US cars for a year," according to the study. "Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year."

    Once the water is consumed, disposing the plastic bottles poses an environmental risk.


I bet the SUV driving soccer moms with the Kerry/Edwards sticker on their bumper just took a collective big gulp. (no pun intended).

For the ecosystem's sake. Drink tap water. Just run it through a PUR water filter. It's fine. Think of the children.

But johngalt thinks:

Actually, the only thing a PUR filter (or any other common tap water filter) will remove is sediment and some tastes/odors. Bacterium, heavy metals and other trace elements are virtually unaffected. (The reason they are so popular is that municipal water is fairly safe from these threats, requiring only chlorine reduction which PUR carbon type filters does very well.

If your home water supply is a well, as is mine, you would be wise to install a reverse osmosis water filtration system. A complete system is only $230: http://www.wattspremier.com/watts/showdetl.cfm?&DID=15&Product_ID=162&CATID=1

Or, you could buy the same thing at Costco (as I did) for $140.

(You can all thank me later.) ;)

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2006 3:53 PM
But jk thinks:

There's a great anti-bottled-water contingent that includes my pal, John Stossel. As it's my week to be contrarian around here, let me point out that the opposition tends to miss the point.

I drink bottled water out of convenience, not for its superior taste and not for status. It is not Evian vs. tap water, it is bottled water vs. Coke. It's in the fridge, it's cold. No Sugar. No Caffeine. No dirty glass. (I'm boorish enough to refill the bottle out of the 'fridge door.)

Sorry about the oil use but I drive a little car and keep my modest house cool in the winter -- I gotta keep AlexC and his pals employed somehow.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2006 4:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I'll drink Costco or WalMart bottled water too, because it's cold in the fridge and ready to travel when I am. Trouble is, I never buy the stuff. We only have it when it's left over from a vaulting competition or some such. (Which is another good use for the stuff - feed it to kids on road trips.)

There are many people, however, who believe it's "better." In fact, my boss buys the stuff by the truckload and pays someone to haul it upstairs in our building because (our buyer insists) it's actually CHEAPER than the 5 gallon reusable bottled water service. Go figure.

Posted by: johngalt at February 11, 2006 1:54 AM

February 9, 2006

The Fear Card

But johngalt thinks:

Q: What do you call a Democrat without cash?

A: A "Freegan."

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2006 3:55 PM

TNR Misses the Point

The subhead of the Peter Beinart editorial captured my imagination:
What Bush understands and the Danes do not

I have a ton of respect for Beinart, but I think he swings and misses in this week's editorial. I am still glad he is not swiping at the President, that's always a bonus in a "Democrat mag." And his point about more devout Americans empathizing better with devout Muslims than secular Europeans is interesting and well taken. I'll even accede to a certain hunger on the right for a "Clash of Civilizations."

But he then misses the mark on what I find to be the base of the contretemps. It is not that the cartoons were inflammatory or insensitive. The problem is the Islamicists' insistence that no likenesses are allowed and that a private newspaper -- and the government that chooses not to censor it -- is responsible to uphold Islamic law on non-Muslims.

In short, it is unusual to find Beinart defending the Administration and my saying, "No, Peter they are wrong!" But they are. Perhaps a bold defense of the free press is not appropriate, but the State Department went too far in condemning the cartoons.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 6:07 PM

Cancer Rate Drops

Women hardest hit.

    Fewer Americans died of cancer in 2003 than in previous years, the first such decline ever recorded, although the number of cancer deaths among women increased, the American Cancer Society said on Thursday.

    "From 2002 to 2003, the number of recorded cancer deaths decreased by 778 in men, but increased by 409 in women, resulting in a net decrease of 369 total cancer deaths," the American Cancer Society said in a statement.

    Due largely to a decline in smoking among men, it is the first decrease in numbers since 1930, when nationwide data was first compiled.

Posted by AlexC at 5:43 PM

TSA Registry Plans

Well...

    Security concerns have caused the government to suspend plans for an ambitious program to check every domestic airline passenger's name against government watch lists, Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley said Thursday.

    Hawley told the Senate Commerce Committee that he has directed that the program's information technology system "go through a comprehensive audit."


A comprehensive audit would be an understatement.
    Nearly four years and $200 million after the program was put into operation, Hawley said last month that the agency hadn't yet determined precisely how the it would work.

Are you kidding me?

But jk thinks:

But if we put these same people in charge of health care, we'd live in utopia...

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2006 3:28 PM

Positive Thoughts

Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom has an optimistic post about the politics most of us (all of us) would like, and he agrees with me in terminology.

No, I think classical liberalism will make it’s comeback—and the “libertarian” streak we see in the blogosphere is an early indicator of where I think the politics of many Americans, should they stop and try to clearly pigeonhole them, would come to rest. The greatest victory for the Democrats has been to win the mantle of “liberal”—which continues to imply, years after it surrendered its soul to collectivism and soft socialism - that it carries with it the kind of force for individual liberty.

It does not, at least not as it is currently used by the Democrats. Which is why I prefer to refer to them as “progressives.” Today’s classical liberalism leans back right; and as more and more people recognize this, the civil rights narrative can and will change.

To set the ground for this narrative shift, however, it will be necessary for “conservatives” to be equally critical of those who cleave to the “conservative” mantle but whose actions and policy initiatives are no more, oftentimes, than blue-nosed progressivism and rightwing collectivism.

A return to the primacy of the individual—to classical liberal and the legal conservatism that ensure it—are the remedy for the failures of bad (if initially well-intentioned) social policies that for the last 40 or so years have weakened America’s central strength: it’s suggesting that individual liberty, with the attendant equality of opportunity, is the centerpiece for a successful and healthy democratic republic.

George Bush continues to deliver this message to the rest of the world in an effort to defeat global tyranny. It’s time we make that argument more forcefully here, at home, where the drift from such truisms, once adopted and celebrated, is becoming most pronounced.


The context of this is an excellent post about the King funeral and the Democrats' co-opting the civil rights struggle they opposed.

The piece above on John Bolton's moustache is excellent as well

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:22 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

I'm glad to see that Ambassador Bolton's mustache is getting the respect it deserves.
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/151796.php

Posted by: AlexC at February 9, 2006 12:32 PM

February 8, 2006

McCain Lobbying Reform

The other day I blogged about Senator McCain and his lobbyist reform package.

At the time, I had said....

    But somehow, just somehow, something nags in me and says "Reform? Don't trust him."

    Senator McCain is, afterall, one of the fathers of the Campaign Finance Reform shackles which bind personal spending in a most unConstitutional way. Now he's interested in reforming the operation of K Street lobbyists?


and...
    But I can only imagine how this "reform" is going to turn out. We're going to get screwed. The right kind of lobbyist will skate on through.

My friend Tim Chapman over at Townhall went looking around the lobbying reform bill and writes...
    Case in point is a little known provision tucked away in Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) lobby reform proposal (S. 2128) that would adversely affect many grassroots organizations on the right and left. If McCain’s provision stays in tact, grassroots organizations would for the first time be subject to requirements and regulations that would devastate their ability to reach out to the general public.

    The way McCain’s provision is written, “grassroots lobbying” means “any attempt to influence the general public, or segments thereof, to engage in lobbying contacts whether or not those contacts were made on behalf of a client.” So grassroots organizations could be prohibited from reaching out to people not already included in their membership. This legislation would seriously curtail many groups’ abilities to get their message out and arguably infringes on their 1st Amendment free speech rights.


I'll be damned.
    This is not the first time this issue has come up. In 1994, Congress considered enacting legislation but was beat back by a coalition of grassroots organizations featuring a political odd couple: Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life Council.

Being that I'm a member a grassroots group that does at some level in an attempt to influence the general public (see the Pennsylvania legislative payraise and repeal issue this summer), stuff like this really gets under my skin. This group operates at the state level, however.

What is it with Senator McCain and his problem with the First Amendment?

But jk thinks:

Ohhh - I'll take that one! The First Amendment is a huge threat to incumbency. Senator McCain calls himself a Republican but he is really an incumbent.

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2006 10:26 AM
But AlexC thinks:

A friend of mine once told me it's the Incumbent Party vs everyone else.

I'm beginning to believe him.

Posted by: AlexC at February 9, 2006 12:26 PM

Nobel Nominee

Yeah, unapologetic murderer Tookie Williams was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

And so was John Bolton.

    Two Americans who played a major role in exposing Iran's secret nuclear weapons plans have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

    United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and longtime Iran investigator Kenneth R. Timmerman were nominated for their repeated warnings and documentation of Iran's secret nuclear buildup and revealing Iran's "repeated lying" and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    Bolton was formerly U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security and was author of the Proliferation Security Initiative, an international effort to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, which led to the eventual breakup of the secret nuclear network directed by Pakistan nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan. Bolton repeatedly warned of Iran's nuclear plans.


If nomination for a Nobel Prize was a good enough reason to get Tookie off of death row, wouldn't nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize be good enough to get John Bolton an actual appointment with the US Senate for confirmation?

I bet Senator Voinovich was crying again when he heard this news.

United Nations Posted by AlexC at 7:15 PM

Blues for Allah

I've been listening to the Grateful Dead lately.

I'm wondering if there were any Muslim Deadheads and if there was any bad blood about their 1975 release, Blues for Allah.

And who is this guy on the album cover playing the violin? If it's Mohammed there's a real problem. If it's one of the Grateful Dead, an infidel, there's a problem.

Is Allah really into the blues?

Jihad Posted by AlexC at 4:59 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Whoa, dude, you're such an infidel...

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2006 11:00 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Dude... be cool man....I respect the Arab culture.... man... one time there was this dude that had this hookah.... and we fogged up our VW van with hash smoke.... man.... it was soooooo awesome......

Posted by: AlexC at February 9, 2006 12:28 PM

Shareholder Wealth

It's beat dead horses week at ThreeSources -- thanks for playing!

I suggested that the Steelers won the Super Bowl, questioned the resource allocation in the Rhode Island GOP Senate Primary, and had the temerity to say --contra the blogosphere -- that Google should maximize the value for its shareholders, even if that meant kowtowing to the ChiComs on filtering results from its search engine.

Professor Bainbridge takes my side on the last issue (no word from him on the pass interference call)

But does all of this mean that corporate fiduciary duty law should require -- or, at least, allow -- corporate directors and officers to behave in ways Kleiman deems brave or responsible when doing so would be inconsistent with shareholder wealth maximization? I think not.

In the first place, requiring directors to maximize shareholder wealth provides the board of directors with a determinate metric for making business decisions. I often use the following example to explain what I mean by that: Suppose Acme's board of directors is considering closing an obsolete plant. The board is advised that closing the plant will cost many long-time workers their job and be devastating for the local community. On the other hand, the board's advisors confirm that closing the existing plant will benefit Acme's shareholders, new employees hired to work at a more modern plant to which the work previously performed at the old plant will be transferred, and the local communities around the modern plant. Assume that the latter groups cannot gain except at the former groups' expense. By what standard should the board make the decision?

Shareholder wealth maximization provides a clear answer -- close the plant. Once the directors are allowed to deviate from shareholder wealth maximization, however, they must inevitably turn to indeterminate balancing standards. Such standards deprive directors of the critical ability to determine ex ante whether their behavior comports with the law's demands, raising the transaction costs of corporate governance.

Worse yet, absent the clear standard provided by the shareholder wealth maximization norm, the board of directors will be tempted to allow their personal self-interest to dominate their decision making. Put another way, directors who are allowed to consider everybody's interests end up being accountable to no one.


While it is swell to see a company sticking up for values that we admire, the purpose of the capital markets is to direct capital to its best (most efficient) use. without the metric of profit, we will get whatever board members think is important.

Google Posted by John Kranz at 4:34 PM

The Apocolypse Impends

Barry Manilow Tops US Chart

Barry Manilow is back in a big way. The 70s crooner, whose hits started to dry up two decades ago, is this week having the biggest comeback since Rod Stewart and doing it the same way. His new album "Love Songs of the 50’s' is a sure bet to debut at number one in the USA this week.

Good for Angel -- I'm not sure I am feeling too well. Actually, I am happy that these good songs get a hearing.
1. Moments To Remember
2. It's All In The Game
3. Unchained Melody
4. Venus
5. It's Not For Me To Say
6. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing
7. Rags To Riches
8. Sincerely/Teach Me Tonight (Duet with Phyllis McGuire)
9. Are You Lonesome Tonight?
10. Young At Heart
11. All I Have To Do Is Dream
12. What A Diff'rence A Day Made
13. Beyond The Sea

Posted by John Kranz at 3:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Re-doing Unchained Melody is a sacriledge and an affront to me as a music consumer.

I plan on burning down the Manilow embassy in protest.

Posted by: AlexC at February 8, 2006 6:54 PM

The Jewish "Street" Explodes

Jonah Goldberg in The Corner

April 1, 2006. New York -- In response to a series of offensive cartoons published in an Iranian newspaper and subsequently printed in every newspaper around the globe, including many which had refused to publish the now-forgotten "anti-Muslim" cartoons last winter, the "Jewish street" erupted. At Brandeis University, a course on Lesbian motifs in Yiddish literature was briefly interrupted as students asked their professor what he thought about the controversy. In Washington D.C. a flurry of letters to the editor and press releases poured out of Jewish organizations. In New York, Commentary magazine -- a leading organ of the "neoconservative" Jewish Right -- announced it would run three articles on Iran in its next issue as well as an extensive letters section.

"This is outrageous but expected," thundered a furious Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League on a longer-than-normal appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews."

Elsewhere Jewish tempers weren't running so hot. At Artie's Delicatessen on the Upper West Side of New York, Josh Greenberg ate a pastrami sandwich with a friend, Abe Kolman, hoping to avoid all the furor in the Jewish street. "Zabar's is a mad house today," Greenberg observed. When asked about the Iranian newspaper controversy, Greenberg said "What are you going to do?"

Kolman, an orthodontist, added "I'd stop eating Iranian pistachios, I guess."

The White House continued to plead with Jews across America to stay calm.

But AlexC thinks:

Not Jewish, but to show my solidarity, we burned our carpets to stick it to the Iranians.

I always dug hardwood floors anyway.

Posted by: AlexC at February 8, 2006 1:27 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I'm starting to think that the primary employment in the ME for Muslims is 'Riot Mob Participant'. I've seen nearly 0 impact on their economy.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 8, 2006 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Hey, a gig's a gig!

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 4:45 PM

Olympic Dreams

Right on.

A professor of mine from Drexel University is going to the Olympics!

    He saw a cross-country skier from Kenya named Philip Boit, dead last and completely exhausted, collapse into the arms of the gold-medal winner, Bjorn Daehlie, who had crossed the finish line in the 10-kilometer event 20 minutes earlier.

    For some reason, it all looked like fun to Nagvajara, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Drexel University.

    "He's my hero," Nagvajara said of the Kenyan. "So I had a goal. It became my endeavor that I should start training and maybe go to the next Olympics."

    Nagvajara put it all together. Boit was from a warm-weather climate, yet he performed in a Winter Olympics. The professor is from Thailand, where the temperature is typically in the 80s year-round and where a pair of skis is, well, probably the least considered mode of transportation. If Boit could do it, why couldn't he?

    Sure enough, he did. After receiving sponsorship from the Thai government and competing in Olympic qualifying events, Nagvajara represented Thailand in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. "It was like a dream," he said.


Dr Nagvajara had the best class at Drexel ever.

Microcontrollers. It was a class on programming Legos. No kidding. This was in 98-ish, so the first generation of Lego Mindstorms hadn't yet come out. They were controlled by a 68000 series CPU with a couple of inputs and outputs and they controlled motors, sensors, etc. Programming in C and Assembler.

The final project was to create a robot that navigated a rock strewn course, memorized it, then ran it as fast as possible.

My partner and I won. We were the only team that completed it.

On completion, the robot did a little jig. My final grade for that class was OVER 100.
Which is about 30 points more than my other classes. At least the ones I passed or didn't drop.

One more horn toot, while I'm at it. My class attendance was pretty lousy, and skipped it more than I should have. I was planning on skipping it one day but figured, what the hell, I'll go anyway. I showed up 10 minutes late to the mid-term. I took the test and was the first to leave... ... and I scored the highest.

Anyway, congratulations for getting to the Olympics, Dr Nagvajara. Getting there is a victory!

    Nagvajara had the honor of carrying Thailand's flag in the opening ceremonies. He was an easy selection for the honor because he was the lone representative of the country, and he will be again next month at the Turin Games, carrying the flag and competing in the 15K cross-country ski event.

    "I hope someday Thailand will have more than one athlete for the Winter Olympics," he said. "That they'll have a team."

    Nagvajara is not out to win a medal. He knows that's impossible, but he'll be better prepared than he was four years ago, when he was lapped in the 30K and therefore automatically disqualified. "I should have lasted longer, but I didn't do my thing," he said. "And the rule is if the leader catches you, you're out. He caught me."

But jk thinks:

Great post -- go Dr Nagvajara! Dust those Knordic Know-it-alls!

(We have a higher percentage of engineering types around here than Republicans. Every technical-type I know has a fond memory of a "Hard America" class in which he/she was allowed to excel. And most remember a contest or competition. Just an observation.)

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 10:49 AM
But AlexC thinks:

"Hard America?" Sounds like an adult film.

Seriously. That was the best part of my college. It immersed you in Hard America immediately. You had to do 18-months of co-op to graduate. Nothing exposes you to reality than being in it.
Of course I dug reality so much, I dropped out to work full-time.

Posted by: AlexC at February 8, 2006 1:15 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I suspect I might be the tipping point in that percentage? (being an engineer but not a Republican)

Spot on observation JK, for me, an ME, it was building a water tower. My team won the strength to weight ratio as I figured out how to make a joint that angled out in two directions with just pieces of angle iron - water tank was 2'x2' and the base was 3'x3' but we had only angle iron and flat iron to bolt together.

Alex also points out the other consequence - the lure to ditch school. I interned at McDonnell Douglas my 4 summers of college which had the intended consequence of teaching me about the real world and the unintended one of showing me how little relation much of my coursework had to that world. Theory gives you the basis of understanding, but without the ability to apply it doesn't get you very far.

Now if I could just find ancestry to some small country without an Olympic team...

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 8, 2006 6:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I know a frequent commenter whom I suspect would call himself a Republican, but is a English Lit'richure dude, so maybe it's even. Two droputs though -- we've got something going...

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 6:47 PM

February 7, 2006

The New Franz Ferdinand

When Gavrilo Princip pulled the trigger to kill Austria's Archduke Ferdinand I don't think anyone thought that his action would lead to a bloody war lasting four years encompassing most of the world's nations.

The actual causes of the war between the Allies and the Axis powers were simmering for a while.

Ten or fifteen years from now, will we remember "Jyllands-Posten" in the same way?

The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back?

Jihad Posted by AlexC at 7:18 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Silence Dogood thinks:

That right there is the truly scary question.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 8, 2006 6:30 PM
But jk thinks:

WW One is the weakest part of my admittedly weak historical knowledge, but my reading is that a generation died and no constructive good was done. I'll sit still for a correction if it's warranted.

My fear is that that is the other parallel -- a clash of civilizations without an outcome.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 6:52 PM

Rhode Island - Senate

It's time for another episode of the left wing's favorite TV, "Internecine". Where generally agreeable free-market capitalist types feast on their own to find out who reigns supreme.

The opening volley begins with an editorial from the National Review.

    The argument that conservatives should support Chafee rests entirely on the assumption that he's the only Republican who can win in Rhode Island. This logic may be what has led the National Republican Senatorial Committee to continue throwing resources behind him. The assumption may or may not be true, but, whatever the case, it is far from clear that the GOP — to say nothing of conservatives — gains anything from Chafee's continued presence in the Senate. When votes really matter, he can't be counted on. Positions such as the one he took on Alito allow Democrats and the media to speak of "bipartisan opposition" to the Bush administration. And if the GOP's majority ever depended on Chafee alone, there's every reason to believe he'd bolt the party, just as James Jeffords of Vermont did in 2001.

    There is an alternative. Steven Laffey, the Republican mayor of Cranston, is running against Chafee in the September primary. His underdog campaign has shown both pluck and promise. Laffey has a track record of winning Democratic votes: That's the only way he could have been elected two times as mayor of Cranston, a city of about 80,000 residents, most of them Democrats. But on key issues, Laffey is a conservative: He supports tax cuts and the war in Iraq, opposes corporate welfare and other forms of wasteful spending, and is pro-life. The Club for Growth has decided to back him. His campaign has unfortunately chosen to bash "Big Oil" in some of its early advertising — but, as we said, it's difficult to be a Republican in Rhode Island.


Nothing quite like picking at a scab. Read their whole editorial.

But jk thinks:

I had opposed this before on the grounds that Chafee votes for GOP leadership in the Senate and I think that the NR folks gloss over that lightly and that Committee Chairpersonships are important. Before Jeffords, the Democrats tried Chafee and he held.

The Club For Growth and certainly jk have limited resources to spend on elections. My point remains that there are better plays out there than Laffey's primary bid.

The editorial made me even less enthused after I read that Laffey is bashing big oil in his early ads. That portends poorly in a state where there will be intense pressure to "grow" in office; he might grow into a new Lincoln Chafee!

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2006 7:23 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Well bashing big oil doesn't make him any different than Arlen Specter. http://www.threesources.com/archives/002323.html
.. and you defended him.

What important is what NRO outlined where Laffey beats Chafee.
"He supports tax cuts and the war in Iraq, opposes corporate welfare and other forms of wasteful spending"

Spirit of '94.

Posted by: AlexC at February 8, 2006 12:44 AM
But jk thinks:

Scurrilous charge! I believe that I have said exactly ONE nice thing about Senator Specter in four years of blogging. That was a well deserved kudo for his handling of the Alito hearings (where I was joined by many conservatives including Sugar Chuck who had convinced me to support the Toomey primary bid [which I did]).

I supported the Toomey bid because Specter was set to chair the Judiciary Committee and I didn't expect the future kudos I'd be sending his way.

I would support a primary against Voinovich in Ohio; I would not mind trying to bump Hegel in Nebraska (although a perusal of his voting record in the Almanac looks good). States where you could conceivably take out a wishy-washy-lican and have a good shot at electing a real conservative -- I'm in!

I'll even applaud a Quixotic thrust at a Chafee, Snowe, or Collins. I'm just going to spend my money where I feel it will have a better impact.

Defending Specter, jeez, the abuse I take around here...

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 10:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Over the weekend I heard Voinovich say nice things about John Bolton - no more tears! Still think he should go? (I don't know much more about him, I'm just askin'.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2006 10:48 AM
But jk thinks:

"Lachrymose George" came on my radar the day insisted that the final committee version of the 2003 tax cuts could not exceed $350 Billion or he wouldn't support them. From The Almanac of American Politics:

"Voinovich came to the Senate, after 32 years in public office, as a big government Republican, willing to back tax increases as he did in 1992 but dubious about cutting them, as he was in 1999 and 2000. In his previous positions he had been required to balance budgets, and he seemed viscerally repelled by deficits. In 1999 he voted against the Republicans' $792 billion tax cut, against the smaller Democratic tax cut, and against the bipartisan moderates' compromise tax cut. In April 2000 he was one of two Republicans to vote against the Republican budget. In July 2000 he was one of four Republicans to vote against estate tax repeal and the only Republican to vote against marriage penalty relief. He did support the Bush tax cuts in May 2001, when it looked as if the surplus would be permanent. In October 2001 he worked to scale back the tax cuts in House Republicans' stimulus package. In February 2003 he came out against the $700 billion Bush tax cut and in April he and Olympia Snowe insisted they would back no cut higher than $350 billion. That led Finance Chairman Charles Grassley and Majority Leader Bill Frist to say they would insist on that figure from conference, to the rage of the House Republican leadership."

EEEW! Again, browsing the "key votes," his other votes look pretty good: no to an ANWR ban, Yes to Iraq war funding. I'd take points off for backing an Assault Weapons ban, shrug my shoulders at a "Y" on same-sex marriage ban. He opposed Roe V. Wade and supported a partial-birth abortion ban -- I doubt if either votes gets him support from JohnGalt.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 11:11 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Ok, maybe defended was too harsh a term.

Oh, here's some more commentary this AM.
http://www.eaglepub.com/evans_and_novak.html
"Republicans in Rhode Island say that Sen. Chafee had given private assurances that he would be supporting the Alito Supreme Court nomination. His reversal on this issue drew a public rebuke from his most reluctant supporter, popular Gov. Don Carcieri (R), and endangers him in his primary race against Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey (R). Laffey must now be considered the narrow frontrunner in the Republican Senate primary after crossing the $1-million mark and outraising Chafee in individual contributions for the quarter."

Posted by: AlexC at February 8, 2006 12:29 PM

A Chill Wind


I don't ever want to hear about the Bush Adminstration silencing it's critics.

It's embarrassingly stupid. Especially in light of this.

    The outspoken Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, ripped into President Bush during his short speech, ostensibly about the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.

    "She extended Martin's message against poverty, racism and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. We know now that there were no weapons of mass destruction over there," Lowery said.

    The mostly black crowd applauded, then rose to its feet and cheered in a two-minute-long standing ovation.

    A closed-circuit television in the mega-church outside Atlanta showed the president smiling uncomfortably.


Not to be outdone, former President Jimmy Carter got two punches in.
    Former President Jimmy Carter later swung at Bush as well, not once but twice. As he talked about the Kings, he said: "It was difficult for them then personally with the civil liberties of both husband and wife violated as they became the target of secret government wiretaps." The crowd cheered as Bush, under fire for a secret wiretapping program he ordered after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, again smiled weakly.

First was the political spectacle that was known as Paul Wellstone's Memorial, Ron Reagan Jr at his father's funeral, and now Coretta Scott Kings. For the liberal left in this country, everything is political. Funerals be damned, as long as we can get a shot in.

But jk thinks:

Disgusting! The video I saw (Brit Hume's show on FOXNews) came off worse than the stories I read. "No weapons of mass destruction over there [thunderous applause] but weapons of mass indirection over here [applause]"

Sad.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2006 7:27 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I don't know why I read dailyKos.
But apparently, politicking at funerals if A.O.K.
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/2/8/64526/73433

This front page article even says "Please politicize my funeral!"
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/2/8/13445/37904

Posted by: AlexC at February 8, 2006 12:31 PM

Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash

Looks like a great opportunity to meet the local hoi polloi of punditry -- who wants to join me?

Rocky Mountain Bloggers Bash

But zombyboy thinks:

Well, I know that I'm going to be there.

Posted by: zombyboy at February 7, 2006 2:32 PM

Framing the Debate

In the 70's the looming climatological disaster was global cooling.

Then in the 80's and 90's it was global warming.

Now the meme is "climate change" so that any change direction of the trend is bad.

... and the culprit was always humans.

On it's face it's laughable. We've had ice ages... we've had warm ages in the past (think dinosaur times for the obvious one)... the only climate related constant is the drive for more money for research.

Anyway... here's another theory on "climate change."

    A Russian astronomer has predicted that Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity.

    Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg said Monday that temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak, RIA Novosti reported.

    The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said.


Smoke 'em if you got 'em. It's gonna get cold!!!!

But jk thinks:

I grew up fearing overpopulation and global cooling (and of course, killer bees).

Now the cradle of liberty is set to fall from underpopulation and folks are trying to convince me of global warming. But I'm still afraid of bees...

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2006 1:27 PM
But Sensible Mom thinks:

Thank goodness for the supposed global warming now so we can have something fond to think of when the cooling begins. When will the "experts" like Al Gore finally realize that the changes in the Earth's temperature have more to do with the sun'd output than anything else?

Someone better let Gore know we're not going to burn up after all.

Posted by: Sensible Mom at February 7, 2006 3:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Driving a convertible (http://www.berkeleysquarejazz.com/blog/archives/001133.html), I am counting on the rest of you to keep the planet warmed up!

I had the top down once in January and a bit this afternoon. I plan to drive top down in every month of 2006. Thank you, fossil fuel.

Have to go with "Sensible Mom." (very good blog, follow the link.) I feel that climate is based on solar output. The Wall Street Journal once traced more than a thousand years of tree-ring-width projections of temperature against solar reverse-predicted flares and saw impressive correlation.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2006 7:11 PM

They Have Eyes But Cannot See

Tucker Carlson had two very instructive interviews last night, both concerning the Danish Cartoon War (great as the words contretemps, kerfuffle, imbroglio, and l'affaire Cartoon are, I like the term "Cartoon War.")

First he spoke with Chicago Tribune Managing Editor James O'Shea about his paper's refusal to publish the cartoons. Carlson was upset that MSNBC would not allow him to show the cartoons, and O'Shea defended his paper's "unwillingness to offend sensibilities" [I am paraphrasing, but pretty accurately for a change]. Carlson repeatedly pointed out that you cannot really understand the story if you cannot see them, and pointed out that nobody hesitated to copy the Rolling Stone cover with Kanye West as Jesus. O'Shea held his ground, talked about how brave his reporters in the field are, and did not concede that cowardice played a part in this editorial decision.

After the interview, Carlson said "in twenty years, when nobody reads newspapers anymore, you can show that interview to anybody who wants to know why."

Next up was Rachel Maddow, from Air America. She is on almost every show. She is reflexively left-wing and anti-Republican. But she thankfully does not have the bilious, vicious nature of so many on her far left side of the world. She straight facedly drew equivalence between "Our fundamentalists" and "Their fundamentalists." Carlson rarely speaks for me, but he was perfect last night, saying that Jesse Helms and Bill Bennett try to cut federal funding for the NEA whereas they burn buildings and that many European journalists are hiding for their life. Maddow wasn't buying for a minute. All fundamentalists are bad, how can you think ours are benign?

So the Cartoon War clarifies many things. But only to those who will see.

BTW, if you still ain't seen them, Tim Blair has the infamous illos here. Burn my house down, I linked!

But AlexC thinks:

The lesson the be learned here..

If you're offended by something, light fires and destroy things. Some of the offenders (or their friends) will give you a pass and profusely apologize.

Posted by: AlexC at February 7, 2006 1:32 PM

Alaska Pork

John Fund has an article up on OpinionJournal skewering the Alaska delegation to Washington over their taste for the other white meat.

    Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens, who has spent 37 years in Congress raiding the federal Treasury on behalf of his state, dismisses the notion that anything should threaten Alaska's status as the No. 1 state for pork. In 2005, it hauled in $984.85 worth of pork for every resident.

    Last week Mr. Stevens went so far as to chide Capitol Hill reporters for even listening to earmark critics such as Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn. "You guys fall for it and give them publicity," he said, and no one can doubt his authority. If anyone knows about publicity, it's the man who gave his name to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.


It's a well done serving of red meat for fiscal conservatives and pork opponents but goes tragically astray over one of the two proposed bridges to nowhere.
    Another beneficiary of Governor Murkowski's decision to plow the state's share of federal transportation dollars into bridges is a controversial $223 million span near Anchorage that would connect that city with a nearly deserted port. The bridge will be called Don Young's Way after Alaska's lone House member, who also serves as chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
    It could be Don Young's way in more senses than that. The Anchorage Daily News reports that Art Nelson, Mr. Young's son-in-law, is part owner of 60 acres of what he described as "beautiful property" on land that will be opened up to development by the bridge.

    "A bridge would change everything," reported the Daily News. "Don Young's Way would . . . make the land much more valuable." Mr. Nelson, told the paper he did discuss his partial acquisition of the 60 acres with Mr. Young.


The land ownership and ridiculous naming questions aside, Mr Fund is altering the debate of the bridge in a way that the anti-ANWR forces demagogue that issue. They simply do not know what they are talking about, likely out of ignorance of Alaskan geography.

See this map of the area. It should be immediately clear to even non-civil engineers where to build the bridge.

Yes it is true that currently the other side of the bridge is barely functioning port. But scarely 10 miles north of that abandoned port, across relatively flat land (which used to be farm land) is Alaska's fastest growing area. Given the exponentially rising land values in Anchorage (which is all built out), the only logical place to move is there. The current commute for a resident in the Mat-Su valley to Anchorage is at least 40 miles, and could be as much as 60.

With a bridge connecting the city to the suburbs, the commute time would drop, but more importantly more people would move there. This is good if you're looking to move to Alaska, but bad if you're a Anchorage land owner.

With the facts straightened out, only one question remains. Who should pay for the bridge?

Given the fact that the bridge is in Alaska, solely for Alaskans, it's hard to argue that the bridge should be built with a majority of federal dollars.

My Alaska friends would argue that the federal government built the highway system for the lower 48, so now it's their turn. ... and to be fair, I'd argue the same, if I were going to be the beneficiary of a large government project.

But detaching yourself from it, two wrongs never make a right. Not even if your Senator has been there for 37 years.

But johngalt thinks:

Whaddaya mean, AlexC? There's nothing in New Orleans but a barely functioning port and yet the federal government is cheerfully ponying up hundreds of billions in OPM to fix what Katrina did to the joint plus much, much more.

Personally I think the federal interstate highway system was a good thing, but the precedent it set that all mega-scale infrastructure projects are funded by national tax dollars was hardly worth the trade. Projects IN cities should be paid for BY cities.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2006 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

This may be "Folk Eisenhowerism," but I was told that President Eisenhower made the case for the Interstate Highway program on military/defense grounds. Not only must every N miles of highway have to have a straight section on which a plane could land, but that he roads were deemed necessary for troop and equipment movement.

Don't know that many wanted to fight the General too hard on this.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2006 5:29 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK. True story. It's named.... Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways

More at Wikipedia... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_highway_system

Posted by: AlexC at February 7, 2006 6:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I'm aware of the national defense case for the interstate system. But are you aware that Eisenhower's Secretary of Defense, Charles Erwin Wilson, was President of General Motors when Ike tapped him for the post? All that asphalt screams for cars, cars, cars to drive on it.

(As I said, I STILL think it was a good idea, but this is part of the big picture. And, it contributed to the federal funding habit I also mentioned.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2006 11:00 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

How about bridges connecting all the Hawaiian islands? Let's not leave the 50th state out of this...

Poor Sen. Stevens, he has even been denounced by Sen. Byrd for excessive pork, now that's gotta hurt.

On a serious note, what if you looked at the Interstate system as an investment in infrastructure? If you could calculate the ROI based on the development it spawned I wonder what it would be? I think you could make a similar case for Rural Electrification, the California Aqueduct, the space program, and certainly the Internet. I am not saying that the residential, retail, and industrial development of the area north of Anchorage will bring in enough federal tax dollars to pay for the bridge, but it should at least be counted in the equation.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 8, 2006 6:53 PM

February 6, 2006

2007 Budget

2.7 trillion dollars

Bigger than ever.

*sigh*


Senator McCain

Arizona's Senator John McCain writes a fine letter to Senator Barack Obama regarding lobbyist reform legislation.

    Dear Senator Obama:

    I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere. When you approached me and insisted that despite your leadership’s preference to use the issue to gain a political advantage in the 2006 elections, you were personally committed to achieving a result that would reflect credit on the entire Senate and offer the country a better example of political leadership, I concluded your professed concern for the institution and the public interest was genuine and admirable. Thank you for disabusing me of such notions with your letter to me dated February 2, 2006, which explained your decision to withdraw from our bipartisan discussions. I’m embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble. Again, sorry for the confusion, but please be assured I won’t make the same mistake again.


You should read the whole thing, really.

It's good red meat for the base.

But somehow, just somehow, something nags in me and says "Reform? Don't trust him."

Senator McCain is, afterall, one of the fathers of the Campaign Finance Reform shackles which bind personal spending in a most unConstitutional way. Now he's interested in reforming the operation of K Street lobbyists?

I'll give the Senator credit for reaching across the aisle to reform the system. Especially to a rising Democrat star. I'll even give him more credit for giving the junior Senator from Illinois a public drubbing.

But I can only imagine how this "reform" is going to turn out. We're going to get screwed. The right kind of lobbyist will skate on through.

But Sugarchuck thinks:

McCain's Senator Souljah moment... sound and fury signifying nothing. Count me out. If this guy were to get the GOP nod I'll be staying home next election.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at February 7, 2006 10:47 AM
But jk thinks:

Y'know, McCain drives me absolutely nuts with his sanctimonious senatitus, poor economic judgment, and his unconstitutionally awful "Campaign Finance Reform."

But he would be an AWESOME Commander-in-Chief for the terror war, and I have little doubt that the Democrats will find somebody much worse.

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2006 1:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Disabuse! That's it! I was trying to remember that goram word all weekend. Thank you Senator.

Opinions of McCain aside, there's got to be some fire beneath this smoke. If there's one thing that Senators never, never, EVER do, it is to violate the Senate's "Decorum Doctrine." And in WRITING no less! This letter is unprecedented.

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2006 3:31 PM

Media Bias

Via email...

    The Pope is visiting Washington DC and President Bush takes him out for an afternoon on the Potomac sailing on the presidential yacht, the Sequoia.

    They are followed by several boats with secret servicemen and the press from every network and newspaper. They're admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water. Secret service guys start to launch a boat, but Bush waves them off, saying, "Wait, I'll take care of this. Don't worry."

    Bush then steps off the yacht onto the surface of the water and walks out to the Holy Father's little hat, bends over and picks it up, then walks back across the water to the yacht and climbs aboard. He hands the hat to the Pope amid stunned silence.

    The next morning the topic of conversation among Democrats on the Hill and all the liberal media, such as; CNN, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News, the New York & L.A. Times is................"BUSH CAN'T SWIM "


I actually offended my Catholic sensibilities.

RIOT!

On the web Posted by AlexC at 7:30 PM

Would jk like an elitist?

Michael Barone has some somewhat harsh words for one of my economic heroes: Joseph Alois Schumpeter.

Is our republican democracy, then, entirely squalid? Not really, or not so it should bother us, says Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, the most prolific federal judge, who seems to write almost as many books as he does judicial opinions. In his 2005 book Law, Pragmatism and Democracy, Judge Posner nominates as the Virgil to guide us through our Inferno and Purgatorio the Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter. Schumpeter — hardly a sympathetic figure — was an elitist who believed the achievements of capitalism were threatened by the greed and ignorance of the masses. But he supported popular electoral democracy — a controversial stand in the Mitteleuropa of the 1920s — if only to give the masses a sense that they were in control. "Democracy," as Posner describes Schumpeter's view, "is conceived of as a method by which members of a self-interested political elite compete for the votes of a basically ignorant and apathetic, as well as determinedly self-interested, electorate."

Judge Posner revives Schumpeter's theory of politics because he is annoyed that "without it there are no wholehearted academic defenders of the most successful political system since the Roman Empire!"

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 6:05 PM

Danes in Iran

The cartoon conflagration grows.

    A crowd of about 400 demonstrators threw petrol bombs at the Danish embassy in Tehran and tried to break into it on Monday night in a protest over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

    To chants of "God is Greatest" and "Death to America" the crowd tried to break down the metal gate entrance to the embassy, which sits behind a high wall in a residential district of northern Tehran, a Reuters correspondent said.

    Riot police fired teargas to disperse the crowd but at least three protesters managed to scale the barbed-wire topped wall and get into the compound.


Good to see that the police are trying to manage the situation.
    The embassy had been evacuated ahead of the pre-announced protest organised by the Basij, a volunteer militia affiliated to Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards.

Of course, an ounce of prevention would have gone a long way here. I can't imagine why you would evacuate a building if it was only going to be a protest.

Jihad Posted by AlexC at 5:42 PM

Freegans

Kojinshugi has a link to the new craze all the cool kids will pursue this year: Freeganism, or getting your free vegan food out of the dumpster so you don't support any of those evil corporations. Sam is rather hard on the movement, daring to point out that this only works because they are living in a rich society with surplus food, else they would have to "grow their own garbage." He confronts his new countrymen who claim that there is hunger in Canada and does a nice riff on what these people say they want:

We've already tried a system where everyone gets a 'fair' share of the pie. It's called communism, and it doesn't work for the blindingly obvious reason that if given the choice between $1000 a month for mountain-climbing or yodeling which takes 0 years of education, and $1000 a month for 12 years of medical training preceding the grueling and high-responsibility profession of trauma surgeon, most everyone will pick the former, and we end up with a society full of yodeling paraplegics.


But johngalt thinks:

Peter Boyles (whose name is not supposed to be uttered on these pages) interviewed a Freegan on his radio show this morning. The guy lives "at home" with "his family," which we found meant his grandparents and his dad. For breakfast he had "not much in the way of breakfast, just a cup of tea." The tea came from a supermarket dumpster - Christmas seasonal tea, you see. They had to pitch it when the calendar flipped over. And the hot water came, "straight from the tap." Riiight. Piping hot, no "discarded electricity" or "out of date natural gas" was required to bring the "hey, look at this shit that just comes out of this pipe for free!" water to the required temperature for brewing.

Hell, why doesn't he just plug grandpa's Prius into the perpetual motion machine some dumbass threw in the trash and drive around the country trying to find out just where in the hell his mother and sisters went, anyway?

Freddie frackin' freeloader Freegan needs some quality time in "hard America."

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2006 11:21 PM
But jk thinks:

1) Heh! I nominate this for best ThreeSources comment ever.

2) No, Voldemort Boyles can be named, I was just name-dropping.

3) I was in a band with a guy who loved "tap water coffee:" instant out of the "H." Yum.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 11:19 AM

Taxation By State

Ever wonder how your state compares to another tax wise?
Now you can check.

I think I find myself taxed higher than my Colorado friends.

Damn it!

I also include Alaska for comparison to a low tax state. But keep in mind it gets quite a lot of it's government revenue from oil taxation as well as having Ted Stevens representing them in the Senate.

See below for details.

Some quick comparisions.
Alaska
State Sales Tax: None; Local municipalities collect a sales tax that ranges between 1% and 6%.
Gasoline Tax: 8 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 8 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: None
Cigarette Tax: $1.60/pack of 20
No state income tax
Retirement Income: Not taxed.
Property taxes are assessed in 25 of 161 municipalities. Homeowners 65 and older (or surviving spouses 60 and older) are exempt from municipal taxes on the first $150,000 of the assessed value of their property. This also applies to disabled veterans. Intangible personal property is exempt from taxation.
There is no inheritance tax and the estate tax is limited to federal estate tax collection.

COLORADO
State Sales Tax: 2.9% (food and prescription drugs exempt); many cities and counties have their own rates which are added to the state rate. Total could be as high as 9.9%.
Gasoline Tax: 22 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 20.5 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: 22 cents/gallon
Cigarette Tax: 84 cents/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes
All taxpayers: 4.63% of Federal taxable income
Personal Exemptions/Credits: Federal amounts are automatically adopted.
Standard Deduction: None
Medical/Dental Deduction: Federal amount
Federal Income Tax Deduction: None
Retirement Income Taxes: Taxpayers 55-64 years old can exclude a total of $20,000 for Social Security and qualified retirement income. Those 65 and over can exclude up to $24,000. All out-of-state government pensions qualify for the pension exemption.
Retired Military Pay: Same as above.
Military Disability Retired Pay: Disability Portion - Length of Service Pay; Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless combat incurred. Retired Pay - Based solely on disability: Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless all pay based on disability and disability resulted from armed conflict, extra-hazardous service, simulated war, or an instrumentality of war.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Not subject to federal or state taxes
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes
The county assessor determines the value of property using a market, cost or income approach. Property taxes are assessed on a percentage of the property's actual value. You can determine your property tax bill by multiplying the assessed value by the local tax rate.

A homestead exemption for qualifying seniors and the surviving spouse of a senior who previously qualified is available. Seniors must be at least age 65. It allows 50% (up to a maximum reduction of $100,00) in actual value of a primary residence to be exempt. The state pays the tax on the exempted value. The person must have owned and lived in the home for at least 10 years. The senior property tax exemption was suspended for 2003-2005 and will be available again beginning in 2006. Call 303-866-2371 for details or visit http://www.dola.state.co.us/.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
There is no inheritance tax and the Colorado estate tax is limited to federal estate tax collection.

PENNSYLVANIA
Sales Taxes
State Sales Tax: 6% (food; clothing, text books, heating fuels, prescription and non-prescription drugs exempt) Other taxing entities may add up to 1%.
Gasoline Tax: 32.2 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 34.0 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: 32.2 cents/gallon
Cigarette Tax: $1.35/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes
Tax Rate Range: Flat rate of 3.07%
Personal Tax Exemptions: None
Standard Deduction: None
Medical/Dental Deduction: None
Federal Income Tax Deduction: None
Retirement Income Taxes: At 59½, Social Security, civil service, state/local government, and private pensions are exempt. IRAs are exempt as are out-of-state government pensions.
Retired Military Pay: Not taxed after age 59 1/2.
Military Disability Retired Pay:
Disability Portion - Length of Service Pay; Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless combat incurred. Retired Pay - Based solely on disability: Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless all pay based on disability and disability resulted from armed conflict, extra-hazardous service, simulated war, or an instrumentality of war.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Not subject to federal or state taxes
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes
Property taxes are levied by local governments (counties, municipalities and school districts). The tax cannot exceed 30 mills on the assessed valuation of the property without special permission from the courts. Households with claimants or spouses 65 years of age or older, widows or widowers 50 years of age or older and the permanently disabled 18 years of age or older meeting income eligibility requirements may qualify for this program. Rebates of paid property tax or rent, up to a maximum of $500 per year, are available. To qualify, annual household eligibility income must not exceed $15,000. Act 30-1999 expanded the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program by excluding 50% of Social Security payments and 50% of Railroad Retirement benefit payments from eligibility income. Call 717-787-8201 for details. Counties may levy an intangible personal property tax, which taxes stocks, bonds and other personal property taxpayers may own. Not all counties levy this tax.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
The Pennsylvania inheritance tax is calculated at a percentage of the value of the assets transferred which is determined by the relationship of the heir to the decedent and the decedent's date of death. The tax rate is 4.5% for transfers to direct descendants (lineal heirs), 12% for transfers to siblings, and 15% for transfers to other heirs (except charitable organizations, exempt institutions, and government entities). Property owned jointly between husband and wife is exempt from the tax, while property inherited from a spouse, or from a child 21 or younger by a parent is exempt. The estate tax is related to federal estate tax collection.

But jk thinks:

We elected Democratic majorities in both State houses in 2004 and only Gov. Owens veto pen keeps us from insanity. We also voted to "temporarily" suspend the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TaBOR). I fear we'll be catching you soon enough

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2006 5:38 PM

jk attacks an American City

A friendly disagreement has erupted on these pages. I should probably let it be, but I have had this sizable quantity of gasoline lying around for a month, and I think it's time to toss it on the fire.

Dagny & Johngalt have chosen to exhibit Dagny's hometown pride by supporting the football team who wears the colors of Hamas. Surprising, but hometown allegiances can be strong and I think that Tocqueville would approve.

I say an eleven point differential in the National Football League is determinate; they claim officiating had too prominent a role in the game's outcome.

More concerning to me is that her hometown has been lost to the moonbats. I hate to beat up on a great American city -- and I love to visit, but I must point out:

  • Mandatory Recycling has deputized garbage-truck drivers to issue fines against homeowners. Bad Law, bad economics.

  • They send Rep Jim McDermott to Congress, when he's not busy propping up dictators, or leaking illegal wire taps "On the eve of the 2004 election, the judge found McDermott guilty of violating the federal wiretapping law and ordered that he pay $60,000 in damages and $500,000 in attorneys' fees;"

  • They went 79-19% for Kerry in 2004

All for civc pride, but is there a chance it is misplaced?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:18 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Sugarchuck thinks:

I don't feel that I had a dog in that fight but it was pretty clear to me that Seattle had a touchdown taken away and Pittsburg had one given to them. This was a touchdown the Steelers probably would have gotten on the next play, running the Bus up the middle. Holmgren has a problem with clocks and that hurt Seattle. As to the moonbats... they weren't watching anyway. They were probably catching up on Cindy Sheehan or tearing their garments in solidarity with the islamofacists whose carts were so rudely tipped by the Dutch cartoonists. Or they might have been drinking really expensive coffe and basking in the glory of thier superiority.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at February 6, 2006 5:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Colors of Hamas?" "Civic pride?" Surely you are above ad hominem, JK. Or do you only root for the Steelers because they're based in a city plagued by acid rain, tarriff supported unionized wage and hour controlled defined benefit pension modernization averse industry and, by the way, they wear the colors of your dreaded killer bees?

In discussions with Dagny I pointed out that, technically, Darrell Jackson did violate the rule by putting his hand on the defender before catching the pass. She replied, "No, you're wrong" (a not uncommon refrain) "because nine times out of ten that contact is not penalized. It's called 'incidental contact.'" She's right, of course. ("Usually," she'd say.) In order for a rule to be just it must be objective and knowable. (Hmmm, where have I heard that before.) So the rules that players live by all season long are all of a sudden no longer valid in the sport's biggest game?

And the Rothlisberger goal line rush was ruled a touchdown on the field, and also after reviewing the tape from 22 different cameras, because the ball crossed the goal line after Ben bellyflopped. Or, was it because it broke the plane of the goal line BEFORE he hit the turf? We'll never know. Why? Because the replay ruling was, "the play stands as called." (Now play ball and stop complaining!) So, in the sport's biggest game, where even halftime has to take twice as long as in a normal game, we don't even get an EXPLANATION of the ruling? An explanation we're accustomed to in regular season games? I don't know about you but I smell fish, and it ain't the Seahawks' breath!

I heard someone mention on the radio that in those "what the Super Bowl means to me" spots during the game, when players fondled the Lombardi trophy and told us their innermost feelings, ALL of them involved Steelers players or coaches. None were with Seahawks. This is consistent with my recollection but I'll have to review my accidental DVR copy of the broadcast to confirm. If true then an objective observer would have to say, "HMMMM." Unless of course the game was on a four-and-a half-hour broadcast delay. Who's got the crystal ball? (Mad conspiracy theory left open for now...)

Posted by: johngalt at February 7, 2006 4:11 PM
But jk thinks:

I am mixing my frivolous and silly comments ("I think a Weekly Standard writer called Pittsburgh an all-American city against the "colors of Hamas")

To be fair, Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard is on your side (see "Worst Super Bowl Ever? http://galleyslaves.blogspot.com/2006/02/worst-super-bowl-ever.html). But he just another disgruntled Eagles Fan.

I still think the Steelers won. Were the final score narrower, I'd be more inclined to consider inequities.

But I had wanted to discuss the mandatory recycling, the stolen gubernatorial election, and McDermott's incumbency. I do love the city, but they really start to make Berkeley and New Haven look like bastions of freedom.

Posted by: jk at February 8, 2006 11:31 AM

The Cartoon War

That's what Austin Bay calls it.

At first take the name The Cartoon War may suggest something comic, exaggerated, or surreal. Those elements are in play– definitely in play. Cartoon and War are a collision, words that should not appear in the same serious sentence. They are a collision of values. But that’s the core of this, isn’t it? Likewise, the very real violence and anger add a heavy, instructive irony. The war between open and closed societies is not superficial, exaggerated, or surreal. The imagination is a battlefield. On a “technologically-compressed planet” the small and mundane –the cartoon– can quickly inflame; in a world of unfiltered, borderless information “the imagined” can have extraordinary consequences.

I laughed when I saw the headline "Cartoon Protests Turn Deadly." It seemed absurd. Of course, it is but absurd in a way that life and the enemies of freedom -- our enemies in the terror war -- are absurd.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 2:44 PM

They're Baaaaack!

[Do we need a Union category?]

The WSJ Ed Page brings bad tidings from public-sector union land. One of the great domestic achievements of conservative polity in this country is in jeopardy.

I was never so proud to be a Republican than I was the day President Reagan dissolved the PATCO union for an illegal strike. "I didn't fire anyone, they quit," our fortieth president accurately observed. Thanks to our forty-second, they're back, they're bad, and they have political cover and power:

Thanks for the union's new whip hand goes to the Clinton Administration, which in 1996 chose to reward labor for its election support with legislation that gave Natca the right to bargain over its wages and benefits. This was a remarkable grant of power; most federal unions have their pay set by the government. Natca quickly used its new power to take the Clinton FAA to the cleaners with a 1998 contract that broke new records for taxpayer-funded largesse. Could this be what Vice President Al Gore meant when he pledged in 1993 to "reinvent government?"

Controller compensation through 2005 increased by 75%, and today averages $166,000. The top 100 FAA controllers earn $197,000 a year, making them better paid than cabinet secretaries (and $35,000 a year richer than FAA Administrator Marion Blakey). These wage increases are double the rate of private industry, airline pilots and other FAA employees. They have also cost taxpayers an additional $1.86 billion since 1998.

Ms. Blakey is trying to modestly roll this back with a freeze on salaries, a more reasonable pay scale for future employees, and changes in archaic work rules. Yet the union is demanding an even larger contract that would result in a further $2.6 billion payout, not to mention a shorter work day.

These labor demands damage more than taxpayers. Much of the FAA's budget comes directly from airlines, which finance an FAA trust fund via taxes that are often passed along to passengers. But with a whopping 75% of the FAA's operating budget going to labor costs, little has been left to finance remedies to the air traffic system's notorious delays and cancellations, such as satellite-based tracking.


I got uncharacteristically down last week and I won't repeat my lugubrious performance. But one can never forget that every win will be fought and that the forces of darkness will not rest in their desire to reconstitute and advance socialism in the US (aren't you glad I cheered up?)
One reason for the 1981 air-controller strike was Ronald Reagan's refusal to allow the union to bargain over pay, and the current episode shows the wisdom of that decision. Americans deserve a government that is efficient, flexible and whose employees are paid at levels that at least approximate life in the real world. The real solution here is to privatize the entire air traffic system. But if Congress lacks the courage to attempt that, it should at least face down a union that is holding taxpayers and airline passengers hostage to its excessive demands.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:51 AM

Best Ads

The Wall Street Journal ran an online poll after the game to select the favorite commercials: lWSJ.com - Clever Gags Score High On Super Bowl Ads (paid link, sorry!) The envelope, please:

In early results of a reader poll last night on The Wall Street Journal Online, FedEx Corp.'s spot featuring a caveman crushed by a dinosaur after failing to use FedEx was scoring highest with respondents. In an interview, Bill Ward, professor of advertising at Michigan State University called it "pre-hysterical."

Sprint Nextel Corp.'s ad showing a guy demonstrating the "crime deterrent" feature of his cellphone by hurling it at his buddy's face was running second in the online poll.

"I loved it. It was so unpredictable," said Tony Smith, a 29-year-old teacher in Denver, of the Sprint spot, crafted by Omnicom Group Inc.'s TBWA\Chiat\Day. "They nailed it," said Toby Barlow, executive creative director at WPP Group PLC's JWT. "Superlative, it blew away my expectations."

Anheuser-Busch Cos., which typically dominates the Super Bowl ad action, was also a high scorer with a clever commercial crafted by Omnicom's DDB that showed a group of guys bowing before a "secret" refrigerator they'd discovered that was full of Bud Light.

That ad "broke through and was attention-grabbing," said Emily Raman, a 28-year-old ad student at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill., who was watching the game with 35 other students.

Another Bud Light spot, showing husbands pretending to be working on their roofs, also tickled ad executives and consumers interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, as did the Budweiser spot showing a sheep streaking through a football game being played by Clydesdale horses. "Well-done, classic Bud," said Steve Doppelt, creative director at MDC Partners Inc.'s Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners.

I was an ad-agency guy in a former life (called my late 20s) and I still watch the commercials as intently as the game. I voted for the Sprint -- Theft deterrent, with honorable mention to the Bud Light streakier, FedEx caveman, and Fabio (though I confess I have already forgotten what Fabio was selling).

For worst ad, I voted for the Diddy "brown & bubbly." Rap has a limited segment and the spot didn't grab me. Honorable mention to the girls' self esteem spot. Yes, I'd like to fix all the world's ills and buy it a Coke(r), but the worst problem these young girls will have is that there will be no boys to date in high school, nor educated employable men to marry. Everybody but me on this blog has daughters (I have nine nieces!) so I may be rebuked, but if we must have self-esteem programs, can we aim some at young men?

I love this country! Great game, great commercials. I liked the Stones set.

Click "Continue..." to see the poll results, sans cool bar chart.

Which Super Bowl ad was best?

Ford Motor –- Kermit
90 votes (1%)
MasterCard
139 votes (2%)
Aleve -- Nimoy
73 votes (1%)
Sprint -- Theft
736 votes (12%)
GM Cadillac
27 votes (0%)
Bud Light –- Office
226 votes (4%)
Ameriquest -- Doctor
410 votes (7%)
FedEx -- Caveman
1258 votes (20%)
Nationwide -– Fabio
44 votes (1%)
Budweiser –- Clydesdale
808 votes (13%)
Diet Pepsi -- Chan
54 votes (1%)
Ameriquest –- Friendly skies
430 votes (7%)
CareerBuilder –- Chimps celebrate
255 votes (4%)
Degree for Men -- Stunt
32 votes (1%)
Bud Light –- Rooftop
126 votes (2%)
Diet Pepsi -- Diddy
37 votes (1%)
Sprint –- Music
63 votes (1%)
Dove
292 votes (5%)
Emerald Nuts –- Machete Men
32 votes (1%)
ESPN Mobile
60 votes (1%)
Burger King
139 votes (2%)
Bud Light -- Secret fridge
551 votes (9%)
Gillette
20 votes (0%)
Toyota
30 votes (0%)
CareerBuilder -- Employees commiserate
227 votes (4%)

6159 people have voted so far

--------------------------------

Which Super Bowl ad was worst?

Ford Motor -– Kermit
99 votes (2%)
MasterCard
33 votes (1%)
Aleve -- Nimoy
72 votes (2%)
Sprint -- Theft
93 votes (2%)
GM Cadillac
501 votes (12%)
Bud Light -– Office
59 votes (1%)
Ameriquest -- Doctor
60 votes (1%)
FedEx -- Caveman
117 votes (3%)
Nationwide –- Fabio
188 votes (5%)
Budweiser –- Clydesdale
46 votes (1%)
Diet Pepsi -- Chan
131 votes (3%)
Ameriquest -– Friendly skies
59 votes (1%)
CareerBuilder –- Chimps celebrate
20 votes (0%)
Degree for Men -- Stunt
36 votes (1%)
Bud Light -- Rooftop
11 votes (0%)
Diet Pepsi -- Diddy
485 votes (12%)
Sprint -– Music
46 votes (1%)
Dove
101 votes (3%)
Emerald Nuts -– Machete Men
357 votes (9%)
ESPN Mobile
30 votes (1%)
Burger King
1050 votes (26%)
Bud Light -- Secret fridge
18 votes (0%)
Gillette
239 votes (6%)
Toyota
136 votes (3%)
CareerBuilder -- Employees commiserate
44 votes (1%)

4031 people have voted so far

Posted by John Kranz at 11:15 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

I watched the game with about 20 of my closest co-workers.
Most memorable ads were
1) The Fed-Ex pre-historic one.
2) Clydesdale football.
3) The Magic Fridge.

The Dove charity for girls left me scratching my head.

Dumbest by far were the diet-Pepsi commercials. I don't consider myself too old by any stretch but what's funny about a rapping soft-drink? Only the amount of money spent on "has been" celebrities. A diet Pepsi action movie with Jackie Chan.
D-U-M-B.

Posted by: AlexC at February 6, 2006 12:03 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Videos are available here.
http://video.google.com/superbowl.html

Posted by: AlexC at February 6, 2006 3:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent - Check out the Vault Scarecrow ad (that I nominated earlier for "best" thanks to the "hippies" reference.) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5452115200083839699

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2006 3:57 PM

February 5, 2006

Protest Efficacy

I get very few opportunities to link to and quote Matthew Yglesias, but a post of his captures what this post is about:

If there's anything I hate more than the Farm Bill, it's protestors. Absolutely hate 'em. If people put all the time, energy, intelligence and ingenuity that they currently spend doing these things into boring jobs in Washington that involved ties and desks and offices then progressive politics would be about five times as effective as it is. Instead, we've got stuff like [...]:

My dark secret is that I find protesting completely worthless in most circumstances. I have argued with my niece and her parents on many occasions. She attended many anti-war protests. Policy differences aside, I suggested that she could advance her cause far better by writing a letter to the editor, donating money or volunteering for a sympathetic politician or candidate, starting a blog, whatever. I suggested that marching down the street in New York was not doing anything to stop the war.

Today the blogosphere is aflutter with Muslim anti-humor protesters. Like the anti-war crowd, it seems that these people galvanize their opposition and do little to engender sympathy from those on the fence. Instapundit links to a couple of articles suggesting backlash. I heard somebody say "it makes me hate Muslims." Sissy Williams in sisu quotes a comment "Even my most left-wing friends have very suddenly become deeply anti-Muslim." The Danish boycott will be swamped by the Danish anti-boycott (I had a cheese danish the other day in sympathy)

I did a little research (it only hurt for a few minutes) on protest efficacy. I found claims that they were a factor in supporting environmental legislation in the US, but the context I found was that the blog author could not find nor corroborate the statistics.

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard has pointed out that the two effective protests of modern times were Gandhi’s revolt against colonial British rule, and Martin Luther King's march against segregation and Jim Crow injustice in the Southern U.S. Both of those, Barnes says, were directed to a sympathetic audience, basically accepting the decency of the Brits and Americans to care about the opressed's plight.

I generously add the anti-Vietnam protests and conclude that all the protesters were disenfranchised. Bull Connor and his cohorts had effectively suppressed black vote in pre-Civil-Rights-Act Alabama, Gandhi’s followers did not enjoy self rule, and 60's youth could be conscripted at 18 but not vote until they were 21.

Marching is what they had, so they used it, together with charismatic leaders and an intrinsic dignity among those to whom the protests were directed.

The Million Moonbats March on Washington, the Muslim protests against the Danish cartoons do far more harm to their cause than good.

Hat-tips:
-- Saheli: Musings and Observations, a very good blog with the environment post I discussed and a link to the Yglesias quote.

-- Chinese Petitioners’ Tactics and Their Efficacy, an interesting research paper by a Columbia Political Science student.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:26 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

The disaffected youth of today look at the achievements or "achievements" of the protesters of yesteryear and believe they need to "keep up the good fight." The problem is, the only injustices left (other than progressive taxation and entitlements) in the western world are the ones attributable to genetics. Some people were just born (or, I think, raised) to sweep the floor.

Nowadays we have a name for people with enough free time to march down the street with some indignant sign or another: hippie.

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2006 12:22 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Johngalt.. the correct term is actually dirty hippie.
It may seem redundant by it's important. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at February 6, 2006 12:12 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I think a lot of it has to do with having an actual message. If you run out of things to say after reading your signs and chanting your chants then you need to go look for a message. Dr. King was a great speaker and had a message about how to achieve his goals, or famously his dream. The Vietnam protestors also had their great speakers and more than a few talented song writers. Nelson Mandela gave voice to the anti-apartheid movement and also had a message on how to end it. Today it seems that we just scream at each other and any attempt to find common ground or an equitable solution is seen as weakness.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 6, 2006 1:48 PM

Condi, whack somebody!

All about the cartoon imbroglio has been said by better writers, but there is one item that is getting an ill-deserved pass: the US State Department’s siding with suppressors of speech rather than freedom. I am conditioned to expect no better from the striped-pantsers, but Perry de Havilland at Samizdata takers 'em on

Land of the free, home of the brave, eh? Not in Washington DC it seems. Rather than face down the intolerant face of radical Islam, the US State Department is pandering to it. This is a national disgrace and I hope some US newspapers will show how they feel by supporting their colleagues in Denmark and publishing the damn cartoons themselves and telling Kurtis Cooper where he can stick his political master's craven opinions.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM

Buying Danish II

The Dissident Frogman has several pro-Danish banners. We'll try to find as long-term home for one of them soon, but here's my favorite:




M. Frogman points out:

They want to fight us, on what is without a doubt a pillar of Western civilization? They want to deprive us from freedom of speech, a concept we invented 2,500 years ago, improved and expanded ever since? An idea for which we did not hesitate to pay the highest price, and which we defended against foes far more formidable and lethal than them?


Posted by John Kranz at 3:36 PM

Buying Danish

With the outrage of the Danish cartoons still escalating, many Islamic countries are boycotting Danish products. In response to the boycott, the "netroots" is promoting buying Danish products.

Here's a list.

I don't think I've ever had a Carlsberg beer. But there is one Danish product I've always enjoyed.

Lego.

I want to make Lego purchase, but I really want to wait for the new edition of Mindstorms to come out in August.

I'm so torn!

On the web Posted by AlexC at 3:25 PM

Stupor Bowl Predictions

Me first.

Steelers 24... Seahawks 17.

Posted by AlexC at 12:10 AM | What do you think? [9]
But johngalt thinks:

I have an early nomination for best Super Bowl commercial. It first aired during the pregame:

'Vault' energy drink-

Over scenes of welding in the barn and wheeling out a robotic biped scarecrow with flamethrowers, dart guns and lasers:

"Brian, your scarecrow's pathetic. This land is your land. They're using your farm like it's a free buffet. Well, nothing in life is free. And why stop at crows, Brian. Foxes... rabbits... hippies!"

NED, I love America!

Posted by: johngalt at February 5, 2006 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's late now, several hours after the game ended. I had hoped AlexC would have been by with a few words about Pittsburgh's "victory."

Anything I say is likely to come across as sour grapes more than anything else, but think how differently the game might have played out if Seattle were allowed to keep the TD they scored - the first of the game (push off my @##.) And if Cowher had to make a tough decision on 4th and inches at the goal line (The ball has to break the plane BEFORE the runner's entire body is lying on the turf.) I didn't see the second Seattle interception or anything that came after (I was playing hockey, and scoring the game-winning goal thank you very much) but I heard there were more "inequities" later on.

Let's hear it for instant replay, by NED. Good game Zebras - you guys oughta get rings too!

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2006 12:31 AM
But jk thinks:

AlexC can sleep in, I'll take this.

Rather than chide the officials, I would look at time management. They had two scores lined up at the end of each half and muffed them both through incompetence and idiocy.

The push-off call was "generous" but it happened about two feet in front of the official. The touchdown was a touchdown. While everybody focused on the end of the play, the ball broke the plane on his way down. Inequities later on? I did not see. You lose a Super Bowl by eleven points baby, you lost. Well done, Steelers! AFC 4ever!

(But congrats on the winning goal!)

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2006 10:00 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Normally never cheer for Pittsburgh, they're on the wrong side of the state, but the Seahawks were due for a choke.

They didn't choke in typical "Eagles" choke fashion, but were the victims of some lame calls.
The pass interference touchdown was dubious, as was the Roethlisberger TD.

There were a number of weak calls like the TD. Seahawks fans I was watching with were saying, "what next? excessive running with the ball?"

But that could have been sour grapes!

Posted by: AlexC at February 6, 2006 11:53 AM
But dagny thinks:

It appears that others agree with jg (AlexC maybe) and me that the officiating stunk.

For a detailed list of, "questionable," calls look here:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs05/columns/story?columnist=smith_michael&id=2320683&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab1pos2

or here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=bayless/060205

My football fan extraordinaire father taught me that if you didnt play well enough to win regardless of a few plays, you didnt play well enough to win. I note that most of the Seahawk players and coaches are saying exactly that with a great deal of class. It is likely that the Steelers would have won with no help from the zebras but thats why they play the game.

That, however, does NOT excuse the officiating.

Please officials, let THEM play the game.

Posted by: dagny at February 6, 2006 3:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To punctuate the theme, in Dagny's second link author Skip Bayless (who said the 'Hawks didn't belong in a Super Bowl and called them "Sea Frauds") ends with, "On this night, the only frauds wore stripes."

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2006 3:45 PM

February 4, 2006

Upgrade IN Process...

I am upgrading from an ancient version of Movable Type to 3.2, and redoing the templates.

Feel free to poke around but don't panic if something is busted.

"Pain as bright as steel" -- Joss Whedon

Posted by John Kranz at 6:00 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Yeah, some stuff is broken. But that's what tomorrow is for...

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2006 6:42 PM
But jk thinks:

I am releasing v2.00 of ThreeSources today (2/5/6 at 1417 Eastern) if you see something broken after that, let me know j k [at] t h r e e s o u r c e s [dot] c o m

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2006 2:19 PM

More Cartoon Outrage


So much to write about here....

In the back.
Rudeness, slander, disrespect... is this freedom of speech?
Yes, the DailyKos M.O. is protected by the freedom of speech.

Muslims must speak out for justice and truth.
Yes... and by holding that sign you are. Now the Danish guys get a turn at speaking out too.

You... in the front row.
The Prophet is the greatest man that ever lived.
I except that Christians would disagree. Aren't you infringing on their freedom? I'm feeling a little disrepect.


I understand the backside says, "Retain the freedom to draw those comics with the hook noses for now."

On the web Posted by AlexC at 5:57 PM

Iran to UNSC

NY Times:

    The 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency voted here on Saturday to report Iran's nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council, a move that could change the course of international diplomacy toward Iran and open the door to international punishment of the country.

    Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, oversaw the resolution's creation.

    The resolution, which passed by a vote of 27 to 3 with five abstentions, reflects increasing suspicion around the world that Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons.

    Cuba, Syria and Venezuela voted against the resolution, which would also delay any concrete Security Council action against Iran for at least a month. Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa abstained.


Belarus has basically degenerated into a mob-run state, Indonesia, Algeria and Libya have large Muslim populations. The only surprise in the list of voting abstention is South Africa. What is their bone to pick?

Let's hope the Security Council shows up on time to draft their harshy worded memo threatening more harshly worded memos.

United Nations Posted by AlexC at 1:55 PM

Overreaction

Here are some pictures from anti-cartoon demonstrations in London.








Getting past the message, one thing sticks out in my mind about these signs. They are all written by the same individual. Look at the Ses, the look like fives.

That leads me to believe a couple of possibilities about the protestors.
1) They are professionally agreived, always at the ready to hold a sign about something or other.
2) They're too lazy to do their own signs.
3) They're illiterate.

Finally, one more picture.

I wish I could find the comment, but some months ago mdmhvonpa made a snide comment that "someone forgot the free speech is unconstitutional sign."

Not this time.

But jk thinks:

4) They are ALL on British welfare. The good people of the UK are paying for this all right...

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2006 1:27 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I want to post my own sign - "Take comfort in knowing I am going to Hell" I take some comfort in these signs because maybe they are getting this freedom thing. If they can get out their anger by chanting and waving signs then I say welcome to the free world. It is the kidnappers, rock throwers, and gunmen I worry about.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 5, 2006 9:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And you had plenty of those too, Silence. In Lebanon, I believe, the Danish embassy and a Christian neighborhood were attacked and vandalized.

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2006 12:34 AM

DNA Tech

Super Bowl Extra Large gets a drop of cool technology to thwart counterfeiters.

    Super Bowl XL comes with a guarantee: Every football all 120 of them will be dropped.

    That is, each will be marked with a drop of synthetic DNA to thwart potential counterfeiters who might be tempted to sell phony "game-used" Super Bowl footballs, which can be worth thousands of dollars. Exposed to a specific laser frequency, the DNA glows to a bright green.

    "The ball can change hands a thousand-plus times, but it will never lose that DNA," said Joe Orlando, president of PSA/DNA Authentication Services, a division of Santa Ana-based Collector's Universe Inc., which for the sixth consecutive year marked the Super Bowl footballs. "The chance of replicating this exact DNA sequence is one in 33 trillion, so it's virtually impossible."

On the web Posted by AlexC at 12:15 PM

DC Scandals

In a backwards way, I'm kind of "for" scandals in Washington. Not because I'm for taxpayers getting ripped off, I'm not. But the scandals demonstrate two truisms in politics.

1. Government has too much power.
2. Power corrupts.

The upside to assorted scandals is that it's a way to get rid of the bums, and maybe get some reform.

Duke Cunningham's bribery was a recent example. The current Abramoff lobbying scandal hitting both sides of the aisle is the current one.

The next one in the hopper? Jay Rockefeller potentially leaking the NSA program to the NY Times.

    The American Spectator's Jed Babbin was on John Batchelor's radio show yesterday, and stated that the intelligence community believes West Virignia Senator Jay Rockefeller is the leaker who illegally supplied the New York Times with the details of the NSA program.

    Given that the CIA's Porter J. Goss stated emphatically that the leak had done very serious damage to the United States, if Rockefeller is a suspect, he should be hauled before a Grand Jury asap. When the crime was bribery (Abscam)no one protested that a sitting U.S. Senator ought not to be atarget.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 12:04 PM

February 3, 2006

So Much for the Jobless Recovery

The economy has been pumping along for sometime now. This morning's news continues that trend.

    Employers stepped up hiring in January, boosting payrolls by 193,000 and lowering the nation's unemployment rate to 4.7 percent, the lowest since July 2001.

    The fresh snapshot of the jobs climate, released by the Labor Department on Friday, suggested that the economy started the new year on fairly good footing.


However, this being an AP story, there is always a dark cloud.
    Although the 193,000 gain in payroll jobs in January fell short of the 250,000 new jobs that economists said to anticipate before the release of the report, it still marked a sturdy showing and was the biggest increase in jobs since November.

December jobs were also revised upwards by 32,000.
    Job gains were fairly broad based, with employment growing in construction, manufacturing, professional and business services and education and health care. Those employment gains blunted job losses in retailing and government.

    For all of 2005, the economy created nearly 2 million jobs _ close to the the number posted for 2004, according to annual revisions.


So much for the "race to the bottom" and "these are the wrong kinds of jobs" meme.
    Despite good news on some economic matters, Americans still feel anxious about the economy, polls indicate.

I can't even begin to imagine why.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Well, crap. How are we going to have people live in fear and trepidation if all this good news about the economy keeps leaking out. Sheesh.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 3, 2006 3:39 PM

Bolton In Charge

Who would have thought that those diplomats on the UN Security Council would be tardy?

    John Bolton, Washington's U.N. ambassador, tried to open his first meeting as head of the Security Council at 10 a.m. sharp on Thursday -- and was irked to find no other diplomats showed up.

    "I brought the gavel down at 10. I was the only one in the room," Bolton said. The United States has just assumed the rotating presidency of the 15-nation council for the month of February.

    "I believe in discipline. I think daily briefings constitute a form of intellectual discipline. Starting on time is a form of discipline," Bolton told reporters. "I failed today."

    "I took a list of when they (council members) came in," Bolton said. "We started just before 10:15."


Manhattan parking must've been a bitch!

But Silence Dogood thinks:

Uh oh, Bolton's got a list. There will be detentions and the offenders told to write "I will not be late to meetings" 100 times.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 3, 2006 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I dunno, ac, hard to expect people to actually show up at ten am. I can't imagine a meeting in the pricate sector starting so early, can you?

Silence, I object to your humor. Ambassador Bolton seeks to remind this lazy body that its work is important and that its work and members should be respected -- I have no problem with his call for punctuaity.

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2006 1:22 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Wait a minute JK, YOU object to ME making fun of the UN? This body that you basically think of as totally corrupt and worthless now is important with important work to do? Is all we need to do to fix the UN is get John Bolton in there to take names and enforce discipline? As Alex says, they need to show up on time to maximize the effectiveness of their strongly worded memos?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 5, 2006 9:36 AM
But jk thinks:

I suspected you were making fun of John Bolton (which is okay of you confine your remarks to facial hair).

We spend gigabucks and waste so much time at the UN, I like the idea of the US's having a serious ambassador.

Posted by: jk at February 5, 2006 10:05 AM

VT - Senate

Here's the inaugural Spirit of '94 post.

Richard Tarrant of Vermont is running for Senator Jim Jefford's seat.

    Richard Tarrant's campaign Web site flashes a running tally of the national debt as a protest, he says, of the ``borrow-and-spend Republicans'' in Washington.

    Tarrant is a Republican. He's also a candidate for Vermont's open U.S. Senate seat and among a group of party insurgents who want Republicans to reconcile their stated philosophy of fiscal restraint with the spending binge they've led over the past five years. The debt ticker is at $8.199 trillion and counting.


In a sick way, I've got to hand it to the Democrats. At least the Democrats are honest about the federal budget. They want more of our money and they want to spend it. The Republicans lately have not been so honest. The GOP's line is something like "we want less of your money, and we'll spend less too." Unfortunately it's not like that in practice.
    "Fiscal responsibility is part of our Republican culture," said Tarrant, a 63-year-old millionaire who co-founded Burlington, Vermont-based software company IDX Systems Corp. "Any time we go away from that, I want to distance myself.''

Hear hear!
    That Tarrant, who is vying to replace independent Senator James Jeffords, and lawmakers such as Representative Mike Pence and Senator John McCain are running hard on an issue that once was a cornerstone of the party platform illustrates the dilemma that the Republicans face before the November election to decide control of Congress.

Finally... some movement. It's too bad that Mike Pence was uninterested in the House Leadership race, but I heard his name mentioned for the '08 Presidential Race.

As for Senator McCain, he has a really long road to hoe to get back in the good graces of many Republicans and even moreso with Republican activists (the primary voting types) over his Campaign Finance Reform law.

Let's hope that there are more Republicans out there willing to run on fiscal discipline and restraint.

But jk thinks:

Like my Laffey vs. Chafee concerns, the odds that a responsible conservative could get elected in a state that sends a Socialist to Congress, put Howard Dean in the Governor's seat, and went for John Kerry over George Bush 59-39% are pretty slim.

Getting rid of Senator Jeffords for *anybody* is a cause for celebration, though!

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2006 1:37 PM

Tapping Phones

Well all know that Democrats and liberals are pretty bent out of shape about the terrorist wiretapping that the current administration is engaged in.

But how many of us remember the wiretapping that Democrats defended? No, not the Echelon project that's been covered, but the accidental interception and taping of Newt Gingrich's cell phone?

Here's a summary from 1999.

    Think back to 1996, when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House. On December 21st of that year, a Florida couple, John and Alice Martin, were going Christmas shopping, and "just happened" to have a scanner and tape recorder in the car with them. They claimed to have "accidentally" monitored the cell-phone conversation of Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, as he spoke from his car in a conference call with several other key Republicans, including Gingrich. They just "happened" to record it "for history."

    I'm sure it's common for people to accidentally intercept and tape private cell phone conversations while going Christmas shopping. Happens to me all the time.

    The Martins then turned the tape over to Washington Democrat Jim McDermott, a member of the House Ethics Committee, which was about to rule on Gingrich's ethics violations. McDermott, in turn gave the tape to the New York Times and other newspapers. The New York Times then printed a transcript of the call's participants discussing how Gingrich should respond to the Ethics Committee.


Congressman McDermott famously went to Iraq to kiss Saddam Hussein's ass before the invasion, and Congressman Boehner is now the House Majority Leader.

Oh, and McDermott was ordered to pay the Majority Leader $60,000 in damages! Funny how that worked out.

Snoop on phone calls and share them with newspapers to smear your political enemies?

Doubleplusgood! ... and first amendment defendable, no less.

Snoop on terrorist phone calls to prevent them from killing Americans?

The worst thing ever... and he's really listening in to Democrats!

But Silence Dogood thinks:

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the couple who did the taping were prosecuted? As in for doing something illegal? Now, as far as this apples to oranges comparison, how does this relate to official government sponsored wiretaps? Those wiretaps by the way are still illegal without a warrant. Does modern technology make those mid 1970's laws ripe for review? Yes, I would agree with that, but we do have a mechanism here in this country to change laws, I believe some of the loud protestors belong to that august body? Where are all the "strict Constitutional constructionists" now? Let's get those activist interpreters of the Constitution out of the judicial branch and back into the executive one where they belong.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 3, 2006 2:43 PM
But AlexC thinks:

You are correct. They plead guilty and paid $500 fines.

As far as apples to apples, it was a post about the political motivations surrounding the wiretapping.

Kind of like this NRO post...
http://corner.nationalreview.com/06_01_29_corner-archive.asp#089313
The Clinton legal councils thought it legal.... but now that the Dems are not in power, it's suddenly a cudgel.

Posted by: AlexC at February 4, 2006 11:49 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

As far as apples to apples, it was a post about the political motivations surrounding the wiretapping. Exactly, this is just a short hop away from matters of national security a favorite claim of the executive branch. It would appear that the Clinton administration and the Bush administration agree on this, to which I disagree with both. I continually note with chagrin that the Bush administration prides itself on being so different (and better) than the Clinton administration yet is amazingly quick to call upon their actions to justify their own. As a final point I submit exhibit A, your post on DC scandals:

1. Government has too much power.
2. Power corrupts.

This is why I like checks and balances, programs with no outside review, especially secret ones, are notoriously ripe for corruption.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 5, 2006 9:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

But the NSA wiretap program DID have outside review. This morning Chris Wallace interviewed the general in charge of the program. He confirmed Wallace's contention, drawn from other sources, that a senate select committee had reviewed the program and agreed NOT to amend the law to make what the administration intended to do expressly legal. To change the law would apparently have tipped off those being surveiled who likely would change their habits. There were no reservations about the surveilance because, for some reason, all of the senators on the committee believed we should do all we can to detect, prevent and neutralize any potential acts of murder against American civilian targets. Apparently not all senators still hold this view.

Regarding your comparison of the Bush and Clinton secret programs - Clinton famously gave nuclear technology to communist China, and directed the CIA to divert anti-terror resources to interdicting bootleg CDs and DVDs manufactured in the far east. I don't see this administration claiming "They did it so why can't we?" Instead they ask, "If it bothers you so much now why didn't it bother you in the previous administration?"

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2006 12:51 AM

February 2, 2006

Half a Loaf

It's Leader Boehner, now. Instapundit calls it "The Diet Coke of Reform," but then includes a letter from NZ Bear.

While the first choice of many of us in the blogosphere, Representative Shadegg, did not win the election, his impact on the race cannot be denied. His candidacy reminded his fellow Representatives that real reform, and real change in the leadership, was not simply the right thing to do, but utterly necessary to ensure the success of the GOP in November.

I am rejoicing in that it was not Rep. Blunt, disappointed that Rep Shadegg did not win, but all-in-all hopeful that the base was heard and that some GOP rank-and-file have shown an interest in the spirit or '94.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:04 PM | What do you think? [8]
But AlexC thinks:

It's a great line. Perhaps it will become a category on Threesources.

Anyway, how lame was it that the first vote was miscounted? It's not like it's hard to count over two hundred votes.

The cynic in me says, "... and this is the group we ask to write our national budgets? no wonder they have trouble, they can't even f-ing add."

Posted by: AlexC at February 2, 2006 11:08 PM
But jk thinks:

You're right. That is probably what unites the major authors on this blog. Internationally, it's Sharansky-ism, domestically, it is the "Spirit of '94."

The vote count was odd. When I heard that the Palm Beach rep had voted for Pat Buchannan...

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2006 10:41 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Maybe Tom Delay drew up the map as to where each member had to go to vote...

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 3, 2006 2:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The ink was not dry on the final ballot sheets before the MSM started putting the names Boehner and DeLay in the same headlines. I see Silence is on board with the talking points too.

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2006 12:54 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Actually I never saw the talking points. I was merely taking a cheap shot at Delay vis a vis his gerrymandering in Texas and whether jokingly that could have had an effect on the vote count. I have no idea what the relationsip between Delay and Boehner is. Of course those expecting wholesale change should note that power bases don't tend to dissolve overnight, at least not ones built on stack s of money like Delay's.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at February 6, 2006 1:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, honestly Silence I didn't think you were an active member of the cabal. I was just struck by the coincidence (and your mention of DeLay gave me the hook I needed to rebuke the MSM.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 6, 2006 3:18 PM

Energy Solutions

Y'all will have to excuse JohnGalt and Sugarchuck if their posting and commenting is light this week. I except that both of them are checking out Federal subsidies available if they convert their farms to Switch Grass production.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 2:59 PM

Threat to Freedom

02-02-200daybyday6.gif

Always on the ThreeSources blogroll: Day by Day

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 2:46 PM

Poor, Elderly, and Students

I'm losing hope. The Republicans cut $40 Billion over five years in entitlement programs: pennies in DC terms. Conservatives are furious that the cuts are so small. How does the WaPo play it?

With its presidential signature all but assured, the bill represents the first effort in nearly a decade to try to slow the growth of entitlement programs, one that will be felt by millions of Americans. Women on welfare are likely to face longer hours of work, education or community service to qualify for their checks. Recipients of Medicaid can expect to face higher co-payments and deductibles, especially on expensive prescription drugs and emergency room visits for non-emergency care. More affluent seniors will find it far more difficult to qualify for Medicaid-covered nursing care.

College students could face higher interest rates when their banks get squeezed by the federal government. And some cotton farmers will find support payments nicked. State-led efforts to force deadbeat parents to pay their child support may also have to be curtailed.

I just hope we can clone Dickens to write about the new workhouses that will spring up.

The Democrats cheered their defeat of Social Security reform. That they kicked the can down the road was held worthy of a standing ovation. Now a miniscule cut grabs the subhead "Poor, Elderly and Students to Feel Pinch" I just cannot see how this nation will avoid becoming France, with a new entitlement class that has the political power to keep the money flowing until the country cannot sustain it.

But AlexC thinks:

Don't worry JK. Now that Alito is on the SCOTUS the roundup of liberal "troublemakers" will begin.

Seriously... many pundits have said that the MSM is dead. Well not quite. They're just spirling around the drain. Once the shackles of the flow of information are truly broken, we'll know that the "Poor & Elderly" aren't going to die. Just like local cuts don't kill police and fire stations.

Oh, that and John Shadegg for House Majority Leader! He will save us!

Posted by: AlexC at February 2, 2006 11:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

AlexC is right. As you yourself have pointed out on these pages, JK, the Democrats' chicken little act isn't helping them win elections.

As for WaPo's lament, what I'd like to know is why the hell don't ALL cotton farmers find support payments nicked? And every other crop farmer too!

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2006 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

I hope you two are right. To support my malaise, I point out that tight-fisted Republicans have not been winning many elections of late either. Cutting is an uphill battle. The forces of darkness in the Democratic Party and the MSM are foresworn against.

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2006 3:24 PM

February 1, 2006

Those Pesky Cartoons

By now you have heard of the European papers publishing the cartoons depicting Mohammed and Islam in a not so favorable light. (As if flying planes into buildings and strapping exposives on your chest wouldn't.)

Anyway... there appears to be some capitulation.

From a French paper. [go figure ...ed]

    France Soir originally said it had published the images in full to show "religious dogma" had no place in a secular society.

    But late on Wednesday its owner, Raymond Lakah, said he had removed managing editor Jacques Lefranc "as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual".

    Mr Lakah said: "We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication."


Mr Lakah then continued... "In a show of reconciliation and extending alms to the Muslim community, we will be putting Piss Christ on the tomorrow's front page."

Being a practicing Catholic, I'm a little sensitive to blasphemy. But I also understand that in a free society, a measure of the societies freedom is the ability to permit forms of expression that it might disagree with.

I don't like it, but I know that the unrepentant artist will spend eternity in fiery damnation. ... and that's good enough for me.

(tip to LGF)

But jk thinks:

I think that "Piss Christ" and the Danish cartoons offer the perfect antidote to the contention that all the American Christian fundamentalists (y'know, Bush, Ashcroft, Robertson, &c.) are as bad as the Islamist Fascists.

One side argues whether government funding is appropriate and one claims that a private newspaper cannot publish offensive material.

Christopher Hitchens it right: how can the left claim any solidarity with those who would repress rights so drastically?

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2006 11:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Big deal, Mr. Lakah. Your multiculturalist philosophy holds no more respect for the symbols of Christianity than for those of Islam anyway. Who do you think you are fooling with your pledge to disparage Christ on your front page? If you want to show willingness to denigrate a symbol of your own faith, try this instead: http://www.thoseshirts.com/commies.html

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2006 3:04 PM

The Spotlight

One of the downsides of being a public figure is that you're constantly photographed.

Like this of the Junior Senator from New York.

Breaks my heart, really.

On that note, GOP and the College is running a caption contest!

No really, I'm fine... the botox will wear off in a little bit.

But johngalt thinks:

"I'll be the first black woman president." "PPPHT! No... I'LL be the first black woman president!"

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2006 2:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Alan Riding in the NYTimes says:

"In that sense, perhaps the duel is over who sets the rules: the photographer decides when to press the shutter, but the subject can decide how much he or she reveals."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/26/arts/design/26cart.html?ex=1139029200&en=efaff45c85c18ad1&ei=5070

Posted by: jk at February 2, 2006 3:16 PM

Alito's First Day

The other day I rejoiced in the news that we now have a new SCOTUS Justice.

With hopeful anticipation I wrote...

    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.

Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom got a copy of Justice Alito's first day's itinerary.

    7:53: Called his temporary clerk; citing inherent authority given the executive under the Constitution, demanded work begin on compiling a database on non-traditional uteridefined by Justice Alito as those potential gestational chambers that are used for purposes that do not include GODS MANDATE that we be fruitful and multiply. This includes such abominations as the introduction into the giddyslit of synthetic or organic objects that have the potential to do grievous damage to future conception(s).

    8:17: Prank phonecall to Cameron Diaz in which he identified himself as the Patriarchy Police and informed her that, now that rape has been legalized, she would need to leave Tuesdays and Thursdays open between 11am and 2 pm (with a working lunch, which would likely consist of strawberries, whipped cream, honey, or flavored gels").


Good to see he's jumped right into his work.

SCOTUS Posted by AlexC at 5:55 PM

Oil Prices

Think oil and gasoline prices are high now?

Wait till Senator Specter gets through with them.

    The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday that Congress would attempt to address growing concerns about rising fuel prices and soaring oil industry profits.

    "We intend to do something about" rising prices to consumers, Chairman Arlen Specter said at a hearing into whether oil industry mergers in recent years have made gasoline more expensive at the pump.

    Specter said he was shocked by the size of oil company profits, adding, "It just may be time to legislate in this field."


He's a Republican, by the way.

Oil and Energy Posted by AlexC at 5:48 PM

Selling Out

Andy Kessler

    One of the ways urbandictionary.com defines sellout is to alienate core fans by changing ones style to appeal to a broader audienceand becoming what ones fans were rebelling against in the first place. The U.S. government wanted search history to help fight child porn and Google said no way, to cheers from their Big Brother-hating constituency. But for its search service in China, Google caved to the communists, removing offending results for Human Rights and Things that are Democratic. Tough choice. Founder Sergey Brin is quoted by Fortune as saying, it will be better for Chinese Web users, because ultimately they would get more information, though not quite all of it.

Lovely.

Google Posted by AlexC at 12:42 PM

Google Parody

Okay, The folks at The Weekly Standard disagree with me. But this week's parody is funny!

Google Posted by John Kranz at 12:13 PM

Skylark's Corner

rex_sotu.jpg

If Cosmo can post on NRO Corner, jk's dog Skylark wants a spot at ThreeSources.

It seems there was a heroic German Shepherd in the gallery last night. Rex, a guest of the first lady:

How Rex landed such a coveted seat actually a spot in the aisle labeled "Rex" on the official seating chart is quite a tale.

His owner, Air Force Tech Sgt. Jamie Dana, awoke in a military hospital last summer badly injured by a bomb in Iraq and crying for her bomb-sniffing dog. Someone told her Rex was dead.

Later, Dana found out that wasn't true. But it would take an act of Congress before she could take him home to Pennsylvania.

The Air Force said it had spent $18,000 training Rex and that, by statute, he needed to finish the remaining five years of his useful life before he could be adopted. Dana's congressman, Rep. John Peterson (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., helped abolish that policy in an end-of-year defense bill, the White House said.


That's an earmark we can all support. Not smelly like those pig's ears...

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM

SOTU 2006

I always like to post on a speech before I am ruined by the punditry I read.

I come across a Bush lackey to some, but I thought it was a very good speech last night and it was one of his better deliveries. Our president has learned to give a domestic speech and use a TelePrompTer; I am so proud.

The foreign policy segment was perfect. He praised the troops, defended the mission, laid out the stakes, and asserted the need for Executive authority in combating terrorism. Pitch perfect.

The domestic stuff doesn't resonate with me but I believe that he believes it. He really thinks that government has a place in improving education - he's not just saying it for votes. I do not share that view. I will try to be open minded when he unfurls additional detail, but that was a hard part of the speech for me. (We discussed Spinach vs. Ice Cream, this was a dentist drill).

As blog pragmatist, though, I am not gonna let it ruin my SOTU experience. I liked the speech and am proud of my efforts to reelect him.

Partisan gripe: the best achievement the Democrats could trumpet was the fact that they halted any effort to fix Social Security. No they didn't pass their plan, no they didn't influence the GOP plan, they just blocked any reform so that the problem can fester. And that was the only thing they felt worthy of a Dem-only standing ovation.

I guess Gov. Kaine did pretty well in the rebuttal. I am a tough sell. He says "there's a better way" but I notice the Democrats never really mention one. He called for more bipartisanship in problem solving; I certainly haven't seen the Democrats as being open to it.

It was good that they kept Sense. Kerry and Kennedy under wraps and showed a moderate voice. Do you figure Rahm Emmanuel had Cindy Sheehan arrested? That worked out pretty well.

But jk thinks:

I was very happy that he discussed lobbying reform and said the word "earmark." This was a Presidential Endorsement for Rep. Shadegg.

Posted by: jk at February 1, 2006 11:17 AM
But AlexC thinks:

How about those Dem's standing for "no SS reform?"

Nice record guys.

Posted by: AlexC at February 1, 2006 5:50 PM

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