April 30, 2006

Supply & Demand

Tim Russert had the Energy Secretary on this morning's Meet the Press to discuss high gasoline prices.

In today's show, Mr Russert, former demonstrated complete ignorance of supply and demand.

    MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, if, if demand is up but supply is down, why are the profits so high?
    MR. BODMAN: For that reason.

    MR. RUSSERT: No, think about that.

    MR. BODMAN: You know?

    MR. RUSSERT: Play it out.

    MR. BODMAN: Demand is up.

    MR. RUSSERT: Correct.

    MR. BODMAN: Right?

    MR. RUSSERT: Right.

    MR. BODMAN: So you’ve got more demand, you’re going to force price up.

    You’ve got, you’ve got limited supply, and you’re going to have…

Expose the Left has more of the transcript and video!

But jk thinks:

Across the dial on the evil FOXNews network, Juan Williams accused the oil companies of price gouging. Bill Kristol said that profits were up 7% on sales that are up 8%. Williams thought that that demonstrated gouging....ooooookay...

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2006 10:13 AM

When Left is Right...

... and up is down.

I read DailyKos. Don't ask why. It just adds to my confusion.

Here's a post called Why Did The President Repeatedly Refuse To Kill Zarqawi?

    Today, we see yet another confirmation that this administration was hellbent on invading Iraq, [emphasis mine. -AlexC] rather than really fighting terrorists:

      [Former US spy Mike Scheuer] claims that a July 2002 plan to destroy [Zarqawi's training camp] lapsed because "it was more important not to give the Europeans the impression we were gunslingers". "Mr Bush had Zarqawi in his sights almost every day for a year before the invasion of Iraq [emphasis in original -AlexC] and he didn't shoot because they were wining and dining the French in an effort to get them to assist us in the invasion of Iraq," he told Four Corners.

      "Almost every day we sent a package to the White House that had overhead imagery of the house he was staying in. It was a terrorist training camp . . . experimenting with ricin and anthrax . . . any collateral damage there would have been terrorists."

    Rumsfeld and administration officials (including the President) repeatedly pointed to the presence of Zarqawi in Iraq as "evidence" of a Saddam-al Qaeda link (nevermind that Saddam Hussein was himself viewed Zarqawi as a threat and was trying to capture him).

    If the President killed Zarqawi, he would have killed the ability to falsely link Saddam and al Qaeda and convince the American people that war was a necessary response to 9/11.

To recap, Zarqawi was in Iraq playing with WMDs before the war for oil and everyone knew it (except of course those who didn't, and don't believe it still), but we needed him to be there so that we could invade to steal their oil and fund Halliburton and the BushCo cronies. (Do I have that right?) Oh, and the President was negligent for not getting him before hand.

So... what's the answer?

More diplomacy? Yet another chance?

Or gunslinging?

Because there's nothing quite so diplomatic as unilaterally launching missile strikes at camps inside a country we're not really friends with. It pissed off the Pakistanis a few months back and they're supposed to be on our side.

What's the right answer this time? I'm confused.

I guess ultimately the right answer is, "What ever Bush does, it's wrong."

The conclusion is great...

    All along, the evidence has pointed to one man as "hurting the war on terror": the President of the United States himself.

Yep. Going after these guys is hurting the whole operation.

Politics War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 5:54 PM

Two Wrongs make a ???

Notwithstanding the leftist groups who've organized tomorrow's "immigrant strike" day, the temperature has cooled on the immigration debate since the April recess. But it will heat up again soon. In November JK predicted "an immigration win for the GOP" that included a compromise between senate and house immigration reform bills. In general terms, the senate measure is the "guest worker" program and the house brings the "border security" element. I don't doubt JK's prediction, but I do fear the result of a compromise between these two bad plans.

The senate plan to spend lots of money and create a new "citizenship scavenger hunt" program has been knocked around here quite a bit already. But what about the house's "hard line" approach? JK is critical of it as isolationist. I'm not sure though that he knows just how right he is. Robert Tracinski, one of the guys I "truck with" calls it "Americans against the American dream."

So why are so many Republicans coming out against the American dream?

Look through the rationalization that these Republicans are only against illegal immigration. These same politicians have spent decades erecting barriers against legal immigration, and they are still doing so today. That is why they have refused to link their crackdown on illegal immigration with any provision to allow existing immigrants to legalize their status, or to allow new workers to come to the US under a "guest worker" program. They are not for legal immigration; they are against all immigration, period.

Also look through the rationalization that the anti-immigrationists are concerned that foreigners come here to mooch off of the American welfare state. Why, then, are restrictions on immigration aimed precisely at those who seek to work?

I agree with Tracinski that the house has got it wrong. I hope that much of it, like the provision to make illegal immigration a felony that Dennis Hastert promises is already DOA, will be excised from the compromise bill but that's a heapin' helpin' of wishful thinking. I still hold that Charles Krauthammer had the right approach and we'd all better hope that any compromise looks a lot like his "wall first, questions later" solution.

Immigration Posted by JohnGalt at 11:19 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Twelve years of predications, and one is gonna come true, I ain't giving up.

I like Tracinski (know how to pronounce that?) and agree with his piece. He questions people's motives, however, and though many of them deserve questioning, you cannot look into a man's heart.

I know people who are not racists, leftists, or afraid of competition who question whether the huge influx of workers is good or bad. I spend my rant time, therefore, highlighting the economic benefits these workers provide to us.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2006 4:11 PM

April 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Duke

Giants have walked the earth.

Edward Kennedy Ellington was born 107 years ago today.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:19 PM

Review Corner

Steve Martin is the great renaissance man of our time. I've enjoyed his stand-up comedy, attended a play he’d written ("Picasso at the Lapn Agile"), seen about all of his movies that created their own genre ("My Blue Heaven" is my personal favorite) and have read a few of his books. I really enjoyed the novella "Shopgirl" but had forgotten most of the story. I was happy to see the movie on DVD at my local Redbox.

I was happier to see that Martin had written the screenplay for his own book, and that he was starring in it. The movie is an American art film. There are no subtitles but "Shopgirl" has photographic quality cinematography. You just enjoy looking at the scenes and the color. It moves at an art film pace but it doesn't ever seem slow. I'd have to know somebody well to give it an all-out recommendation, but if you like that stuff, check this out. jk gives it four stars.

By sheer accident, movie night had a theme. The other film was also visually appealing.

"Casanova" surprised me at first. The scenery and costumes are stunning. The dialogue and humor is, well, silly. The look could have supported a very serious plot, but instead relied on jape and ribald comedy. The juxtaposition caught me off guard at first but I ended up digging it. Well worth a rent, jk gives it three-and-a-half stars, most of those for visual elegance.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I watch movies every Friday under the influence of MS drugs, side effects, and medication to mitigate the side effects. Nobody should actually take my film opinions too seriously…

Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM

Soak the Rich

So much for tax cuts for the rich.

    [N]ew IRS statistics on the taxes Americans pay show that George Bush's tax policies actually soak the rich.

    It turns out that the income tax burden has substantially shifted onto the wealthy. The percentage of federal income taxes paid by those who make more than $200,000 a year has actually risen from 41% to 47% in recent years.

    In other words, the richest 3 out of 100 Americans are now paying close to the same amount in income taxes as the other 97% of workers combined.

    It's also a common myth that the rich are hording all the wealth, while the middle class stays stuck in economic quicksand.

    The IRS data show that the share of all income earned by the wealthiest 10% of Americans has actually fallen since 2001. The rich are earning less of the total income but paying more of the total taxes.

    During this economic expansion, the middle class is growing and becoming more prosperous. About 4 out of 10 Americans now make more than $50,000 a year -- that's up from 3 out of 10 in 1990.

    There's more good news. Tax revenues over the past two years are up more than half a trillion dollars — the largest two-year increase in tax collections in history.

    Bush cut the capital gains and dividend taxes, but guess what? Now those tax receipts are through the roof in the last two years.

Laffer curve, we meet again.

But johngalt thinks:

Yet despite the PROOF that tax these specific tax cuts are good for the economy, Democrats will demagogue when Republicans try to make them permanent.

Posted by: johngalt at April 30, 2006 10:16 AM
But jk thinks:

Amen, brother jg. Sadly they are ably aided and abetted by the Republicans who lack the wisdom or the will to fight for a win.

Posted by: jk at April 30, 2006 3:49 PM
But dagny thinks:

It is not lack of will or wisdom (although I agree that most politicians are sadly lacking those) that causes this problem but lack of a coherent consistent philosophy on which to base decisions.

Posted by: dagny at May 1, 2006 2:21 PM
But jk thinks:

May 1. 2006. Write that day down. Dagny and I agree COMPLETELY.

People consistently say they reject ideologues in politics, yet how can you anticipate a person's future votes if you cannot identify a guiding belief system? At the base of it, that is my gripe with the current congressional GOP (and frequently the President).

We elect REPUBLICANS to scuttle the Dubai ports deal, demand hearings of oil price gouging, and ponder sending everybody (who's not rich) a $100 gas tax rebate check. Then they whiff on extending the tax cuts. Gimme some ideologies!

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2006 3:59 PM

Gas price "fix?"

This gas price hysteria we've been subject to lately is really something else. The price of gas went from $2.50 a gallon, where everything was apparently hunky dory if the lack of attention it received was any indicator, to 3 bucks, which apparently signifies the end of days. For those like Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (for whom every problem is a nail) there is only one possible explanation: Corporate malfeasance. The proof? Exxon Mobil's chairman recently retired and was awarded, gasp, a retirement bonus.

Very well then, let's just regulate the cost of gasoline nationwide so that "Big Oil" no longer has the latitude to gouge innocent consumers ever again. How about fixing the price of a gallon of gas at the pre-hysteria price of $2.50 per gallon, allowing increases only for the rate of inflation of the dollar. That ought to fix their wagon, and protect the consumer, right? Not so fast comrade commisar!

Check out the chart below that shows historical gasoline prices in constant 2006 dollars. (from www.factsonfuel.org)

US Pump Prices 1918-2006.jpg

If gas prices had been fixed at $2.50 (2006 dollars) in the past then we'd all have been OVERPAYING by more than 50 cents a gallon for the 22 years since 1984. Who's the gouger now mister price control?

While it's true that gasoline now costs roughly 50% more than when I was born, and roughly 20% more than when I got my driver's license, it still hasn't reached a record high price. The real cost of gasoline was greater than today's at two times in history: One was at the birth of gasoline as a motor fuel in 1918, and the other was the transition between the Carter presidency (when oil supplies were pinched and inflation soared) and the Reagan era, when supply tightness eased and inflation was brought back to earth. In all likelihood the prices we see today are as transient as those of the early 80's.

Is it possible that we'll see record high prices? (Over $3.25/gallon as an annual average.) Yes, but this wouldn't negate my transitory argument. It would merely illustrate the power of the government to add more costs than have been eliminated by efficency improvements made by "greedy capitalists." (Such a development would also be an awesome marketing tie-in with the new 'Atlas Shrugged' movie!)

Oil and Energy Posted by JohnGalt at 11:00 AM

April 28, 2006

MySpace: The End of the Internet As We Know It

Web2.0 is a hot buzzword.

So everyone's got to get in on the hype.

    Both YouTube and MySpace fit the textbook definition of Web 2.0, that hypothetical next-generation Internet where people contribute as easily as they consume. Even self-described late adopters like New York's Kurt Andersen recognize that that by letting everyone contribute, these sites have reached a critical mass where "a real network effect has kicked in."

    But the focus on the collaborative nature of these sites has been nagging at me. Sites like Friendster and Blogger that promote sharing and friend-making have been around for years with nowhere near the mainstream success. I've got a different theory. YouTube and MySpace are runaway hits because they combine two attributes rarely found together in tech products. They're easy to use, and they don't tell you what to do.

YouTube is actually pretty cool.

But I'm convinced you have to have a high threshold for pain to be a MySpace user. As a result of this article, I decided I'd see if any people from my high school were on there. (Bensalem Township HS, Class of 1995, btw)

Yes they are. (21 out of 450)

Unfortunately they have no self control when it comes to these pages. Is it possible to open up a MySpace page that doesn't peg your CPU @ 100% or kill your web browser? Not everyone wants to hear your favorite song when you load the page!

I finally opened up the web page source and found the host that serves the music, lads.myspace.com , put it in my hosts file pointing to and now myspace is pleasantly quiet.

But that doesn't solve the problem of garishness. Which is why I bolded the above line.

Anyone can build a webpage. It's like 1995 all over again, except instead of obnoxious blink tags, we have superflous flash animations, multiple embedded videos, Bon Jovi and black text on a black background!

I shouldn't want to punch my computer when I want to see what old friends are up to.

I'm all for making the internet and computers easy. We all benefit.

I guess that's the downside of freedom to do what you want. No one's stopping you from being obnoxious... especially if you don't even realize it.

Rant Posted by AlexC at 11:17 PM

Hot Burn

Everyonce in a while, the President drops a great line.

    [David] GREGORY: But I ask you about your internal changes and what that says about how you think things need to be changed. They have been very public, your internal changes.

    PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your penetrating question. Plus, I am not going to hire you, if that is what you’re suggesting.

    GREGORY:I was not suggesting that.

    PRESIDENT BUSH: I would, except you can’t pass the background check.


That's a hot burn, right there.

Posted by AlexC at 2:57 PM

Climate Change


Environment Posted by AlexC at 11:30 AM

4.8% GDP Growth

Not that anybody cares, it's not as interesting as gas prices or anything, but:

WSJ.com - U.S. Economy Grew at 4.8% Rate In First Quarter, Fastest Since 2003 (Paid link)

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy roared out of a soft patch on its fastest run in nearly three years during the first quarter, powered by consumer and business spending.

Meanwhile, U.S. employment costs advanced at their weakest pace in seven years during the first quarter, suggesting that a very tight jobs market isn't allowing workers to bid up wages and benefits, which should help limit inflationary pressures.

Gross domestic product increased at a seasonally adjusted 4.8% annual rate January through March, the Commerce Department said Friday in its first estimate of first-quarter GDP. Price gauges within the report indicated inflation eased.

The Street was looking for 5.0%, so the jump was already priced in. But the truth is that this is a perfect, Goldilocks economy. I fear Larry Kudlow is right, people are just used to prosperity, those under 40 haven't seen a real recession. Perhaps we can take 4% growth for granted, but not if we tax oil companies and send out $100 checks...

But AlexC thinks:

Bah! We didn't make our prediction of 5% growth. Clearly the economy is not that robust.

Posted by: AlexC at April 28, 2006 11:32 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, Karl Rove was telling everybody "five..."

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2006 2:53 PM

The Energy Plan

So I've been meaning to write a little about the latest plan from the Senate leadership on cutting prices at the pump.

But honestly, it's hard for me to get excited about.

Included is a $100 rebate on gas per year. At 18.4 cents per gallon in taxes, that's like getting a break on taxes for about 30 fill ups. Plus to get it will be no doubt byzantine. Yawn.

Taxing oil producers? Senators should know better than that. Companies don't pay taxes! Sure, they fill out the forms, but where does that money come from? That's right! The consumer!

Another call for drilling in ANWR, which is long overdue.

    ``We have been trying for years to do something about supply without their help,'' said Senator John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said of the Democrats.

    ``We wouldn't be in the situation we are in today'' if President Bill Clinton had not vetoed legislation in 1995 to open the Arctic refuge to drilling, said Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

It's all too easy to blame Democrats for the high price at the gas station. Though Ann Coulter does a pretty bang up job of it.
    I would be more interested in what the Democrats had to say about high gas prices if these were not the same people who refused to let us drill for oil in Alaska, imposed massive restrictions on building new refineries, and who shut down the development of nuclear power in this country decades ago.

    But it's too much having to watch Democrats wail about the awful calamity to poor working families of having to pay high gas prices.

    Imposing punitive taxation on gasoline to force people to ride bicycles has been one of the left's main policy goals for years.

    For decades Democrats have been trying to raise the price of gasoline so that the working class will stop their infernal car-driving and start riding on buses where they belong, while liberals ride in Gulfstream jets.

Oh, and the hysterical global warming shrieking must end. Other types of shrieking to curtail would include "exhorbitant profits", "price fixing!" and "BushCo oil buddies". It's nonsensical and ungrounded in reality, and worst of all, it's lazy.

Ultimately it's all our fault. It's both a supply and demand problem. There's not enough supply, and there is too much demand.

Increasingly supply is at multi-fold.
1) Open up drilling in more areas of the country (not just ANWR, though we're pretty much right next door). It also creates jobs. Tons of them.

2) Diversify refining locations. Putting a large percentage of our refining capacity in one spot that's in the crosshairs of storms is silly. One large storm takes it out. Severely curbing supply. Dumb.

3) Diversify the kind of supply. E85 and other blended fuels are a start. Biodiesel, obviously. Even CNG. The trouble is, those alternate fuels are not necessarily price competitive with petroleum. (This is also a chicken-egg problem, as well.)

4) Something like 70% of the world's oil reserves are under the control of state-owned industries. Central planning of business is very effective in collosally screwing things up. Where's the motive for those "companies" to extract or produce as much as possible? Plus there wouldn't be political reasons to jerk production levels around. The oil companies just want to get it out of the ground and down the pipeline.

That's a tougher problem to fix, however. ("war for oil" and all that)

Decreasing demand again has multiple facets.
1) Stop driving as much... car pooling, or saving your errands for one day is a start. Most of us can do that, at least.

2) Use hybrid tech. More MPG means more less need to tank up.

3) Easy to do is inflate your tires, drive the speed limit and use cruise control.

4) Some dollar level exists where driving will decrease because the price is too high. Isn't that what the climate change people (ie liberals & Democrats) want anyway?

In the end, we're all swimming in the stream of the energy market and government forces only tend to push prices in one direction. The wrong way.

But jk thinks:

Man, don't get me started on the $100 rebates. Please tell me somebody will have the gumption to kill that idea.

I have to add to your conservation side: Telecommuting. I work at home and never buy gas. More folks could do this. Silence is keen on tax breaks to promote it. That's a little too much gub'mint for me, but it solves traffic problems as well.

I've been at it about six months and find the autonomy empowering, though not as much as a lemon bundt cake (Buffy joke, sorry!)

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2006 9:49 AM
But johngalt thinks:

AlexC's demand reduction step 3 is incredibly effective. The difference in fuel consumption between 75 mpg and 80 is surprising. It's comparable to the economy improvement of step 2 "use hybrid tech" plus it costs less and doesn't look gay.

But you forgot to include 5) raise federal CAFE standards. Of course that will have the unintended consequence of raising America's health care costs but hey, were talking about conservation here. A few more dead people along the way will barely be noticed.

For those of you unwilling to wait for the corporate puppets in congress to "do the right thing" just trade in your Hyundai wachamacallit for a motorized skateboard. It has better fuel economy than a motorcycle and ... still has four wheels!!

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2006 10:24 AM



Posted by AlexC at 12:40 AM

April 27, 2006

Atlas Shrugged: The Major Motion Picture

So, if you were going to be the casting director of Atlas Shrugged, who would you pick?

These two?

    After years of delays, AYN RAND's famous novel ATLAS SHRUGGED is being made into a feature film starring BRAD PITT and ANGELINA JOLIE, according to media reports in the US. Lionsgate Films has bought the rights to the film version of the 1957 novel, considered in many polls to be one of the most influential books in history. According to Hollywood trade paper Variety, the MR AND MRS SMITH co-stars, who are both fans of the Russian novelist, would play the lead roles of DAGNY TAGGART and JOHN GAULT.

But jk thinks:

Oh my. Ms. Jolie is in the news today saying "We should spend whatever it takes to spread 'No Child Left Behind' to the whole world." She looks pretty good in a latex tube top, however, that should not be forgotten.

Brad Pitt is equally squishy on the philosophy issue, but I have always appreciated him as an actor. With any luck, Clint Eastwood will stay involved.

Be very afraid.

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2006 8:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Gault?" Who is John Gault?

I've got no problem with Brad Pitt playing me. I'll ask Dagny what she thinks of Angelina in her role.

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

"Who Is John Gault?" That's a catchy line...

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2006 3:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought you'd like that one! :)

For the two or three of you (possibly including my two ostrich-like siblings) who don't get the reference, cut-and-paste this link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0525934189/ ref=sib_rdr_ex/103-0355124-2271803?%5Fencoding=UTF8&p=S00L&j=0#reader-page

Posted by: johngalt at April 29, 2006 11:18 AM

Good Language

I disagree with most all of this TNR Editorial. Yet, sometimes you must appreciate the rhetoric of the other side. The Editors call President Bush the lamest duck since James Buchanan, which I refute, but I loved the next line:

Second-term presidents often see their agenda stalled by gridlock. But haggling over substance at least has the excitement value of conflict and opposition. Bush, on the other hand, has seen his agenda die from within, of its own accord. The last years of Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Reagan were like watching an angry traffic snarl. The last years of George W. Bush's presidency are like watching a car resting on cement blocks in the front yard.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 12:44 PM

And I'm The Optimist

Yes, there's plenty of time. No it is not a fait accompli that the GOP will lose control in November. Yes, gerrymandering will protect the GOP. Yes the Democrats would have to run the table to grab either house.

With these disclaimers aside, I see a couple of things that worry me in the latest Wall Street Journal / ABC poll.

Republicans Sag in New Poll

"There's almost nothing that the public is satisfied with," says Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducts the Journal/NBC poll with Republican counterpart Bill McInturff. "What they're telling you is, they want change on every front."

That is a worrisome sign for Republicans, who are seeking to defend their House and Senate majorities with little more than six months remaining before Election Day. Continuing a trend that has persisted for a year, Democrats lead -- beyond the poll's 3.1 percentage point margin of error -- in public preference for which party should control Congress. The survey of 1,005 adults was conducted April 21-24.

And in the run-up to November, Democrats also enjoy an edge in intensity; by 11 percentage points, their partisans are more likely to express high interest in the midterm campaigns. The biggest bright spot for Republicans is that Democrats have made no progress improving their national image, an indication that they aren't yet positioned to take advantage of their opportunity for far-reaching November gains.

Twenty-two percent -- ouch (what would I have told a pollster?) That is worrisome, but the larger issue is the issue of intensity. I came across this article on Instapundit. Here's the whole post:
REPUBLICANS ARE SAGGING IN THE POLLS: Maybe, in part, it's because Harry Reid is doing better than Bill Frist in fighting pork?

Here's the kind of response that's getting from former GOP supporters: "Okay, real conservatives, Republicans, and libertarians, stay home. Just...stay home in 2006. Or - what the hell - vote for a Democrat. We have to wake up the Stupid Party, before it completely merges itself into the Republicrat Statist Party."

I think that a GOP disaster is now officially looming.

Politics is not Glenn's thing but he has a good pulse on the center-right, little-l libertarian, and they are pissed. Every day he has Sen. Trent Lott's railroad to nowhere or some such indefensible porkfest by a Republican.

The one thing they said about 1994 that sticks in my head is "nobody saw it coming. If somebody says they did, they're lying." I bet Jim Wright and George Mitchell were pretty sanguine in April '94. The thing that gives me hope is Tony Snow -- he might actually get some of the Administration's accomplishments across.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:22 PM

April 26, 2006

Texas Tea and Central Planning

Let's not forget.

    The problem is that the vast majority of the world’s remaining oil reserves are not possessed by private enterprises. Seventy-seven percent of known reserves belong to government-owned companies. That means oil will be produced with all the efficiency associated with central planning. Michael Economides estimates, for example, that it will take $4 billion in investment to keep Venezuela’s oil production at current levels. Yet that country’s Castro-wannabe president, Hugo Chavez, is investing just half that.

    If ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, or other private companies actually owned the reserves, the world would be in a much more secure position with regard to oil production. Instead, we are subject to the whims of figures like Chavez, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and must worry about the doubtful stability of their personalities and regimes. (To be sure, even a private reserve under such a regime would face the constant threat of nationalization or other interference.) In the mid-1990s, the world had more than 10 million barrels per day of spare production capacity. That figure has fallen to between 1 and 2 million barrels, which means that any significant disruption in supplies can cause prices to soar.

Really too much to excerpt, just go read the whole thing.

Oil and Energy Posted by AlexC at 11:57 PM

This "Long Tail" is Too Short

I have blogged many nice things about XM radio. I have it in my car, and the unit in my second car I set it up in my home office after the car was totaled.

Alas, they are taking the best station off the air. "Luna," which played Latin jazz has lost its radio slot at channel 95. It will still be available on-line or on DirecTV, but 95 now plays latin pop with a promise of more latin jazz on "Real Jazz" channel 70.

I'm keeping the radio in the car but have cancelled the second account. I suggest that this is a real flaw in the satellite radio business plan. To succeed, I expect they will need to get the long-tail subscribers. If there is not sufficient bandwidth, they will have to juggle and lose subscribers.

With 170 stations, they do have room for 24 x 7 traffic reports for several cities, and pro golf. My wife asks "can you imagine anything more boring that golf on the radio?" Umm, no., I'm not that creative.

Maybe they can shuffle or wait for new hardware, but what I thought was a future wave may just become a novelty.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:48 PM

A Ton of Coal

Popular Mechanics has a cool chart, comparing different fuels' capability to take a car from NY to California.

Four-and-a half barrels of crude to make 90.9 gallons of gas, fifty-three bushels of corn + a half bbl of crude for the 176 gallons of ethanol. My favorite was a ton of coal to provide the electricity. A ton of coal?

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 3:52 PM

Get Used to the GOP Majority

JK recently lamented (in the comments) the likelihood of a Democrat takeover of the US House or Senate. I asked for evidence to support his pessimism, which he kindly offered (also in the comments above) including the weighty opinion of Michael Barone. But all of his arguments are general, not specific.

In rebuttal, I offer the specifics of this essay by Jay Cost that appeared on today's WSJ Ed page.

For the Democrats to take the Senate, they would have to defeat incumbents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Missouri and Rhode Island; win the open seat in Tennessee; and hold seats against strong challengers in Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington. This amounts to a sweep of all 10 of National Journal's 10 most vulnerable races. Most would thus admit that the Senate is not on the table; those who make no such admission usually grow silent when asked to explain why they refuse.


However, pundits know less of the specifics of House contests; thus, the House seems more promising. They cannot name the seats the GOP would have to lose to lose the House. If they could, they would find themselves naming many members most think are secure. A switch of the House still seems plausible, in other words, only because details are lacking.

I strongly suggest reading the entire essay. It is fascinating and informative on the subject of Constitutional history of democracy and the representative republic. (The founders apparently never intended the president or senators to be popularly elected!)

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 12:29 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Great link! Looking at Senator Stabenow, I wonder if the 17th Amendment was a good idea.

I agree that the Democrats would have to "run the table" to take the House, and I never considered the Senate in real jeopardy.

All the same, you cannot deny a malaise among Republicans as the Spirit of '94 has morphed into Jack Abramof and exponential growth in earmarks. If this suppresses the base, moderates could be won over by low ratings for Bush approval, right track/wrong track, high gas prices, and problems in Iraq.

The good news, as always, is "I hear they're going to let us run against the Democrats again!" I don't want to be negative but I don't support complacency.

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2006 1:38 PM
But jk thinks:

To bolster your case (which I hope is correct), Roger Simon points to Kos's anemic book sales figures and the declining audience for "Air America"

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2006 5:28 PM

Freedom, Pragmatism, Optimism

Okay, so it's not up there with "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy." But I have been questioned for putting all three together. Allow me to defend.

I created this blog category early in the life of ThreeSources. "Freedom on the March" was a centering concept around here and it united me, AlexC and JohnGalt. We watched Afghanistan hold elections, saw positive signals from Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Ukraine, and eventually, Iraq. Close to 100 million additional people are living under a government they voted for when compared to President Bush's inauguration day.

The annual reports from the Heritage/WSJ Index of Economic Freedom show improvement (although the United States has fallen back, thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations). Yes, I am pretty happy with the advance of freedom in the world, although it is frequently messy.

The underreported story of the year is the business growth in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cars, mobile phones, and satellite TV are hot consumer items, and the rebuilding efforts are attracting those who can think big. The Wall Street Journal features a a guest editorial today (paid link) that highlights Afghanistan's attraction as "A Virgin Market."

KABUL -- The recent Yale graduate I was chatting with at a party here spoke Chinese and had lived in China, the seeming epicenter of all things capitalist. "Why did you decide to come to Afghanistan?" I asked. He stared at me. "This is the largest rebuilding and development effort in the history of the world. Who wouldn't want to be here?"

After decades of conflict and the crippling legacies of communism and fundamentalism, Afghanistan is finally open for business. The signs are everywhere, from Kabul's traffic jams to Mazar-i-Sharif's building boom; from the opening of a Coca-Cola bottling plant to the country's first private university, the American University of Afghanistan, offering programs in business administration and information technology.

According to the World Bank, Afghanistan is ranked 16th among 145 countries for ease of opening an enterprise. The Afghan Investment Support Agency, the one-stop shop for investing in Afghanistan with streamlined business registration, reports that 754 foreign companies have registered investments of $1.3 billion in Afghanistan; some well-known names include Siemens (rehabilitating dams) and Serena Hotels (Kabul's first five-star). There are 13 private banks, including Standard Chartered Bank, Commerzbank-affiliated Kabul Bank, and ING-managed Afghanistan International BInternational Bank. A third mobile phone company, Lebanon's Investcom, will launch service in Kabul in June, having paid $40 million for its 15-year operating license. At least $100 million will be invested in cement manufacturing in 2006.

I believe the move towards freedom is inexorable. It may go in fits and starts, but it cannot be stopped. Hear me out:

1) Free economies always outperform non-free economies. That's a core belief to me and I could provide examples well into the night.

2) The more powerful economy -- over time -- will win an armed conflict. Like the Union in the US Civil War, they can persevere through mistakes and setbacks. Their opposition may have much going for it but they can rarely outlast a wealthier adversary.

3) Another core belief is that free societies innovate, learn, and adapt better than centralized, command-and-control. Professor Reynolds links to Strategypage for his underreported story of the war: the adaptation on troops using the Internet. Flight 93 is a testimony to free people adapting and using technology in war.

I'm talking glacial, continental drift time frames and rates here. Buffy would remind us that pain and hard times lie ahead. But I am still confident.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM

April 25, 2006

$32 a Gallon

That's what Evian water costs, and Ala at blonde sagacity wonders "[w]hy we aren't blaming the President and big business for water prices?"

Thirty two dollars a gallon -- now that's hard on "workin' fam'lies..."

Posted by John Kranz at 7:18 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Who needs Evian at $32/gallon, when we have good ol' Schuylkill punch! ;-)

On a more serious note, INEPTA had a chance to cut back on oil consumption by purchasing more trackless trollies (electric trolley buses to non-Philadelphians). Instead, they are purchasing approx 200 hybrids in their next order of 400 buses.

Go figure,...

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 25, 2006 8:43 PM

AlexC Gets Results

Larry Kudlow reports:

CNN is reporting that Tony Snow will likely take the job as White House press secretary. This is a good thing. Snow is a strong, smart, savvy and principled person. He is also a remarkable human being.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Thank God!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 25, 2006 8:44 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I don't know why the Bush Administration just hasn't listened to me from the beginning. I know wtf I'm talking about.

Posted by: AlexC at April 27, 2006 12:11 AM

Bush IS to Blame

Larry Kudlow (and JohnGalt in a comment below) remind us that there is more than supply and demand going on here. The energy bill that Bush signed, with great fanfare, includes an Ethanol mandate that is causing shortages in some parts of the country and driving up prices everywhere. Cui bono? I'd say ADM but the "alternative fuels" crowd still believes.

The Bushies have no one to blame for this but themselves. It is a self-inflicted wound and the ridiculous ethanol mess deserves much of the blame.

Why was this ethanol garbage signed into law last August? Why did we have to do this—particularly now? Why now? All it does is screw around with already tight international supply conditions from the global boom demand.

So, America, with all them-Willie-Nelson-subsidized-farmers, can't grow enough corn to make the Ethanol we need (don't laugh, this is serious!). No problem, we can import sugar-cane Ethanol from Brazil. No. Sadly, there is a $0.57 tariff on a gallon of Brazilian ethanol so it is cost prohibitive.

I'll defend the Oil execs, and I'll defend the President from demagogic attacks, but he is paying the political price of "compassionate conservatism, is he not?" This was a dangerous step into a more "mixed" economy, and the wages of that sin is 33% favorability...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM

April 24, 2006

Gas Prices

Mac Johnson

    To understand 90% of everything one needs to know about gasoline prices, all one has to do is examine the following chart. Drawn from data secretly compiled by the Energy Information Administration, which I found on the Internet, it shows the price of the four major factors (not O’Reilly Factors, mind you) that actually determine the cost of gasoline: 1) crude oil, 2) taxes, 3) refining, and 4) distribution and marketing.

Read the whole thing.

But jk thinks:

Superb! His list of what causes gas prices is comprehensive -- and his take down of Bill O'Reilly makes it sweeter.

In retrospect, the energy bill should have shoveled money to researchers in Alternative fuels. This would have kept them quiet and would have cost a lot less then letting them interfere with markets through mandates.

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2006 10:45 AM

Tax Freedom Today!

Happy Days for Pennsylvanians.

After today, what we earn is ours!!

    What is Tax Freedom Day? Imagine that instead of having your taxes deducted from your paycheck every week, you must pay all of your taxes at once. Now, imagine that before spending any of your income on housing, food, clothes, or paying bills, you must first save enough to pay all of your taxes for the year. If you had begun saving on January 1st, placing every penny you earned into a savings account from which to pay your taxes, then Tax Freedom Day would be the first day you had saved enough to pay them and could begin spending on you and your family again.

    And, guess what – that day is today! According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania’s Tax Freedom Day 2006 is April 24. This year, it took 114 days for Pennsylvania taxpayers to earn enough income to pay all the federal, state, and local taxes collected by government. Nearly one-third of the year has passed, and we have just reached the point where taxpayers have started earning money for themselves.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 8:47 PM

Exhorbitant Salaries

From American Spectator's blog...

    As a matter of government interest, exhorbitant salaries should be off limits. But I see nothing wrong with jawboning these execs. A $400 million golden parachute, as with the Exxon exec, is obscene. In fact, there is plenty of merit in the complaint that American corporate execs get paid so much more than do, say, Japanese ones. The compensation structure is all screwed up. In fact, the DESIRE for wealth over and above a certain point, except to do good with it (charity, etc), is a character flaw and deserving of ostracism. There's a difference between ambition and greed, and when execs get too greedy they open up a can of worms because it gives the libs a perfect target to get government involved in all kinds of mischief to correct the "imbalances" in compensation. OF course, government should NOT step in, but that doesn't mean the greed is morally defensible.


What can a government due? Only "progressive" taxation.... if a board of directors colludes to pay executives these kinds of figures, the only real recourse would be to remove the board of directors, but that's a shareholders responsibility.... not the governments.

Oh, and anyone that's worth $400 million dollars can probably figure out that they shouldn't pay themselves that much.

But johngalt thinks:

So, just hypothetically, if a CEO candidate negotiates a salary and benefits package that would pay him 100,000 per year, full medical and dental for himself and his family, and one hundredth of one percent of the profit the company makes during his tenure as CEO to be paid at retirement, then the company earns $4 trillion over 10 years under his leadership, is it "exhorbitant" "greedy" "imbalanced" and "morally indefensible" if the company actually makes good on the contract and pays him $400 million at retirement? Just curious.

How many CEOs make this deal and wind up with diddly? And how many boards of directors make this deal only to see their company's profits soar?

Q: How much money is "obscene?"
A: I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it!

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2006 2:17 AM
But jk thinks:

AlexC, I have to ask you to reconsider your "Amen." I heartily object to pretty much everything that he says.

"The compensation structure is all screwed up. In fact, the DESIRE for wealth over and above a certain point, except to do good with it (charity, etc), is a character flaw and deserving of ostracism." If the desire for wealth is an invalid motivating factor, I suspect we'll have to institute Marxism. Something has to drive decisions, if it is not profit and wealth creation, what is it?

I used to joke that Bill Gates should have been happy with $640,000 a year (that's an arcane technical joke). But -- seriously -- his desire for more, more, more, drove down the cost of computing and changed the world. A CEO is paid on the growth of the assets under his watch. I don't get these guys who get a big retirement bonus for failure, but the XOM folks are not complaining about the rise in share price.

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2006 10:20 AM

Democrat Bashing

May I indulge? I read the Hugh Hewitt book and have been very disappointed with some Democrats that I thought I liked.

Rep. Jane Harman was on FOX News Sunday yesterday. When she came on, I said "Here's my second favorite Democrat (Rep Harold Ford is first)." When she spoke, you'd've assumed it was Leader Pelosi. All she did was attack the President (okay she's a Democrat) and the Iraq War (not so okay, she's ranking D on the Armed Services Committee). Let's say she went from two to 200 on my list yesterday.

Senator Bayh has gone left to fuel his presidential aspirations, Jane Harman sent away for her moonbat membership card. It's a matter of time before Harold Ford calls for nationalized oil and Sen. Lieberman wants to cut and run.

Another soi disant Democratic moderate was Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. The state that sends Jon Kyl to the Senate elected her to be Governor. The WSJ Ed page gives her low marks today. The state has a $1.2 billion and growing surplus (a lesser man would make his immigration points here...) and by the state constitution, they have to spend it or refund it. Guess how the battle lines form.

In the spending corner is Governor Janet Napolitano, one of the celebrated "moderate" Democrats running a red state. Earlier this year she proposed a one-year 22% budget expansion to $10.1 billion from $8.2 billion -- with the goodies spread far and wide across the government and especially to the teachers unions. That's nearly three times the rate of increase that the spendthrift U.S. Congress is contemplating. Ms. Napolitano is also floating a tax cut, but one microscopic in size and sheer gimmickry: for example, a three-day sales tax holiday for purchasing school supplies and a tax credit for buying environmentally friendly cars.

Republicans in the Arizona legislature are taking a page from tax-cutting former Governor Fife Symington and proposing to cut the income tax. The state senate has passed a bill chopping the top marginal income-tax rate to 4% from 5% over five years, while the house wants a smaller reduction over three years. The GOP also wants to eliminate the state portion of the property tax, which would shave $125 a year off the tax bill on the average-priced home. That makes sense too: In only two years, property taxes have soared by 51% thanks to the hot local housing market.

I hope she closed her eyes when she said "tax credit for environmentally friendly cars."

UPDATE: This WaPo story transcribes some of the exchange I was discussing, specifically the point that it is a double standard for the admist4ration to prosecute a leaker when the President has declassified information. How much do we have to fear Iran? Harman is confident that if the Iraqi threat was overblown, things should be just fine next door.

Harman picked up the point, saying, "Our intelligence is thin. I don't think we have enough sources." Referring to recent statements from Tehran that it had begun enriching uranium, Harman said: "Just the fact that the Iranian government is making a lot of noise doesn't prove their capability."

She compared Iran today to Iraq in 2002, when "the Iraqi government made a lot of noise, and they had nothing." She said when the Bush White House did not have a strong case that Saddam Hussein had unconventional weapons, "those who tried to speak truth to power were shut out."

While I am Democrat bashing, the President has a clear constitutional authority to declassify information and share it with the American people. To compare a politically-driven CIA agent’s leak of sensitive national security information is specious. Will they really run with this?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:26 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

It's actually good for Republicans that Democrats are in a feeding frenzy of anti-Bush fervor. The further left the Dems go, the harder it will be for them to be elected by Americans who still, despite the hardships in the Middle East and their dissatisfaction that "everything's not hunky dory yet," know that there is a threat to their very way of life lurking out there.

As evidence of Democrat detachment from reality: On Chris Wallace's show yesterday, after more or less accusing Bill Kristol of leaking classified information at some point in his own government career, Juan Williams actually answered Chris' question, "You don't really believe there is any justification for what she [Mary McCarthy] did - you don't really" with, "Yes I do - what are you talking about?"

I almost fell off my couch! I had to pause the TiVo for several minutes to regain my breath.

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2006 2:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I had to set the TiVo back to see Brit Hume's reaction to that a couple of times. I am writing them a letter today, saying that that was the greatest all-star panel discussion ever.

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2006 10:49 AM
But jk thinks:

But, but, but! It appears, convinced as you and I are with their failures, the beloved Democrats are likely to make big gains and possibly take back one of the houses of Congress. Sitting back and laughing is satisfying, but doesn't seem an effective option.

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2006 10:52 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Polls in 2003 didn't look so good for the GOP either, did they? And yet, control of Congress stayed put. I don't see the substantive difference now. Care to share any evidence of this tidal shift?

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2006 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Much as I hate to offer idle political speculation (hahahaha ya right)...

Big poll numbers include:
-- W's 33% approval
-- Congress's 20-something approval
-- 29% right track;

These folks are itching for a change. Not being partisan like me or philosophical like you, they will "try the Democrats."

The CW is pretty scary. Guys I respect are saying it is up in the air. Michael Barone, for instance, has said that it is possible that the GOP will lose the House in '06.

In '02, historical trends suggested that the incumbent party would lose seats in the midterm, yet the eeveel Bush-Rove axis made some gains, based mostly on the Democrats' appearing weak on defense (insisting on Union rules for security personnel was a liability).

In both '02 and '04, Bush played on his strength to help Republicans in close races. In 2006, his 33% figure doesn’t seem so appealing.

Bill Kristol, the WSJ Ed Page, and many others have pointed out that the spending, incumbency, and lack of '94 Spirit might cause GOP voters to stay home. The unions will certainly get out their voters, so that makes a good year for Democrats.

The Gerrymandering I hate so will protect us somewhat, and there is still time. But folks don't see the economy as good (gas-price-myopia), see Iraq as a failure (MSMyopia). If the base is not fired up enough to come out -- I will come out but ain't fired up -- trouble, trouble, trouble.

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2006 5:19 PM

April 23, 2006

All Is Lost

After throwing all I had into a vicious bout of optimism in a comment yesterday, I have been laid low.

The Everyday Economist links to a NYTimes story on the correlation between Presidential approval ratings and gas prices. Here's the chart, read and weep:


I'm rethinking this democracy thang, that is a stunning chart.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:00 PM | What do you think? [4]
But AlexC thinks:

Despite the greatest bully pulpit in the history of humanity, the President still doesn't have the ability to open up domestic sources of oil or get more refinery output.

The answer should be simple. Democrats want you to pay more for gas.

If I had my way, you'd have to scan your voter id card when filling up. A Republican, $1 off per gallon. A Democrat? $1 extra per gallon.

Posted by: AlexC at April 23, 2006 6:23 PM
But Sugarchuck thinks:

I think it is extraordinary that the population would blame the president for fluctuation in gas prices, over which he has no real control , and yet they give liberals a pass when it comes to tax increases. Gas prices often go up and then down. Taxes go up and stay there. Blame withholding I guess... if people had to write a check to the government the same way they had to pay their fuel bill every month politicians would be less able to purchase membership in the incumbency class with other people's money.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at April 23, 2006 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

One problem, sc, is that the tax rates have become so progressive that lower income people pay little or no taxes. They have no skin in the game. Yet, everybody buys gas.

AlexC is right that the administration cannot make an articulate case. I saw the energy secretary's (what's his name again?) and the President's sound bites on the Sunday shows and I winced every time.

Secretary Samuel Bodman (who comes up fifth on a Yahoo search) said "I wish I could wave a magic wand" and President Bush said "I know it's hard on workin' fam'lies."

NOBODY said what AlexC said or what Sugarchuck said or what the Everyday Economist said or what all the right-of-center pundits on the Sunday shows said. "It' supply and demand, baby, you want lower prices increase supply!"

Maybe Josh Bolton will look into this weakness...

Posted by: jk at April 24, 2006 10:00 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And it's not just supply and demand of unleaded, mid-grade and premium. It's the difficulty of delivering the dozens of special formulations of each of those for each geographical area as dictated by EPA. Just this morning I read a report in the Loveland (CO) paper that 8-hour ozone levels in northern Colorado cities are now higher than the (recently lowered) EPA standard, and one of the expected remedies is a low-volatility fuel formulation that local county governments are colluding with EPA to mandate.

This is not so much a criticism of creeping environmental overreaction, but of the market inefficiencies that are an unavoidable consequence of our government "fixing" things.

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2006 2:51 AM

Review Corner II

On JohnGalt and Dagny's good recommendation, I picked up a copy of "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" by Ayn Rand.

I credit Ms. Rand as an influence. Her writings were like the bracing pitcher of ice water that is thrown over a sleeping drunk in an old western. "Atlas Shrugged," "The Fountainhead," "Anthem," and "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" shook me out of my folk Marxist stupor; her writings and the Reagan presidency really established my first serious adult worldview.

I had gone on to other sources and had not read Rand since Reagan’s first term. "Philosophy: Who Needs It?" was a good trip back -- highly appropriate to some recent arguments on this blog and good example of her clarity in thought and prose. I cannot list any serious grievance with anything in the book and I came out with new insights: the anti-statist objection to pulling out of Bretton Woods, the difference between duty and responsibility (argued on this blog as well) -- good stuff.

The Nixon-era essays and speeches hold up well for 30year old political discourse. I see some things she feared that have gotten better, but the dismantling of academia and the intellectual class are much worse. Her call to oppose those who teach our young people not to think is well heard. As is her call to have a philosophical center, based on reason, and to build your ideas on that foundation. This was the reason I was given this assignment; my political pragmatism seems un-centered to the Randians around here. (I don't mean "Randians" as insult and hope it is not taken as one.).

So, maybe somebody can explain to me why I enjoy and agree with her writings, yet I can never find a point of agreement with any of those who follow her writings -- a mystery for the ages.

She does caution against too close an affiliation with political parties, and I suspect she would not appreciate much of my pragmatism. Yet her homeland was liberated by a man of faith who was voted into office with a coalition of Catholics and Christians. Does anyone sense that she would have disapproved stridently of President Reagan?

In short, I enjoyed the book and found no quarrel with it. Anybody expecting a road to Damascus conversion away from political pragmatism will be disappointed. Perhaps I didn't get it.

UPDATE: To follow ThreeSources style, I provide a link to the book on Amazon. The good news is that it is only $7.99 or $15.98 with another (I snagged "For The New Intellectual"). The bad news is that these are Signet's "Centennial Edition" paperbacks and mine, at least, was printed in microscopic type on bad paper with margins so uneven the page numbers bled off the page.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:11 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Rand would not have disapproved stridently of President Reagan. His basic premises were very much in line with her highest virtues: Capitalism, Liberty, Self-Defense. It is true she would be critical of the mystical foundations, such as they were, of his moral character, but he generally said and did the right things, from an individual rights perspective. Even as a card carrying christian, Rand would have rated Reagan as exceptional an American president as do you.

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2006 3:03 AM

Review Corner

Not many movies of note the past few weeks.

  • I would love to watch "School of Life" with JohnGalt and Dagny someday. I'd like to see their reaction when the hip, young, cool teacher "fixes" the losing basketball team by teaching them to cheer for their opponents baskets as well as their own. jk gives it half a star.
  • One star to "Chicken Little." I love animation and this was well done. The plot and underlying theme, though, is "Dads are bad. If we were all like Oprah, and little boys shared their feelings, all would be well."
  • "The Greatest Game Ever Played" gets two-and-a-half. Some interesting cinematography, and a great story based on fact. It's all Disney, all the time from there, choose your tolerance accordingly. But I'd call it well worth a rent.
  • "Weather Man" with Nicholas Cage did not wow me. In fact, after an hour sharing his torpor, I gave up. Maybe it was great in the second hour -- anybody seen it? I will withhold judgment having not seen it all.

With that out of the way, this is a book review. I enjoyed Hugh Hewitt's "Painting The Map Red" far more than I thought I would. I have many disagreements with Hewitt but much respect. The respect went up after reading this book.

Hewitt is far more "social conservative" than me -- and he has a populist streak. He opposes gay marriage and is enforcement-heavy when it comes to immigration.

"Painting the Map Red" is a partisan book. He proudly quotes Benjamin Disraeli saying "I am a party man." He contends that it is time for partisanship, that the left wing has so taken the Democratic party off the rails that they cannot be trusted to win the war or to reign in an "imperial judiciary." For those who don't know him, he is a law professor and speaks in measured tones and prose. He is partisan without being an attack dog. I don't expect Democrats would agree with everything he says but suspect they'd find him readable and reasonable. I would love to read a book by a mutatis mutandis Democrat Hugh.

He also contends that the Democtratic party sees itself disintegrating and will try everything in the book to grasp power in 2008. After that, reapportionment will solidify Republican gains, and an out-of-party power might lose its bench of politicians and donors. Hewitt wants the GOP members and supporters to come together on core principles. (Win the war, confirm the Judges, cut the spending, lower the taxes). Truth be told, I could tolerate a wall on the southern border if it would keep Rep Pelosi from becoming Speaker and Senator Clinton from becoming President.

The book is smart, well reasoned, and readable. I would recommend it to any ThreeSources writer/reader. Again, no shortage of things I disagree with, but a trenchant summary of were we are and a cogent look forward to the next couple of elections.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM

Pius and the Market

There's only one answer to this problem ya know...

    The fact is, hybrids just aren't selling like they used to. While the Toyota Prius is still a hot item, Ford is offering incentives on its hybrid SUVs, and sales for other hybrid vehicles are softening.

    One reason is that most hybrids, unlike the Prius, are not distinctive. A Toyota Highlander Hybrid looks like a Toyota Highlander. A Ford Escape Hybrid is a Ford Escape. "So the hybrid becomes another powertrain option," said Anthony Pratt, an analyst with J.D. Power and Associates.

    That means that consumers are increasingly putting hybrid systems through the same cost/benefit analysis to which they would subject any other high-cost option.

With those same looking cars costing $3,500 to $8,000 more, what's the point of buying one? Especially if it takes years to break even on it.

But there is another option.

    Another answer might be to buy a vehicle with a less complex, less expensive hybrid system. It might not be quite as fuel-efficient but it will pay for itself faster.

    The Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid SUV, coming out this summer, will cost about $2,000 more than a regular Saturn Vue. It's sticker price will be about $23,000, making it the cheapest hybrid SUV you can buy.

Really the correct solution to this problem would be for the federal government to subsidize the purchase of a hybrid to the tune of the price difference between a hybrid and a regular version. I mean, when it comes to the environment, there's no problem the government couldn't solve, and no dollar amount too much.


But jk thinks:

I still say that the picture you posted is the reason that sales are slow. Not that South Park punctured sales. But the folks who wanted to be seen in a hybrid have already bought them. South Park helped stop it from going mainstream (from metastasizing in healthy tissue).

Posted by: jk at April 23, 2006 5:21 PM

April 22, 2006



    A man who went to a hospital complaining of a headache was found to have 12 nails embedded in his skull from a suicide attempt with a nail gun, doctors say.

    Surgeons in Portland removed the nails with needle-nosed pliers and a drill, and the man survived, according to a report on the medical oddity in the current issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery.

You might say to yourself, "Self, how can you forget about shooting yourself in the head twelve times?"
Well, it is twelve shots to the head.

No word on the length of the nails.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 6:06 PM

Why Aren't We Rich?

A good question from Jonathan Pearce at Samizdata.

He links to a book review "chronicling how filthy rich some prominent American leftists are. The usual collection of intellectual gargoyles are on show: Ralph Nader, Nancy Pelosi and Michael Moore" and wonders:

What intrigues me is why there are so few seriously, stinkingly, rich folk on the libertarian side of the street, so to speak. There are a few libertarian friends of mine with decent jobs, nice houses; some have inherited fairly serious money and do not have to work; but I don't know any of our number who has the sort of wealth described in Jason's book review. It is a paradox that celebrants of capitalism and market economics are often on their uppers, financially, in my experience, although my impressions are just that, impressions.

Certainly, a huge part is the belief that "I've got mine." I've always suspected that a Jon Corzine, or a pick-your-favorite internet millionaire are comfortable making it difficult for the next entrepreneur. But holy cow -- they have Corzine, Senator Cantwell, all the Kennedies, George Soros, Hollywood, &c.

Certainly some wealthy businesspeople support the GOP, but they tend not to be the ideologues that limousine liberals are.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 3:06 PM

Dark Days Ahead

It is my view that world events are bad and are going to get worse. Not that there will be a war -- there is already a world war. If you are informed about world events, you recognize this.

The blogger Fjordman has two good essays here and here. Excerpts are in the "extended entry."

Multiculturalism is part of America's and Europe's problem, but more fundamentally the problem is bad epistemology: the theory of human cognition. You are seeing people unable to recognize evil and fight it, because they are unable to define the nature of evil -- as well as the good -- and integrate that idea into the whole of their knowledge.

They cannot define evil because they don't take ideas seriously (they say "we must be practical" or if they are in government, 'we must not upset the balance of power'), they don't recognize intellectually that things have identity (they say "everyone sees things different" or "how do you know" or "it's all relative" or 'what's good for you isn't necessarily good for me'), they don't know the rules of definition, they generally don't relate ideas together, they generally can't see an idea in a larger context.

In short, we will loose this war because people in general are too stupid to think. Not that it's their fault -- they are products of the modern educational system, which is a system designed to destroy the capacity of reason in every individual. (And of egoism.)

Not sure about that? Check out the "intellectual" products of the educational system, such as the news -- reporting is horrible. Their writing is poor. They have trouble gathering relevant facts and checking validity, and they have trouble putting things in context (especially of reality!!!). Reporting is concrete-bound -- it deals mostly in the here-and-now, and has little cause-effect relationships in it.

Modern politicians, another "intellectual" product of the educational system, produces people who don't even know what our government represents or what its history is. I wonder how many have read Locke's "Two Treatises of Government?"

How, after all, can you reconcile the facts about Islam, the history of Islam over the past 50 years -- hell, the history of Islam over the past 1300 years -- and current events, with Bush's taking no action toward Iran or Palestine? You can't reconcile it, because it is irreconcilable: it is irrational. He is out of touch with the facts. (And I am NO Bush-basher, I am NO damned lefty.)

Or read Dewey and Kant and investigate our educational system for yourself.

Multiculturalism is, by comparison, just window dressing. It's just a device of power-lusting, wanna-be intellectuals to rule over people -- until the real pros, that is, come along: the barbarians. But it does have an important, moral element to it: altruism, giving up your own ideas and values for those of another culture. Reason in contrast is egoistic.

It is not until people can use reason (a conceptual faculty, which integrates knowledge) and logic (man's means of conceptually knowing reality; the methods by which reason functions properly) -- not until people can say and understand that "a thing is what it is" -- that they will be able to say "Iran and Islamism is evil, therefore we must destroy them." That's the world we live in: a world of cause and effect.

Thank goodness volition is in the equation; thank goodness our destruction is not deterministic. There is the element of choice to consider.

But looking at all the facts, I say we are doomed.

(I thank Ayn Rand for these insights: 1) the importance of epistemology, and (2) the relationship between corrupt intellectuals and barbarians.)

From: http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2006/04/fall-of-france-and-multicultural-world.html

In my essay about the retreat of the Western world order, I mentioned the possibility of civil strife in the West caused by runaway immigration. This is no longer just a theoretical possibility. It is pretty clear to anybody following the developments in Europe that the situation in France is starting to become rather serious. President Jacques Chirac threw out part of a youth labor law that triggered massive protests and strikes, bowing to intense pressure from students and unions. The unemployment rate for youths under 26 is a staggering 22 percent nationwide, but soars to nearly 50 percent in some of those troubled areas with many Muslim immigrants. French Jews are leaving the country in ever-growing numbers, fleeing a wave of anti-Semitism. Nidra Poller, American ex-pat writer and translator in Paris, has written some appalling stories about aggressive anti-Semitism, such as the murder and brutal torture of French Jew Ilan Halimi early in 2006.

Muslim blogs are calling for violence against the Jews, the whites and the well-to-do. They say, “We must burn France, as Hamas will burn Israel.” The growth of the Islamic population is explosive. According to some, one out of three babies born in France is now a Muslim. Around 70% of French prisoners are Muslims. Hundreds of Muslim ghettos are already de facto following sharia, not French law. Some have pointed out that the French military are not always squeamish, but there are estimates that 15% of the armed forces are already made up of Muslims, and rising. How effective can the army then be in upholding the French republic? At the same time, opinion polls show that the French are now officially the most anti-capitalist nation on earth. France has chosen Socialism and Islam. It will get both, and sink into a quagmire of its own making. Some believe France will quietly become a Muslim country, others believe in civil war in the near future:

I’m not sure which of these scenarios [slow Islamization of France over a generation, or a civil war in the next few years] is scarier. People keep talking about the nukes that the Iranians may get, but what about the hundreds of nuclear warheads the French have? Will they be used to intimidate the rest of the West? How do we handle an Islamic France, still the heartland of the European continent, with Muslim control of hundreds of nukes? And how do we handle a Bosnia or Lebanon with a population much larger than either of these countries, and with hundreds of nuclear warheads at stake?

The population movements we are witnessing now are the largest and fastest in human history. In Europe, they can only be compared to the period often referred to as the Migration Period, following the disintegration of the Roman Empire. However, during the 4th and 5th centuries, the total human population of the world was in the order of 200 million. Today, it is 30 times larger than that, and still growing fast. We also have communications that can transport people anywhere on earth within hours, and media that show ordinary people how much better life is in other countries. On top of that, the Romans didn’t have human rights lawyers advocating that millions of barbarians be let into their lands. Is it a coincidence that the last time we had migrations like this was when large parts of the European continent suffered a complete civilizational breakdown? Is that what we are witnessing now? The second fall of Rome?

The Islamic world is now at war with most of the major powers on the planet at the same time, from the USA to India and from Russia to Western Europe. It is a real possibility that we will get a full-blown world war because of these events. If so, I don’t think this will happen 50 years from now, but within the coming generation.


From: http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2006/04/retreat-of-western-world-order.html

Samuel P. Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations” thesis has generated a lot of debate, and some justified criticism. He has been accused of simplification, but also for underestimating the case of Islam. Huntington does talk about “the bloody borders” of the Islamic world. However, he has also stated that there is nothing implicit in Islamic teachings that has created the current turmoil among Muslims, but rather the huge number of young men, the primary instigators of violence in any culture. This is obviously not the case. If Huntington had read books such as “The Legacy of Jihad” by Andrew Bostom or “Onward Muslim Soldiers” by Robert Spencer, he would have understood that Jihad and aggressive violence have been intimately related to Islam on three continents for 1300 years. Yes, an abundance of young men as “cannon fodder” for war or demographic Jihad certainly helps, but this situation was created by the contents of Islamic core texts.

Maybe future historians will label this age “the retreat of the Western world order.” I say “retreat of” because it is not yet certain that this is the end of the Western world order, although that is a possibility. These massive changes and the real or perceived weakness of the Western civilization that has been dominant globally for centuries could very well create a new world war. Multiculturalism and the inability or unwillingness of Western nations to uphold their borders from massive immigration is viewed by Muslims as an invitation for attack and a signal that their ancient Western rival is weak and ripe for conquest. This is no doubt the background for the ongoing aggressive posture by the Iranian president, among others. We should take this dead seriously, because it is meant that way.

Muslims really do believe that the time has now come for overthrowing the West and putting Islam into the global, dominant position it should have according to their scriptures. They will spare no efforts, including nuclear war, in achieving this goal. The Iranian president has quite openly stated that “Islam will soon rule the world,” which implies that they will have to destroy or subdue the West. Al-Qaeda strategists have earlier outlined a schedule for awakening the Islamic world and crushing the West, with a timeline stretching over the coming fifteen to twenty years. They still stick to this plan, which means that tensions are bound to escalate even further in the near future. Westerners need to understand that a world war of sorts with the Islamic world is already inevitable by now, no matter what we do.

But Cyrano thinks:

Balderdash squared.

Freedom is not a primary. Let's not turn to Buffy, but to history. "Freedom" hasn't helped the French since the 1790's. It hasn't helped Afghanistan or Iraq.

Furthermore, ancient Greece and Rome show how cultures can decay.

America can, too. Since the 1800's, we have lost freedom -- in spite of having it aplenty, and having a good understanding of it.

What has made the difference is cognitive corruption. It is only reason that can grasp the identity of freedom, discover how freedom fits in the whole of human life, and defend it, in word and action.

It is only reason and rationality which can be our savior.

Posted by: Cyrano at April 22, 2006 9:47 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Balderdash cubed. (the exponents they are a rising) We have lost freedom since the 1800's? How about if you are female or African American, still stand by that statement?

JK you forgot the mother of 70's fears, global thermonuclear war. I watched the movie War Games with my daughters the other day and they, being born 10 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain just didn't get it at all, simply no concept of what I took almost as a foregone conclusion at their age.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 23, 2006 3:19 AM
But jk thinks:

Missing from my comment, Cyrano, was the admission that I am in no way sanguine about France. I hope she survives with some Gaullist nature intact, but I'm not betting either way.

It is possible much of Western Europe will fall, and it's not impossible that the US will lose ground in freedom.

I see freedom on the rise, however, in Eastern Europe and feel that India and China, the archetypes of socialism and communism, will become freer and that free economies will continue their dominance.

You say freedom hasn't helped Afghanistan or Iraq. Really? Life was just swell under the Taliban and those wacky Husseins. I'd happily turn to history there to make my case. Women voting in Kuwait. Opposition parties in Egypt. Lebanon lifted from Syrian oppression. I count the Middle East as a net gain of freedom with a high potential for more gains.

Posted by: jk at April 23, 2006 11:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

But Cyrano is correct that even America's glorious reign as the worldwide beacon of freedom CAN come to an end. "The tree of freedom must, from time to time, be refreshed with the blood of tyrants." But how can this happen if you can't tell a tyrant from Bill Maher?

The decades old disintegration of American education IS destroying reason and egoism in the abstract, but the one thing that keeps getting "idiot cowboys" like George W. Bush elected is the visceral reason and egoism endemic to every red-blooded American not mainlining meth. This reason and egoism has a name, and that name is "selfishness." It is why Americans always vote their pocketbook, and it is why they always elect the hawk when America is threatened abroad.

The intellectual failures of post-modern America that Cyrano paints are very real, and they will continue to delay the new renaissance until the day they are universally renounced. But this blue-collar, down home, "go ahead, make my day" selfishness of the American spirit is what will be the final bulwark against the advancing forces of the dark ages in this country and, I think, also in western and eastern Europe. It is what warrants JK's optimism.

Selfishness, like our thirst for "badonkadonk," is irrefutable, imperishable and indomitable.

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2006 9:24 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And another thing! (Damn I miss Dennis Miller sometimes.)

Yes, even females and "African Americans" (whatever that means) have lost freedoms. Punitive taxation may have been designed to punish "rich white folk" but to the extent you are financially successful you are less free to keep what you've earned. And who ever heard of imminent domain in 1799? I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting, and hopefully Cyrano will enumerate further, but the continual navel gazing about slavery and women's suffrage in this country is downright unproductive. Particularly in a world that includes Sharia Law and international human trafficking (also, unsurprisingly, a booming business in certain middle east countries.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 25, 2006 11:29 AM
But jk thinks:

I took an Economics class from a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. I had this as an essay question, and I knew that he wanted me to decry the government impingements on freedom from taxes and regulation.

I threw a curve at him, briefly mentioning the democratic freedoms afforded to women and minorities. But my main thesis was that economic freedoms are more pronounced today, and that these superseded those that we have lost to government. It's nice if the gub'mint leaves you alone, but if you have to work 24 x 7 on your sustenance farm, are you not less free than a guy who is hit with outrageous taxes and regulations, but who can work out of his home, write code, produce CDs, and have a blog?

(He didn’t like it either, but he grudgingly gave me a good grade as I recall.)

Posted by: jk at April 25, 2006 1:18 PM

April 21, 2006

Shhh. It's a Boom.

Don't tell the media, but we are having a boom. So says Larry Kudlow:

Kudlow's Money Politic$: B-O-O-M

This is not just a “rich getting richer” story here. On the contrary, greater numbers of hardworking Americans are making more money than ever before in our nation’s history. These folks are fueling the continued overall growth and health of our nation’s robust economy.

You measure a nation’s economy by its most successful, not by its least successful. This is because the burgeoning numbers of wealthy men and women—the wide-eyed entrepreneurs, the risk-takers, etc—create new ideas, plant new seeds, and forge new paths to prosperity for all Americans.

Remember, more and more capital is necessary for healthy and thriving capitalism. Let’s be thankful to successful capitalists who keep plowing new investment into our economy.

Be vewy, vewy, quiet -- you don't want to upset the Keynesians!

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 7:15 PM

Private Planes


    The Transportation Security Administration has warned aircraft owners and airport managers that Muslim extremists may be targeting private American jets and urged them to boost security.

    "On April 13, 2006, a message posted in Arabic on an Internet forum explained how to identify private American jets and urged Muslims to destroy all such aircraft," the TSA said in an advisory issued on Thursday and obtained by Reuters on Friday.

    The TSA quoted the Arabic message as saying: "We call upon all Muslims to follow and identify private civilian American aircrafts in all airports of the world."

    "It is the duty of Muslims to destroy all types of private American aircraft that are of the types Gulfstream and Lear Jet and all small aircraft usually used by distinguished (people) and businessmen," it quoted the message as saying.

Hmm. I always figured that stealing a plane from an airport and flying it into a supertanker or an oil refinery would be high on the list. Those guys are slow.

Jihad Posted by AlexC at 4:33 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at April 21, 2006 5:18 PM

April 20, 2006

Demon Joe

You have to be overly sensitive to take comments from left wing bloggers and get really upset, but it is funny that Joe Lieberman's challenger for the Democratic nomination to his Senate seat in Connecticut has to distance himself from his supporters

The challenge to Joe Lieberman

et the record show that Ned Lamont does not consider Joe Lieberman a whiny-ass titty baby. Nor does he believe that Connecticut's junior senator is a douchebag, an ass clown, or any of the other nasty names liberal bloggers have called Lieberman--whom, with those bloggers' help, Lamont hopes to defeat in this August's Democratic primary. "I really regret that rhetoric," Lamont said one recent afternoon, blushing a little as some of the derogatory appellations for Lieberman were read back to him. "I think he's a good man, I think he's a patriot, I think he does what he thinks is right. ... I just happen to think he's wrong."

It would be interesting for, say a blogger or somebody, to compare the rhetorical temperature between Lieberman's Democratic primary and Senator Lincoln Chafee's GOP Primary next door in Rhode Island. I can't really think of an objective standard for comparison, could somebody else?

Also, I am struck that Republicans tend to admire Sen. Lieberman for his brave stands and pro-US positions. Many like me have questions about some of his positions, but I think most GOPers have come to respect his integrity.

I don't know that I have ever heard of any great love for Linc across the aisle. I'm sure the Senators dig him, but I've never heard a Democrat extol his "courage and clarity." This would be a fun comparison, we need to come up with a rating system.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:36 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Years ago, I always respected Sen Lieberman's opinions when he appeared on Imus' show. Then he partnered up with Gore and suddenly stopped being himself and towed the official DNC 2000 line.

Its taken a lot to get back behind him again, but I agree: he's one of the few Dems that backs GWB's foreign policies.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 20, 2006 8:11 PM
But jk thinks:

I wasn't the biggest fan in '00. I thought that he capitulated to the Hollywood crowd.

But he really does deserve a "Profile in Courage" award for supporting the war after most all of his party has turned against.

I may be wrong, but I don't guess that Democrats see Lincoln Chafee the same way.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2006 10:04 AM

Dearth of Death

USA Today...

    The U.S. population may be aging, but the number of Americans who died in 2004 represents the biggest one-year decline since World War II, according to preliminary government data released Wednesday.
    Nearly 50,000 fewer Americans died in 2004 than in 2003, according to data based on about 90% of U.S. death certificates. The preliminary number of U.S. deaths in 2004 was 2,398,343, compared with 2,448,288 in 2003.

Color me shocked. What could be the cause?
    It's not clear why there was such a big drop in 2004, he says. Minino says he and his colleagues suspect a mild flu season might be one of many converging factors. Better treatments and improved access to health care are among the possible contributors to the decline, he says.

Whoa there. I thought we had a health care crisis.

Like the "jobless recovery" and the "but what kind of jobs are they" we'll be hearing, "but yeah, living in in an Iron lung for thirty years, you might as well be DEAD!"

(tip to Ace)

On the web Posted by AlexC at 4:13 PM


I grew up in Denver and can barely tolerate it now. New Orleans and Boston were always fun for a three day trade show. But Minneapolis was a tertiary home to me. I have had family on both sides, friends, and business there, so I've spent some time and come to dig it. I’ll be there at the end of May, though I’ll be staying outside the cities.

Sadly, I think the little Marxists have completely taken over there, refusing to fight crime lest it offend some minority somewhere. Powerline calls it "Murderapolis." That is probably way too far but for a pleasant collection of friendly Midwesterners, good economics, pretty scenery, and happy Scandinavian-Americas it does have some scary places.

LILEKS takes a whack today. It seems Target Corporation (It was Dayton-Hudson in my day) cannot upgrade a store in its hometown.

Target would like to raze the store and build a gigantor UberHyperTarget with a grocery store and twice the shelf space and a petting zoo and underground NASCAR track, etc. But! The city wants to upgrade the entire area, make it a new downtown with the usual pedestrian amenities. This means bisecting the aforementioned blocks with a “spine” that connects dead old Southdale with the housing to the south.

Here’s the catch: the new store Target wants to build does not sufficiently respect the spine. The city says: we’d like you to put affordable housing facing the spine, please. Target says: uh, we sell laundry soap and shoes and batteries; we’re not exactly in the housing business. The city says: you are now. And so the latest proposal to build the new Target was rejected. Rejected! New Urbanism, triumphant!

A friend of mine tried to build a new stereo store in Boulder and was told his company would have to put affordable housing on top (umm, mightn't that be a little loud?) Again, I fight the fight nationally, and these little Stalins ruin everything on a local level.

(The same "Bleat" also has some kind words about "Firefly.")

But AlexC thinks:

But dig the Fox News stores inside the airport! That shocked me. And there's a CNBC store in the Philly airport that shows FoxNews... but that's off topic.

Posted by: AlexC at April 20, 2006 2:21 PM

Minimum Wage

The best reason to oppose minimum wage laws is philosophical: governments don't set wages, the market does. But there are a bevy (how many quarts in a bevy?) of practical reasons that support the premise.

Disturbing supply and demand will result in fewer jobs, unless the mandated wage is so low that it will have no effect. Thomas Sowell makes a great case that the law is racist, because it does not allow a minority group the opportunity to undercut other workers to get their shot. He offers the reductio ad absurdum that if the minimum wage were $100,000, racists could hire whatever workers were wanted for any job. Whereas, the marketplace would kill a company that tried that with no minimum wage.

Professor Bainbridge discusses California’s proposed hike in minimum wage and comes up with yet another reason why it's bad. It will encourage students to drop out, when we need more educated workers to compete.

If you stay in school, you sacrifice current wages for higher future income. If you drop out, you likely will have a lower lifetime income, but start making money immediately.

Although you likely wouldn't articulate the problem in these terms, you're faced with a capital budgeting problem. Should you invest in your human capital by staying in school or should you drop out and go to work full time?

Although there are several ways for a business to make capital budgeting decisions, the simplest and most relevant to our hypothetical teenager is net present value. You therefore should discount to present value the net stream of income that would be generated by each of your choices.

The problem is that research in behavioral economics suggests that young people tend systematically to err in assigning discount rates; specifically, because they tend to be systematically biased in favor of current consumption, they tend to use too high a discount rate in making such calculations. As a result, the prospect of an immediate income will be given too much weight in their calculus and the prospect of higher lifetime earnings in the future too little weight and, when deciding between work and a present paycheck versus staying in school and deferral of income, they will tend to err towards the former.

I'll give the Golden State credit -- they have the world's most resilient golden goose. The poor fowl is under constant attack from Rob Reiner and his ideological brethren, yet it limps along. Imagine the economic dynamo if that state's Hank Reardon's were let loose!

But AlexC thinks:

Eleventeen quarts in a bevy!

I don't have a problem with states mandating a minimum wage. Let's states "market themselves" out of existance.

A Federal minimum wage? No way. States rights and all.

Posted by: AlexC at April 20, 2006 2:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Y'all do make me think around here.

I think that they're evil, evil, evil but you have a great point that I've never heard before. Fifty government laboratories and all that.

Count me in.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2006 3:40 PM

Hu and Cry, Strum and Drang

Always great when a Chinese leader visits because of the possibilities of stupid headlines.

The WSJ Ed Page resists this far better than I, with a smart lead editorial (free link) today on "The Long China View."

News flash: there are serious problems with China. Her devotion to human rights is tenuous at best, there is no appreciation for the sovereignty of Taiwan, much less Tibet. Bloggers are jailed, American citizens have been jailed. A more economically powerful China will threaten its neighbors.

So what's the big talk today? The Trade Deficit, a.k.a. the Capital Surplus. With all these real problems, we are going to jawbone a fake problem.

Over the past decade, China's GDP has more than doubled, lifting millions out of poverty and creating, for the first time in centuries, hope for a better future for its 1.3 billion citizens. All of this has been helped by the mainland's steady, if uneven, embrace of international legal and trading rules, which should grease the wheels for more liberalization in the future--and especially for the steady rise of a Chinese middle class.

For America, more efficient Chinese production has slashed the price of consumer goods and created investment opportunities for U.S. companies, which poured more than $15 billion into China in 2004 alone. These U.S. companies then export their goods back to the U.S. or elsewhere around the world. This doesn't merely help China; it makes American companies more competitive. The Chinese government's purchase of U.S. securities has also kept bond yields low, extending the U.S. and world economic expansion.

The hue and cry over America's trade deficit with China is a distraction that masks this broad and beneficial economic relationship. It's also misleading. China runs a trade surplus with America, but it also has a deficit with the rest of Asia. That's because Asian companies that once exported goods directly to the U.S. now send them to Chinese factories for assembly and export. More than half of all Chinese "exports" aren't really "Chinese" at all. And here's a trade statistic you won't hear much about: China's relative share of the U.S. trade deficit is shrinking as wages rise on the mainland and American businesses source cheaper goods from other countries.

Don't get me wrong. I'm sanguine about reforms and freedoms taking hold as an empowered middle class gets a taste for life and access to information technology. But the fact that this visit will be wasted on protectionism, and that nobody seems to mind is depressing.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 9:58 AM

April 19, 2006

But jk thinks:

No objection.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2006 10:01 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I second that!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 20, 2006 8:14 PM

The Junior Senator From New York

Senator Clinton has been brushing up her conservative bona fides over the last year. To her credit, she has been a defender of the War on Terror and has been careful to distance herself from the wackier, left-wing ideas of much of her party.

She does seem to be in a good spot for 2008. She may be loved by the left enough to get the Democratic nomination, while appearing moderate enough to do well in the general.

It's a good plan, but I fear the real Hillary Clinton lives too close to the surface. Larry Kudlow describes a speech she gave to the Chicago Economic Club last week. Kudlow is no great fan of the Senator but said that "eyelids grew heavy as she droned on and on." For those who stayed awake, the message was a call for top-down, command-and-control, and government run economy. Tax cuts are not the cure all but "instead we need the 'right tax system [and] the right investment, including infrastructure. . . . decisions and policies that only all of us acting together through our government can make to set the stage for future prosperity'" Through the government.

Hasn’t Mrs. Clinton noticed the worldwide spread of free-market capitalism that has become such an enormous wealth creator across the globe — including Eastern Europe, India, China, and the rest of Asia? The economic growth principles of higher after-tax returns for work and investment, deregulation to limit government’s reach, and the privatization of government-run companies have become almost commonplace following the Reagan-Thatcher revolution of twenty-five years ago. But Mrs. Clinton would have us turn the clock back in ways that even her husband didn’t support. She defines her goals in terms of “a middle class life, education, health care, transportation, and retirement.” But all this is nothing more than a massive dose of government spending and regulating — a sure prescription for humongous taxes and a declining economy.

All of the things that her husband did as president that were right (Nafta, GATT, MFN for China) are all things the party runs away from. In debates, I suspect she'll never find words to say that her nationalized health plans of 1993 were wrong. She'll have good advisors, but that question will come up, and I can't imagine she'll have an answer ("That was 15 years ago” may work for some). I don't expect it will be hard to bring out these defenses of socialism.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:24 PM

LatteSipper Gets Results

After hearing of LatteSipper's displeasure, it seems Scott McClellan is leaving the White House Press Office

WASHINGTON - White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is giving up his policy portfolio and press secretary Scott McClellan is resigning, continuing a shakeup in President Bush's administration that has already yielded a new chief of staff.

I'm tepid on McClellan. He did a good job but never sparkled like Ari Fleischer. His brother, Mark, was the only hope the FDA ever had, and he was promoted out of there.

All and all, I like the idea of a little new blood, especially in communications.

UPDATE: I had transposed the two brothers. It is fixed now and ThreeSources regrets the error.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

Conservative Racism

It's hard to add to this compendium of conservative bigotry.

    Let's see just how racist conservatives are...

    1. Emancipation Proclamation issued by...a Republican President.

    2. Slavery abolished under...a Republican President and a Republican Congress.

    3. Japanese interned under a Repub...no, wait...sorry, that was a Democrat.

    4. (Percentage wise), more Republicans voted for the Civil Rights Act than Democrats. They must've had some ulterior racist motive of which only they were aware.

There are 10 others...

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Oh, it's just a Rovian plot to prop them up before we kick the chair out beneath them and they find that the wreath of flowers is actually a noose! You know, because Karl Rove is the Devil and has been around for all this time. Pffttt.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 19, 2006 12:29 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

That's going onto my blog!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 20, 2006 8:15 PM

April 18, 2006

The Forgotten War

Friend of Threesources.com Bill Roggio is going to Afghanistan.

    I have decided to devote my full time efforts to the Counterterrorism Foundation, and will depend on your support. Contributions to the Counterterrorism Foundation will be tax deductible. We'll provide more information on the Counterterrorism Foundation in the near future.

    With that said, I will be embedding in Afghanistan some time in mid-May (date and unit to be determined). The war and Coalition reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan is not being covered sufficiently, and in fact the soldiers and Marines fighting there call it “The Forgotten War”. This will be an excellent opportunity to see the situation in Afghanistan first hand and report on the mission of our troops and the progress and setbacks in Afghanistan.

    After Afghanistan, I plan on going to Northern Africa to report on the other forgotten war, and then will return to Iraq later in the year.

Bill did a hell of a job last time around in Iraq, I look forward to reading his stuff from Afghanistan.

His new blog will be found at http://www.counterterrorismblog.org/

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 9:04 PM

UN to the Rescue

Associated Press reports -

Israeli UN Ambassador:

"A dark cloud is looming above our region, and it is metastasizing as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria, and the newly elected government of the Palestinian Authority" ... Recent statements by the Palestinian government, Iran and Syria, including one by Hamas on Monday defending the suicide bombing, "are clear declarations of war, and I urge each and every one of you to listen carefully and take them at face value."
(emphasis mine)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:

... called the escalating violence "very worrying." He also announced that the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers - the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia - would meet in New York on May 9 to discuss how to move the stalled roadmap to peace forward.

Whew! What a relief. The "roadmap to peace" is still alive!

This is breathtakingly naieve. It's like making sure the good china is safely arranged in the cupboard before that tornado on the horizon hits your house.

But jk thinks:

If Russia, the EU, and the UN are all in on it with us, I'm sure it will work out.

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2006 7:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Surely you jest. Surely. Please tell me you're kidding!

The sturm und drang over America's "unilateral" serious consequences of Resolution 1441 had one purpose: To neuter American resolve should a similar situation arise. That eventuality is now coming to pass, as Russia and France and China knew full well it would, and where is "cowboy" Bush? Kowtowing at the UN, that's where.

Fortunately the people most directly under threat of anihilation in the next 12 months ARE taking this seriously. The Israeli ambassador spoke of "clear declarations of war." Here's hoping the assumption Israel has nuclear weapons is really true because the way things are going in Washington and New York, they ain't gettin' any help of any consequence any time soon.

Posted by: johngalt at April 19, 2006 3:33 PM
But jk thinks:

I think everybody but Secretary Annan is kidding, jg, I'm not really sure about him.

Posted by: jk at April 19, 2006 6:35 PM

A Hit Piece

TNR writes a hit piece against Senator McCain, killing his Presidential ambitions by sidling up to hin from the left. I think I'm kidding, but I am not sure:

In the first two years of George W. Bush's presidency, McCain became, in the words of one prominent Democrat, "the leader of the loyal opposition." McCain voted against both of Bush's major tax cuts.

In addition to shepherding campaign finance reform through Congress--against the administration's efforts to kill it quietly--he co-sponsored a patients' bill of rights with John Edwards and Ted Kennedy; co-sponsored with Charles Schumer a measure to allow the importation of generic prescription drugs; co-sponsored with John Kerry legislation to raise auto emissions standards; and co-sponsored legislation with Joe Lieberman to close the "gun-show loophole" and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in compliance with the Kyoto accords. On all these things he sided with Democrats against the White House and virtually every Republican.

Would it be beyond TNR to try to abort the nomination of a most feared GOP candidate by killing his primary chances? Maybe not on purpose, but I don't think they'd mind it as collateral damages.

Next week: The Nation endorses Mitt Romney!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM

A Note of Skepticism

I enjoyed Glenn Reynolds's' "An Army of Davids," mostly because of its implications in my fealty to Hayekian systems. The forward looking chapters on dramatically increased longevity, nanotech, and "the Singularity" intrigued me but did not necessarily win me over.

I'm no Luddite, but there are problems which do not lend themselves to technical solutions. A good friend who understood analog electronics far better than I, once showed my some amplifier schematics, in Leo Fender's own hand. I thought the schematics were cool, but Alan gave me a tour: " Look! He's biased the wiper of the tone pot against the hot side of the pre-amp tube!!!" Maybe he said "the flay rod has gone askew on treddle!" But the point remains that a textbook amplifier design sounds like crap when you plug a guitar into it. Leo's wacky bias scheme, conversely, created the sound of an electric guitar for half a century.

I've recorded with "The Pod," which uses DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to capture the tone of popular amp designs and speaker cabinets. It's pretty good and is hard to beat for recording. But in a live scenario, all the kings chips have yet to put Leo's sound together again.

Kenneth Silber, in TCS, sounds the same concerns about the Strad, or Stradivarius violin, but you can make similar suggestions about "The Strat."

Perhaps someday advanced technology will outstrip the Strad, producing violins widely regarded as superior. If so, it still will have taken a considerably long time for high tech to outdo the work of a craftsman who lived before the industrial revolution. In any event, there will be an element of subjectivity to any evaluation of which violins are best. It seems likely that the best future violins will be regarded as notably different from Strads, and not readily amenable to a direct comparison. One consideration is that Strads, in the view of many experts, already are at their peak and perhaps moving beyond it. It also remains to be seen what new qualities and subtleties current violins will take on with age.

There is, I believe, a broader lesson to be taken from the Stradivarius about the future of technology. Some futurists and technologists, such as Vernon Vinge and Ray Kurzweil, have argued that the world is approaching a transformation known as the "Singularity", marked by the advent of some form of superhuman intelligence. In this picture, technologies such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering soar up a curve of rapid and inexorable change. In some versions, the Singularity is given a specific timeframe, occurring sometime around the year 2030.

Both the amplifier and the violin seek a subjective tonal quality and there is something intrinsically unfair in holding them up. Yet both have successfully resisted huge amounts of technology.

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

What you're describing here is the difference between faithful audio reproduction and the unique qualities of a musical instrument used for audio creation. By all means, plug the guitar into whatever vacuum tube space heater you prefer, but once the sound is recorded and you want to blast it throughout your house, it's time to call Mister FET and his army of FET brothers. (That's "field-effect transistor for you plebes.) :)

Posted by: johngalt at April 19, 2006 3:38 PM

April 17, 2006

UN, Hard at Work

About those top ten stories...

    Under threat of United Nations Security Council sanctions for its own nuclear program, Iran has been elected to a vice-chair position on the U.N. Disarmament Commission, whose mission includes deliberations on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.


    It happened on the same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised his people "good news" about the country's nuclear program.

    The following day, Iran announced that it had managed to enrich uranium, a key ingredient in the production of a nuclear bomb.

No, it's not a joke.

(tip to Tammy Bruce)

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Makes perfect sense. I mean, who knows more about how to hide nukes than these guys!? Same reason we should have had Pol Pot and his ilk chairing the Human Rights commission.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 18, 2006 1:15 PM

Short Toyota?

I love my Toyota and suspect the company is in good shape to increase shareholder assets. But I am convinced that hybrid cars have "jumped the shark." I was in a drive through yesterday behind a Toyota Prius and couldn't stop think of the South Park "Pious." Between South Park, and Popular Mechanics, I wondered if sales mightn't slump.

Now the right wing thugs at The New York Times Editorial Page have taken some whacks.

For years, most of the world's big car makers have shied away from building hybrids because while they are technologically intriguing, they are also an inelegant engineering solution — the use of two energy sources assures extra weight, extra complexity and extra expense (as much as $6,000 more per car.) The hybrid car's electric battery packs rob space from passengers and cargo and although they can be recycled, not every owner can be counted on to do the right thing at the end of their vehicle's service life. And an unrecycled hybrid battery pack, which weighs more than 100 pounds, poses a major environmental hazard.

You read it first on ThreeSources, kids, the hybrid craze is over.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 7:46 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:


Hugh Hewitt links to a WaPo story, Parks Feel '80 Percent' Squeeze. It seems park managers are being asked to operate at 80% of previous budgets. You'll want to grab a Kleenex before you read this:

But park officials in the field said the initiative was forcing "gut-wrenching" decisions that visitors will notice. At many parks, volunteers will take on larger roles, and there will be fewer interpretive ranger programs, the officials said.

At Rocky Mountain Natl. Park (a little more than an hour from my front door), they're forced to prioritize:
At Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, one of six visitor centers was closed and two water stations were shuttered as a result of the initiative.

Kyle Patterson, a park spokeswoman, said the decisions prompted "soul-searching" but that one of the park's most popular visitor centers was able to stay open four more hours a day thanks to the money saved by closing a less-used one.

I would ask every, non-military segment of the Federal Government to work at 80%. This happens in the private sector everyday and companies trim ineffective programs.

A Hundred Years

Give or take. The University of California, Santa Barbara, has a web site which includes digitizations of over 6,000 "Edison" cylinders. The oldest I heard was released in 1902.

The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project is well worth a peek -- and a listen. We read books and see photographs that are older, but there is something moving in hearing audio that is that old.

Cylinder recordings, the first commercially produced sound recordings, are a snapshot of musical and popular culture in the decades around the turn of the 20th century. They have long held the fascination of collectors and have presented challenges for playback and preservation by archives and collectors alike.

With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the UCSB Libraries have created a digital collection of over 6,000 cylinder recordings held by the Department of Special Collections. In an effort to bring these recordings to a wider audience, they can be freely downloaded or streamed online.

Way cool. Hat-tip: Pajamas Media

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:27 PM | What do you think? [2]
But LatteSipper thinks:

Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services??? Federal funding??? You mean they're spending OUR money digitizing one hundred year old cylinder recordings? They should cut funding on this immediately, or at least roll it back to 80%.

Actually, I think it sounds like a pretty worthwhile project. It's just that I was momentarily shocked that anything worthwhile could be funded by the government.

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 18, 2006 11:00 AM
But jk thinks:

I would rather it were funded privately, but that does not mean that it is not cool. I would rather the government didn't print our money, but I still like it.

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2006 12:53 PM

A Damned Thing

Mark Steyn

    You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."

    That's how it goes with the Iranians. The more they claim they've gone nuclear, the more U.S. intelligence experts -- oops, where are my quote marks? -- the more U.S. intelligence "experts" insist no, no, it won't be for another 10 years yet. The more they conclusively demonstrate their non-compliance with the IAEA, the more the international community warns sternly that, if it were proved that Iran were in non-compliance, that could have very grave consequences. But, fortunately, no matter how thoroughly the Iranians non-comply it's never quite non-compliant enough to rise to the level of grave consequences. You can't blame Ahmadinejad for thinking "our enemies cannot do a damned thing."

Pretty much.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 4:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:


I love to see these guys on TV look right into the camera and assure us that it will take Iran five or ten years to create a weapon. If the experts are certain, I'll sleep well at night...

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2006 5:42 PM


Colorado, like many states, has a referendum process for creating laws that the people want even when our "representative" government doesn't. On this, the 92nd anniversary of National Democrat Day, I'm officially announcing my plan for the establishment of Colorado as a "Sanctuary State."

A ballot initiative will be drafted, with all the legal provisions and protections that can possibly be envisioned to protect the measure from court challenge, resolving that "Until the United States government reforms the income tax system to a flat rate consumption tax and ceases redistribution of individual wealth through its myriad agencies and department, any and all residents of the great state of Colorado shall be exempt from compliance with any and all federal income, medical, retirement or other such taxes are are now or may be levied in the future."

OK, so it needs a little work, but you get the idea. This is the seed. If Austin and Los Angeles and cities like them can be sanctuaries for 20 million illegal immigrants, Colorado can be a sanctuary for 5.5 million people to own their own property without threat of appropriation. If the cowards in San Francisco can officially disobey a non-existent federal law, we can show them how to disobey laws already on the books. Tax revolt? You bet. Let's get something done. NED knows if we leave it up to "representative" government the only interests that will be represented are, the government's.

(So who's the pragmatist now!)

But jk thinks:

Colorado also passed, by referendum, a "medical marijuana" statue not dissimilar to the Oregon law struck down in Raich v Gonzales.

How is this different from San Francisco refusing to prosecute immigration laws or Boulder refusing to enforce The Patriot Act (the city council is so brave) ?

Don't think that I do not like the idea. I am glad the marijuana provision is on the books and would not mind your law being on the books either.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2006 5:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not sure I get your point JK. Care to elaborate. We've apparently not yet needled the lib contributors enough on this topic anyway.

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2006 3:04 PM

Bush Worshipping Loonies

A little name calling from TNR today, at least their web folks. Peter Beinart’s article is titled "When Right Is Wrong," but on the web, it is titled Why John McCain doesn't need Bush-worshipping loonies

Beinart thinks Senator McCain makes a mistake to align himself too closely with an administration that has its roughest days ahead of it.

In his quest to become ideologically acceptable, McCain has several things going for him. For starters, as Byron York has noted in these pages ("Fortunate Son," December 12, 2005), the issue that drove the right berserk in 2004--McCain's support for campaign finance reform--is old news now. Second, a huge new issue has emerged--the war on terrorism--on which McCain's hawkishness suits the Republican base. Third, with the deficit exploding, the right is moving away from its cut-taxes-and-the-deficit-be-damned stance of a few years ago and back toward the anti-deficit posture it assumed in the mid-'90s. (For more than two decades now, these phases have followed one another as night follows day: Republicans pass massive tax cuts, saying that deficits don't really matter. Then, once deficits get big enough, they shift course and downplay tax-cutting in favor of deficit-reduction--until the deficit goes down, at which time the cycle begins again). Since McCain is more a deficit hawk than a tax-cutter, he's more in tune with the conservative base today than he was in 2000--when all Republicans could think about was how to free multi-millionaires from the estate tax.

So McCain may well succeed and become the candidate of the Republican establishment. The problem is that, in 2008, that could be a poisoned chalice.

A good point, perhaps, that three consecutive party wins are rare is combined with a less certain assurance that "George W. Bush's rapidly approaching lame-duck status, and the increasing power of congressional Democrats, means legislative gridlock and congressional investigations are highly likely for the next two and a half years."

Fair points, perhaps, but the "poisoned chalice" he seeks is the Republican nomination for President. The CW has always been that McCain would do well in the general if he could survive the primaries. Even with all his starboard shifts, I say it's far from certain that the GOP will nominate him.

But then, I'm one of those "Bush Worshipping Loonies..."

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

It is also disingenuous for Beinart to suggest that the GOP is cyclically for tax cuts and contra-cyclically for deficit reduction. Principled supply-siders always want tax cuts (cf. The Laffer Curve) and lower spending. Just because our legislators have not done our bidding...

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2006 7:04 PM

April 15, 2006

Happy Tax Day

We can't let the ides of April pass without comment. In my contractor days, I used to enjoy the party atmosphere of the downtown Denver post office at 11:30. These days, I've been anesthetized by corporate withholding (the greatest idea the "progressives" ever had); I filed two weeks ago and saw my federal refund deposited yesterday.

The WSJ Ed page has pushed this idea for a couple of years: instead of abolishing the AMT, keep it as a flat tax.

Our biggest objection to the AMT is that it is patently dishonest. First Congress uses the tax code to gain political credit by offering tax write-offs for social and economic behavior it wants to reward: buying a home, rearing children, driving a hybrid car, donating to the Salvation Army, caring for senior parents, creating savings accounts, and on and on.

But then the same politicians use the AMT to snatch those benefits back, since the AMT typically hits taxpayers who claim many of these credits or deductions. Taxpayers who have many children and live in high-tax states are especially vulnerable. We don't favor using the tax code to influence behavior in this way, but millions of families make decisions in part because those tax credits exist. The AMT is an enormous revenue bait-and-switch.

Even the very name is fraudulent. The AMT should really be called the mandatory maximum tax. Filers must first tally their tax liability under the migraine-headache inducing standard IRS tax forms. Then when they're done with that delightful exercise, they must fill out the AMT forms and figure their liability under that system. It is by no means an "alternative" (which connotes a choice) and also isn't a "minimum" tax -- since you have to pay the maximum of the two.

So what is to be done? Some say scrap the AMT altogether, which would be fine by us. But if one of the two tax systems has to go, why not abolish the standard tax code? Any rational person looking at these two tax systems side by side would conclude that it is the standard IRS code with its multitude of loopholes and complexities that should be tossed into the garbage heap. Including its implementing rules, the standard tax code is now estimated at 60,000 pages

Posted by John Kranz at 12:08 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

On the way to the office I was planning a post "National Democrat Day" in honor of the Reagan quote that includes, "...for Democrats every day is April 15th."

Dagny is wrapping up our income tax voluntary theft form today and asked me, "Did we have any charitable contributions in 2005?" To which I replied, "Yes, all the federal taxes we paid for 2004." She laughed, but I told her to claim it and make the IRS audit us and prove us wrong.

I was serious! Dagny? You listening? I'm going to check our schedule A before I sign the goram thing!!

While we're quoting presidents on tax policy, remember Bill Clinton's proposed one-line tax form simplification scheme? "How much did you make last year: $ ____________ . Send it in."

(Remember that the next time you wonder if we'd be better off with President Kerry right now.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 17, 2006 12:55 PM
But jk thinks:

We'll send you a cake with a file in it...

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2006 6:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If you do then you'll be guilty of "accessory to commit honesty."

Dagny didn't even try to call my bluff on this but she did, just for fun, enter the number to see what happened to our tax bill. We STILL owed them money! What a country.

Food for thought: Last weekend my 21 year-old sister-in-law wondered aloud, "Why does the government punish people for earning more money? One would think they'd want to reward such behavior."


Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2006 3:10 PM

Crushing of Dissent, II

I had posted a (paid) link to the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT's guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal. Professor Lindzen is skeptical on global warming projections. Without claiming it is fallacious, he pours cold water and humidity on some of the more outrageous claims.

The real focus of the article is the opprobrium heaped on scientists who do not preach the Gospel of man made climate change. In Gore (14:7) -- I mean Vanity Fair Magazine -- it is called a "threat graver than terrorism," by VP Al Gore, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, and the noted atmospheric scientists Julia Roberts and George Clooney.

Nick Shultz, writing Vanity Scare in TCS, notes that the professional reputation of a noted, 94 year old scientist is slandered in the article because his views do not match Hollywood's.

The article in Vanity Fair is part of a so-called "Green issue" that includes a call to arms from Al Gore and friendly profiles on climate change alarmists such as NASA's Jim Hansen, Ed Begley Jr., Bette Midler, Ed Norton and many others. Since global warming is a "threat graver than terrorism," the magazine tells readers on its cover, it's cool to want to fight global warming. "Green is the new black," Vanity Fair tells us.

In keeping with that spirit, the magazine is trying to blacken permanently the reputation of Seitz, one of America's highly regarded scientists, for not toeing the fashionable line on global warming.

To find out if the startling claim was true -- that Seitz "directed a 45M tobacco industry effort to hide health impacts of smoking" -- I called him at his apartment in Manhattan. Unless there is more to the story, the accusation appears to be a willful distortion, if not an outright lie.

This article is free, and I have pasted the entire text of the other article in my post below.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 11:15 AM

April 14, 2006

Senator Chafee

Many at this site are excited about a strong primary challenge to Lincoln Chafee (RINO-RI). I threw cold water on this enthusiasm with my suggestion that a state that went 59%-39% for Sen. Kerry in 2004 was not too likely to send Phil Gramm, Jr, to the Senate.

The Washington Post highlights Chafee's troubles today.

Few paths to victory are more convoluted than the one Chafee must travel to win election to a second term this year in this strongly Democratic state. Chafee will face Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, a conservative, in the Sept. 12 GOP primary, and he must convince voters that he is "Republican enough," despite his numerous defections from the party and President Bush. If he survives the primary, Chafee then must hope that he can hold the Republican vote while wooing moderate Democrats and independents to stave off what is sure to be a strong Democratic challenge.

The article starts with the junior Senator from the smallest state cleaning out a horse barn (no comment for fear of inflaming Johngalt & Dagny) and even this hard-nosed pragmatist found it difficult to not hope for Laffey to oust him in the primary.

His voting record is execrable, but he does vote for GOP leadership. I'll miss that when his Democratic replacement is sworn in.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:42 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Wow. I just finished the "no longer the Party of Lincoln [Chafee]" chapter in Hewitt's book. He makes a powerful case that Linc's gotta go, if not by primary than he calls it a GOP duty to elect a Democrat in the Ocean State.

I'm not completely swayed but I found his arguments compelling.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2006 2:00 PM

Intellectual Property

If there is an "outlier" in the Constitution, I think it is the promise to protect IP. TCS and Samizdata have robustly called for an elimination of patents, and anybody who has had any involvement with the process (I pursued a few at our last firm) realizes what an impediment to innovation they have become.

As a property rights guy, though, I find myself an IP guy. How could my beloved Pharmaceutical firms get a return on their R&D investment without patent protection? And even though I am a customer, I have to think this $73 million TiVo suit seems fair.

TiVo's victory could give the Silicon Valley company badly needed leverage as it faces an onslaught of competitors from the cable and satellite industries. Though TiVo helped create the product category for DVRs, which consumers use to record TV shows, EchoStar, of Englewood, Colo., has also heavily marketed the recorders to its Dish Network satellite customers and is now the top provider of the technology, by some analysts' estimates.
TiVo said it intends to seek a permanent injunction preventing EchoStar from shipping its DVR products. TiVo alleges that EchoStar is violating a patent covering a method for playing one television show while recording another and a storage format that allows the pausing of live television, among other capabilities. In an interview, TiVo Chief Executive Tom Rogers said the verdict puts TiVo in a better position as it seeks to expand its distribution alliances. "This will send a very clear message in terms of the importance of our intellectual property," Mr. Rogers said.

I have the EchoStar PVR (I think JohnGalt does as well) and am happy to see that existing customers are grandfathered in. Yet, without seeing the dates of delivery or following any details of the trial it certainly seems that the PVR has stolen the basic function of the TiVo. I call mine a TiVo so people will know what I'm talking about.

This appears to be a clear example of good patent law and IP protection.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:07 AM | What do you think? [2]
But howard thinks:

Yes, imagine what it would have brought to the early automotive industry if the first automaker had been allowed this type of, um, patent...

There's a problem with taking patent technology so far that even when someone finds their own path to a great technology (without stealing anyone else's internal corporate secrets), they still can't produce a product legally.

Posted by: howard at April 16, 2006 8:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What's at issue here is the difference between objective and subjective criteria for patent awards. The TiVo patent, apparently, awards them ownership rights to an idea, not a specific device or process.

Whatever relativism touches it destroys.

Posted by: johngalt at April 17, 2006 12:42 PM

April 13, 2006

Where is my Cafe Du Monde?

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page compares (paid link) the performance of private firms post-Katrina versus the performance of the venerable United States Post Office:

A week ago Monday the Times-Picayune reported that the U.S. Postal Service's New Orleans processing and distribution center would reopen the following day -- more than seven months after Katrina hit. The paper called it "a move postal officials say will all but eliminate maddening post-Katrina delivery times of a week or longer for letters mailed just across town." Not that things are completely back to normal. New Orleanians still don't receive magazines, "although that is expected within weeks."

Postal Service competitors fared better. Spokesmen for DHL, FedEx and United Parcel Service tell us that all three companies restored service in New Orleans on September 19, just three weeks after Katrina hit.

All three companies also joined in the relief efforts. DHL ferried international aid to Louisiana from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. UPS drivers "from as far away as Vermont hauled loads of donated supplies to FEMA sites in Mississippi and Louisiana -- on their own time," according to a corporate history. And FedEx, a spokesman says, "transported more than 1,000 tons of relief supplies to areas affected by hurricanes in 2005."

Sadly, the lesson learned from Katrina was "Bush is an idiot" when a truly valuable lesson is "don't count on the government."

Posted by John Kranz at 6:59 PM | What do you think? [3]
But howard thinks:

I call "apples and oranges".

As someone who was involved in implementing contingency plans for one of the aforementioned private businesses, I can assure you our task was much easier to accomplish than was the task of the Postal Service. For one, we don't have the obligation of delivering to every existing address in the city of New Orleans on a daily basis.

As rosy as the WSJ paints it, even model private enterprises like UPS, Fedex and DHL were not able to restore full service inside of three weeks. My guess is that if our mission were similar to that of the USPS, we'd still be fixing issues as well -- in fact, we still are.

Posted by: howard at April 16, 2006 8:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Interesting perspective, thanks.

I would suggest that the private firms prioritized, did what they had to do in three weeks, did a little more the next month, and are now -- as you say -- putting the final touches on their service. To me, that is a Hayekian, free-market model.

The USPO, with its mandate for complete coverage, was allowed to go five months with no service and is still not delivering magazines. That's a clear model of top-down, command-and-control.

I'll concede that they had a more difficult task and that should color comparisons, but I won’t accept the difference as an excuse for the difference in recovery.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2006 10:08 AM
But howard thinks:

Oh, absolutely. But the part of their mission that's mandated is the part that's the hardest to complete. If they'd been allowed to treat their premium package operations as wholly independent, they'd have had a quicker recovery in at least that sector of the business. So, in that sense, you're right, government may have been part of the problem.

My main quibble is the same one most people in any given industry would have with any serious news piece that grossly oversimplifies the means of doing business. I just think the WSJ, with the tiniest bit of effort could have been much more clear about the actual comparison they were making.

Posted by: howard at April 17, 2006 2:36 PM

"The Escaped Prisoner"

That's the title of an upcoming book. Watch for it on Amazon.

Last month I blogged a video clip of the Arabic Ayn Rand. I thought a video would be worth a thousand thousand words but, alas, not a single comment was provoked.

Almost coincidentally, Robert Tracinski blogged the same video but since he gets paid to do so, he added his own analysis. I don't have the time to be original so I'll just plagarize him, since he is brilliant.

"This was Wafa Sultan's declaration of intellectual independence from Islam. It was a declaration, by an Arab speaking in Arabic to an Arab audience, that Islam is a backward, violent religion, and that a secular, free society—a culture of science, independent creative thought, and political freedom—is superior to the Islamic culture of faith.

I have been in favor the Forward Strategy of Freedom as a military and diplomatic policy, a policy of knocking down Muslim tyrannies in the Middle East and replacing them, as far as is possible, with the institutions of a free society. But we can't expect the generals and politicians to win this kind of broad cultural battle all on their own, with only the tools available to soldiers and diplomats. Western intellectuals have to get into this fight, too. What we need even more than the Forward Strategy of Freedom is a Forward Strategy of Intellectual Freedom—an attempt to spread the values of reason, secularism, and independent thought to the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Mainstream Western intellectuals are not interested in this task. Their allegiance is not to reason, but to subjectivism, which has led them full circle to an admiration for dogmatism—so long as it is the dogmatism of others, which we are not to judge. Thus, the intellectuals are too busy appeasing Islam, like the administrators at Yale, who eagerly recruited a former Taliban spokesman as a "special student" to be considered for a subsidized enrollment at an Ivy League college, despite the fact that he has only fourth-grade education."

(Emphasis mine.)

Tracinsi concludes, "As I remarked when I originally covered this story on March 1, the reason I admire Wafa Sultan is that "She's no 'moderate Muslim'—she's an uncompromising firebrand in the defense of reason and freedom." Let us hope that this firebrand can set off a conflagration of independent thought. And let's do whatever we can to add fuel to those flames and spread them across as much of the globe as possible."

This is the sort of "nation building" that can actually succeed.

But jk thinks:

I had read about her and agree that she is a powerful voice. And far braver than the Comedy Channel.

With a billion devout Muslims in the world, the answer seems more to appeal to the moderate who can worship as well as embrace pluralism and some elements of modernity. Some will turn their back on their faith but that is a hard sell.

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2006 6:51 PM

Is this not a better Iraq?

I confessed that while recent events had damaged the depth of my neo-Wilsonianism, I am still a Sharanskyite. I have not joined the Fukuyama-Will-Buckley club either. If I were Jewish, I'd be a neocon.

I will confess that living in Iraq in 2006 would suck somewhat. It is dangerous, unpredictable, and services are tenuous. Yet I am struck that LatteSipper (mmm, I'm a cappuccino guy but a latte sounds pretty good now) seems so convinced that the coalition actions have somehow "ruined" Iraq. Like Iraq was the idyllic Mesopotamian Eden depicted in the opening minutes of Fahrenheit 9/11.

I would choose dangerous freedom over stable tyranny any day of the week. My April 9 posting reminded us of the children's prisons and mass graves, the torture chambers, government rape.

As difficult as life can be, these people now have the opportunity to practice politics. Hundreds of newspapers are now published, Internet use is widespread. The political vessels have been revitalized pari passu, as the old Buckley might have said, with the rehydration of the southern marshes.

Austin Bay writes about unseen political infighting between clerics Sadr and Sistani in Sistani's Squeeze

Outsiders -- including U.S. government officials -- can bewail the Iraqi parliament's lack of progress in forming a government, but since the middle of March I strongly suspect the hidden story has been the Interior Ministry and the Iraqi nationalists' war on Sadr. It's a quiet police and political war waged with the blessing of Ayatollah Sistani. Creating a strong and stable Iraqi government (the so-called "national rescue front") is the goal. Sistani has advised Shia leaders to make concessions to Sunnis in order to establish a "unity government." That's an action anathema to Sadr.

It's a fascinating article as it stands. But it reminded me that I consider this an improvement over Saddam's dictatorship, not some broken mess that we have created.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 12:29 PM

Chocolate Bunny Outlaws

Last month AlexC blogged the Saint Paul, Minnesota "human rights director's" unilateral and unsolicited ban of easter bunny displays on city property. JK warned that, "If chocolate bunnies are outlawed only outlaws will have chocolate bunnies."

Now, via email, we dare to publish CARTOON IMAGES of chocolate bunnies.


Prepare yourselves for the backlash.

But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at April 13, 2006 11:22 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 13, 2006 7:52 PM

April 12, 2006

Crushing of Dissent!

The Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, called "Climate of Fear."

He questions several global warming orthodoxies, among them, global warming's being the cause of the hurricanes:

If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less -- hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

More interesting was his description of the contempt shown to scientists who refuse to play along.
But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.
All of which starkly contrasts to the silence of the scientific community when anti-alarmists were in the crosshairs of then-Sen. Al Gore. In 1992, he ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists -- a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.

Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

UPDATE: I have stolen copied the entire piece below, click "Continue reading..." to read it.

Climate of Fear

There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science -- whether for AIDS, or space, or climate -- where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred. In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.

If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less -- hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.

So how is it that we don't have more scientists speaking up about this junk science? It's my belief that many scientists have been cowed not merely by money but by fear. An example: Earlier this year, Texas Rep. Joe Barton issued letters to paleoclimatologist Michael Mann and some of his co-authors seeking the details behind a taxpayer-funded analysis that claimed the 1990s were likely the warmest decade and 1998 the warmest year in the last millennium. Mr. Barton's concern was based on the fact that the IPCC had singled out Mr. Mann's work as a means to encourage policy makers to take action. And they did so before his work could be replicated and tested -- a task made difficult because Mr. Mann, a key IPCC author, had refused to release the details for analysis. The scientific community's defense of Mr. Mann was, nonetheless, immediate and harsh. The president of the National Academy of Sciences -- as well as the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union -- formally protested, saying that Rep. Barton's singling out of a scientist's work smacked of intimidation.

All of which starkly contrasts to the silence of the scientific community when anti-alarmists were in the crosshairs of then-Sen. Al Gore. In 1992, he ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism. Nor did the scientific community complain when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists -- a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry.

Sadly, this is only the tip of a non-melting iceberg. In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions.

And then there are the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom. At Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being without interest. However, even when such papers are published, standards shift. When I, with some colleagues at NASA, attempted to determine how clouds behave under varying temperatures, we discovered what we called an "Iris Effect," wherein upper-level cirrus clouds contracted with increased temperature, providing a very strong negative climate feedback sufficient to greatly reduce the response to increasing CO2. Normally, criticism of papers appears in the form of letters to the journal to which the original authors can respond immediately. However, in this case (and others) a flurry of hastily prepared papers appeared, claiming errors in our study, with our responses delayed months and longer. The delay permitted our paper to be commonly referred to as "discredited." Indeed, there is a strange reluctance to actually find out how climate really behaves. In 2003, when the draft of the U.S. National Climate Plan urged a high priority for improving our knowledge of climate sensitivity, the National Research Council instead urged support to look at the impacts of the warming -- not whether it would actually happen.

Alarm rather than genuine scientific curiosity, it appears, is essential to maintaining funding. And only the most senior scientists today can stand up against this alarmist gale, and defy the iron triangle of climate scientists, advocates and policymakers.

Mr. Lindzen is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 8:17 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Silence asked some time back for evidence supporting my claim of "an equal number of scientists who dispute global warming theory as support it." I couldn't remember the source of that impression and didn't have time to seek it out. This letter from just one such scientist goes a long way towards explaining why the MSM doesn't tell us about those scientists either.

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2006 11:03 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I could not read the whole editorial, being a freeloader not a paying customer, so maybe I am talking out of school here, but he seems to be questioning some of the claims of global warming, not dismissing the concept itself. The hurricane thing is bunk, even the National Weather service guys debunked that. How much scientist are pressured to accept certain findings I don't know, but there must be more than a few wealthy corporations who would fund contrary research, cough, Exxon, cough.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 15, 2006 12:24 AM
But jk thinks:

Silence, I have since added the complete text, click "Continue reading..."

Also see "crushing of Dissent, II" April 15 with another example.

You're aware of my respect for your positions, but I have to jibe you. Your reaction to an article about discrediting scientists who take a heterodox position on global warming is to discredit a large group of scientists as being bought off by Exxon.

So, all wise good and true scientists believe in Global Warming, although their funding is dependent upon it. (The hurricane meme is repeated everyday and I suspect beloved by more than half the country.) The opposition are all evil wicked diabolical-laugh scientists on the payroll of multi-national corporations.


Posted by: jk at April 15, 2006 11:22 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

No, no, you misunderstand me. My Exxon point was that the free market can fund research as well. If the concern is that government funded scientists around the world are being pressured to only present one side of the story than those corporations who feel under attack from this research can and do fund scientific research as well. Funding will always somewhat bias results, often no matter how hard the funders and the fundees try to avoid it. Scientific research will eventually uncover the truth as personal egos come into play as well and the top researchers want to be right more than anything else. Biases just take a while to sift out sometimes.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 15, 2006 1:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair enough. Much as I like to whack government about, I'm not sure they're to blame for this. Rather, I see a large mass of environmentalist scientists, regulation happy politicos, anti-modernity folks, and Hollywood activists that have declared a monopoly on their side of the theory.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2006 1:51 PM

A Pox on Both Parties

Today's NY Times editorial As the Ethics Panel Ossifies calls for the Democrats to get serious and force Rep Alan Mollohan of West Virginia to resign his seat on the House ethics committee, which the editorial calls "inert and feckless".

Thinking of the general dysfunction in Congress makes me wonder if there is any achievable way to reform the system. As was mentioned in the "Little likelihood of tax system overhaul" thread below, both parties are so entrenched and vested in the status quo. There was a lot of heat and perhaps a little light as the Abramoff scandal flared up, but the furor and the feigned interest of the 535 in enacting reforms has died down. I imagine some of you would support abolishing government altogether, but I'm curious to hear your ideas on reforms that might improve the current system. A couple of examples that come to mind are the abolition of earmarks and halting the practive of bringing massive bills up for a vote when members have had little or no time to read the hundreds or thousands of pages in the legislation.

Thoughts on why these two proposals work or suck? Other proposals?

Government Posted by LatteSipper at 2:11 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I think we're pretty close, here. If each earmark were attributed to the member who calls for it, and if bills were available 72 hours before the vote, bloggers could attack the egregious earmarks, and members could step up and explain why they support others. (My favorite Democrat, Rep. Harold Ford, has called for this as well).

The problem with a "House Ethics Panel" chaired by either party is that there is no incentive for vigorous self-policing and every incentive to use it for politics.

The best solution is to get the Spirit of '94 to prevail. I'm guessing you're not a big fan of Speaker Gingrich, but we need a party to run on the idea of serious reform.

Posted by: jk at April 12, 2006 2:35 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

We need a party to run on the idea of serious reform AND with an intent to implement serious reform. It seems to me the biggest impediment to reform is the huge advantage of incumbency. The two major parties have gerrymandered congressional districts to the point where only 30 or 35 (I don't remember the exact figure) districts are considered to be in play this year? Arrrrrgggghhhhh!

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 12, 2006 2:50 PM

JK's Consumption Tax Plan

We have a small flame alight around here on consumption taxes. I pointed out that I really like the idea of a National Retail Sales Tax or "the fair tax." You can discuss the merits of different plans to compensate for the lack of regressivity or foreign sales, imports, foreign visitors -- there are a lot of details to nail down, yet any plan would offer big pragmatic benefits.

The biggest hurdle after getting legislators to reduce their own power is that pesky little Sixteenth Amendment. Without repealing that, we'll end up with income taxes and sales taxes and that will not help the economy at all.

I offer, therefore, my plan for moving to consumption taxes without repealing the 16th Amendment. Democratic leaders always say "jk talks a lot, but where’s his plan?" Here it is.

The model is the Federal Withholding bank accounts for employers and self employed. You open an account at the bank of your choice, but the withholdings deposited are controlled by the Government. You open an account for Uncle Sam. In my plan, every worker opens one of these accounts and the money belongs to the worker.

All of the worker's income is deposited into this account, withholdings and all: the Gross Pay figure on your check. The withholding amount is "internally escrowed." It is in your account, but you cannot withdraw it until your taxes for that year are paid. The money in this escrow can be borrowed by the government, so its cash flow is not changed. Since it is your money, the government is going to pay you at a six month T-bill rate. It's your money, you're loaning it to the feds.

All non-escrowed funds can be paid out. If you pay them to yourself, they will be taxed as income. If you pay them into an approved retirement account, Health Savings Account, Education fund, or approved deductible expenses they will not be taxed. Leave funds in the account at T-bill rates to defer income from year to year. You can now choose when you get paid and how much.

Your tax refund? File a return on the income you have removed from the account, and if your escrow has been overpaid, you write yourself a check for your refund -- or leave it in there at T-bill rates. We still have an "income" tax -- and many of its disadvantages -- but the worker now controls the timing and amount of taxable payments and is able to save or defer the rest.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:35 PM

April 11, 2006

Day by Day

But LatteSipper thinks:

They're both right.

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 12, 2006 10:30 AM

Little likelihood of tax system overhaul

I found this article by Robert J. Samuelson on the lack of progress on the tax system overhaul interesting. I'd be interested to hear comments on his arguments for why the current system is unlikely to change and the benefits that would accrue from implementation of the plans proposed by the President's commission in November. Let the schoolin' begin.

But jk thinks:

Silence's law applies here "Only 535 reasons why that'll never happen!" (Hope I quoted it okay)

There was much excitement around for Social Security reform, you can click on the archives and see the discussion.

By the time tax reform came around, we were a little subdued. The kind version is that this is a war presidency, and he cannot finish his domestic agenda; the less kind version is that this White House is not skilled enough to get things through an obstreperous Congress.

The commission was a disaster. I was upset from the start as they were instructed to use the static CBO model that says every dollar of tax cut is added to the deficit. You and I might argue as to how much tax cuts pay for themselves, but to refuse to consider any economic gains from simplification or reduction is an abdication of principle -- and it doomed it from the start.

Some of the suggestions had merit but I saw one of the architects on Larry Kudlow's show. A Republican committee member as trying to explain it to a friendly, Republican, brilliant, professional economist. When I saw that it was too confusing for these two, I had my concerns that it wasn't gonna be a big hit.

JohnGalt and I are huge fans of consumption-based-taxation and I think we even have Silence on our side. It's the way to go: privacy, ease of compliance, captures black market monies. But it also reduces government power. Right about now is where Silence's law comes in...

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2006 7:13 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Count me in on consumption based taxation.

But how do you tax foreign purchases? A free trader would never want to have tariffs, levies or duties.

Posted by: AlexC at April 11, 2006 11:53 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

AlexC: I think we could probably apply a tax for use of infrastructure. It has to come through a port or some sort and then, like postal charges, a destination fee could be levied based on the declared value of the package. This would certainly work with the '100% container check' mindset.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 12, 2006 11:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

A free trader would never want to have ANY kind of tax, but there are legitimate national expenses that must be funded. Foreign purchases must be taxed just the same as domestic ones. Foreign sellers who refuse to comply with tax remittance shall be prosecuted under law.

Or, mdmh's port of entry model may work even better. The point is that this "levy" is exactly the same thing as the domestic consumption tax. (To do otherwise effectively subsidizes foreign sellers against domestic ones.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2006 3:28 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Wow, I have my own law now. Yeah, count me in on consumption tax. Again the problem is how to get the change when it removes power from those who must make the change. Since I have been a bit absent of late in discussions I will tie in here with the "pox" thread above. Forget line item veto, what we need is line item votes. How can even the best of our politicians not be frustrated by the choice of voting for a huge pork project because it is part of a larger bill that supplies our troops with armor?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 15, 2006 12:50 AM
But jk thinks:

Interesting idea, the line-item vote. But isn’t the omnibus bill the cornerstone of our sausage of democracy (metaphor alert!!!) Ted Kennedy says "I'll vote for your tax cuts if I can slip in a few million for midnight basketball in Southey." It would seem to thwart the mechanism for compromise. Handing that off to the Executive at least moves it down the street.

Truth be told, I am skeptical of the line item veto. Like term limits, it makes a problem go away, but whether it is constitutionally sound, I am not certain.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2006 11:58 AM

A President's Best Friend

If George Tenet deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the certainly Scott McClellan is due one ... or at least combat pay. Check out the tenacity of this guy in the April 7th press briefing. Never gives an inch, never acknowledges inconsistency of positions, holds the line. Well done Mr. McClellan.

Current Events Posted by LatteSipper at 3:58 PM

Don't Get Sick

Don't invest in Pharmaceutical stocks, don't go into research, and for NED's sake, don't come down with a chronic disease!

WSJ.com - Vioxx Jury Adds $9 Million To Damages Merck Must Pay

In an unexpected verdict, Merck & Co. will have to pay $9 million in punitive damages to a man who had a heart attack while taking Vioxx. The verdict came after a jury here concluded that the drug maker knowingly misled regulators about its troubled painkiller.
Last Wednesday, in the first phase of the trial, the jury awarded John McDarby, 77 years old, and his wife $4.5 million in compensatory damages for his heart attack, which the jury determined was caused by Vioxx. In this second phase, the jury was asked to determine what punitive damages, if any, Merck should pay Mr. McDarby.

Tysabri, a godsend to some advanced MS patients was pulled from clinical trials last year. The FDA has now given the green light, but nobody will protect the manufacturer from one of these ambulance chasers. A potential but rare side effect is a fatal brain infection -- that'll play well to the jury! Best to just let patients suffer.

I rail against the FDA as a murderous bureaucracy, but at least it exists under elected, executive branch authority. The tort bar is not elected -- I'm not talking about John Edwards. These people are effectively setting policy for trials and treatments.

The medications I take are decades old, but when I need something "stronger" or a new treatment, it is unlikely I will be given the chance, or that enough dollars will be invested in the sector to fund research. Screw the fund raising walks, we'd be better off marching on Washington for FDA rand tort reform.

Sorry if I'm grouchy. And I apologize to people who need COX-2 inhibitors for their quality of life but are not allowed to make their own decisions in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:16 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

A contraire, mon ami. Your grouchiness is rational and well placed. The FDA is, as you contend, a murderous bureaucracy. They effectively kill individuals in the most advanced society on earth by forcibly denying them access to the most advanced pharmaceutical products. They do this in the name of "safety" but the safety they try to gerrymander is a collective safety. Why? Because, in the words of former FDA commissioner David Kessler, "To argue that people ought to be able to choose their own risks is to impose an unrealistic burden on people."

The next step is for government to ban skydiving, crossing the street, and joining the navy.

For more on this see Alex Epstein's essay at: http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=10859

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2006 3:19 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

JK, you have come to a conclusion that folks like you and I are essentially doomed. No new vaccines, no new cures, just dumb-ass studies that tell us George Bush causes cancer in rats due to global warming. I'm going to start a class action suit against the UN, US, DuPont and all Auto Makers because they did not tell me about the hazards that chewing on my steering wheel. Then I'm going after the lawyers for failing to sue before I got sick. Then I'm going to sue myself (someone has already done this) for pain and suffering by getting sick.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 11, 2006 3:50 PM
But jk thinks:

No. mdmhvonpa, I don't know what's worse, giving up or really believing that constant links on this site to WSJ Editorials will do any good, but I'm in the latter, delusional camp.

Three thousand innocent Americans were killed on Sept 11, 2001 and it "changed everything." Ten times that number could have been saved from colon cancer if not for the FDA's two year delay of Erbitux. Sam Waksal and Martha Stewart went to jail, imClone imPloded, and 30,000 innocent Americans died of colon cancer.

Sorry to anyone bothered by the comparison. In a way it is grossly unfair. But the numbers make one stop and think...

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2006 4:07 PM

April 10, 2006



Can someone explain to me what, exactly, I'm looking at?

(Tip to Michelle Malkin)

But AlexC thinks:

JK, how about the distinct disadvantage?

Namely, if it were so great, people wouldn't be fleeing it.

At least before the the Civil War, our union was a voluntary one, so people could petition to join it (ala Texas)...

But could you imagine the enormous sh!tstorm that would erupt? Depending on how you gerrymandered the states/provinces you could give a bunch of seats to Dems or a bunch to the GOP. It would make the Missouri Compromise look like cupcake time.

Posted by: AlexC at April 10, 2006 8:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I can imagine, but we are encouraged to think big at ThreeSources.

I always contend that people are poor because of bad government. If we brought our far-less bad government, their economy would skyrocket. Folks aren't leaving because the Tequila is bad; they're searching for American opportunity.

It would be very tough to add all those likely Democrat districts, yup. That's why you need Canadian provinces and subdivision of Texas (for the Senate). Most of our oil comes from these places -- it'd be Nafta on Steroids!

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2006 8:52 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

But LatteSipper thinks:

51st state? Holy cow! Are we invading Mexico?
Posted by: LatteSipper at April 10, 2006 04:22 PM

Why not? Those people are obviously leaving for the US because life in Mexico sucks under the current regime.

I think its high time GWB took charge and set things right south of the border! Maybe then, those people will leave us alone!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 10, 2006 9:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Before I'm accused of "going all Sam Houston" on our neighbors, I agree that it is a right and a privilege to be admitted into the Union and I want nobody who doesn't want to go and doesn't prove it by referenda.

Nobody pointed out that if we need more GOP districts, we can always offer statehood to Iraq...Silence? LatteSipper?

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2006 10:34 AM
But LatteSipper thinks:

(rising to the bait ...) After all we've done for Iraq, I don't think they'll be anxious to receive any more gifts from us. Perhaps Iran would be interested.

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 11, 2006 2:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If Mexico joins the union you can bet it will be voluntary, because you can also bet they'll get more out of the deal than the other 50 states will. I just hope the public restrooms in Mexico become more like ours instead of the other way around.

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2006 3:12 PM

Boston Globe on Pa Senate Blogging

Sometimes you have to wonder if reporters do prep work on their articles.

An example would be the Boston Globe on the impact of negative blogging on Senate races.

    The new Menendez site seeks to establish the Democratic senator -- appointed to the job by his Democratic predecessor, Jon Corzine, governor of New Jersey -- as being too cozy with the political establishment and moneyed interests, while sites aimed at Democratic Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr. call him too liberal for his home state of Pennsylvania.

Does the story mention the names of those "sites" (plural) that call Casey too liberal?

Of course not.

How many are there? Well, I try to follow the PA Senate blogosphere closely, and I can only think of one obvious one. CaseyIsaLiberal.com, which hasn't been updated with a post since November. It's actually closed. Full disclosure, one of the contributors has joined SantorumBlog, but does not regularly post. (Still alive Jim?)

Another "anti-Casey" blog is TheRealBobCasey.com (sponsored by the Republican Federal Committee of Pa) seems lately to be highlighting his performance as a Treasurer more than anything else. Yes, I know about WheresCasey.com, but that's not a blog. It's an advertisement.

Ok, they don't link to all of those anti-Casey sites into the main article, but in a side bar, and it's only one. They have a gallery of "mudslinging sites" with screenshots.

Here's CaseyIsALiberal.com's.

And here's the funniest part. It's plain as day it's a stale site!! A blog on politics, especially this senate race, that hasn't blogged in months might as well be dead.

Just today MSNBC's Chris Matthews was bashing blogs for not having editors. "Writing must be fact-driven." That's all well and good. If only we had a positive example.

Can someone point to me the other anti-Casey "he's a liberal" blogs? You could make an argument about us, maybe, but generally I link to things with little commentary (being anti-Casey isn't our focus). If anything, the anti-Casey blogs and blog postings are from the left side!

    'That's part of American politics," Casey said in an interview, shrugging off the sites. ''People have a First Amendment right to express their point of view."

It goes on.

    Santorum, whom the Democrats consider the most vulnerable sitting GOP senator up for reelection this year, is the target of numerous websites dedicated to disparaging him.

    Mike Panetta, who operates one of the sites, said he launched it in 2000 as a gateway to register voters and provide information about the campaign. But this year, he said, the site has taken on a more interactive quality, with contributors posting remarks. The site now commands 700 to 1,000 hits a week, he said.

In fairness, they didn't link to the site (or the numerous other ones), so it's a mystery. Googling for it, I think it's DumpSantorum.com. Kim Hefling's similar article from a few months back also points to DumpSantorum.com. Although it only seems to be getting 3 to 500 hits / week.

What's the 1,000 hits per week site?

By comparison, for the seven days ending today, we've got over 1,000 visits and 1,500 page views.

    Howard Heater, who runs another anti-Santorum site, said he bought several domain names in the hopes of selling them to "rich Republicans" who would want them to promote the senator. He sold none, but developed electsantorum.com as a way to criticize the senator.

That's all the negative side of the blogosphere. There are positive pro-candidate sites. But they seem to all be from the campaigns themselves.
    Santorum has a campaign website that is unusually rich in information and multimedia features. Surfers can watch Santorum's campaign ads, read his statements, view his schedule, and even read his personal blog as he campaigns for his third term. The website is meant to reach out particularly to younger people who spend more time on the Internet, spokeswoman Virginia Davis said.

    The campaign monitors opposing websites but can't do much about critical postings, she said.

    ''People recognize that blogs are subjective," she said. ''And other bloggers will chime in with their side of an issue."

Other bloggers like SantorumBlog.

Overall, no plugs for SantorumBlog (doesn't really bother me, we don't try to be a negative site), but man, I hate identifying some pretty fundamental problems. Like Caseyisaliberal.com, and maybe the DumpSantorum hits... so much for editors.

(crossposted at santorumblog.com)

Senate Posted by AlexC at 2:00 PM

The State of the Left

Jonah Goldberg at NRO thinks that the riots in France are telling for what they're rioting about: "These rabid rebels smashing their way through people and property alike, shouting revolutionary slogans and playing Robespierre in a FCUK hoodie are demanding . . . continued job security with paid vacations. Gone are the days of tearing down the system. Now is the time to burn a car for better dental benefits."

In typical Jonah fashion, he is funny with an underlying message. The Republicans may have atrophied as a governing power in the previous ten years (cf. ThreeSources blog), but the left always seems to be fighting to not tamper with Social Security (1935) or not change the Great Society (1965). Goldberg points out that it's now the left who have stolen his old boss's mantra and are "standing athwart history yelling stop!"

The smartest and most passionate thinkers of American liberalism are more actuary than revolutionary. Scan the pages of The New Republic or The American Prospect and you will learn that the sunny uplands of history can be reached not by sticking it to the man but by expanding the earned income tax credit and jiggling around some obscure provision of Medicare Part B. They're the rebels with a clause.

I suppose they have big ideas over at "The Nation." But the mainstream left and Democratic party and the left-of0center think tanks seem a little thin on the ideas side.

The rest of this article is worthy of discussion as well. He discusses a new book from Charles Murray called "In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State." He's going to replace welfare with a direct payment to every American. I'm gonna have to think about that one, but the point is that an idea is out there.

UPDATE: The statist left wins in France: WSJ:

PARIS – French President Jacques Chirac scrapped a controversial labor-contract law aimed at boosting youth employment, in a major about-face following weeks of strikes and mass protests by students and workers.

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM

April 9, 2006



This is how I look when I express concern.

Knock yourself out

UPDATE: jk here, this is too funny. What a great site!


UPDATE II: My Charming Bride:

But AlexC thinks:

That looks more like mocking to me, JK.



Posted by: AlexC at April 10, 2006 2:01 PM

Good Economic News Kills

I think now we're plumbing the depths for bad news on a very strong economy.

    The risk of a fatal heart attack rises when the U.S. economy strengthens and increases further if macroeconomic conditions remain robust over the next several years, according to a study published last month.

    The death rate rises in the year the economy expands and grows further if the lower rate of joblessness is maintained, Christopher Ruhm wrote in his study.

    A 1 percentage point drop in unemployment is estimated to raise mortality by 1.3 percent or 2,515 additional deaths per year from heart attacks, the study showed. The mortality rate is similar for males and females.

It's a vicious cycle, I tell you. The dead people have to be replaced, further driving down unemployment, killing more people. Viva la full employment!

(tip to Ace)

But jk thinks:

Bush's fault!

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2006 5:04 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I tell JK, it's tough out there.

Everyone who worked in the 19th century is dead now. It's obvious that employment on its own is deadly.

It's only a matter of time for the rest of us.

Posted by: AlexC at April 9, 2006 5:27 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I guess the upside is that there is less demand on the medical treatment resources ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 10, 2006 1:59 PM

An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations

Now he thinks he's Adam Smith! No, not fit to adjust the Scotsman's green eyeshade...

But last Friday's Wall Street Journal Editorial has stuck with me all weekend. I almost posted a (free) link to it, but I did not want to be accused of a "dueling links" war with my less-keen-on-immigration blog brothers. The WSJ Ed page boys, like me, enjoy the wealth that immigrants create and, like me, can appear diffident to enforcement because of the extreme benefits these workers provide. Just another column, pushing my side, albeit a great one:

Our answer is that a closed economy ultimately would make America a less competitive and hence poorer country--because we'd have less human capital, and because we'd be using the human resources we did have less efficiently. Among higher-skilled and -educated workers, pulling away the U.S. welcome mat means all of that talent would go to work creating wealth and jobs in other countries.

But the part I couldn't forget is the counterfactual they posit. Not the "Day Without a Mexican" scenario, but a realistic look at the world that many of the enforcement types want.
Eliminate the immigrant labor force and these jobs don't--presto!--start paying more to attract Americans. In a global economy, they're much more likely to disappear or move overseas as domestic employers find themselves less able to compete with foreign producers. And many of the same politicians who complained about "cheap" immigrant labor would then want to block the import of products that were once made here.

Businesses can't raise wages or prices willy-nilly without respect to the ability and willingness of consumers to pay for a good or service. The agriculture industry certainly would attract more Americans if it paid $50,000 a year to pick lettuce in the noonday sun, but not without raising the cost of food and other things. It would be more expensive to eat out, for example, and fewer people would do so as a result, affecting the restaurant industry, among others.

"So what if the price of a hamburger goes up?" my friends ask. I'll pay an extra couple of dollars, and my neighbor kid will work for $12/hour. The answer is that you might pay a few dollars more, but you might eat out less. More cost-conscious folks will eat out a lot less. There will be fewer restaurants built, plumbed and painted. There will be fewer places to eat, farther from home.

Frederic Bastiat talks about the "seen and the unseen." In this case, the seen is the unassimilated worker, the costs in public welfare, education and medical care. The unseen is the wealth that is created. And when I say wealth creation, I mean quality of life (more, cheaper restaurants closer to home) as much as more dollars, those restaurants will need computer programmers and drive my wages up.

Immigrants also increase the demand for labor, not just the supply. That is, they are also consumers who create jobs by buying goods and housing here. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan often pointed out how immigration has been driving housing demand. And if immigrants really were "stealing" American jobs, we wouldn't have had the remarkable job growth of recent years.

In the end, isn't national security preserved by our amazing economic engine? Be very, very careful what you are willing to trade our nation's wealth for.

But jk thinks:

Very good line!

You and I never seem to come up with much disagreement, I am a law and order guy and want to make it legal.

But there is a huge faction of our beloved GOP, and I fear you are truckin' with some of them, who would see "too many" as one of the failures of our immigration policies.

Don't want to beat a dead horse but I hadn't yet made the clear case I wanted. This article did it pretty well. Those who would like to severely restrict immigration WILL impede wealth creation.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2006 10:30 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hmmm, he forgot to mention the flip side. Unchecked immigration would yeild unchecked criminal asylum. We would be in greater fear of leaving our homes or letting strangers enter to do 'menial' tasks like cleaning or tending our children. Fewer people would go out to spend money for fear of getting mugged.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 10, 2006 2:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Sorry, mdmhvonpa, I have never seen anything to support that nor heard of extensive staying home to avoid crime.

The housing boom, by contrast is on TV about every day and this article just begins to show how much they contribute. They fuel demand for housing at the low end, and the less expensive semi-skilled labor they provide makes moving up affordable.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2006 2:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Weren't we just talking about a gigantic increase in H2B visas? I can't speak for a huge faction of our beloved GOP but I think your blog brothers have REPEATEDLY said what AlexC just said, i.e. "Don't close the border - control it."

But immigration isn't at issue here. Voting rights and citizenship are (plus that pesky little principle of law enforcement.)

As for the argument that our economy would circle the drain without illegal workers, I have to point out the biggest reason why illegals are so desirable as employees: No government interference.

How much lettuce would get picked if migrants were subject to workman's comp, social security, federal, state and local income tax witholding, mandatory health coverage, right to sue, etc.

When you add this to their effective immunity from our civil and capital criminal courts, any right-thinking illegal immigrant would never ACCEPT citizenship in this country, much less DEMAND it.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2006 3:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair to say I might have all of you guys wrong. If so, I apologize.

My mailbox, however, is stuffed with PatriotPost, NewsMax.com, GOPUSA and the like, I read Michelle Malkin, VDH, Hugh Hewitt, and Powerline (I used to read Powerline, it crashes my browser now) and I see Rep Tom Tancredo on TV, I see the House bill -- and THEY ALL WILL MAKE US A POORER COUNTRY IF THEY GET THEIR WAY. A poorer country with a permanent, Democratic majority.

If we err on the side of more immigration, we'll have a few more people to worry about next time Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly get worked up -- if we err on the other side, we lose jobs, competitiveness and wealth.

“Control the border, don't close it," "make it legal," all of these are arguable as intelligent positions but none of them speak to a desire for the plentiful immigration we need to create wealth and the humane treatment of the workers here. None have numbers attached to them. I, like Bill Kristol, am willing to say that I am liberal on immigration, that I can be soft on enforcement. I feel my blog brother may be hiding behind platitudes.

If I thought you guys were convinced, I'd stop posting these (and were you really convinced, I bet you'd stop posting immigration items from VDH and Michelle Malkin).

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2006 6:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And Krauthammer. Don't forget Krauthammer!

Before we agree to a bunch of GUEST workers coming in there have to be a few changes. No more citizenship for anchor babies. Citizenship by marriage has a multi-year waiting period (after the nuptials). No more government publications or phone machine menus or, especially, election ballots in Spanish, no more bilingual education, no more voter registration at the DMV. I'm sure there are others that I've missed but you get the idea. Instead of catering to foreigners in our midst we make it crystal clear that to function in this country you must speak English. There's no point in trying to stay here if you don't learn the language. The rest of them can do their job and go home. Right? We don't want them to immigrate permanently, do we?

Posted by: johngalt at April 11, 2006 3:28 AM

Document Release

CaptainEd (Time Magazine's Blogger of the Year, btw) is earning his keep lately by analyzing the Iraqi documents released to the public.

American Interests...

    [W]e have established the translation of the memo from the Iraqi Air Force general to all units requesting volunteers for suicide missions against American "interests", the timing of the memo appears to fit into a disturbing sequence in the months prior to 9/11. This memo is dated March 17, 2001, less than six months prior to the coordinated al-Qaeda attack on the US, at a time when the AQ plotters and pilots appeared to be in close proximity to Iraqi intelligence agents in Europe.

He paid for two independant translators to translate that documents. Three different translators in total, same message.

And he links to this...

    CQ reader Sapper sends along a new document from the captured files of the Saddam Hussein regime, one that had just been released on Friday, that has notations indicating where WMD stockpiles might be found. The information on the memo has not been translated but the notations themselves sound breathtaking:
      Please see Iraqi map to locate Al-Rasheed area
      on this page important information that the Iraqi regime has Transported the chemical and biological weapons to al-Rashad area, and pronounced a Military Prohibited area

      this area is completely covered with trees & bushes

Nothing to see here, move along. Bush lied, &etc.

But jk thinks:

The 9/11 Commission has clearly stated that Iraq was not involved. Why would Captain Ed, or anybody else, bother translating these documents, after Jamie Gorelick has already given us the truth?

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2006 2:01 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

David Kay and Charles Duelfer both found no evidence of WMD stockpiles. The US military spent a year looking for it. Now some blogger pouring through documents on the internet has discovered where they're hidden. Outstanding. Did he also find Jimmy Hoffa's body under all of the trees and bushes? How about reading a more plausible account of the Administrations understanding of the WMD threat Washington Post - A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/08/AR2006040800916.html?referrer=email&referrer=email)

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 10, 2006 12:47 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

A PS to my previous post. An editorial in the NY Times predicted this - http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/03/opinion/03mon2.html?n=Top%2FOpinion%2FEditorials%20and%20Op-Ed%2FEditorials

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 10, 2006 1:51 PM
But jk thinks:

There is a legitimate and still unresolved question of threat. The administration (and their toadies at ThreeSources) remain convinced that Iraq was on its way to creating WMD programs and was a contributor to world terrorism. I have been surprised they were not father along, but I am in good company.

Critics have used the 9/11 Commission (which said "no proof") and the lack of stockpiles to say that the administration was wrong. Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard has spent months calling for declassification of captured Iraqi documents. He is one of several journalists who feel they contain evidence that WMD progress was better than now thought and that Saddam's collaboration with terrorists (nobody disputes his payments to Palestinian suicide bombers) was mort extensive. Preliminary results hint that both of these may be true.

Your denigration of "a blogger" concerns me. Are you saying that we should trust the government, CIA, and Blue Ribbon councils -- all the experts who performed so poorly in the run up to the invasion -- over a translation of Iraqi documents because it was done by (was he wearing pajamas?) a blogger?

The by-line WaPo piece asserts that the White House made a "concerted effort" to discredit a critic. I wish they'd do a lot more of that! And I hope staff writers Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer don't read ThreeSources -- we try to discredit each other all the time. (JohnGalt drives an Audi!)

Lastly, those seriously wanting to discredit Wilson would do better to buy him TV time http://www.theneweditor.com/index.php?/archives/2794-Joseph-Wilson-Reveals-Himself.html

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2006 1:54 PM
But jk thinks:

RE: P.S. Wow. The New York Times should be ashamed of itself for having no interest in "48,000 boxes of captured documents" from a country we are at war with. Their lack of curiosity astounds!

The fear that information might be exculpatory to the Administration has caused the soi disant greatest newspaper in the world (which it is) to hide its head in the sand, not seeking the information it contains, and now denigrating those who are doing its work for nothing and paying people out of their own pocket.

I've got no trouble picking sides on this issue with Ed Driscoll over the NYTimes Ed Page.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2006 2:02 PM

Brokeback Day

It's Brokeback day at threesources.com!

Saw this on Drudge.

    Massachusetts correctional officer is being disciplined for showing the gay cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" to inmates at the state's largest prison because his boss determined that the film includes content inappropriate for a prison setting.

    Massachusetts Department of Correction spokeswoman Diane Wiffin said Saturday that the action was not related to the critically acclaimed film's plot involving a gay love affair.

    "It was not the subject matter. It was the graphic nature of sexually explicit scenes," Wiffin said.

    She said the officer, whom she declined to identify, failed to follow prison guidelines that require staff who schedule films to review them in advance for excessive violence, nudity or sex, as well as scenes involving assaults on correctional staff.

I can't imagine sitting around a staff meeting at the prison deciding what the next movie will be.

"I know! Let's show Brokeback Mountain!"

A prison movie like Wedlock is more my style. Prisoners wear explosives around their necks... and they are "bound" (hence the title) to another prisoner. If they get a certain distance apart (like in an escape attempt), their heads are convinently disconnected from from their bodies.

Oh, and the prisoners don't know who their partner is.

That's a prison movie.

But jk thinks:

[sniff] Why can't we quit this...?

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2006 2:04 PM

Sic Semper Tyrannis


Winds of Change blog reminds us what happened three years ago:

The end of creatures who bear the official title "violator of womens' honour" (i.e. official rapist). Of torturing small children to make their parents confess. Of the people-shredders, into which victims were fed feet first. So the operators would not be deprived of the pleasure of their screams. The end of The 10 Plagues of Iraq.

A day that also included the liberation of a childrens' jail and torture facility, thus reminding us forever of the opportunity - and the justice - represented by that statue's fall.

Thanks to all who serve.

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


I had a friend, one since Kindergarten, who claimed that whole event was a totally staged occassion. He was getting his PhD three years ago. He should have known better. Well.. maybe not.

Posted by: AlexC at April 9, 2006 1:38 PM

Elevator Talk, Redux

You know the rules. You have a brief elevator ride to explain your politics to a total stranger. (A Denver elevator, Boulder's aren’t big enough and Philadelphia’s are too big.) The door is closing, go!

I believe in personal freedom and individual empowerment. Both of these flourish in a bottom-up structure rather than top-down, command-and-control.

Right wing economists have long embraced this, calling it free markets, Adam Smith's invisible hand, or Hayek's distributed decision-making. But I am now seeing heightened interest on the left. Craig's list founder Craig Newark calls it "community," and New Yorker Magazine writer James Surowecki has written "The Wisdom of Crowds." Little-l libertarian blogger and UT law school professor Glenn Reynolds has highlighted the underlying technological advances in his "An Army of Davids." All these converge to expose the benefits of empowering individuals to make decisions with the facts they know.

I understand the temptation of the left to seek government solutions. The Federal government especially has massive resources and could wire every home for Internet or make us all buy hybrids or buy us all health care. All these solutions create and require centralized command-and-control, managed by some government bureaucrat who may or may not be competent, may or may not think like I do, and may or may not have my best interests at heart. I'd rather trust the 300 million consumers to try, find, and select the best programs than to have bright, educated people in Denver, Washington DC, or Turtle Bay dictate the answer.

The world laboratory of history has proven we Hayekians right. What I call "Classical Liberalism" after Ludwig von Mises's 1927 book, Liberalism, has raised nations out of poverty, empowered their citizens, and created massive wealth and innovation. Command and control societies, based on Marxism have sent affluent nations into poverty; stripped their people of rights, empowerment and personal freedom; and killed more than 100 million in the brutal police states that these societies require.

To achieve these goals, I vote Republican. While GOP politicians have disappointed me many times, they have consistently shown themselves to be better stewards of classical liberalism than the Democrats. I remain devoted to ideas and not party. Should some realignment or new movement create a Democrat party that espouses my ideals, I will join them. In my adult life, however, I have seen few examples of Democratic superiority on personal freedom. I tell my friends that "Republicans promise more freedom and frequently disappoint; Democrats promise less freedom and frequently succeed.”


Elevator Talk Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM

Brokeback Sequel

On saturday, JK took the brave stand of (this is where I close my eyes... ) and reviewed Brokeback Mountain, an homage to two men and their love for one another which bucks traditional American frontier stereotyping.

As a public service, I will volunteer to review Brokeback Mountain's sequel "The Fur Traders" when it comes out.


(tip to ChicagoBoyz)

Posted by AlexC at 2:08 AM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Yesssssssssssssssssssss!!! ;)

I know,...double-standards! Whatever! LOL!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 9, 2006 10:03 AM
But jk thinks:

To be fair, I will have to watch this one as well -- it's my job!

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2006 10:56 AM

April 8, 2006

Quote of the Day

Nobody's motioned "Firefly" in months around here!

Samizdata's quote of the day to the rescue:

A government is a body of people usually notably ungoverned.
- Derrial Book, the Shepard in Firefly episode War Stories

Posted by John Kranz at 5:52 PM

Breakfast at the White House

Via email...

    Dick Cheney and George W. Bush were having breakfast at the White House.

    The attractive waitress asks Cheney what he would like, and he replies, "I'd like a bowl of oatmeal and some fruit."

    "And what can I get for you, Mr. President?"

    George W. replies with his trademark wink and slight grin, "How about a quickie this morning?"

    "Why, Mr. President!" the waitress exclaims "How rude! You're starting to act like Mr. Clinton!''

    As the waitress storms away, Cheney leans over to Bush and whispers..."It's pronounced quiche."

Posted by AlexC at 4:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But howard thinks:

Not bad at all...

Posted by: howard at April 9, 2006 12:58 AM

Tech Talk: Outsourcing

A number of threesources contributors are involved in the tech sector.

Here's an article from IBM discussing a decline in American students studying Computer Science.

    Q: You cite an alarming decline in the number of U.S. students majoring in computer science and engineering, particularly among women and minorities. What has caused this decline?

    Gina: In the U.S., we've seen a decline in science and engineering degrees over the past ten years, while the number of newly declared computer science majors has actually declined by 32% over the last four years. Ever since the dot.com bust, there's been a steep drop-off. Clearly, women and under-represented minorities are leaving at alarming rates or not even considering science and engineering programs.

    There are a couple of reasons: one is a myth, believed by parents, students, and high school guidance counselors, that computer science and engineering jobs are all being outsourced to China and India. This is not true. The percentage of the total number of jobs in this space is quite small -- less than 5%. According to a government study, the voluntary attrition in the U.S. has outpaced the number of outsourced jobs to emerging nations. Further, for every job outsourced from the U.S., nine new jobs are actually created in the U.S.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 12:54 PM

Apart from Mr. Hewitt

I'm in a glass house to throw stones at web page typos, but this one was funny.

I like Hugh Hewitt but disagree with him so frequently that I'm not really a regular reader. I bought his new book (I'm finishing some Ayn Rand first as a ThreeSources assignment) and look forward to it. I saw that he is doing a book-signing in Denver, and I do have a few autographed books that I enjoy owning (Larry Kudlow, Virginia Postrel, John Derbyshire, Rick Brookheiser).

Other side of town, I won't make it but was intrigued by this line:

More details are coming, so check back here to see how you can be apart of the this event.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

Review Corner

Finally! The ThreeSources review of "Brokeback Mountain!"

I watched it last night and have to say that it's a good movie, but I would not call it a great movie. The pacing is very slow. Good cinematography and music compensate to a point, but I wanted to fast forward the storyline. The characters are compelling, and I found myself interested in what would happen.

I should say that I am an Annie Proulx fan, but I think this script is a lot more Larry McMurtry's. He adapted a short story into a long movie and Ms. Proulx's touches are scarce.

The gay scenes are tolerable for a reasonably enlightened, 21st Century guy. It's not homo-erotic like some of Ann Rice's work (she has made me nervous on a few occasions). If you can handle some big, hairy cowboys kissing for a few minutes, you'll be fine. (Just relax and think of England!)

Is that a recommendation? No. The film is pretty pretentious, as we are asked to pity these poor guys who were in Wyoming (Bush 69% - Kerry 29%) and Texas (Bush 61-38%) during the 60's and 70's -- not all enlightened like West Hollywood today. The pacing is very slow. If you're not crying for the beauty of the love story -- and I kinda doubt anyone around here will be -- you'll be waiting for it to end.

But it has made me pretty nervous around cowboys...Two and a half stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:37 AM | What do you think? [6]
But howard thinks:

Shepherds -- they were shepherds. But that aside, it was a good film, though I chafed every time I heard anyone suggest homophobia as a reason that it lost the best picture to Crash. In my opinion at least, Crash was just much better.

Posted by: howard at April 9, 2006 12:56 AM
But jk thinks:

Wow. A quick search shows that I gave "Crash" zero stars (I am tough, but unfair...) Crash deserves better than that but I found its politics infuriating.

I have heard this cowboy vs. shepherds argument before. Watching the film, I suggest that it is fair to call them cowboys. They met at a sheep-watching gig, yes, but one rides rodeo, the other does whatever ranching work comes around, I feel comfortable calling these cats cowboys.

I will agree that Brokeback Mountain was not robbed because of homophobia (it is so rampant in the film industry!) I think it lost on its own.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2006 10:55 AM
But howard thinks:

I find that it's much easier to enjoy movies if I don't bring my politics into the theater. There'd be just too much to annoy me if I did...

Posted by: howard at April 10, 2006 1:38 AM
But jk thinks:

You are absolutely right, Howard, and I used to be a lot better at checking my beliefs at the door. I don't know how much Hollywood has gotten worse and how much I have but I am finding it more difficult.

I didn't review "Chicken Little." I love animation and the animation was killer but the moral of the story is that the world should be more like an episode of "Oprah." If dads would not be so violent and little boys would learn to express their feelings...Okay, I'll stop.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2006 10:35 AM
But dagny thinks:

These are serious questions. I am really interested on input in this matter.

Why bother to go see movies that require checking one's values at the door? Worse, why support Hollywood's messed up values with your hard-earned dollars? Finally, how can you, "enjoy," something that is in disagreement with your values?

Posted by: dagny at April 11, 2006 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Agree wholeheartedly, Dagny. But as a practical matter, you are going to be starved for entertainment if you wait for them to remake J*O*E. National Review did a good cover story a few years back on the 100 best conservative movies of all time (100! can you name ten?)

Besides Hollywood bias, there is an intrinsic bias to art. I love the work of John Steinbeck but it's all lies. Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful life" is an excellent film. I watch it every year, but part of me yells "Go travel and build bridges You'll do the world a lot more good!"

I was proud of myself that I could name five conservative novels without repeating authors. Art is the domain of our opponents. We have Wayne Newton and "Bush Was Right." They have, um, about everything else.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2006 4:21 PM


I spent the whole week waiting for Friday to get my fill of Victor Davis Hansen.

He does not disappoint.

    Ever since September 11, the subtext of this war could be summed up as something like, “Suburban Jason, with his iPod, godlessness, and earring, loves to live too much to die, while Ali, raised as the 11th son of an impoverished but devout street-sweeper in Damascus, loves death too much to live.” The Iranians, like bin Laden, promulgate this mythical antithesis, which, like all caricatures, has elements of truth in it. But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, the barbarity of the nightmares at Antietam, Verdun, Dresden, and Hiroshima prove that well enough.

    So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.

    So, please, Mr. Ahmadinejad, cool the rhetoric fast — before you needlessly push once reasonable people against the wall, and thus talk your way into a sky full of very angry and righteous jets.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 1:01 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Someone recently trotted out one of my favorite dicta from General Eisenhower: if a problem is intractable, enlarge it. I fear that serious escalation of the Iraq war into Iran may be necessary before it is ever stabilized.

Perhaps that will not have to be soon, and perhaps the internal, Iranian democrats can be leveraged but it appears that it must be done.

Great post. Very stirring words about the march to freedom.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2006 10:33 AM

April 7, 2006

Name for This?

None dare call it sedition.

    Mayor Gavin Newsom said Thursday that The City will not comply with any federal legislation that criminalizes efforts to help illegal immigrants.

    The mayor also denounced a bipartisan congressional proposal that would beef up border security and allow as many as 12 million illegal immigrants to gain legal status.

    Newsom, who has not been afraid to wade into controversial national issues such as gay marriage, appeared with a group of elected officials on the steps of City Hall to support immigrants, “documented as well as undocumented.”Newsom also signed a resolution sponsored by Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval, and passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, urging San Francisco law enforcement not to comply with criminal provisions of any new immigration bill.

    “San Francisco stands foursquare in strong opposition to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C.,” Newsom said. “If people think we were defiant on the gay marriage issue, they haven’t seen defiance.”

What are the state's rights / federalism issues involved in something like this? I have no idea where to even begin.

But jk thinks:

I bet his eyes were closed when he said it!

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2006 6:07 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Well,...maybe this is why that city Supervisor stated that the US doesn't need a military. If it were sedition, Bush would be within his rights to sic the Army on SF!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 7, 2006 7:15 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, I'd like to know if he was smelling his own farts.

I'm thinking I'd like to rent of the planes you see at the beach pulling an advertisement.

I'd fly it over the Mexico-California border.
In spanish it would say, "The city of San Franscisco welcomes you! Kids stay free!"

Posted by: AlexC at April 7, 2006 9:26 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

So when a mayor says his city's government won't abide by a some portion of pending legislation, that's sedition, huh? What is it when a president signs a bill into law and adds an addendum that he is not obliged to obey the requirements of the law?

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 9, 2006 12:43 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll concede that it is not sedition to abjure enforcement of a law that doesn't exist yet.

We have a very complicated power sharing arrangement between cities, states and federal government that is constantly tested and adjudicated. You'll find most of us siding against the Feds on Federalism grounds (Raich v Gonzales is second only to McConnell v FEC for worst SCOTUS decision of my lifetime).

But when the laws are settled, we expect both sides to honor them. Mobile, Alabama cannot outlaw abortions, Coeur d' Alene cannot allow chattel slavery. Cities like SF (and Boulder?) that refuse to recognize the Patriot Act or prosecute Federal laws are, well, um, seditious.

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2006 11:12 AM
But LatteSipper thinks:

Yet that appears not to apply to our beloved president. Bush signed the Patriot Act extension with much fanfare, then the Whitehouse quietly issued a signing statement in which Bush said he was not bound by elements of the law. Shouldn't he have vetoed the law if felt there were elements he couldn't abide by?

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 10, 2006 12:13 PM

Global Warming

BBC News

    Reduced air pollution and increased water evaporation appear to be adding to man-made global warming.

    Research presented at a major European science meeting adds to other evidence that cleaner air is letting more solar energy through to the Earth's surface.

    Other studies show that increased water vapour in the atmosphere is reinforcing the impact of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.

    Scientists suggest both trends may push temperatures higher than believed.

    But they say there is an urgent need for further research, particularly at sea.

More research means more money. That's what this whole thing is about.

But jk thinks:

The answer is obviously a hybrid car that expels a lot of smoke. If you love the environment, you'll buy one.

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2006 5:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Just the right amount of smug in the air would be beneficial too. If only we could count on George Clooney and his Hollywierd pals to control their smug outbursts, a general smugginess over the US could be safely maintained. Alas, general smugness will precipitate "I'm more smug" reactions from them.

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2006 10:38 AM

The Internet's Use

Some would say that the Internet is for communication, or it's for commerce, or it's for community.

I say it's for things like this.


But johngalt thinks:

HA! This is a classic example of "be careful what you wish for."

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2006 10:45 AM

Huge Breakthrou...SCREEEEE!

Yesterday's hastily called press conference to announce a "huge breakthrough" in the Senate immigration bill was supposed to presage a rubber-stamp vote last evening. But Republicans who thought the bill should be more than another "immigration bill to end all immigration bills" insisted upon amendments. Frivolous things like,

"One amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security to certify that the border was secure before creating a guest worker program or granting legal status to illegal immigrants. Another would have the legalization program bar illegal immigrants who had deportation orders or had been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors."

This issue is way too important to rush into another band-aid compromise measure. The serious dialog in the comments to 'Immigration Politics' below have been illuminating, and promise more enlightenment if the conversation continues.

Immigration Posted by JohnGalt at 2:59 PM

Wall First, Questions Later


    Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won't do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put cameras. Put sensors. Put out lots of patrols.

    Can't be done? Israel's border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the last 50 years.

    Of course it will be ugly. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps aesthetics. And don't tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you build a wall to keep people in, that's a prison. When you build a wall to keep people out, that's an expression of sovereignty. The fence around your house is a perfectly legitimate expression of your desire to control who comes into your house to eat, sleep and use the facilities. It imprisons no one.

    Of course, no barrier will be foolproof. But it doesn't have to be. It simply has to reduce the river of illegals to a manageable trickle. Once we can do that, everything becomes possible -- most especially, humanizing the situation of our 11 million existing illegals.

But johngalt thinks:

Except for his perpetuation of the "11 million" myth (some estimate 20 million or more) this is a great column. Krauthammer advocates for the same thing JK has for weeks now: "Radical legalization of those already here." Except, like me, he insists on concrete (pardon the pun) measures to end illigal immigration. But as neither JK nor I has done, Charles observes that resistance to the former will nearly vanish if the latter is effectively achieved first. He proposes a year or two interval between the two.

This is a compromise solution that works - both sides get the result they want. Presuming, of course, that Krauthammer's prediction on the part of security advocates holds and that legalization advocates really are willing to allow illegal immigration to be stopped.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2006 3:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Further, kudos to Charles for elevating the idea of serious and deliberate border security from "Tancredo quackery" to mainstream (media, at least) legitimacy.

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2006 3:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Speaking of inside baseball, I watched an hour of the Senate floor debate this morning. Some speeches were very good (Sen. Craig, R-ID!) but it was about a cloture motion for the Martinez-Hagel amendment, Minority Leader Reid calling the Republican's obstructionist, I was agreeing with Sens. Feinstein and Kennedy, Sen. Jeff Sessions from Alabama will play the part of Tom Tancredo today...

I'm surprisingly calm. Things are happening according to plan. I will get what I want in the end and publish an indecent I told you so to my GOP Immigration Win piece.

The Senate will pass a bill that is very light on enforcement, but includes a guest-worker provision. The House passes a tough enforcement bill (I'll take a little more wall, but am not up for a Krauthammer/Israel wall if we can avoid it).

Conference will hammer out a "comprehensive" bill that will be a little tough for the Wall Street Journal and too lenient for Rep Tancredo, but we'll all move along.

Looking for that seed of disagreement, it occurs to me that I do not see illegal immigrants as the security threat that others on this page do. It concerns me that N million people are here illegally but that terrorist threats are more serious from domestic sources or other countries.

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2006 6:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Small security threat? Tell that to the wife of Boulder County motorcyclist Dale Englerth who was run over by an illegal who, instead of being prosecuted, was deported to Mexico by Boulder police because of a "scheduling snafu." Or the wife of Denver cop Donnie Young, who was shot in the back of the head by an illegal who worked at one of Denver mayor Hickenlooper's restaurants. These are individual examples meant to show the horror of the problem, not the magnitude.

How about the Mexican drug gang MS-13? 11,000 organized Mexican illegals conducting business with impunity in 33 US states. Or Mexican army patrols crossing miles into US territory and firing upon US border officers. One editorialist I read claims "a full 30% of illegals fill our prisons." I'm not sure of this stat, or what this is a percentage OF, but it's clearly troubling.

But the greatest threat from the current state of immigration policy is the near complete ignorance of our current laws. When some laws go unenforced, other laws are soon ignored. Particularly by those with little or nothing to lose and everything to gain. The current debate is not about changing the law, but about whether we'll try to enforce it or, through abandonment, effectively repeal it. I say we MUST enforce this law. We need to be brave if we want to be free.

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2006 11:22 AM
But jk thinks:

Tragic examples of crime. When I say small security threat, I suggest a small threat of terrorism.

People want to tie the global war on terrorism onto their favorite projects, be it midnight basketball, multicultural education, whatever. I hear the protectionists and the close-the-border crowd using this and I think it is equally risible.

Illegal immigration, as you point out, has many of its own problems. But I reject the call to include it as national security.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2006 12:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Don't close the border - control it. (This is my new broken record track.) New York congressman Pete King said yesterday that intelligence reports of terrorism activity at the southern border are troubling, and that waiting for a tragedy to occur before doing something about it is irresponsible. Seems to me you'll have a hard time convincing voters that idea is some kind of extremism.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2006 3:07 PM

Disturbing revelations or liberal media blather?

Here are three different articles on information in the court papers recently filed by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in "U.S. v. I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby" : Fox News , Washington Post , FindLaw (I was unable to get a story from the Wall Street Journal - they either didn't cover it or my non-subscriber status prevented me from finding it.)

I'm interested to hear the group's take on this. Is the whole leak investigation story much ado about nothing, or is there something to be concerned about here?

Current Events Posted by LatteSipper at 12:43 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

The Wall Street Journal (remember, the news pages are as liberal as any, only the Editorial Page is right wing) has the headline "Libby Trial to Spotlight Bush Tactics" and the lede says "...signaling Mr. Libby's coming criminal trial threatens to renew questions about the invasion of Iraq and the White House's dealings with detractors."

I'll see if either of our token Democrats want to play, but the President has the power to declassify classified information. Public opinion is important and it seems that sacrificing some secrecy for support is valid. If I believed that he did it only to harm an opponent, I would be displeased, but the White House was countering a lie made by Wilson.

Got to go for the AP Headline for succinctness: "Bush Approved Leaks"

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2006 1:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One of the many criticisms that might actually have merit is that the classified information was not actually declassified. It was "leaked" and then kept in its confidential status.

Can't say whether this is actually how it went down but if it did, why?

(This is about as much investigation as I have been willing to devote to this massively overhyped story.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2006 2:36 PM
But AlexC thinks:

It's too insider baseball for anyone to care. Including me.

Austin Bay had a pretty good take.

"The sudden press flap over Scooter Libby’s alleged “revelation” that President Bush declassified intelligence information related to Iraq is silly but all too predictable. The entire flap relies on mixing terms and “misunderstanding by innuendo” — a technique of demagoguery, not journalism. The flap is yet more evidence that the national press is more interested in playing “gotcha” with the Bush Administration than reporting the news."

Posted by: AlexC at April 7, 2006 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Hard to argue with Glenn's assessment at Instapundit. Professor Reynols says:

"My take: The latest 'Bush leaked' story -- which doesn't hold up very well when you look at the actual story -- is basically a 'spoiling attack' by the NYT and other media who fear subpoenas in the Libby case. As with all their efforts on this front, it's likely to backfire. The more they say that leaks are bad, even as they rely on politically motivated leaks from insiders for their bread and butter , the more vulnerable they become. That's why the Plame affair has been more damaging for them, long-term, than for Bush. Bush will be leaving in a couple of years, but the Times and other media will be living with the world they've created, and I predict that their position in this regard will be no better if a Democrat is elected in 2008."

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2006 1:02 PM

April 6, 2006


I have been a big fan of Skype(r). Our previous company had hour-long conference calls, with participants in Ireland, England, South Africa, and Boulder. These conversations were free if everyone was at his/her computer and pennies if Skype credits were used to call a cell phone or land line.

I gave up my land line months ago and have never looked back, but...Working from home, I have hour long conference calls and the cell phone is not an ideal device. The speakerphone duplexes clunkily, and 60-120 daytime minutes for a boring meeting are difficult to bear.

I purchased 10 Euros (they rang me up at $12.60) of SkypeOut credits yesterday. I talked for an hour and my balance is now $12.55 The computer headset is comfortable and productive.

It is still a mystery what eBay is going to do with this not-so-little purchase, but I will give it high marks. Download a free client at skype.com, talk free computer-computer (I am berkeleysquarejz) and talk cheaply to phones all around the world. The quality is not perfect, but except in high traffic, it is perfectly acceptable.

Not a commercial, just an endorsement.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:59 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Sounds interesting... I'll have to make time to give it a try. Is it berkeleysquarejZ or jK ?

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2006 11:41 PM
But jk thinks:

berkeleysquarejz (as in jazz). Your internal IT guys are not gonna be too comfortable with it at work.

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2006 10:25 AM

McKinney Body Guards

See the video.

It really hasn't been her week.

But johngalt thinks:

Nothing for her to be embarassed by here.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2006 11:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Not sure the Representative is capable of embarrassment, so whatchya gonna do?

It was mentioned that it is highly unusual for a rep to hire private security. To have said security threatening a local Atlanta reporter may not be wise.

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2006 11:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps this is a thought best kept to myself, but: am I the only one who thinks Rep. McKinney does a lot more to promote racism than David Duke could dream of?

She is the face of machine politics and government privilege. She does not come across as smart, attractive or particularly likeable. That this same face happens to be black -- it's no wonder the Congressional Black Caucus and Democratic Party are not standing behind her.

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2006 12:31 PM

Union Papers

More on the union influence in Philadelphia.

    No one in the press is willing to say that the unions are motivating both judgments - toilets and newspapers. The media should be reporting on their own union issues as forthrightly as they have tried to on the toilet bowls at the Comcast Tower.

    The facts: McClatchy is led by CEO Gary Pruitt in Sacramento, Calif. Its largest paper is the Star Tribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul. McClatchy is buying Knight-Ridder's 32 papers for $4.5 billion plus the assumption of a $2 billion debt. McClatchy also announced it will sell 12 papers for a estimated $1.4 billion. Which? Those with "slow population growth."

    Among those they're keeping:

    The (Boise, Idaho) Statesman, The (Bradenton, Fla.) Herald, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, The (Olathe, Kan.) News, The (Lexington, Ky.) Herald Leader, the Center Daily Times (State College, Pa.), and Kansas City Star.

    Not exactly union bastions.

    Among those they're selling:

    The Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer, the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News. Guess what? McClatchy intends to sell all the Knight Ridder papers with newsroom unions!

    The Mercury News out of San Jose isn't afraid to speak out. Columnist Mark Schwanhausser asks: Since "eight of the 12 papers to be sold are union shops, is it a referendum on unionized papers?"

Sounds like it.

But don't worry... there will no doubt be a buyer. How about the employees?

Posted by AlexC at 3:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Couldn't they be retrained to remove urine cartridges?

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2006 6:27 PM

TO Bowl

The hype has begun.

    The NFL has set the date for the biggest Eagles' regular season home game in recent history. The Dallas Cowboys and Terrell Owens will be at the Linc on Sunday, October 8th at 4:15 p.m., which is week 5 of the regular season.

    Against them will be an inspired Eagles team and 65,000 Birds fans giving T.O. a welcome only Philadelphia can provide.

Eagles fans hate Dallas like no other NFL team. That bum T.O. playing for them didn't help.

Posted by AlexC at 3:05 PM

American Sharia Law?

Here's an article which you must read in it's entirety.

    First in Europe and now in the United States, Muslim groups have petitioned to establish enclaves in which they can uphold and enforce greater compliance to Islamic law. While the U.S. Constitution enshrines the right to religious freedom and the prohibition against a state religion, when it comes to the rights of religious enclaves to impose communal rules, the dividing line is more nebulous. Can U.S. enclaves, homeowner associations, and other groups enforce Islamic law?

Go read.

Posted by AlexC at 1:47 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Interesting, and possibly problematic.

I'm no lawyer but it seems to me that the legal bases against imposing local sharia are overwhelming. I cannot open a little chattel slavery enclave in North Lafayette. There is a clear stance for freedom, and that is the benefit of a written constitution; those wronged can claim their Constitutional rights. Canada and (other) European nations frequently lack the clear delineation.

My concern is the multiculturalists who will refuse to go to court to protect a Muslim girl's rights. We can fight to take down the Easter Bunny (Cuniculine, patriarchal bastard!) but if enough people sit still while a young girl has to wear a hijab, or honor killings are enforced, than this enclave could happen.

In a way, it would be an interesting test of the Left that Christopher Hitchens left. Would they place women's rights and gay rights above multiculturalism?

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2006 6:25 PM

April 5, 2006

Victory for the Unions

This is fantastic! Yay!

    A waterless-urinals agreement is in the can, and that means that the Comcast Center will be able to install the environmentally friendly basins in its new headquarters, a spokesman for Mayor Street announced last night.

    Street brokered the complex deal between the developer, Liberty Property Trust, and Plumbers Union Local 690, with support from State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo after the potty standoff was made public in The Inquirer and became a cause celebre for the city's environmental groups.

    The agreement clears the way for Liberty to install 116 no-flush urinals in the men's rooms at the 58-story Comcast Center, and increases the chances that the 975-foot skyscraper will earn the title of America's tallest green building.

    Liberty, however, was forced to accept a long list of conditions to open the way for the green devices. Most significantly, it agreed to install standard water lines with the urinals, although they are unnecessary and will not be connected. The plumbers contend this is a backup measure, in case the urinals don't work.

You got that? The Plumber's union was threatened by progress and new technology, so they extracted concessions to install pipes that are completely unnecessary.

If only the buggy whip maker's union was this strong.

But johngalt thinks:

I think the plumbers may have the last laugh on this one - as soon as some auditor figures out that using water in standard urinals would be a fraction the cost of specialized, disposable, have-to-be-replaced-by-someone-on-a-regular-basis, cartridges. Someone is going to receive a workplace honorarium for suggesting they "upgrade" all the toilets to 1965 technology.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2006 2:29 AM
But jk thinks:

As long as a union, urine removal engineer gets the job...

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2006 12:34 PM

Romney's Moment

I'm uncommitted in '08, unless Secretary Rice runs, in which case I'll quit my job and volunteer full time.

Massachusetts Gov. Romney has a good shot at my support. As Eidelblog points out there is a real moment of truth for the Governor's Presidential ambitions. Will he sign a "bullshit" law (that's Eidelbog's choice of words, I would never throw out economics jargon like that) mandating health insurance in the Commonwealth?.

It's not just in Massachusetts that government officials think they can legislate a free lunch, but this really takes the cake. It looks like Gov. Mitt Romney is willing to sign some form of the bill, proving he's as conservative as George W. Bush -- in other words, a big-government "compassionate" conservative, not a true Reaganite conservative.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Lonely guys comment on their own posts.

Larry Kudlow had a great panel to discuss this on Wednesday night. Art Laffer, living economic deity, came out for it at first, saying that mandatory catastrophic care was a good idea.

Joel Mowbray and I required defibrillation to be caught on the other side of an issue as Laffer, but as the conversation went on, and it was pointed out that Massachusetts’s mandates would all be enforced, the good Doctor back-pedaled.

Romney was on FOXNews and is not backing away. He claims this is a Republican, free market solution to a Democrat problem. It sounds pretty good, and a member of the Heritage Foundation was on talking it up. (What planet did I wake up on? The Heritage Foundation has a representative on FOXNews talking up socialized medicine?)

Sounds good when you say it Governor, but you are trusting current and future members of Massachusetts legislatures to not dip into the employers;' pockets to mandate more benefits. And there is no provision to allow out-of-state purchase, or reduce generous mandates.

Eidelblog is dead on; Romney is another W who'll expand government if he thinks it is being done in a free market manner. He has just jumped several places down my list for GOP nominee in 2008.

Posted by: jk at April 6, 2006 6:41 PM

Darwin Award

We just missed handing one a Darwin Award out yesterday.

If you drive a dump truck with the bed up underneath electified wires, what do you thinkwould happen?

    At approximately 11:20 today a dump truck heading east at the Church Road grade crossing in South Ambler went through the crossing with its dump bed in the raised position, taking out both power and signal wires on both tracks. The resulting electrical surge passed through the truck body and grounded on the rails, arcing through the rims to the steel belts in the tires, causing at least one blowout. The truck continued east for another 50-60 feet before stopping.

Maybe this guy shouldn't have been driving the truck at all!

Follow the link for pictures.

Posted by AlexC at 3:00 PM

WMD Charges


    A man pleaded guilty to weapons of mass destruction charges for sending a mail bomb to a Chicago surgeon he said botched his penile enlargement surgery, though his attorney questioned whether the charges fit the offense.

    Brett R. Steidler, 25, of Reamstown, Pa., mailed the explosive device in February 2005 because he was "extremely unhappy with the results" of the $8,000 surgery, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said in court filings.

I think unhappy with the results would be an understatement. But I wonder if this guy is making up for something.
    His attorney, Luis A. Ortiz, said Steidler is mentally ill and noted the difference between the roughly 2-year sentence for mailing a letter bomb and the 4- to 8-year sentence for using a weapon of mass destruction.

The lawyer is right. He shouldn't have been charged that way. Attepted murder maybe.

But am I the only one who thinks that a 4-8 year sentence for using a WMD is a bit low?

Posted by AlexC at 2:54 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Well, it was just a little one...

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2006 3:30 PM

Happy 4-5-6

I'll leave thsi alone until June Sixth.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:22 PM

Public Campaign Finance

I have to widen my oppo reading. I have subscribed to The New Republic for a few years (long enough to watch them go from pro-war to anti-war). I have said nice things about Beinart, Foer -- and the pieces from Professor Howard Stunz are awesome. All that fun, and the smug feeling that I'm keeping up with the other side. Good stuff.

LatteSipper sent me a NYTimes Editorial piece and an Atlantic Monthly article. I may succumb to TimesSelect. Much as I hate to pay for Krugman and Modo, it is a legitimate business model and I could console myself with supporting David Brooks. I haven't read Atlantic Monthly in a while, I'll grab a paper copy -- any other suggestions?

Lest I think I am too close to TNR, they come out this week for public financing of campaigns. How tough it has been to regulate campaign spending before (yeah), the unintended consequences (I'm with you), then the call for public finance and this whopper:

The main argument against public financing is the cost. But the cost of public funding must be weighed against the fiscal benefits. According to Nancy Watzman of Public Campaign, public financing of congressional elections would cost about $1.5 billion every two years. By contrast, the current system encourages billions each year in business subsidies and tax breaks that lack any market rationale. And it results in legislation like the bankruptcy, energy, and prescription-drug bills that amount to a transfer of billions from the working and middle classes to businesses and their stockholders. By a modest estimate, an investment of less than $1 billion per year for public financing would free more than $50 billion each year that could be allocated or saved, depending on what Congress, free of the pressures of the system's subtle kinds of bribery, decided.

NO! The opposition to public finance is not cost. It is a belief in freedom! Who gets my money? If I want to support socialists, I can give to them, I can choose to give a lot to somebody I believe in, I can choose to give nothing.

This is against the grain of American politics, and is outrageously pro-incumbent. Anybody around here want to take TNR's side? They are serious folks, but I cannot go with them here.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 2:10 PM | What do you think? [5]
But LatteSipper thinks:

Ok, I'll bite. I'm not well informed on the merits, or lack thereof, of public financing of campaigns. I appreciate your argument for the freedom to support (or not) a given candidate. The system currently in place is already grossly incumbent. Without having seen the particulars of the proposed public financing plan, how is it more grossly incumbent than the system that is already in place? This may be a bit of tangent, but I'm wondering if you're also against dollar limits on campaign donations. Let the information exchange begin.

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 5, 2006 4:09 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

Oh yeah, I'd be interested in some suggested publications from your side of the tracks. Anything by serious folks.

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 5, 2006 4:14 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I can never get this question answered by advocates of public funding of elections.

Who is going to administrate public funding of elections?

The elected themselves, or the people who rely on the elected for their job?

Posted by: AlexC at April 5, 2006 4:55 PM
But jk thinks:

You're certainly correct that the current system is pro-incumbent. But limiting the power of a group that might want to excise an incumbent seems a bad move.

Alex asks the mother of all questions. I assume it would be a Democrat-Republican split, or based on % of last vote. Where do new parties come from? I'm not a Perot guy, but he drove the debate, and Buckley's New York run gave us the greatest political motto ever "Don't Immanentize the Eschaton!" Our system would be poorer without these quixotic efforts.

I'd say my larger point is freedom. If George Soros wants to give 100 gazillion dollars to the Democrats, why not? I would remove limits and replace them with transparency: candidate must post every donation above $100 within 72 hours on your website. As long as I know who's giving, I won't limit how much.

A web-only subscription to the Wall Street Journal gives you some of the best right-wing commentary there is, with the bonus of excellent news pages. I like "The Weekly Standard" quite a bit. I subscribe to National Review, which has a great heritage and good writing but they can be too "social conservative" for me. I also get The American Enterprise, which is a great overview of many writers on a single topic. I bought Reason to check it out and run up the tab for a niece's fund-raiser. It's fun but I doubt I will renew.

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2006 5:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This Robert Tracinski essay is an argument that directly refutes the TNR scheme. It also makes the case for LatteSipper's "clean slate" suggestion. Though I suspect Latte wants to clean the slate merely to start drawing again. Tracinski says, effectively, clean the slate and then smash it to bits.


Posted by: johngalt at April 7, 2006 2:52 PM

GOP Mojo

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page has some ideas for the GOP "to use the few productive weeks it has left to establish a 2006 record and 2007 agenda that are worthy of re-election."

They, correctly, diagnose the malaise that has spread over the GOP base (cf, ThreeSources) and provide some suggestions which are more appealing than the "we don't suck as bad as the other guys" defense, which is sadly the only one I have got left if Congress doesn't get their WSJ today.

May we suggest a Plan B? How about at least fighting for the agenda that elected them the last time? It's obvious at this stage of the 109th Congress that little will actually become law, especially with Democrats able to filibuster in the Senate. But if Republicans were seen to be fighting for some principles, voters might actually decide it's worth showing up on November 7.

They suggest bold moves on topics all the Republicans around here could agree with: cutting taxes, health care choice, endangered species overreach, congressional reform. Even if they lose in Congress, they provide a reason for the Republicans to show up at he polls.
On election night in 2004, Democratic campaign consultant James Carville asked: Where did all these Republican voters come from? Unless Republicans set a new legislative course over the next seven months, a deposed House Speaker Denny Hastert may soon be wondering: Where did all the Republican voters go?

Spirit of '94 Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM

Black Holes for Olives

Astronomers have discovered a cloud of alcohol 463 billion kilometres long

PARIS (AFP) - Astronomers say they have spotted a cloud of alcohol in deep space that measures 463 billion kilometres (288 billion miles) across, a finding that could shed light on how giant stars are formed from primordial gas.

I'm thinking martini, you could never find enough salt to make that a margarita.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:21 AM

Craziest Idea Ever

I've seen Paris Hilton's videos.

Both of them.

She's no Mother Theresa.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 2:51 AM

Population Control

... it's good enough for thee, but not for me.

    Talk radio and blogs are taking aim at a University of Texas biology professor because of a published report suggesting he advocates death for most of the human population as a means of saving the Earth.
    However, Eric Pianka says his remarks about his beliefs were taken out of context, that he was just raising a warning that deadly disease epidemics are a threat if population growth isn't contained.

    However, Forrest Mims, an amateur scientist, author and chairman of the Texas Academy of Science's environmental science section, told The Associated Press there was no mistaking Pianka's disdain for humans and desire for their elimination in the speech he heard.

    "He wishes for it. He hopes for it. He laughs about it. He jokes about it," Mims said. "It's got to happen because we are the scourge of humanity."

Obviously a death threat was over the line.

But he's only 1/5,000,000,000th of the world's population. He was angling for 90%!

Apparently that's not over the line.

Posted by AlexC at 2:47 AM | What do you think? [2]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hmmm, something to consider here is where the densities of population lay. An article that I recently read (googled) has some interesting conclusions about where all the 'surplus' population is coming from. We can essentially tie a 'racist' tag to this fellow since he is advocating an extermination of mostly asian, black and hispanic populace concentrations.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 5, 2006 10:06 AM
But jk thinks:

James Taranto had a piece on this. Apparently, the audience stood and cheered after he was done.

One makes fun of the elitism on the left but this captures it perfectly. If all we had were the PhD's and marine biology students, the planet would be a swell place.

Having said that, I will agree with the StarTrib that death threats for the professor are indeed out of line. I would just publish these remarks and show parents what their education dollar is buying these days.

Posted by: jk at April 5, 2006 10:14 AM

Sounding Presidential

Washington Post...

    Forget the Swift boat ads, the economy or international terrorism. Here's what really may have decided the last presidential election:

    President Bush and Vice President Cheney sounded more presidential than their Democratic counterparts. Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) seemed the most depressed or suicidal. And Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), sounded the most like a "girly man."

    Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin collected transcripts of 271 televised interviews, news conferences, town hall meetings and candidate debates conducted in 2004. The speech samples -- more than 400,000 words in all -- were run through a computer text-analysis program.

Read the whole thing... It's actually quite funny.

But the Democrats had better hair.

Oh electorate, thy art so unfair!

Posted by AlexC at 2:40 AM

April 4, 2006

The Best of Collection

So. My new favorite obsession is Wikipedia.

For some reason, I was reading about the overthrow and desmise of Romania's communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu. I surprised to read that as he and his wife were facing their executioners, they began reciting the Internationale.

The first line of which is, "Arise, the damned of the earth."

Not sure how the Romanian translation is, but it would be some sense of karmic justice if they just got as far as the damned. Then BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG.

Anyway... so I started reading about the Internationale. It's also a song.

Which I wanted to hear... I managed to track it down, which led me to the album above.

Apparently through the miracle of capitalism, you can get that album AND "The Best of the Red Army Choir" for only $39.96. Hell. You can even buy it used from 38 other comrades.

What a country.

But johngalt thinks:

There are many, many mentions of "The Internationale" song in Ayn Rand's novel "We The Living." Kira, the lead character, grew to be repulsed by the sound of it.

Posted by: johngalt at April 5, 2006 3:55 PM

The Opposite Of Progress...

The Everyday Economist gives us this Quote of the Day.

“There’s a power outage in the Capitol. No power, no product. The Dow is up 120. Draw your own conclusions.”

- Larry Kudlow

But AlexC thinks:

Reminds me of the good ol' days when Newt Gingrich closed down Congress (and the federal government)...

ahhh... those were the times my friends.

Sadly the doors opened again.

Posted by: AlexC at April 4, 2006 7:57 PM

DeLay Resignation

Jay Cost writes at RealClearPolitics about the DeLay resignation. He argues that House races are really referenda on the incumbent, not the administration.

    So why did DeLay resign? Why not just take his chances? My theory is the following. He senses, correctly or incorrectly (I honestly have no opinion), that he can beat Ronnie Earle's charges. This means he has a future in politics. He also senses that he would lose this election, or at least he senses that the possibility is very good. If he loses the election, his political future is put into jeopardy even with a courtroom win - political losers in this nation have a taint that is difficult to rub off. Resign now; beat the charges, live to fight another day. It is the smart move.

Posted by AlexC at 5:01 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Check out this sub-head from the BBC "News" story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4877888.stm

"Senior Republican congressman Tom DeLay has decided to step down from politics, making him the highest-profile casualty so far in a corruption scandal which has been dogging President George W Bush's Republican party for months."

The first line of the story is, "This is a fall from grace of truly Shakespearean proportions."

Wow, the shot heard 'round the world made less noise!

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2006 6:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Two posts down, check out the WSJ (news page) lede: Succumbing to scandal...

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2006 7:22 PM

The Administration Responds

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page publishes a response to Messrs. Buckley, Will and Fukuyama (Free link)

A small group of current and former conservatives--including George Will, William F. Buckley Jr. and Francis Fukuyama--have become harsh critics of the Iraq war. They have declared, or clearly implied, that it is a failure and the president's effort to promote liberty in the Middle East is dead--and dead for a perfectly predictable reason: Iraq, like the Arab Middle East more broadly, lacks the democratic culture that is necessary for freedom to take root. And so for cultural reasons, this effort was flawed from the outset. Or so the argument goes.

Peter Wehner answers the most serious arguments that war critics have recently raised: The War Is Lost (No, it isn't), The freedom agenda is dead (nope), .and George Will's assertion that the Middle East lacks a President Madison or Chief Justice Marshall:
and it lacks the astonishingly rich social and cultural soil from which such people sprout." There is no "existing democratic culture" that will allow liberty to succeed, he argues. And he scoffs at the assertion by President Bush that it is "cultural condescension" to claim that some peoples, cultures or religions are destined to despotism and unsuited for self-government. The most obvious rebuttal to Mr. Will's first point is that only one nation in history had at its creation a Washington, Madison and Marshall--yet there are 122 democracies in the world right now. So clearly founders of the quality of Washington and Madison are not the necessary condition for freedom to succeed.

(JohnGalt beat them to this with some recent comments, pointing out that Japan did not have a George Washington.)

I'd recommend the whole piece as a serious argument against serious concerns brought by serious people.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 3:23 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I didn't beat Peter Wehner to this story, just you. I read the piece this morning and it was a perfect addition to the dossier on George Will's advancing dementia.

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2006 6:53 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm a big George Will fan. When he was indifferent or opposed to George HW Bush in 1992, however, I knew it was over. I blame him on some level for eight years of President Clinton.

Buckley, Fukuyama, and Will make a dangerous set of war opponents.

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2006 7:21 PM

Farewell, Hammer

WSJ.com - DeLay Won't Run for Re-Election:

WASHINGTON -- Succumbing to scandal, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said Tuesday he is resigning from Congress in the face of a tough re-election race, closing out a career that blended unflinching conservatism with a bare-knuckled political style.

Good for him. I imagine he will have a very successful post-Congressional career. And I believe that the party will be better poised for the 2006 midterms without him.

Not disrespecting him, but I also hope that this departure will allow the GOP to recover eh Spirit 0f '94. Leader DeLay, though an effective legislator, has come to stand for the incumbency party we dislike.

Spirit of '94 Posted by John Kranz at 3:01 PM

April 3, 2006


Everyone is linking to this, so why not.
"Bush Was Right"

They did neglect to mention that whole ridiculous spending thing.... but it's very well done.

Posted by AlexC at 8:35 PM

Sports in the News

It's sports day at Threesources.com!

Earlier JK turned me on to the VORP earlier today.

For the next installment.

Lynn Swann for Governor of Pa. Most of you remember Lynn Swann from his championship days at the Pittsburgh Steelers... eventually leading to the Hall of Fame.

With very limited political experience he's currently in a statistical tie with the current governor and consumate politician Ed Rendell. So of course that opens him up for attack.

But criticizing his Hall of Fame entry?

    Lynn Swann should not be in the Hall of Fame. The only reason he made it into the Hall in the first place is because of the false national consciousness about his career generated by the endless repetition of two or three catches he made. . It isn't surprising how much this is reminiscent of Republican candidates in general. Not only do they not have much in the way of policy to back up the image generated for them in the media, even their images don't have any substance to them. In much the same way that Bush never used his ranch for anything besides image, Lynn Swann's career statistics are, in the end, catastrophically average.

I'm guessing if we're talking football performance that's the best they're going to do all political season.

UnsurprisinglyRedstate's Mark Kilmer rebuts the argument on SwannBlog...

    Lynn Swann's career was anything but average. Catastrophically average? I'd never hard of such a thing. When, in football, has anything average been a catastrophe? Even if this fellow's beloved Jurevicius, a Penn State alum, is an average player, has he also been a catastrophe?

    Nah. We're dealing with something else here, something that is best discounted. That kind of personal attack against an NFL Hall of Famer, an African American who performed remarkable feats throughout a splendid NFL career and is now seeking to help lift his home State above the gutter in which its current thuggish governor has been attempting to keep it, has no intellectual merit. Aside, that is, from determining whom he thinks possesses cooties.


But jk thinks:

The Democrats have no dramatic touchdown reels of their own, so they must attck Mr. Swann's. Sad.

Posted by: jk at April 3, 2006 8:55 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

You know, they could take some of Swanns stuff and overlay Rendell like they do with the Burger King commercials.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 4, 2006 2:10 PM

Ugly, Wrong, Stupid, Anti-American, Anti-Life

Mr. James Lileks has some words for the likes of me.

There are those who do not like Daylight Savings Time – it’s false time, a patent lie; why not say the sun sets at midnight? You can believe these things if you like, but do not bring them up in my presence. By my lights, setting the clocks back is the unnatural part. As a night owl, I treasure the longer evenings, and few things put a lilt in this grey hard lump of anthracite I call a heart than stepping outside at eight and seeing the world has not been cast back in the black pit. I love Daylight Savings Time. For that matter I’m used to its conclusion; it’s actually become part of the rhythm of the year for me. When the clocks go back the day seems to contract; when they leap ahead – in a single bound, as though they’ve been straining at the leash – the day expands and exhales. It’s a wonderful thing. People who oppose it are ugly and stupid and un-American and wrong and evil and anti-life.

Perhaps this coalition will never hold. The PSFFBs* will never see the light.

Communists! [* PSFFBs: Pro-Spring-Forward-Fall-Backs]

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

Wow, and that vitreolic multi-part label is being applied by "Mr. Get-Along" even. Imagine if he really WAS a chronomanageophobe!

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2006 2:47 PM
But LatteSipper thinks:

"Can we get along here? Can we all get along?"

Posted by: LatteSipper at April 4, 2006 10:58 AM

Beisboll Been Berry Berry Good to Me

One thing I really dig about baseball is the endless persuit of statistics.


    A three-time All-Star shortstop, [Jimmy] Rollins nearly helped the Phillies reach the playoffs by hitting .379 during his streak. Philadelphia finished one game behind National League wild-card winner Houston despite Rollins' effort.

    Now Rollins has his sights on breaking DiMaggio's 65-year-old record. There is a catch, though, because DiMaggio did it in the same season. The major league marks for longest hitting streak in one season and longest hitting streak spanning two seasons are separate records.

    DiMaggio holds both marks with his 56-game streak in 1941, but there is a difference in the NL records: Pete Rose (1978) and Willie Keeler (1897) share the NL mark at 44 games. However, Keeler got a hit in his final game of 1896, so his run of 45 games overall is the first record Rollins can chase.

    "You have to start over in your approach," Rollins said. "There's no pennant chase now, so I'm going to have to find other things to focus on."

    Rollins' hitting streak is the ninth-longest over one season in big league history, and the longest in the majors since 1987, when Paul Molitor hit safely in 39 consecutive games. The old Phillies franchise record of 31 was set by Ed Delahanty in 1899.

    The colder weather certainly won't help Rollins. He has never hit well in April, compiling a .227 average during that month over the last two years.

Rollins currently stands at 36 consecutive games with a hit, so he's got to get at least 20.

But jk thinks:
But AlexC thinks:

8th inning double baby!

Posted by: AlexC at April 3, 2006 8:13 PM

April 2, 2006

Pending Draft

Remember the post 2004 election draft scare?

George Bush was going to draft Americans to fight in various wars for oil and American hegemony? Conservative Punk does.

  • Bush recently threw a bunch of Pentagon money into the Selective Services to try and fire up the draft board. Of course, they’re not going to announce the draft unless Bush gets re-elected-that’s when they’ll spring it on people.
    – Jello Biafra, Ex-Dead Kennedys (Alternative Press, Issue #192, July 2004)
  • I think it’s especially important for young people to be involved, because I have no doubt that if Bush is re-elected, the draft will come back.
    - Justin Sane, Anti-Flag (Alternative Press, Issue #192, July 2004)
  • The U.S. Army is stretched about as far as it can go. The Defense Department is using every measure at its disposal to maintain the military's ranks.
    - MTV’s Rock the Vote
  • [Bush] insists that he won't revive the draft. But the facts suggest that he will.
    – Columnist Paul Krugman

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

You know, I was kinda hoping for a draft. Something along the lines of 13th and 14th grade in HS.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 3, 2006 3:45 PM


Philly Inquirer

    State Rep. Mark Cohen left the Barnes & Noble near Harrisburg in March 2004 loaded down with 15 new titles, including Clinton and Me, a book by the former president's joke writer.

    The bill: $303.

    For him, money wasn't an object. He wasn't paying. You were.

    Over the last two years, the state has reimbursed the veteran legislator $28,200 on bookstore spending sprees, a review of expense records shows. He spent $1,118 in September alone, making nine trips to bookstores.

    This has allowed the Philadelphia Democrat to expand his personal library by more than 800 titles.

    That's more than one book a day for the legislator who describes himself as "a voracious reader."

    How voracious?

    Cohen's book bill for 2004 and 2005 is more than what the Philadelphia School District spent to stock library shelves at the two high schools and two middle schools in his legislative district. The four schools, which have a combined enrollment of 5,000 students, spent $21,600 on books and periodicals in that two-year period, officials said.

In doing all that reading, Representative Cohen has apparently not heard of a library. The city is full of them. I bet they have a few of those 800 books in there. He should stop by one.

I heard they don't even charge you!

Some one ought to write How to be Fiscally Responsible: A Primer for Politicians. There's a book I wouldn't mind buying for these guys.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 4:55 PM

Immigration Politics

"The Republican Party is Split on Immigration" scream the headlines. We certainly have some disagreement around here. I don't see Democrats providing real leadership here, and I question that a united front is doing them much good.

I have had to face opposition to my views from Thomas Sowell and Victor Davis Hanson. A friend emailed this article with the Subject "Hanson." I thought it was the band. Of course, VDH has written a whole book about adverse effects of rampant illegal immigration and unassimilated Mexican people in has native California.

I have repeatedly made the case for a guest worker program, and said early that it could be packaged as a compromise with stricter security, resulting in a GOP win. I have faced the squeamish task of defending those who broke the law, those who refuse to assimilate, and even the ridiculous marchers who flaunted their ignorance and opposition to this country's ideals.

That's tough work for a law-and-order guy but I think that the economic advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, and that a guest worker program is a step toward a legal, controlled process that recognizes the exigencies of 11 million folks who are, well, here.

A very good point made by the other side was poll numbers showing overwhelming support for enforcement. As blog pragmatist, I have to look toward victory but feel that the support is "a mile wide and an inch thick," and that leadership could show people the benefits and overcome the demagoguery that has plagued this issue.

Bill Kristol seems to back me up in this week's Weekly Standard." In Y is for Yahoo, Kristol indulges in some name calling to a Representative from my state. But he also repeats the truth that the electorate has not been that kind to those who espouse policies that can be thought anti-immigrant.

The leaders of what he calls "THE HOUSE CAUCUS TO RETURN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY TO MINORITY STATUS--also known as the House Immigration Reform Caucus" all happen to be from safe seats. Statewide office holders have to be more moderate.

Dana Rohrabacher has represented a safe GOP seat in Orange County for almost two decades. He's chosen never to run statewide. In California, Republican governor Pete Wilson exploited the immigration issue to help get reelected in 1994, and the voters passed a Republican-backed anti-immigration measure, proposition 187. No Republican candidate except the idiosyncratic Arnold Schwarzenegger has won statewide since.

Virgil Goode has a safe GOP seat in Southside Virginia. He's never run statewide. Last fall, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Kilgore, tried to exploit illegal immigration by denouncing a local community that wanted to build a shelter that might accommodate some illegals. He lost, in a red state, a race he had been favored to win.

Anti-immigration yahoo Tom Tancredo carried the sixth district of Colorado comfortably in 2004 (though running slightly behind pro-immigration George W. Bush). But in Tancredo's state, the GOP did miserably in 2004, with Democrat Ken Salazar winning the Senate seat and Democrats gaining control of both houses of the legislature. Meanwhile, in the safe fifth district of Iowa, Steve King did run two points ahead of George W. Bush in 2004. King was able to outspend his challenger 10-1, while Bush faced a huge Kerry effort in that swing state.

Four GOP senators voted in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the comprehensive immigration bill these blustering House members believe is electoral suicide: Arlen Specter, elected and reelected in blue state Pennsylvania; Mike DeWine, elected and reelected in swing state Ohio; and Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, and Sam Brownback from Kansas--both very popular in their red states. John McCain, lead sponsor of a bill that resembles the Senate Judiciary Committee bill, has a pretty impressive electoral record in Arizona, a competitive state. George W. Bush, a pro-immigration Republican, has won two presidential elections--as did another pro-immigration Republican, Ronald Reagan.

Adding these examples to Pete Wilson's temporary gains but long term GOP minority in California, I do not see this as an election winner.
The American people are worried about immigration. In a Pew Survey released last week, 52 percent of Americans saw immigration as a burden, while 41 percent said it strengthened the country; 53 percent support sending illegals home, while 40 percent endorsed a path to citizenship. Given the hoopla about illegal immigration, this division is in fact surprisingly close. In any case, it means GOP senators and congressmen--and presidents--have plenty of room to show leadership and to resist demagoguery. Most Republican officeholders know that the political--and moral--cost of turning the GOP into an anti-immigration, Know Nothing party would be very great. It could easily dash Republican hopes of becoming a long-term governing party. How many Republicans will have the courage to stand up and prevent the yahoos from driving the party off a cliff?

UPDATE: An AP/Ipsos poll shows support for guest worker programs.
The survey found 62 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans favored temporary worker status.

"If I were in the White House, I would be pretty pleased about this," said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor who studies public opinion. "It does suggest pretty strongly that the president has the opportunity to drive public opinion on this."

But johngalt thinks:

VDH's last two paragraphs say about everything I believe on this subject.

I'll be your huckleberry, JK: "How does a 'guest worker' program stop the future flow of illegal immigrants?"

It will do that, won't it? Isn't that a problem that needs to be solved? Do we agree on that?

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

I agree with almost all of VDH's last two paragraphs. I said in an email the other day that a permanent underclass is a concern with a guest worker program. I think that the advantages outweigh this risk and I’m not sure Professor Hanson agrees.

Huck? The guest worker program does three things to reduce illegal immigration:

1) Given a safe and legal method, most legal workers would abjure the dangerous coyotes and illegal crossings;
2) Given access to legal guest workers, companies would hire these legal workers at a premium over illegals;
3) This would give the US a more solid economic and moral footing to toughen border security.

Posted by: jk at April 3, 2006 4:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

First of all, "reduce" is a weasel word. One percent is a "reduction." I said "stop." By this I mean cut by 95% or more. Isn't that the goal? Efficacy?

To analyze the rest I tried to find the links to the Senate subcommittee bill I was reading over the weekend but couldn't put my mouse on it today. I wanted to look for definitive measures that would address each of your points. Failing that, for now, I'll wing it.

1) Wouldn't this be simpler and more effectively achieved by merely raising the quota on legal immigrations from Mexico?

2) If this were true then wouldn't companies be hiring legal citizen and resident alien workers now, also at a premium?

3) I disagree with this one at its root. Our moral footing is nonexistent as long as we refuse to officially acknowledge the premise I put forth in your first elevator talk. Beside that, what makes you think if border security isn't tightened now that it will be in the future? It's not just terrorists that need to be kept out, its anyone who's not willing to follow our laws. The first one they're faced with is, you don't get to come in without scrutiny, due process and intent to assimilate. Sorry, that's just the way it is (and the way it has to be.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 4, 2006 3:34 PM
But jk thinks:

By reduce I mean greater than 50%, likely towards 80-90. The efficacy will be determined by the other part of a "comprehensive" immigration package, which is increased enforcement. I know that Congress will provide heightened enforcement enough for me, I lobby for the part that is up in the air: the guest worker program.

1) Yes, a dramatic increase in H2-B visas would meet most of my needs, I consider that equivalent to a guest worker program. A large difference is what to do with 11 million people who are already here.

2) I assume that there is currently a premium for legal workers and know there is a huge premium for assimilated, English speaking workers. This would provide more workers that are cheap and legal, which is good for the economy.

3a) If we close the border tomorrow and send everybody home, jobs will go unfulfilled, that is the economic footing. When we supply sufficient legal workers, we can enforce the border without economic damage.

3b) As for moral footing (I propose jk's law: you and I will never agree on anything that has the word "moral" in it), I find it immoral to tell people who want the work that they cannot have it. Right now, we have this crazy anti-Bastiat way to look the other way when some come in. Give me your lucky and shifty enough not be caught masses... A legal method would be moral to those who came and give us every right to be tough on those who ignored these new legal means.

3c) I gave up on the Elevator Talk, it was shot down by shoulder guided missiles from a rogue philosopher junta. I'm back to rambling and dissembling...

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2006 6:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

OK now, please forgive me if I wander a bit here but this is a complicated subject I'm learning more about every day.

You liken the guest worker program to an H2B visa given to some or all of the millions of illegal immigrants already here. That implies that, as with the H2B visa, these workers are here TEMPORARILY and are coming for a job with an expressly stated duration of 1 year or less.

But your explanations of points 2 and 3 above imply that the worker is already here and available to employers looking for help. But when an H2B visa expires the worker is REQUIRED (save for up to 2 years of extensions) to leave the country, ostensibly to return home. Will this be the case with "guest worker?"

Please don't be so despondent over our differences friend. We certainly agree it is immoral to "shoot a man in Reno, just to watch him die." We also agree that individuals have a natural right to create and to take jobs without permission from the government. But there is also an important tool for self-preservation known as citizenship that must sometimes trump the rights of individual NON-citizens. That's what's at issue here after all.

Posted by: johngalt at April 6, 2006 3:00 PM

April 1, 2006

Consenting Adults

Pardon the pun. This is nuts.

    Three men have been arrested on charges of performing castrations on apparently willing participants in a sadomasochistic "dungeon" in a rural house, authorities said Friday.

    "It's extremely bizarre," District Attorney Michael Bonfoey said in a telephone interview. "It's incredible the amount of ways that people can find to run afoul of the law."

    Sheriff's investigators said Richard Sciara, 61, Danny Reeves, 49, and Michael Mendez, 60, admitted performing at least eight surgeries, including castrations and testicle replacements, on six consenting clients over the past year. None of the three is licensed to practice medicine, officials said.

These guys might find out how North Carolina's penal system works.
    "This right here beats anything I have ever seen," Sheriff Tom Alexander told the Asheville Citizen-Times, which reported that victims may have come from as far away as South America.

    Each man faces 10 felony counts _ five each of castration without malice and conspiracy to commit castration without malice _ as well as eight misdemeanor counts of performing medical acts without a license. Each felony carries a maximum three years and three months in prison, Bonfoey said.

    "Assuming that the victims consented to this _ and we don't know that for sure yet _ that doesn't make it a defense," Bonfoey said. "We can't have people who are not medical doctors lopping off limbs and other body parts."

In all seriousness, you have to ask yourself what business the sheriff of Haywood County has inside of this dungeon. It's on private property, it was probably done with consent. I can't imagine getting castrated unwillingly and not complaining.

Surely privacy rights advocates would jump to their defense.

... and since it involves multiple men in some sort of S&M situation, wouldn't gay rights advocates step up too?

Also begs another question. Say for example abortion is against the law in South Dakota.... and it's settled law. North Carolina also passes a similar measure.

Would "back alley" abortionists also be subject to this law, with this case as precident?

Would abortion-rights advocates step in, as well? This case sounds like a coalition builder! ;)

But jk thinks:

Scary. This could result in a lot more Democrats!

(ooh boy i am gonna come to regret this joke...)

Posted by: jk at April 2, 2006 1:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, TWO April Fool's posts. You've outdone yourself AlexC!

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2006 5:54 PM
But AlexC thinks:
But johngalt thinks:

Even more amazing... you've conspired to persuade not just one, but two MSM outlets to go along with your sick joke. That's pretty impressive stuff. But I'm still wondering why you picked this wholly unbelievable story to peddle. April Fool's pranks are much better when they're at least plausibly believable. There is absolutely not a single man on earth that would willingly consent to let another man cut his balls off, nor a single man who would ever conceive of doing such a thing. Nope. Never happen. I'll believe man walked on the moon before this foolishness!

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2006 3:00 PM

Coming Out

After years of tiresome conservatism, always siding with big business against the little guy, I've decided that I'm going to see the error of my ways, and become a liberal.

I'm burning my NRA card, and replacing it with an ACLU card.
And I'm turning in my guns, replacing them with hugs.

Environmental issues should always trump economic interests and I'm ready to raise taxes on the rich. It's not confiscation, it's compassion (or is it compensation?) Social Security needs no repair, neither does Medicare.

I retain my membership in the Roman Catholic Church, however it's tempered with my own blend of abortion on demand and interest in hemlock, and I will not attend it's weekly services until women are welcomed into the Priesthood.

I'm tired of tirelessly defending the Bush Doctrine and all of it's attendant and necessary lies.
We should have left Iraq alone. North Korea and Iran were needlessly antagonized when the President Chimpy McBushitler labelled them the Axis of Evil.

Iran? Don't worry about them. They need to defend themselves against the aggressive Israeli/Zionist state.

I think that our military should only be used at the behest of the UN, and only with their blessing. A corollary to that is that I believe Neville Chamberlain was misunderstood and peace should have been given another chance to work.

And don't you dare call me unpatriotic!

I'm out and I'm a proud liberal!

Of course, before the process is totally complete, I'm going to need a government run health care system to cover my lobotomy, as my government paid prescription of stupid pills are only a temporary fix.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Nice April Fool's Joke!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at April 1, 2006 4:32 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Dude! Way to blow it!

Posted by: AlexC at April 1, 2006 5:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

AlexC - I think you had a believable spoof going until you failed to describe the Israeli/Zionist state as "illegal and cowardly." Then you ignored the liberal "fact" that our military is far larger and expensive than needed in the first place.

Finally (or, to begin with) REAL liberals don't label themselves as such. They've got much more luminous-sounding self-identifiers: Progressive, centrist, open-minded, pragmatic or even neo-liberal. But never just "liberal." (I guess lattesipper is an exception.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 2, 2006 1:20 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

You forgot to shriek in horror and pledge subserviance to Howard Dean. A real progressive would do so.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 3, 2006 3:37 PM

But johngalt thinks:

Villepin? He's a filthy apologist for the oppressors! Death to Villepin!!

Posted by: johngalt at April 3, 2006 2:56 PM

Review Corner

I'm not a real man. I function as one and like a lot of the same things men do. Of course my grooming habits are not good enough for me to consider being gay. But some malformed, truncated Y-chromosome makes it impossible for me to enjoy action films.

Taking this into account, I have to provide a mixed review of Peter Jackson's "King Kong." I went to Redbox early yesterday and was very happy to find it in stock. The first 90 minutes were extremely good. Great narrative choice, compelling characters, solid acting. I was ready to give out some stars. A girl, a guy, a gorilla, a good movie.

Stephen King, in one of his non-fiction books, Danse Macabre, says that the problem with making a horror movie is that the director ultimately has to show his hand: let us see the monster. Jackson handles this with aplomb (movie reviewers get to use words like "aplomb"). Quick cuts of the beast from the POV of the blonde in his hand -- more good stuff.

Then, however, we get an hour of special effects and fight scenes. Some idiot put an hour of "Jurassic Park" in this perfectly good movie, Dinosaur fights dinosaur, Dinosaur chases human, big bugs are shot off humans with tommy-guns, Gorilla fights dinosaur, big bats chase people. The effects are splendid but YAWN! the storyline doesn't move an inch the whole time.

Then more action scenes back in New York, then an ending we've seen 100 times but was done very well. I like Jackson and I like the style of this film too much to pan it, but I can only give it three stars although parts of it are five star quality.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:16 AM

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