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.
Middle East Forum
Religious Freedom, Democracy, and the Middle East
Moderated by Daniel Pipes
Monday, June 19, 2006
Registration: 6:00 p.m.
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.
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.
NY Times on states and how they plan to prepare for the 2006 hurricane 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
"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."
While the jihadists and Islamofascists plan and prepare, we slumber...
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.
... 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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...
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:
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.
Go over to her site and read the rest.
On This Date In History
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.)
The rest of the article is worth reading.
Riots in Iran
In case you missed it.
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.
Thank you to all our soldiers past and present for their sacrifices to protect our freedoms.
May 28, 2006
Intellectual History of Islamofascism
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.
… 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.
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.
The giveaways are pretty standard ballpark fare, except of course the lukewarm coffee.
(tip to Club for Growth)
May 27, 2006
About the Check Box
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.
Republican Bribery Scandal
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.
The Coming Global Catastrophe
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.
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.
“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.
“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?
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.
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.
May 26, 2006
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,
Here is Barry Kornhauser’s translation of a part of that whole:
To dream, to laugh, to sing,/to let my heart take wing,
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.
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:
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.
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:
Response to Ahmadinejad's Letter To Bush
“A Letter to Ahmadinejad” by Ebrahim Nabavi
Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
My dear son Mahmoud!
Taxing the Economy
Yeah... this will work great!
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.
VDH on Immigration
We're entering a brave new world according to Victor Davis Hansen.
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.
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.
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.
1) Secure the goram border, using armed guardsmen if necessary;
Why Campaign Finance Reform Is Unneeded
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?
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!
There Oughta Be A Law...
...against the sun.
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
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!
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:
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:
Saw this one DailyKos.
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
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.
"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....
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.
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.
May 25, 2006
Up up up up!
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.
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
CEI Has the Right Position, But the Wrong Argument
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.
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?
May 24, 2006
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.
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???
And why exactly hasn't this been linked from Threesources today?
An article like this comes out every so often, but it never hurts to Go Read the Whole Thing
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
”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.”
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."
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
He could have been a good character witness as well.
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%.
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.
Best of the Web
No link this time, but Taranto liked my goofy headline:
Could This Be Why They Keep Winning?
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.
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!
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.
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.
May 22, 2006
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Greatest Headline Ever!
Taranto calls it "Raging Pacifists.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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".
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.
May 21, 2006
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 thatRacism 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.
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:
And others who might be of some influence in this matter (?):
My heart really breaks for the Pennsylvania legislators who had lost their jobs on Tuesday.
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.
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.
A History of the Pennsylvania Earthquake
Just Read the Whole Thing, really too much to excerpt.
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."
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...
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.
Posted by AlexC at 8:59 PM
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..
The New World. The. tale. of. Pocahontas. And. Capt. Smith.
jk gives it two and a half
Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM
May 19, 2006
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!
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
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?
Canada's National Post
"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.
May 18, 2006
I'm usually down on the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania, but I like this.
"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."
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!
Pointing the Finger
Jeez. Another election, and another voting machine problem.
This time they can't blame Republicans.
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
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...
The Conservative Victory
The ads that were mailed were pretty reprehensible. Even moreso when you learn that the state GOP paid for them.
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
So, a pay hiking, pay jacking, tax hiking, budget inflating Republican Senate leader loses in a primary election, and he blames ...
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.
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.
Needing to Do
Here's what the President needs to do.
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.
May 16, 2006
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.
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.
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.
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...
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...
In related news, CNN ran Bush's rehearsal "mistakenly."
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.
Looking for Leaks
"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...
Editors and What Not
Sometimes, the haste of getting a story online can really lead to an embarrassing situation.
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.
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.
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.
Apparently HD video is going to kill the internet.
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.
That this is even up for debate boggles the mind.
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.
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!
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."
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.
May 14, 2006
Laffer at work
I spent a whole three bucks this week -- and scored three decent films.
May 13, 2006
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.
May 12, 2006
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.
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.
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.
May 11, 2006
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.
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.
Obviously my school was lame.
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!
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?
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.
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.
May 10, 2006
You guys let me know what you want -- I deliver!
Ed Driscoll.com: Leo's Baby, And Chuck's Son
It's a book review, and a love story.
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.
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...
GOP Hard at Work For You
These pages have been pretty hard on Congressional Republicans of late, but I am changing my tune.
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.
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!
May 9, 2006
A coworker of mine got this from his Congressman, Mark Udall.
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.
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.
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.
May 8, 2006
In case you were wondering...
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.
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.
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.
Does it matter anymore?
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?
Just in case Iran forgot that wiping of maps can be bi-direction, Israel reminds them.
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
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.
This taxing excessive profits idea is a steamroller.
We need to be more aggressive with, as a matter of fact.
I can't wait till Congress goes after Google and Yahoo.
Posted by AlexC at 10:59 PM
Marc Steyn touches on something that I hit last week.
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.
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.
Then and Now
Here's a comparison of how far technology has brought us since the 70s.
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.
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.
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
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
If your very unique name made it in the title of a extremely catchy rock song, how would you deal with it?
I knew the song was about a real person!
May 5, 2006
Here's a page from the PA GOP that highlights some of Philadelphia's polling places.
Here's a little background I posted earlier.
Posted by AlexC at 6:19 PM
Despite being repeatedly discredited and a mounting body count, what won't socalism die?
Answer: It Can't
The Weekly Standard recounts Rep Patrick Kennedy's previous accident.
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."
We're number two in the world!
Only Japan tops us.
One guess as to who pays corporate taxes.
A Thousand Words
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.)
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
I'll pick my "worst:" how about Communism?
May 4, 2006
What is with this family?
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."
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.
May 3, 2006
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
We take requests! Sugarchuck wanted to see more telecaster pictures, so here's one. The Gore-o-caster.
Posted by John Kranz at 5:29 PM
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
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. The last three years were the three lowest-ozone years on record.
Mexican Drug Policy
Amsterdam? Why bother?
How about Mexico?
The list of illegal drugs approved for personal consumption by Mexico's Congress last week is enough to make one dizzy — or worse.
I propose a trade.
Your workers for our junkies. That might put an end to all this immigration talk.
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.
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.
Two gas stations get in to an old fashion gas war dropping prices on each other.
So what happens?
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!
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.
May 2, 2006
Is It Me?
Or does the left have an awful lot invested in Colbert bashing the President?
Dean Barnett explains the whole kerfuffle.
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?
Quote of the Day
$100 Rebate DEAD
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.
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.
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.
May 1, 2006
My Party. I Must Comply
Taranto highlighted this headline:
Like Benjamin Disraeli, I am a party man...
Posted by John Kranz at 4:19 PM
Happy May Day, comrades!
Here's a link to help you re-live the glory of the people's revolution!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
1. 5 cents
2. 5 minutes
3. 47 days