May 31, 2006

Back To Balderdash

Is freedom a primary? What is the proof and evidence that freedom is a primary? What cause-effect relationships support such a position? What does history say on the matter?

If freedom is not a primary, what are the conditions for freedom? What is the proof and evidence of this? What cause-effect relationships support this position? What does history say on the matter?

In discussing a post on a discussion list that Nicholas Provenzo reads, he touches on the relationship of freedom to reason.

Now I know that some readers of this post will think themselves why is Provenzo minding the mindless. The thing is, I see this kind of debate-all vitriol and zero substance-from both the right and the left and I see it with increasing frequency. When I talk to the proverbial "man on the street," I rarely find thoughtfully constructed arguments in defense of one's position (regardless of whether I agree with it or not). Murphy could just as easily be arguing for the war and against the left; the actual position he takes is immaterial.

What is material is the clear inability to communicate rationally-to identify facts and present them to others in a structured presentation. And that's troubling to me-deeply so. Why? Because matters of life and death for the nation have to be discussed and debated-clearly, coolly and logically-or the nation and the freedoms it exists to protect won't stand.

But jk thinks:

Your counter-case is certainly legitimate to propose as a theory. But as you said, just one free person proves it wrong. I suggest myself, or a member of the Yanomami tribe, or a lost child raised by wolves to prove birthright freedom exists.

What I don't get is the value of a proof. While we who agree on the benefits of freedom discuss its base nature, what color it is, and whether it looks good in a gray suit, others are attacking it. Islamic terrorists would take my life, statist politicians would take my liberty and a Congressional representative from my home state in my own chosen party seems rather bent on taking away my pursuit of happiness by sending away millions who contribute to my wealth.

Given that siege. I would as soon take it as self-evident and engage those who do not see its benefits.

Posted by: jk at June 2, 2006 10:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And engage them, how?

If you can logically and rationally prove that you alone own your individual life and all of its products, then the person you engage with will either be convinced by your proof and agree with you (and engage with you further on other subjects or in trade and commerce) or will not be convinced and may someday pose a threat to your life and liberty. At that point you will likely deal with them only by force.

If you can't make a better case than, "it is self-evident" then, as Cyrano observes, he is equally justified in taking something completely different as self-evident. This is the essence of human history before the Renaissance, and was the epistemology that led to The Crusades. Those Crusades, it is worth noting, were never resolved with a victory of one self-evident belief system over the other (Christianity vs. Islam) but merely ended with a truce between kings. It is not far fetched to argue that the terror war we're now imbroiled in is a direct result of that unresolved conflict.

Does this give you any insight into the potential benefit of a proof?

Posted by: johngalt at June 2, 2006 2:56 PM
But Cyrano thinks:

Hey! Don't say I said it! I was using your Popperian ideas for the sake of debate, to show his ideas don't work. I could also get an Islamist, who says he is a slave to Allah (and who says every human being is a slave to Allah) and he would be a "counter case to prove your theory wrong."

OK...check mate...now what do you do?

If freedom were self-evident, why didn't ancient man see it? Why did it take millenia of cognitive, conceptual, theoretic development on the part of man to discover the idea of freedom? And why did it take centuries more before the idea could be consistently put into action?

Why did the concept of natural rights have to be developed before freedom could be instituted among men?

Posted by: Cyrano at June 2, 2006 11:44 PM
But jk thinks:

But it is self evident because it was not discovered nor created. The first humans born were born free (don't sing the song! Don't!). It is tyranny that was created, though I'll confess it probably didn't take long.

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2006 2:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Karl Popper's ideas "don't work?" His initials were not A.R. so he is a big fat loser?

Posted by: jk at June 3, 2006 2:16 PM
But Cyrano thinks:

G.G. was not a big fat loser, but didn't have the initials A.R. Same with K.F.G. Same with I.N. (That's Galileo and Karl Friedrich Gauss and Isaac Newton.)

Posted by: Cyrano at June 3, 2006 6:25 PM

Middle East Forum

Natan Sharansky and Rick Santorum

on

Religious Freedom, Democracy, and the Middle East

Moderated by Daniel Pipes

Monday, June 19, 2006

Registration: 6:00 p.m.
Program: 6:30 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.

Centennial Auditorium, The Haverford School
450 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, Pennsylvania


To make reservations (it's free) email Prosser@Meforum.org

This sounds excellent. I will definately be attending. For those of you don't know (like my wife), a line from Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy inspired the name of this blog.

Read more for info on the speakers.

MK Natan Sharansky is a member of the Likud party delegation to the newly elected session of the Israeli parliament, as well as a former Soviet dissident and renowned human rights activist. First elected to parliament in 1996, he has served as deputy prime minister, minister of internal affairs, minister of industry and trade, and minister of Jerusalem affairs. Mr. Sharansky is a distinguished fellow at the Jerusalem-based Shalem Center and the author of Fear No Evil: The Classic Memoir of One Man’s Triumph Over a Police State (Public Affairs) and The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror (Public Affairs).

Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) is currently serving his second term in the United States Senate. Mr. Santorum established the Congressional Working Group on Religious Freedom, a bicameral group of members of Congress who meet regularly with groups representing oppressed individuals and religious groups around the globe. The working group’s efforts raise awareness about countries in which abuses take place and promote religious freedom within these countries.
In addition to his efforts in the working group, Senator Santorum also introduced the Workplace Religious Freedom Act in March 2005. The bill will require employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s religious practice or observance, such as time off and attire. Senator Santorum has long been active in working to raise the issue and importance of religious freedom, both domestically and internationally.

Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and a columnist at the New York Sun, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, and the Jerusalem Post. A former official in the U.S. Department of State, Mr. Pipes is the author of fourteen books on the Middle East, Islam, and other political topics. He was appointed by President Bush to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace, has testified before many congressional committees, and has served on four presidential campaigns.

But jk thinks:

I am truly jealous -- post pix!!!!

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2006 5:31 PM

Hurricane Preparedness

NY Times on states and how they plan to prepare for the 2006 hurricane season.

    the main strategy, it seems, is to scare the multitudes of people who emergency officials say remain blasé even after last year's record-breaking storm season.

    To persuade residents to heed evacuation orders, the Florida Division of Emergency Management is broadcasting public service announcements with recordings of 911 calls placed during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

    "The roof has completely caved in on us," a woman cries as chilling music swells, only to be told that rescuers cannot come out during the storm.

    Speaking of the tactics, Craig Fugate, Florida's emergency management director, said last week at a news conference in Tallahassee, "We're going to use a sledgehammer."

    This save-yourselves approach comes after government agencies were overwhelmed by pleas for help after last year's storms and strongly criticized as not responding swiftly or thoroughly enough to the public need. Now, officials have said repeatedly, only the elderly, the poor and the disabled should count on the government to help them escape a hurricane or endure its immediate aftermath.


That's amazing. Because here I thought government was supposed to take care of us. Now they're abdicating the duty!

At the end of day, the federal government will always be blamed. Because it's quite clear the states have washed their hands. Cities no doubt, as well.

But jk thinks:

I'm not quite so willing to give up on Federalism just yet. New York City and State performed admirably in 9/11, and Mississippi and Texas performed well in Katrina (sure, Senator Lott tried to get $3/4 Billion in corporate welfare, but all are playing true to form...)

Just because America's own third-world nation insists on electing corrupt incompetents lake Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco does not mean we should turn everything over to the Feds.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2006 7:04 PM
But AlexC thinks:

It's not about giving up on Federalism. It's on giving up on government.

Roughly speaking conservativism and liberalism disagrees on the role of government. Liberals contend government can do it for you. Conservatives say you can do it better.

If the government can't protect you from the weather, you have to.

Posted by: AlexC at June 1, 2006 11:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

If government officials, be they federal, state, or local, can't distinguish the damage done to Americans by the weather from that done or threatened by hostile foreign humans, it shows us that our concern should not be over the efficacy of Federalism.

Posted by: johngalt at June 1, 2006 3:38 PM

Bad News for Merck

I recently had the opportunity to discuss the Vioxx trials with two M.D.s who are both active in research. Both concluded that Merck had shaded results and had not been forthcoming. While one initially supported Merck, neither was very sympathetic when we spoke.

My hunch is that this disclosure will not bolster my side of the argument:

Merck has contended that the study shows an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes only for patients taking Vioxx for 18 months or longer, and made that contention a foundation of its legal strategy. The company said in a statement yesterday that the correction doesn't change the study's results.

But, using the method that the study's guidelines recommended, Vioxx's risks don't appear to change over time, compared with the risks to patients taking a placebo, in a statistically significant way. The changes could be due to chance.

Plaintiffs' attorneys, who have been sparring with Merck in courtrooms across the country for months, seized on the error. "This latest revelation confirms that Merck's 18-month argument is scientifically meritless," said David Buchanan, an attorney with Seeger Weiss LLP. "For that reason, it has no place in any courtroom."


Longtime readers know I am completely in the bag for "Big Pharma." I see their being constantly attacked from the FDA, trial bar, and demagogic politicians (cf. Sen. John Edwards).

I'll admit this looks bad, but I will ask what I asked the physicians: mistakes in Judgment were made, does this mean that a great American pharmaceutical firm should be shut down? Should they lose their company over this?

With 11,500 lawsuits outstanding, and the firm's principal defense seemingly removed, not much math is required. If every patient who took Vioxx and has heart disease is entitled to tens of millions, its $72 Billion market cap could be swallowed up quickly.

Heart disease is common, and probably very common in the demographic most likely to take a Cox-2 (my doctor pals didn't like that assertion but I contend it holds some intuitive value. The actors on the commercials for herpes treatment seem considerable younger than the Vioxx/Celebrex crowd).

Farewell Merck! Sorry we'll never see al the wonder drugs you would have created. But at least some lawyers' kids will be buying some nice cars.

But sugarchuck thinks:

The Dow Corning comparison is invalid, as Dow Corning's product worked as they said it should, and was safe, as their research and later research at the Mayo Clinic showed. Dow Corning was the victim of junk science and juries that didn't understand the evidence they were presented with, not dishonest research or unethical leadership. Merck screwed the pooch and got caught. Given the litigious climate we live in, and the enormous expense and difficulty of bringing a drug to the market, how can any stockholder condone falsifying and witholding data when it's inevitable discovery will lead to the ruin of the business. Frankly I am shocked that the science guys on Three Scources and the rule of law guys on Three Scources are so situational in what they will and will not condemn.

Posted by: sugarchuck at June 1, 2006 5:55 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm a big fan of tort reform. Put me down for both "loser pays" and severe restriction or elimination of punitive damages or "pain and suffering" damages.

In fact, however, lawsuits are completely compatible with free markets. Individual juries in individual districts will hear individual cases and each will make its own decision. The sum of this is the pain to be inflicted on Merck.

Posted by: jk at June 1, 2006 6:55 PM
But jk thinks:

SC, I liken this to GAAP accounting and assume there is a large discretional area when to recognize revenue and when to use logrithmic time. If they purposefully and willfully falsified research, by all means cry havoc and let loose the dogs of the tort bar.

But if a great American Pharma concern behaved -- as the WSJ Ed Page suggested -- and made a judgement call, I am willing to give them some benefit of the doubt. To be fair, my physician frinds are closer and strongly disagree.

Posted by: jk at June 1, 2006 7:01 PM
But jk thinks:

-- and I am not situational. The less attractive truth is that I am myopically and reflexively pro-business. Without clear (obvious) malfeasance, I will root for the evil corporation against the brave litigant every time.

That will not go over well at my Senate confirmation hearing, will it?

Posted by: jk at June 1, 2006 7:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll take your point a step further Sugarchuck: Given the litigious climate we live in, and the enormous expense and difficulty of bringing a drug to the market, how can any stockholder condone {bringing a drug to the market when a single error on a single drug may} lead to the ruin of the business?

This is the essence of my earlier point, and not that Merck should be forgiven if they pulled a "Pinto Gambit." I don't know enough about the regulatory process and the specifics of how Merck complied with it to say that they "screwed the pooch" here. I suspect even JK's doctor friends don't know the entire story, though I'm prepared to be proven wrong.

Posted by: johngalt at June 2, 2006 3:05 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

I like the reference to the Pinto. Very good point! And now a thought on some collateral damage done by Merck. The next time someone introduces legislation providing some relief from the trial lawyers, the liberal du jour will jump up and say we can't loosen these laws; if anything our experience with Merck shows they should be tighter still.
This situation further strained the relationship between physicians and drug companies/drug reps. There are a great many doctors who gladly accept huge salaries for treating patients, yet expect drug companies to provide drugs on a non-profit basis. The drug companies are thus forced, unfairly, to operate under a cloud of suspicion. The cloud, post-Merck, just got bigger and darker, proving that people motivated by profit are unethical and corrupt. Maybe the best remedy for this is to buy your MD a Thomas Sowel book.

Posted by: sugarchuck at June 2, 2006 4:12 PM

"Honor" Killings

There have been some gruesome Islamic "honor" killings in Europe lately. Here is one, reported in the Jerusalem Post, which occurred in Palestine. (There have been more French riots, too...)

Masked Al Aksa Martyrs' Brigades gunmen on Tuesday publicly executed a Palestinian man and woman they suspected of having spied for Israel. ... The Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, accused Jafal Abu Tzrur, 24, of having informed the IDF where to find three of its members. The three were killed by IDF troops during a raid on the Balata refugee camp near Nablus earlier this year.

Al Aksa gunmen interrogated Abu Tzrur, claimed he confessed and then dragged him into Balata's main street. As a large crowd looked on, the gunmen threw Abu Tzrur to the ground, witnesses said. When he tried to get up, the gunmen killed him with several shots, the witnesses said.

The movement said it also killed Odad Abu Mustafa, 27, a Nablus woman. Abu Mustafa was married to one of the Aksa men slain by Israel, and was reportedly having an affair with Abu Tzrur.

Abu Mustafa, a mother of four, was shot by gunmen and male relatives on grounds that she shamed her clan. More than 15 people took part in the execution, witnesses said. It took place in the courtyard of Raffidiyeh Hospital, the West Bank's largest.
....
"One of the gunmen said 'where is her brother?' and when he stepped forward they said to him 'you know what you need to do,"' he said. "The brother took out a gun and shot her in the head with one bullet."

Mahmoud said the brother then emptied the entire clip into the body of his sister, while the surrounding gunmen fired into the air. He said that the woman remained silent throughout and did not resist her captors.

HT: LGF

Islam Posted by Cyrano at 1:54 AM

Philosophy of the Nuge

ln an interview, Ted Nugent made some funny comments. (Warning! Coarse language!!)

I confess to a grudging respect for the system by which he governs his land, though I’m not sure I’d like to see his reign extended to the state of Michigan.

“What do these deer think when they see you coming?” I ask him. “Here comes the nice guy who puts out our dinner? Or, there’s the man that shot my brother?”

“I don’t think they’re capable of either of those thoughts, you Limey assh*le. They’re only interested in three things: the best place to eat, having sex and how quickly they can run away. Much like the French.”

“You wrote a song called ‘Dog Eat Dog’. You see the world like that. But we’re not dogs - that’s the trouble.”

“Remember the movie Old Yeller? Everybody loved him. He brought us our slippers. We gave him cookies. But when Old Yeller gets rabies, you shoot him in the f*cking head. It’s that simple.”

HT: LGF

From the other side Posted by Cyrano at 1:46 AM

Priceless

Amen.


oly5.jpg

Shouting, "Don't do that again" a truck driver hauling a military cargo container cautions one of approximatley 40 Iraq war protesters after the protester slammed his sign down on the driver's semi fender. (Steve Bloom/The Olympian)


HT: Michelle Malkin/Gateway Pundit

War on Terror Posted by Cyrano at 12:03 AM

May 30, 2006

Iran: Spreading Its Tentacles

Jihad Watch -- yet again :) -- reports on an AP news release:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - To Iran's west lies a natural ally and perhaps its most potent weapon in the international fray over its nuclear program. While Iran and Iraq were arch enemies during the rule of Saddam Hussein, all signs point to an increasingly robust relationship now that Shiites have achieved a dominant role in the Iraqi leadership.

It's a bond that has yet to reach its potential - in large part because the U.S.-led invasion is responsible for Iraqi Shiites being at the top of the political heap for the first time in modern history. Iraqi Shiites are not looking the gift horse in the mouth.

But Iran and Iraq share a Shiite Muslim majority and deep cultural and historic ties, and Tehran's influence over its neighbor is growing. Iran will likely try to use Iraq as a battleground if the United States punishes Tehran economically or militarily, analysts say.

Many key positions in the Iraqi government now are occupied by men who took refuge in Iran to avoid oppression by the Saddam's former Sunni Muslim-dominated Baathist regime.

Iraq's powerful militias, meanwhile, have strong ties to Iran and have deeply infiltrated Iraqi security forces. They can be expected to side with Iran if the West should attack, said Paul Ingram of the British American Security Information Council.?"


"Iran has ties with Iraq which have not been mobilized as they could have been," Ingram said. "The militias based in Iraq received much of their training from Iran and they have not taken any instructions yet."

The Mahdi Army, loyal to firebrand anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Badr Brigade, the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, both have significant links to Iran....
...
If Iran is attacked, "Iraqi Shiites will not take this lightly. They will not sit and watch," said Diaa Rashwan, a Cairo-based analyst....

"The Shiite political class in Iraq believes that if they generally cooperate with the U.S. and Britain, eventually they will withdraw and leave the Shiites in power," asked Juan Cole, a Middle East political analyst at the University of Michigan. "So far things have worked out wonderfully. Why rock the boat?"

While the jihadists and Islamofascists plan and prepare, we slumber...

Iran Posted by Cyrano at 3:04 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

It's good to see right-wingers finding Professor Juan Cole so useful. Any port in a storm, I suppose. And for the gloom-and-doomers, it is always stormy.

There are no shortage of things that could go wrong in a post war Iraq, and a tighter Iraq-Iran bond is high on the list. Yet the dominoes could more easily fall the other way. If we create a free, stable, and prosperous Iraq, the democracy advocates to their East will have more opportunity and motivation to expel theocracy.

Posted by: jk at May 30, 2006 12:16 PM

Take 2

The British police have been stretched thin, preventing domestic terrorist attacks. They have prevented 20 "major attacks" recently, but there are still 2,000 or so jihadists loose in the country.

Here is a post from Jihad Watch about one attack that was stopped -- and about what the terrorists used to justify their actions. The first paragraph in the post says it all.

This story contains much of the information that I posted here: these plotters were planning jihad attacks against a British nightclub and other targets. But this story adds some important new details -- particularly about how these plotters, like Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, believed that what they were doing was in accord with the Qur'an, and quoted particular verses to support this. Yet all too many Muslims in the West continue to spend their time convincing gullible non-Muslims that the verses in question don't mean what to these plotters is "just clear" that they do mean -- instead of trying to combat the iunfluence of the plotters' interpretation among Muslims, which of course would be much more difficult, but would be immensely more worthwhile in combating the jihad these Muslims profess to oppose.

"Gang 'plotted to blow up Ministry of Sound,'" from The Telegraph, with thanks to David:

An alleged al-Qa'eda terrorist cell discussed blowing up the Ministry of Sound nightclub to take revenge on "those slags dancing around", a jury heard yesterday....

Akbar, then 20 and studying at Brunel University, suggested targeting bars ...
...
Akbar said: "Our purpose is to defend the honour of the Muslim, yeah, and bring the Islamic state back because if the Islamic state were here then the problems would not be there."
...
Khyam said he believed Britain was a kufr [heathen] country and added: "You see things different, but me, it's just nothing, they just need to be killed and blood spilled. To me this is clear.

''The verse says lay in ambush for them, besiege them and kill them when you find them, to me that's just clear, kill them."

Quoting the Koran, Akbar said: "The best thing you can do is put terror in their hearts, there is no doubt, there is nothing better than that. We put fear in their hearts."
...

... It is claimed the gang were planning to use half a ton of ammonium nitrate stored in a lock-up in north west London for a homemade bomb.

Here are some of the Qur'an verses Akbar probably quoted about terror:

"Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!" (Qur'an 3:151)

"How many a township have We destroyed! As a raid by night, or while they slept at noon, Our terror came unto them. No plea had they, when Our terror came unto them, save that they said: Lo! We were wrong-doers." (Qur'an 7:4-5)

"Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): 'I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.'" (Qur'an 8:12)

"Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly." (Qur'an 8:60)

The rest of the Telegraph's article is worth reading. It gives more detail, and has a link to a surveillance recording of the 6 jihadists' plot.

Jihad Posted by Cyrano at 2:48 AM

Two Things: Islam and the Rule of the Clerics

Since the American media is too busy attacking the American military and America, making a big deal about lies coming out of Guantanamo, we don't hear stories about real abuses which occur in prisons.

The UK Telegraph reports:

A leading Iranian pro-democracy and women's activist, who was jailed on trumped-up charges last year, has revealed how the clerical regime cynically deploys systemic sexual violence against female dissidents in the name of Islam.

Roya Tolouee, 40, was beaten up by Iranian intelligence agents and subjected to a horrific sexual assault when she refused to sign forced confessions. It was only when they threatened to burn her two children to death in front of her that she agreed to put her name to the documents.

Perhaps just as shocking as the physical abuse were the chilling words of the man who led the attack. "When I asked how he could do this to me, he said that he believed in only two things - Islam and the rule of the clerics," Miss Tolouee told The Sunday Telegraph last week in an interview in Washington after she fled Iran.

"But I know of no religious morality that can justify what they did to me, or other women. For these people, religion is only a tool for dictatorship and abuse. It is a regime of prejudice against women, against other regimes, against other ethnic groups, against anybody who thinks differently from them."

Miss Tolouee's account of her ordeal confirms recent reports from opposition groups that Iranian intelligence officials use sexual abuse against female prisoners as an interrogation technique and even rape young women before execution so that they cannot reach heaven as virgins.

Few women from the Islamic world are willing to discuss such matters, even with each other, but Miss Tolouee said that the regime routinely committed sexual attacks against female detainees.

Compare this story to flushing a Koran down the toilet (most to all of those stories were fabricated, or actually were perpetrated on one prisoner by another) -- and ask: why is the American media not all over this?? Their behavior, their silence on issues such as this Telegraph story, speaks volumes.

Now what is going to be left, if the American media has its way, and America is anhilated, while Iran still stands? Who will then win, and who will loose -- good or evil?

And remember the line "When I asked how he could do this to me, he said that he believed in only two things - " -- straight from the mouth of the "religion of peace..." Invocation of Islam to justify such atrocities is not isolated to this example...

HT: Jihad Watch

Iran Posted by Cyrano at 2:30 AM

Riots In Iran, II

The BBC also had an article about the riots in NW Iran. Since AlexC did not talk about the "inflamatory" cartoon in his post, I thought I'd have the honor:

Azeris said the cartoon, which was published earlier this month, compared them to cockroaches. ... The cartoon was published in a state-owned newspaper.

It showed a succession of people attempting to talk to a cockroach in Persian.

Each time, the insect responded by saying, in Azeri: "What do you mean?"

Azeris are the largest ethnic minority in Iran, and the cartoon caused outrage among those who believed it suggested that all Azeris were stupid.

So as to show that they were not stupid, thousands of Azeris went into the streets and proved their worth by...acting stupid:

Reports from the cities of Ardebil, Naqadeh and Meshkin Shahr say Iranian security forces fired on demonstrators, killing at least five people.

Dozens of others were injured and hundreds arrested.
...
Thousands of people took to the streets in protest and, shortly afterwards, the newspaper was shut down and its editor arrested.

But that did not quell the anger. In the latest protests on Saturday, government buildings were targeted, and a number of banks and television stations burnt down.

Hey, Azeris!! Quit acting like barbarians, and write a letter to the editor or something!! Write a paper showing the achievements of your people, your great standardized test scores, the thoughts of your philosophic geniuses, the wonders of technology you have brought into the workld, the marvels of medicine of your doctors, or the great art your artists, ahead of their time and breaking new ground, have raised up to the world!!!

Or at least learn how to write and how to behave wth civility, and let the rest of us get on with our lives...

Iran Posted by Cyrano at 2:11 AM

May 29, 2006

Land of Light vs. Land of Dusk

Pamela over at Atlas Shrugs has a good post from a friend of hers in Europe, discussing the difference between American culture and European culture, and how that affects our decisions and actions in regard to Islamofascism.

Matthew, our man in Britain, and I have had something of a back and forth on the distressing state of affairs in Europe. His last correspondence deserves attention. While it may not change our perception of th edecay, it is interesting to see it through their deluded eyes:

The way I see it is this. European societies face a problem in that the Muslim populations in their midst are growing at a faster rate than the native population. Over time, the proportion of those societies made up of Muslims is going to increase. It's often said that one consequence of this is that Europeans adopt a spineless attitude towards Islamic terrorism, attempting to appease it rather than address it, for fear of provoking civil unrest in their own countries. This invertebrate attitude on the part of Europeans is cited as something that will lead to the inevitable downfall of their civilisation and, maybe within our lifetimes, their eventual partial or total submission to an Islamic way of life with all the horrors that brings. It's seen as a suicidal strategy, born of weakness.

I think that analysis is correct, but it omits some important matters.

I think the reason for this is that French culture, and European culture generally, is radically different from American and, to a lesser extent, British culture. What I adore about the United States is that anyone can be an American. In my eyes the values that define the United States are such that they're open to anyone. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are universal values and aspirations from which everyone, everywhere, at any point in time, can derive inspiration and can use to build a better life. Europe's nothing like that, France in particular. French culture isn't one based on ideals of freedom and personal achievement but on birth, class, status, refinement in matters of taste, humour, attitude, getting ahead, and protecting your own ass. Importantly, it's also based on geography. Nobody born in Italy could, or would consider, or would ever be described as, living like Frenchman. In contrast, an American or a potential American you can spot a mile off. American culture is potentially universal; French culture is confined to a time and a place.

Another point is that, to adapt the term, France is a RINO country - a republic in name only. Under the veneer of democracy and rights and freedoms, it behaves like a monarchy. To get into the government you need the right background, need to have gone to the right school, look right, say the right things. Moreover, like all monarchies, it is a characteristic of public administration in France that it is monopolised by a particular caste, is plagued with infighting among the 'courtier' class, and features a more or less total lack of financial or legal accountability on the part of those in charge. To varying extents this is true of all European countries, which explains why most Europeans aren't overly concerned about the lack of democratic or financial accountability in the institutions of the European Union. It's because they're not even concerned about it in their own countries. Above all, as in all old European countries, what's important if you're French is being French, not being free. It thus makes sense for Europeans to say "X is very French" / "very English" / "very German" in a way that it doesn't make a lot of sense to say that "X is very American". It does make sense to say "she's such a New Yorker" but that's a comment about ways of thinking, speaking, working, dressing, tastes, etc. It's not an observation about core values. In Europe, ways of thinking, speaking, working, dressing, and taste, is all the values there are. What I think distinguishes European culture from American is that it's more concerned with things that are, ultimately, trivialities. It lacks any concern with what we think of as the big issues in life - how free am I, how much money has the government taken from me this fiscal year (and for what freakin purpose?) am I able to live my life as I please, am I better off than I was last year, what are the threats to my security, what are the threats to the security of my country, and so on. It's perverse that Europeans characterise Americans as introverted; it's the Europeans who are the most introspective of all. Europeans generally see these issues as questions for someone else (the government). In their political thinking probably what distinguishes Europeans from Americans above all else is that Europeans are totally unwilling to accept any personal responsibility for making decisions which affect the future of their countries so long as the problems their countries face are not currently affecting them personally. Government, in Europe, is seen as something that just happens to you.

What happens at that point is the issue I was drawing attention to in my post. I think that, were European societies to get to the point where the native population's sense of its own identity was actually being damaged by Muslim influences, there would be a very visceral and violent reaction to those Muslim influences. This is because it's only at that point that we can expect Europeans to react to Muslims at all. You or I can look at the Taleban (and not just Muslims but also, say, the Chinese) and even from thousands of miles away see them as antipathetic to our whole way of life, and a genuine menace. So long as communists and Islamic fanatics exist, our core value - freedom - is under threat, in a way that Frenchness is not threatened by the existence of those regimes.

What's screwing Europe at the moment is apathy and a deadly unawareness of the nature of the problem at the level of the individual citizen, not any misplaced affection or tolerance for Islam. Some of the political class might see the problem but, if their people don't, there's no mileage to be had by putting their countries on a war footing. Doing so would be seen as a disruptive and expensive response to a problem that their people lack the cultural tools to even be aware of at the moment. Essentially they just don't get it.

Go over to her site and read the rest.

War on Terror Posted by Cyrano at 9:29 PM

On This Date In History

Jihad Watch has another good post today: “Black Tuesday on a Monday.” It goes right along with what Dr. Lewis said in my post "Intellectual History of Islamofascism."

On Tuesday, May 29, 1453, the armies of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II entered Constantinople, breaking through the defenses of a vastly outnumbered and indomitably courageous Byzantine force. Historian Steven Runciman notes what happened next: the Muslim soldiers "slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn. But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged. The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profit." (The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.)

It has come to be known as Black Tuesday, the Last Day of the World.

Some jihadists "made for the small but splendid churches by the walls, Saint George by the Charisian Gate, Saint John in Petra, and the lovely church of the monastery of the Holy Saviour in Chora, to strip them of their stores of plate and their vestments and everything else that could be torn from them. In the Chora they left the mosaics and frescoes, but they destroyed the icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria, the holiest picture in all Byzantium, painted, so men said, by Saint Luke himself. It had been taken there from its own church beside the Palace at the beginning of the siege, that its beneficient presence might be at hand to inspire the defenders on the walls. It was taken from its setting and hacked into four pieces." (P. 146.)

The rest of the article is worth reading.

Jihad Jihad Posted by Cyrano at 9:24 PM

To All Vets and Enlisted...

Thank you.

America, F*ck Yeah! Posted by Cyrano at 9:18 PM

Riots in Iran

In case you missed it.

    Four people were killed and 70 were injured in riots last week in the Azeri region northwest of here, according to local news reports, as tensions spread after the publication of a cartoon that has outraged Iran's Azeri population.

    The deadly protests occurred last Thursday in the city of Naghadeh, and followed other demonstrations in Ardabil.

    On Sunday, about 2,000 Azeris demonstrated in Tehran outside Parliament and were dispersed by the police, the reports said.

    In a show of defiance that appears to have unnerved the government, demonstrators chanted in Turkish Azeri, as the language is known here for its close relation to Turkish, and demanded that it be taught in schools.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 1:49 PM

Memorial Day

06.06.26.Memorialday06-X.gif

Thank you to all our soldiers past and present for their sacrifices to protect our freedoms.

Posted by AlexC at 12:26 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Amen. And please consider a donation to Wounded Warriors via ChicagoBoyz http://www.chicagoboyz.net/archives/004149.html

Posted by: jk at May 29, 2006 12:33 PM

May 28, 2006

Intellectual History of Islamofascism

Dr. John Lewis takes a good look at the intellectual history of the Mideast and Islam in his post Notes on the Near Eastern Legacy of Islam over at the Objective Standard Blog.

The bio for Dr. Lewis at the Objective Standard says he "is Assistant Professor of History, Ashland University, where he is Assistant Director of the Academic Honors Program. His Ph.D. is in Classical Studies from the University of Cambridge, and he has taught at the University of London."

Dr. Lewis says:

I just finished teaching an undergraduate university class on the Ancient Near East: 15 weeks on Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. I read as many original documents and modern histories—and looked at as much art—as I had time to do. I became intrigued by the many parallels between radical Islam and the ancient historical background. Here are just a few, in no particular order, each of which needs more work:
1. The idea that the world is divided into the realms of light and truth (ruled by a god's favorite on earth), versus the realm of darkness and lies (ruled by men). There are many parallels between Zoroastrianism (which sees the world as divided into warring realms of light and dark), Manicheism (similar views spread by a Persian mystic in the 3rd century A.D.), and Islam, particularly the Dar-al-Islam versus Dar-al-Harb, or World of Light and Submission versus World of Darkness and Chaos. From such views came Bin Laden's war with the west, which can only end when the forces of Islam have conquered the forces of Chaos.

2. The idea that the truth can only come from the authority of a higher power, to be accepted by faith. The ancient Persian kings saw a "world of truth" versus "world of lies," in which the Great King triumphs over those who lie. Islamists today see enemies lying to them everywhere—while they accept the grossest lies themselves (teaching their children, for instance, that Jews are born of pigs and monkeys).

… 4. The idea that proper political rule is based on the sanction of a divine power, whose commands are enforced by those who fight successfully on earth. For the Persians, it was the god Ahuramazda, among others, who legitimated the king's rule. The "peace" that follows when the king establishes his rule is a distinct parallel to claims by Islamic totalitarians that all will be well once Islamic law is imposed by a totalitarian Caliphate or ruling council. For such mentalities, adherence to divine commands is more important than the consequences on earth; thus the Taliban brought misery to their people, but called it goodness. … 7. The wars of expansion—by which the Near Eastern kingdoms and, later, Islam rose—continued until a dictator imposed his will. The ancient Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Median and Persian Empires all expanded to the limits of their power. For the Persians, the expansion to universal rule was stopped by the Greeks. Similarly, Islamists today say that a Caliphate will impose Islamic law over all, by force if necessary, under a totalitarian dictatorship. … 9. The "everywhere" of expansion and submission is important: as the ancient Persian-Iranians set out to expand their kingdom over the entire world, so modern Islamists demand the spread of Islam over the entire world. Universal submission is their aim.

All these ideas are, naturally enough, taught to students in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia and Palestine -- well, that's where I've seen documented evidence. Judging from words and actions, these ideas are taught throughout the Islamic world.

It is good to see the history of Islamic thought, to better understand it. History is indispensable to properly understand current events...which is one reason why so many people fail to understand modern issues such as the climate, eminent domain, capitalism...and Islamofascism.

War on Terror Posted by Cyrano at 1:39 PM

Frivolous Lawsuit Night

Part of the magic of minor league baseball are the extra-curricular activities at the ballpark. Sure, the players play hungrier, but the combination of cheap hot dogs, cheap beer, cheap seats and intra-inning horseplay makes it a great time.

But even more importantly are the giveaways.

And the Altoona Curve (so named for the famous curve) have topped everyone.

    Inspired by a Los Angeles Angels fan who filed a lawsuit against the club because he did not receive a red nylon tote bag as part of the major league club's Mother’s Day promotion last May, the Altoona Curve have announced that they will be holding Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night as part of their Sunday, July 2nd game at Blair County Ballpark.

The giveaways are pretty standard ballpark fare, except of course the lukewarm coffee.
    “We realize that these giveaways as part of our Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night are fairly stupid and serve no real purpose,” said Curve General Manager Todd Parnell. “But if our fans don’t like them, then they can sue us!”

Heh.

(tip to Club for Growth)

On the web Posted by AlexC at 12:26 PM

May 27, 2006

About the Check Box

George Will

    Taxpayers were given the power to direct, by a checkoff on their income tax forms, $1 of their tax bill to the fund.

    Why does the political class use this sneaky approach rather than a straightforward appropriation for itself? The question answers itself.

    Even though the checkoff does not increase the individual's tax bill, support peaked in 1981, when 28.7 percent of taxpayers used it. So even then it was opposed by more than 70 percent of taxpayers. In 1994 Congress responded by increasing the checkoff's value to $3. This empowered fewer people to divert more money from the government's pool of revenue collected from all taxpayers. All this to fuel a program opposed by the vast majority of taxpayers, a program that subsidizes political advocacy that most taxpayers do not endorse.

    Because by now 90 percent refuse the $3 checkoff, the Federal Election Commission, which has a bureaucracy's metabolic urge for self-aggrandizement, lobbied the largest manufacturers of tax preparation software to take two measures to promote the checkoff system.

    Hitherto the companies' software, reflecting their customers' obvious preference, used "no" as the default option. But the FEC got the companies to change that and to include an advertisement for the checkoff, saying that it "reduces candidates' dependence on large contributions from individuals and groups and places candidates on equal footing in the general election." That bit of puffery is simplistic to the point of tendentiousness: Large hard-dollar contributions (larger than $5,000) are illegal, and there is much more to "equal footing" than hard-dollar equality in the post-convention sprint to Election Day.


Here's a fun fact. Gentlemen who wear bow ties intentionally make the knot or the tie look crooked or sloppy. This is apparently the way to tell who ties one, and who wears a fake one.

But jk thinks:

Yet the McCain-Feingold crowd still believes there is a public groundswell for publicly financed campaigns.

Perhaps TurboTax could take a hint from PayPal: "You changed this checkbox to 'no' even though it doesn't cost you any more money. Are you sure you want 'no?'" Making people click yes for no should fool a certain percentage.

Posted by: jk at May 29, 2006 11:21 AM

Republican Bribery Scandal

CBSNews.com

    (CBS/AP) Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI director Robert Mueller signaled they would resign this week rather than give in to Congress in a dispute over an FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's Capitol Hill office, an administration official tells CBS News.

    Top law enforcement officials at the Justice Department and the FBI indicated to their counterparts at the White House that they could not, and were unwilling to, return documents to the Louisiana Republican which were seized as part of a bribery investigation.


Why those dirty Republicans and their culture of corruption!

Wait a minute. Rep Jefferson is a Democrat!

Funny how these errors all tend to go in one direction.
CBS_gop.jpg

But jk thinks:

Inaccurate, but not fake -- is this a good sign?

Posted by: jk at May 29, 2006 12:46 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Progress, my friend!

Posted by: AlexC at May 29, 2006 1:51 PM

The Coming Global Catastrophe

Borowitz

    The election of former vice president Al Gore to the White House could result in a disastrous phenomenon called “global boring” in which millions of people around the world would fall asleep in an unprecedented narcoleptic pandemic.

    That is the message of a new documentary about the 2000 Democratic Party standard-bearer that has been produced and narrated by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and is being released in selected cities today.

    The documentary, entitled “An Incoherent Truth,” collects moments from some of Mr. Gore’s most mind-numbing speeches to make a persuasive case that a Gore presidency would set off a doomsday scenario of global tedium.

Environment Posted by AlexC at 3:09 PM

Fiscal Darwinism

I'm not going to profess that I'm some sort of financial giant, but it's hard to feel bad for someone in this position.

    In the suburbs of Dallas, Bridget Edwards comes home to uncertainty every day. She and her husband, James, are four months behind on their mortgage.

    “It's been just like a roller coaster,” Bridget says. “Our payments have been just up and down.”

    Up and down, from $1,300 a month to more than $2,000.

    The reason?

    “We have an adjustable-rate mortgage,” she explains. “I really didn't know it would change like this.”


What did you think? It's an adjustable-rate mortgage, and interest rates have only been going UP!

Incredibly that's the mortgage on a $129,000 home.

To be sure, they don't give the terms of that loan. Is it a 5 year ARM? a 10 or a 15 or 30 years?

For grins, I ran a $129,000 mortgage for a 5/1 ARM.

It looks like the highest national 5/1 ARM rate is 7.2%.

Starting at 7.2%, and forcasting a 1% / year adjustment for 15 years, their payments are between $1,200 and $1,400.

So I have to ask "what are they doing?"

Maybe they were taken for a ride, but considering that the purchase of a home is the single largest investment you can make, don't you think they would have researched and thought about it?

    “The reason homeowners have been buying properties that are probably beyond their means, is that they haven't been looking at what the house costs,” says Rick Sharga with RealtyTrac, which maintains a database of foreclosed properties. “They've been looking at what the monthly payment was.”

    That’s something the Edwardses admit — and now regret.

    “I am sad. I'm angry. I'm confused,” says Bridget Edwards.

    “I love this house,” James Edwards says.


So it wasn't a ride. That this is a story boggles the mind.

People living beyond their means? In related news, sticking a fork in your eye really hurts.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 2:32 PM

Ozone Hole

It's closing.

    The good news: In the upper stratosphere (above roughly 18 km), ozone recovery can be explained almost entirely by CFC reductions. "Up there, the Montreal Protocol seems to be working," says co-author Mike Newchurch of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

    The puzzle: In the lower stratosphere (between 10 and 18 km) ozone has recovered even better than changes in CFCs alone would predict. Something else must be affecting the trend at these lower altitudes.

    The "something else" could be atmospheric wind patterns. "Winds carry ozone from the equator where it is made to higher latitudes where it is destroyed. Changing wind patterns affect the balance of ozone and could be boosting the recovery below 18 km," says Newchurch. This explanation seems to offer the best fit to the computer model of Yang et al. The jury is still out, however; other sources of natural or manmade variability may yet prove to be the cause of the lower-stratosphere's bonus ozone.

    Whatever the explanation, if the trend continues, the global ozone layer should be restored to 1980 levels sometime between 2030 and 2070. By then even the Antarctic ozone hole might close--for good.


One thing that is exasperating with environmental and ecological scientists is that when things are going "wrong," there is only one reason. Man. Specifically industrialized man and CFC's.

But when things improve? There's head scratching.

It makes me wonder if the former should also include some head scratching.

Environment Posted by AlexC at 12:37 PM

May 26, 2006

OK, JK...

Here's what you can make into my "bio:"

Real Identity: I am a 41-year old teacher – high school math, physics, and logic – and dance instructor, with a B.S. in Mathematics, a B.A. in Philosophy, and an unofficial minor in Physics. I am an advocate of Objectivism, the first philosophy in the history of mankind to get the theory of concepts right and to be fully objective – all thanks to the achievement of Ayn Rand. I have two cats and a horse, who get treated extremely well. They get hugs and kisses – and they owe their good treatment to Rand’s identification that life is about living, about achieving positives, not about “achieving” the zero or avoiding punishment…which point many people do not get…

I take my nom de blog because of Cyrano’s line: “To fight - or write. [But] Never to make a line I have not heard, In my own heart.”

The line is part of a speech on the part of Cyrano (Brian Hooker’s translation):

To sing, to laugh, to dream,

To walk in my own way and be alone,/Free, with an eye to see things as they are,

A voice that means manhood - to cock my hat/Where I choose - At a word, a Yes, a No,

To fight - or write. To travel any road/Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt

If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne -/Never to make a line I have not heard

In my own heart; yet, with all modesty/To say: "My soul, be satisfied with flowers,

With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them/In one garden you may call your own."

So when I win some triumph, by some chance,/Render no share to Caeser.

In a word, I am too proud to be a parasite./And if my nature wants the germ that grows

Towering to heaven like a mountain pine,/Or like the oak sheltering multitudes.

I stand not high it may be – but alone!

Here is Barry Kornhauser’s translation of a part of that whole:

To dream, to laugh, to sing,/to let my heart take wing,

Free! - with an eye open to see all things as they are!

To fight—to write—to follow the moon or any star

that I choose/win or lose...

On Blogging: As reason is man's means of survival and only means of cognition, ideas are man's most important tools. It is important to speak and to write, in order to stand up for what is right and good. As Aristotle said in the Rhetoric: “it is absurd to hold that a man ought to be ashamed of being unable to defend himself with his limbs, but not of being unable to defend himself with speech and reason, when the use of rational speech is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs.”

What’s more, if it were not for the Internet and bloggers, we would be very misinformed about current events: the Paris Riots, the Mohammed Cartoons, Islam, CAIR, Envirowackism. That’s a sad thought…

On Politics: Because I believe each person is an end in himself/herself, not a means to be used by someone else, by King, by God, by society, or by the environment; because I believe each person is self-sovereign and rational (by nature, if not by practice) – I am an advocate for the only moral social system, the only system consistent with human nature: capitalism. Recommended: Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand.

America, F*ck Yeah! Posted by Cyrano at 11:24 PM

Truth is Inconvenient to Al Gore

Tech Central Station has some good articles rebutting fallacious claims in Gore's deceivumentary.

Questions for Al Gore” by Dr. Roy Spencer, 25 May 2006

Dear Mr. Gore:

I have just seen your new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," about the threat that global warming presents to humanity. I think you did a very good job of explaining global warming theory, and your presentation was effective. Please convey my compliments to your good friend, Laurie David, for a job well done.

As a climate scientist myself -- you might remember me...I'm the one you mistook for your "good friend," UK scientist Phil Jones during my congressional testimony some years back -- I have a few questions that occurred to me while watching the movie.

1) Why did you make it look like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and ice calving off of glaciers and falling into the ocean, are only recent phenomena associated with global warming? You surely know that hurricane experts have been warning congress for many years that the natural cycle in hurricanes would return some day, and that our built-up coastlines were ripe for a disaster (like Katrina, which you highlighted in the movie). And as long as snow continues to fall on glaciers, they will continue to flow downhill toward the sea. Yet you made it look like these things wouldn't happen if it weren't for global warming. Also, since there are virtually no measures of severe weather showing a recent increase, I assume those graphs you showed actually represented damage increases, which are well known to be simply due to greater population and wealth. Is that right?

4) Your presentation showing the past 650,000 years of atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide reconstructions from ice cores was very effective. But I assume you know that some scientists view the CO2 increases as the result of, rather than the cause of, past temperature increases. It seems unlikely that CO2 variations have been the dominant cause of climate change for hundreds of thousands of years. And now that there is a new source of carbon dioxide emissions (people), those old relationships are probably not valid anymore. Why did you give no hint of these alternative views?


5) When you recounted your 6-year-old son's tragic accident that nearly killed him, I thought that you were going to make the point that, if you had lived in a poor country like China or India, your son would have probably died. But then you later held up these countries as model examples for their low greenhouse gas emissions, without mentioning that the only reason their emissions were so low was because people in those countries are so poor. I'm confused...do you really want us to live like the poor people in India and China?

...

Mr. Gore, I think we can both agree that if it was relatively easy for mankind to stop emitting so much carbon dioxide, that we should do so. You are a very smart person, so I can't understand why you left so many important points unmentioned, and you made it sound so easy.

Your "Good Friend,"

Dr. Roy W. Spencer
(aka 'Phil Jones')

©2000-2006 TCS Daily


Inconvenient Truths Indeed” by Dr. Robert C. Balling Jr., 24 May 2006

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" opens around the country this week. In the film Gore pulls together evidence from every corner of the globe to convince us that climate change is happening fast, we are to blame, and if we don't act immediately, our Earth will be all but ruined. However, as you sit through the film, consider the following inconvenient truths:

(1) Near the beginning of the film, Gore pays respects to his Harvard mentor and inspiration, Dr. Roger Revelle. Gore praises Revelle for his discovery that atmospheric CO2 levels were rising and could potentially contribute to higher temperatures at a global scale. There is no mention of Revelle's article published in the early 1990s concluding that the science is "too uncertain to justify drastic action." (S.F. Singer, C. Starr, and R. Revelle, "What to do about Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap. Cosmos 1 (1993) 28-33.)

(2) Gore discusses glacial and snowpack retreats atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, implying that human induced global warming is to blame. But Gore fails to mention that the snows of Kilimanjaro have been retreating for more than 100 years, largely due to declining atmospheric moisture, not global warming. Gore does not acknowledge the two major articles on the subject published in 2004 in the International Journal of Climatology and the Journal of Geophysical Research showing that modern glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro was initiated by a reduction in precipitation at the end of the nineteenth century and not by local or global warming.

(3) Many of Gore's conclusions are based on the "Hockey Stick" that shows near constant global temperatures for 1,000 years with a sharp increase in temperature from 1900 onward. The record Gore chooses in the film completely wipes out the Medieval Warm Period of 1,000 years ago and Little Ice Age that started 500 years ago and ended just over 100 years ago. ...

(4) You will certainly not be surprised to see Katrina, other hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods, and many types of severe weather events linked by Gore to global warming. However, if one took the time to read the downloadable "Summary for Policymakers" in the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), one would learn that "No systematic changes in the frequency of tornadoes, thunder days, or hail events are evident in the limited areas analysed" and that "Changes globally in tropical and extra-tropical storm intensity and frequency are dominated by inter-decadal and multi-decadal variations, with no significant trends evident over the 20th century."

(5) Gore claims that sea level rise could drown the Pacific islands, Florida, major cities the world over, and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. No mention is made of the fact that sea level has been rising at a rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past 8,000 years; the IPCC notes that "No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected."

Dr. Robert C. Balling Jr. is a professor in the climatology program at Arizona State University, specializing in climate change and the greenhouse effect.

©2000-2006 TCS Daily


Environment Posted by Cyrano at 10:27 PM

Response to Ahmadinejad's Letter To Bush

A Letter to Ahmadinejad” by Ebrahim Nabavi

Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

I read your letter to US President George Bush. I'm surprised that no one tried to talk you out of this or now that the deed is done, tried to convince you to hide the letter in your drawer. If you really thought that these things had to be said to the Bush, you should have ensured that no body except Bush himself would have read the letter and avoided its publication.

Why did you do this my dear? Didn't it come to your mind that Iranians, Americans or other people on this planet may come to read your letter? Honestly, did you even think before writing or dictating this letter? Or did this come to your mind like your impulsive trips to government ministries. Did you just come up with the idea, pick up pen and a piece of paper and start writing to George Bush?

You, naughty little boy craving for attention!

You said you wrote to Bush to offer solutions for global problems. It’s a very good idea but have you noticed that the problem facing the world today is yourself? Do you know that many of the miseries of the free nations and states originate from a creature named Ahmadinejad? You are the problem, and you want to solve it yourself?

My dear son Mahmoud!

In your letter to George Bush you invite him to ponder about the contradictions in his goals and the message and wishes of Jesus Christ. Who told you these things, my dear son? Do you really believe that Bush wants to create what Christ envisioned. What makes you think that Bush and Americans wish Christ to rule the world? Even if some body told you this nonsense, why did you put it down on paper and disgrace everybody? All Westerners, including Americans, have for the past two hundred years been yelling that they do not want a religious government and that they believe in secularism and the separation of church from government. And you come and say that they want a religious government” Are you out of your mind? Find the person who told this nonsense and distance yourself from them. They see you as a naïve person and thus tell you these things.

They want to make you look like an idiot and laugh at you. Why do you think Bush has anything to do with human rights or liberalism? Even if he is, what has that got to do with you? Are you a supporter of human rights? Why are you upset if he violates human rights? Don't you know that this just a toy in the hands of the superpowers? Why do you defend it then?

My dear fame-seeking Mahmoud!

Your letter to Bush you say there are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who have not been tried. This is not your business. Aren't you the president of a country that has imprisoned political prisoners who have no access to a lawyer and a fair trial? Their families can’t visit them, they are kept outside their own country and there is absolutely no international supervision over them. My dear friend, these issues are not your business. You are the president of a country that has put Shirin Ebadi, Abdolfatah Soltani and Akbar Ganji in prison. Isn't a philosopher Ramin Jahanbeglou in prison now? Do Iranian prisons have international observers? How could you claim that referendum is good for Israel when you cannot tolerate that idea for Iran? If prisoners in Guantanamo have no defense attorneys, at least American lawyers are not summoned by their judiciary everyday, like the ones in Iran are.

Ebrahim Nabavi is an acclaimed international satirist from Iran who regularly contributes to Rooz Online


Footnotes are available at MEMRI to explain who some of the people mentioned in the letter are.

HT: The Objective Standard Blog.

Iran Posted by Cyrano at 9:46 PM

Taxing the Economy

Yeah... this will work great!

    European Union lawmakers are investigating a proposed tax on emails and mobile phone text messages as a way to fund the 25-member bloc in the future.

    A European Parliament working group is reviewing the idea, tabled by Alain Lamassoure, a prominent French MEP and member of the centre-right European People's Party, the assembly's largest group.

    Lamassoure, a member of Jacques Chirac's UMP party, is proposing to add a tax of around 1.5 cents on text or SMS messages and a 0.00001 cent levy on every email sent.

    "This is peanuts, but given the billions of transactions every day, this could still raise an immense income," he said.


Those poor bastards who decided for themselves that the European Union would be a great thing, unfortunately forgot that yet another layer of government needs to come up with novel ways to pay for itself.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 9:24 PM

VDH on Immigration

We're entering a brave new world according to Victor Davis Hansen.

    Many Americans - perhaps out of understandable and well-meant empathy for the dispossessed who toil so hard for so little - support this present open system of non-borders. But I find nothing liberal about it.

    Zealots may chant ÁSi, se puede! all they want. And the libertarian right may dress up the need for cheap labor as a desire to remain globally competitive. But neither can disguise a cynicism about illegal immigration, one that serves to prop up a venal Mexican government, undercut the wages of our own poor and create a new apartheid of millions of aliens in our shadows.

    We have the entered a new world of immigration without precedent. This current crisis is unlike the great waves of 19th-century immigration that brought thousands of Irish, Eastern Europeans and Asians to the United States. Most immigrants in the past came legally. Few could return easily across an ocean to home. Arrivals from, say, Ireland or China could not embrace the myth that our borders had crossed them rather than vice versa.

    Today, almost a third of all foreign-born persons in the United States are here illegally, making up 3 to 4 percent of the American population. It is estimated that the U.S. is home to 11 or 12 million illegal aliens, whose constantly refreshed numbers ensure there is always a perpetual class of unassimilated recent illegal arrivals. Indeed almost one-tenth of Mexico's population currently lives here illegally!


Conservative Rock Songs

John J Miller at NRO lists 50.

    What makes a great conservative rock song? The lyrics must convey a conservative idea or sentiment, such as skepticism of government or support for traditional values. And, to be sure, it must be a great rock song. We’re biased in favor of songs that are already popular, but have tossed in a few little-known gems. In several cases, the musicians are outspoken liberals. Others are notorious libertines. For the purposes of this list, however, we don’t hold any of this against them. Finally, it would have been easy to include half a dozen songs by both the Kinks and Rush, but we’ve made an effort to cast a wide net. Who ever said diversity isn’t a conservative principle?

Going through the list, I had a number, so I immediately collated them into a Conservative list on my iPod.

Some songs and bands were totally obvious as conservative, or in the case of Rush, Ayn Randian.... and course there were songs that I've (in my younger days) air guitared and lip sync'd to without regard of the content.

I've been trying to think of popular songs or artists that I could add to that list, but nothing comes to mind that hasn't already been covered by the list.

It's a good list, go take a look.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Heard about it this morning on talk radio. Definitely cool, but there's arguably room for more.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 26, 2006 7:32 PM

The President's 'Balanced' Plan for Immigration Reform

Days after the Presidential Address to announce 6000 National Guard troops sent to "back up" the border patrol for 1 year, JK asked if I would call myself "supportive of the president's outline [of a "balanced plan" describing a "rational middle ground" on immigration.] My answer at the time was that it seemed more like the Reagan amnesty than a sustainable solution to an on-going problem. You see, I hadn't actually listened to the entirety of the 16 minute address... until last night.

One factoid I learned was the one about the National Guard. Irrespective of their assigned duties, they will be there for only a year before being "reduced as new Border Patrol agents and new technologies come online." Then there was this stunner:

"Second, to secure our border, we must create a temporary worker program. The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life. They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop. To secure the border effectively, we must reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across."

Memo to President Bush: We already have a temporary worker program. It's called the H1B Visa. But there aren't enough of them and they aren't temporary. And, if I'm not mistaken, the latest version of the Senate bill actually reduces the number of visas available. [Actually, this may have referred to a reduction from the prior proposal to treble them.]

Look, if "the reality is there are many people (...) who will do anything to come to America and work" and if you want to "reduce the numbers of people trying to sneak across" then just give legal work visas to all of them. And for NED's sake, don't make seeking a job a felony, criminalize the failure to seek a job! (Not really, but you get my point.)

But this is the one that really pisses me off:

"Fourth, we must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are here already. They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it. Amnesty would be unfair to those who are here lawfully, and it would invite further waves of illegal immigration."

No, Mr. President, this is not amnesty. Amnesty is giving people a pass for breaking a law without repealing said law at the same time. What you've described is lunacy.

You say, "There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant, and a program of mass deportation." That is true, but this is also a false dichotomy. Since when has citizenship been required for permanent resident status? Just let legal immigrants live here and work here, and be subject to each and every one of our laws, but without the voter franchise.

In conclusion,

1) Secure the goram border, using armed guardsmen if necessary;
2) Revise H1B visas to include assignment of Social Security numbers, allow unlimited renewals, and make far more available each year;
3) Issue these new visas (with all your biometric whiz-bangery) to every illegal alien in the country. (And make damn sure no visa holders remain on the voter rolls.)
4) Eliminate citizenship as a birthright unless one or more parent is a citizen but other than this, make little if any change to the citizenship process.
and
5) Start drafting wholesale entitlement reforms now, in secret, to be put forth after the GOP holds congress in '06.

Any questions?

But jk thinks:

Yeah, what are you smokin'?

Entitlement reform in the new GOP 110th Congress will be pretty difficult to pass after the President has failed on Social Security, failed on immigration, and Congress has a smaller Republican majority.

I asked if you could support the President and the answer, I suppose, is "no." You've crafted your own plan, weeks after the President. The armed guards are not palatable to most Americans and do not constitute good politics (cf. Pete Wilson, former Governor). The additional Visas are workable to me but will be fought by unions. The change in citizenship for native birth is not on the table anywhere.

Entitlement reform will be up to Speaker Pelosi. I know you read an article that says it's improbable, but few serious people this month are calling it impossible.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2006 5:10 PM

Why Campaign Finance Reform Is Unneeded

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review...

    Armed instead with a powerful message -- opposition to incumbents' support of a 16- to 54-percent legislative pay raise in July -- many challengers were able to compete and, in some cases, win with a lot less money than their opponents.

    Republican Mike Folmer's campaign spent $2 per vote to defeat one of the most powerful state lawmakers in Pennsylvania. Senate Majority Leader David "Chip" Brightbill, R-Lebanon, spent $75 per vote and lost to Folmer on May 16 by almost a 2-1 margin.

    Still, outsiders like Folmer for the first time in recent memory collected significant contributions from conservative groups and influential GOP contributors upset with the direction of Pennsylvania's Republican Party and its legislative leaders.


How about this one?
    The pay raise issue allowed two little-known challengers to garner a combined 52 percent of the vote against House Majority Leader Sam Smith, R-Punxsutawney. Smith still won, with 48 percent of the vote.

    Harry Bodenhorn, of Cold Spring, and Barbara Chestnut, of Brookville, spent $278 between them. Smith spent $55,399. Stephen Miskin, Smith's aide, said Smith spent most of his money on other House races.

    Bodenhorn, an auto mechanic, substitute teacher and part-time deputy sheriff, said in an interview he didn't spend a dime. He ran four years ago and still had yard signs.

    Chestnut, a grocery store worker, spent $278 for gasoline reimbursement and a Web page. Chestnut said her campaign largely consisted of "knocking on doors, talking to people and handing out my cards."


If they hadn't split the vote, they could have beat him on money from the couch, the car seats and a little lunch money!

Pennsylvania Politics Posted by AlexC at 12:12 PM

There Oughta Be A Law...

...against the sun.

    Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.

    A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes.

    Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: "The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.

    "The Sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years."

    Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

(tip to Bit Heads

Environment Posted by AlexC at 11:14 AM

Miss Me?

Don't answer that -- it's my birthday!

Thanks to my blog brothers who are rocking while I am on vacation. I never vacation; I usually just tack a few days onto a business trip. But I am spending some time in Minnesota. Blog friend Sugarchuck has graciously provided shelter and Internet access to my wife and me. We all spent yesterday evening in a recording studio, I’ll post something when it’s done.

Back this weekend – Cheers!

Posted by John Kranz at 9:46 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Cyrano thinks:

Happy Birthday, JK!!

Posted by: Cyrano at May 26, 2006 9:49 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hey, HB dude. Enjoy Minnesota ... my home state. Don't get carried off by any skeeters. We grow 'em big up there, don-cha-know.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 26, 2006 10:03 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Well happy birthday! I wondered where you went!

Posted by: AlexC at May 26, 2006 11:17 AM

While We Were Sleeping...

Jihad Watch had a post about the suicide bombers which the Iranian government is registering and preparing for battle. The Iranians said they were going to do this, and they are good to their word.

From Iran Focus, with thanks to JE:

Tehran, Iran, May 26 – More than 100 radical Islamists affiliated to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) gathered on Thursday in Tehran’s most famous cemetery vowing to blow themselves up in suicide attacks to kill Americans, Britons, and Israelis.

The “martyrdom-seeking volunteers”, most of whom had covered their faces with a chafieh, issued a warning to Washington that they would blow up United States interests around the world if Iran’s nuclear installations came under attack.

Mohammad-Ali Samadi, spokesman for the Headquarters to Commemorate the Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement, a government-orchestrated campaign to recruit suicide bombers, repeated a claim made earlier in the week that more than 55,000 “volunteers for martyrdom-seeking operations” had been registered so far by the organisation, which also calls itself “Estesh’hadioun”, or martyrdom-seekers.

A huge banner was displayed at the event, depicting the coffins of American and British troops in Iraq

Jihad Posted by Cyrano at 9:42 AM

Islamic Textbooks

We have heard about the "cleaned-up" Saudi textbooks; now here is a claim about Malaysian textbooks, from Jihad Watch. I don't know about the validity of this story, but it is credible -- it is fully consistent with what Saudi textbooks say, with what some students in London are taught, with what students are taught in Palestine, with the Quran and Shari'a, with current events in Afghanistan, etc.

Malaysian textbooks advocate the death penalty for apostasy -- which should not really come as a surprise to anyone who knows how mainstream this idea is in the Islamic world. "School textbooks advocating murder," a letter from "Very Concerned Mother," in Malaysiakini, with thanks to Nicolei:

I wonder if the present government is aware that violence and murder is being preached through its own curricula and textbooks. This is not an exaggeration. I urge the government to seriously consider if its curriculum for Islamic Education is what it wants to feed young minds.

I was shocked and disturbed to find out that the secondary school syllabus for Islamic Education (Pendidikan Islam) includes learning how to deal with apostates and that one of the prescriptions is to kill them off.

In many widely-used Pendidikan Islam workbooks (which base their texts on the Ministry of Education’s syllabus), imposing a death sentence on apostates is offered as a religious duty. Allow me to extract some of what is written (and the original Malay version for readers to check on context and accuracy).

For example, under the heading ‘Ways of Dealing with Apostates’ (Cara menangani orang murtad), the following precepts are given:

1. Advise and persuade the offender to repent and return to Islam (menasihati dan memintanya supaya bertaubat dan kembali kepada Islam)

2. To impose a death sentence (melaksanakan hukuman bunuh)

The text also has a heading which reads: ‘The death sentence against an apostate who refuses to repent and return to Islam has several virtues’. (Hukuman bunuh terhadap orang murtad yang tidak mahu kembali kepada ajaran Islam mempunyai beberapa hikmah).

Among which are:

1. To show to others at large that Islam is not a religion to be mocked at will (menunjukkan kepada orang ramai bahawa Islam bukanlah agama yang boleh dipersenda dengan sewenang-wenangnya).

2. So that no one will dare to denigrate the Islamic religion (supaya tidak ada orang yang berani memburuk-burukkan agama Islam).

Education Posted by Cyrano at 9:34 AM

Imagine

Saw this one DailyKos.

    The allied occupation of Kosovo, where Clark was greeted as a hero with not only flowers, but also billboards and a road being renamed for him, was planned and executed by Clark and Shinseki. It provides an interesting contrast to Iraq, where Shinseki was shut out of the planning, and in fact disparaged for his realistic assessment of what it would take to win in Iraq.

    It's hard to imagine Rummy and Wolfowitz being greeted as heroes of the Iraqi people in seven years' time.


Imagine... It's easy if you try.

Greenville Online - April 10, 2003 Bush Bush, Thank You

    Although danger still is present in Iraq, signs are everywhere the war has been won and Saddam's gone. Cheering Iraqis tell the story -- Saddam Hussein no longer controls Iraq and the days of his brutal dictatorship have ended. Iraq has been liberated, and Iraqis are celebrating.. "Bush, Bush, thank you," Iraqi young people chanted as American troops rolled through Saddam City in eastern Baghdad.

Or this one from the Baltimore Sun.

In smaller letters it says "Baghdad Falls; Iraqis Flood Streets to Greet US Troops; In Capital Joy Reigns Where Hussein, Signs of Cruelty Towered"

How about a Washington Post article? "Hussein's Baghdad Falls; U.S. Forces Move Triumphantly through Capital Streets, Cheered by Crowds Jubilant at End of Repressive Regime.
iraq_celebration.jpg

    Down the street, crowds greeted U.S. troops with flowers, candy and, occasionally, kisses.

    "We love you!" some shouted. Others, with more anger, cried out, "No more Saddam Hussein!"

    Some scrambled for packaged meals-ready-to-eat the Americans handed out, almost setting off a riot near the tanks. Others picked flowers from a nearby park and distributed them to soldiers and anyone resembling an American. A few simply stood and stared, as curious as they were jubilant. For the first time in a half-century, troops were rolling down Baghdad's streets with a foreign flag.

In addition to these, Michael Rubin at NRO has some more....

  • The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, for example, reported, "American soldiers were welcomed as liberators as the citizens in the streets told what U.S. military leaders were hesitant to formally proclaim: the end of Saddam's tyranny."

  • Even the French, never fans of liberation (except their own) conceded the welcome. The day after the fall of Baghdad, French radio announced, "Saddam Hussein has fallen, his dictatorship too. The American soldiers are received in Baghdad as liberators."

Not mentioned in General Clarks' triumphant return to Kosovo is the final status of the Kosovo War's greatest enemy. Slobodan Milosovic. Until his death of a heart attack earlier this year, he was on trial at the World Court. Seven years and no final resolution. Saddam Hussein? He's on trial in an Iraqi court, judged by Iraqis, and will probably die of lead poisoning or of a broken neck. His sons? Dead.

Seven years later, Kosovo isn't quite self governing, it's still part of Serbia. Iraq's interim US-led government is over, their new elected government was seated a week ago.

Obviously Iraq is not all candy and nuts, but the liberation did not fall down a memory hole.

In the end, we don't have to imagine what an Iraqi greeting will be like in seven years, we saw it three years ago... and the country itself is only bound to get better and stronger.

But jk thinks:

Amen. My lefty friends are so certain that we've "broken" Iraq and I'm sure if you’re a Baathist Sunni it appears that way.

But if you’re a Kurd in the North, you're obviously liberated, the Marsh Arabs in the South have been freed and their land is being rehydrated. If you live in Baghdad I expect your reaction is mixed but you have a chance at freedom, a "Republic if you can keep it" as Franklin said.

I know that will sound Pollyannaish to some and I'd entertain debate. But the idea that it obvious and certain that Coalition intervention in Iraq has made things worse is specious.

Posted by: jk at May 26, 2006 9:37 AM

May 25, 2006

Up up up up!

Reuters

    The U.S. economy shot forward at an upwardly revised 5.3 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the fastest growth in 2-1/2 years, as companies built up inventories and exports strengthened, a Commerce Department report on Thursday showed.

    First-quarter growth in gross domestic product was more than triple the 1.7 percent annual rate recorded in last year's fourth quarter, though still slightly below Wall Street economists' forecasts for a 5.7 percent pace.

    Prices remained in check, with the core personal consumption expenditures price index that the Federal Reserve favors rising at a 2 percent rate compared with 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter.


Incredibly there aren't very many "buts" in the article.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 11:15 AM

Oui!!

Here -- can anyone corroborate this story? -- is an unpleasant post from the folks at Infidel Bloggers:

That Infamous "Chatter" Must Be Pretty High For This To Have Come Out

Every since shortly after 9/11, we have heard that the FBI, and the CIA, had heard a lot of "chatter" in the days leading up to the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon. A few times since then, we have also been told that "chatter" had, once again, spiked.


If I recall correctly, there was a spike in the days previous to the 3/11 attack, and also in the days leading up to the uncovering a terrorist cell in Jordan who were said to have been in possession of 1 ton of chemical weapons.

I could be wrong in my recollection here. Please correct me, if my memory is faulty on this.

Anyway, today the New York Post published an article saying that the FBI and the Justice Department have launched "urgent" investigations into some Hizbollah terrorist cells in major cities around the U.S., including NYC.

Assuming the New York Post did not leak classified information here, we have to assume that the fact that such news has been released means things really are urgent. If they weren't the FBI and the Justice Dept. would have slowly, but surely, formed an airtight ring around these guys, in order to build a case, and catch them in the act.

Here's the story. Check it out:

May 22, 2006 — WASHINGTON - The Hezbollah terror group - one of the most dangerous in the world - may be planning to activate sleeper cells in New York and other big cities to stage an attack as the nuclear showdown with Iran heats up, sources told The Post.

The FBI and Justice Department have launched urgent new probes in New York and other cities targeting members of the Lebanese terror group. Law-enforcement and intelligence officials told The Post that about a dozen hard-core supporters of Hezbollah have been identified in recent weeks as operating in the New York area.

Sources said the activities of these New York-based operatives are being monitored by FBI counterterrorism agents as part of a nationwide effort to prevent a possible terror strike if the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program spins out of control.

Additional law-enforcement attention is being centered on the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, where there have already been three episodes in the last four years in which diplomats and security guards have been expelled for casing and photographing New York City subways and other potential targets.

The nationwide effort to neutralize Hezbollah sleepers in the United States, being spearheaded by the FBI and Justice Department’s counterterrorism divisions, was triggered in January in response to alarming reports that Iran’s fanatical president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, met with leaders of Hezbollah and other terror groups during a visit to Syria.

Among those attending the meetings, according to reliable reports, was Hezbollah’s chief operational planner, Imad Mugniyah - considered one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world - who is responsible for the bombings of the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut and who, more recently, provided Iraqi guerrillas with sophisticated explosive devices.

U.S. officials stressed there is no intelligence information pointing to an imminent attack by Hezbollah. But officials said they have detected increased activity by Hezbollah operatives - including more heated rhetoric by its leaders and in Internet chat rooms as the U.S.-Iran diplomatic showdown heats up.


I'm guessing the FBI and the Justice released this information because they are not sure whether they have been able to detect and monitor all the cells. Therefore, perhaps, they have concluded that it is better at this juncture to keep the terrorist cells worrying that they are being monitored.

We can also assume that we are not being the whole story here. For instance, I would really like to know what kind of attacks are in the pipeline. We may never hear, or we may wake up one day and not have to be told.

Let's hope nothing happens, or if there are terrorists about to strike, they are stopped.

If the US would have taken action 5 -- or preferrably 30 -- years ago against Islamofascism, we would not be in this predicament today... This is not case of "hindsight is 20-20," this is a case of irrationality and pragmatism plaguing our house.

Jihad Posted by Cyrano at 1:26 AM | What do you think? [2]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Trace this toxic path right to the feet of the Carter administration. He was resigned to a declining America.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 25, 2006 10:00 AM
But jk thinks:

Nothing I love more than a good whack at our 39th President and I agree that he is culpable.

Historically, however, none of the Presidents before the current one has a great record. I’m willing to forgive President Reagan for Iran-Contra. But I think his biggest mistake was pulling the Marines out of Beirut after the bombing. President Clinton offered the same bad lesson in Somalia.


Posted by: jk at May 26, 2006 10:02 AM

CEI Has the Right Position, But the Wrong Argument

The Competitive Enterprise Institute made some commercials in response to Al Gore's movie coming out soon. The commercials are here and here.

I am not impressed. They strike me as weak and ineffectual. They suffer from the outlook of a lot of modern advertisements: slick and full of cute pictues, but having no substance. Showing me a picture of children getting into a car does bring out some paternal "instincts," yes, and showing me trains does make me think of adventure -- but don't do that, then say carbon dioxide is part of life, and expect me to take it as an argument.

Where is the raw hard data? Where is the objectivity? Where is discussion of the fact that more carbon dioxide makes more plant growth possible? Where is the hard, passionate, rational connection of technology and fossil fuels to human life and a good standard of living?

It ain't there. The people at CEI should have consulted with the people at the Ayn Rand Institute, if they wanted a really compelling commercial.

But AlexC thinks:

I understand that at a movie screening in Philadelphia recently, the former Vice President was chauffered in two vehicles. A Lincoln Town-Car AND a Prius.

Guess which one went to the airport and train station, and which one went to the theatre.

Sadly, there were no sightings of ManBearPigs

Posted by: AlexC at May 25, 2006 1:48 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Stolen Data:

Since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, America’s population has increased by 42%, the country’s inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has grown 195%, the number of cars and trucks in the United States has more than doubled, and the total number of miles driven has increased by 178%.

But during these 35 years of growing population, employment, and industrial production, the Environmental Protection Agency reports, the environment has substantially improved. Emissions of the six principal air pollutants have decreased by 53%. Carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 197 million tons per year to 89 million; nitrogen oxides from 27 million tons to 19 million, and sulfur dioxide from 31 million to 15 million. Particulates are down 80%, and lead emissions have declined by more than 98%.

When it comes to visible environmental improvements, America is also making substantial progress:

• The number of days the city of Los Angeles exceeded the one-hour ozone standard has declined from just under 200 a year in the late 1970s to 27 in 2004.

• The Pacific Research Institute’s Index of Leading Environmental Indicators shows that “U.S. forests expanded by 9.5 million acres between 1990 and 2000.”

• While wetlands were declining at the rate of 500,000 acres a year at midcentury, they “have shown a net gain of about 26,000 acres per year in the past five years,” according to the institute.

• Also according to the institute, “bald eagles, down to fewer than 500 nesting pairs in 1965, are now estimated to number more than 7,500 nesting pairs.”

Environmentally speaking, America has had a very good third of a century; the economy has grown and pollutants and their impacts upon society are substantially down.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 25, 2006 10:03 AM

Indian Economy

Thought experiment.

It's my understanding that Indian Casinos and Indian Cigarettes are generally "tax free" and legal because of some overriding sense of guilt by "the man."

What if the Native Americans started opening up gas stations? Would they be exempt from the 18.4 cent Federal Excise tax? What about state taxes? Some states pay 20 or 30 cents on a gallon in taxes.

A step further, what if a refinery opened up on a reservation somewhere? A refinery that produced gasoline for sale at the Indian pump.

Imagine if you could get gas a cheaper price... a much cheaper price. People would flock to it.

But would the guilt go away?

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I wonder if the tribes would be interested in opening up some refineries or nuclear power plants. Think of the income and the embarassment for enviro-wenies.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 25, 2006 10:05 AM

May 24, 2006

On Liberalism

Dennis Prager...

    The highest-ranking Democrat in America, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, described the Senate bill making English the national language of the American people as "racist." And the New York Times editorial page labeled the bill "xenophobic."

    Welcome to the thoughtless world of contemporary liberalism. Beginning in the 1960s, liberalism, once the home of many deep thinkers, began to substitute feeling for thought and descended into superficiality.

    One-word put-downs of opponents' ideas and motives were substituted for thoughtful rebuttal. Though liberals regard themselves as intellectual -- their views, after all, are those of nearly all university professors -- liberal thought has almost died. Instead of feeling the need to thoughtfully consider an idea, most liberal minds today work on automatic. One-word reactions to most issues are the liberal norm.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 10:50 AM

May 23, 2006

Here We Go Again...

As if we didn't have enough irrationality out now in the form of "Hoot," Al Gore has a movie (supporting the environmentalist witch doctors) coming out this summer, entitled "An Inconvenient Truth." Is that supposed to mean that the truth is inconvenient for him, as it is for every pragmatist who ever lived?

Read some John Dewey, a founder of the philosophy of Pragmatism, and you will see what I mean. Dewey believed that if an idea worked for a long time, it had to be wrong -- reality always changed, by his metaphysics, so an idea could not be true for long. He was really annoyed at Aristotle's logic, saying 'it had worked for so long, it, damn it, had to be wrong!! Grrrrrr!!! (with much gnashing of teeth, growling, barking, and howling at the moon).' He also believed, being a disciple of Immanuel Kant, that truth was a social product.

Anyway...more to come on real Truth...though it will be inconvenient for the likes of Al Gore...

P.S. John Dewey is the single biggest influence on modern education, and the hero of most all educators...so is it any wonder modern American education is in such a sorry state???

Environment Posted by Cyrano at 11:54 PM

Shocked, SHOCKED!

And why exactly hasn't this been linked from Threesources today?

    Iraqis can participate in three historic elections, pass the most liberal constitution in the Arab world, and form a unity government despite terrorist attacks and provocations. Yet for some critics of the president, these are minor matters. Like swallows to Capistrano, they keep returning to the same allegations--the president misled the country in order to justify the Iraq war; his administration pressured intelligence agencies to bias their judgments; Saddam Hussein turned out to be no threat since he didn't possess weapons of mass destruction; and helping democracy take root in the Middle East was a postwar rationalization. The problem with these charges is that they are false and can be shown to be so--and yet people continue to believe, and spread, them.

An article like this comes out every so often, but it never hurts to Go Read the Whole Thing

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 11:35 PM

A Hero in the Battle for Human Life

There are some organizations dedicated to human life on earth -- not destroying it, as ALF seeks to do. (I need to dig out a sheet of paper I have with quotes from the heads and from spokespeople of some of these "animal rights" organizations, so you can see their wholesale hatred for human life. I mean, it should be apparent enough already, but thoughts and ideas together speak louder than either alone.)

One such organization is Pro-Test, an organization founded in Britain by a 16-year old, to support animal testing. The boy who founded Pro-Test was Laurie Pycroft. He wrote a blog describing the experience he had, which motivated him to found the organization -- i.e., to stand up for human life qua human, qua rational animal. Here is the beginning:


Laurie a.k.a. Sqrrl101 (Laurie Pycroft) - a sixteen-year-old from Swindon - was so appalled by the antics of the animal rights extremists campaigning against the Oxford University animal lab that he decided to stand up to them. Here he tells the story of the founding of Pro-Test - an organisation which is campaigning in support of the Oxford University animal lab.

I've always been a very scientific and extremely logical person. From a reasonably early age, I've felt that science and knowledge are the most important things humanity possesses, and indeed what defines humanity as a species, and separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. My view is that humans are the dominant race on this planet and, not for any spiritual reasons, but pragmatically, we therefore have a right to use lower life forms for our benefit. I'm not talking about using animals simply for our amusement, and I'm not suggesting that animal welfare isn't an issue, but what I do believe is that if an animal can be used to save a human, or even significantly improve human quality of life, then that's entirely justifiable.

The morning of 28th January started as normally as could be expected. I woke up, dressed and so forth as normal, and set out on my way to Oxford to meet two friends of mine. The journey, too, went fairly smoothly and without incident, if you don't count the bus-replacement service that's normal for a Saturday train journey. As I remember, the train got in at about eleven, and I waited an hour or so for my friends to meet me.

They arrived, and we began walking in search of somewhere pleasant to sit and chat, and perhaps get a nice injection of caffeine goodness. Our search was fruitful, as we chanced upon a coffee shop. We went in, ordered our respective beverages, sat down, and began talking about this and that. Whilst we chatted away, I happened to glance out of the window, and noticed an abnormally high police presence - a few pairs of officers were walking along the street, and I could see a couple of police horses. As I was wondering about the reason behind this, I noticed a group of people marching towards the building in which I was seated, waving their placards and chanting:

stop the Oxford animal lab!

Admittedly, at this point, I only knew vaguely of the planned animal research laboratory in Oxford, but owing to my personality and long-held views on animal research, I immediately decided to go out and strike a blow for the scientific community.

Now there is a heroic character. We should be reading about someone like him -- not trash like Sheehan or McKinney. Pycroft acually has something to say.

But johngalt thinks:

"One man with courage makes a majority."
-Andrew Jackson

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2006 3:20 PM

Mainstreaming "Animal Rights" Terrorism

Michelle Malkin has an excellent video log piece on the movie “Hoot.” The message of the movie is to break the law and think like an outlaw. They mean this theory to be put into practice, not as an exercise of "talking heads."

And this issue is not a theoretical one, either. This is serious, and deadly. It has already resulted in the destruction of millions in commercial property, attacks on individuals' private property, destruction of important scientific work (work aimed at improving human health and life), physical, violent attacks on innocent people -- and murder.

Iain Murray, in Animal Rights, Human Wrongs, says:

Animal rights extremists—whom the FBI has labeled America’s biggest domestic terrorism threat—have encountered a number of serious reverses recently. These reverses are a great victory for science, free inquiry, and public health. In particular, Americans could learn from a popular movement in Britain that is standing up to the threats and intimidation of the animal ”liberation” movement and asserting the moral arguments for animal testing.

The poster child for animal liberation extremists has been Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a British-based firm that conducts experiments on animals largely in the field of toxicology protection. In April 1997, the firm was found to have breached British animal protection laws and had its license revoked for three months. However, after that punishment was imposed a group of animal rights activists founded a gang called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) with the express aim of closing down HLS within three years. SHAC claims to be committed to non-violent direct action, targeting not just HLS but anyone connected or doing business with it—whether a director of the firm or a cleaner doing contract work for it.

In February 2001, HLS Managing Director Brian Cass—who was later honored by Queen Elizabeth II for services to medical research—was attacked by three men armed with pickaxe handles. HLS Marketing Director Andrew Gay was attacked with a chemical spray that temporarily blinded him. After SHAC started using public records to threaten HLS shareholders, the company relocated its financial center to the state of Maryland.

Oxford University had decided to consolidate its dispersed facilities into one biomedical research center on South Parks Road alongside its other famous scientific centers. The new center would replace existing laboratories and at the same time upgrade them, thereby increasing the welfare of the animals involved. To the extremists, however, it was too good a target to miss and they resolved to make its construction impossible.

Threats were issued. The first contractor, Walter Lilly, pulled out of construction after SPEAK, the group coordinating activities against the new facility, began hosting demonstrations against it. It was during one of these demonstrations that on January 29 this year, a 16 year-old high school dropout named Laurie Pycroft thought that enough was enough. He spontaneously organized a small counterdemonstration in favor of the benefits of animal research and with it Pro Test was born (http://www.pro-test.org.uk/).

Coincidentally, the most infamous of all the animal rights extremist movements, the Animal Liberation Front, got involved at about the same time. In a press release dated February 2, the ALF announced:

This is just the beginning of our campaign of devastation against ANYONE linked in ANY way to Oxford University. Every individual and business that works for the University as a whole is now a major target of the ALF. The University have [sic] made a crass decision to take us on and we will never let them win!

This ALF team is calling out to the movement to unite and fight against the University on a maximum impact scale, we must stand up, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES and blow these f***ing monsters off the face of the planet. We must target professors, teachers, heads, students, investors, partners, supporters and ANYONE that dares to deal in any part of the University in any way.

There is no time for debate and there is no time for protest, this is make or break time and from now on, ANYTHING GOES.

We cannot fail these animals that will end up in those death chambers.

Be warned, Oxford University, this is only the beginning of our campaign. Everyone linked to your institution is right now being tracked down and sooner or later, they will be made to face the consequences of your evil schemes.


Apparently, this made legitimate targets of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and your present writer, among others. It also woke up about 18,000 students to the realization that they were now at risk of attack from a terrorist organization.

As a result, within a month of its founding, Pro Test was able to host a major rally in Oxford, with over 1,000 people attending...

In their words, their thoughts, and their actions, these people are evil. The ALF is not the only group who commits such atrocities.

So when they say to "break the rules" and "think like an outlaw" -- they mean it. And the producers of the movie cannot say they are unaware of such evil practices; they therefore condone and support them.

The movie is, basically, a call to violence -- serious, real, physical violence.

We are not talking an isolated issue, here, either. "Animal Rights" and Ecoterrorism have gone on for decades, occurs all over the US, and occurs in other countries. In "The Threat of Eco-Terrorism" -- testimony given by James F. Jarboe, Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, Counterterrorism Division, FBI, before the House Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health on February 12, 2002 -- Mr. Jarboe says:

Good morning Chairman McInnis, Vice-Chairman Peterson, Congressman Inslee and Members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased to have the opportunity to appear before you and discuss the threat posed by eco-terrorism, as well as the measures being taken by the FBI and our law enforcement partners to address this threat. … During the past decade we have witnessed dramatic changes in the nature of the terrorist threat. In the 1990s, right-wing extremism overtook left-wing terrorism as the most dangerous domestic terrorist threat to the country. During the past several years, special interest extremism, as characterized by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), has emerged as a serious terrorist threat. Generally, extremist groups engage in much activity that is protected by constitutional guarantees of free speech and assembly. Law enforcement becomes involved when the volatile talk of these groups transgresses into unlawful action. The FBI estimates that the ALF/ELF have committed more than 600 criminal acts in the United States since 1996, resulting in damages in excess of 43 million dollars. … In recent years, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) has become one of the most active extremist elements in the United States. Despite the destructive aspects of ALF's operations, its operational philosophy discourages acts that harm "any animal, human and nonhuman." Animal rights groups in the United States, including the ALF, have generally adhered to this mandate. The ALF, established in Great Britain in the mid-1970s, is a loosely organized movement committed to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals. The American branch of the ALF began its operations in the late 1970s. Individuals become members of the ALF not by filing paperwork or paying dues, but simply by engaging in "direct action" against companies or individuals who utilize animals for research or economic gain. "Direct action" generally occurs in the form of criminal activity to cause economic loss or to destroy the victims' company operations. The ALF activists have engaged in a steadily growing campaign of illegal activity against fur companies, mink farms, restaurants, and animal research laboratories.


In February 2001, teenagers Jared McIntyre, Matthew Rammelkamp, and George Mashkow all pleaded guilty, as adults, to title 18 U.S.C. 844(i), Arson, and 844(n), Arson Conspiracy. These charges pertain to a series of arsons and attempted arsons of new home construction sites in Long Island, New York. An adult, Connor Cash, was also arrested on February 15, 2001, and charged under the same federal statutes. Jared McIntrye stated that these acts were committed in sympathy of the ELF movement. The New York Joint Terrorism Task Force played a significant role in the arrest and prosecution of these individuals.

On April 20, 1997, Douglas Joshua Ellerman turned himself in and admitted on videotape to purchasing, constructing, and transporting five pipe bombs to the scene of the March 11, 1997, arson at the Fur Breeders Agricultural co-op in Sandy, Utah. Ellerman also admitted setting fire to the facility. Ellerman was indicted on June 19, 1997 on 16 counts, and eventually pleaded guilty to three. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and restitution of approximately $750,000. Though this incident was not officially claimed by ALF, Ellerman indicated during an interview subsequent to his arrest that he was a member of ALF. This incident was investigated jointly by the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Movies like "Hoot" need to be attacked mercilessly -- verbally and economically, not in ALF fashion.

(In the "Extended Entry" are a few articles giving you more exposure to the ALF.)

A story from CNN says:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Violent animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists now pose one of the most serious terrorism threats to the nation, top federal law enforcement officials say.

Senior officials from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) and Explosives told a Senate panel Wednesday of their growing concern over these groups.

Of particular concern are the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).

John Lewis, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, said animal and environmental rights extremists have claimed credit for more than 1,200 criminal incidents since 1990. The FBI has 150 pending investigations associated with animal rights or eco-terrorist activities, and ATF officials say they have opened 58 investigations in the past six years related to violence attributed to the ELF and ALF.


Here is a file documenting some of the ALF’s damage. It’s on the ALF site – guess they are bragging and proud of it??? Here is an excerpt, but the whole thing is worth reading and remembering:

”In July 1989, without warning, Animal Liberation Front activists entered a laboratory and office at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas.”

So begins the description of an incident designated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an act of domestic terrorism.

The laboratory was the center of research on sleeping disorders, including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, conducted by Dr. John Orem. When the ALF raiders quit the premises, they left damaged and disabled equipment and slogans spray-painted on the walls and stole five adult research-conditioned cats. Immediately after the invasion, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals aired ALF's statement justifying theft of the cats and Orem and his research became a target of vicious harassment.

The laboratory was effectively closed for 45 days. Total direct and indirect costs of the break-in was estimated at more than $1 million after equipment was repaired or replaced, new cats were purchased, additional security was installed, and inactive staff was paid.


The UK Telegraph had a story this year entitled "Terrorists In Our Midst." Here is an excerpt:

Last week, Tony Blair jutted out his chin and declared himself determined to hurl the full force of the law against anybody who dared to "glorify" terrorism. There were many, ourselves among them, who wondered what this ill-defined offence would add to a statute book already well stocked with laws against incitement to violence.

But if Mr Blair really wishes to get tough on apologists for terrorism, he should direct the attention of the police and the prosecuting authorities to Bite Back, an American-based website. This is where members of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) anonymously boast, week after week, about the crimes that they have committed in the name of "animal rights" - arson, assault, vandalism and threats of murder.

A typical announcement, posted on Valentine's Day, celebrated a raid on the house of the head of animal testing at a pharmaceutical company: "We slashed all the tyres on his large, silver vehicle. We poured paint stripping fluids on the paintwork and covered his house and car in at least 20 different slogans… We are sick and tired of having to track down murdering scum like you… Your time is up."

But johngalt thinks:

Continue reading? You mean, there's more??

;)

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2006 3:22 PM

Now he tells us!

I bet "Brother Zach" would have liked this exculpatory evidence at his trial

Bin Laden: Moussaoui Not Linked to 9/11

I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission," he said, referring to the 19 hijackers.

The al-Qaida chief said the Sept. 11 hijackers were divided into two groups, "pilots and assistants."

"Since Zacarias Moussaoui was still learning how to fly, he wasn't No. 20 in the group, as your government has claimed"


He could have been a good character witness as well.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:03 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

It's mind boggling that the MSM hangs on every word supposed to be from the mouth of this murderous bastard, taking it all at face value without a whit of criticism or contradiction. Meanwhile, the President of the United States is a bald-faced liar who cannot be trusted.

I'm coming to understand that the Democrats' election strategy is not to convince us of the preferrability of their leadership, but rather the lengths they will strive and depths they will plumb toward the suicidal self-destruction of the very defense of our nation and our selves.

Worst of all, their strategy is working; e.g. "29 percent"

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2006 3:31 PM

Draft Pierre!

If we cannot get Secretary Rice to run in 2008 (and I'm not conceding that we can't -- a patriot will be there when her country needs her), let's draft Pierre "Pete" Du Pont. He was governor of Delaware, Congressman, presidential candidate in 1996, and is a weekly contributor to the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page.

He's a thinker, a supply-sider, an American exceptionalist, and should be tapped again for a GOP run in 2008. (About Pete).

Today he delivers some truth and sense about global warming in his Outside the Box column.

Since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, America's population has increased by 42%, the country's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has grown 195%, the number of cars and trucks in the United States has more than doubled, and the total number of miles driven has increased by 178%.

But during these 35 years of growing population, employment, and industrial production, the Environmental Protection Agency reports, the environment has substantially improved. Emissions of the six principal air pollutants have decreased by 53%. Carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 197 million tons per year to 89 million; nitrogen oxides from 27 million tons to 19 million, and sulfur dioxide from 31 million to 15 million. Particulates are down 80%, and lead emissions have declined by more than 98%.


He then enumerates all the environmental factors that have improved in the last thirty years, and remembers the fears that led the pages back then.
If it all sounds familiar, think back to the 1970s. After the first Earth Day the New York Times predicted "intolerable deterioration and possible extinction" for the human race as the result of pollution. Harvard biologist George Wald predicted that unless we took immediate action "civilization will end within 15 to 30 years," and environmental doomsayer Paul Ehrlich predicted that four billion people--including 65 million American--would perish from famine in the 1980s.

Yeah, I did own a leisure suit and a few loud print rayon shirts to wear underneath. The music was terrible. Maybe that's why my best memories of the 70s are the catastrophic predictions.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 6:34 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I'm going to throw a monkey wrench into this by saying he's a bad choice because of his name.

The DuPont family tree has dropped quite a few nuts over the years and the opposition will play that to the hilt.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 23, 2006 7:37 PM

Best of the Web

No link this time, but Taranto liked my goofy headline:

Could This Be Why They Keep Winning?
"Elections Are Crux of GOP's Strategy"--headline, Washington Post, May 22

This was actually the subject line of the daily WaPo email. I asked Mr. Taranto if he knew of any other political party's ever trying this before...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:16 PM

The Politics of Immigration

I've been holding on to this since the weekend. It seems I cannot convince my blog brethren that the President's plan is right and true, that it provides both for enhanced security and to allow the free flow of labor required to make us all richer That it is decent to human beings who just wish to work. That it gives us far better visibility of who is here and what they're doing.

I guess I have failed, although two friends of mine are showing a glimmer of interest. I will tack into the wind, put my blog pragmatist hat on and link to Fred Barnes. In this week's Weekly Standard (and free on the website) he makes the political case for comprehensive immigration reform.

PRESIDENT BUSH AND REPUBLICANS are staring political disaster in the face on immigration. The problem isn't that they might enact a bill allowing illegal immigrants living in America to earn their way to citizenship, inviting foreign workers to come here, and beefing up security on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. No, it would be a disaster for Republicans if they didn't pass such a bill.

Like me, he sees this as a big win for the GOP. He sees the risk in the dark underbelly of failure. If the President fails on Social Security (a good plan which a GOP controlled Congress could not pass) and then fails on this cornerstone of his first and second terms, the rest of the term will not be pretty.
There really is an immigration crisis. In fact, the very Republicans who want an immigration bill limited to enforcement are largely responsible for having brought to the attention of all Americans the fact that a crisis exists and must be dealt with urgently. For them to prevent a bill now would be political suicide. It would all but guarantee Democratic capture of the House on November 7. "We're in control," says Republican senator Mel Martinez of Florida. "We're in charge. And if we don't produce, it would be a terrible failure. It would be handing the other side a win." A big win.

Imagine the effect it would have on Bush's presidency. Bush is struggling as it is. It was bad enough when his lonely effort to reform Social Security last year flopped. Failure to deliver on immigration reform, the single biggest domestic issue of the decade, would mark the end of the Bush presidency as an effective political force. Bush would become the lamest of lame ducks. His final two years in the White House would be painful.


How about it guys. Take one for the team here. Support the President who gave us tax cuts and the thoroughly impressive Roberts court. Get behind and win one more for the malopropper!

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM

Hurricane Science vs. The Witch Doctors

Dr. Patrick Michaels discusses the fact that "global warming" is not the cause of an increase in the number of strong hurricanes in the article "Global Warming Not Featured in New Hurricane Study."

We will be hearing a lot of such nonsense, blaming Republicans and Bush and capitalism for the increase in the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the near future. Well, we have been hearing some already.

Course, the Muslims "know" that it is Allah sending the hurricanes to punish the "evil, decadent" America, the "Great Satan." And Pat Robertson knows it is "God" sending the hurricanes to punish modern Soddom and Gomoras, since modern American cities allow the "evil" of homosexuality!! Oh my God!!! Holy Cow!!!

Such witch doctors' immoral spoutings aside, Dr. Michaels discusses some real facts about hurricanes. He says:

Over the last few decades, hurricane climate experts have largely eschewed linkages between global warming and increases in the number or strength of hurricanes. That is, until late last summer, when a series of highly publicized papers claimed otherwise. The papers pointed out that sea-surface temperatures (SSTs), the essential fuel of hurricanes, have been increasing in the primary hurricane-development regions pretty much globally since 1970 (the start of global satellite hurricane track and intensity records). Over that time, hurricane intensities have also been on the rise. And since global warming causes SSTs to rise, that must be the cause of the recent spate of strong hurricanes.

The problem with this logic is that hurricanes require a very specific environment to flourish. High SSTs are a necessary but not sufficient condition to spin up strong storms. It is also important that there be very little change in the winds with height; that near surface winds blow in such a manner to cause moist air to gather near the storm's center; and that temperatures decline rapidly with height to promote a very unstable atmosphere, among other factors. One criticism of the studies from last summer is that the focus was almost entirely on SSTs only. In order properly to link hurricane trends to SSTs (and global warming), you need to discount trends in these other, critical variables.

...

An examination of the number of category 4 and 5 storms from 1945-present shows that we are indeed currently experiencing a high frequency of major storms. But recent years are comparable to another fairly active period in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The aforementioned Science papers only considered the period from 1970 onward, because those data are believed to be the most accurate and internally consistent. However, the long term data from both the Western Pacific and the North Atlantic (the world's two most active regions) are reasonably good, especially with respect to the number of strong storms, which are obviously more likely to be detected.

Another factor in the recent spate of strong storms is a long-term cycle in SSTs. In the Atlantic, for example, all hurricane researchers are aware of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), a somewhat periodic cycling between high and low SSTs in the North Atlantic, including the primary hurricane formation zones. Figure 3 shows one of several incarnations of the AMO. Note the clear tendency toward positive AMO values beginning in the late 1960s. There were a lot more strong hurricanes from the 1940s through the mid-1960s (positive AMO), which was followed by a quiescent period (negative AMO). Any evidence of increasing SSTs based on a data set that begins around 1970 will identify an artificial trend that is really part of a longer-term cycle. The Science authors had perfectly legitimate reasons to begin their analysis in 1970, but a broader perspective is needed before you can call that increase a global warming signal.

Dr. Michaels provides some very good graphics to show trends in hurricanes.

In his "Figure 2", he shows "The number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes observed in the Western Pacific (top) and North Atlantic (bottom) oceans since 1945. The counts in recent decades are not so much different than the counts in the 50s and 60s."

In his "Figure 3," he shows the "Time series of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO). Again, notice a big trend since 1970, but nothing unusual in the long term (source: Knight et al., 2005)."

The whole article is worth reading, and passing on to friends and relatives.

Environment Posted by Cyrano at 12:53 AM

May 22, 2006

Thought Experiment

Chicago Boyz

    One day you notice that you've been going through multiple bags of cat food per day. Then you look outside and notice that there are entirely too many stray cats in the yard. You've successfully deduced that the stray cats coming in your yard from all over the neighborhood are eating all of the extra cat food you've been buying. Now how do you solve this problem? Do you:

    a) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Round up as many stray cats as you can find and drop them off next door. Repeat as necessary.

    b) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Build a large wall around your property to keep the stray cats out.

    c) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Patrol the perimeter of your property with a gun to keep the stray cats out.

    d) Keep putting cat food in the yard. Adopt the stray cats that are currently in your yard, but this is it! After this you aren't taking in any more, and that's final. Repeat as necessary.

    e) Stop putting cat food in the yard. Feed your cats and only your cats in a place where the strays can't get access to the food.


Anyone?

But jk thinks:

If you're Rep Tancredo or Bill O'Reilly, I suppose you light bonfires in your backyard, set landmines, and leave several lawnmowers running on their side. I mean, who cares if you ruin your yard -- as long as you get that cat problem cleared up!

The analogy is tortured and tenuous. These people are human beings who contribute to our economy. If you want to set out less cat food (reduce government assistance) I am with you all the way. But let's not wire up the electric fence.

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2006 10:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Very well, then try this analogy instead:

"If your basement is flooding from a broken pipe, do you wait until you return from Home Depot with all the materials you need to fix it "permanently" before you turn off the supply valve?"

I contend the answer is the same whether or not the rising water also happens to be watering the petunias bordering your foundation.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2006 3:37 PM

Bananas

Marc Steyn

    Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, in a quintessentially McCainiac contribution to the debate, angrily denied the Senate legislation was an "amnesty." "Call it a banana if you want to," he told his fellow world's greatest deliberators. "To call the process that we require under this legislation amnesty frankly distorts the debate and it's an unfair interpretation of it."

    He has a point. Technically, an "amnesty" only involves pardoning a person for a crime rather than, as this moderate compromise legislation does, pardoning him for a crime and also giving him a cash bonus for committing it. In fact, having skimmed my Webster's, I can't seem to find a word that does cover what the Senate is proposing, it having never previously occurred to any other society in the course of human history. Whether or not, as Mr. McCain says, we should call it a singular banana, it's certainly plural bananas.

But jk thinks:

Steyn is in good form as usual. And I can't not enjoy a little bashing of the U.S. Senate.

But everybody who's paying attention knows that this is now about a conference bill, not the Senate bill. I feel he ignores that for entertainment value

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2006 5:23 PM

Fair Tax II

One of my coworkers lives in Boulder, and is pretty hot on the fair tax. You might remember his response from Congressman Udall.

He inquired about the fair tax of Senators Allard and Salazar.

See the extended entry.

Senator Allard:

    Thank you for your letter concerning "Fair Tax" legislation. I believe that the Federal tax burden on hard-working Americans is excessive and overly intrusive, and reform of the IRS is long overdue.

    I strongly support a simplified tax system. While I was a member of the Colorado legislature, we implemented a 5 percent flat tax for Colorado. We should take similar action on the Federal level. It is my belief that the tax code should be reformed to the point where American families can file their tax return on a one page sheet or post card. While this would involve the elimination of deductions and loopholes, it would be more than offset by a lower rate.

    While I support the concept of a flat tax, there are many details that would have to be worked out. In particular, I want to make certain that any reform is a benefit to the middle class. The vast majority of taxpayers are in the middle class, and they have borne the burden of the current system. Reform should also reward saving and investment.

    The "Fair Tax" legislation would implement a national sales tax. I am willing to consider this, and one aspect that I find appealing is the fact that this might permit the elimination of the IRS. However, mechanisms would have to be put in place to ensure that the collection burden on small business would not be excessive, and that the income tax could not be resurrected. The worst scenario would be for Americans to end up with the burdens of both an income tax and a national consumption tax. This is the unfortunate situation in many European nations.

    The first step towards a simpler, fairer system is elimination of the current tax code. It would be up to Congress to replace it with a simple, fair system that applies a low rate to all Americans. The replacement system must provide tax relief for working Americans without penalizing marriage or family, protect the rights of taxpayers, and reduce tax collection abuses. Finally, the replacement system must eliminate the bias against savings and investment and promote economic growth and job creation.

    Your thoughts will be helpful to me as tax issues are debated in the Senate.

Senator Salazar:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding tax reform.

    As you know, S. 25, The Fair Tax Bill of 2005, was introduced in the Senate last year. This legislation would repeal the federal income tax, abolish the Internal Revenue Service, and establish a federal sales tax administered by the states.

    I agree with you that the Nation's tax code has become too complicated and burdensome. However, I do not believe that abolishing the IRS is a viable solution.

    I support making the President's tax cuts permanent for 98% of Americans. I will fight to close unfair tax loopholes that encourage big corporations to move their headquarters overseas to avoid paying taxes, and other unfair tax breaks, while supporting corporate tax changes that encourage domestic investment. At the same time, I will be a strong voice for fiscally conservative policies that don't saddle our children and grandchildren with even more debt.

    I will keep your views in mind as Congress debates tax reform policy this year.


But jk thinks:

Wow. Right in the city limits, huh? I live in Lafayette (ten miles east) and it is scary enough driving in behind all the Volvos and Subarus.

The Salazar comment saddened me. He is a decent Democrat, but it is an agonizing reminder what we lost when Pete Coors lost. The white haired gent you see strolling through the mountains in the commercials would have supported the Fair Tax, and would not have presumed to choose which 2% do not get to keep their Bush tax cuts.

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2006 7:29 PM

Greatest Headline Ever!

Taranto calls it "Raging Pacifists.

Brawl at anti-violence rally preceded shootings

Posted by John Kranz at 4:41 PM

For the Wall, Before He Was Against It

I'm so glad this f'ing guy wasn't President.

    Sen. John Kerry joined most of his Democratic colleagues last week in voting to build a wall along 370 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border.

    But he now says that after the wall is built it should be taken down as soon as possible.

    "I voted for it," Kerry acknowledged Friday while speaking to the New England Council breakfast.

    But in quotes picked up by the Boston Herald, the Massachusetts Democrat added: "If I were making the long-term decision, I’d announce, you know, hopefully it’s a temporary measure, and we can take it down as soon as we have enough people" to guard the border.


That doesn't even make any sense. ... and how positively wasteful it is. Build a wall, then tear it down. Do it, or don't do it. But don't waste our money with something that stupid.

Tip to Blonde Sagacity, who writes, "John Kerry Rules" for being "wonderful blog fodder."

But jk thinks:

Damn, that's nuanced!

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2006 12:52 PM

Kruthammer vs. JK

The phone rang early today. It was my oft-mentioned relative who is pro-Bush but wants a far more enforcement oriented solution to immigration than the President. He pointed me toward Charles Krauthammer's column today. It speaks to his side, we both discussed our respect for the good Doctor.

I don't want to fisk Krauthammer -- he's not lying or wrong. There are just some issues I feel he does not pay sufficient attention to. He gets right to the point. Nobody accuses him of circumlocution:

I do not doubt the president's sincerity in wanting to humanize and regularize the lives of America's estimated 12 million illegal aliens. But good intentions are not enough. For decades, the well-traveled road from the Mexican border to the barrios of Los Angeles has been paved with such intentions. They begat the misguided immigration policy that created the crisis that necessitated the speech that purports to offer, finally, the "comprehensive" solution.

Hardly. The critical element -- border enforcement -- is farcical. President Bush promises to increase the number of border agents. That was promised in the Simpson-Mazzoli amnesty legislation in 1986. The result was more than 11 million new illegal immigrants.


Time out! The security elements of the President's plan are not "farcical." The President has proposed physical barriers where needed (300-700+ miles, depending on who eats their Wheaties on conference day) and the use of technology to replace barriers in other locations. I know Krauthammer wants a TJ - Neuvo Laredo wall, but I think he is wrong to call anything less farcical.

The President also calls for more border patrol agents and suggests the National Guard during transition. As the WSJ pointed out, and Krauthammer admits, more boots is not the magic solution.

The President also offers mitigation for the supply-demand pressure. Biometric worker IDs and increased legal workers would both reduce the demand (and concomitant price) of illegal labor. The normalization of present workers would increase the legal labor pool as well.

Krauthammer's main thesis is very strong (mirabile non dictu). He asks why it is Conservative to support enforcement in that illegal workers compete for work with the poorest Americans, whom liberals claim to champion. He does not mention another point of contention: that illegal workers pose more threat to the environment than a middle-class American driving his 1.25 children around in a hybrid. His best point is likely American exceptionalism:

And is it just conservatives who think the United States ought not be gratuitously squandering one of its greatest assets -- its magnetic attraction to would-be immigrants around the world? There are tens of millions of people who want to leave their homes and come to America. We essentially have an NFL draft in which the United States has the first, oh, million or so draft picks. Rather than exercising those picks, i.e., choosing by whatever criteria we want -- such as education, enterprise, technical skills and creativity -- we admit the tiniest fraction of the best and brightest and permit millions of the unskilled to pour in instead.

Krauthammer makes a good point, but ignores the little exigency of geography. We have this long border with a much poorer country. Sure we have every right to militarize, barbed-wire, whatever. But Mexican citizens have grown used to finding employment here and our economy has grown used to the advantages they provide. If I believed that a million gardeners would be replaced by 500,000 doctors and 500,000 programmers, I'd be in.

Krauthammer, and many of his ilk, seem unwilling to compromise. Three hundred more miles of fence are about 210 miles too much for me, but I will support the compromise. Yet Krauthammer wants every inch of the border walled (boats?) and calls 1/3 farcical.

The President is not a legislator. The House can toughen enforcement and the Senate can broaden the welcome mat. Yet the President has proposed a balanced approach that I can support. And as you've noticed, I do not tire of asking others to support it.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM

Three Headed Monster

One of my favorite local columnists is Tony Phyrillas. He does a great job sticking it to those who need it.

Writing about "the earthquake".

    All three branches of state government conspired to pass off the pay raise on taxpayers. The voters punished the judiciary last November by kicking Russell Nigro off the Supreme Court. They punished the GOP leadership in the Legislature on May 16. Rendell is next. He signed the pay raise into law. He defended it. He was in on the back-room dealings that crafted the pay raise. Payback for Rendell is coming.

    Republicans took care of business on Tuesday. Brightbill and Jubilerer made too many deals with Rendell. They were too cozy with Pennsylvania’s tax-and-spend governor. The voters -- mainly the conservatives in their respective districts -- gave them a swift kick in the pants. Democrats had the same opportunity to punish their leadership -- Bill DeWeese and Mike Veon -- and didn’t do it. That’s an important distinction between the two parties. If you have an infestation problem, you call an exterminator. Republicans took care of their problem. Democrats are more willing to live with their flawed leadership. I commend Republicans, especially conservative bloggers and talk radio hosts and groups like Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania and the Club for Growth, for going after Brightbill and Jubelirer. Democrats, as usual, were AWOL.

Pennsylvania Posted by AlexC at 12:40 AM

May 21, 2006

Marxist Racism

Nicholas Provenzo has a good post on his Rule of Reason blog.

According to the Seattle Public Schools, if you’re an individualist, you’re a racist (HT: Volokh Conspiracy). On a web page that lists various forms and definitions of racism, the school system defines “Cultural Racism” as:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers. [Emphasis added].
This definition is racist itself; it ascribes racist thinking to white people only—if one “overtly and covertly attribute[s] value and normality” to black or Asian races, one falls outside its definition of racism. More fundamentally [however], this definition attacks the very notion of treating individuals as individuals. In her 1963 essay Racism, Ayn Rand observed that
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

Racism claims that the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman's version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.

So why then are the Seattle Public Schools smearing the antidote to collectivism as racist? At root is the Marxist theory that history is nothing more than group struggle, and according to such a theory, we are always defined by the group.

You can see the Marxist interpretation of racism in the Seattle Public Schools “definition” of racism:

The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.

Contrast this again with Ayn Rand’s definition of racism:

The notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry.

Or the World Book Dictionary (c. 1987) definition:

The belief that a particular race, especially one’s own race, is superior to other races. (Where race is defined as “any one of the major divisions of mankind, each having distinctive physical characteristics and a common ancestry.”)

Rand and the World Book give valid definitions of racism, defining it, logically enough, in terms of race. It is the belief that an individual has significance in virtue of his race – whether or not the race has any “social power."

But the SPS defines racism in terms of “social power” and “systematic subordination.”

That’s the Marxism in their thinking. As Mr. Provenzo pointed out, according to Marx, history was a clash of classes: the rich vs the poor, the bourgeois vs the proletariat, the “haves” vs the “have nots.” It was a clash over economic power. The SPS variant of that idea is to look at things as a clash over “social power” – but it’s still a power struggle between the “haves” and “have nots.” The group with the most “social power” is the one who is “racist.” (Well, only if you are a White living in the US.)

So the SPS says you are a racist in virtue of the fact that you are white -- not in terms of any decision you might make or any point of view you might hold. And because of the SPS’s inherent Marxist thinking, they fail to see the gross, blatant contradiction in saying that only white people are racist.

A black or Asian supremacist is not – according to the SPS -- racist. (I challenge the SPS to show a black or Asian supremacist, by their definistions, IS racist -- because they can't do it. They would have to change their definitions to reflect reality.) A person “of color” who disparages whites as pigs and filth, who makes jokes about them, even who kills or robs whites, the SPS would not call racist. Would such a person be called a “freedom fighter” by the SPS? They would be fighting the supposed “White Power Structure,” after all.

There were plenty of “fighters” like that in Marxist societies, too. No wonder, since Marx had claimed that the power struggle between “have” and “have not” was a metaphysical fact and an item of faith; that the only hope of salvation for the “have nots” was to wipe the earth clean of the “haves,” in order to achieve a “worker’s paradise” on earth.

That’s why millions of innocent people died in Russia, millions of innocent people died in China, and millions of innocents died in Cambodia.

Marxism let the murders loose, just as what the SPS is seeking would let the murderers out amongst us. How else could we have a “racial group paradise” on earth? As night follows day, Marxism in practice always has and always will result in widespread death amongst the “haves” (and “have nots”) – it won’t be any different if the SPS has their way.

In grouping society into “Whites” and “other,” and assigning a collective guilt upon “Whites,” the SPS has declared their support for and advocacy of racial conflict.

Their only out could have been to advocate the only antidote to racism: individualism, judging people by the content of their character, not by their race or sex or nationality or other deterministic character of genetics or birth.

Looking on the contact page for the Seattle Public Schools, there are some people you can write to about this issue. The addresses are all in the public record.

The person who, by her position, seems most responsible:
Equity & Race Relations Caprice Hollins cdhollins1@seattleschools.org

And others who might be of some influence in this matter (?):
Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorn cjsantorno@seattleschools.org
Elementary Ed Director Pat Sander psander@seattleschools.org
Elementary Ed Director Pauline Hill phill@seattlschools.org
Elementary Ed Director Walter Trotter wtrotter@seattleschools.org
High School Director Ammon McWashington mcwashington@seattleschools.org
Superintendent Raj Manhas rsmanhas@seattleschools.org

Education Posted by Cyrano at 11:00 PM | What do you think? [5]
But jk thinks:

Much to Dagny's dismay, I gave up on Seattle a long time ago. The city that empowers garbage collectors to assess fines for failure to recycle and continues to send Jim McDermot to the House every two years is likely beyond the salvation of an email campaign.

I love the city as a tourist. But when you leave, Macho Duck, bring the flag...

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2006 9:30 AM
But Cyrano thinks:

I'd agree, jk, Seattle is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. When I was there five or so years ago, I dropped into the original Starbucks and got some coffee. That part of town was interesting; there were lots of shops with lots of color. I loved how some of the shops had fruit and vegetables laid out: reds, copper, yellows, orange, shades of green. Beautiful.

No, I don't expect salvation from an email campaign. The people at SPS are too irrational for salvation. They just need to know that they can't get away with their vicious, immoral attacks. And they need to be told that there will be blood on their hands when their "solution" to racism adds fuel to the fire.

Posted by: Cyrano at May 22, 2006 12:04 PM
But dagny thinks:

OK, I'll rise to the bait. I do not dispute that my hometown has been lost to the moonbats and I would be happy to have Macho Duck here to make Colorado a little more red. Many parts of western Washington are still great places to live though I don't recommend the city of Seattle.

But, people who live in Boulder County Colorado should not throw political stones.

Posted by: dagny at May 23, 2006 11:31 AM
But jk thinks:

It's a fair cop, guv! Ny only defense is that I would not take the bait in a beat-up-on-Boulder session, I'd join in!

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2006 12:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think Dagny's point is that the suburbs of Seattle proper have a lot to offer, as do the suburbs of Boulder proper (or Denver for that matter.)

Name the city: If you earn your own living you don't want to live IN it, but only as close as you have to.

And Cyrano's point is well taken too. There's a world of difference between a well reasoned email and a full-blown reform campaign. And there's as much difference in the other direction between sending that email versus doing nothing. They must not be allowed the luxury of believing that "everyone" agrees with their lunacy.

Just one more lasting lesson from the amazing Ayn Rand.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2006 3:47 PM

Poor Things

My heart really breaks for the Pennsylvania legislators who had lost their jobs on Tuesday.

    They'll relinquish the right to taxpayer-paid vehicles, chauffeurs, meals and lodging.

    They'll say hasta la vista to offers from trade groups for free movie tickets and ski passes valued at $6,000.

    And they'll kiss goodbye lobbyists' constant courting — often accompanied by meals at the state's finest dining establishments, free trips and hard-to-get tickets to sports, theater and musical events.

    In other words, they'll lose their place at the front of the line — all thanks to their loss in Tuesday's primary.


That's terrible. I mean, they're going to starve.
    Those who have served eight years or more will carry with them the same health care and long-term health care benefits they had while in office. They also can collect any expenses (including per-diem costs) that are two years old or less and for which they haven't been reimbursed.

    And depending on how long they served, they could collect 100 percent of their salary as their pension.

    In Jubelirer's case, the senator will be eligible to collect 93 percent of his average salary over the last three years; Brightbill could collect 66 percent of his average salary over the same time period.

    And what do they earn?

    This year, Jubelirer earned about $150,000 and Brightbill earned about $140,000.


Breaks my heart, these guys.

I'm pretty sure they're going to be hanging around Harrisburg though. There's always jobs for former politicians in lobbying.

Pennsylvania Posted by AlexC at 9:04 PM

A History of the Pennsylvania Earthquake

Just Read the Whole Thing, really too much to excerpt.

But jk thinks:

Samizdata had an intersting angle -- how the incumbents outspent the challangers and lost. Robert Clayton Dean says:

"So for whom are these facts inconvenient? Proponents of campaign finance reform, that's who. State controls on campaign finance are premised (or at least sold) on the idea that money distorts elections, that without state controls elections will be bought by the candidate with the most money, that the gentle hand of the state is needed to ensure a level playing field and a fair outcome."

http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2006/05/inconvenient_fa.html

Posted by: jk at May 21, 2006 9:48 PM

May 20, 2006

Islamic Heaven For Women

This is a good point by comedian B.J. Novak. It shows what good women have to look forward to, according to the Islamic view of the "hereafter."

Jihad Posted by Cyrano at 10:02 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Cyrano thinks:

JK:

I was able to see both videos I linked to. I had to get around my pop-up blocker, yes, but that was easily done.

--Cyrano

Posted by: Cyrano at May 22, 2006 10:52 PM

Horror Film

This is a good argument regarding gun control. And it shows an important difference between our society and Islamic society.

Only in America!! :) Gotta love it...

Gun Rights Posted by Cyrano at 9:44 PM

Damn!

NBC10.com

    It is potentially devastating news for a small Pa. town famous for its green-bottled beer.

    The departure of Rolling Rock beer from the tiny Pennsylvania town it has come to symbolize has left the future of local brewery workers - and the town's identity - in question.

    The owner of the Rolling Rock brand, a U.S. subsidiary of the Belgium-based brewing giant InBev SA, announced Friday that it had sold the brand to Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. for $82 million.

    But the Latrobe Brewing Co., which has churned out the beer since 1939, is not part of the deal. It will be sold and Anheuser-Busch will begin making Rolling Rock and Rock Green Light elsewhere in August.


I've recently rediscovered Rolling Rock and it's enigmatic "33" on the green glass bottle. I like it.

Now it's going to suck.

Damn!

Posted by AlexC at 8:59 PM

November

Mr. Hewitt is on fire, with a serious post about the November elections and the internecine rifts in GOP.

The Washington Post has now caught up with Painting the Map Red, with the paper reporting on its front page that the House of Representatives could in fact see a Democratic majority when the smoke clears in November.

This post is full of linkety goodness (as Buffy might say). Take a few minutes and follow the links to the WaPo story, his World column, and the flowchart for a GOP victory in 2008 after a loss in 2006.

I have really come around to Hewitt after reading his book. He is fiercely partisan but he comes at issues from an intellectual perspective that I appreciate.

Amusingly, I disagree with him on a million issues. We represent different party wings but I respect his viewpoints and enjoy the clarity of his writing.

I also appreciate his list of candidates to support. I'm certainly cheesed off at the Republicans enough that I cannot support the RNSC ("Here's my dough, Senator Chaffee") or RNCC ("Have some for yourself, Rep. Lewis!"). Hewitt presents nine targeted Senate races to support (Including Sen. Sanctorum, AlexC). He suggests $50 to each and $50 extra to your favorite. I like the style but, again, wished Hewitt and I saw eye-to-eye..

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM

Review Corner

The New World. The. tale. of. Pocahontas. And. Capt. Smith.

Told beautifully.

But.

Very.

Very.

Slowly.

jk gives it two and a half

Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM

May 19, 2006

Surrogate

It's Arlen Specter day at Threesources!

The American Spectator writes that tuesday's electoral earthquake was really just another round of Toomey vs Specter!

    Though Pennsylvanians did not vote for Pat Toomey himself Tuesday, they opted for his type of candidates. To highlight a few conservative challengers, John Eichelberger, a Blair County commissioner, defeated Jubelirer with 44 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Mike Folmer, a tire salesman and one-time city councilman dubbing himself "Citizen Mike," handily ousted Brightbill, 63 to 37 percent. Gary Hornberger, Schuylkill County controller, took 51 percent to 18-year incumbent Rep. Bob Allen's 49 percent.

    The election also comes as a rebuke for Arlen Specter. After the Pennsylvania Club for Growth targeted Brightbill, Jubelirer, and Allen for defeat, Specter said he was helping them all. "I have given some money and more's coming," he said at a state capitol news conference, according to Capitol Wire.


Read the whole thing.

Posted by AlexC at 10:43 AM

Supply & Demand

AP

    The House rejected an attempt late Thursday to end a quarter-century ban on oil and natural gas drilling in 85 percent of the country's coastal waters despite arguments that the new supplies are needed to lower energy costs.

    Lawmakers from Florida and California led the fight to maintain the long-standing drilling moratorium, contending that energy development as close as three miles from shore would jeopardize multibillion-dollar tourism industries.

    "It's a grievous assault on Florida and other (coastal) states," declared Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., of attempts to end the drilling prohibitions that Congress first imposed in 1981 and has reaffirmed every year since.

    The moratorium bars oil and gas development in virtually all coastal waters outside the western Gulf of Mexico, where most of the country's offshore oil and gas wells are concentrated.


Is Congress tone deaf or incredibly stupid?

Last time I checked high oil prices were a collossal problem in this country. Yet, we're intentionally keeping oil sources closed? While Cuba and China are drilling in nearly the same places?

Good thinking.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hmm, and we should not put windmills off of Nantucket either ... because of the tourists. Soon enough, when the tourists cannot afford to travel to Florida and California, we will hear the California Whine of how we should have drilled on the North Slope, eh?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 19, 2006 1:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This really is outrageous. Impeach congress!

It also serves as evidence that there is NOT an oil crisis. If there were then you can bet this vote would have fallen the other way.

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2006 11:14 AM
But jk thinks:

Millions of Americans believe that prices are high because of "gouging." Not even the Republicans will dissuade them from this nonsense.

Somebody needs to tell people about supply and demand. I don't know who that's gonna be.

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2006 11:29 AM

Never Again?

Canada's National Post

    Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.

    "This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."

    Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."

    The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.

    Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.


I think this calls for another round of diplomacy.

How long till people start doing the calculus of "It's only 25,000 .... etc.... "

It's disgusting. Yet there are people willing to turn a blind eye this week. Last week, last month, last year, and I fear in the future as well.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [5]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

This has to be intended as a 'shock-jock' move. On the other hand, Good Lord!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 19, 2006 1:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

First, a qualifier: Various reports have contradicted the validity of this story. Still others have claimed the law originally passed 2 years ago but hadn't yet been implemented.

I have to correct Rabbi Hier who said, "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis." Iran adopted the ideology of the Nazis about 27 years ago with the so-called "Islamic Revolution." What they're moving closer to is the same fate that befell the Nazis - their own destruction.

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2006 11:23 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Fire up the Daisy Cutters! This lunatic needs to die,..now!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 20, 2006 8:23 PM
But howard thinks:

"Various reports have contradicted the validity of this story"

-including organization that reported it.
(http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=6626a0fa-99de-4f1e-aebe-bb91af82abb3)

Posted by: howard at May 21, 2006 1:54 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Howard, I posted your comment into the body of my original post. Thanx for the heads-up!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 22, 2006 9:00 PM

May 18, 2006

Specter!

I'm usually down on the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania, but I like this.

    "I don't need to be lectured by you. You are no more a protector of the Constitution than am I," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., shouted after Sen. Russ Feingold declared his opposition to the amendment, his affinity for the Constitution and his intention to leave the meeting.

    "If you want to leave, good riddance," Specter finished.

    "I've enjoyed your lecture, too, Mr. Chairman," replied Feingold, D-Wis., who is considering a run for president in 2008. "See ya."


Heh.

Update: Well, maybe I spoke too soon. Senator Specter voted to kill an amendment to a bill that would have prevented illegal aliens from getting SOCIAL SECURITY!

But jk thinks:

"The Man Who Voted 'Glenfiddich' On Impeachment" has served us very ably through the confirmations of Justices Alito and Roberts, and he has been reasonably friendly to Executive power in the NSA contretemps.

I am not leading the call for entitlements for illegal aliens, but most of these amendments are attempts to hang "baggage" on the bill that will prevent passing or further complicate conference reconciliation. I'll give Sen. Specter a pass on that.

Posted by: jk at May 19, 2006 10:19 AM

Pointing the Finger

Jeez. Another election, and another voting machine problem.

This time they can't blame Republicans.

    Angry and embarrassed over hundreds of malfunctioning voting machines in Tuesday's primary, the Philadelphia City Commissioners' Office yesterday vowed to launch a "thorough and complete" investigation of what went wrong in perhaps the city's biggest election-day mishap in years.

    So far, nobody knows for sure.

    All 3,526 machines were tested the same way they have always been tested since the city bought them five years ago, election officials said.

    Even the election watchdog group Committee of Seventy reported nothing amiss when conducting its own routine testing last week of two random machines in each of the city's 67 wards.

    "This does not shine brightly upon this office," an obviously disappointed Deputy Commissioner Edward Schulgen said at yesterday's meeting of the commissioners, who oversee city elections. "I've been here since 1984 and I'm proud of my employees and this office... [but] we will not tolerate this malfunctioning again."


No one in charge of Philadelphia is of the pachydermal persuasion. Only asses donkeys.

But I still blame Diebold, Bush, Ohio's Secretary of State Blackwell and Republicans in general.

It's only a matter of time before the trail leads to them.

Posted by AlexC at 7:17 PM

We Stand On Guard For Thee

Ala at Blonde Sgacity has the story of a brave, fallen Canadian soldier and the note she left.

A female Canadian soldier who was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday had written a letter to her sister saying how proud she was of her mission...

"In an e-mail dated early March to her younger sister Kate, Capt. Nichola Goddard recounted carrying a 45-kilogram pack uphill on a two-kilometre march, as well as other daily challenges of her role in the Afghan mission.

"I feel like a poster child for why people should join the military," Goddard wrote. "It was an amazing 15 days."

In her e-mail, Goddard described moving into isolated areas, either by foot or with vehicles, to conduct shirras -- the Pashtu word for meeting -- with local elders.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 4:11 PM

The Conservative Victory

Along with Senators Jubelirer and Brightbill going to in Tuesday's Pa primary, 21 year old Mark Harris (Santorum Blog contributor) also won!

    In a Mt. Lebanon race, 21-year-old-college student Mark Harris delivered a stunning defeat to long-time big-government incumbent Tom Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson tried to save his job by attacking Mr. Harris as too young and inexperienced to hold office, but Mr. Harris responded by sending the incumbent a copy of "Economics for Dummies." That tactic evidently sealed Mr. Stevenson's fate. (We can think of many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who would benefit from that book.)

The ads that were mailed were pretty reprehensible. Even moreso when you learn that the state GOP paid for them.

Pennsylvania Posted by AlexC at 4:02 PM

When to Steal a Line

Galley Slave Jonathan Last finds a gem in a banal story about Jodie Foster's Commencement Address at Penn:

Comedian Yakov Smirnoff, who earned a master's degree in positive psychology, was among the approximately 6,000 graduates.

Says Last: "What a country!"

Posted by John Kranz at 3:44 PM

May 17, 2006

RINO Slaying

So, a pay hiking, pay jacking, tax hiking, budget inflating Republican Senate leader loses in a primary election, and he blames ...

    The most stunning defeats Tuesday were suffered by the Senate's top two Republicans, Senate President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer and Majority Leader David J. Brightbill. Both had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars since the beginning of the year to protect their jobs.

    Jubelirer lost to a longtime political foe, Blair County Commissioner John Eichelberger, in a three-way primary. Brightbill was defeated by tire salesman Mike Folmer, a Lebanon city councilman in the 1980s.

    Jubelirer, who was first elected to the Senate in 1974, said the pay raise was a catalyst in his loss. But he also blamed voter frustration over issues such as the Iraq war, gas prices and immigration.

    "It's everything," he said. "They took it out on incumbents."

    "I only hope that as we move forward that the change that people have clearly spoken out tonight is a positive change," Jubelirer said.


Heh.

But jk thinks:

Hugh Hewitt credits a group near and dear to AlexC's heart: "The Young Conservatives of PA deserve some credit for this. They launched a great billboard campaign after Pa. lawmakers gave themselves a huge pay raise in the dark of night."

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2006 7:26 PM
But AlexC thinks:

"... and we would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for those meddling kids!"

Thanks for remembering!

Posted by: AlexC at May 17, 2006 9:14 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Sue Cornell hit the bricks ... I'm doing a little dance ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 18, 2006 11:05 AM

WSJ on Immigration

I'm not the only one. The Editorial Page of the Wall Street Journal is with me on the President's speech.

President Bush laid out a "rational middle ground" on immigration Monday night amid an irrational election year. The question in the next few weeks is whether his own political party is smart enough to seize the moment and follow, or would rather run off on the anti-immigration rails.

Everybody I talk to says "rails!" I was speaking with a Bush-supporting but Tancredo-friendly relative yesterday. He's of the "wall first" flavor and I respect him immensely. But he said that the government isn't ready to create ID cards. I asked if we were more ready to build a 2000 mile wall. "Is the environmental impact study complete?"

An accompanying graph shows a nice linear rise in border patrol agents from 4,000 in 1994 to under 12,000 today. I think this belies the concept that enforcement has been ignored or gravely under funded Yes, it could be improved (and I think the President laid out exactly how) but enforcement-only will not work. The President's plan of fence, technology, more agents, guard troops, ID cards, and employer enforcement would combine to provide effective enforcement, while legal paths to work and citizenship would relieve the pressure on the border.

The reason has less to do with policy -- Mr. Blunt is not a policy man -- than with this year's elections. The President's approval ratings are down, Congress's are even lower thanks to its poor record of achievement, and so the Members have grabbed immigration enforcement as the issue to turn out the GOP base. We'll find out in November if it worked, though for now all it seems to have done is divide the party and drive Mr. Bush's ratings even lower.

The President is offering Congress a way out of this box canyon. His proposal for a guest-worker program is a serious attempt to reduce the incentives that immigrants have to enter the U.S. illegally. He also realizes that, for the illegals already here, mass deportations are impractical and would spell political suicide for the GOP. Hence, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is trying this week to garner more support for a bipartisan plan that would put these illegal workers on a path to citizenship if they pass a background check, pay fines, learn English and satisfy other requirements.
[...]
We realize we're pushing uphill by mentioning these realities amid what has become a full-fledged political panic. Mr. Bush probably also erred in not objecting more vigorously last year when the House GOP rolled out its punitive legislation that makes working here illegally a felony. That bill has both inflamed Hispanics and made immigration control a larger and more polarizing issue than it needed to be this year. If Republicans want to emerge with their majority intact, they'll take Mr. Bush's advice and support reform that does more about immigration than pretending that more border police will solve the problem.


Internecine Posted by John Kranz at 2:27 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

The Democrats made a brilliant move when they insisted on language in the House immigration bill making illegal immigration a felony. This one fact is cited almost universally as the "GOP's punitive legislation." Brilliant move, Nancy!

The single biggest complaint I have about "guest worker" is "path to citizenship." If you want to be a citizen, follow the rules already in place. Period.

BUT... I strongly endorse the idea of revising immigration law to eliminate quotas on legal entry for the purpose of employment. I.D. everyone, keep out the criminals and terrorists, then let the markets run the show.

On top of this we still need to stop spending tax dollars on bilinguality and, since non-citizen workers will no longer be "in the shadows" they can be held to all the same civil standards as citizens are.

As a free bonus, once the law about legal entry is changed then everyone who came in before is no longer a criminal.

Posted by: johngalt at May 18, 2006 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I am looking for those who are more enforcement oriented than I who were won over by the President's balanced plan. I don't expect you to dance about giddily, but would call yourself "supportive" of the President's outline?

Posted by: jk at May 18, 2006 4:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I heard the beginning of his speech before leaving for dinner with in-laws, but what I heard sounded good - the beginning part, where he was speaking in generalities about values and such. As for his proposed plan I can't say that I really understand the details.

My general sense though is that it it more like Reagan's 1984 "amnesty" than like a sustainable solution to an ongoing problem. I could be wrong, but that's how it comes across.

I still have yet to hear the president or anyone in government talk about unlimited legal work permits. They always focus on "path to citizenship" and never mention that annual quotas and, thus, motivation to immigrate illegally, will remain.

Can you tell me what the president's "balanced plan" does to eliminate the current scarcity of opportunities for legal immigration?

Posted by: johngalt at May 19, 2006 4:21 PM

Needing to Do

Here's what the President needs to do.

    George W. Bush isn't at 29 percent because he's lost support among moderates and liberals - he's at 29 percent because he has been too willing to cave in to moderates and liberals.
    The recipe for restoring his popularity to above 50 percent is simple: Bush must screw the Left every chance he gets.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by AlexC at 9:53 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I'll agree that the President should do principled, conservative things but I part company with Mr. Hobbs on Immigration. It is not left wing to want what is best for American business.

I'd also remind him that the President is not running and that House and Senate Republicans are. I think that these folks are wandering off the reservation at their own peril. The Congressional GOP would do a lot better to support the President.

Posted by: jk at May 17, 2006 10:26 AM

May 16, 2006

Pragmatism

Or "Can't we all get along?"

Sugarchuck emailed a link of this RealClearPolitics piece, Hot-Tub Libertarians (You gotta like the title).

I think people who are ideologically driven tend to think that they're more representative of the electorate than they are. It's easy to believe that “most people think like me” and even easier to believe that "if people paid attention and learned some things they'd all think like me."

This article divides the traditional and current GOP voting blocks into ideological components. Read 'em and weep:

Last month, Pew released an analysis, based on a survey of 2,000 people, which was aimed at finding the ideologues among the American voting public -- those voters who held consistent ideological views on a sampling of subjects, such as health care, gay marriage and Social Security reform.

Libertarians were the smallest group, as defined by Pew [9%], followed by conservatives (15 percent), populists (16 percent) and liberals (18 percent). A full 42 percent of voters held no identifiable ideology (these are presumably the people who vote for whomever's tallest).

Perhaps the most interesting fact in the Pew survey, however, was that less than 6 in 10 libertarians voted for Bush in 2004. While few libertarians seem to have deserted the president between 2000 and 2004, they are split roughly evenly between the two parties. The Pew survey finds 50 percent of libertarians identifying as Republicans, 41 percent as Democrats.

Given that libertarians' traditional home has been in the conservative base of the Republican Party for about five decades, as part of a strained partnership with social conservatives, their almost 50-50 split between the two parties today is big news.


I wish I had the questions to see which group I am in; I guess "libertarian" or "economic conservative."

But the big point is that we better learn to get along. I have long hoped for a major re-alignment that would create a party that would more closely reflect my beliefs than the GOP. Silence and I have suggested that we might find ourselves in the same party.

Reality dictates, however, that those of us who do not want Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid planning policy with President Clinton (44, they'd have to call her), had better learn to tolerate the populists and the evangelicals and the libertarians and possibly even the economic conservatives.

Politics is about addition, and I will try to keep the uneasy truce alive and the big tent together.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 7:52 PM

The Speech Is Polling Well

Insty links to a Corner post:

David Frum, the smartest man I know, got it wrong. CNN has a poll just up, and the results are staggeringly in the president's favor. 79 percent of those who watched had a very favorable or favorable view of the speech, and those who support the president's policies rose in number from 42 to 67 percent.

I shared my disillusion with a friend via email. He missed the speech, AlexC "had it on." I heard some grumbling from all the populists (Michelle Malkin enjoyed watching the President and making fun of the speech with that towering mind of GOP politics, Rep Tom Tancredo). Hugh Hewitt was measured -- even Bill O'Reilly was cautiously optimistic. But I heard and read so little from Administration supporters.

Folks, the President knocked one out of the park last night. He addressed the nation (even the broadcast networks covered it) and he addressed the topic that every pollster says is driving his approval ratings down. He discussed the issue that is dividing the Republican voters of ThreeSources. He delivered a great speech on an important topic. He outlined a compromise: comprehensive reform that most folks should be able to live with. I really expected the ThreeSourcers to rally together around this plan as good policy and good politics.

Second Bush Administration Posted by John Kranz at 7:28 PM

May 15, 2006

The President's Speech

I had the President's speech on, but really can't say I was riveted.

But my friend Dr Rick @ the American Checkup paid attention.

Here's what he says...

    Though I am an ardent supporter of President Bush I feel that he could have taken a more brazen position and challenged Congress to secure the borders immediatly with troops and fences. His approval would surely be catapulted into more popular opinion rather than the 29th percentile where he's recently found refuge. His base would have renewed faith in a President re-elected to pass his agenda which he has been less than stellar in furthering.

    This was truly a missed opportunity in some regards and an employment of appropriate measures in others. The President surely didn't compromise his already lack luster appeal. But he didn't capitalize on a tremendous opportunity either.


Hugh Hewitt says...
    President Bush did exactly what he had to do tonight: Hit the middle, agreeing to the fence, to a large increase in Border Patrol personnel and funding, tamper-proof identification, National Guard back-up of ICE for at least a year, the end of catch-and-release, blunt talk on the impossibility of mass deportation, an insistence on English, and a commitment to a guest worker program that will take pressure off enforcement by funneling large numbers of immigrant workers into the legal line.

In related news, CNN ran Bush's rehearsal "mistakenly."

But jk thinks:

I was riveted. I thought it was pitch perfect and that it will launch the GOP immigration win I have been looking for.

No, the enforcement-only folks are not pleased. Rep Tancredo was on Bill O'Reilly's show right after the speech. Of course he's not happy. (Though he made O'Reilly look sane and measured, everybody has a purpose in life).

Exigencies dictate that a lot of folks are not going to get exactly what they want. Compromise legislation is frequently weak and, well, compromised. The opportunity here for a good, comprehensive reform is very good.

I will gladly accept more stringent border security than I'd choose, I'd like to see some of the enforcement-only crowd accept victory-plus as well.

The President's enforcement plan is superb: National Guard troops to back up the Border Patrol while they recruit and train new staff; technology over militarization; employer enforcement without betting the whole program on it; tools to help employers comply; and guest worker program and citizenship path to allow enough workers to keep the economy going.

I give the President an A+. The grace note at the end of the young Marine and his respectful tone toward all immigrants was just right as well.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2006 10:53 PM

Strip Poker

Reuters

    Ireland will play host to the world's biggest ever strip poker contest if bookmaker Paddy Power gets its way.

    The idea was originally floated as an April Fool's joke but generated so much interest that Dublin-based Paddy Power has decided to look seriously at organising a contest it hopes will find a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

    "We got almost 100 requests to take part," the company's spokesman, also called Paddy Power, said. "We're trying to investigate whether it's possible or whether we'll get put in prison for it."


I'm thinking that as long as it's all women, and not the regular pro-poker cadre, late night cable TV just got a whole lot better.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 6:55 PM

Looking for Leaks

Hmm.

    A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

    "It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

    ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

    Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.


Are journalists above the law? No.

But aren't there some dots to connect?

John Hawkins writes...

    Although I DO NOT favor locking up reporters for reporting classified info, I don't have any problem at all with the government trying to find out who's leaking that classified info to the press. These leakers in the intelligence community have gravely compromised our national security for their own selfish reasons and they need to be ferreted out, fired, and then punished to the fullest extent of the law. If this isn't a bogus story, it sounds like the government is finally on the right track.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 6:36 PM

Editors and What Not

Sometimes, the haste of getting a story online can really lead to an embarrassing situation.

    Following a court case involving Apple Computer and The Beatles' record label, a floor manager had run to reception and grabbed the man, thinking he was , editor of Newswireless.net, a specialist internet publication.

    Actually, he was a minicab driver who had been waiting to drive Mr Kewney home once the interview was completed.

    The unknown cabbie attempted to bluff his way through and, speaking in a strong French accent, sustained a (somewhat illogical) form of conversation. Meanwhile, the real Mr Kewney watched indignantly on a monitor in reception.


This is the BBC, in case you were wondering.

There is video at the link.

Posted by AlexC at 5:00 PM

Cut Taxes, Raise Spending

I mentioned this article in a comment below, but this deserves a post. As it is paid only, I will excerpt heavily.

Jonathan Chait asks Why do conservatives keep insisting tax cuts decrease spending?

Conservatives have a number of analogies to explain why tax cuts will lead to spending restraint: Cut your child's allowance. Starve the beast. But the analogies are all wrong. The child has a credit card. The beast has a private meat locker. Washington can spend whatever it wants, regardless of how much it taxes.

The right has been congenitally unable or unwilling to grasp this lesson. Last week, though, there was a faint glimmer of recognition. William Niskanen, chairman of the fervently anti-government Cato Institute, did a calculation showing that, since 1981, every $1 in tax cuts tends to produce 15 cents of extra spending. Likewise, every $1 of tax hikes tends to reduce spending by 15 cents. The notion that tax cuts cause spending to dry up, or that tax hikes encourage more spending, is not just wrong, it's completely backward.


I mentioned in the comment that he is likely right that they are disconnected. Politicians can raise or lower taxes and raise or lower spending.

I have indeed heard the "starve the tumor" argument and have probably used it myself. If the Laffer Curve works (which it does), additional revenues will tempt politicians into additional spending. And before you give up on Chait entirely, he contends that spending goes up because tax-cutting politicians have to buy off their progressive brethren.

The insistence on tax cuts tends to weaken fiscal restraint all around. Having tended to the rich with tax cuts, Bush had to buy off enough voters with spending hikes to win reelection.

In the end, my response to Chait is that his argument is a strawman. While I have heard this argument he refutes, I cannot name a single pundit or politico that uses lower spending as a raison d'etre for tax cuts.

For the record, I like tax cuts, Mr. Chait, because I like tax cuts. They represent freedom, and the economic activity they engender means wealth -- put me down as a "yes" on freedom and wealth. Should they encourage more spending somehow, we have to control that, should they not pay for themselves we must evaluate where that revenue will be found.

But if we cut taxes and see growth and record-breaking government receipts, then let's have some more tax cuts.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:06 PM

McCain & the Blogosphere

C-SPAN carried Senator McCain's commencement address at Liberty University. I saw it yesterday and was less than impressed. McCain is a very good orator and I have read moving speeches he has given. The commencement address a few years ago to the Annapolis graduating midshipmen was top notch.

The Liberty speech was alright but sparkled only in a few passages, It was not his "A" game. Byron York, at NRO's Corner caught the same line I did: McCain is trying self-effacing humor about his brash youth:

With my superior qualities so obvious, it was an intolerable hardship to have to suffer fools gladly. So I rarely did. All their resistance to my brilliantly conceived and cogently argued views proved was that they possessed an inferior intellect and a weaker character than God had blessed me with, and I felt it was my clear duty to so inform them. It’s a pity that there wasn’t a blogosphere then. I would have felt very much at home in the medium.

York points out that "While McCain's speech at Liberty University was about reconciliation, he did take a jab or two at the occasional villain. Like…bloggers:" The Senator lost some ground yesterday in his pitch to win me back for 2008.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:55 PM

The Internets

Apparently HD video is going to kill the internet.

    Every day, it seems, a new service pops up offering to send you video over the Internet. "Desperate Housewives," Stephen Colbert heckling the president, clips of bad dancers at wedding parties: It's all there.

    You may be up for it, but is the Internet?

    The answer from the major Internet service providers, the telephone and cable companies, is "no." Small clips are fine, but TV-quality and especially high-definition programming could make the Internet choke.

    Most home Internet use is in brief bursts — an e-mail here, a Web page there. If people start watching streaming video like they watch TV — for hours at a time — that puts a strain on the Internet that it wasn't designed for, ISPs say, and beefing up the Internet's capacity to prevent that will be expensive.

    To offset that cost, ISPs want to start charging content providers to ensure delivery of large video files, for example.

    Internet activists and consumer groups are vehemently against those plans, saying they amount to tilting the Internet's level playing field, one of the things that encourages innovation. They want legislation to guarantee a "neutral" Internet, but prospects appear slim.


Maybe I'm a bit naive, but why should the provider be charged? Shouldn't the consumer bare the costs of his usage?

This seems like a no brainer.

Want to watch HD Sopranos? Pay for it.

Posted by AlexC at 1:51 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

Internet bandwidth is a "commons problem." Like the proverbial common grazing area, as long as there is no shortage, everything is fine. Thanks to "The Internet Bubble" (a.k.a. "The golden age of civilization") there is a lot of excess capacity. But there is no mechanism to charge anybody for a Singaporean downloading HD video from Germany.

In a past life I was a 1990s UNIX guy who thought pages should be all text. Maybe a repeating logo up top so the browser could cache it. I'm glad such fogeyism was chased out of the system but I remain surprised that this has not been more of a problem to date.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2006 3:50 PM
But AlexC thinks:

It's not a commons problem.

If you download 1Gb/hr for a month on an "unlimited" plan from your ISP, that's between you and the ISP. Just because an ISP is trying to oversell it's bandwidth (they all do), and now they're in a pickle, that's not a problem for Congress to solve.

The consumers can solve it.

Posted by: AlexC at May 15, 2006 5:36 PM
But jk thinks:

But the backbone and global coverage is not really tied to revenue. I can be a local ISP and charge Coloradoans $10/month, while they're accessing sites all over the world and taxing bandwidth who-knows-where. The general Internet is very much a commons even though most is under private ownership.

Best to let Congress sort it out. (Actually, I don't remember calling for Congressional involvement. If I did, I was drunk, please disregard.)

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2006 6:13 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Don't ISP's pay backbone providers?

Don't backbone providers charge their customers, and others for connections?

The whole thing doesn't run for free. The end user, like the taxpayer, supports the operation.

Posted by: AlexC at May 15, 2006 6:34 PM

Voodoo Economics

That this is even up for debate boggles the mind.

    Nobody serious believes that tax cuts pay for themselves, as I noted last week. But most senior Republicans flunk this test of seriousness.

    In January, George W. Bush declared that, "by cutting the taxes on the American people, this economy is strong, and the overall tax revenues have hit at record levels." Regrettably, this endorsement of what his dad called voodoo economics was not a one-time oversight. The next month, Bush told a New Hampshire audience, "You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase."

    Bush is not alone in this. Dick Cheney, allegedly a serious person, asserted in February that the "tax cuts have translated into higher federal revenues."


Nonsense. The Laffer Curve has been proven time and time again by history.

Just search our archives.

Here's a great graph from TaxProf Blog.
revenue20growth.jpg

While it is true, our deficits are higher than nearly ever before, it's not because of tax cuts. It's because of increased spending! Our President and Congress can't seem to agree on stopping the spending!

But jk thinks:

Jonathan Chait in TNR claims that tax cuts actually cause increased spending, while he ridicules Republicans for claiming that they cause cuts in spending.

http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=w060515&s=chait050815

Maybe someday, there will be a politician who wants to cut taxes AND cut spending. That'd be something!

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2006 1:39 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Well increased revenues mean increased spending. Politicians have no self control. Maybe a few are out there.

I'm hoping.

Posted by: AlexC at May 15, 2006 2:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The TNR article is subscription only so I couldn't verify this, but one reason you can say "tax cuts actually cause increased spending" is because, in beltway budgeting lingo a "tax cut" is classified as an "expense." "Gee, I'm not sure the Government can afford to let you keep that last twenty Mrs. Smith."

But to the original point of the post, since a grand total of two, supposedly uber-conservative, economists theorize differently, but, [QUOTE:] The Republicans' only argument is that tax receipts have boomed in the years since the 2003 tax cut, [END QUOTE] you essentially find yourself being asked, "Who ya gonna believe? Me, or yer lyin' eyes?!"

This seems like an appropriate time to share one of Macho Duck's prodigious quotes: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is."

Be sure to follow AlexC's original link to the WaPo column that spawned this. When I form a mental image of 'The Fountainhead's' Ellsworth Toohey, THIS is the picture that appears.

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2006 3:34 PM

Afraid of Markets

One of the most pernicious effects of "Folk Marxism" is the belief that money and commerce are tainted -- if not evil. While there is something unseemly about a Chicago Commodities type market for live organs "I got a kin’ey and two corneas here! Who'll gimme..." why is it that the idea of people dying is less unseemly?

Eighteen people die every day waiting for a kidney, and those who do get one are weakened by four years of dialysis while they wait. A new board formed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action has been charged with "redoubling efforts to stimulate altruistic donations." Yet, the thing that would work has of course been taken off the table.

A guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal (Paid link, sorry!) notes that the board has a lawyer but no economist, and that "direct payments" were disallowed.

Experimental programs should be written off because they could, we are told, "lead people to view organs as commodities and diminish donations from altruistic motives."

This odd manifesto does not offer any theoretical reason why a positive price would not increase the sources -- thus increasing the supply -- of organs, but seeks to avoid the implications of that basic proposition with shopworn objections. One reason we have no empirical evidence on the influence of price on donation levels is that the government -- based on recommendations from groups like the IOM -- refuses to allow anyone to do the work that would allow for the orderly accumulation of such evidence.

So, we must resort to theory, which predicts that an increase in price will lead to an increase in supply, for organs as for any other good or service. It is not the case that everyone will jump from the rafters to donate -- but in a nation of 300 million people, it should be possible to induce 70,000 healthy donors to part with a kidney.

Some argue, as a rejoinder, that the price mechanism will drive out the altruists. Thank heavens. All markets have a few people who are willing to supply goods at a low price, or indeed for no price at all. But no one says that the market for food or medical services is defective when these inframarginal suppliers receive something extra when prices rise. That increase in cash only counts as a transfer payment that neither adds to nor detracts from overall social welfare.

The key social changes come from the lives saved through the increase in supply. Only a bioethicist could prefer a world in which we have 1,000 altruists per annum and over 6,500 excess deaths over one in which we have no altruists and no excess deaths. In any event, the altruists don't disappear. They can give money to help the poor purchase organs -- or medical and surgical services needed to purchase an organ transplant.

The IOM report also demonstrates an utter lack of imagination as to how a sensible organ market could be organized if the present legal ban is lifted. An above-board, functional organ market should have simple features. First, the price should be determined by supply and demand. The market will tend to encourage bids by individuals who can make the greatest use of organs.


The list for kidneys grows longer by 6,00 per year. People are living longer and fatal accidents have been reduced (Insert your own New York Times Headline Here), yet no experimental, pilot program will be allowed.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM

May 14, 2006

Laffer at work




The Wall Street Journal put this article on its free site this weekend. As good as the numbers look (see chart at left) plenty of politicians have a vested interest in denying the Laffer curve.

Alas, admitting error is not a natural political act, so the tax cut critics are now suggesting all of this growth would have happened anyway. Thus the Washington Post last week quoted Robert Rubin--the Clinton economic guru--as dismissing the importance of tax cuts because "we had very good markets in the '90s before all these tax cuts went into effect." And it quoted chief Lehman Brothers economist Ethan Harris as saying that the expansion "has nothing to do with tax policy, and more to do with the corporate sector starting to spend some of their record profits." Well, what does Mr. Harris think inspired that revival of business spending? Spontaneous combustion? A Nascar green flag? As for Mr. Rubin, when does he think the stock market imploded and the economy headed downhill? Bill Clinton was still in office when the dot-com boom went bust and U.S. manufacturing was shedding jobs faster than France.

The numbers don't lie. HIstorical correlation of GDP growth and concomitant revenue gains is well documented.

Over the past 40 years, the U.S. has had three great experiments in tax-cutting, and each one has worked even better than advertised: The Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s, the Reagan cuts of 1981, and now the Bush tax cuts of 2003. The political tragedy is that the first of those two were bipartisan, while the Bush tax cuts have had little Democratic support. Only 15 House Democrats supported their extension this week; there were only three in the Senate.

Perhaps they should recall the words of a famous Democrat from another era: "The tax on capital gains directly affects investment decisions, the mobility and flow of risk capital . . . the ease or difficulty experienced by new ventures in obtaining capital, and thereby the strength and potential for growth in the economy." That was John F. Kennedy, and he's still right today.




Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 2:37 PM

Review Corner

I spent a whole three bucks this week -- and scored three decent films.

  • "Hoodwinked;” I mentioned a weakness for animation and kids' movies. This is a good family movie. Kids of many ages will dig it yet the humor is directed at the adults (as Bullwinkle and Shrek did well). Intellectual Property rights fit in -- the miscreant is stealing recipes and driving "goodie vendors" out of business. Abuses of law enforcement are mentioned. jk gives it three and a half stars.

  • "Tristan + Isolde:" Romeo and Juliet meets King Arthur. The unified Irish are at war with divided baronies of post Roman Britannia. Good fable texture, jk gives it three stars.

  • "Rumor Has It:" a pretty clever set up as Sarah (Jennifer Aniston) deduces that her family was the inspiration for "The Graduate." An IMDB commenter points out that it is pretty un-ambitious for Rob Reiner to make an ordinary, cheesy romantic comedy but he has. He did get to tease her family for being "Republican:" vapid tennis players with repressed sexuality. And he had millionaire CEO Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner -- I guess Alec Baldwin was busy) deliver a speech full of kind words for Che Guevara. In the end it is a watchable, but ordinary film. jk gives it two-and-a-half.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:55 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Ian Hamet thinks:

Considering that the legend of "Tristan & Isolde" is considered one of Willy-boy's sources for "Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter", I find it amusing that you compare it in reverse. :D

Posted by: Ian Hamet at May 15, 2006 7:14 AM
But jk thinks:

Good point. The trailers for this film sold the comparison: "Before there was Romeo & Juliet, there was..." My wife pointed out that the story was closer to Camelot than Romeo.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2006 10:03 AM

May 13, 2006

NSA Program

So I'm wondering what the ThreeSources opinion is on the NSA's collection of telephone bills.

As I understand it, it's a little underwhelming. My only question is its effectiveness. I thought the bad guys use phone cards and disposable or stolen cell phones.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

True, but the brouhaha here is about who called whom, not what was said. Even that kind of information can be traced.

The NSA was looking at calling patterns and networks set up by people in general to apply to whatever the terrorists are communicating.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 13, 2006 10:51 PM
But jk thinks:

I mentioned that Tucker Carlson had over-hyped this story and still think that is true. What I did NOT realize was how much other media and opposition politicians would grab onto this.

I still like this from newsbusters.org: "Today’s article does not allege that any calls are listened in on. Indeed, as USA Today describes it, the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty."

When the privacy patrol joins me in demanding consumption based-taxation, I will take them seriously.

As for efficacy, it seems like it might work. Not everybody is on a safe line and once one number is discovered seeing who he called, then who they called could provide some interesting data.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2006 11:51 AM
But jk thinks:

Mark Steyn: "To connect the dots, you have to see the dots."

http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn14.html

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2006 1:26 PM

May 12, 2006

Conflation

First the good news: I can now get TCS. I have been unable to get on there for a week -- it's been miserable. I still received the email telling me what I was missing. Every day.

I read Arnold Kling's piece today: The Real Enemy. Kling is a favorite of mine and -- bear with me -- I agree with all three of the points he makes in today's column. But putting the three true points together exposes a false conflation.

Point one: like Kristol told Colbert, let the Dems have the house in '06. America will see their vacuity, and the GOP will learn it doesn't have a right to majority power.

This November, I am looking forward to seeing the Republicans lose control of Congress. I would say to the Republicans, as Oliver Cromwell reportedly said to the Rump Parliament, and as Leo Amery reprised during Neville Chamberlain's final crisis as Prime Minister, "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

Point two: Pelosi will be the next McCarthy.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi plans to use control of Congress to launch an investigation into the Bush Administration. For those of us who have not been drinking the Kos Kool-Aid, this seems like a questionable enterprise.

In the late 1940's, the Republicans finally took control of Congress. Seething after years of the Roosevelt Administration, one of the things that Republicans did in the late 1940's and early 1950's was launch investigations into the "treason" of the Roosevelt-Truman State Department, as well as former Communists in various professions. When I was three years old, one of the investigating committees decided that my mother, who had joined the Communists in the 1930's and left the Party in the 1940's, was of sufficient national security interest to be hauled before the Grand Inquisition. A few of the people that these committees investigated did turn out to be foreign agents or traitors. However, most of those investigated, like my mother, never did anything wrong.

In the 1950's, the Republican Right saw the investigations into "un-American activities" as a way to righteously smite down the Democratic Party. They wanted to expose their opponents' scandals and treason. Instead, they wound up exposing their own bad judgment, radicalism, and incivility. In the long run, the investigations damaged both parties. Certainly, the Republicans gained nothing. Apart from the war hero Eisenhower, their electoral fortunes sagged -- they lost control of Congress from 1958 until 1994. It seems rather odd that Democrats should want to try a similar strategy today.

The most famous of the inquisitors was Senator Joe McCarthy. In American politics today, McCarthyism is an epithet. I am not sure why the Democrats want to turn Pelosism into its synonym.


I love point two and was going to post on just that.

Point three: Democrats should face our real enemy -- Islamicists who do not respect any of our classical liberal values:

Many people have fled radical Muslim regimes to live in the U.S. Hardly anyone has fled the U.S. to live under radical Muslim regimes.
In the United States, women are allowed to choose whether or not to wear modest clothing. Radical Muslims deny them that right, as well as others.
Americans who abuse enemy prisoners cower in shame and are prosecuted. Radical Muslims celebrate war crimes, proudly display photos and videos of war crimes, and honor the criminals.
More Iraqis would like to see the terrorists give up tomorrow than see the Americans leave tomorrow. (If there is any doubt about that, we can put the issue up for a vote in Iraq.)

All three points are great. He should have written three columns. Together, points one and three are mutually exclusive. We cannot fight the war with a Pelosi-led House of Representatives. We must give up on the idea of a two year catharsis and throw everything at keeping both houses this November.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

The problem with Points 1 and 3 is that the president will still be a Republican (at least in name). The resulting inter-branch bickering, bomb throwing and obstructionism will tarnish the public regard for the GOP along with the Dems. And congress doesn't "face our real enemy," the president does. Point 3 can't take effect until and unless a Dem wins the White House.

The problem with Point 2 is that it is too horrible to contemplate as a "lesson" for American voters.

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2006 3:15 PM
But jk thinks:

I hear a growing chorus of conservatives who will stay home in November to show their displeasure. (Taranto asks what faction ever got more influence in a party by NOT voting).

Confronted with the specter of "Speaker Pelosi," they suggest it will advantageously show the country what Democratic control would look like.

If we were talking about capital gains tax rates and school vouchers, I could possibly play along. But the war is too important and while W would still be president, it would be deleterious to the war effort were he to have to fight on dual fronts.

Posted by: jk at May 14, 2006 12:33 PM

May 11, 2006

NEXT!

I have run through a lot of TV shows in the last few years. I was a HARDBALL-oholic from the day they found Monica's dress through "Shock and Awe." I finally gave up on The McLaughlin Group about the same time. I tried my luck with Joe Scarborough for a while.

I'm a junkie. I still like Larry Kudlow on CNBC (a lot!) and FOXNews's "The Beltway Boys" is well worth a watch on the weekends.

I had earned a little abuse for my latest routine: watching "The Situation with Tucker Carlson." But I can't take it anymore (the show, not the abuse).

Carlson enjoys being the last live show on (11PM Eastern) and he makes a big deal of breathlessly hyping stories "just across the wire," that "everybody will be talking about tomorrow." Amusingly, these stories are NEVER anything. Tucker gives you the Conventional Wisdom 12 hours early -- is that valuable?

Last night it was the FISA telephone record database. "As a civil libertarian, it concerns me gravely," he said. "I have to learn more about it," he admitted. His regular guest, "The Outsider: Max Kellerman" said that "Bush is the gift that just keeps on giving." This not-too-political ESPN boxing host has tended to comment on culture matters but has lately become a Bush basher. Never substantive, just derision and the assumption that Bush is bad because his poll numbers are low.

Well, again, there's nothing really going on. Insty says "haven't we heard this before?" (Yes) and NewsBusters blog blasts the hype

Today’s article does not allege that any calls are listened in on. Indeed, as USA Today describes it, the program seems like a thoroughly innocuous database of the same information that appears on your phone bill, but with your name, address and other personal information removed. Given that another government agency — the IRS — maintains information on American citizens’ employment, banking, investments, mortgages, charitable contributions and even any declared medical expenses, this hardly seems like a major assault on personal liberty.

And for all of the hype, there may not even be much “news” here. Last December 24, a few days after they spilled the beans about the NSA terrorist surveillance program, New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed how U.S. phone companies were helping the NSA by giving them “access to streams of domestic and international communications.”


This is a proverbial straw, not a big incident. I enjoyed the show's format, and the topics were interesting. But Carlson's kvetching from the right, counterpointed with Rachel Maddow or Kellerman kvetching from the left finally broke me.

I think JohnGalt might join me in a petition to CNBC to bring Dennis Miller back. Or have them give Kudlow & Co. two hours.

UPDATE: The blogosphere had not buzzed about this story, but it looks like the MSM did. I owe Carlson a micro-apology on that score. All the same, me and my TiVo have moved on.

But johngalt thinks:

I'd like to see Dennis again, but weekly would be enough. I loved the guy but even so, I didn't watch every night. Even with DVR! (Dish Network's TiVo)

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2006 2:52 PM

Teachers

Obviously my school was lame.

    A teacher at West Boca Raton High School is under investigation after school district officials learned about risqué photos of her on a Web site.

    Erica Chevillar, 25, is a first-year social studies teacher at the school. She is also one of about 80 models featured on the Web site of the USA National Bikini team, a Boca Raton-based company, according to the Web site. The site lists calendars for sale featuring scantily clad models dressed in bathing suits, provocative outfits or lingerie.

    Chevillar, using the name Erica Lee, appears in outfits ranging from cleavage-baring jackets to skimpy bikinis in about two-dozen photos.


As a public service, I searched the USA National Bikini Team website, but was unable to find these pictures.

The bad side of the internet is that it never forgets!

Posted by AlexC at 4:53 PM | What do you think? [5]
But jk thinks:

I went to the wrong school as well. Happily, I couldn't find Sister Helen Maureen's picture on the bikini team site either

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2006 5:10 PM
But Andrew thinks:

This site has a link to her school profile and the shots, cheers. http://www.wptv.com/News/051006_WestBocaTeacherPoses.cfm

Posted by: Andrew at May 12, 2006 12:21 PM
But Ordinary Citizen thinks:

You can find the pics here:

http://dailythong.blogspot.com/2006/05/hot-west-boca-teacher-in-warm-water.html

Posted by: Ordinary Citizen at May 12, 2006 2:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If most teachers are average looking, and some are below average, what conclusion can we draw?

The "controversy" appears to be, not that a teacher posed in a bathing suit, but that a bathing suit model chose to become a teacher. I suppose other teachers are miffed that she's "raising the curve."

Added bonus: How many male students will fall asleep in THIS social studies class?!

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2006 2:59 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Why? WHY?? Why did I have to go to an all-boys, Catholic HS run by priests??????

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 13, 2006 10:52 PM

Liberals, Too Nice?

I was worried when Peter Beinart left TNR that there would no longer be a rational, left-of-center voice. I saw Katrina Vanden Heuvel on Larry Kudlow last night. She was confronted by Steve Moore, Kudlow, and the pernicious fact that the wealthy are paying far more taxes after the Bush Tax Cuts. She stared vacantly into space. (I actually watched her, live, on Chris Matthews when she didn't know who her Congressman was).

Beinart writes a top notch column as Editor-at-Large, called The problem with Democrats' congenital kindness.

WHAT? I asked. WHAT? you guys said.

He says it is not that they are too nice to conservatives (whew!) but that they are too nice to each other, implicitly noting that they cannot reign in the moonbats.

This, of course, is exactly what drives people crazy about liberals. Faced with irresponsible, destructive behavior--from public housing tenants who deal drugs, public school teachers who can't teach, dictators who flaunt the international system, or fellow liberals who won't shut up--we look the other way. After all, who are we to judge? Doesn't everyone have the right to their opinion?

A few years ago, a former Bush White House official told me he had been reading Bob Woodward's book, The Agenda, which chronicles the first two years of the Clinton administration. Woodward describes how senior Clintonites began holding meetings in the White House solarium to prevent uninvited staffers from attending. The ex-Bush official was appalled. Had anyone dared show up uninvited to a meeting in the Bush White House, he explained, he would have been physically ejected from the room, if not the building. Why can't liberals do that? How can we convince the American people we can stand up to criminals and dictators if we can't even stand up to the odd bloviating wonk?


I bet that he is right. He also calls on his intellectual ilk to face problems philosophically, then pragmatically. Instead, he says, they cower in the shadow of "NASCAR-Man"
He loves guns, pickup trucks, chewing tobacco, and church on Sunday. He thinks liberals are high-taxing, culturally libertine, quasi-pacifist wimps. And, once liberals have conjured him up, they no longer say what they really believe--even to one another.
[...]
When New Democrats invoke nascar Man to crush more radical ideas, they confirm the left's suspicion that centrist liberalism is a vacant, opportunistic creed--committed to nothing but the accumulation of political power. At a gathering of liberals, the easiest thing to say is that some piece of liberal dogma is too high-minded and forward-looking for the benighted American people to accept. The hardest thing to say is that some piece of liberal dogma is wrong.

Smart stuff. If it's a paid link, holler and I'll mail it to you.

One wonders how long Beinart will be able to hang in there.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM

May 10, 2006

Tele Homage

You guys let me know what you want -- I deliver!

Ed Driscoll.com: Leo's Baby, And Chuck's Son

What made the Telecaster so successful was its enduring simplicity: still made in all sorts of variations by Fender (here are the two I own--a mid-1980s reissue of the original early '50s model, and a 1997 B-Bender-equipped Tele), it's also an enormously popular kit guitar, because just about anybody with a screwdriver can knock together its basic shapes: the maple neck, ash body, single-ply black pickguard, and two single coil pickups. Played cleanly, The Tele's twangy tones define country music; plugged into a cranked amp, the Tele becomes the snarl heard on the first Led Zeppelin album and Exile On Main Street.


It's a book review, and a love story.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:18 PM | What do you think? [1]
But sugarchuck thinks:

God Bless You JK!!! This is a great country and one needn't look further than the Fender Telecaster and the great Tele players for proof. Think Buck Owens!

Posted by: sugarchuck at May 10, 2006 6:11 PM

Your Comics mock you

Everybody's linking to Lileks's Screedblog today. Lackey that I am, I must link as well, just so I can reprint this paragraph (Lileks is summarizing Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush).

Do you not realize you are beaten, as a donkey is beaten, but knoweth not his donkeyhood is cursed? Your comics have turned against you in your own lair, and mock you without mercy. We have seen the videos of the Meal of the Correspondents, and we know how your left regards the men of the laugh as prophets and seers. It is only a matter of time before Johnny Carson (applause be upon him) returns from occlusion to request that you, Mr. President, take the Slauson cutoff, get out of your car, and cut off your Slauson, Hi-yo, salaam. And a third part of the Slauson shall be stained with the tears of the womenfolk, and (9323 words excised)

Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM

Who Are You? What have you done with Hillary?

What planet is this, again? I saw last night that Rupert Murdoch, titular head of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, is hosting a fund raiser for Senator Hillary Clinton.

This morning, Sugarchuck sends me this link (hat-tip Drudge) and says that she really is capable of a "Sister Souljah" moment.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Asked to say one nice thing about President Bush, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton went one better: She named two things.
"He is someone who has a lot of charm and charisma, and I think in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I was very grateful to him for his support for New York," Clinton said Tuesday night during a talk at the National Archives about her life in politics.

Republicans are cutting taxes, FOXNews is feting the Junior Senator from New York while she's praising the President. I'm going to take a couple Advil and go back to bed...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:08 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Sugarchuck thinks:

The interesting thing about Hillary is that her current incarnation can have a Sister Souljah moment with one of her past ones. She is a self contained, lean,mean triangulatin' machine. Watch out for those cookies Dolly!

Posted by: Sugarchuck at May 10, 2006 1:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, But --

I think her first problem is to keep the Sheehan/MoveOn.org wing of the party in line. A W tribute -- of all things -- undermines her bona fides among the far left.

Has she decided they'll be inconsequential in '08?

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2006 1:48 PM
But jk thinks:

AN emailer suggests "Hillary might be doing an end run around the moonbats. As long as Gore stays out of things she has more than enough clout and money to take the primaries. Once she's in the general election the moonbats are in the same boat we are in, i.e., are you going to let the other party pick the judges? Hillary might be on the edge of something brilliant."

I'm still not convinced that the nomination cannot be lost, nor am I convinced that the moonbats are as strategic as me. They might flock to Ralph Nader (or Cindy Sheehan).

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2006 3:58 PM

GOP Hard at Work For You

These pages have been pretty hard on Congressional Republicans of late, but I am changing my tune.

GOP Forges Deal on Investor Tax Cuts

WASHINGTON - House Republican leaders are ready to move forward on tax breaks worth $70 billion over five years to investors and some middle-income families now that they've sorted out a disagreement among themselves.

The breakthrough Tuesday set up a vote in the House late Wednesday.
The Senate could clear the bill for President Bush's signature by week's end, achieving one of his top tax priorities and giving his GOP allies on Capitol Hill a victory in times of sagging poll numbers.
The bill offers a two-year extension of the reduced 15 percent tax rate for capital gains and dividends, currently set to expire at the end of 2008.


Again I make the comparison: this would not have happened with Democrats. As I recall, the only item Senator Kerry was completely clear on was that he would roll these back.

The economy is rocking thanks in great part to these and they will be extended. We got two stellar SCOTUS judges and a few appellate judges will be confirmed later this month. The Pelosi-Murtha wing was not able to stage a retreat. I'm feeling pretty good about my party. This week, I will join with President Lincoln and say "Ain't you glad you joined the Republicans?" Silence, LatteSipper, the water's warm -- hop in!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 9:51 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

...its an extension, not a 'permanent tax cut'. However, in light of the state of Politics, it is a damn fine step in the right direction for the GoP.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at May 10, 2006 11:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Yes and yes.

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2006 12:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dagny reminds that, "There is no such thing as a 'permanent' tax cut."

Posted by: johngalt at May 12, 2006 3:02 PM

May 9, 2006

Fair Tax

A coworker of mine got this from his Congressman, Mark Udall.

    Dear Mr. XXXXXXXXX:

    Thank you for letting me know you support H.R. 25, the "Fair Tax Act of 2005." I appreciate your taking the time to get in touch about this proposed legislation.

    The bill would repeal the income tax, employment tax, and estate and gift taxes and replace them with a national sales tax on the use or consumption of taxable property or services. It would set the sales tax rate at 23 percent in 2007, with adjustments to the rate in subsequent years. It would provide for a sales tax rebate for certain families, based on family size and income. The states would be given primary authority for the collection of sales tax revenues, which they would turn over to the Federal government.

    I think a national sales tax (or something similar) could have some advantages. It could be simpler to administer, and would lessen the paperwork burden on taxpayers. However, I am not sure it would provide adequate revenue to pay for urgent national defense, homeland security, and other needs. Also, even with rebates, it presumably would mean that people with lower incomes (who must spend a greater proportion of their incomes on living costs) would be paying more than people with higher incomes - just the reverse of the idea behind the progressive income tax. I think these and other aspects should be carefully considered before any decision is made to adopt legislation along these lines.

    I don't know if the House of Representatives will debate H.R. 25 during this session of Congress. However, if it does, you can be sure I will give it careful consideration and will remember your views.

    Thanks again for contacting me. I see my job as more than voting on legislation. I also want to try to bridge divides and bring people together to solve problems. So, I welcome your letters and e-mails and always listen closely to what you and other Coloradans have to say. For more information, visit my website at http://markudall.house.gov/HoR/CO02/home.htm and sign up for my e-mail newsletters.

Posted by AlexC at 4:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Rep Udall is my congressman as well. I suppose if I must be represented by a scion of a powerful political family, he's better than Rep Patrick Kennedy.

His voting record is not too consistent with flat-taxers nor fair-taxers. National Journal rates him 92% liberal on economic issues to 0% conservative. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) gave him an 80% rating in 2003, but he "grew" and got that to a perfect 100% in 2004.

I hope your friend has not bet a lot of money on Udall's supporting the fair tax...

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2006 5:54 PM

Hard.

Taranto has left us a quiz in lieu of a Best of the Web Today

It's pretty tough. I got #2 on sight and was feeling proud. Should we post answers in the comments? I hate to give things away.

Email me answers [jk-at-threesources-dot-com] and I will post under "Continue Reading..."

UPDSATE: The answers.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:39 PM

W as Pragmatist

As self-appointed blog pragmatist, even I got a little queasy reading Fred Barnes's You Can't Always Get What You Want in the May 15 Weekly Standard.

PRESIDENT BUSH IS A CONSERVATIVE politician, not a conservative ideologue. This explains why Bush sometimes does things that aren't conservative. He does so to survive and, if all goes well, to prosper politically. Or he does so because he actually favors some nonconservative policy or position. Conservative politicians are never ideologically pure. "The president works at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, not 214 Massachusetts Avenue N.E.," a Bush administration official says. The Massachusetts Avenue location is the site of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank.

Barnes goes through the politics behind some of the President's less-than-conservative proposals.

I am a pragmatist, but you have to stand for something to get people's hearts and minds. Why will they back you in a fight for CAFTA when you've placed higher tariffs on steel and softwood or allowed the Dubai ports deal to be scuttled?

The next day, I get my answer. Today's Wall Street Journal has an editorial about Republican strategies for health care.

When Ron Pollack of Families USA starts screaming, Republicans must be doing something right about health care. And so they finally are.

As early as today the Senate will vote to prevent a Democratic filibuster of legislation that would make it easier and cheaper for small businesses and their employees to buy health insurance. The House has already passed similar legislation, and today's vote is the GOP's best hope to do something significant about health-care affordability before November -- and potentially for years to come.


This bill will allow small businesses to associate for purchasing power and relaxation of state mandates. The Democrats will push for more government intrusion, and the GOP, bless their pea-pickin' little hearts, are calling for less. What would a real Republican majority do?
A better approach is being offered by Arizona's John Shadegg in the House and South Carolina's Jim DeMint in the Senate. Their legislation would allow not just small businesses but individuals to buy health insurance across state lines, with those policies regulated by the states from which they are sold. That's the way banking now works. What we really should be aiming for is a national market of portable, individually owned policies that can be bought from many insurers, including over the Internet.

I've been disillusioned with my party of late, but I read this and I realize it is still worth a fight. They're not identical; we can have impeachment hearings or regulatory relief. I respect William Kristol above almost all others, but the idea that a Democratic House majority in 2006 might be a "wake-up call" is too dangerous.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:48 AM

May 8, 2006

Ethanol

In case you were wondering...

    In 2005, United States gasoline consumption was about 150 billion gallons per year. An acre of corn can produce approximately 200 gallons (gasoline equivalent) per year. The United States would have to place roughly 750 million acres of corn into production to fully meet this demand. For comparison, this is nearly double the total area currently used for all crops in the US (430 million acres) and about one third of the total land area of the United States (2.3 billion acres). There are currently about 80 million acres of corn planted in the United States.

    For bio-ethanol to be sustainable, an even greater acreage would have to be put into production to replace our fossil fuel dependence. Assuming a required input energy of 100 (gasoline equivalent) gallons per acre, bio-ethanol production achieves only a net 100 gallons per acre, rather than the 200 gallon per acre figure used above. A sustainable bio-ethanol program for the United States would require 1.5 billion acres; more than half the land area of the entire country.

Posted by AlexC at 8:00 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Chris thinks:

Check out the article on my blog and associated links. There are other processes for making ethanol making it much more economical.
http://www.biztechie.com

Posted by: Chris at May 8, 2006 8:12 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

OK,..I'll buy the impracticality of using ethanol right now; but, how about higher-yielding corn? More efficient methods of converting it to ethanol?
Somewhere, someone has to be studying these ideas.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 8, 2006 8:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Looking at XOM's profits, I am certain that a LOT of people are looking into this. That is how the market works and that's why profits are never "obscene." Capital will flow into competition and substitute technology to chase profit.

Chris's blog includes links to a Sun Microsystems co-founder who is putting a hunk of his billions into an ethanol creation process he says will deliver $0.70/gal ethanol.

He may or may not be on to something, but I cannot bear to see a Republican controlled Congress handicapping the market in a rush to "do something." What they SHOULD do is to reduce the regulatory barriers on entry that government has created to competing with Exxon-Mobil and BP. Then we can start our own oil company, get a piece of that pie, and concomitantly lower fuel costs.

Posted by: jk at May 9, 2006 10:15 AM
But johngalt thinks:

1.5 billion acres? Is that all? Heck, we've got a third of that in public ownership already in the form of national parks and forests. http://www.doi.gov/facts.html

500 million acres down, 1 billion acres to go!

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2006 9:58 PM
But jk thinks:

You don't think Chuck Schumer is going to let us farm in ANWR do you? Think of the caribou.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2006 9:40 AM

Debunking the Debunkers

Three good responses to Charles Wheelan's whack at Dr. Laffer. Our own JohnGalt takes to the comments of the original post. Eidelblog provides a response that is half fisking and half comprehensive exegesis.

We have had four Presidents who followed this simple game plan. Three were Republican, and one was a Democrat who today would be shunned by his own party. (I've touched on this when debunking Ted Rall's stupid claim that tax cuts never worked.) Technically there were five presidents, four of whom were Republican, if you want to count Warren Harding's presidency of just two years. However, the bulk of the tax cuts and their effects occurred during Calvin Coolidge's presidency.

Dr. Burt Folsom noted that with Andrew Mellon as Treasury Secretary, the top federal income tax rate was cut from 73% in 1921 to 24% in 1929. By 1925, Calvin Coolidge and Congress had lowered the maximum to 25%, which spurred the prosperity of the Roaring Twenties. Combined with truly prudent Congressional spending, the national debt actually decreased for several years. This lasted until the Fed severely started cutting the money supply (eventually by a third), Congress enacted the Hawley-Smoot Tariff of 1930, and Herbert Hoover started wrecking the economy (before FDR) by heavy borrowing to finance useless public works programs.


Perry at Eidelblog also links to a Don Luskin speech. When asked to debunk the soi disant debunker, Luskin said "I already did."
And here's the most remarkable of all. From the recession bottom to April 2003, federal income tax receipts fell by 11%. Since April 2003, they have increased by 26%, and now stand at all time record highs. Think about that one for a second. We cut taxes on personal incomes, capital gains, and dividends -- and tax receipts went up.

Supply siders can sleep well tonight. The defenses are strong.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 7:23 PM

31%

Does it matter anymore?

    President Bush's approval rating has slumped to 31% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, the lowest of his presidency and a warning sign for Republicans in the November elections.
    The survey of 1,013 adults, taken Friday through Sunday, shows Bush's standing down by 3 percentage points in a single week. His disapproval rating also reached a record: 65%. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

    "It is a challenging political environment," acknowledges Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, "but we are confident that ultimately voters in November will recognize that a Democrat Congress would simply not be equipped to ensure either economic or national security for our nation."


Outside of sinking 2006's GOP candidates, what's the downside of a President with "nothing left to lose?" It's not like he's facing his own re-election.

Of course I'm hoping he'd do things unpopular things like cutting taxes, or slashing spending, however unlikely.

But what about foreign policy? Iran? Darfur?

Posted by AlexC at 2:44 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Hmm. He was up five in the Wall St. Journal / FOX News poll.

Am I the only one who thinks it is low in part because they keep reporting a new low every week? Something of a reverse bandwagon.

Your point is well taken -- why the hell do we poll on the favorability of a guy who is Constitutionally unempowered to reseek his office?

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2006 4:07 PM

Map Wiping

Just in case Iran forgot that wiping of maps can be bi-direction, Israel reminds them.

    Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Monday in an interview to Reuters that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map," Army Radio reported.

    According to Peres, "Teheran is making a mockery of the international community's efforts to solve the crisis surrounding Iran's nuclear program."

    "Iran presents a danger to the entire world, not just to us," Peres added.

Posted by AlexC at 2:35 PM

May 7, 2006

Bonds @ 713

NBC10.comasterisk.gif

    Barry Bonds hit his 713th home run Sunday night, moving within one of tying Babe Ruth for second place on baseball's career list.

    The San Francisco Giants' slugger hit a mammoth shot in the sixth inning off Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jon Lieber, sending a 2-1 pitch off the facade of the right-field upper deck. He took a slow trot around the bases, and some Phillies fans even stood up and clapped.


He's still a stinkin' bum.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Two things came to mind this week about Barry Bonds:

1) If it weren't for this perverted idea of "the purity of the game" every pitcher from day 1 should have either plunked him, pitched around him, or intentionally walked him until he got the hint and retired!

2) Failing that, I believe its inevitable that he's going to get indicted by the federal grand jury investigated some of the peripheral BALCO claims. WHEN it happens, Bud Selig better have the common sense to order his entire SF record purged (seeing as he didn't bulk up until after he left the Pirates in '93).

If part of that bothers you, then consider that I also support the same be done to McGwire and Sosa if they, too, are found guilty of juicing up.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 8, 2006 8:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Would somebody please explain to me why Bonds is the anti-Christ? In order to do this I think you'll also have to tell me why steroid use is evil (other than it being against the law (like speeding) or against the rules (like corked bats.))

Why do red-blooded, cash lovin' capitalists endorse regulation of professional athletic competitors when they'd never stand still for limits on corporate competition?

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2006 10:49 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm gonna let the baseball guys cover that but I am glad you brought it up. My understanding is that the game relies so heavily on statistics and history that the real crime is being unable to compare Bonds to Ruth fairly.

A writer in TNR asked an interesting question as well. What if there were the equivalent for mental professions? What if you could "juice" your IQ up 10 points, increase your memory and focus with the same risks these athletes face? What if other engineers were doing it and your career was being held back?

The article contended that journalists would have a different outlook on it. I think that is true.

Posted by: jk at May 11, 2006 9:52 AM

Obscene Profits

This taxing excessive profits idea is a steamroller.

We need to be more aggressive with, as a matter of fact.

QandO writes...

    With milk going for $3.19/gal — even more than gasoline! — and the dairy products in which Kraft Foods traffics generally going for even more, Kraft Foods is making a profit margin of 12.38%. That, by the way, is almost 2 percentage points higher than Exxon-Mobil’s "extreme, obscene profits" profit margin.

I can't wait till Congress goes after Google and Yahoo.

Posted by AlexC at 10:59 PM

Saving Darfur

Marc Steyn touches on something that I hit last week.

Darfur.

    In 2003, you'll recall, the US was reviled as a unilateralist cowboy because it and its coalition of the poodles waged an illegal war unauthorised by the UN against a sovereign state run by a thug regime that was no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders, which it killed in large numbers (Kurds and Shia).

    Well, Washington learned its lesson. Faced with another thug regime that's no threat to anyone apart from selected ethnocultural groups within its borders which it kills in large numbers (African Muslims and southern Christians), the unilateralist cowboy decided to go by the book. No unlawful actions here. Instead, meetings at the UN. Consultations with allies. Possible referral to the Security Council.

    And as I wrote on this page in July 2004: "The problem is, by the time you've gone through the UN, everyone's dead." And as I wrote in Britain's Daily Telegraph in September 2004: "The US agreed to go the UN route and it looks like they'll have a really strongish compromise resolution ready to go about a week after the last villager's been murdered and his wife gang-raped."

    Several hundred thousand corpses later [George] Clooney is now demanding a "stronger multinational force to protect the civilians of Darfur".


Mark Steyn must be a three sources reader. He even touched on the "Free Tibet" stickers that JK mentioned in the comments!

Posted by AlexC at 10:52 PM

Pieces of Paper

The news seems dire:

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran renewed its threats to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on Sunday, with its president saying sanctions would be "meaningless" and its parliament seeking to put a final end to unannounced inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Does anybody care one whit? (There are three-and-a-half furlongs in a whit.) Would anybody expect Ahmadinejad to keep the terms of a treaty?

You can say what you want about President Bush, but one thing I respect is that he does not put too much stock in a treaty or agreement with those who might be arguing in bad faith.

I remember Secretary of State Albright drinking champagne with Kim Jong Il after they had signed a piece of paper. Like most of these worthless treaties, it hampered, effectively, what the US could do -- while the other party ignored it entirely. Likewise Vice President Gore helped negotiate the Kyoto treaty, while the Senate he presided over voted 0-95 on ratification.

One joy of gritty Bush realism is that we put less stock in pieces of paper that propose to protect us.

But AlexC thinks:

I say let diplomacy work... like it worked for the Darfurians.

Oh, and it wasn't 0-95, it was actually 98-0 for the "Byrd Hagel" amendment which said, "No agreement, unless it affects ALL countries equally"

The Kyoto agreement was famous for ignoring China & India (both with currently exploding economies now), and much of the rest of the third world.

It wasn't so much a treaty to curb emissions, as it was a treaty to curb the United States & the first world.

Posted by: AlexC at May 7, 2006 10:50 PM

Accountability

Senator John Kerry gives a speech where he says this...

Dismissing dissent is not only wrong, but dangerous when America’s leadership is unwilling to admit mistakes, unwilling to engage in honest discussion, and unwilling to hold itself accountable for the consequences of decisions made without genuine disclosure, or genuine debate. As Thomas Jefferson said, “dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

How many different problems exist in two sentences?

Jeff Goldstein counts the ways.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 3:25 PM

Then and Now

Here's a comparison of how far technology has brought us since the 70s.

Now and Then

What blew me away was the tennis comparison. I thought that was a picture of a real tennis match.

One of my three year old's toys is a cordless phone that my wife had back in they day. Everyonce in a while, I'll pick it up and say, "Rachael, it's for you. The 80's want their phone back." Gosh, that thing's a beast.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 1:10 PM

The Kennedy Scandal

Jeff Goldstein has a funny take on If instead of being a Congressman and another in a long line of the Kennedy family politicos, Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) were...say, me.

Very funny, but I liked this comment as well:

I’m still stuck on the fact he has a 6 cylinder Mustang with stock wheels.

My God man, you’re a US Rep! You should have had the cajones to buy at least the GT, if not a Cobra or Mach 1. The six cylinder pony is such a chick car. Why not just buy a sunflower yellow VW beetle and put a flower in the holder while you listen to the Indigo Girls?

Even Mary Jo wouldn’t be caught dead in a 6 cylinder pony! Have some standards.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

I thought the same thing. I'm surprised he wasn't driving a Bimmer or a Benz. He's a Kennedy!

... and a six? How pussified.

Maybe it's his "downlow" car. When he's feeling proletarian.

Posted by: AlexC at May 7, 2006 1:14 PM

May 6, 2006

Review Corner II

Jonah Goldberg has a great line: "The nudity was tastefully done and was central to the plot." It's funny when Goldberg says it, because he is usually discussing a Senate Hearing or Kindergarten play. I've stolen that line to pretty good effect.

It can be used unironically to describe "Mrs. Henderson Presents." This movie has a good, non-cookie-cuttter plot, solid narrative, nice music, good acting -- and naked chicks! What more can you want?

Seriously, I really liked "Mrs. Henderson Presents." I grabbed it as a flyer because I like Judi Dench, and we are still in the lull between Oscars and summer. But this film was a very pleasant surprise. The music is perhaps more toward my liking than some others on the blog, but I still recommend this one for a rental. Mrs. Henderson (Dench) is an upper class widow who buys a theatre in London's West End in 1937. To grab market share, they bring in female nudity, using her upper-class connections to get licensed. The shows are popular with the boys when WWII starts and Henderson and her partner find themselves the Winston Churchills of burlesque.

It is rated R but it is not prurient like so many R movies today. There's nudity, and some occasional salty language which really does stick out and offend because of the rich old lady using it. I don't know if the whole family gets together for this or not, but I highly recommend it.

Five stars is like the speed of light in special relativity, that last half star is as hard as the first four. But jk gives it 4 1/2 stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM

Review Corner

AlexC asked why socialism doesn't die. Even though it has a higher body count than the Kennedy's automotive insurance record, people still mentally flock to it.

As I see it, its one redeeming factor is security. I have two friends who are both bright and successful. Both confided in me one day that they expected that they'd be "bag ladies" before they die. I laughed but they were not joking. They are both extremely liberal and I suspect some part of them wants a strong social net there that they believe they'll need.

Arahundi Roi wrote in "The Nation" (bet you never thought I’d open a sentence like that) that Karl Marx himself understood that free markets would generate greater wealth and more innovation. He knew my elevator talk by heart but still thought the vicissitudes of open market employment were too much to bear.

All this is prelude to give a bad review to a decent movie because of politics. If I could truly turn off my belief for two hours, I could likely dig "Fun with Dick and Jane." It has some funny situations, very good music, a good narrative, and I've liked Jim Carrey since "In Living Color" was on TV.

But the plot is that Dick Harper (Carrey) works for a company that is an Enron-esque shell corporation. It goes south, he loses all, cannot find employment, so he and his wife Jane (Tea Leoni) turn to crime. It is a funny set-up, but the anti-corporate setup makes Michael Douglas's "Wall Street" look pro-business. All corporations are like this, we're expected to believe, all people are in extreme peril of homelessness that they don't see.

Lest you think I am being too political (moi?) the final credits -- before cast -- thank Enron, Ken Lay, Adelphia, Tyco, &c. And what is the deal with Alec Baldwin playing diffident CEOs? He does it in "Elizabethtown" and "Fun with Dick and Jane."

jk grudgingly gives it two stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM

Immortality

If your very unique name made it in the title of a extremely catchy rock song, how would you deal with it?

Capitalize on it!

I knew the song was about a real person!

But jk thinks:

Really high on my list of terrible songs of all time: I was in a top40 band when that came out and had to play it ALL the time. The octave lick still gives me chills.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2006 10:51 AM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, the song is infectious! May it ring in your head all day long!

Posted by: AlexC at May 6, 2006 12:24 PM

May 5, 2006

Polling Places

Here's a page from the PA GOP that highlights some of Philadelphia's polling places.

http://www.pavotingnightmare.com/

Here's a little background I posted earlier.

Posted by AlexC at 6:19 PM

Socalism's Tenacity

Despite being repeatedly discredited and a mounting body count, what won't socalism die?

Answer: It Can't

But jk thinks:

AAAAH! I get the TCS daily email, and that article looked good, but I have not been able to get on their site all day (DDoS attack by global warming advocates?)

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2006 6:53 PM

Sizzle

The Weekly Standard recounts Rep Patrick Kennedy's previous accident.

    On April 15, Patrick's car was T-boned as he hurriedly pulled across an oncoming lane into a CVS pharmacy in Portsmouth, R.I. Carr was particularly taken with Patrick's handwritten account in the Portsmouth Police Department report. Not for what the mostly illegible one-sentence explanation said, but because of how it was written (see below).

    While the officer on the scene reported Kennedy "appeared normal," such as it is, Patrick's handwriting looks like it was scrawled on a cocktail napkin at an open bar in a Gravitron. Or as Carr delicately put it, "It looks like it was written by a chimpanzee, or a 2-year-old. Or a Kennedy."

    At least, writes Carr, it was only a fender-bender by Kennedy standards. "Not only did a single blonde not die, no one was even paralyzed or raped."

Posted by AlexC at 4:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Taranto points out that Slate is calling this "Napaquidick," and says: "PJK is 38, a year older than his father was when he drove Mary Jo Kopechne to her grave. Since then, Massachusetts voters have returned the elder Kennedy to the Senate six times. If the weird hypnotic power the Kennedys wield against Massachusetts voters extends south to Rhode Island, Patrick Kennedy may have a long political career ahead of him."

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2006 5:29 PM

Corporate Taxes

We're number two in the world!

Only Japan tops us.

    Given that, now’s a good time to remind liberals that corporations actually don’t pay any taxes. I mean, what exactly is a corporation? Is it the legal structure that people use to make commerce easier? Is it the building where employees work? Is it the actual incorporation documents that people sign? Whichever it is, they don’t pay taxes. A structure can’t pay taxes. A building can’t pay taxes. A document can’t pay taxes.

One guess as to who pays corporate taxes.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 2:32 PM

A Thousand Words

daybyday05-05-2006.gif


Day By Day -- always on the ThreeSources blogroll.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:07 PM

Laffer Curve a Crock?

This link came by email, with the subject "better send this to jk" (thanks, JohnGalt and Dagny).

It seems that the Naked Economist (there's a phrase that fills with dread) is Debunking One of the Worst Ideas in Economics: on Yahoo! Finance. Surprise! This week, it's the Laffer Curve, dogma de fide of everyone around ThreeSources.

After recovering from the shock of the headline, I had to admit his points were measured and had some truth. He admits the idea works when producers are facing the 90% rates that President Kennedy slashed, or the 75% that Reagan cut. But that current rates will not produce cuts that are self-financing.

But here's the problem when we take Laffer's theory and try to apply it in the U.S.: We don't have a 99 percent marginal tax rate. Or 70 percent. Or even 50 percent. We start with low marginal tax rates relative to the rest of the developed world. (Yes, I understand that it may not feel that way after the check you wrote last month.)

So cutting the tax rate from 36 percent to 33 percent is not going to give you the same kind of economic jolt as slashing a tax rate from 90 percent to 50 percent. There's no huge black market to be shut down, no big supply of skilled workers to be lured back into the labor market, and so on.

Will it generate new economic activity? Probably. And that will generate some incremental tax revenue for the government. But remember, it also means that the government will be taking a smaller cut of all the economic activity that we already have.


I responded to jg -- in equally measured tones -- that a claim of self-financing tax cuts is sometimes going too far, but that the Congressional Budget Office ignores any gain from tax cuts and scores them all on a static model.

Work did not permit me to post yesterday, but as I got a little time, my dander was raised. The correlation of GDP growth and concomitant revenue gains from tax cuts is well documented. Laffer in 1990 documented the gains made by Coolidge and Kennedy cuts. Sixteen years later he can safely add Reagan's and Bush fils's.

Looking at the rhetoric," Worst Ideas in Economics" strikes me as a huge leap. The dismal science has labored under the weight of Lord Keynes and John Kenneth Galbraith for 3/4 of a century. Galbraith just died but his ideas cannot die soon enough. He said in 1984 that

"Partly, the Russian system succeeds because, in contrast to the Western industrial economies, it makes full use of its manpower."

This was said at the head of the longest, strongest economic expansion in history and less than a decade from the financial collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet the Laffer Curve is worst?

Rubenomics is the flavor of the decade again for Democrats. It makes some sense on paper: tax enough to pay of the debt so the government does not compete for capital, then expect the lower interest rates to compensate for higher tax rates. Except the government does not borrow enough to set the bond rates, and the low risk securities are an important part of a CAPM portfolio (and many personal ones).

The real proof of economics is always history -- there are too many variables and historical correlations are the way to keep score:

-- Laffer: works every time
-- Rubenomics: seems like it worked once, but very well!
-- Keynes/Galbraith: completely discredited

I'll pick my "worst:" how about Communism?

But johngalt thinks:

The author claimed that this was "one of" the two worst ideas, though I suspect if he wasn't preordained to find "a favorite of the right in this column, and then a favorite of the left" for his next piece that the Laffer curve debate wouldn't be in the top ten.

While I could quarrel with virtually every point Dr. Wheelan makes I think it's more informative to observe that what he's engaged in here is polemic. (Thanks for the word, Macho Duck.)

The general theme of the essay is that tax cuts are bad/wrong/counterproductive/dangerous. He plays fast and loose with the jargon and the facts in order to discredit Laffer and everything he's ever said about the combination of arithmetic AND economic effects in the relationship between tax rates and tax revenues.

It's as if he's saying, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" when he writes that "cutting the tax rate from 36 percent to 33 percent is not going to give you the same kind of economic jolt as slashing a tax rate from 90 percent to 50 percent." This is where my 14 month-old daughter says, "Duh." But compare a 3 point cut from a 36 percent rate to the same cut at 90 percent. Which would motivate YOU more? If you had chosen to idle your means of production (whatever they happen to be) will an "investment friendly" rate of 87 percent move you back into the economy? Un-bloody-likely.

Besides, even if the effect is GREATER at higher rates, as long as it's still in the right direction at lower rates they should be lowered. After all, aren't we trying to maximize the ability of the government to do whatever it is they do while minimizing its retardant effect upon the economy, maximizing personal liberty in the process? That's what Laffer wanted to do. Dr. Wheelan does not appear to be in that camp.

For more on the "Laffer Curve" search it on wikipedia. The second footnote is to an article by Laffer himself. Good overview material.

P.S. My prediction for his "favorite of the left" to skewer in his next column is the "fixed pie" of wealth that must be equitably divided, which leads to their insistence upon redistribution. We'll see.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2006 3:33 PM

May 4, 2006

Kennedy Clan

What is with this family?

    9 News has learned U.S. Capitol police officers are concerned about the handling of an accident involving Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island) about 3 a.m. this morning.

    Rep. Kennedy was reportedly behind the wheel of a green Ford Mustang when it crashed into a security barrier at 1st and "C" streets Southeast.

    There are no reports of injuries. A Boston TV station is reporting Kennedy told officers he was late for a vote. We are told police drove him home after conferring with higher-ups in the department. So far, Kennedy HAS NOT been charged. A spokesman for his office told CNN that alcohol was NOT involved.


What's with these guys and driving?

How sad is the state of one of the America's dynasty is a spokesman has to say he wasn't drinking. Are our expectations that low?

I guess it's a relief that the spokesman didn't say "No woman or water were involved either."

Posted by AlexC at 5:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Its the Kennedy motto: "I drink, therefore I am!"

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 5, 2006 12:03 PM

Wall Street Journal

Despite JK's insistance that we all subscribe to the Wall Street Journal online, I've been hesitant.

Why? Mostly sloth.

But here's WSJ's chance to convert me.

10 days free!

Media and Blogging Posted by AlexC at 12:37 PM

May 3, 2006

Disappointment

Yeah.

    Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui escaped the death penalty Wednesday as a jury decided he deserved life in prison instead for his role in the bloodiest terrorist attack in U.S. history. "America, you lost," Moussaoui taunted.

    After seven days of deliberation, the nine men and three women rebuffed the government's appeal for death for the only person charged in this country in the four suicide jetliner hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

    Three jurors said Moussaoui had only limited knowledge of the Sept. 11 plot, and three described his role in the attacks as minor, if he had any role at all.

    Moussaoui, as he was led from the courtroom after the 15-minute hearing, said: "America, you lost. ... I won." He clapped his hands as he was escorted away.


I wonder what Allah thinks of ass-rapes in the prison shower.

Well... I really wonder if he'll be in the regular prison population or isolated. He could always hook up with Richard Reid (the shoebomber), afterall.

Scott Ott get's Osama Bin Laden's commentary.

    “We are grateful for the charity shown to Zacarias, our would-be martyr, by the Great Satan,” said Mr. Bin Laden, using the traditional term of endearment for the United States. “Therefore, I have retroactively issued orders for the hijackers to avoid colliding with the buildings and to return the planes to the control of their crews. May Allah, the merciful, be praised.”

Posted by AlexC at 9:26 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Yeah, he won. He's going to prison. Osama Bin Laden is hiding in a cave while President Bush travels the world and makes public appearences. I guess that's a tie.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2006 10:13 AM

Darfur & the Left

Has anyone else noticed that the plight of the Sudanese in Darfur has gotten a lot more attention from America's left wing lately?

For comparision, I searched for Darfur on our blogs, my old one pstupidonymous, JK's berkeleysquare and threesources.com.

Five hits.

July 2004.
Careful! We're Resolution Your Ass

August 2004.
Never Again?

November 2004.
Time for a Kofi Break

April 2005
Kofi Off Campus

March 2006.
Thrashing the UN

It's certainly not a new problem. In fact, I seem to recall Secretary of State Powell going to the UN to demonstrate the genocide. To which the UN said, "Nah."

Just an observation.

Posted by AlexC at 7:54 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

I have been silent on the left's interest. Do they want us to send the Marines in? Why were the Iraqis less deserving of help?

Living in Boulder, you see a lot of Volvos with a "Free Tibet" bumpersticker on one side and "No War" on the other. Sorry, Mr. Clooney has landed in this camp -- not exactly contradictory, but tortuous to explain.

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2006 8:36 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

The left is finally focusing on Darfur because their cries over Iraq are falling on deaf ears and we all know how much they love to hear themselves bray!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at May 3, 2006 8:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, we're supposed to send in the Marines to save the oppressed, but only if they live in a country that exports no oil. If they have oil then invading their land is imperialistic and oppressive. Citizens of nations with oil reserves must fend for themselves. Whatever government they may have has evolved naturally from the local customs and traditions, and any outside interference will only make things worse. That's why places like Iraq should be off-limits to the US military. And places like ... Sudan.

http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_1914394,00.html

Too bad Clooney doesn't know how to Google. If he did he might find out why oil is indeed contributing to Darfur's problems.

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2006 3:00 PM

How I learned to stop worrying and love entitlements

I am going to take a whack at Democratic Minority Senate Leader Harry Reid. But first, I am going to say something nice.

Brit Hume's newscast on FOXNews always ends with a joke: a clip from Leno, or Jon Stewart, or a humorous statement by a politician. On May 2nd, Leader Reid was asked a question by a stentorian radio/tv reporter. Reid made a self-effacing joke that the reporter's voice reminded him of himself. It was a very classy and charming bit of self deprecation which I had never seen of Senator Reid before. (Like him, I am cursed with a thin, reedy voice. My past life in advertising and media always put me together with radio and TV people whose voices made me feel weak and small). The leader was very charming. I guess you cannot get elected without some of that, but I had never seen it.

He was a lot less charming in my eyes when he offered this assessment of the latest report on Medicare and Social Security funding. Both reports show that the problem is worse than previously thought, and that the funds will go broke sooner than expected. Reid's reaction:

In a statement released Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the trustees' report "confirms that, despite White House scare tactics, Social Security remains sound for decades to come."

According to Reid, "The real threat to Social Security comes from Republicans, most of whom [sic] support and voted for privatizing Social Security."


And you guys were worried! Silly men, the Senator will be dead by then -- and he has a private government pension. There's no need to worry. Bush is Chicken Little.

It has been suggested that if President Clinton had not vetoed ANWR drilling ten years ago, that oil from there would be online today. Yet opponents still say "It won't help gas prices today, It will take years..."

Do these people save money, or do laundry? Do their constituents ever expect a longer vision?

Hat-tip Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 7:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Yes, Senator Santorum called out President Clinton on this recently.
http://santorumblog.com/2006/04/energy-plan.html

10 years ago.

10!

Posted by: AlexC at May 3, 2006 8:07 PM

Gore-o-caster

We take requests! Sugarchuck wanted to see more telecaster pictures, so here's one. The Gore-o-caster.
gore-o-caster.jpg


Stolen images from:

christianbandb.com (background)


Fender (guitar)


Washington Post (Vice President Gore)

Posted by John Kranz at 5:29 PM

Democrat Slayer

I got quite a few of these Photoshop pix by email from my brother. You can see them by clicking "Continue Reading..." and you can email me for the whole set. I find them deeply disturbing.

You can vote for your favorite and see even more at www.worth1000.com

morph1.jpg







Posted by John Kranz at 1:56 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Telecasters, JK. Maybe next time you want to post pictures of telecasters.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at May 3, 2006 4:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is just WRONG. Every time I reach this part of the page I scroll past quickly with my eyes closed. I'm begging you, please shrink this image to a thumbnail!!

Posted by: johngalt at May 6, 2006 5:10 PM
But jk thinks:

You should see the ones that were too disturbing to include.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2006 5:35 PM

Low Ozone & Smog, Yawn

That wicked George Bush is taking all the smog and ozone out of the atmosphere! How long are we just gonna sit back and take it?

Seriously, why do the enviros run from good news. I understand that they have to show alarm to justify spending, but wouldn't showing victories help as well? Say we have accomplished this, now we should address this.

I don't know. But TCS has some news you won't see in the New York Times.

Ozone smog levels have plummeted during the last three years. Between 2003 and 2005, the fraction of the nation's ozone monitors violating the federal 8-hour ozone standard plunged from 43 percent down to a record-low 18 percent.[1] The last three years were the three lowest-ozone years on record.

Environmental fear factories aren't celebrating. Shortly after the 2005 ozone season ended, the environmental group Clean Air Watch proclaimed "Smog Problems Nearly Double in 2005."[2] Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection warned "Number of Ozone Action Days Up from Last Year."[3] And EPA's New England regional office noted that "New England Experienced More Smog Days during Recent Summer."[4] Writing on 2005 ozone levels in Connecticut, a New York Times headline warned "A Hot Summer Meant More Smog.[5]
Ozone levels were indeed higher in 2005 when compared with 2004. 2005 was only the second lowest ozone year since the 1970s, while 2004 was the lowest. Ozone levels were so improbably low in 2004 that it would have been astounding if ozone wasn't higher in 2005.


Environment Posted by John Kranz at 1:27 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, this is precisely the opposite story I read in an article from the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald that ran just before "Earth Day."

I followed the link. I read the entire article. TCS and the DRH both cite the same source: The American Lung Association's "State of the Air Report." But while the small-town Colorado newspaper swallowed the stuff whole and then regurgitated it to unsuspecting readers, TCS declared it "nonsense on stilts."

Loveland paper: "But ozone pollution has reached dangerous levels in the region, causing the county to receive a grade of “F” for ozone pollution in the American Lung Association’s 2005 State of the Air report."

TCS: "ALA's claim of high ozone levels today is thus based on a spike in ozone that occurred four years ago, back in the summer of 2002."
(Graph shows "average number of days per YEAR exceeding the federal ozone standards increased from 2 in 2004 to just over 3 in 2005. This compared to about 9 in 2002 and between 10 and 23 for every year prior to 1989.)

Thanks for the "rest of the story" JK.

Loveland article: http://www.lovelandfyi.com/Top-Story.asp?ID=4868

Posted by: johngalt at May 3, 2006 3:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And another thing! (Thanks Dennis)

You asked, rhetorically perhaps, why the enviros don't say, "We have accomplished this, now we should address this."

Try replacing the first "this" with "racial equality through affirmative action."

Now you know why even good news is still cause for alarm amongst class warriors.

Posted by: johngalt at May 3, 2006 3:19 PM

Mexican Drug Policy

Amsterdam? Why bother?

How about Mexico?

    Mexican President Vicente Fox will sign a bill that would legalize the use of nearly every drug and narcotic sold by the same Mexican cartels he's vowed to fight during his five years in office, a spokesman said Tuesday.

    The list of illegal drugs approved for personal consumption by Mexico's Congress last week is enough to make one dizzy — or worse.

    Cocaine. Heroin. LSD. Marijuana. PCP. Opium. Synthetic opiates. Mescaline. Peyote. Psilocybin mushrooms. Amphetamines. Methamphetamines.


I propose a trade.

Your workers for our junkies. That might put an end to all this immigration talk.

But jk thinks:

I had seen a small story on this, thanks for the link.

I have to applaud Mexico for this. This country has a lot more severe problems than personal drug use by its citizenry. I think that makes the US (puritans!) the only place in North America where one can be jailed for small amounts of marijuana.

I would not punish anyone for possession, but I would prosecute fiercely for legal infractions or driving while impaired.

A Samizdata commenter last year moved to Mexico (from the UK), calling it one of the last free places on earth. I ain't moving there, but it i8s emerging as a libertarian oasis of sorts. If they could just control corruption, we'd be swimming the Rio Grande southward.

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

What do you mean "they?" Don't you know that "Republicans are controlled by a culture of corruption?"

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2006 2:38 PM

Living for All Of Us

Sometimes you have to wonder how, after all these years, and the rock and roll lifestyle, Keith Richards is still alive.

    His spokeswoman said Richards suffered a mild concussion while on vacation in Fiji and went to a hospital as a precautionary measure. She gave no details on what happened or what his condition is.

    According to New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times, Richards fell out of a coconut tree and suffered a serious headache. The paper reports he felt well enough to get on a jet ski, but then got into an accident.


For the record, this cements my "Rolling Stones are better than the Beatles" flamebait. Ringo would never climb a coconut tree... nevermind falling out and getting on a jet ski. Neither would those other guys.

Oil and Energy Posted by AlexC at 11:52 AM

Gas Wars

Two gas stations get in to an old fashion gas war dropping prices on each other.

So what happens?

State Police break it up.

    Matuszky, manager of Glassmere Fuel Service about a quarter-mile east of the BP station, noticed the price change Tuesday morning. She soon got orders from the store's corporate headquarters to lower the price 7 cents per gallon, bringing the regular fuel rate to $2.89.
    An hour later, Seeger countered by lowering BP's regular fuel price to $2.89 as well.

    The gas war had begun.

    "I was told that every time they change the price, we change the price, so that's what I did. Now they started a war," Matuszky said.

    By late afternoon, fuel prices at both businesses had plummeted another 50 cents per gallon, which drew dozens of motorists as lines of cars and trucks grew to five deep at most pumps. More drivers waited along Route 30.

    "They're pretty much giving it away, so I'm filling up," said Anita Copelli, of Latrobe.

    At one point, prices dropped to $2.36 per gallon.


$2.36 is $0.53 cheaper than it is my neck of the woods!
    The price war ended almost as fast as it started following a minor accident involving cars stopped along Route 30.

    State police asked the owners of both stations to help alleviate the traffic jam, and both agreed. BP raised its price to $2.89 per gallon for regular and Glassmere raised the price to $2.86.

But jk thinks:

Thankgawd the local authorities were there to stop it!

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2006 12:28 PM

May 2, 2006

Is It Me?

Or does the left have an awful lot invested in Colbert bashing the President?

http://thankyoustephencolbert.org/

Dean Barnett explains the whole kerfuffle.

But jk thinks:

It's not you. Taranto nails it:

"We have often suggested that the left in America doesn't really stand for anything. Well, we stand corrected. Evidently the left in America stands for one thing: the proposition that Stephen Colbert is funny, or at least that he was at the White House Correspondents Association dinner over the weekend."
http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110008326

Sugarchuck told me of a William Kristol appearance on Colbert's CC show, and Hugh Hewitt had nice albeit pre-kerfuiffle words for the host.

A new generation is getting its news from Comedy news. Some thought of Colbert as a conservative foil to Jon Stewart, but that looks cooked.

I guess we have South Park...

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2006 5:03 PM

License Plates

ClubForGrowth's blog has pictures of a few kick-ass license plates.
TAXCUTS
LZY FARE (took me a second)
and a boat called Laissez Faire. (Cool dog, btw)

That got me thinking about an economics vanity plate for myself.

My troublemaking friend, Chris, already has Pennsylvania's "TAXCUTS" plate taken. LZY FARE seemed a little obtuse to figure out.

The game here is it's got to be 8 characters, with only a space or hyphen (but not both).

NVIS HAND maybe?

ADMSMITH?

JOHNGALT?

RANDROID?

NO TAXES?

Any ideas?

But jk thinks:

I Like NVISHAND (That seems more abstruse than LZY FARE to me but I like a vanity plate that inspires thought).

FREETRDR

TAXMENOT

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2006 10:43 AM
But jk thinks:

LAFFER, or LFFRCRV, or if you get 3SRCS in PA, I will do the same in CO

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2006 11:19 AM

Quote of the Day

Power Corrupts.
PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely.
-- Edward R. Tufte, professor emeritus of political science, computer science and statistics, and graphic design at Yale. Writing in Wired.

Hat-tip: Samizdata


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:43 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Definately.

But how about damned bulleted or number sections in Word Documents?

Why can't that be simple?

Posted by: AlexC at May 2, 2006 7:01 PM

$100 Rebate DEAD

Bloomberg...

    Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's proposal last week to offer consumers $100 rebates for high gasoline prices is ``dead,'' according to several House and Senate leaders.

    House Majority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said the idea of a $100 rebate is ``insulting'' to consumers. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the plan was ``dead before it was offered.''

    Frist unveiled the $100 proposal as part of an eight-point plan to tackle high gasoline prices. The Republican legislation would also allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, repeal tax incentives for big oil companies, encourage additional refinery capacity and authorize the secretary of transportation to change fuel economy rules for passenger cars.


...
    Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who appeared alongside Frist to unveil the Republican proposal, told reporters the rebate was still an option, and it would be funded by repealing tax incentives for oil companies, including incentives to drill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

No one seemed to have any kind words for the rebate, myself include.

Though I don't understand how repealing tax incentives is going to change the prices of oil.

Posted by AlexC at 5:45 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Posted by: jk at May 2, 2006 5:54 PM
But AlexC thinks:

What a great comment.
I had to look it up!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_mortuis_nil_nisi_bonum

Posted by: AlexC at May 2, 2006 8:28 PM

Valuing Life

Virginia Postrel finds an interesting link between taxes and immigration in Why (Legal or Illegal) Immigrants Are Better for Texas than California

It's the political economy, stupid. (Nasty phrase, that.) Texas has no income tax, which means public services are funded by sales and property taxes. Everyone, regardless of income or legal status, pays sales and property taxes, either directly or indirectly through rent. California, by contrast, relies heavily on a very progressive income tax that doesn't fall on people who are paid off the books or who don't earn much money in the first place. Liberals who support immigration should rethink their love of progressive income taxes.

I saw my buddy, Rep. Tancredo last night on Tucker Carlson's show. He said "A day without immigrants? We should be so lucky. If we did not have illegal aliens, you would see fewer people in prisons, fewer people accessing social services, fewer people having babies -- the OB/GYN wards would be much less busy, emergency rooms would be less busy..."

I heard this as a dead giveaway of what Tancredo is all about. Eeew, they're people! Havin' babies and living and dying and all that human stuff.

I realize I am conflating two things in this post, but hang with me. The economics I embrace sees a child as the one who will cure cancer instead of as a mouth to feed. Why are immigrants good? Because people are good. If you believe in comparative advantage as I do, the larger the pool for labor, innovation, and customers you have, the richer you will be.

If you value people by taxing their quotidian pursuits, as does Texas, that value is more visible (and collectable). Californians are valuing life less because of their tax structure.

But johngalt thinks:

How does an illegal immigrant child go on to cure cancer if he doesn't learn English first?

Excellent point about TX vs. CA though.

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

You fix education so that said child does learn English.

Rep. Tancredo is famous in his home state for deporting a high-school valedictorian who was illegal. I feel safer, he might have made a long and boring speech...

Posted by: jk at May 3, 2006 3:32 PM

May 1, 2006

My Party. I Must Comply

Taranto highlighted this headline:

Republican party looks to embrace college women

Like Benjamin Disraeli, I am a party man...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:19 PM

May Day

Happy May Day, comrades!

Here's a link to help you re-live the glory of the people's revolution!

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 2:26 PM

A Modest Proposal

George Will is searching for the 22% of Americans who approve of Congress.

He rails on "emergency" spending and all of the pork that's in those bills.

But here's what I like.

    A modest proposal: Among the federal entitlement programs is the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which gives states block grants to help pay energy bills, and for weatherization and other energy-related home repairs. Congress should amend that law to say: No such funds shall be spent in any congressional district or state that elects a representative or senator who votes against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or in currently closed portions of the Outer Continental Shelf.

That's almost as good as my idea of charging Democrats one dollar more per gallon for gas, and Republicans one dollar less per gallon.

Posted by AlexC at 1:04 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

He shan't find them here. The modest proposal is funny, but the rest of the piece is sad. Emergency Katrina relief in Hawaii? Senator Lott's Goddamn railroad, it makes me want to weep.

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2006 2:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And since JK didn't mention it, I'll do it on his behalf: Will suggests that conservative voters will boycott November's elections in protest of "their" elected representatives fiscal foolishness. It's still a generalization in the face of specific race by race analysis of open seats, but it's another brick in the wall looming on the horizon for the GOP.

More to the point of the fiscal foolishness itself, I contend it's partially a byproduct of the robust economy. Despite being in the midst of a war that, as Will pointed out, has already lasted longer than our involvement in WWII, most Americans live their lives as though nothing of consequence is going on in faraway lands. (By contrast, I recall stories from my father about life during The War when grandpa sold the old tires off his car on the black market because doing so was illegal and they couldn't afford to buy gasoline anyway.) Is it any wonder that if average Americans are financially unaffected by the war that congress is too?

Included with the example of $700 million for Lott's railroad and $20 million for shrimp fisheries research, both of which are specious expenditures of taxpayer's dollars, is that of a new driver's license office in Macon, GA for which $100,000 of FEDERAL dollars have been earmarked. Even if the price is reasonable, and even if a case can be made that it is a federal and not a state liability, is it really a necessary expenditure during WAR TIME?

The bad news is that waste is as much a part of the federal government as ever, if not more so. The good news is we're all productive enough that our economy barely even notices. (As a whole, that is. Imagine how much better off those at the bottom of the income scale would be if the government didn't interfere with their income or the cost of the goods they buy.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2006 3:41 PM

Vietnam All Over Again

David Gelernter, in a cover story in this week's Weekly Standard, says Iraq is Vietnam all over again, in that we had best summon the will to win. I'm going to give away the ending:

The administration was wrong to let Americans get the idea that Iraq would be easy. But it was right to fight. And because Iraq is exactly Vietnam all over again, our eventual victory won't only be good for Iraq, the Middle East, and peace on earth. It will repair American self-respect. And it will turn the Friends of Cowardice, the U.S. Mothers for Despair, and all their allied groups back into the peripheral players they always used to be in this country--until Vietnam.

Like many supporters of the war, I instinctively bristle at comparisons. There are a million differences between the two conflicts -- I'd put lack of conscription right near the top.

Gelernter’s point, which I've heard before but not so well,. is that it is instructive to examine the similarities, not all of which are kind to the Administration.

In Iraq as in Vietnam, the government gave the American people an unrealistic estimate of how hard the war would be. Both times it was an honest but costly mistake, which could probably have been avoided.

But the best part of the story is an excellent defense of Vietnam, which is surprisingly absent from most media outlets today.
THOSE WHO THINK that "no more Vietnams" means that cowardice is the better part of wisdom don't know their Vietnam history either. There are many important lies in circulation about Vietnam, like counterfeit $50 bills that keep resurfacing. Those who held these views during the war itself weren't liars; in most cases they were telling the truth as they understood it. But decades later, it requires an act of will to keep one's ignorance pristine.

He then enumerates four lies that still stand about Vietnam, and swipes at the memorial for being a "grave" instead of a heroes' memorial.
Lie #1: We were wrong to fight the Vietnamese Communists in the first place; they only wanted what was best for their country
Lie #2: The Vietnam war was unwinnable. We had no business sending our men to a war they were bound to lose
Lie #3: As the American people learned the facts, they turned against the war and forced America's withdrawal from Vietnam.
Lie #4: The real heroes of Vietnam were the protesters and draft-resisters who forced America to give up a disastrously wrong policy.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 10:35 AM

Sign Me Up for MIT!

I'm ready for Chomsky! A friend of the blog sends these by email:

The following test, dubbed a Cognitive Reflection Test, or CRT, consists of three questions.

Each question has an intuitive--and--wrong response. Most people need some reflection to get the right answer. Even at MIT, most students got at least one answer wrong.

TEST:

1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

2. If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half the lake?


Maybe we should give this test to elected officials, though, looking at both sides on gas prices, I think they'd be waaaay to hard.

Click "Continue Reading" to get the answers


CORRECT ANSWERS ARE:

1. 5 cents

2. 5 minutes

3. 47 days

Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

1) 5 cents; 2) 5 minutes; 3) 47 days.
(I did have to think about #1 for half a minute.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2006 11:10 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And, I'm glad to see your "correct answers" are, in fact, correct. :)

Posted by: johngalt at May 1, 2006 11:11 AM
But AlexC thinks:

3 for 3 baby!

Posted by: AlexC at May 1, 2006 11:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I think you give it away by mentioning that they require thought. Just throw them at people cold and I think you'd get more mistakes.

Posted by: jk at May 1, 2006 12:49 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)