July 31, 2006

Choice

NBC10.com

    Author Linda Hirshman is calling stay-at-home mothers a "brain drain." She is even calling for a reproductive strike until men agree to take on more work at home. Hirshman said she believes it is time for a revolution.

    "It is time. After 25 years of hearing from nothing but the stay-at-home moms and why it's so wonderful to stay at home, it is time for another message," Hirshman said.

    Hirshman said women could only lead flourishing lives if they have a career outside the home.

    "My most important message is that women are bearing the full burden of housekeeping as well as childbearing, and that combination makes it very difficult for them to work in the public or larger world," Hirshman said.


...
    Hirshman said she thinks women who stay at home, especially highly educated ones, are not using their capacities fully. She said they should stay on the job and push for change in society.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Linda Hershman is pro-choice. Except when it comes to raising kids.

For the record, my wife is one of those "highly educated" stay at home moms. She wouldn't have it any other way.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

If she were pro-life, Channel 10 wouldn't have given her the air time!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 31, 2006 10:16 PM
But dagny thinks:

Ms. Hirshman gives us a classic example of Pillars 3 and 5 of the liberal faith shown above. Decisions regarding child-rearing should be made by individual mothers, and fathers based on what is best for their individual families. Yet, Ms. Hirshman’s form of thought control insists that all men should do more at home and all women should work outside the home.

For the record, my husband does more dishes and changes more diapers than I do.

The next step is that thought control is enforced via pillar 5, unearned guilt. Those, "highly educated," stay-at-homes, are made to feel guilty that they are not contributing their brains to society’s good. Maybe the cure for cancer won’t be found since the genius woman doctor who would come up with it is at home wiping up baby drool. Hmm, cure for cancer or baby drool? I feel guilty just thinking about it and I do work outside the home. This is a very insidious form of thought control more commonly known as political correctness.

The other side of the coin is perhaps we already missed out on the cure for cancer since the Dr. who would have discovered it dropped out of high school since he was raised by a $10/ hr. day care worker and NOT by his highly intelligent and educated mother. This difference would be even more pronounced if the highly intelligent and educated mothers were not only staying at home but home-schooling.

It’s clearly foolish to try to make these decisions on a general basis, which brings us back to the concept of an individual making her own decisions for her own life, both before AND after the birth of her child.

Posted by: dagny at August 3, 2006 3:50 PM

More GITMO Abuse

Sickening.

    The prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay during the war on terror have attacked their military guards hundreds of times, turning broken toilet parts, utensils, radios and even a bloody lizard tail into makeshift weapons, Pentagon reports say.

    Incident reports reviewed by The Associated Press indicate Military Police guards are routinely head-butted, spat upon and doused by "cocktails" of feces, urine, vomit and sperm collected in meal cups by the prisoners.

    They've been repeatedly grabbed, punched or assaulted by prisoners who reach through the small "bean holes" used to deliver food and blankets through cell doors, the reports say. Serious assaults requiring medical attention, however, are rare, the reports indicate.


Oh wait, it's Americans. Where do I check my outrage? At the door?

But jk thinks:

Whew. For a moment there, I thought you had a news story...

A ThreeSources salute to the men and women who serve down there. That's gotta suck. Serve in the heat, get human waste thrown at you, and endure physical abuse. The slightest retaliation would be an international incident. The BBC, Democratic Party, and Sens. McCain and Graham think you're criminals.

But they are keeping us safe. Thanks.

Posted by: jk at August 1, 2006 11:45 AM

Alien Life Forms

Two points of micro-agreement between me and Jonathan Chait: good for leftists who try to reach out and understand that peculiar breed of American who doesn't vote for progressives. And, no, it's not working.

Chait's LAT columns are reprinted in TNR Online, presumably so they can annoy more people. Today he discusses a new TV show to sympathetically portray Calista Flockhart as a conservative television pundit.

Indeed, the point of the show seems to be casting conservatives in a sympathetic and understanding light. As Jon Robin Baitz, a writer for the show, explained: "It's very, very interesting and compelling to us to try and understand this, to leave behind some of the smug presuppositions of the two coasts ... to look at evolving patriotism and evolving traditionalism."

Patronize much? "It's interesting to try to understand these inferior people and a real testament to our writing skill that we can do it." I'm sure they would have hired a real conservative but they don't know any.

Chait and I both think this will end badly, but for different reasons. He doesn't think they need to reach out and he wonders "[W]here are the right's efforts at outreach? You don't hear conservatives mourning their lack of common ground with the English department at Columbia University. In fact, it's incredibly rare to find a conservative who understands liberalism as anything other than hatred for the rich and a desire to hand over our foreign policy to the United Nations."

I think it will fail because the writers see it as an outreach project. The show's producer "assured the public 'She's not Ann Coulter. She's not insane.'" Whew. Because, y'know, hiring a thin blonde actress ...

I don't spend a lot of time defending Ms. Coulter around here, but if you think she is insane, you are not qualified to write about a conservative. Ms. Coulter is bombastic and frequently offensive, but she is quite rational and cogent.

Our "outreach," Mr. Chait? We read the New York Times, watch CNN at the airport, listen to NPR, watch Hollywood movies and TV shows like "The West Wing." We know you're there.

If you want a flicker of hope, I heard from many conservatives that Alan Alda's character on "The West Wing" expressed conservative views more eloquently and clearly than do any of our politicians.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:08 PM

No Surprise

Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine takes his teenaged son o see the New Woody Allen movie and notes:

The entire audience was geriatric. There wasn’t a person in the theater — in a decent crowd, by the way — who was under 50 and most won’t see 60 again. Not one hair follicle — those left — carried its natural color of youth. My son personally lowered the mean age in the place by 30 years.

Insty linked to it, but I can't say that I am surprised at all. I was playing a party game a few years ago with people slightly younger. I forget the game. But the card would say "kinds of cheeses" and your team would shout out answers as one member furiously typed them into a computer.

Every topic was a race of furious typing with the buzzer cutting off answers. Until our team got "Woody Allen movies." I got "Sleeper" and "Bananas," somebody got "Annie Hall," then we sat in stone silence waiting for the buzzer.

These folks were all younger, hipper, and more liberal than me, yet his movies meant nothing to them. I've seen "Sweet and Low" since then. The jazz was nice, but Woody's dour view of life pervades it, and Sean Penn is not one of my personal faves either.

Anybody going to defend the great director around here? I'm guessing not, but, you ever know.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:19 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

I'm no artsy-fartsy film type, but I really enjoyed Woody Allen's "Small Time Crooks."

Shoot me now.

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

July 30, 2006

"Genius"

That's my new nickname for the hapless prime minister of Lebanon, who recently declared: "We will not negotiate until the Israeli war stops shedding the blood of innocent people." He was also quoted on Fox News this morning as having said, "We will not negotiate until there is an immediate, unconditional cease-fire" and something to the effect of, "This deliberate killing of innocent civilians is unacceptable."

The PM seems to be echoing the attitude of one Khalil Shalhoub who, on the scene of the demolished building full of people screamed, "Why are they killing us? What have we done?"

Well, for one thing, an IAF spokesman claimed that Hezbollah was intentionally packing civilians into buildings and firing missles from them. "OK" I thought, "that's entirely plausible. Now show us all pictures to prove it!" Within moments, FNC announced EXCLUSIVE VIDEO. ("Free" Video, after a short cimmercial message, of course.)

As many government leaders throughout the western world rush to condemn Israel for defending itself against calculated, deliberate, and ongoing aggression from Islamist fanatics they should ask themselves one question: How will these diplomats feel about tens or hundreds of thousands of civilians killed by an Iranian nuke if their diplomatic efforts on behalf of Hezbollah, in the name of "innocent" Lebanese civilians, are successful?

But jk thinks:

I was also moved by the Taranto piece. There is international outrage when civilians are killed in the crossfire when Hezbollah is complicit in their killings. Yet, when Hezbollah lobs hundreds of rockets into Israel hoping to kill civilians, there is no outrage against those with bad aim and crappy hardware.

It is sadly another reminder that most of our allies, like much of the domestic political opposition, are simply not serious enough to be trusted.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2006 12:44 PM

BB'see' No Evil

JK's Saturday post on the Seattle "hate crime" shooting largely ignored by the MSM is an apt lead-in to reprint a post by WSJ Opinion Journal's James Taranto. I lifted the whole thing verbatim, though with attribution (first item.)

The BBC reports on one of the "prisoners" that "Hezbollah wants most" in its ill fated bid to arrange a swap by murdering and kidnapping Israeli border guards. BBC writes, "Israel will not exchange them for the prisoner Hezbollah wants most, Samir Qantar, who attacked a block of flats in Nahariha in 1979, killing a father and his daughter (the latter by smashing her head in)." The parenthetical gives barely a glimmer of the true inhumanity of his crimes.

Click continue reading to get the whole story...

Taranto writes:

"When Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers two weeks ago, provoking the current conflagration, the Shiite terrorist outfit apparently intended to use them as bargaining chips to demand the release of prisoners. Press reports often discuss this as if there were an equivalence between the Israeli soldiers, who committed no crimes but were simply defending their own country within its borders, and Arab terrorists. So it's worth pointing out just who the "prisoners" in Israeli hands are.

According to the BBC "the prisoner Hezbollah wants most" is Samir Qantar. On April 22, 1979, Qantar murdered 28-year-old Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter and caused the death of another Haran daughter, age 2. Haran's widow, Smadar Haran Kaiser, describes the crime (she transliterates the murderer's name as "Kuntar"):

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border.

Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer.

As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat.

They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.

The BBC gives a rather more sanitized account of the crime: "Qantar . . . attacked a block of flats in Nahariha in 1979, killing a father and his daughter."


Media and Blogging Posted by JohnGalt at 4:44 PM

It's good to be da mayor

It's certainly good to be "America's Mayor..."
Page Six

"America's Mayor" had a Gotham rib steak, which he washed down with three 12-year-old Macallan scotches. Giuliani left a 22 percent tip and was last seen outside the place exchanging pleasantries with Lindsay Lohan, who was walking toward Soho House.

Hat-tip: Sixers, with the Taranto-ready headline "Crist says civil unions 'fine'"

Posted by John Kranz at 1:29 PM

Amazon Recommends...

As someone who has purchased books by Paul Johnson, you might like to know that Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic: The World of the Lascelles, 1648-1834 (Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series) is now available . You can order your copy by following the link below.
Hmm, I don't recall purchasing books by Paul Johnson. (Perhaps that came with my Neil Young order). The book in question is $99 (free shipping with Amazon Prime), 396 pages, and published by the Cambridge University Press.

What the mail should have said was:

As someone who has purchased dull books that nobody else ever buys, you might like to know that Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic: The World of the Lascelles, 1648-1834 (Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series) is now available . You can order your copy by following the link below. This book is ranked 116,267 and will look good on the table even if you never make it past the Introduction.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:55 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

...and if one more copy is sold its rank will break the 100,000 barrier.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2006 4:33 PM

July 29, 2006

If You Get Your News From Time...

Credit Time Magazine. They have found and promoted the two worst bloggers of all time. First, Andrew Sullivan moved his Daily Dish over there. Andrew was once my favorite blogger and it pains me to call him one of two worst. But he left the rational plane many moons ago, and seems to have only spiraled down. I visited his blog to get the link and the headline is: A New GOP Low.

Playing the anti-gay card against a promising Democratic candidate in Ohio ... because he and his wife have no children. What do you expect from the party of Rove?

I'm guessing he finds a new low everyday. But at least he is blogging and everybody knows who he is and what he does.

Insty reports "The end of days is near" when he links to 'Wonkette' named Time.com Washington editor

"You can only write three-sentence posts for so long before you start to crave the comparatively literary world of newsmagazines," she wrote in an e-mail message.

Cox posted sarcastic and frequently foul-mouthed gossip and political commentary on Washington's elite and their underlings on the Internet under the pseudonym "Wonkette," from 2004 until earlier this year.

"I thought it'd be nice to work somewhere where my mom would not be embarrassed to tell her bridge club about," she wrote of her move to a prominent role in mainstream media.


I gave up on Time before I ever saw a blog, but have these people lost any concern for reputation?

When I saw Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the cover, I thought "People who get their news from Time probably consider this news." To give Ms. Cox this important -- and one might think serious -- position is more than I can believe.

Glad it works for Mom.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM

Seattle Shooting

A Pakistani man goes into a Jewish center in Seattle, shoots six women, kills one, and says "I'm a Muslim-American. I'm angry at Israel." To the MSM, he is a lone wacko, his ethnicity is not important.

Can I be the social conservative today? The public's right to know includes secret government plans to monitor terrorist finances overseas, but we can't handle knowing that the War on Terror has had a skirmish in Seattle, Washington?

Gerard at American Digest reports: it was, like Sept 11, a normal day:

I SIT BEHIND a shaded window in a small bungalow on top of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle. It's a smooth summer day. It began chill but warmed. In front of my porch, the lawn sprinkler makes slow sweeps. Across the street, the school playground plays host to a pick-up game of half-court basketball and a passel of kids on bikes and skateboards, all protected by the helmets and pads modern American parents feel compelled to encumber their children with; that no fall should result in a bruise or a scrape or a moment's discomfort to otherwise mar their standard "perfect" childhood in our standard broken home. It is as if we knew that, not being able to protect our children from our own selfish self-absorption, we have compensated by protecting them from falls.

Hat-tip Roger L. Simon, who reminds us of a Trotsky quote. "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Isn't it curious just how much more important it is to the MSM when women and children die accidentally after failing to flee from a war zone, versus women and children deliberately attacked and killed in a community center in the "peace and security" of a U.S. city. In fairness though, I'm sure the Times would have fully devoted the front page had the gunman been a white male screaming, "I hate gay black illegal-alien medicaid recipients who reflexively vote Democrat!"

In seriousness, this post prompted the one above called "BB'see' No Evil." A chilling tale.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2006 5:05 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Hmmm,..not a high enough body count to warrant much press. Imagine a militant Zionist like Kahane walking into a mosque and doing the same thing. The MSMSNBC crowd would be all over that!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 30, 2006 8:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Sadly, we're all thinking the same thing. Alter the ethnicities of the killer and victim and the "body count" doesn't matter. The murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. didn't lack for coverage. They supported the MSM narrative; this one does not.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2006 12:38 PM

July 28, 2006

Top 25 of the Last 25

How about another blast from the past?

eWeek picks the top 25 products of the last 25 years.

See the list here.

But jk thinks:

***Geek interruption***Geek interruption***Geek interruption***Geek interruption***Geek interruption***********************

Microsoft Visual Basic makes the list and Java does not? Did Katherine Harris count the votes? I demand a recount! African American OOP programmers have been disenfranchised!!!!

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2006 12:51 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Anyone can write a VB app... Java, not so.

Posted by: AlexC at July 29, 2006 10:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair point. I just think Java was transformative. Firstly, in abstracting the OS to a JVM so Java apps could run on multiple platforms. Secondly, by providing an elegant OOP language with free tools, Sun pushed OOP into the mainstream.

The VB attack was somewhat tounge in cheek but Java struck me as a serious omission. That and Doom.

***************************
****** Geek out***Geek out***
*** End of Geek Transmission ***
*****************************

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2006 12:24 PM

Stop Discussing, You're Confusing People

If you include frequent commenters, we have a pretty broad spectrum of views on climate change, though we certainly lean skeptic.

I'm all for continued research, just don't let the 535 Atmospheric Physicists in the District of Columbia decide. Here's TCS with a report on two Congressional hearings.

Only Wegman [Edward J. of George Mason University] and his colleagues found -- as did a National Academy of Science's panel previously -- that Mann's statistics were fundamentally flawed. They were prone -- as two Canadians, Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre, found in an ad hoc statistical investigation -- to create hockey stick shaped graphs.

Rather than accept that result, Democrats on the committee went on the offensive, pummeling Wegman -- who voted for Al Gore in 2000 -- as a stooge of the big business and calling the hearing itself a sham. "We don't debate gravity any more," Rep. Jay Inslee of Washington argued, ignorant of string theory, "and we should not debate whether there is a human contribution to climate change." He went on to suggest that the press not report alternative views. "The press is creating doubt where there isn't any," he argued.


Shhhh! Stop discussing the issues, you're confusing people...

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 11:36 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

Mort Kondracke, on "The Beltway Boys" (Et tu, FOXNews?), said "This is the warmest first six months in the US since they've kept records, beating 2005."

Fred Barnes: "So?"
Mort: "Global Warming is real!"
Fred: "But it's not made --" [roll end credits]

Every time any weather record is broken, global warming is proven.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2006 1:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Global Warming is expected to end on Wednesday, with forecast high temperature in the upper 70's... in JULY! Prepare for the coming ice age. Hey... I'm theer-ee-ul!

Posted by: johngalt at July 31, 2006 1:12 PM
But jk thinks:

When we conflate weather and climate, we're being willful and ignorant. But it's okay when they do it. I haven't quite figured that out.

I have been waiting and watching for ManBearPig for months. That is sooo funny. "Kids, I don't want you hanging around with that ex-Vice-President any more."

Wednesday, however, will be August.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2006 3:17 PM

July 27, 2006

Three out of Nineteen

Club for Growth has created a scorecard for every congressional representative, based on his/her votes on Rep. Flake's 19 contra-porcine amendments.

Thanks to Congressman Jeff Flake's 19 anti-pork amendments, we now have every House member on record regarding their positions on earmarks.

And if you expected Colorado's Second District (Boulder and environs) to be inclined more towards statism than taxpayer freedom -- well, give yourself a gold star. Democratic Scion and former Boulder mayor, Mark Udall, scores a big 3-for-19 on opposing pork.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 6:17 PM

Axis of GOPeasement

I keep thinking I could support Senator McCain if I had to. What a great Commander-in-Chief. Other days I think, nah, I'd like to have a Republican.

Hugh Hewitt posts an excerpt of an interview with the other Senator from Arizona. He confirms that Sens. Graham and McCain are holding up judicial nominations. Who needs Pat Leahy?

Hugh

I very much appreciate the senator's candor on the Boyle and Haynes nominations.

I suspect Senators Graham and McCain do not fully appreciate the incredible damage they are doing to their standing in the GOP by acting in concert to deny these nominees an up-or-down vote. I wouldn't object to "no" votes, but the abuse of power by the two to block the 98 from having their say is simply unacceptable to constitutional majoritarians. John McCain's decision to deny Mr. Haynes a vote on the floor will be raised again and again in the 2008 Campaign.

The good news is that Senator Kyl is pushing Mr. Keisler hard, and the Majority Leader understands the importance to the base of the D.C. Circuit. I simply can't imagine a September recess happening without a floor vote on the Keisler nomination. The inability to deliver such a vote would be an anchor around the Frist Campaign almost as heavy as the Haynes obstruction will be for Senator McCain's campaign.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM

Reading Poll Results

The Wall Street Journal (news page) is confident that they can accurately asess their latest poll:

WASHINGTON -- Republicans haven't persuaded a dissatisfied American public that their stewardship is succeeding. But the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests how they might survive midterm elections anyway: attack Democratic foes and separate themselves from President Bush's struggles.

bush_poll_060727.gif


That's the CW and it is being practiced by many candidates. This article names Maryland Senate Candidate Michael Steele by name in his disappointing "anonymous" swipes at the President. Yet I cannot see why Congressional Republicans are so eager to dump the 39% President and throw their lot in with the 25% Congress.

Hugh Hewitt laid out a good strategy for all Republicans to come together in his recent book "Painting the Map Red." He created "12 words" that all Republicans could rally around. Win the War, Confirm the Judges, Cut the Spending, Lower the taxes. Sadly, Hewitt himself compromised it as soon as the books shipped. He added "secure the border" and made it 15 words. I suppose next week, he'll add "Queers Cain't marry" and we'll have a real talk-radio manifesto in the works.

Individual candidates who want to win by running against their own party are making a mistake. Juntos Podemos, amigos.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [2]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

74% are uneasy about the economy. What is THAT supposed to mean. I guess that we are doing so damn good how can it get any better?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 28, 2006 12:42 PM
But jk thinks:

The MSM and Democrats have pretty relentlessly inculcated their "things are bad" pitch. If they're not bad now, they'll soon get bad when the housing bubble bursts or the deficit drives up interest rates.

Posted by: jk at July 28, 2006 3:16 PM

July 26, 2006

Amazon Cap Loss

Insty links to this BusinessWeek article on Amazon's stock tu8mble.

The online retail giant reported net income of $22 million, compared with $52 million in the second quarter of 2005, even as net sales rose 22%, to $2.14 billion for the period. Both the net income and revenue figures fell slightly short of analysts' cautious second-quarter estimates, which had taken into account heavy R&D expenditures

I suppose if Amazon tanks right after Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail" comes out, I will have to admit my detractors were right.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:01 PM

Long Tail Imbroglio

Or maybe it's a full contretemps. Lee Gomes of the Wall Street Journal questions the data and the premise of the book.

It would be wonderful if the world as Mr. Anderson describes it were true: one where "healthy niche products" and even "outright misses" collectively could stand their ground with the culture's increasingly soulless "hits."

But while every singer-songwriter dreams from his bedroom of making a living off iTunes, few actually do, mostly because so many others have the very same idea. And to the extent that Apple is making money off iTunes, thanks go to Nelly Furtado and other hitmakers. Indeed, you can make the case that the Internet is amplifying the role of hits, even in relation to misses, not diminishing them.

So maybe Mr. Anderson really has unlocked the sort of new business rules the cover promises. I say we wait before ripping up any business plans. Let's see how the tail shakes out.


Chris Anderson defends himself on his blog. (The Anderson link is free, the WSJ link is paid).
I'll take it as a compliment that I now warrant a proper Wall Street Journal takedown for crimes of...well, I'm not quite sure what the crimes are. But Lee Gomes has tried mightily to find flaws with the Long Tail theory and deserves a response of some sort. I have no doubt that there are many parts of my analysis and data that could be improved. Unfortunately, Gomes, in his haste to find them, stumbles over statistics and more, and in the end simply makes a muddle of what might have been an interesting debate over the magnitude of the Long Tail effect.

As an impartial observer with an admitted emotional attachment to The Long Tail, I'll have to give it to Anderson on points.

Might he have over-enthusiastically extrapolated data into a trend? That's possible, although I think we have seen countless anecdotal examples of the long tail in action.

Gomes, in my opinion, disproves claims that Anderson did not make. Anderson, for one, does not predict that you're going to make it big with a niche selection on iTunes. But he does describe the changes that enable a small, unsigned player to offer and sell music -- and be found -- on iTunes.

That is a valid trend and Anderson has developed it for years, from his magazine article in Wired, through his blog, and the book. I counsel skepticism in everything, but would dismiss those who are overly dismissive of the long tail.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:13 PM | What do you think? [2]
But K T Cat thinks:

I would suggest that Anderson's Long Tail concept is pretty much the hooey that Gomes pointed out. The Internet reduces shipping costs for media to zero. That's it. You still have to make the time and effort to produce the stuff. Users still have to make the time to consume it.

There is not an infinite demand for content since there isn't an infinite amount of time. People still visit their favorite sites and they still visit the key ones to make sure they're not missing out on something. That's why there's a big difference in the traffic statistics between Instapundit and The Scratching Post. By choosing to visit Instapundit, you have consumed time that might have been spent on "the tail." Most of those tail sites never get visited at all.

Posted by: K T Cat at July 26, 2006 2:33 PM
But jk thinks:

As a blogger waaaaay down the tail, I hear what you say, yet the fact that my news comes from blogs and not a major broadcast network is a tail phenomenon.

I have visited more than a dozen blogs today (a project took 87 minutes to build!) A few big sites, yes, but I also stretched a bit down the tail, exploring the blogroll of another site. I read the Wall Street Journal and bits from the NYTimes and WaPo -- I haven't had a paper delivered to my door that I requested in five years. This is big tail news aggregation, I have been up and down the tail today (as have you if you've been on Instapundit and ThreeSources).

You can question how much the tail has transformed things, and you can even question whether it is an unalloyed good. But it is wrong to completely dismiss Anderson's book. His explanation of the forces enabling the long tail, the higher signal-to-noise ratio down the tail, and the transformative power of moving from scarcity to abundance are well stated and integrated into our daily patterns.

Posted by: jk at July 26, 2006 3:30 PM

Be Prepared

Glenn Reynolds links to this Target®/American Red Cross First Aid Emergency Preparedness Starter Kit on Amazon. It's $29.99 (AlexC will get a shiny penny back on his $30) and is probably a decent idea.

If disaster hits Lafayette, Colorado, I don't want to wait for the National Guard to pull up. But at the same time, I don't know what I'll need four ponchos for. I've got flashlights and batteries, bottled water, dog food, and enough ammunition to defend my AA cells.

Professor Reynolds worries more about bird flu than I do but there’s not much around here that could close things down for more than a couple of days. I'm going to chance it.

The Customers who bought the emergency kit, Amazon informs me, also bought: Pop Bottle Science, Crisis Prevention Handbook, Fundamentals Medical Kit, a 1GB Memory stick and "Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home." You guys laughed when I bought the hand coffee grinder for Y2K! Italian home cooking? One GB memory?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM

Advantage: Democrats

Larry Kudlow continues a theme that he discussed on his TV show yesterday. Think what you will about the details and policy behind Senator Clinton's "American Dream Initiative" unveiled in Denver (sorry I missed it, I had to work) it's good politics. Everyone on the panel agreed it is miles ahead of Nancy Pelosi's "thin gruel" and that it has some resonance. Even Larry likes the personal savings accounts.

Larry wonders where the GOP response is.

Right now it strikes me that the GOP is snoozing. Democrats are guzzling highly caffeinated Starbucks coffee, while the Republicans sip their decaf. Democrats are working 24/7, while the Republicans are taking mid-afternoon siestas. It reminds me a lot of 1994, but obviously in reverse.

You can argue the policy wonk merits of Clinton’s speech, and even the Pelosi fiscal plan, but their political message is strong. “Clinton hits president on middle class” and “Not taking care of America” are the headlines in today’s lead NY Sun article. There is a good GOP response out there, both on the economy and national security, but I’m not hearing it.

The president is working hard, defending Israel, beefing up our troop structure to sweep Baghdad, and arguing the economic merits of his supply side tax cut plan, yet I don’t hear a peep from GOP congressional leadership.

Where are the responses to Clinton et al that might back up Bush? This concerns me. The GOP contents itself by squabbling over immigration. Well, I got news for you, that ain’t much of an election year plan.


I hear Clinton's plan as:

1. More taxes
2. More taxes
3. Roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.
4. More taxes

But I am a partisan and my vote is not up for grabs. Many others will hear "Investment." (We're not taking your money, we're investing it!)

The panel agreed it was not so much a Presidential step forward for Senator Clinton as it was a more serious plan for Democrats in the midterms. "They don't have a plan" will be stricken from the GOP playbook -- well, on domestic policy.

On the same topic, ThreeSources friend Everyday Economist got an Instalanche for his stunning exegesis post on Kos vs. the Clintons and is the fastest growing WordPrress blog today. Don't everybody click over there at once -- I don't want to crash his servers.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM

How Can You Not Love the Market?

The Wall Street Journal reports that even slackers have marketable skills.

When David Estalote wanted to learn to play the piano, the 27-year-old New Yorker sought out a teacher at a local music college. To learn to play golf, he took lessons from a pro at his grandfather's country club. When he recently decided he needed coaching to play a videogame better, he turned to a teenager who lives 1,200 miles away in Florida.

One afternoon recently, his 18-year-old tutor, Tom Taylor, slouched in front of a television set connected to a Microsoft Corp. Xbox machine running "Halo 2," a popular combat videogame. Mr. Taylor, through an Internet phone strapped over his head, snapped commands at Mr. Estalote back in New York. Mr. Estalote, a computer programmer, pays Mr. Taylor $45 an hour for help improving his "Halo 2" skills.


A man wants to buy, a man wants to sell, the Internet allows them to trade. Adam Smith would be proud.

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

I'm not even sure how to respond to that. Horror or admiration.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 26, 2006 10:45 AM
But jk thinks:

Ha. Intrigue for me. I have never sought out instruction even on the typical things. I'm a self-taught musician and computer programmer. I left college to pursue a music career and never returned. Learned business on the streets as it were.

I'm sure I'd be better at everything with more formal training but I have a predilection to just beat my head against he wall until I get it. Hiring a video game coach? Prob'ly not.

Posted by: jk at July 26, 2006 10:53 AM

July 25, 2006

When Is a Wedge Not a Wedge

I subscribe to TNR just to disagree with it, but Noam Scheiber has a piece online today on political effects of the stem-cell debate, and I am still pondering his premise.

It starts with good news for me. The subhead reads STEM-CELL RESEARCH ISN'T A WEDGE ISSUE. And I am quite concerned that the Democrats have found a good one. The thesis of Scheiber's article is that a successful wedge issue plays into its own sub-text.

For example, how is it that Bush used the Iraq war to his advantage in 2004 even though more than half the country had serious reservations about it? The answer is that the debate wasn't about the Iraq war per se. It was about Bush's toughness and resolve on the one hand, and Kerry's weakness and indecisiveness on the other. By running on the war's metaphorical meaning rather than the war itself, Bush managed to unite his own side and split Democrats--a textbook wedge maneuver.

Alas, Democrats could be waiting a long time if they think stem cells are going to do for them what gay marriage has done for Republicans. It's not that voters disagree with the Democratic position. Polls consistently show anywhere from 55 to 75 percent of the public favors research using stem cells from discarded embryos. Were referendums on the issue to come before voters in all 50 states, the vast majority would pass, most by large margins.


Remember, we're reading TNR here. Yes, I assert that the GOP was demonstrably tougher. But he questions whether the ESC debate divides the same way.
The flaw is to assume that the Republicans who disagree with Bush on the stem-cell issue represent a potentially large source of Democratic gains. Mellman, among others, flirts with this fallacy when he notes that "stem-cell research emerged as an important 'sleeper' issue in the last campaign." He's right about one thing: All the attacks on Bush's opposition to stem-cell research--who could forget Ron Reagan's speech at the Democratic convention?--probably did persuade voters that Bush's position was wrong. Unfortunately, many of these voters ended up supporting Bush anyway. According to a poll released by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation not long after the 2004 election, roughly half of all Bush voters favor "research using stem cells obtained from human embryos" that would otherwise have been discarded. It turns out most voters don't punish politicians who disagree with them on the stem-cell issue.

So far, so good. This time I'd like to agree with TNR, but the debate might well split the libertarian-Republicans from the evangelical. I would think that any way the Democrats can exploit that will be to their advantage (consider Ryan Segar's Atlantic story -- this could help them in the West).

What concerns me the most is the reason Scheiber gives for this issue not working. He claims a strong undercurrent of concern with bioethics.

On one side of this debate are those who believe biotechnology is mostly a force for good, and that reining it in is basically reactionary. On the other side are those more troubled by the moral and ethical questions raised by advances in biotechnology. The problem for Democrats is that the American public splits a lot more evenly on these questions than it does on the narrower question of whether to extract stem cells from discarded embryos.

The easiest way to see this is to consult an annual survey by the Life Sciences center at Virginia Commonwealth University, arguably the most authoritative source on public attitudes toward science. What the VCU survey reveals is deep ambivalence. According to the most recent installment, Americans believe by a 56-37 margin that scientific research "doesn't pay enough attention to the moral values of society," and by a 52-41 margin that this research has "created as many problems for society as it has solutions."


No, Silence, not all the forces of anti-modernity are on the left. These numbers concern me more deeply than a good issue for the other side. Beyond ESC research, I have a hard time naming items that are ethically questionable. Cloning and designer genes seem outside the mainstream enough to be ignored. A majority think that science needs more control? I hope he is right about the effect but wrong about the reasons. Now, who's cherry-picking?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:57 PM

Not Crazy About It, But I'd Sign

So, what does everybody think of the Pence-Hutchison compromise? If it will bridge ThreeSourcers, it might keep the GOP together for a couple more years.

Speaking for myself, I'd pretty anxious for compromise and am willing to not get everything I want. Most any compromise would be an improvement over the status quo.

The WaPo reports that "White House officials, including presidential adviser Karl Rove, have been told of the framework but not the details. A Republican close to the White House said President Bush 'won't be crazy about it, but I think he would sign it.'"

The best thing about it is a chance to get conference committees talking again. I'm not calling for more talk in the MidEast, but I think the Senate and the House might do better by talking.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 11:51 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I suppose this could be a step in the right direction. I endorse the measures to delay citizenship for 17 years but then to allow applications without leaving the country. The biggest flaw I see is the requirement that applications for the new visa be made from outside the US. Unless this legislation includes mandatory exportation of illegals I doubt that a sizeable number of them will leave the country just to "get legal." This is something that can be addressed later though.

Maybe it is an improvement on the status quo after all. It's definitely better than the Senate plan. Citizenship for a fee was a horrendous idea.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2006 1:57 AM

Life Imitates "Night Court"

(Apologies to James Taranto for the headline...)

There was a great line in the old TV show "Night Court." Ambitious lawyer Dan Fielding (John Larroquette), hears discussion of the Nobel Peace Prize. He says "I'd kill for one of those."

Fast forward a couple decades, and life has caught up:

Peace prize winner 'could kill' Bush

Right now, I would love to kill George Bush." Her young audience at the Brisbane City Hall clapped and cheered.

"I don't know how I ever got a Nobel Peace Prize, because when I see children die the anger in me is just beyond belief. It's our duty as human beings, whatever age we are, to become the protectors of human life."


Hat-tip Everyday Economist

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 11:18 AM

July 24, 2006

Goldstein Green-Lighted

Jeff at protein wisdom relates an unusual story:

I don’t what to make of this, but I was out picking up lunch from a small middle eastern restaurant near the university when three men, their faces partially obscured by green and yellow bandanas, launched an orchestrated strike on me using heavy falafel balls and what I think must have been shanklish.

I wasn’t seriously injured—one of the falafel balls grazed my shoulder, while the shanklish overshot me and landed on a table to my flank, causing a bit of shawarma to lodge in a toddler’s ear and some tabbouleh juice to blind his mother momentarily—but unfortunately, in the ensuing chaos the three attackers were able to flee the scene on a pair of old, dirt-crusted Vespas.

But the really strange part of all this was that I hadn’t even begun to wipe the fried chick pea detritus off my Fubu madras before a nattily dressed gentleman claiming to be from the State Department slipped me his card and told me that, should I wish to respond to the attack, I’d have roughly ten days to do so.

After that, he said, I would either have to go back to being a Zionist oppressor hated by the vast majority of the world, or else “come up with some of that really funny Jew stuff like Larry David does.”


I've been there. I think it's the first MidEastern restaurant in the Denver area. More importantly, I salute Jeff's right to self-defense. If there's a march or a scotch tasting on his behalf, I'm there.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:02 PM

Review Corner

Three not-really-political books from three authors with very different politics have coalesced into a trilogy for me.

Last year, I enjoyed James Surowecki's "The Wisdom of Crowds." I was prepared for a big Hayekfest, and the New Yorker author wasn't quite ready to go that far. Still it is a good book, and many people who don't think or vote like me quote it favorably. They just call it "community" instead of "the market."

A few months back, I added Glenn Reynolds's "An Army of Davids." He quotes Surowecki, and the themes of these books reinforce each other nicely.

This weekend was a book I have anticipated for a long time: Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail." I grabbed onto the long tail early, boring everybody at my last company with constant insistence that "this is what we do!" A quick search shows 23 references to "long tail" on ThreeSources and 16 on my old Berkeley Square Blog.

The book did not disappoint. I would recommend it to anybody who has a passing interest in culture, music, economics, or business. It is a great book in its own right, and I'll be shipping a few copies to folks I have been boring with its premise. But I'm struck at its capacity to bind the Reynolds and Surowecki books into a common view, and how well that view supports my deep belief in individual empowerment. Workers control the means of production without statism. The invisible hand steers and controls the throttle.

The opposition to the book has all centered around the shared cultural loss of our not watching "I Love Lucy" every week. Our parents could discuss little Rickey's antics over the water cooler. By contrast, I get to watch whatever I want and I can discuss it on the blog (Firefly/Serenity 20 mentions); I frequently trade emails with blogger and Buffy fans all over the world.

A friend emailed this review weeks ago, but I wanted to wait until I had read the book. It’s a good example of the genre. Fortune magazine Senior author Marc Gunther has his knickers in a twist over "The extinction of mass culture."

I'll credit Gunther with trying to see the advantages of the new rules. Equal parts nostalgia and job security keep him from embracing the economics of abundance. Neither I nor my friend miss the days of limited selection at the local record store (though you could buy some papers, man...) Both our tastes live pretty far down the tail.

Definitely five stars for this book: check it out!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:38 PM

Comments Broken

Not sure what happened friends, but the "comments approval" feature has been turned on. If you submit a comment, it will not show until one of us "approves" it. What's more, the page it returns has an odd stylesheet and looks, umm, bad.

If you submit one, I'll approve it and I will switch it back as soon as I figure out what the hell is going on.

No, we’re not crushing dissent.

UPDATE: Unless the power goes to my head... It seems to have fixed itself as mysteriously as it busted. email jk [at] threesources [dot] com if you have trouble.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Testing. Workers of the world unite! Throw off your capitalist oppressors!

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2006 1:58 PM

Back in tha Day

I got on the internets in the fall of 1995, as a young and dumb freshman at Drexel University.

One of these days, my 3 year old daughter will come across this page, and say, "Daddy, in 1996, the internet was LAME!"

... and with a tear in my eye, I'll say to my grown up daughter, "Yes, Veronica. The internet was lame back in the day."

"All I had was a 9600 baud modem and we were glad to have it!"

.... and perhaps some thirty years down the road beyond that day, my grandson will come across that page and say "Grampa, how could use use the interweb back in 1996? It was so ugly!"

"Yes, grandson, it was, but the porn was way easier to find."

But until that day, all I can say, like my parents and their gold / avocado colored 70's era kitchen.... "We didn't know any better."

Internet '96

But jk thinks:

Have them call "Gramps jk." I was excited to see the (really lame) web pages I had created myself, when the company first went online.

Sadly, mine are too old to register. Their first entry for Spectra Logic is in 1996. I directed this but used a real artist.

http://web.archive.org/web/19961218232019/http://www.spectralogic.com/

(Four ThreeSources have worked for this company. LatteSipper and I work there now.)

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2006 10:21 AM
But jk thinks:

No, wait, if you follow the links in you get to my lame stuff. Live Oracle backup at 505GB/hour, btw, was a big deal. We threw a mountain of hardware at the problem to get that figure. Ahh, the glory days.

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2006 10:54 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Ah yes, remember it well. My first impression then was, "Is 'gonna' a real word?"

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2006 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

It turns up 31 times on ThreeSources and 20 times on Berkeley Square Blog. Obviously a real word.

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2006 4:15 PM

July 23, 2006

How I learned to love the market.

One of my favorite radio talk show hosts, Michael Medved, is a thief.

But he's changed his ways. Thanks to market based innovations.

After a lifetime of taking hotel soaps and shampoos, a bath product dispenser has changed his life.

    Meanwhile, I’m so struck by the sensible, ingenious nature of the bottle-on-the-wall scheme that I think I’m finally ready to give up my embarrassingly extensive soap and shampoo collection. If anyone wants to buy it in return for a worthy contribution to an institution promoting free-market economics (Heritage Foundation, say, or American Enterprise Institute, or even Cato Institute), I’m ready to sell (on the free market) and to provide you with an exotic, aging, and occasionally elegant collection of personally-sized bathroom supplies. Any takers?

But jk thinks:

Sad that other people don't see the market's influence in innovation. The example I use is the built-in ZipLock(r) seals that are standard on tortillas and cheese and luncheon meat and now dog treats. No company would bother to use more expensive packaging and do the work of changing -- unless they felt they could sell more.

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2006 10:47 AM

Mail Bag

Some interesting email over the weekend relating to ThreeSources discussions:

GASOLINE / ETHANOL
I asked Josh at Everyday Economist about his assertion that gasoline takes more energy to produce than it contains. He mailed me a link to his post, which links back to this WSJ article. There's certainly no shortage of controversy, but it is one of the best defenses of Ethanol I have read from a reliable source.

EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS
Somebody else emails a link to a Washington Times piece on Adult Stem Cells (ASC) vs. Embryonic Stem Cells (ESC). I really don't have a dog in this fight, except that it will hurt the Republican Party. There is much that they deserve to be hurt from, but this is not a valid example.

Senator (then VP candidate) John Edwards said at a rally in Newton, Iowa: "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Sixty thousand Ohioans voted for President Bush. Christopher Reeve died. I'll leave it to the other side to draw causality.

ThreeSources own JohnGalt said "when I take it upon myself to dismantle the present practice of Federal funding of research I will not start with the branch of human biotechnology that holds the greatest promise for the future of humanity since penicillin." I'll give jg factual and style points over Senator Edwards, but both are putting quite a bit into promise.

For the record, I do not object to ESC research, or even its funding with my taxes. Yet, the fact that adult stem cells and umbilical blood are more developed in actual therapies makes restrictions on Federal funding even more acceptable to me. That the Edwardses of the world are telling people that mama won't be cured because of this President's allegiance to the religious right is more than I can bear.

The President has an allegiance. To his word. He said, plainly in 2001, what he would and would not do. This stunt to discredit him shows him to stand by his principles. Even though I do not share this particular one, I'll stand by him.

MARRIED 68 YEARS
Hat-tip to SugarChuck for sending along this link I'd missed.to a Tunku Varadarajan interview with Milton and Rose Friedman.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:18 PM | What do you think? [7]
But johngalt thinks:

Federal funding for biomedical research applications for embryonic stem cells is scant, and is strictly and severely limited to a finite number of preexisting cells. Actual therapy PROPOSALS based on adult stem cells and umbilical cord blood are much more developed. "I'll leave it to the other side to draw causality."

Posted by: johngalt at July 24, 2006 3:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Not enough Federal funding. It's obvious. Glad you're on the case.

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2006 3:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yep. That's what I said alright. sheesh

Readers interested in what I ACTUALLY said about federal funding may refer to the last line of the 4th comment on July 19's "Stem Cells" post.

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2006 1:07 AM
But jk thinks:

I am sorry if I am enjoying this too much, jg. It is unseemly of me. But I enjoy your discomfort because you find yourself in the unlikely side of arguing for more Federal funding.

Congress asked for more funding, teh President vetoed it. You wish he ahdn't. Man, I may not get this again for years...

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2006 10:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair enough summary JK, but "wish he hadn't" is too strong. I am merely critical of him for doing so.

Congress spends money and this president signs the bill. Every time, until THIS time. So now fiscal conservatives are obligated to overlook this flawed value judgement because "he vetoed a spending bill?" Houdini would be proud!

Your defense that this has been his long-standing promise if such a bill came to his desk is fair, but the policy is still wrong.

On the whole he is still "my" president, but the veto is a very large red mark in my NO column.

Posted by: johngalt at July 27, 2006 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Fair enough. I would say "wish he hadn't" for myself. Again, I am angrier at the GOP legislators for serving this embarassment up than I am at the President for the veto.

Posted by: jk at July 27, 2006 5:02 PM

July 22, 2006

Carbonized Cash

Redstate points to a ludicrous idea from "do-gooders."

    Here's the premise: Britain and other countries are thinking about mandating emissions-trading programs for business. But, says Miliband, individuals -- not business -- account for almost half of all of Britain's emissions through their use of planes, trains, automobiles, electricity, various heating fuels -- and, presumably, belching and exhaling. "Imagine a country," says Miliband, "Where carbon becomes a new currency."

All I can imagine is an economy where the government gives people these credits. Controlling "capital" as it were.

Sounds like a recipe for a disaster.

But johngalt thinks:

And to think that Silence chastised us for suggesting that exhaling might be made illegal. Under this proposed plan (only in Britain for now, thank NED) a little girl could only blow on dandelions if she had enough government coupons.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2006 12:52 AM
But jk thinks:

My inner economist likes the idea of cap-and-trade to control pollutants. Its a good way to control something if you've decided it warrants government control. I had posted about Martin Feldstein’s similar plan for gas credits (http://www.threesources.com/archives/002899.html).

We will be forced to decide whether we want to use state coercion to control CO2. Forces of anti-modernity will use global warming to try and return us to penis-sheaths and Gilligan's Island technology.

I'll add a local report. It's hot around here. In July. Freaky...

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2006 11:44 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I was really chastising the commercial for appearing to claim that without fossil fuels we would all become starving people grinding corn with a stick. Alternative energy can and does provide us with the same creature comforts we have now, that is precisely the point. I am not sure where the vast 'anti-modernity" crowd is, JK can you point me in their direction? Are they the anti-matter of the vast right wing conspiracy? By the way, I missed chastising JK also for his comment a bit ago that he could use short term stats to show global warming, say from December to June. Best of luck with that - think southern hemisphere.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at July 24, 2006 12:51 AM
But jk thinks:

Silence, if I can pick the time period I can certainly pick the hemisphere. I like your idea, though. I'll do a two part study, the North, then the South. I concede that there is much to debate on the global warming question. In a way that's my point, that it is unsettled.

I will not for a second, however, accept that there is not a large, well funded, and vocal alliance that is dedicated to opposing modernity. I'd accuse mainstream groups like The Sierra Club or Wildlife Refuge. Even if you disagree with that, can you say the "new economics foundation" does not fit my description? http://www.threesources.com/archives/003133.html or scroll down to July 20.

Posted by: jk at July 24, 2006 10:38 AM

July 21, 2006

Free To Choose

Josh at Everyday Economist graces ThreeSources with a link today (he chooses the demonstrably evil WSJ/AlexC position on the penny over mine). More importantly, he posts Part Three of Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose."

These are incredible. Block out an hour over the weekend and catch at least one. He has been posting them weekly.

UPDATE: Never enough of Dr. Friedman -- Sugarchuck sends this link along to a Tunku Varadarajan interview with Milton and Rose (who've been married 68 years).

But johngalt thinks:

I just checked out Josh's post at http://everydayecon.wordpress.com/2006/07/21/the-demise-of-the-penny/

His second argument is erroneous, both morally and scientifically. It does take more energy to produce ethanol than it delivers, but not gasoline. Gasoline is truly a fuel resource that can be harvested, like firewood, unlike ethanol and hydrogen, which are energy STORAGE products. Additionally, the idea that "society" can make value judgements is a hallmark of statist economies. "Society" is statism's deity - just ask Ann Coulter!

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2006 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

As a frequent reader of his blog and TCS columns, I don't think Josh is a statist. "Society" can demand a product's production through the market -- not only through regulation. If "society demands" iPods by buying millions of the adorable little guys at $299, I don't think you object.

We're teetering dangerously close to our Elevator Talk impasse here, but societal good can be an aggregate of individual good. Which is good. You good with that?

Posted by: jk at July 22, 2006 12:14 PM
But AlexC thinks:

When I saw this title, I could only think of Rush.

"You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will."

Posted by: AlexC at July 22, 2006 3:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, THAT Rush! :) Good reference.

I don't think that Josh is a statist, but the idea that "society" demands something is pernicious. Just shining a light, that's all. Yes, I'm good with that.

Posted by: johngalt at July 23, 2006 12:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Wasn't Rush really Milton Friedman in Spandex?

Posted by: jk at July 23, 2006 11:27 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

jk spoke: "Society" can demand a product's production through the market -- not only through regulation.

That would make "society" the definition of a consumer, and ours is a consumer-driven capitalist society.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 23, 2006 12:08 PM

25,000?

ALa at Blonde Sagacity brings up something I wondered about, but was too bashful to post. I was pretty surprised there were 25,000 Americans in Lebanon, and I rolled my eyes at their Katrina-sized complaints that they were not rescued more swiftly and in more style.

ALa makes me look like Rep. Pelosi by comparison:

Can someone PLEASE explain to me the whining and complaining and finger pointing about Americans not being able to get out of Lebanon?! Why the hell would you be in Lebanon to begin with?! And why is it the government's problem when despite State department travel warnings and advisories you decided to go to a country in the Middle East that sit next to Israel and Syria and elected Hezbollah to its Parliament?!

I’m glad we protect our citizens, and after the Cedar revolution hope for good relations with a stable, modern, pluralistic Lebanon. But I saw a guy on TV complain that he spent 16 hours on a four hour boat trip. With all due respect, Sir, “Waaaaah!”

UPDATE: We've been topped by the Motherland. Samizdata reports that "Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Islamic preacher thrown out of Britain for inciting Muslims to violence and calling for the Islamisation of the UK (quote: 'The life of an unbeliever has no value, it has no sanctity'), wants the Royal Navy to evacuate him from the fighting in Lebanon.

Perry de Havilland rightly calls this "chutzpah."

Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM

What's At Stake

I'm more optimistic about the GOP's chances of keeping the House in 2006. It seems even Kos is pessimistic.

Lest complacency overtake you, Hugh Hewitt reminds us who would be empowered in a Democratic 110th:

Eight voted against the resolution [supporting Israel] and four voted "present. All but one, the libertarian leaning Ron Paul, were Democrats, and not just backbenchers. Conyers, Dingell, Rahall, Stark and Abercrombie are ranking members --and presumptive chairs if Democrats regain a majority in November-- of Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, Resources, the Health Subcommittee of Ways and Means, and the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee of Armed Services, respectively.

If Democrats win in November, all these gavels fall into hands of Members who voted against Israel even as she was under a massive and continuing barrage of terrorist rocket attacks.


Aside from Rep. Paul providing yet another reminder why I don't join the capital-L Libertarians, this should not be forgotten. Many think that losing the 2006 elections would teach Republicans a lesson. Their hearts are perhaps in the right place, but the price is too steep.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:19 PM

July 20, 2006

Subsiding the Rich(er)

Does the PA government really need to be involved in this business?

    The state will give $500 to Pennsylvania residents who buy a hybrid electric vehicle.
    State Sen. Jake Corman said it's the second round of funding through the Hybrid Electric Vehicle program.

    The initial rebate program issued $1.5 million in rebates in fewer than 10 months.


Let's call it what it is, a handout to the rich.

Hybrid owners make on average $100,000 per year.

An average family's income? $70,700

But steve f thinks:

well a part of that is wrong. Smug people who brag about own hybrids make over 100k.

a prius is no more then a accord, camry, legacy or maxima.

average income of these car owners are middle america at 45-70k.


If i had the money for a Prius i'd prolly put some LIthium polymer batteries in at. If your comute is under 150 miles round trip youd burn 1 gallon of gas.

Posted by: steve f at July 20, 2006 8:09 PM
But steve f thinks:

for some dumb reason it wont let me post about e85.

E85 is pointless. Here is why. Its subsidized by the state and federal goverment .

here is how much 60-80 cents a gallon.
its generally 20-30 cents a gallon cheaper.

What happens if we remove all the subidations?
Well gas around here is $3.20 a gallon we dont get e85 here so lets jsut take off 25 cents a gallon and be in the middle of the raod

Okay so that makes E85 2.95 a gallon here. Lets remove the goverment kick backs state and federal 70 cents a gallon.

so now E85 is $3.65 a gallon. But theres more goverment pork barreling going on here. on raw corn. its very high corn is one of the indursties where you make money throwing the crap out. So if we remove that it would ad about 15 cents a gallon.
so now E85 costs $3.80 a gallon. so it costs 60 cents a gallon more.
But sadly there is even more. E85 has 20% less BTUs then gas. So now you gotta buy 1.2 gallons of e85 to go the same distance on gas.
That now makes gas $4.56 a gallon to go the same distance.


Now here are problems. E85 cant be put in a pipeline it collects water so it must be shipped via rail and truck. So if it was to be offered anywhere out of the Mid west then it would go up about another 50 cents if a refinery wasnt with in about 500 miles of you.

Now for those who like in smog state where the MTBE was replaced with 10% ethanol. This is a reason why your gas is abotu 20 cents a gallon above the national average. Since ethanol has less energy then gas whats the impact on your MPG?

just about nothing. Here is how you can figure it out. e85 85% ethanol 15% gas. yet it takes 1.2 gallons to get the same energy as gas.

So take 1.2 and devide by 85% thats the impact of each percent of ethanol has on the BTU value of gas since the goverment requirs 10% ethanol in 15 states thats 1.4% less MPG then pure gas.

Why does the govermetn make us get it?

Good question back in the day it would trick the car into running lean so it wont pollute as much.

This has been made obsolete with the invention of the o2 sensor. yes its been obsolete since modern electronic fuel injection IE 20-25 years ago.


So what good does ethanol do? Even with the engery needed to produce it. Its carbon nuetral which means it takes the same amount of carbon from the earth when its made as co2 as it makes


steve

Posted by: steve f at July 20, 2006 8:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Steve. Thanks for the comments. I am especially interested in O2 sensors’' obsolescing oxygenated fuels. We have a 10% mandate in the Colorado Front Range. If you have a link to any information on that, I'd love to read it. I'll Google a bit.

Regardless of the income and pricing, there are two huge flaws with this. One, you are asking people who cannot afford a new car to pitch in $500 for someone who can. And two, you are interfering with market innovation mechanisms. Pennsylvania will be sending $500 checks to hybrid owners long after better technology is available.

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2006 9:55 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

You know, I should buy a hybrid just to get my state income tax back. Spite, it's what's for dinner!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 21, 2006 11:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Good for Yoooooou!!! (with a South Park "thumbs-up")

In all seriousness, I don't see it at all wrong to accept a tax break even if you disagree with it. You pay enough taxes with which you don't agree.

Posted by: jk at July 21, 2006 11:57 AM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

JK, I'll put in an unsubstantiated thought on oxygenated fuels, according to a CU professor that my buddy used to work with (part of my vast liberal left network), all the testing was done at standard temperature and pressure. This is common for chemical experiements, but it was instituted before the effects could be proven here at 5200 ft.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at July 22, 2006 12:45 PM

I'm Miserable

I can't really help it. I am living in the United States of America, which is ranked 150th in the new economics foundation "Happy Planet Index." The UK, by comparison, ranks 108th, just below Libya and just above Laos. "Blimey! At least we're not stuck in Laos, old chap!"

Tim Worstall :at TCS links to this story but doesn't seem too convinced.

The actual listing of countries according to the "Happy Planet Index" has Cuba in 6th place, Vietnam 12th, Bhutan 13th and Sri Lanka 15th. You might notice a pattern. All the countries are absolutely dirt stinking poor. The index was, I have to assume, deliberately set up to produce such a result for our friends at the nef (as Madsen Pirie, my part-time boss at the Adam Smith Institute calls them, the non economics foundation) are proud followers of the environmental ideas first laid out in Blueprint for Survival. That is, that we'd all be much happier leaving this capitalism stuff alone and living as happy peasants. Tending our own fields, craftsmen working with local resources to make the few tools we need and rarely, if ever, straying from walking distance of our hut.

I am unhappy because of my carbon footprint. My iPod and air-conditioning and cappuccinos are cool and all that, and access to modern medical care is allright in a way. But how can I be happy? The happy people are all on Vanuatu. Worstall finds this Wikipedia reference:
"Some of the villages are known as kastom villages, where modern inventions are restricted, the inhabitants wear penis sheaths (Bislama: namba) and grass skirts, and the children do not go to public schools. According to anthropologist Joël Bonnemaison, who has studied the Tannese extensively, their resistance to change is due to their traditional worldview and how they "perceive, internalise, and account for the dual concepts of space and time."

With a good fitting and well styled penis sheath, I'd be very happy. Worstall is worried about his (108th ranked) homeland:
I'm sure that this Index will make it across the pond at some point and be hailed as a new and excitingly meaningful way of proving that the Industrial Revolution was all a bad idea. When it does, you'll now be forewarned for the exercise was constructed to prove exactly that. Machines bad, wealth bad, progress bad. The authors are really not sure that we should ever have left the Stone Age.

Me, I'm worried that this will make it into the public school curricula.

But Attila (Pillage Idiot) thinks:

They sell those sheaths in the drug store. And often give them out in the public schools.

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at July 20, 2006 3:00 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Myoptic environmentalists will never be happy till we pack up and leave the planet with all of our rubbish.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 20, 2006 3:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

From http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/hottopics_well-being.aspx:

"nef's leading aim is to create a new economy that serves people and the planet. We want to begin to redefine "wealth" and "progress": to judge our systems and economies on how much they create the world we actually want, rather than how much money they generate."

The key here is the word "we." "We" don't decide what "I" want.

Be forwarned: The progressive's new definition of progress is, "regress." Here's to nef's continued "progress" toward its goal: Making the world more like WE want. Silly Marxists.

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2006 3:40 PM
But jk thinks:

Don't "we" all want what Cuba and Vietnam have? Isn't that why Americans make rafts out of old garbage and risk their lives for a chance to make a new start in one of the paradises? The emigration from the UK to Libya speaks for itself.

Posted by: jk at July 20, 2006 3:50 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, Cuba is great! 100% literacy AND nationalized health care. What's not to love?

The jackboot on your neck only hurts for a little bit. Then you learn to love it!

Posted by: AlexC at July 20, 2006 4:37 PM

jk Breaks with the WSJ Ed Page

Well, they like the drug war more than me. Other than that, it is pretty unusual for me to differ with Paul Gigot and the folks on the Ed Page.

But I will boldly assert independence and give two cents worth of punditry in favor of ditching the penny. WSJ Ed folk think that it sends a bad sign about our willingness to defend our currency.

A Penny Unsaved

The decline of the penny as a storehouse of value is a depressing lesson of the corrosive impact of the thief of inflation over time. (See the editorial above.) A penny now has one-eighth the purchasing power it did in 1950 -- and then the coin was 95% copper, versus 3% today. The penny's devaluation may explain why the slogan on the face of the penny reads "In God We Trust," not "In Government We Trust."


I don't remember much of Bretton-Woods when I was a lad, but it seems that some epochal inflation is normal. The Brits don't use the hay'penny anymore and the editorial cherry-picks an inflationary time period.

The US also stopped minting $10,000 bills -- was that an admission of deflation? The penny is a waste of government resources to mint and is a drag on retailers to process and manage. Boot it.

Though I am for stopping production, it will never happen in my life. Demagoguery will keep it around.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:13 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

You’re just sucking up to the WSJ Ed Page!

The secret is aggregation. One order comes to 1.52 and is rounded down, the next is 6.53 and rounds up. Everybody's even at the end of the day and the time spent not counting and fishing for things of no value is put in the bank.

Posted by: jk at July 20, 2006 3:12 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Don't go pulling out the fancy math on me!

Besides, "A penny saved is a penny earned" will have to be altered to something ridiculous like, "In the aggregate a penny wasted on your early purchases will be earned back by you on your subsequent purchases. Except that said penny will never really exist in your hand."
You end up sound like John Kerry.

(and don't throw the "nickel or dime" bomb on either)

Posted by: AlexC at July 20, 2006 4:40 PM
But jk thinks:

No man. I quit. You win.

Posted by: jk at July 20, 2006 6:09 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Sweet. :)

Posted by: AlexC at July 21, 2006 2:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Sorry to be so late into this debate, but let's consider:

On one hand, I'm told American currency once included a coin called a "mill" equal to one tenth of a cent. I certainly wouldn't argue that we've missed this coin since its demise in the 1960's, but...

On the other hand, the penny completes our coinage system as the "unit" measure of coinage. It makes as much sense to eliminate the nickel AND dime as it does the penny. How would you like the quarter to be the only coin available for commerce? Don't like pennies? Don't use them!

One of the strongest arguments against minting the penny is that it's manufacture costs more than it's face value, but this only matters if the government mints coins for a profit (as they do with statehood quarters.) Besides the fact that while a penny costs 1.4 cents to mint, a nickel costs 6.0 cents. If you want the cost of coins to be less than their face value then get the government out of the manufacturing business. Snap!

Finally, regarding the $10,000 bill, it was discontinued in 1969 by Richard Nixon ostensibly as a step to fight crime syndicates. The ban also ensnared the $1000 bill. The largest bill now made is $100, and the bill includes a metal strip that, when aggregated in large numbers, will trip an airport metal detector. The purpose of this is ostensibly to fight drug money transport. It also effectively helps the government to control how citizens keep and move large sums of their own money. "All the better to tax you with, my dear."

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2006 11:41 AM
But jk thinks:

I really am losing here; they're even disagreeing with me on other blogs.

When the "mill" was discontinued, merchants were green-lighted to round transactions up or down to the nearest penny (I always enjoy gas' costing $2.899 per gallon). Not minting the penny would telegraph retailers that it's okay to round to the nearest nickel.

I think that would help retailers and save the Mint. I expect it would be an inconvenience if we went all the way to the quarter.

I'll agree that the cost vs. value argument is specious. The currency's value relative to production cost is unimportant, just an interesting anomaly in the one cent coin.

Your "don't use them" argument, however, doesn't capture it. I am still given pennies at the drive through, I still pay taxes to mint them, and I presumably pay higher prices to the retailer who is handling them.

Posted by: jk at July 22, 2006 12:04 PM

Ms. Postrel, Call Your Office

The Front Page of the WSJ offers an interesting aggregate today, validating Schumpeter and Virginia Postrel.

Deleting a couple of stories on the Mideast and the Fed, here's the business news:

  • FORD SWUNG to a net loss due to costs of shedding personnel and as high gasoline prices sapped demand for its trucks and sport-utility vehicles.

  • The Dow industrials turned lower as traders took profits a day after Bernanke's comments sparked a broad rally. Disappointing results from Intel also weighed on stocks. Apple's shares surged 12%.

  • Apple's profit jumped 48%, boosted by continued strong demand for iPods and higher sales of Macs.

  • Intel's profit shrank 56% as the chip giant took a hit for stock-options expensing and coped with stiff competition from AMD.

  • Intel Reshuffles Senior Management

  • H-P Gains on Dell for Primacy in PCs

  • Pfizer's net income fell 30% in the second quarter as higher product sales failed to compensate for revenue lost to patent expirations. Wyeth's earnings rose 9%, driven by arthritis treatment Enbrel.

  • Yahoo shares tumbled 22%, their biggest-ever percentage drop, after the company said it would delay search-ad improvements. EBay's profit fell 14% as revenue per listing declined, but the firm forecast higher full-year profit.

  • Nokia's net rose 43%, driven by strong sales of high-end cellphones that include cameras, music players and offer Internet access. Revenue rose 22%

  • Continental Airlines said its quarterly net profit nearly doubled as rising travel demand and fare increases helped offset higher fuel costs.

  • Motorola's Profit Lifted by Razr Sales

Whose winning? Apple led by its cool iPod and Motorola with its cool Razr. New features are lifting Nokia sales.

In the tech commodity arena, Intel and Dell are adjusting to the new terrain. H-P has new leadership and is succeeding against Dell, Intel is looking, even though its new duo-core chip is coming out to great reviews, the mega-cap tech player cannot woo Wall Street. Yahoo takes a digger of astronomical proportion by announcing a key new feature is late. Pharmaceutical firms must innovate or die.

In short, capital is finding best uses in the free market and innovation is making our lives better. Just another day living in freedom.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:27 AM

July 19, 2006

Odd Military Installation

You gotta see this.

But jk thinks:

Aren't you glad they didn't model Montgomery County?

Posted by: jk at July 20, 2006 10:18 AM
But AlexC thinks:

The only aspect of their model I'm judging is this one...

How bass-ackwards is their military tech that they have to put dirt and cement nearly 1km on a side so they can model something.

Can't they do VR? It's not like there's a city to model. It's all hills.

Damn. They should have just bought MS Flight Simulator.

Posted by: AlexC at July 20, 2006 1:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Being China, they wouldn't even have to buy it -- they could just copy Pakistan's...

Posted by: jk at July 20, 2006 3:04 PM

Hard to Please

Robert Clayton Dean at Samizdata tells An old joke

Three white collar prisoners are hanging around the yard comparing notes:

Former Exxon executive: They say I charged too much for oil. I'm in for price gouging.

Former Microsoft executive: They say I charged too little for software. I'm in for unfair competition.

Former Samsung executive: They say I charged the same price as everyone else for computer chips. I'm in for price fixing.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 5:14 PM

Naked Man, Stolen Pigeon

SUFFOLK [Virginia] — A naked man clutching a pigeon was arrested over the weekend after beating the bird against a car.
Attila at Pillage Idiot notes a story with all the key elements: "a naked man, a stolen bird, flailing, and the police."
Sometimes you have to come to terms with what you accomplish in life. Some people devote their lives to changing the world for the better. Some people start businesses to create products that alter the way in which people live. And then, some people post idiotic stories about naked people.
On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:55 PM

The Birth of Modern Conservatism

You can argue about the birth, but the announcement was Ronald Reagan's speech at the 1964 GOP Convention. (Imagine the world if Goldwater had won!)

Larry Kudlow gives us a taste.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, "There is a price we will not pay." There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater's "peace through strength." Winston Churchill said that "the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits--not animals."

Posted by John Kranz at 3:25 PM

Stem Cells

Glenn Reynolds said it best. The good news is that we finally have a presidential veto. The bad news is that it is on stem-cell research.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will use his first veto on Wednesday to stop legislation to expand embryonic stem cell research championed by top scientists and desired by most Americans.

"The president has had a clear principled stand on this issue since August of 2001 and he has made clear from the beginning that if this bill came to him he would veto it and so this is what he's going to do today," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

The U.S. Senate approved the legislation, which has also been passed by the House of Representatives, on Tuesday. But neither chamber expects to have the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto. It would be Bush's first veto since taking office more than five years ago.


JohnGalt was biting his tongue in a comment below, as we both praised President Bush for his muscular reaction to terrorism and his refusal to ask Israel for a cease fire.

Unclench your jaw my friend. This issue is complex. I am guessing that we are on the same side in a way. Using a pro-life argument to block scientific research rubs me the wrong way, and I'm guessing that is what disturbs you.

On the other hand, kimosabe, we are talking about Federal funding of research. Private companies can do what they want. Applying limits to Federal Funding seems very legitimate even if don't happen to agree with the reason. I'll allow you to make the case for Federal funding.

As a pragmatist, I just want to crawl back into bed. I work at home now and the temptation is always there. The GOP leadership was both foolish and myopic to allow this to transpire. This puts the President in a very bad light and will hurt Republicans.

The Glenn Reynolds argument will seize the issue. Every bill that he did not veto is now suitable for highlight. The farm bill, porcine appropriations: every bill is now subject to the question why X was okay but Y was worth a veto.

The Senate did not have time to pass a resolution supporting Israel, but we can embarrass the President with a little political gamesmanship. A bad, bad day to be a Republican.

Your turn.

But johngalt thinks:

Excellent analysis of the political implications, but you seem to be overlooking the fact that the politician who is going against the majority public opinion is term-limited, while all those in Congress who bucked the president still have to face the voters again someday.

Well done on the Federal funding angle, but even an Objectivist (notice the absence of the curious term "Randian") must be practical. Unlike the president, when I take it upon myself to dismantle the present practice of Federal funding of research I will not start with the branch of human biotechnology that holds the greatest promise for the future of humanity since penicillin.

Dagny said it best this morning: "He's been in office nearly six years and the first spending bill he's seen fit to veto is this one?" Please.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2006 3:09 PM
But jk thinks:

Dagny's hit that which I dislike the most. This One? Huh?

I will actually defend resident Bush. I will not defend the soi disant GOP Congress who set up this fiasco.

President Bush said in a widely noted 2001 speech what he would and would not do. Congress can certainly test him, but I don't see why his own party is so predisposed.

The Federal funding angle is not simply a quest for less spending. Although neither you nor I are particularly bothered by this, many folks are. Not using Federal funds for something to which many are opposed seems defensible. The Bridge to Nowhere is stupid but at least they're not making out of kittens.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 3:38 PM
But jk thinks:

My personal feelings pretty closely match James Taranto's. Politically he points out that the most vulnerable GOP Senators voted against the proposition.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110008675

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 4:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My point is that Federal funding is not the president's reason for the veto. Indeed, he boasts of being the first president to fund such research, to the tune of $90 million. His justification? Only "embryos that had already been destroyed" could be used. THIS is what the president describes as a "balance between the needs of science and the demands of conscience?" No sir. It is a compromise of the rights of individuals to their own lives and bodies and the right to improve them through human ingenuity and reason to the demands of YOUR conscience, and that of others like you.

It must be universally agreed that to take the life of another individual is an immoral act when not in self-defense. But please explain the difference between a number of artificially inseminated human embryos that are not artificially implanted into a uterus, and an equal number of the same woman's eggs that are naturally released from her ovaries and uneventfully discarded every 28 days. Are the unfertilized eggs also the domain of the state? Once artificially inseminated is it then a capital crime for a woman and her physician to choose only a fraction of them for implantation? Are the unchosen ones victims of murder?

It is often said that, "Life begins at conception." Without even engaging in the abortion debate, wherein the individual rights of a dependent parasitic being are given primacy by some over those of its host, we can see that insemination in vitro is incapable of conceiving a life unless said embryo is then implanted into a woman's womb. Absent the necessary conditions for life an embryo is no greater than the sum of its parts.

The "demands of conscience" that the president holds sacrosanct essentially demand that no man and no woman may permit their discarded genetic material from being mixed in a laboratory setting for even the most noble of purposes: The saving or the improvement of a human life. This taboo is a remnant of the same sensibilities that decried in vitro fertilization in the first place as "unnatural" and "playing God." These are certainly not valid reasons for infringing the liberties of others who are not individually bound by such externally imposed dogmas.

Now, you may say that the veto of this bill does not outlaw embryonic stem cell research, but merely Federal funding of it. I say this is splitting hairs. As long as Federal funding is available for other public health issues and not this one, market forces will act to retard this important and promising work.

Posted by: johngalt at July 20, 2006 2:04 AM

103" Plasma Screen

Must. Find. Spare. $50,000.

    Matsushita, the world's largest consumer electronics maker, has said it aims to sell 5,000 units of the 103-inch plasma panels per year worldwide, with TV demand counting for a little less than 20 percent of that figure.

    Measuring 2.4 metres by 1.4 metres and weighing 215 kg, the 103-inch panel is bigger than a double-sized mattress and almost as heavy as an upright piano.


It would probably through the floor into my basement, but it would be awesome.


plasmaEPA190706_228x162.jpg

But jk thinks:

Watching those Senate hearings on C-SPAN, close-ups of Senator Kennedy...

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 12:26 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Urp! Teddy close-up? There goes dinner! :)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 19, 2006 10:01 PM

World War?

I thought the DNC talking points after the renewal of combat in Lebanon included the line that "This is World War III." I surmised that they wanted to be able to claim that World War III began under Bush's leadership... that warmongery begets warfare.

I just listened to former supreme commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark in an interview with a local talk radio show. The first questions for the general were, "Who is our enemy and what is the name of the war we are currently in." Simple enough questions, right? Fat chance.

Clark said only Republicans like Newt Gingrich or (can't remember the other guy) call this "World War III" or "World War IV" respectively. Alternately, the General says we are not even engaged in a war. Instead, we have a "loose conglomeration of individuals trying to pursue their own ends." He admitted that they use terrorism as their method, but his solutions were all "law enforcement." The natural question then is, "Whose laws?"

The big picture of the Clark interview is that he can't see the big picture in human events. Doesn't he read the Australian newspapers? (Or he sees it but is forced to deny it because Bush named it first: Axis of Evil.) Those who deny any link between al Qaida and Iraq also deny any link between either of them and Hamas or Hezbollah. Or Iran.

In answer to the questions the General never answered:

OUr enemy is every nation, organization, or "loose conglomeration of individuals" who practice Islamofascism and attempt to impose it on others by force.

The name of the war is "The Islamist War."

There, now let's go win the frackin' thing.

UPDATE: On last night's show, Bill O'Reilly said, and I paraphrase, "Regarding the war on terror, Americans can be divided into three camps: One says bomb the crap out of them, the second says it's all America's fault, and the third says I don't want to hear about it, let's go to the beach." Dagny and I are proud members of the "bomb the crap out of them" camp.

But jk thinks:

The WSJ Ed Page suggested that September 11, 2001 was the start of World War IV, WWIII being The Cold War. This Republican is happy with that terminology. I worry more that people forget there is a war than they think it started under President Bush.

The World War appellation ties in 9-11, London, Madrid, Mumbai, and the current Israeli two front conflict.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 11:19 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

The Islamist War ... a bit like our 2 conflicts with Iraq ... seems to be an extension of the Crusades. A clash of ideologies.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 19, 2006 11:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Bill O'Reilly would be another good reason not to get AlexC's 103" plasma screen. I favor a muscular response but would be loathe to characterize it as "bombing the crap out of 'em."

We've said some harsh words about President Bush over the years but I have to say that I am bursting with pride. His unwillingness to reach moral relativism, his unscripted comments with PM Blair that were caught on mic -- he is doing it right and we are very lucky to have him in the White House.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 12:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Like I said, I was paraphrasing. I think "bomb the crap out of them" was just the way I remembered it.

As for the president, I very much agree. (I'm biting my tongue now to prevent mention of the pending stem-cell bill veto. Let's debate that in a separate thread.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2006 12:42 PM
But jk thinks:

I missed the paraphrase bit, mea culpa.

I would still suggest that there is more nuance in the BTCOOT demographic. Israel will lose ground as Reuters and the BBC highlight civilian casualties over the campaign.

(New post above for stem cells, BTW)

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2006 1:31 PM

Arithmetic of Pain

It has been a few years since I have enjoyed being on the same side of an issue as Alan Dershowitz. He is reflexively leftist but he is a bright fellow and nobody can question his passion. He wears it on his sleeve.

In a guest editorial today in the WSJ, the Harvard Professor makes a good point about terrorists. They are culpable for casualties on both sides.

While Israel does everything reasonable to minimize civilian casualties -- not always with success -- Hezbollah and Hamas want to maximize civilian casualties on both sides. Islamic terrorists, a diplomat commented years ago, "have mastered the harsh arithmetic of pain. . . . Palestinian casualties play in their favor and Israeli casualties play in their favor." These are groups that send children to die as suicide bombers, sometimes without the child knowing that he is being sacrificed. Two years ago, an 11-year-old was paid to take a parcel through Israeli security. Unbeknownst to him, it contained a bomb that was to be detonated remotely. (Fortunately the plot was foiled.)

This misuse of civilians as shields and swords requires a reassessment of the laws of war. The distinction between combatants and civilians -- easy when combatants were uniformed members of armies that fought on battlefields distant from civilian centers -- is more difficult in the present context. Now, there is a continuum of "civilianality": Near the most civilian end of this continuum are the pure innocents -- babies, hostages and others completely uninvolved; at the more combatant end are civilians who willingly harbor terrorists, provide material resources and serve as human shields; in the middle are those who support the terrorists politically, or spiritually.

The laws of war and the rules of morality must adapt to these realities. An analogy to domestic criminal law is instructive: A bank robber who takes a teller hostage and fires at police from behind his human shield is guilty of murder if they, in an effort to stop the robber from shooting, accidentally kill the hostage. The same should be true of terrorists who use civilians as shields from behind whom they fire their rockets. The terrorists must be held legally and morally responsible for the deaths of the civilians, even if the direct physical cause was an Israeli rocket aimed at those targeting Israeli citizens.

Israel must be allowed to finish the fight that Hamas and Hezbollah started, even if that means civilian casualties in Gaza and Lebanon. A democracy is entitled to prefer the lives of its own innocents over the lives of the civilians of an aggressor, especially if the latter group contains many who are complicit in terrorism. Israel will -- and should -- take every precaution to minimize civilian casualties on the other side. On July 16, Hasan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, announced there will be new "surprises," and the Aska Martyrs Brigade said that it had developed chemical and biological weapons that could be added to its rockets. Should Israel not be allowed to pre-empt their use?


The MSM need to pick up this point, and it would be helpful to share it with our European allies. The cop is not guilty of murder, the hostage taker is.

Israel Posted by John Kranz at 10:16 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Gee whiz... "The Dersh" sounds an awful lot here like Ayn Rand.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5138

Like the man said... "Bomb the crap out of them."

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2006 12:48 PM

July 18, 2006

Meddling Syrians

YNet

    Although Hizbullah has suffered a harsh blow from Israeli air force strikes which took out a good percentage of their available weapons, Syria was continuing to smuggle arms into Lebanon to rearm the group, IDF Operations Branch Head Major General Gadi Eisenkot said during a press briefing Tuesday.

    Thus far, the IAF managed to intercept a number of trucks transporting rockets from Syria to Hizbullah, including trucks laden with the 20mm-diameter rockets with warheads like the one that hit the Haifa train depot Monday, claiming eight lives. Maj.-Gen. Eisenkot said he would be very surprised if official elements in Syria were unaware of these transports.

I have this funny feeling that this war isn't going to end in a week or two.

Israel Posted by AlexC at 11:02 PM

The Nuge

Ted Nugent is an interesting fellow.

Here's an interview by a reporter from the UK's Independant.

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

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

Philosophy Posted by AlexC at 6:32 PM

More Farm Subsidies

Last month I posted a link to a WaPo story of non-farmers receiving farm subsidies. Today, the same paper finds, in the same state of Texas, that you don't really need a drought to get drought aid.

CHANDLER, Tex. -- On a clear, cold morning in February 2003, Nico de Boer heard what sounded like a clap of thunder and stepped outside his hillside home for a look. High above the tree line, the 40-year-old dairy farmer saw a trail of smoke curling across the sky -- all that remained of the space shuttle Columbia.

Weeks later, de Boer was startled to learn that he was one of hundreds of East Texas ranchers entitled to up to $40,000 in disaster compensation from the federal government, even though the nearest debris landed 10 to 20 miles from his cattle.


No doubt if farmers had the time, Senators Harkin and Grassley would co-sponsor a bill to reimburse farmers for damage by extra-terrestrial debris. Willie Nelson and John Cougar could do a big concert.


Now with 11% Less Bias!

The NYTimes will trim an inch and a half of its flagship papers' width to save costs, reports rival Wall Street Journal: New York Times to Shrink Width of Pages, Cut Jobs Minorities, Women hardest Hit, no doubt!

NEW YORK -- The New York Times plans to shrink the size of its pages in 2008, making them one-and-a-half inches narrower, the newspaper said in its Tuesday edition.

Despite their abysmal stock slump, revenues are reported up 1.6% (well, it's single digit) over last year but the gain is due to about.com, not the military secrets division on 42nd Street.
The Times reported that net income rose to $61.3 million, or 42 cents a share, in the second quarter, from $60.8 million, or 42 cents a share, a year earlier. The most recent quarter's results include an after-tax charge of four cents a share for costs associated with job cuts announced in September 2005, while the year-earlier period included a charge of four cents a share for staff reductions announced in May 2005.

Revenue climbed 1.6% to $858.7 million from $845.1 million. About.com was again the star, with revenue at the online unit soaring 63% to $19.5 million. Revenue ticked up 0.5% to $800.2 million at the news media group, and rose 5.2% to $39.1 million at the broadcast division.

The Times said that Web sites in its news media group saw a 25% jump in advertising revenue, but noted that the New England media group continued to struggle amid "consolidation among important advertisers and by a continued challenging economic environment." Internet businesses account for just 7.7% of the company's overall revenue.


Maybe it they could trim the entire inch-and-a-half from the left...

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM

The World We Don't Want

The lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal (Free link) presciently correlates the current Israeli conflict with the Ghost of Iran future if Tehran's nuclear ambitions are not stopped.

The war between Hezbollah and Israel is a tragedy for its victims, but it could also be a clarifying moment if the world draws the proper lessons. To wit, this is a preview of what the Middle East will look like if Iran succeeds in going nuclear.

The threat of a nuclear Iran isn't primarily that the mullahs might actually use such a weapon if they got one. The more immediate threat is that Iran would use the weapon as a shield to pursue its hegemonic ambitions throughout the Middle East, promoting terrorist attacks on its enemies and intimidating anyone with the nerve to fight back. The Hamas-Hezbollah double assault on Israel is a portent of things to come unless the world gets serious about Iran's radicalism.


All the more reason to let the superior Israeli armed forces establish superiority and damage the arms turned against them.
The better and necessary response is to let Israel's counterattacks continue until Hezbollah's military power is substantially degraded. As for the G-8 and the U.N., they can be constructive by moving swiftly to impose sanctions on Iran for rejecting the generous offer to negotiate directly with the U.S. It's clear now that Tehran perceived that offer, which was promoted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary Nicholas Burns, as a show of weakness.

Iran is testing the world right now. And if there is to be any hope at all of a diplomatic solution to its nuclear program, the mullahs have to see that their military option won't be tolerated.


Iran Israel Posted by John Kranz at 11:17 AM

July 17, 2006

Stand with Israel Rally - NYC

Pamela from Atlas Shrugs attended the Stand With Israel Rally in NYC today and gives a weblog report. She has great coverage on her site 'Atlas Shrugs' including some great photos of Hillary swallowing her bile when Elie Wiesel said, "Thank God Bush is in the White House."

Great stuff Pamela! Check it out.

UPDATE: Here's the Rush Limbaugh program transcript of Pamela's "breathless" call to the show on Monday. Man, she was on fire! (And if you look close on Pamela's post, you'll see that the very first trackback ping is: Three Sources!)

But jk thinks:

Not many times I wish I lived in New York, but I would have liked to have been there.

Posted by: jk at July 17, 2006 11:04 PM

Tanned, Rested, Ready.

Taranto is back!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:01 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and just in time too. Here's my nomination for best line of the day. Hell, best of the MONTH!

(End of first item): "Some have criticized Israel for not responding proportionately to the attacks, but we'd counsel patience. After all, the Israelis aren't done yet."

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2006 1:07 AM

Arrogance

Opponents of the administration like to fault the president for arrogance and unilateralism.

I keep hearing their concern that we have "green-lighted" Israel to continue raids against Hezbollah and Hamas. Is it not arrogant to think that we give permission for a sovereign nation to defend itself?

Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Well, we ARE selling jet fuel to Israel. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3276803,00.html (Hat tip: Cox&Forkum.com)

But our explanation can be, "We would be happy to offer Hezbollah all the fuel they need for their jets as well." In the meantime, let's make a promotional offer to Israel: For every million gallons of JP8 you buy we'll throw in a free 'Daisy Cutter' bomb for the kids.

Posted by: johngalt at July 17, 2006 2:33 PM

July 16, 2006

Brain Salad Surgery

Michael Kinsley is recovering from brain surgery.

    His first words were, "Well, of course, when you cut taxes, government revenues go up. Why couldn't I see that before?"

Heh.

But johngalt thinks:

Microsurgery, no doubt.

I just read the article. HA! I thought you made it up! :) He really did say that!

In seriousness, I offer only best wishes to Michael. Parkinson's is no laughing matter.

Posted by: johngalt at July 17, 2006 2:27 PM

Reason 911

Okay, I have been a little tough on the Randians around here. We butt heads (that's a verb, not a subject complement) often over my political pragmatism, and have discovered deep impasses in thought (see Elevator Talk).

But I wanted to call reason-and-rationality-911 yesterday at an impromptu family lunch. A young family member who is very bright said "my science teacher told me [THE WORST FIVE WORDS TO START A SENTENCE IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE] that for the first time, our life expectancy will be lower than the previous generation."

The rest of the family (this was an all liberal fest) jumps in. "It's 'cause of McDonalds! We're all too fat!" I try to keep quiet at these events but this was too much to bear. I suggest that it's a statistical anomaly or a pure lie. It's wrong and I don't believe it.

The discomfort and quiet is thankfully short, and in a few minutes they're discussing the new book by VP Gore and hopes of seeing the movie. I assembled a common thread of the afternoon with belief in unproven things merged with factual data -- and no interstice between. Like a cop, there's never a Randian around when you need one.

A little Googling does turn up some published if not factual basis for science teacher's claim.

In 2002, Dr. William Klish of Texas Children's Hospital told the Houston Chronicle: "If we don't get this epidemic [of childhood obesity] in check, for the first time in a century children will be looking forward to a shorter life expectancy than their parents." Since then, Klish's statement has entered the lexicon of obesity scaremongers, making its way into countless articles, editorials, and even Congressional testimony -- all without so much as a shred of credible research to back it up. Klish himself has told the Center for Consumer Freedom that while he is the originator of this pessimistic prognostication, his claim does not come from "evidence-based research." Rather, he explained, "It's based on intuition."

Today, more than three years after Dr. Klish first suggested the idea, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) released a deeply flawed study that seeks to justify Klish's assertion. It claims that because of obesity the "youth of today may, on average, live less healthy and possibly even shorter lives than their parents." But like Klish, Dr. S. Jay Olshansky and his team of co-authors admit that their dire prediction relies on their "collective judgment" rather than empirical, scientific evidence.

"This study is just half a step removed from science fiction," we told USA Today. "It uses discredited methodology, and it makes dire warnings that are not supported by its own data."


I hold with Shakespeare myself “There are things in heaven and earth, Horatio, not dreamt of in man’s philosophy.” I am sympathetic to religion and even to haunted houses and some new-agey spiritualism (all discussed during the lunch). But in the end you must, like Bentham, bifurcate between what is provable and what is believed. Else, you will believe whatever your science teacher says.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But dagny thinks:

You’re welcome to invite us along JK, anytime you want your family thoroughly offended. Heck, we even manage to offend Eric’s family sometimes and they are not Liberal.

You say that, “I am sympathetic to religion and even to haunted houses and some new-agey spiritualism (all discussed during the lunch). But in the end you must, like Bentham, bifurcate between what is provable and what is believed. Else, you will believe whatever your science teacher says.”

I would take this a step further and say that you must also live by what is provable even at the expense of faith.

One of my favorite authors puts it this way:

“A religion is sometime a source of happiness, and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong. The great trouble with religion - any religion - is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak certainty of reason- but one cannot have both. “[Robert A. Heinlein, from "Friday"]

Posted by: dagny at July 18, 2006 11:09 AM

Iranian Nukes? We'll Soon Know

We knew this was coming sooner rather than later when we witnessed the "elections" of Ahmadinejad in Iran and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. When the "imperialist" American administration and the "Hitler" and "Ghengis Khan" like Israelis did nothing to provoke open warfare with Iran, those swell Iranian mullahs grew tired of waiting. As Robert Tracinski writes, "If, in the face of repeated threats and provocation by an aggressive dictatorship, you refuse to go to war, the war will eventually come to you." Two years after the 'forward strategy of freedom' swept the Syrian army out of Lebanon, Hezbollah was under growing pressure to leave as well. No reasonable person should have expected them to leave peacefully. (What do you think they are, pluralistic democrats? No, they're Islamofascists you fools!)

A timely example of such a fool is Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who said on Fox News Sunday this morning that, essentially, it's Bush's fault! Dodd attributes the military action in south Lebanon to diplomatic failure:

"It seems to be that you have to go beyond just understanding the friendship, which is important, but for Israel's benefit and our own, we have missed, I think over the last number of years, the ability to really engage in the kind of diplomatic efforts in the middle east. From 1967 up until the end of the Clinton administration, every administration has remained very, very engaged in the middle east. This administration unfortunately has seen the word diplomacy and negotiation as somehow a favor to your enemies. I think unfortunately we've allowed this time to elapse over the last several years, the resolution 1559 was adopted two years ago, and the administration's done nothing in my view to really insist that the Lebanese rid southern Lebanon of Hezbollah and so this time has gone through without really engaging in the process thus we find ourselves today, Israel certainly has the right to defend itself. What it's doing is absolutely necessary. If Lebanon and Syria will recognize that those soldiers need to be returned and also Hezbollah has to get out of southern Lebanon then I think you could bring a cease-fire about."

To be fair, it has been nearly five years since Islamofascists unilaterally slaughtered 3000 American civilians with airliners. But despite this, why is Dodd still endorsing the realpolitik appeasement cum stability strategy of the past thirty years? Does he genuinely believe that it will lead to regional and worldwide peace if we just give it another decade or three to work itself out?

I can't say whether it is a symptom or a cause of America's confusion in general, or Dodd's in particular, but there is clearly a filter in place between the events of the mideast and the front pages of America's news media. Compare some recent news excerpts in America to those in, notably, Australia:

WSJ- 'World Leadership Reacts To Escalating Mideast Violence'
"Haifa was hit with at least 20 rockets fired by Lebanese guerillas, in retaliation for a wave of bombings by Israeli airplanes early Sunday morning when about 18 powerful explosions rocked southern Beirut."

AP (via Houston Chronicle)- 'Hezbollah rocket barrage kills 8 in Haifa'
"Hezbollah's firing of at least 20 rockets at Haifa and 30 elsewhere came after Israel unleashed its fiercest bombardment yet of the Lebanese capital, starting after midnight Saturday."

And, in the most offensive of my three examples,

Chigago Tribune- '2 dead on Israeli warship; jets attack Lebanon anew'
"A draft resolution under consideration, from Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, demanded the release of Lebanese captives and detainees in Israeli prisons, and supported Lebanon's right to "liberate them by all legitimate means."

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes renewed attacks on Lebanon early Saturday, targeting bridges, fuel depots and gas stations in the east and south, security officials said."

[...]

""You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a taped statement broadcast Friday. He vowed to strike even deeper into Israel with rockets."

The clear message to American voters: The "cycle of violence" continues and Hezbollah/Lebanon are defending their sovereignty from Israeli aggression.

In contrast, Australians read the following headlines:

The Australian- 'Militants' missile hits ship with Iranian troops' help'
"Israel says the troops involved in firing the missile were from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an elite corps of more than 200,000 fighters that is independent of the regular armed forces and controlled by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

[...]

"A military official said the group was also believed to have longer-range projectiles that could hit the Israeli commercial hub of Tel Aviv."

The Australian- 'Strikes to intensify in four-stage strategy'
"In the first stage, which began shortly after the Hezbollah incursion across the border last Wednesday, Israeli warplanes attacked missile caches in south Lebanon and elsewhere, particularly those housing long-range missiles.

Fifty caches, some hidden underground and in private homes, were reportedly destroyed. It is unclear what percentage of the 13,000 missiles known to be in Hezbollah hands that accounts for."

[...]

"In the second stage, which began early on Friday, warplanes attacked the heart of Hezbollah power, shattering high-rise buildings in south Beirut housing the militia's command structure as well as the home of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who was reportedly trapped for a while in the underground command centre when the building above it collapsed."

"The third and fourth stages are still secret. However, the sources said the operation calls for each of the four stages to be more powerful than the previous one."

[...]

"Israeli officials say the international community will not force Israel to stop before its goals are achieved."

Sydney Morning Herald- 'With US backing, Israel determined to go for the kill'
"Israel's goal is to either eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat, or altogether. The broader goal of the US is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush Administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East.

Whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist militants - with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike."

[...]

"Israel and the US would like to hold out until Hezbollah is crippled. "It seems like we will go to the end now," said Israel's ambassador to the US, Daniel Ayalon. "We will not go part way and be held hostage again. We'll have to go for the kill - Hezbollah's neutralisation."

These stories give a far different perspective on the current munitions exchanges: Israel is under attack by Iran-sponsored terrorists embedded in a third nation, Lebanon. Hezbollah rockets target Israeli civilians while Israeli laser-guided bombs target, Hezbollah rockets. Contrary to the protestations and accusations of one Christopher Dodd, the Bush adminstration has clearly been working in concert with regional and world governments to lay the groundwork for Israel to help Lebanon exorcise Hezbollah from its cities and countryside without manic diplomatic attempts to protect the terrorists.

Dodd warns that, "This could spin out of control to such a degree that we have a major, major war in the middle east." The reality is that the cold phase of that war has been raging since at least 1979, with Iran's Islamic revolution. Iran has decided it is time to turn up the heat on this war and it certainly appears that Israel, the Bush adminstration and key western governments anticipated it, were prepared for it, and are in the process of winning it.

There is little reason for concern that Israel's defense forces will fail in this effort. The two areas of concern are that diplomatic failures will allow allies like France and Russia to reverse course and, more ominously, that Iran's threat that attacking Syria " ... will definitely face the Zionist regime with unimaginable damages" portends their possession and imminent detonation of a nuclear bomb. Let us hope that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter as well in hand as they appear to have Hezbollah's rockets.

But jk thinks:

I hate to respond to a thoughtful post with an anecdote, but I have been thinking about Senator Dodd all week. I did not know he was on FNS, I have that TiVoed and will watch it soon.

I have been considering the Senator from Connecticut who is still respected by his party because I purchased some Contra Cafe coffee on July 4, and it recently showed up. The coffee is great and is grown by former freedom fighters in Nicaragua.

I think of Senator Dodd because I remember his fighting President Reagan tooth and nail. I think of he and Kris Kristofferson as leading the pro-Sandinista movement in the US. Rather than admit he was wrong, Dodd -- 20 years later -- opposed the nomination of Otto Reich to be Assistant Secretary of State. His crime? Supporting democracy against communism in the Western Hemisphere.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2006 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

And one quibble. I would disagree with conflating the Iranian and Palestinian elections. The election in Iran was a farce and remains worthy of scare quotes. The election in palestinian-controlled-Isreal, however, was legitimate.

I'm not happy that they chose Hamas, though people should remember the other choice was Fatah. They were, however, real and legitimate elections and their constituencies are getting the government they deserve.

I include their number in my accounting of folks living under self elected government.

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2006 5:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I hesitated to group them together for the reasons you mentioned, but I was trying to economize on words in this post, believe it or not. In defense I'll point out that when your democratic choices are limited by force or by "belief in unproven things" it is not a free election in either case.

I can live with this quibble though. My charming bride said she wasn't sure she shares my sanquinity that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter "well in hand."

That comment forced me to consider the source of my optimism. I re-read my own post to find the answer: The unprecented combination of Israeli resolve to "to to the end now," and not go "part way and be held hostage again," coupled with supportive words from key Arab leaders. The Israelis are implementing the Bush Doctrine and no one of consequence - not the multiculturalists of Old Europe nor the Islamic apologists of Egypt or Saudi Arabia - dares, strike that, chooses, to stand in their way. Selfishly, they all want Hezbollah "crippled" or, better yet, "neutralized."

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2006 7:33 PM

July 15, 2006

Free To Choose

Josh at The Everyday Economist has the second episode of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose posted.

This one's an hour almost but certainly worth every minute. Beyond great thought and economics, enjoy young Don Rumsfeld joining the panel discussion to represent a captain of industry" and a look at state of the art audio equipment in the late 1970s.

The tail is getting pretty long when you can watch this instead of fishing shows.

UPDATE: If you don't have 56 minutes and change, at least fast forward the slider to 55:50 and hear Dr. Friedman say:

In my opinion, the strongest argument for free enterprise is that it prevents anybody from having too much power, whether that person is a government official, a trade union official or a business executive. It forces them to put up or shut up. They either have to deliver the goods, produce something that people are willing to pay for, are willing to buy or else they will have to go into a different business.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM

July 14, 2006

I Chose Sides Long Ago

IsraeliFlag.jpg
I don't have much to add to the debate. I suspect anybody who knows me know where I stand.

I stole the flag image from Larry Kudlow. He writes exactly what I believe.

Israel is doing exactly what is has to do. It’s messy, but it’s appropriate. Israel has every right to defend itself. Their freedom, democracy and independence depend on it. Their very existence is at stake.

Israel Posted by John Kranz at 3:44 PM | What do you think? [4]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Just keep in your prayers that the Untied Nations stay out of it! They've known for years what Hamas and Hezbollah have been up to in Iraq, Syria, and Iran and let is slide. Now, Israel is finally doing what we should have done in 2003!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 14, 2006 9:33 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Exactly right.

It's a miracle that Israel has shown as much restraint as it has in the past.

Imagine if Seattle were being attacked by rockets from Vancouver.
How long would we wait before visiting justice upon the Canucks?

Posted by: AlexC at July 14, 2006 10:44 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

How is it thsat the U.N. can put a resolution against Isreal together in a day or so and we are still waiting for the resolutions against N. Korea and Iran?

Posted by: sugarchuck at July 15, 2006 10:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm not sure of the timing of this, sugarchuck, but the Security Council did (finally) unanimously approve a resolution that, according to Secretary Rice, condemns NK's missile launches and forbids the supply of missile components to NK from outside states. I mention this not in defense of the UN, but in appreciation of the diplomatic skill of Rice and Bolton.

I'm sure that AlexC knows that it is not the Lebanese who are launching Iranian rockets deep into Israel's cities, but Hezbollah terrorists. So Israel has a similar problem to the one we faced in Afghanistan and Iraq: killing the cancer without killing the patient.

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2006 12:03 PM

Purple Mountains Majesty

Virginia Postrel links to an RCP recap of a Ryan Sager article in Atlantic that excerpts his new book (you with me?) Like her, I roll my eyes at claims that libertarian-minded voters are a new crucial voting block, but like her I am intrigued with Sager's thesis. How can I not like an article about people who think like me and live where I live?

He points out that The West and The South have been a solid GOP block but that The South is evangelical and socially conservative, while The West is more libertarian with less of a natural majority to play with.

While after the 2004 election, plenty of people took note of the fact that a shift of 60,000-odd votes in Ohio would have handed the Electoral College to John Kerry, less remarked upon was the fact that a shift of a similar magnitude in the Southwest would have done the same trick. Fewer than 70,000 votes among Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico -- with their collective 19 electoral votes -- would have swung the election just as surely as Ohio's 60,000. And with George W. Bush having won by margins of 5 percentage points, 3 points and 1 point, respectively, these were swing states by any definition of the term.

In fact, it's looking more and more likely that the eight states of the Southwest and the broader interior West -- Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming -- are on their way to becoming the next great swing region in American politics. As the Republican Party tilts on its South-West axis, increasingly favoring southern values (religion, morality, tradition) over western ones (freedom, independence, privacy), the Democrats have been presented with a tremendous opportunity. If the Republican Party doesn't want to lose its hold over all of the West, as it lost hold of once-reliable California more than a decade ago, its leaders are going to have to rethink their embrace of big-government, big-religion conservatism.


I dismissed Josh at Everyday Economist and Perry at Eidelblog for putting too much trust in rhetoric from Kos and Rep. Pelosi. Commenters on their site say they're staying home. As his Rove-ness taught us, that's all that needs to happen for Democrats to win.

I think Sager is also right that where "God, Guns and Gays" might keep the South, it will not work in Colorado. I'm going to grab this issue of Atlantic and encourage everybody to read the RCP excerpt. It's stunning in a way, and provides a complete written description of his belief. There is some term for that...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:58 PM

Climate Con

Climate consensus? A report commissioned by the House Energy Committee, due to be released today, refutes the "hockey stick" as being a small slice of available data. The WSJ Ed Page calls it WSJ.com - Hockey Stick Hokum (Paid link, sorry!)

It is routine these days to read in newspapers or hear -- almost anywhere the subject of climate change comes up -- that the 1990s were the "warmest decade in a millennium" and that 1998 was the warmest year in the last 1,000.

This assertion has become so accepted that it is often recited without qualification, and even without giving a source for the "fact." But a report soon to be released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by three independent statisticians underlines yet again just how shaky this "consensus" view is, and how recent its vintage.

The claim originates from a 1999 paper by paleoclimatologist Michael Mann. Prior to Mr. Mann's work, the accepted view, as embodied in the U.N.'s 1990 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was that the world had undergone a warming period in the Middle Ages, followed by a mid-millennium cold spell and a subsequent warming period -- the current one. That consensus, as shown in the first of the two IPCC-provided graphs nearby, held that the Medieval warm period was considerably warmer than the present day.


The charge is that they airbrushed away hotter periods in the Middle Ages and focus on just part of the curve. I could show temperatures from December to July and show good warming trend as well.

climate_con2.gif

Inconvenient.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 10:35 AM

July 13, 2006

Just What We Need

Haaretz

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday an Israeli strike on Syria would be considered an attack on the whole Islamic world that would bring a "fierce response", state television reported.

    "If the Zionist regime commits another stupid move and attacks Syria, this will be considered like attacking the whole Islamic world and this regime will receive a very fierce response," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying in a telephone conversation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Hasn't this happened before? The entire Islamic world decides to get it on with Israel only to get taught a lesson.

Israel Posted by AlexC at 10:30 PM

The gift that keeps on taking...

It took us three years and tens of millions of dollars, but dammit, we may get that smug little Scooter Libby...

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse, debutante Valerie Plame (the secret agent in Who's Who) is suing the Vice President. The Washington Post reports

The former CIA agent whose identity was leaked to reporters by administration officials filed a civil lawsuit today against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former top aide, top presidential adviser Karl Rove and other White House officials, accusing them of conspiring to destroy her career out of revenge.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, accused the officials of leaking her identity to reporters to get back at Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives for going to war in Iraq.


If this does not inculcate a wave of support for "loser pays" in the electorate, nothing ever will.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:01 PM

Freinds Don't Let Friends...

Two blogs I enjoy for economics more than politics are posting a little politics this week.

Perry at Eidelblog discusses the big-government history of the GOP as a reincarnation of the Whigs.

I used to consider myself conservative, even one with libertarian leanings, but I realized that conservatives want limited government only as a means to an end. Prof. Bainbridge, a genuine conservative in the vein of Russell Kirk, has admitted as much. "Classic liberal" would serve well, and in fact that's what my patron saint Bastiat is described as. However, I refrain from using that because most people would confuse that with modern liberalism.

Call yourself a "Classical Liberal," Perry. Everybody is confused anyway and it is a positive step in our taking that word back as Mises used it.

Josh at Everyday Economist links and ties this into good rhetoric from Leader Pelosi and even Markos Moulitsas Zúniga.

I pointed to the post by Kos yesterday about libertarian Dems and many readers dismissed his writing as empty rhetoric. However, that rhetoric will win the Democrats elections and may even attract my vote. The Republicans have long claimed to be the party of limited government and lower taxes. The former is no longer.

Never did I expect to see a Democratic president pass welfare reform and a Republican president expand Medicare.


And I wouldn't mind President Clinton's devotion to free trade, either.

But I had to spread a little pragmatism outside ThreeSources. I just cannot see any recent Democrat legislation or policy that can be described as pro-freedom. Rep Pelosi says she’ll use higher taxes to pay debt and will fight earmarks. I certainly believe her on the high taxes part.

Democratic constituencies will oppose free trade, school choice and limited government. I wish there were a better option to the sclerotic Congressional GOP but at this time there is not.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM

July 12, 2006

Beyond Lileks

I think James Lileks is one of the greatest writers of our time. I have a bunch of his books and I've given many away for gifts. His "screedy" stuff rings with joy. He displays an easy patriotism to which I relate.

But even the great man comes up short today. His Bleat becomes a takedown of Joel Stein's Eek! A flag on my lawn! in the Los Angeles Times. Lileks is in good form:

That’s the key line, right there. Not because he admits to looking down on people who put up a flag on the Fourth; that’s hardly unusual in the thin moist demographic stratum he occupies. It’s not that they don’t like the flag, necessarily, and it’s not that they don’t enjoy the Fourth, but put the two together and people might get the wrong idea. No, what amused me was the sight of a writer who’d burrowed so far up the aperture of his warm narcissistic cocoon he has no idea how he comes across. I have liberal friends who fly flags without apology or worry, because they’re Americans, because it’s the Fourth, because they love their country, and because they don’t believe that trinity is the property of the other side. Which it isn’t. When it comes to struggling to get the flag on the pole just right, we’re all in this together. But to Mr. Stein, these are people to be looked down upon. Places deserving of a sniff and a snort. Cringe, O Banner-deck’d exurb jingo-huts, at the withering Looking Down Upon, exacted with bone-dry scorn by a professional thinkerator.

But when you read the original column, you get the feeling James went too easy on him.

Stein is "in a tizzy" because a Realtor has -- sit down for this -- put a small American Flag on his lawn. The subhead asks "When a realtor sticks the Stars and Stripes in your front yard, do you trash it or stash it?"

So the reason I didn't want to put a flag outside wasn't because I disapprove of our international policies. It was because I didn't want to associate myself with the other people who put them up, and with their unquestioning, tribal, us-versus-them, arrogant mentality. Though I love being American, I don't want to proclaim it as the sole basis of my identity.
Flying it proudly is not an option for Joel Stein. Eek. He's in a tizzy. poor chap.

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 8:23 PM

Free Healthcare!

I've seen the American health care system up close and personal lately. Between my MS diagnosis and treatment and my charming bride’s stroke, I am catching up on quota for all those years in which I never saw the inside of a hospital.

One thing that always surprises me is the seriousness of doctors and nurses when it comes to waiting. When I first saw a neurosurgeon (after ignoring symptoms for more than a year), I was checked into the hospital, wheeled in for an afternoon of MRIs and referred to a neurologist in less than four hours. For her stroke surgery, my wife was flown on a helicopter between two hospitals in the same county to save time.

Last week, a therapist wanted her to check out skin blisters on her hands. We saw her doctor in an hour, the dermatologist's PA an hour after that, and the dermatologist the next morning. Even though nobody seemed to be particularly alarmed (and it was thankfully nothing worrisome) taking a few days to see what happened was never an option.

Against that backdrop, I read NHS patients 'facing longer wait' with amazement. This is not the back woods of the Amazon but, sadly, it is the home of George Orwell.

Half of NHS patients are currently waiting longer than the Government's 18-week maximum target from GP to treatment, according to preliminary figures released on Wednesday.

Some patients are waiting more than two years.
[...]
The Government's maximum 18-week target from GP to treatment is due to be met by 2008.


The average is seven weeks. Other fun facts for those who long for socialized medicine: In the US, about 20% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer die from it, it's more than 50% in the UK. Only 40% of diagnosed cancer patients in Britain ever see an oncologist.

I look forward to free market advantages improving health care as they have laptops and cell phones (read Glenn’s Column in TCS) but HillaryCare may be on its way back. Put me down as a "no."

Hat-tip: Mona Charen who quotes P.J. O’Rourke: “If you think health care is expensive now, just wait till it’s free."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:25 PM | What do you think? [4]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Recently, I rolled the Family Tank with the whole gang in it. We ended up taking a trip to the emergency room and found exactly what you described: a moment in time is an opportunity for something to go amiss. On a saturday night I expected the waiting room to be packed but there was not a single person. Indeed, we did not even sit in that room but were escorted inside even though we arrived under our own power. May Hillary Clinton be damned if she tries to nationalize our FANTASTIC health care system. BTW: did anyone notice that the Canadians are clamoring for private care?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 13, 2006 2:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Yipes -- I hope everybody's okay.

People just stare at me when I say things like that. "Don't you know you're supposed to complain about health care? Are you some kind of lunatic?"

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2006 8:13 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

We are all ok. Mostly. The child car seats functioned exactly as they were engineered to. So did the air-bags. Have the bruises in unlikely places to prove it. That said, the nanny-stateism that brought us airbags and carseats got a nod of appreciation. As a fellow MSer, I also tweak the facist left by giving absurd volume to my support of capitalism as it applies to health-care and the pharma industry.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at July 13, 2006 9:01 PM
But jk thinks:

I will not, however, join you in crediting the nanny state with air bags. As I see it, the nanny-staters forced driver-side airbags on the automotive industry, but the free market brought us passenger and side bags. Perhaps if they were not complying with a lot of ineffective but mandated safety programs, they could have brought effective ones sooner.

I do admit that the "Liddy Dole" eye-level brake lights might be a triumph for nanny statism. They are wildly effective and mightn't be so universal without coercion. When people ask for one good example from the other side, I give that.

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2006 9:48 AM

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! No!

Those wacky Clintonites! You never know what they'll say next.

Robert Rubin writes a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal extolling the benefits of free trade and rallying support for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Vietnam.

Our economy has benefited greatly from relatively open trade and capital markets and openness to immigration. PNTR for Vietnam would be one more step in that direction.

Vietnam is close to having completed negotiations for accession to the World Trade Organization. Once it does join, Vietnam will become part of the multilateral global trading system, with lower barriers to trade for the goods and services of its trading partners, and lower trading barriers in overseas markets to Vietnam's goods and services. This will be another major impetus for economic growth and development in Vietnam, as well as for integration with the rest of the global community.


Yeah! Right on! There's some Rubinomics I could agree with.

Sadly, it degrades logarithmically. He calls for PTNR with Vietnam but says we have to entwine it with, well I'll let him say it:

Having said all this, as we adopt PNTR for Vietnam, we also need to recognize that the emergence of China, India and other emerging market nations -- predominantly in non-Japanese Asia -- as potentially large markets, but also as powerful competitors, has created a change of historic proportions in the global competitive environment. It is therefore all the more critical that trade liberalization and our market-based economic system, which have been absolutely central to our success, be inextricably linked with addressing our fiscal deficits, including our entitlements, and a powerful domestic program to promote U.S. productivity, and to help those dislocated by change with reestablishing themselves in the mainstream economy and with some measure of economic security.

Those who support trade and market-based economics too often don't support these domestic programs, and conversely those who support the domestic programs too often don't support trade. Markets and government are frequently viewed as antithetical, but in fact, they can strongly reinforce each other in best promoting growth. Markets, by their very nature, will not adequately provide many of the requisites for economic success -- such as quality public education, infrastructure, true basic research, optimal energy and health-care conditions, and much else -- which must be provided or catalyzed by government.


The Democrat talking point for this week is that the tax cuts aren't as swell as the Administration -- and ThreeSources -- says because the 90's were better. I'm all for Clinton officials promoting their successes but, as usual, they highlight the wrong things. They should demand accolades and approbation for their devotion to free trade. President Clinton signed NAFTA, GATT, and started China with a PNTR and ushered them into the WTO.

But they don't want credit for the things they did that worked -- they want credit that the other things they did did not ruin the economy. "We raised taxes and saw growth!"

Rubin cannot now even lobby for free trade without adding that it should be coupled with government coercion.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM

Sweet Land of Liberty - Please Take a Number

06.07.11.StarsBarred-X.gif

Here's a cartoon for JK. The Allen Forkum analysis that accompanies it on the coxandforkum.com site is also excellent. He cites the same WSJ editorial that JK did two days ago, and singles out the arbitrary legal immigrant quota as largely responsible for the ongoing crisis. Forkum also challenges the WSJ assertion that "the conservative silent majority is pro-immigration" by referencing a blog poll of right leaning bloggers who favored the House bill to the Senate's 44 to 6. I can't see the connection between "conservative silent majority" and bloggers, but the result is strikingly similar to the tone on right leaning talk radio.

Personally I suspect that many conservatives would temper their opposition if given the conditions on legal immigrants that I offered in my comments yesterday:

1) That they learn English, some basic US history, and show personal initiative to assimilate themselves into "The American Way." [...] 2) Reverse America's drift toward democracy, i.e. "mob rule" and the "tyranny of the majority." America is a "Republic madam, if you can keep it."

Forkum speculates that many of these right leaning bloggers are primarily concerned with American security in a post-9/11 world, but I suspect a general fear of negative unintended consequences of more and more immigration, legal and otherwise. Conservatives rightly distrust the government to prevent these consequences, given the track record of the last 20 or more years. The most threatening of these consequences is the one addressed by my condition number 2: As things stand today, there is a genuine risk that one day a majority of Americans will vote to make Spanish our official language, not to mention scores of other initiatives that would effectively make the US more like Mexico than the land of liberty we grew up in.

The opposition is not, therefore, to immigration per se, but to the threat of statism that illegal immigrants are a visible component of. The less visible elements include John Dewey's postmodern educational system, the widespread acceptance of altruism as a moral code, and the mythical belief that America is governed by democracy. All of these elements are promoted to varying degrees by one or both of the two dominant political parties, so they have become mainstream beliefs. (Worse yet, one party promotes ALL of them, all by itself!)

Unless Americans defend the ideas that American exceptionalism is real, that every man is entitled to his own property, and that the Constitution limits the powers of the government to infringe the rights of individuals, the forces of statism will destroy the beloved institutions that empower those ideas. The Americans who make up the so-called "conservative silent majority" understand this threat, though perhaps not its causes or champions. The simple fact that they're willing to fight against it in whatever way they can is encouraging.

But johngalt thinks:

I'm talking about Joe six-pack, Fred the UPS guy and Billy Bob with a gun rack in his pickup truck. These aren't militia members, but they are representative of the conservative silent majority. They are the reason talk radio and conservative blogs survive and thrive.

I'm not sure that 52 bloggers are representative of their views any more than 33 conservative elites, but I do stand by my analysis of what gives them the jitters on immigration.

Incidentally, if the Senate bill did what you proposed in your prior comment it would not be such a non-starter in the House. The US Senate, as with the Colorado legislature, is not about to allow any meaningful voter reform.

Posted by: johngalt at July 12, 2006 11:22 AM
But dagny thinks:

Normally I'm all for the philosophy but in this case I find myself compelled to point out the practical. Hormonally deranged no doubt.

I refuse to send my beautiful and genius daughter to the Fort Lupton public schools where her education would be sadly neglected in favor of the majority hispanic speaking population. Nevertheless, I am required to PAY for the Fort Lupton public schools.

I get furious just thinking about it. This is what illegal immigration means to me and many others I expect.

Posted by: dagny at July 12, 2006 11:32 AM
But jk thinks:

I think the elites track closely to the shared philosophies you and I espouse.

The talk radio crowd joins us on patriotism and support for our troops and their mission. I thank them for that. (Hey, I'm the big tent guy.)

I know that the populists follow Bill O'Reilly into a price-gouging witch-hunt as soon as gas hits #3. They'll support limiting "outrageous" CEO pay. I think we need the principles of the elites.

Remember that I am not so much endorsing the Senate Bill as President Bush's idea of a compromise including the Senate's liberal immigration and the House's enhanced enforcement. Juntos podemos, President Bush said in his first inaugu4ration. Together we can.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2006 11:44 AM
But jk thinks:

Likely the blogging equivalent of getting between a bear and her cub, but I'm going to proceed...

Dagny, you cannot claim that you would be happy sending your beautiful, genius daughter to the Fort Lupton Public Schools were it not for immigrants. I know for a fact that you could find ten things wrong with it, and I wonder whether Spanish-speaking immigrants would grace the top five.

No ThreeSourcer I know sends a child to traditional public school. I refuse to believe that you would be the first except for immigrants.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2006 11:54 AM
But dagny thinks:

10 things?, I could probably find 50, up to and including errors in the textbooks. Just because there are other things wrong with the public schools does not mean that illegal immigration is not a large problem to address. But, that is not my main issue. I clearly phrased it badly. My main issue is that I am expected to PAY for the FLPS. Money that I could spend to educate my child as I see fit is spent to teach philosophical nonsense (not even in English) to illegal immigrants.

Additionally, part of my point was the feelings engendered by the debate which do not change even if I would not send my child there. Furthermore, I try not to vote based on feelings but I am a rare individual in that regard.

I do claim that there are probably a few remaining public schools that I would consider sending my child to. However, I don’t want to move to Highlands Ranch. There is no room for the horses.

Finally, no ThreeSourcer? Silence, Lattesipper, no support for our wonderful public school system?

Posted by: dagny at July 12, 2006 12:28 PM
But jk thinks:

I understand. And I sympathize. And I would fix it your way if I could. The pragmatist in me says that train left the station a long time ago, no sense worrying about the martini olives in the club car. At least a voucher would allow you to get some money back. I pay for the bi-lingual school across the field from me (Motto: educating tomorrow's Burger King workers today!) and I have no kids.

I think you are unfair to oppose liberalization and normalization of immigration (sounding like a good rap song) because you are frustrated with coerced public education. My point is that you'd be coerced either way, you might as well be wealthier.

I shouldn't speak for everybody but I know ThreeSourcers' kids' being in Catholic schools and public charter schools, and some others are too young. I could be wrong. My little Skylark was graduated from obedience training at the Humane Society. I received no public funds.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2006 2:47 PM

July 11, 2006

$66 Billion in Unearned Guilt

I've been thinking about how to blog this story since it broke: Megabillionaire Warren Buffet recently donated (evading the estate tax in the process) $37 billion of his $44 billion in personal wealth to a charitable foundation established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. Combined with the $29 billion already under foundation control the resulting $66 billion is five times the wealth of the next largest, the Ford foundation.

I won't belabor the contradictions of Buffet praising the estate tax as an "equitable tax...in keeping with the idea of equality of opportunity in this country, not giving incredible head starts to certain people who were very selective about the womb from which they emerged." Or of his criticism of "dynastic wealth" coupled with the likely, though I haven't been able to document it, multi-million dollar inheritances he'll leave his own children.

I'm most interested in the issue raised by John J. Miller on the Opinion Journal page of July 7th. "The Microsoft mogul and his wife should not leave their foundation to posterity," he writes.

I fully agree with many points made in this editorial. For example:

"Surely there are better reasons to embark upon the world's biggest grant-making program than to salve the conscience of a guy who has no business feeling guilty in the first place."

And, "If Mr. Gates views his foundation as a vehicle for guilt riddance, chances are his grants will fail often and spectacularly. Yet if he views it as a way of furthering his already enormous contribution to society through nonprofit rather than for-profit means, then perhaps he will make a positive difference in the areas where he is focusing his efforts: global health and American education."

But Mr. Miller's principal point is not just that a charitable foundation should be used to further the values of its benefactor(s), but that it must necessarily be constrained to shut itself down after some arbitrary number of years for fear of the "harmful trend" of "an organization that exists in perpetuity, clinging tightly to its assets and ever further removed from its benefactors and their intentions."

It seems to me that if you want your wealth to live on and contribute in your image after your passing, you'd want it to do so for as long as possible. The trick here is to build something that can't be highjacked by others for their own purposes after your passing. This is exactly the problem that faced the founders of the United States government. So here we have another instance of resignation that nothing can retain its original nature and purpose against the pressure of revisionism.

The irony here is that the Gates Foundation, which has chosen to make a positive difference in the areas of global health and American education, has an opportunity to counteract such pressures. The reason the American Constitution, the American government and the American way of life are under threat today is precisely because of revisionist pressures endemic to modern American education. If the Gates Foundation threw even a fraction of its weight behind a return to accurate and objective teaching of American history and civics it could single handedly save the nation from apathetic disintegration.

Alas, such an effort is unlikely from a man who says, "We really owe it to society to give the wealth back."

But jk thinks:

Well said.

It strikes me that this giveaway is the world’s largest Rorschach test. Folk Marxists can either coo in delight that the Gateses have discovered "what's really important" or more likely think "damn well time those robber barons gave some back!"

I'm guessing a rare moment of unity for ThreeSourcers believing this will end very badly. I suggested when it happened that they clearly would do less good for society giving it away than they did when they earned it. Now I fear O'Sullivan's law will kick in [Every non-Conservative organization becomes more liberal over time] and that this money could become a colossus of unintended consequences, doing far more harm.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2006 9:04 AM
But howard thinks:

"Or of his criticism of 'dynastic wealth' coupled with the likely, though I haven't been able to document it, multi-million dollar inheritances he'll leave his own children."

-as far as I've heard in previous interviews with, and statements from, Buffet, he has no intention of leaving millions to his own heirs. And his beliefs against dynastic wealth are purportedly based on the idea that inheriting abstract sums of material wealth begets more laziness than not. I don't believe his support for the estate tax is any more elaborate than that.

Agree or disagree, there's very little hypocrisy in his position on this - unless you know something about his motives that I don't know. But then it seems like a lot of people are in the business of questioning what others do with their money, and here I thought that was a liberal tendency.

Posted by: howard at July 12, 2006 11:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Howard, I said in my post on this topic that "Mr. Buffett can do what he chooses, indeed that's the best benefit of having billions, is it not?"
http://www.threesources.com/archives/003037.html

Two concerns you'll hear around here are, one, that the foundation will devolve into something that doesn't match its founders' wishes, and that its gifts will do more harm than good. And, two, there is a distinct disconnect between his objection to dynastic wealth and his use of tax shelters for his own estate. The WSJ says:

"In explaining his charitable motivations this week, Mr. Buffett also went out of his way to say that he is "not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth." This is fair enough, and is also one of Mr. Buffett's arguments for so vocally defending federal death tax rates of 50% or more. But we can't help but point out that Mr. Buffett's gift will itself be shielded from Uncle Sam because it is going to a foundation. So in practice he is in favor of death taxes only for those whose estates are too small to hide in foundation tax shelters.

In addition to his Gates Foundation gift, Mr. Buffett also said he will give major donations well north of $1 billion each to separate foundations run by his three children and another in the name of his late wife. These gifts, too, will be shielded from taxation and will allow his heirs to wield power and influence long after the 75-year-old has gone to his just reward."

Gates and Buffet did a lot of good for people as they assembled their fortunes. I doubt they'll do half as much good giving them away, but that it sheer speculation.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2006 9:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you Howard for the eloquent comment. I did try to learn what Buffet has or will leave to his children but was unable to find even the $1B donations to his children's foundations that JK informs us of by way of the WSJ.

So even if they don't receive direct cash inheritance, each will certainly award himself a salary as full-time director of the foundation. (Hey, a guy's gotta eat, right?)

I also wanted to clarify: The liberal tendency is not to question what others do with their money, but to control it. (Or prevent it altogether.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2006 3:56 PM

Happy 7-11

Take Senator Joe Biden out for a Slurpee(r)

Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Take the Joe Biden Challenge!
http://www.rajforcongress.com/contribute.php

Posted by: AlexC at July 11, 2006 5:45 PM

How Much Immigration Costs

It is all happening here in Colorado, as Governor Owens has called a special session to recraft a bill to pass the state supreme court. Brendan Minter of the Wall Street Journal examines the politics and economics of the debate. His short column is far more informative than the daily stories on local TV news (recent storms have forced me to watch). He discusses the GOP's hopes of retaking the state legislature and speculates that Owens might use the issue to re-ingratiate himself with the party faithful after he stood with the tax raisers in 2004.

What caught my eye and that of an emailer was this attempt to calculate the costs and benefits of illegal immigrants to the state:

The one good thing to come out of the political wrangling in Colorado is that voters have been treated to a state-wide debate over how much illegal aliens actually cost in government services. Estimates range from as high as $1 billion a year to as low as $31 million. The Denver-based Bell Policy Center issued the latter estimate after finding that illegal aliens receive about $225 million a year in non-mandated state services, but pay between $159 million and $194 million in property, sales and other taxes. The issue is too hot for anyone to point out that illegal immigrants working as day laborers cost the state what the working poor as a whole cost the state--a bit more than they pay in.

I have read a bucket of these studies now, and I flatly reject that an accurate accounting is possible.

Bastiat talks about the seen and the unseen. The scourge of my life is that my positions always seem to rely on the unseen. You can't possibly compare an economy without illegal immigrants to the one we have and compute any realistic numbers . There are too many variables. Here's my seen and unseen:

Seen. Immigrants cost money in public schools and emergency services.

Unseen. Immigrants fueled the housing boom (call it a bubble if you want, it has created trillions of dollars of wealth). Immigrants rent lower cost housing, providing income to those who with to move up. Immigrant labor reduces the cost of larger homes, facilitating the opportunity to purchase something larger. The trade generates income for financial services and brokers. Most importantly, the higher values allow people to refinance and use the income to start business or purchase consumer goods.

You cannot tell me that anybody has successfully and accurately tabulated how much wealth that has added to our economy. So I tell people, but I am swimming upstream.

My emailer suggests I am doomed because of cultural arguments as much as economic. Crime committed by a Spanish speaker plays into a narrative and reinforces a concern. The same crime committed by "Dirt Bag Dick and his motorcycle meth buddies on their way to a Klan meeting isn't going to have the same impact in Iowa or Minnesota or Green Bay as someone from somewhere else bringing that behavior in. It's not fair, but that is what you are really fighting when it comes to illegal immigration." (I get pretty good email. He had me until he tried to sell discount Cialis...)

My optimism is predicated on the inefficacy of legislators -- they will have to compromise, and a compromise will be mostly good. More enforcement IS better; higher legal immigration IS better; a legal path to citizenship would be better.

I liked Brendan Minter's piece because of the caution to GOP candidates’ hopes of riding this train to stardom.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 1:00 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Despite our repeated sparring on this issue, I'm really closer to your side than you may think. I say bully for higher LEGAL immigration, and more (I actually pine for 'effective') border enforcement.

I oppose entitlements for illegal immigrants but, of course, I oppose entitlements for ANYBODY. (In fact, I think liberals who shout for closing the border, like Peter Boyles, do so to help protect the golden entitlement goose for those already here.)

But my greatest concern is voter reform. As American government drifts more and more precariously toward a Democracy, the disastrous consequences of millions more poor voters raised in a collectivist society casting votes here is magnified.

I note with great sadness that the "compromise" measure from the Colorado legislature does nothing to address voter fraud.

I'm willing to accept a deliberate "legal path to citizenship" for virtually unlimited numbers of immigrants but I request a couple of conditions. 1) That they learn English, some basic US history, and show personal initiative to assimilate themselves into "The American Way." (That one's for you, Superman.) 2) Reverse America's drift toward democracy, i.e. "mob rule" and the "tyranny of the majority." America is a "Republic madam, if you can keep it."

Posted by: johngalt at July 11, 2006 3:34 PM
But dagny thinks:

That is an excellent summary JG.

I would add this clarification: The biggest problem with the millions more voters is NOT that they are poor. It is that they are irrational. This often stems from being uneducated or worse, miseducated, and yes, often goes along with poverty.

Posted by: dagny at July 11, 2006 7:05 PM

July 10, 2006

Thirty Three and 1/3

Thirty three leaders of the modern conservative movement signed a statement endorsing Reagan's vision on immigration.

Jack Kemp (former congressman from New York);
George P. Shultz (distinguished fellow, Hoover Institution);
Jeanne Kirkpatrick (former ambassador to the U.N.);
Tamar Jacoby (senior fellow, Manhattan Institute);
Cesar V. Conda (senior fellow, FreedomWorks);
Ken Weinstein (CEO, Hudson Institute);
Grover Norquist (president, Americans for Tax Reform);
Jeff Bell (board of directors, American Conservative Union);
Larry Cirignano (president, Catholic Alliance);
Bill Kristol (editor, The Weekly Standard);
Arthur B. Laffer (chairman, Laffer Investments);
Linda Chavez (chairman, Center for Equal Opportunity);
Elaine Dezenski (former acting assistant secretary for policy development, Department of Homeland Security);
Lawrence Kudlow (economics editor, National Review Online);
John Podhoretz (columnist, the New York Post);
John McWhorter (senior fellow, Manhattan Institute);
Joseph Bottum (editor, First Things);
Max Boot (senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations);
Vin Weber (former congressman from Minnesota);
Richard Gilder (partner, Gilder Gagnon Howe & Co., LLC);
Ed Goeas (Republican strategist);
Martin Anderson (senior fellow, Hoover Institution);
J.C. Watts (former congressman from Oklahoma);
Ed Gillespie (former chairman, Republican National Committee);
C. Stewart Verdery, Jr. (former assistant secretary for border and transportation security policy, Department of Homeland Security);
Diana Furchtgott-Roth (senior fellow, Hudson Institute);
Robert de Posada (president, the Latino Coalition);
Clint Bolick (winner of 2006 Bradley Prize);
Steven Wagner (former director, human trafficking program, Department of Health and Human Services);
Steve Forbes (CEO, Forbes Inc.);
Gary Rosen (managing editor, Commentary);
Michael Petrucelli (former acting director, U.S. citizenship and immigration services, Department of Homeland Security);
And John C. Weicher (senior fellow, Hudson Institute).

I'm doing myself a favor calling myself one third, but I proudly add my name to their paper.

The WSJ Ed page carries their letter and a lead editorial detailing its support.

Our own view is that a philosophy of "free markets and free people" includes flexible labor markets. At a fundamental level, this is a matter of freedom and human dignity. These migrants are freely contracting for their labor, which is a basic human right. Far from selling their labor "cheap," they are traveling to the U.S. to sell it more dearly and improve their lives. Like millions of Americans before them, they and certainly their children climb the economic ladder as their skills and education increase.

Both of those links are free, check them out.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM

Economic Gains Widen Pay Gap

I might give up my "You Write the Headline" features. Even though I have been amused, we're amateurs and they are professional journalists. How can you parody Economic Gains Widen Pay Gap? That's the teaser link to the WaPo Well-Paid Benefit Most As Economy Flourishes

Wages are rising more than twice as fast for highly paid workers in the Washington area as they are for low-paid workers, an analysis of federal data by The Washington Post shows.

That means the spoils of the region's economic expansion are going disproportionately to workers who are already well-paid, widening a gap between rich and poor in a place where it is already wider than in most of the country.


Things are bad, bad, bad. Let's blame Schumpeter:
"Three years ago, we would have had to hire more people to handle all our new clients," said Joe Martin, a vice president. "Now, we rely on new technology to pick up that work."

Such innovations help explain why, from 2003 to 2005, the average wage for people in the lowest pay bracket, with salaries around $20,000, rose only 5.4 percent in the Washington region -- not enough to keep up with rising prices. For the jobs that pay around $60,000, salaries rose 12.4 percent, well ahead of the 6.8 percent inflation in that period.

This is how the Washington Post reports good economic news. Yesterday, the New York Times complained (see How Could This Happen?) that the record revenues are coming from Corporations and not individual income tax.

Keep in mind that this is a story of stronger than expected tax revenue and its capacity to lower the deficit. Now enjoy these quotes:

"The long-term outlook is such a deep well of sorrow that I can't get much happiness out of this year," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and a former White House economist under President Bush.

"The fact is that revenues are way below what the administration said they would be a few years ago," said Thomas S. Kahn, staff director for Democrats on the House Budget Committee. "The long-term prognosis is still very, very bleak, and the administration doesn't have any kind of long-term plan.


To be fair, they did include a Pat Toomey quote claiming vindication for supply siders.

Any more good news, and we're all gonna have to kill ourselves.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM

WMD Programs?

What else is out there?

    The Bush administration briefed top lawmakers on a significant intelligence program only after a key Republican committee leader angrily complained of being left in the dark, House Intelligence Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra said yesterday.

    Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, would not describe the program but said it was significant enough that the administration should have briefed him and others voluntarily, without waiting for them to learn of it through government tipsters.

    ``There was at least one major -- what I consider significant -- activity that we had not been briefed on that we have now been briefed on," Hoekstra said on ``Fox News Sunday." ``Some people within the intelligence community brought to my attention some programs that they believed we had not been briefed on. They were right."


Related:

Ed Morrissey continues to dig through Iraqi files.

    So here we have confirmation that Iraq continued to work on WMD, and that the new UNMOVIC inspections verified that. We had previously heard from the mainstream media that UNMOVIC only found that the Iraqis still refused to cooperate fully with the inspections, but this puts a little different light on the situation as the UN found it as they debated how to deal with Iraq. Even with Saddam actively pursuing WMD, as it turns out, they refused to take any action except to propose extended inspections.

    Another point seems rather interesting here. The third paragraph seems to match up pretty well with the CIA/DIA description of the mobile laboratories discovered shortly after the invasion of Iraq.


...
    Once again, it looks like Saddam's own documentation makes it clear that he had never stopped working on WMD programs. This time, it also shows that UNMOVIC and the UNSC knew it.

Ace of Spades:
    What's this?
      CENTER OF MANAGEMENT AND LAW / PRESIDENT
      For that, we order Dr. Hazem Anwar Alnasery, assigned to the Health Department Center, and Dr Mothny Abas, president of the Central Health Testing Department, to be members of the Anthrax Operation Room. This order will not cancel the previous order assigned to Dr. Mostafa Fathee, president of the Central Health Testing Department and president of the Health Research Institute. Thanks.

      Signed
      Zohir Saeed Abd Elsalam
      10/13/2002


    Maybe they were just fans of the band Anthrax, and the "Anthrax Operation Room" plotted ways of getting them to tour in Tikrit.

Iraq Posted by AlexC at 10:58 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I watched Rep. Hoekstra yesterday. With all the leaking of effective secret counter-terrorism measures, I think his request is at best ill-timed.

Glad to hear the Boston Globe is on the case, though. I'd hate to think there were any secret programs I didn't know about.

Posted by: jk at July 10, 2006 11:43 AM

Philly Suburbs: Ground Zero for 2006

The Philadelphia suburbs were first labelled a key national battleground in 2004. If Bush could pick up the area, he stood a very good chance to take the entire state, which itself was a toss up. I think the President visited the state some 25 times.

2006 is the same way, except this time it's for control of the Senate and the House.

In addition the Casey/Santorum Senate race, there are also three competitive House seats that Republicans need to defend.

PA-6th pits Lois Murphy against Jim Gerlach in a rematch of 2004's race.

    Lois Murphy lost to Jim Gerlach in the 6th District in Montgomery County last time by 6,200 votes, one of the narrowest House losses in the nation. But Murphy has already raised over a million dollars and expects to benefit from millions more that will pour into get-out-the-vote efforts in the suburbs.

The 7th district pits former Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak vs 19 year Congressman Curt Weldon.

    Sestak was raised in Delaware County, graduating first in his class from Cardinal O'Hara High before going to Annapolis. His bio makes him a dream candidate for the Dems at a time when the stars may be aligned to switch the district from red to blue.

Bucks County's 8th District has Iraq war vet Patrick Murphy vs one term Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

    He pledged support for stem cell research, critical in getting retiring Rep. Jim Greenwood's endorsement in the last election, but has changed his mind. Greenwood is "disappointed," and so may be district voters, generally moderate on social issues.

Between Rendell/Swann for Governor, Casey/Santorum for Senate and these three races, there's going to be a lot of money spent in the area this fall.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Don't forget Raj Bakhta vs Allyson Schwartz! The 13th must be taken from this Socialist!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 10, 2006 10:44 PM

Kansas State House

AP

    The candidates say they offer legitimate political differences. Their conservative critics say it's a campaign dirty trick.

    Jeff Ippel is a Republican, involved in a three-way primary race for a seat in the Kansas House. His wife, Pam, is unopposed in the August Democratic primary _ for the same seat.

    Pam Ippel, whose platform emphasizes health care and funding for education, said she was the first to enter the race for an open seat from this Kansas City suburb.


I thought dinner at the Carville/Matalin household was difficult, could you imagine if the husband won his primary?

Naturally, other Republicans aren't happy.

    "Personally, I think it's a fraud. It's a deliberate strategy of confusion," conservative Republican Jeff Colyer said. He says their real goal is to siphon away votes from his campaign to ensure the nomination of a GOP moderate, Sherrelyn Smith.

    "It's an absolute sham. They're trying to confuse voters and manipulate the process," agrees Republican state Rep. Eric Carter, who is giving up the seat to run for state insurance commissioner.


and then there's this comment.
    If there were any truth to [collusion charges], it would be a case of conservatives having one of their own tricks pulled on them, said Kansas State University political science professor Joe Aistrup.

    "It's about time the moderates started pulling this stuff," Aistrup said. "Conservatives have been running stealth candidates for years."

But jk thinks:

Just show up to the debate with a black eye and some bruises...

Posted by: jk at July 10, 2006 7:28 PM

July 9, 2006

Somebody Else's Fortune

I highly recommend "The Colorado Wok." The food is very good, the people are friendly, the prices are great, the portions are huge. I'd like to arrange to meet JohnGalt and Dagny there someday. I'd buy lunch if I could arrange in advance for them both to get the fortune cookie I received today:


fortune_altruistic.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 2:25 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Rubbish! There is absolutely no way this could be my fortune. My lucky numbers are 1,2,3,4,5 and 6!

:)

I can visualize you ROTFLYAO when you cracked open that beauty. I am honored that (if?) you thought of us first when you read it. I'll just say, "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

Posted by: johngalt at July 10, 2006 12:56 PM
But jk thinks:

You may bet YA that I thought of you first.

Posted by: jk at July 10, 2006 1:59 PM

Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage

Pa's minimum wage has risen from $5.15 to $7.15 per legislation.

So what does that mean?

    "I'm not going to hire 15-year-olds and teach them how to count change. I will hire somebody who already has a job," Rissinger said. "I can't give them time to learn."

    That isn't because Rissinger objects to paying more than the $5.15 minimum, which has been mandated since 1997. He already does. The least Rissinger pays a new worker is $5.25 an hour. If that worker does a good job, he or she doesn't stay at $5.25 long.

    Rissinger is among several midstate employers who said unskilled teenagers seeking their first job have the most to lose from the minimum wage legislation, which Gov. Ed Rendell has pledged to sign as early as today.

    The increase is a defeat for the state branch of the National Federation of Independent Business, which contended the bill would mean fewer jobs for unskilled workers.

    "I don't think this legislation is going to create one single job," said Kevin Shivers, director of the federation's Pennsylvania chapter. "Employers are going to reduce hours or come up with other solutions, such as buying technology to do the job instead of bringing more people on."


Noooooooo!

But jk thinks:

Why $7.15? If they really liked people, they'd make it $100,000 / year.

Posted by: jk at July 9, 2006 2:33 PM

How Could This Happen?

ThreeSources-friend Sugarchuck emails a link to this New York Times piece and asks why we all keep going back to the NYTimes when we know it will end badly. Click on over to "Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit" and I think you'll agree.

WASHINGTON, July 8 — An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war in Iraq and the cost of hurricane relief.

[Graphic: Mixed Signals ]

On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago. The rising tide in tax payments has been building for months, but the increased scale is surprising even seasoned budget analysts and making it easier for both the administration and Congress to finesse the big run-up in spending over the past year.

Tax revenues are climbing twice as fast as the administration predicted in February, so fast that the budget deficit could actually decline this year.


Think of how big the revenues would have been with that stupid-ass tax cut! Wow! Who expected this? What a freakin' surprise.

We go back to the NYTimes, kids, because it is a quality product and we have trained ourselves to laugh at nonsense like this. It's so funny to me. "They" have NPR and The New York Times, which provide product of such quality that conservatives deign to be insulted just to use it. And they think our secret is FOXNews and Rush Limbaugh. In the right mood, I can find this humorous.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 AM

Support Your Local Statist

I may not agree with ThreeSources own collectivist, LatteSipper, on everything but I have always admired his sincerity and devotion.

He is riding a Century (+8) in November and is raising money for a good cause. I encourage y'all to drop by his web page and sponsor him.

I will be participating in El Tour de Tucson as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training program. Team in Training is a nationwide non-profit organization that is dedicated to the eradication of blood cancers including all forms of Leukemia & Lymphoma. Money Magazine has rated Team in Training as one of the top 10 charities in the United States because more than 75% of the funds spent by the society go directly to benefit research and patient services.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:36 AM

July 8, 2006

PBS! PBS!

If you must, enjoy the irony of a government subsidized TV series opposing government intrusion into free markets. But either way, take some time (47:23) and watch Josh's video posting on The Everyday Economist this week.

It is part of the PBS series “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman. If you have some time today or over the weekend, you should definitely choose to watch this video.

I could not agree more. You get an episode of Dr. Friedman's show, an introduction by Ahhnold before he was Gov. Schwarzenegger, and a panel discussion at the end hosted by Linda Chavez (before she wasn't Labor Secretary).

There's nothing on the blogs on Sunday, hockey season is over and football hasn't started. Watch it.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 6:34 PM

Fires: Bush's Fault!

"I see this as one of the first big indicators of climate change impacts in the continental United States," said study coauthor Thomas Swetnam, director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “Lots of people think climate change and the ecological responses are 50 to 100 years away. But it's not 50 to 100 years away—it's happening now in forest ecosystems through fire."
I guess the science is settled. The Director of Tree Ring Research and all says so in the Journal Science, picked up by Yahoo! News I suggest the increased population in forested areas and the devotion of academics and greens to wilderness preservation spiked in the late 1980s as well. I further suggest that the list of articles on this week's online version of the journal Science is telling:
  • Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth
  • Natural Disasters: Top 10 U.S. Threats
  • Scorched West to Sizzle All Summer, NOAA Says
  • In a Twist, Forest Products Viewed as Green Energy
  • Snow Melting Earlier In Eastern North America
  • Drought Lands Doubled
Not a lot of "up" news this week. I'm sensing a trend.
Environment Posted by John Kranz at 1:43 PM

Booming?

Kudlow

    Did you know that just over the past 11 quarters, dating back to the June 2003 Bush tax cuts, America has increased the size of its entire economy by 20 percent? In less than three years, the U.S. economic pie has expanded by $2.2 trillion, an output add-on that is roughly the same size as the total Chinese economy, and much larger than the total economic size of nations like India, Mexico, Ireland and Belgium.

    This is an extraordinary fact, although you may be reading it here first. Most in the mainstream media would rather tout the faults of American capitalism than sing its praises. And of course, the media will almost always discuss supply-side tax cuts in negative terms, such as big budget deficits and static revenue losses. But here's another suppressed fact: Since the 2003 tax cuts, tax-revenue collections from the expanding economy have been surging at double-digit rates, while the deficit is constantly being revised downward.


My headline: "Economy Expands By the Size of China: Rich Still Getting Richer"

But jk thinks:

To be fair, I remember reading that Larry did not account for inflation and that the real growth was eleven-and-change.

Still good. Better than 1% per quarter real growth implies a doubling of the US Economy in 17 tears. At current trends, we will leave the sclerotic European economies in the dust. I'm not sure that people realize the implications of being twice as wealthy in two decades when we are ahead of them already.

Posted by: jk at July 8, 2006 1:59 PM

Review Corner

This week I had a Chilean Merlot. I'm not a Merlot drinker, but if you get a good, earthy one from the Southern Hemisphere, they can be pretty good -- wait, I was going to review movies; I know next to nothing about wine. Of course, I know less about movies. Somehow ignorance disqualifies on one but not the other. Funny.

I was probably the only guy who was disappointed with "Proof" because it didn't have enough math in it. I bet their focus groups didn't track that.

If you can get over the fact that it is not really about Mathematics, it is a good movie. Good acting from Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. Jack Gyllenaal does a great job and his character goes the full two hours without kissing any guys, which is always a relief. The narrative is good, the plotline is interesting.

Perhaps I'm fatigued with Hollywood's exploration of "the links between genius and madness" (from the Proof website). Amadeus, A Beautiful Mind, et al -- nobody wants to celebrate intellectual achievement when they can explore personality flaws. Oversensitive? Perhaps. But where are the movies about American geniuses who were regular folk, like Walt Whitman, or -- oh never mind.

Three and a half stars, but don't expect to learn any math. Maybe someday they’ll dramatize John Derbyshire’s Prime Obsession. Then I can sell my autographed copy on eBay.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM

Jobs Numbers Disappoint

I flippantly suggested that headline writers would ignore the historically low unemployment and a rise in wages to focus on the nonfarm payroll jobs increase of only 121000. ADP had predicted numbers 273,000 higher than the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BizzyBlog thinks "Somebody's got some explaining to do" about the difference. I think Larry Kudlow is correct on a favorite theme of his: the household survey captures entrepreneurial activity and self employment more accurately and with far less latency than the BLS numbers.

At first blush, today’s jobs number looks soft at 121,000. But so far, unreported by the mainstream media, is that household employment rose a gargantuan 387,000. This comes on top of last month’s 288,000 gain. Over the past three months, household employment is up 242,000, compared to 108,000 for the corporate payrolls number.

Many economists downplay this smaller household survey, but they shouldn’t. It is the household survey that picks up small business job creation, particularly owner-operated businesses. This category is responsible for roughly 2/3 of all jobs created in the United States.

Because of the strength in the households, the unemployment rate remains at a historically low 4.6 percent.


I disagree with BizzyBlog that the current jobs growth cannot sustain the 4.6% unemployment figure.

There are more things in the economy, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your Bureau of Labor statistics.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM

July 7, 2006

Review Corner Preview

With Taranto on holiday, it hardly seems worth blogging.

I have taken my medication -- and the two glasses of wine that so effectively squash the side effects -- and I will watch "Proof" with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. All of my friends (well, both) have told me I must see this one. Reviews to come, have a great weekend.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:50 PM

You Write the Headline

WSJ.com

U.S. EMPLOYERS ADDED 121,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in June, an improvement from the previous month but below expectations. Wages rose sharply. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.6%.

I'm going with the classic: "New Jobs Figures Disappoint."

Posted by John Kranz at 9:38 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

Title: 121,000 New Jobs Added
Sub: Does Not Offset 8,000,000 Jobs Lost since Jan 2001.

Posted by: AlexC at July 7, 2006 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

An emailer suggested "Iraq Death Toll tops 2540."

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

Economy Creates 121,000 New Jobs That Americans Won't Do


And hey, what's up with adding over 100,000 jobs and the unemployment rate is unchanged? Did previously employed workers take a second job? 121,000 teenagers tried the new Taco Bell "Crunch Wrap Supreme" that's "good to go" and get a job? A Karl Rove plot to fire a bunch of workers, hire them back, and not report the layoffs? Or perhaps this just reflects the 121,000 new illegals who crossed the border this month.

Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2006 1:48 AM

Happy Anniversary!

July 7th marks one year since the Pennsylvania legislature made the biggest political mistake in a long time.

At 2 AM, after days of "hard work" finishing up odds and ends, to reward themselves, they decided to give themselves a payraise. Depend on your position and seniority it was a raise worth anywhere from 16% to 54%!

... and it ignited a firestorm, leading to the defeat of a Supreme Court justice last fall, 40 some retirements and 17 primary losses.

So how to celebrate?

How about a giant pink pig INSIDE the statehouse?

24256458.jpg

    Standing on the Capitol steps with them: the pink inflatable pig which has become the symbol for payraise reform.

    The group called for additional changes to the pension and healthcare system for lawmakers and for lobbyist reform.

    "No one can turn a blind eye to organized gluttony. Nor can we afford to take one step backwards," said Eric Epstein, coordinator of Rock the Capitol, one of the group's attending today's news conference.

    Several of the groups said they plan to return at 2 a.m. -- the time the law was passed -- in remembrance of it.


That pig's amazing. Statewide tour... spent a week on the Capital steps.... and now INSIDE!

But jk thinks:

All hail this porcine celebrity. It shows there is hope for those who buck the tide of expanding government, and it reminds us that making a little noise is worth it.

AlexC is being bashful, but the YCOP played a big part in opposing the pay hikes.

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2006 9:28 AM

Bonuses & Evasion

Now this is odd.

Powerline links to an Iraqi document which came out as a result of Project Harmony.

It is the "Bonus Record for 2003."

    This eight-page document is a list of employees in various categories who received bonuses listed as "5,000"--dinars, I assume. Most of the categories are what you would expect: "Office of the General Director," "Finance," "Consultant Office," etc. Presumably the names under each of these headings are the employees in those departments who received bonuses.

    But then we have these categories: "Chemical;" twelve employees got bonuses. "Nuclear;" nine employees got bonuses. "Missiles;" seven employees got bonuses. "Biological;" nine employees got bonuses. I suppose those words might mean something other than the obvious. But what?


Another document...
    The subject is how to evade the search for "non-conventional weapons and other chemical agents." The evasion includes moving Iraqi Intelligence documents, and substituting Department of Health employees for intelligence agents. Further, the Intelligence Service's "chemical materials and equipment" were relocated. This doesn't sound like they were just moving old munitions left over from the 1980s from place to place.

    As much as one document can prove anything, this seems to demonstrate that Iraq was secretly producing and hiding chemical weapons as of September 1999.


Senator Rick Santorum was involved in releasing the documents which were released as part of Project Harmony.

Iraq Posted by AlexC at 12:27 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The only thing surprising about these reports is how long it is taking for them to dribble out.

To be fair, though, we're talking about policies and programs in the nation of "Iraq, which has nothing to do with al Qaeda." We should never have seen these confidential documents in the first place, right? Remember, Bush is a war criminal.

Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2006 1:56 AM

July 6, 2006

Save Us From Spoiled Milk

New Yorkers enjoy an extra set of protection that we do not.

Perry at Eidelblog details a city ordinance to protect its vulnerable citizenry from spoiled milk.

In its benevolence, government at all levels has uncountable regulations and statutes just for what we ingest. It's the tip of the iceberg that the FDA's legions must approve pharmaceuticals and inspect and/or supervise food production. New York City, for example, has decided that milk's usual expiration dates are too long. Once fluid milk is pasteurized, it's legal to sell it only within 96 hours of 6 a.m. on the next day (which is about three days earlier than what most dairy producers stamp on the containers).

Perhaps Colorado doesn't care if its hardworkin' taxpayers drink sour milk. Or perhaps New Yorkers are considered too bashful to speak up and complain when a vendor has sold them something old.

Perry wonders about "The Freedom to Assume Risk." Finding some brave souls who dared to purchase raw milk from an Amish farmer in Ohio, before government stepped in to protect us.

And he quotes Bastiat's "The Law" essay more than I say "stunning exegesis." How can you lose?

But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Believe me, we're never shy about speaking up about bad food or service. :) I just wish others were more vocal about bad government.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 6, 2006 11:52 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I understand that the date on milk means it's still good for seven more days.

But they're crazy. It starts tasting different the next day!

... I'm very particular. I only drink two kinds of whole milk.... Wawa & Acme. The rest... blecch.

Yes, I'm a milk snob.

Posted by: AlexC at July 7, 2006 12:48 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm even more of a milk snob. I won't drink it unless it is Scotch.

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2006 11:06 AM
But dagny thinks:

Consumer tip for fellow Milk Snobs: We have our milk delivered weekly to our front door direct from a local dairy. I don't know if such services are available in PA but it sure is nice. It is better, and fresher milk. It is a little more expensive, but sure is nice never to have to send my husband to the grocery store for milk.

Posted by: dagny at July 7, 2006 2:20 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Does anyone else remember what Brando told Jean Simmons in "Guys and Dolls"? Bacardi is great to add to milk. It acts as a preservative.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 7, 2006 2:39 PM

Viva Calderon!

ABC News: Calderon Wins Mexico President Vote Count

MEXICO CITY Jul 6, 2006 (AP)— The ruling party's Felipe Calderon won the official count in Mexico's disputed presidential race Thursday, the culmination of a come-from-behind campaign for the stiff technocrat. But his leftist rival also declared victory and said he'd fight the election in court.

Calderon was already reaching out to other parties to build a "unity government," while his rival, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, blamed fraud for his narrow loss in the vote count and called on his supporters to fill Mexico City's main square Saturday in a show of force.


Whew. Talk about dodging a bullet. An Obrador victory would have been such a setback.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:54 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Personally, how could anybody have voted for President in Mexico? Aren't all the Mexicans up here in the US? ;-)

Actually, its good to see Castro's little brother there in Venuzuela got his hand slapped away again (Colombia being the other big rebuffer).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 7, 2006 11:46 AM

Wheel of Dharma

I have blogged before about India. With all eyes on China, India's free market economics may well propel it past its Asian cousin.

Everyday Economist has a YouTube video today, "I Am India." Josh hopes to post a free economics inspired video every week and I encouraged him to continue. This video is a look at a modern emerging nation. It is not a compendium of statistics, just a look at people enjoying freedom and the affluence it generates.

Click on by, and suggest he keep this weekly feature.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:07 PM

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

The President is Sixty today, and celebrating with some self-deprecating humor.

WASHINGTON - The most powerful man in the world turns 60 on Thursday and he just can't seem to stop talking about it. Barely a week has gone by this year that
President Bush has not brought up his advancing age at least once.
ADVERTISEMENT

"How you doing, sir?" a reporter asked Bush at a news conference a few hours after a middle-of-the-night return from a grueling sprint to Baghdad. "I'm doing all right, thank you," the president replied. "A little jet lagged, as I'm sure you can imagine. Nearly 60."


Many happy returns. Next week, President Ford will be 93, the oldest a President has ever lived.

UPDATE: Thanks to an emailer for the correction. I had said that Bush pere was going to be 93. ThreeSources apologizes for the error.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:59 PM

July 5, 2006

Dems Still Surrendering to DPRK

The hullabaloo (not yet a kerfuffle) over baby Kim's Fourth-of-July fireworks show amongst the media and Democrat pols is truly baffling. "Madeline Albright tells us that North Korea is stuck in the 1950's as a society, to which I say, "Didn't they have electric lights back then? I don't know, I'm not that old." But the point is, how can you impose economic sanctions on an economic null?

"General" Wesley Clark and Governor/Ambassador/Senator Bill Richardson calmly lecture that this is just North Korea's way of "behaving like a spoiled child" in order to "get our attention" and "force us to negotiate incentive agreements" with them. Then they both suggest, in the very next breath, that we engage them in direct talks. Clark says, and I'm paraphrasing, "We are the world's superpower and it is our responsibility to defuse this situation, and the only way to do that is to talk with them." He also said, "We need to work with them, and work against them." Multilateralists hearts must be all aflutter at this stunning display of nuance.

My prescription for North Korea: Exactly what the adminstration has done, and nothing more. If these missiles got close, they'd have been swatted. If one gets through and, NED forbid, a nuclear warhead explodes on US soil, there's a special red button in the Oval Office with North Korea's name on it.

But jk thinks:

I'd say the seventh missile brings it to an imbroglio. Two more is a contretemps, and then we're on to kerfuffle.

Posted by: jk at July 5, 2006 4:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There's one more thing the President should do to handle this "crisis." The next time a reporter asks him what he's going to do about it he should answer, "Our missiles are fully functional and one-hundred percent reliable. Their range is well known to the world. No test firings are required."

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2006 11:50 AM
But silence dogood thinks:

Hmm, I am not sure that retaliatory strikes fits the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive miliary action. The doctrine seems to morph as it extends east. I agree however with the administration's stand on basically ignoring North Korea's posturing. Somehow this was not an option in Iraq though. I am not sure how we "swat" their missiles if they get close, unless maybe that Star Wars missile defense system did get up and running? Gen. Clark has it all wrong as well, forget responsibility, we simply can't diffuse the situation, the guy is a nut, even negotiation is hopeless with an unstable partner.

Posted by: silence dogood at July 6, 2006 2:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Not necessarily directed at you, Silence, but I hear a lot of exasperation from administration critics at the difference between our treatment of Iraq and North Korea. I think that preventing Saddam Hussein from having the nukes that Kim Jung Il does gets glossed over. That, and he doesn't fire at our airplanes every day.

As NK gets closer to perfecting a delivery system, the President might come closer to conforming with his pre-Iraq stance.

General Clark's partisanship is unbelievable. He can make the rounds of TV shows, praising the job the Clinton Administration did in North Korea. Whew, sometimes I don't like MY job.

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2006 3:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The missile "swatting" system I referred to is described here:

http://voanews.com/english/2006-07-05-voa51.cfm

Posted by: johngalt at July 7, 2006 2:24 AM

A Little Adam Smith

Here's the segue: July 4 makes you think of 1776. Adam Smith published "Wealth of Nations" in 1776. So, on the fifth, here's an excerpt thanks to Virginia Postrel

The annual produce of the land and labour of England, for example, is certainly much greater than it was, a little more than a century ago, at the restoration of Charles II. Though, at present, few people, I believe, doubt of this, yet during this period, five years have seldom passed away in which some book or pamphlet has not been published, written, too, with such abilities as to gain some authority with the public, and pretending to demonstrate that the wealth of the nation was fast declining, that the country was depopulated, agriculture neglected, manufactures decaying, and trade undone. Nor have these publications been all party pamphlets, the wretched offspring of falsehood and venality. Many of them have been written by very candid and very intelligent people, who wrote nothing but what they believed, and for no other reason but because they believed it.

She adds: "Some things never change." I think she's wrong; twenty-somethings can get on TV now to whine.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM

Bush's Fault!

Insty links to some interesting weather news: No Tornadoes Confirmed In Nebraska-Kansas Area This Year

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Hastings are feeling lucky this year.

The 30-county area they serve in central Nebraska and north-central Kansas hasn't had a confirmed tornado for the first six months of this year. That hasn't happened since 1950.

There were two years that came close, 1966 and 1981, when a single tornado was reported during the first half of each year.

"It's quite unusual," said Steve Kisner, warning coordination meteorologist in the Hastings office. "We're glad Mother Nature is keeping everybody safe -- again showing the unpredictability of the weather."

Between five and 10 tornadoes usually hit the office's coverage area between Jan. 1 and June 30, Kisner said.


This might be a good trend, Sugarchuck tells me moving to McCook, NE is a good idea. Weather is one thing that gave me pause. Don't tell everybody, but the Front Range of Colorado has a perfect climate. A few hot weeks in the summer, a few cold weeks in the winter, all four seasons, and 300+ days of sun. I'm never in a rush to give that up.

Damn President, didn't sign Kyoto.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM

State of the (D) Party

Dueling editorials in the Wall Street Journal send an interesting message about the future of the Democrat party. You guys want the good news first?

In Democrats for Tax Cuts, the ed page suggests that beltway Democrats get out more and see the successes local Ds are racking up with supply-side economics. Rhode Island, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona are seeing Democrats cut taxes to keep their states competitive.

A handful of Democratic Governors have also signed tax cut bills in recent weeks. Arizona's Janet Napolitano agreed to a 10% across-the-board cut in income tax rates, and Oklahoma's Brad Henry signed into law a budget that will cut rates by nearly 20%, from 6.25% to 5.25% and abolish the state estate tax.

Governors Henry and Napolitano resisted the tax cuts for much of this year, but now they are taking political credit for signing them. Maybe they learned from Bill Clinton, who signed a reduction in the capital gains tax in 1997 after campaigning against "tax cuts for the rich" and basked in the stock market rise and strong economy for much of the rest of his second term.

Another Democratic Governor who's embraced tax cutting and benefited politically is New Mexico's Bill Richardson. Since winning the state house in 2002, he has cut the state's top income tax rate to 4.9% from 8.2% and cut the capital gains tax in half. "This was our way of declaring to the world that New Mexico is open for business," Mr. Richardson tells us. "After all, businesses move to states where taxes are falling, not rising." But don't tax cuts produce budget deficits? Not in New Mexico, which now has a half-billion-dollar surplus and has seen tax revenues soar by 27% this year, faster than in any other state over the past year, according to the Rockefeller Institute state revenue report.


The Bad news? The national party's becoming too antiwar for Senator Lieberman. An Independent Joe sees his pursuit of the Independent ticket as "a remarkable commentary on the mind of the Democratic Party these days."
This antiwar passion isn't confined to the Internet fever swamps, by the way. Already, George Jepsen, a former Connecticut senate majority leader and former state Democratic chairman, has endorsed Mr. Lamont. Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, who may run for President in 2008 on an antiwar platform, also pointedly declined to endorse his Capitol Hill colleague when asked about the race recently on NBC's "Meet the Press." In the small favors department, Mr. Feingold did allow that Mr. Lieberman was a swell guy.

Connecticut's Senate race may turn out to be the most important election of the year. If Democrats drive Mr. Lieberman from their ranks, they will be sending Americans a message that George Soros and MoveOn.org dominate their party. This is all the more reason to applaud Mr. Lieberman for declaring that he won't easily be pushed from the Senate, whatever party banner he has to wave.


I think Gov. Richardson would be the only shot at seeing one of these tax cutters on the national stage anytime soon, but the chance of their beliefs being embraced seem remote.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | What do you think? [3]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Hey,..look at what a FINE job Corzine is doing in New Jersey. Fourth of July holiday and the casinos, state beaches, and museums are closed because the assembly won't let him taxe and spend the state into oblivion!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 5, 2006 11:51 AM
But jk thinks:

Good point. Clearly, exporting beltway Democrat behavior to the states is the wrong direction.

Posted by: jk at July 5, 2006 12:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps the predominantly Democrat state house's unwillingness to capitulate is another example.
-- State Senate: 22 D 18 R
-- State General Assembly: 47 D 33 R

Posted by: jk at July 5, 2006 12:20 PM

July 4, 2006

AlexC Gets Results!

Google is apparently unwilling to risk further disapprobation from ThreeSources. By the time I hit it, they were in the spirit of the day:

google4th.gif
UPDATE: No publicity is bad publicity. This long time Yahoo bigot has just changed over to Google. They provide -- free -- what I used to pay $19.95 a year for at Yahoo. I created a gmail account and personal home page, and changed my Firefox home to ThreeSources | ThreeSources Edit | Google. Resistance was futile, I have been assimilated.

Google Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:
But johngalt thinks:

"Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones is ready, watch your speed."

Posted by: johngalt at July 5, 2006 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

You'd make a terrible deadhead, jg, it's "Casey Jones you better watch your speed."

http://arts.ucsc.edu/gdead/agdl/kcj.html

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2006 10:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Why, thank you JK! That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me in a long time 'round these parts!

I got the lyric from some Deadhead website. Can't say I'm surprised they wouldn't know the words.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2006 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

I had to double-check. I thought "Dude! I was so baked I didn't have the words right!"

I liked a lot of their stuff but I had to continually tell my friends that there are other bands.

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2006 2:46 PM

Happy Fourth!

What a gift to live in this land and be free to do the things we do here at ThreeSources. Long may she wave!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:00 AM | What do you think? [8]
But jk thinks:

And, after all, aren't dancing bears with sparklers what the day is all about?

Posted by: jk at July 4, 2006 11:48 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I posted at 6:20 CST... (i was in Minneapolis)..... maybe they waited for someone to come into the Google office this AM.

But it wasn't there this AM!!! ;)

Posted by: AlexC at July 4, 2006 5:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dancing bears is a Grateful Dead/drug culture symbol. They're still pinkos.

Posted by: johngalt at July 5, 2006 3:01 PM
But dagny thinks:

Look closer. Those aren't bears. They are cats. Bears don't have long tails. Cats are a fine symbol of independence with or without sparklers.

Posted by: dagny at July 5, 2006 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm a dog guy but I'll agree fully!

I think the Grateful Dead Bears are specific and copyrighted. Had they been used by Google, a high powered attorney would have spit his granola out on the Corian® and hopped into his Prius to file suit.

Posted by: jk at July 5, 2006 4:26 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at July 5, 2006 6:14 PM

July 3, 2006

Sen McConnell on Flag Burning

It seems the Republicans at ThreeSources have found something else to disagree on. (Though we all feel it is wrong to end a sentence with a preposition.)

I have been rather strongly opposed to the flag burning amendment. Simply put, I think it wrong to put a symbol -- no matter how sacred -- above freedom.

I suggested in a comment that Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was deserving of two profiles in Courage awards. First, he opposed McCain-Feingold all the way to the Supreme Court as all the media were leading Kumbuyas with supporters from both parties. He should wear McConnell v FEC as a badge of honor.

I suggested a second for him for opposing the flag amendment. This time standing apart from his GOP Caucus, but both times choosing freedom of speech and a defense of the First Amendment as protecting political speech.

JohnGalt disagreed and provided this link to a press releases explaining his vote. JG found it unconvincing but jk finds it a perfect description of my beliefs. I provide a link to encourage everybody to read it in full.

I don’t share the slightest shred of sympathy with any who would dare desecrate the flag. They demean the service of millions of Americans, including my father and the brave men and women currently fighting the War on Terror. They deserve rebuke and condemnation—if not a punch in the nose.

I revere the American flag as a symbol of freedom. But behind it is something larger—the Constitution. The First Amendment, which protects our freedom of speech, is the most precious part of the Bill of Rights. As disgusting as the ideas expressed by those who would burn the flag are, they remain protected by the First Amendment.

Our Founding Fathers wrote the First Amendment because they believed that, even with all the excesses and offenses that freedom of speech would undoubtedly allow, truth and reason would triumph in the end. And they believed the answer to offensive speech was not to regulate it, but to counter it with more speech.


JG finds the comparison to the Second Amendment tenuous but I do not. These rights are granted absolutely in the Bill of Rights and I am tired of our officials picking and choosing the ones they feel should be honored.

Our country is sacred and exceptional for its ideas. I cannot put a symbol -- even one I cherish -- above those ideas.

Internecine Posted by John Kranz at 8:44 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Well done, JK. I fully understand the principled stand that you and the good Senator are taking in defense of the indefensible. Verily, I once stood with you on this. But, much to dagny's consternation, I've revised my position. I wondered if it were just the power of the season inflating my patriotic, jingoistic, jack-booted knee-jerk reflexes. Nope.

Please allow me to accurately state the opposition:

First, I don't find the comparision to the Second Amendment tenuous. It's an excellent comparison. What I do find tenuous is the idea that gun grabbers will be dissuaded in the slightest by the absence of a Flag Burning Amendment. And the argument it would encourage them is disassembled below.

As for the amendment, those who read my comments carefully know that I called for a prohibition on burning the Flag "in the public square." Burn away in your opium den, or even you trash strewn back yard, you wastoid maggots. Quoting myself, ['Freedom of Speech?' June 30, 2006]:

"Everyone should always have the right to say, "America sucks" or "the flag stands for ______" (insert collectivist slur of choice). But nobody should have the right to burn the Flag in the public square, even if he owns said flag. There is no "self-evident" right of an individual to publicly and uncerimoniously destroy, with extreme prejudice, the preeminent national symbol of this country."

So there you have it. Free Speech is perfectly protected, Constitutionally. Pyromania and incitement to riot, on the other hand...

Now, I'm not suggesting the offense carry a mandatory minimum term in jail, or even (necessarily) a fine. Just do away with the ridiculous spectacle of uniformed police officers holding back battle-worn vets who try to do exactly the same thing as Rick Monday, whom JK praised for rescuing a fuel-soaked flag from the centerfield grass of Dodgers stadium. ['Rick Monday', July 02, 2006]

Posted by: johngalt at July 5, 2006 3:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Always great to agree with Dagny. I appreciate your position protecting the flag but question your implementation.

1) The part about restricting free speech from the public square. Syrians can criticize the government in their basements, Sharansky bifurcates between fear societies and free societies by what can be done in the public square.

2) You're going to make something illegal yet prohibit jail time for contravention? a $1000 fine so that the rich have free speech but the poor do not?

3) Dangerous public pyromania and incitement to riot are already illegal, speech is legal. We're talking about a special exception for the US Flag.

Posted by: jk at July 5, 2006 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

To be fair, I have never seen "the ridiculous spectacle of uniformed police officers holding back battle-worn vets who try to do exactly the same thing as Rick Monday." A little slippery discretion is called for in that instance. To legislate it is sadly legislating away free speech.

You can't let the crowd tear the Illinois Nazis apart either, and as I've said "Man, I hate Illinois Nazis!"

Posted by: jk at July 5, 2006 4:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Illinois Nazis gather to SPEAK. Calling America a budding fear society if we stop flag burners is laughable. I admit I haven't given careful consideration to the implementation of such a statute, but what harm can come from giving the flag as much protection as other national symbols, like bald eagles for example?

Here's a brain twister for the ACLU: Do Illinois Nazis have the right to free speech if that speech includes use of the N-word? I wonder which sacred cow they would protect then.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2006 12:49 AM
But jk thinks:

I use Illinois Nazis because I like the Blues Brothers Allusion, but also because I think the high point of the ACLU’s' existence was their protection of the Nazi march in Skokie. I learned a lot about free speech from that, and considered myself a budding young civil libertarian. I also loved Alan Dershowitz's book, "Taking Liberties."

We sadly agree on what the ACLU has become, I cannot imagine their championing any but left wing causes anymore. they have become just another partisan organization.

But back to wrasslin': you put words in my mouth. No, we're not a budding fear society but free speech is about what you can do in the public square and allowing it in your basement doesn’t strike me as a valid compromise..

And is audible vocal speech the only thing protected? Are we in danger because the First Amendment doesn't enumerate blogs?

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2006 9:57 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I got the Blues Bros tie-in. (I never knew what Illinois Nazis were before that movie!)

The equality of spoken and written speech are clear.

Posted by: johngalt at July 6, 2006 11:57 AM

Hail to the Queen

Good. An organization which recognizes that men and women are essentially the same: rational animals. We have differences in how that essence is expressed and realized -- thank goodness! -- but we are both rational, emotional, self-sovereign, and responsible.

I recently came across an organization called the Independent Women's Forum, whose mission is:

The Independent Women's Forum was established to combat the women-as-victim, pro-big-government ideology of radical feminism. We seek to restore, strengthen, and extend that which promotes women's well being by advancing the principles of self-reliance, political freedom, economic liberty, and personal responsibility.

They have some good articles and news releases on their site, about Iraq, the culture, modern feminism, economics, modern education. They don't buy into the nonsense that capitalism is for men, or that women prefer socialism. (Where the hell did that come from??? Those people need to talk to Molly Pitcher. There is more about her here, and some good artistic renditions here.)

From what I read, IWF seems to live up to its name. Check them out. Give them some support. We need more women like that in America!!!

They had an essay contest on the topic:

Please discuss your experience on college campus as an independent woman. How has your college or university helped or hindered your intellectual and personal growth? Please describe what you think it means to be an independent woman in the year 2005.

In a news release, IWF said:

When we first launched this essay contest,” said Bernard [IWF President Michelle Bernard] during the award presentation, “we had hoped it would help us identify some promising young women and gather stories from young women around the country about their experiences on college campuses. I am so impressed with these young women who took the time and initiative to write about the important topic of what it means to be an independent woman today. Each of the winners…recognized that to be an independent woman today is to believe in yourself, to recognize that you have choices to make and that those choices will determine your future.”

This contest, to be held annually by IWF, is for full-time, undergraduate college women of any age. All of the applicants for this contest were enrolled as undergraduates in any college or university during the 2005-2006 school year, and submitted a 750 word essay. The essays addressed their experience on the college campus as an independent woman and how their college or university helped or hindered their intellectual and personal growth, and what it meant to them to be an independent woman in the year 2005. The first place winner receives $5000.

The winner was Alexandrea Valenti, who ended her essay by saying:

Today, being an independent woman is to recognize that the liberal ideology is not consistent with traditional feminism. Supporting affirmative action programs that treat women as inferior is not feminist; charging men with all the ills of the world is not feminist; supporting government entitlement programs that are a substitute for men as provider to women is most certainly not feminist. A truly independent woman takes pride in personal responsibility and does not expect anyone – whether a husband, a father, or the government – to fill the roles that men once filled in our lives. Likewise, an independent woman does not charge those women who freely choose to stay at home and nurture a family as “submissive” and “weak,” for it is these strong women who are raising the future of America and preserving the traditions that make this country the greatest in the world.

It is not only counter to the ideals of feminism to deny that this is independence for a woman, but it is truly un-American. Perhaps I am just being selfish and intolerant, but I believe that today, to be an independent woman is to be a patriotic American citizen.

The second and third place essays are available to read, also.

Politics Posted by Cyrano at 8:36 PM

Joementum or Nedrenaline

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman will collect signatures to get on the ballot as an independent!

    Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman is to announce today he will petition for a place on the November ballot as an "independent Democrat," giving him a chance to stay alive politically should he lose an Aug. 8 primary for the Democratic nomination.

    Lieberman, 64, a three-term senator whose outspoken support of the war in Iraq has brought months of grief and inspired a strong primary challenge from Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, intends to announce his decision this afternoon at the State Capitol.

    Even should he lose in August -- and the most recent public poll shows him leading Lamont by 15-percentage points among likely primary voters -- Lieberman would retain his status as a registered Democrat, but his name would not appear on the ballot line with other Democrats.

    Lieberman began making courtesy calls to leading Democrats late this morning.


If he's defeated by Ned Lamont on the eighth, but wins in November, will he have any obligation to cast a vote for Senate Majority Leader Reid?

Politics Posted by AlexC at 1:45 PM

Mexican Election

AP

    Two bitter rivals declared themselves winners of Mexico's extraordinarily close presidential race, even though official results wouldn't be ready for days, sparking cries of fraud from supporters and fears of violence.

    The two candidates were separated by fewer than 401,000 votes, with more than 36 million counted in a preliminary tally by electoral officials. The conservative, Felipe Calderon had 36.6 percent to leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's 35.5 percent, according to results from 91.4 percent of polling places.


I don't know if it's good or bad, but liberals are all the same the world over...
    "Smile: We've already won," Lopez Obrador told his. "We're going to defend our triumph. We aren't going to let them try to make our results disappear."

    Thousands of Lopez Obrador's supporters had gathered in a steady rain in Mexico City's Zocalo plaza, chanting "Lie! Lie! Fraud! Fraud!" after the delay was announced.


Fraud is always the first thing they claim, it's never "maybe our ideas aren't that great."

Current Events Posted by AlexC at 12:00 PM

July 2, 2006

Rick Monday

Hero

But jk thinks:

Amen. We need more Rick Mondays and fewer Amendments.

Posted by: jk at July 3, 2006 9:53 AM

And I Just Endorsed VP Gore...

Anti-Charisma Senatitus survivor, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), has announced his candidacy for 2008.

Union Leader

Bedford – After more than 30 years in the United States Senate and nearly 20 years after his first try for his party’s Presidential nomination, Joseph Biden has no doubts about making another run for the White House.

“I’m in,” the Delaware Democrat said Friday as he began a five-day visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state.

“I know I’m supposed to hedge, but I’m in.”


Hat-tip: Hugh

UPDATE: And the title is a joke, I still hope it's Gore.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:46 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

You forgot plagerist!

Posted by: AlexC at July 2, 2006 4:52 PM

Farm Subsidies

"This was an unintended consequence of the farm bill," said former representative Charles W. Stenholm, the west Texas Democrat who was once the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee. "Instead of maintaining a rice industry in Texas, we basically contributed to its demise."
But, gosh darn it, we tried! This quote is from a WaPo story that details $1.3 Billion in farm subsidies which go to those who do not farm.
EL CAMPO, Tex. -- Even though Donald R. Matthews put his sprawling new residence in the heart of rice country, he is no farmer. He is a 67-year-old asphalt contractor who wanted to build a dream house for his wife of 40 years.

Yet under a federal agriculture program approved by Congress, his 18-acre suburban lot receives about $1,300 in annual "direct payments," because years ago the land was used to grow rice.


Two things I do not understand:
  • Will the Washington Post ever translate this abuse of government power and tampering with markets into opposing a new government program? Or will they just pat themselves on the back for "discovering and exposing" this failure? [Ummm, that was rhetorical, you don't have to answer.]

  • As non-farmers outnumber farmers (though not at ThreeSources), why can we not kill these subsidies? Yeah, they have ADM and its lobbying Army, Willie Nelson, John Cougar Mellancamp, &c. But why cannot the urban liberals and small government rural conservatives team up to kill these market abominations. It would lower taxes for the rich and reduce food prices for the poor. Why does it not happen?

The second question is less rhetorical: why is the Ag lobby so strong?


A Disconnect

Chris Bowers at the liberal blog, MyDD asks....

    Establishment media? Traditional media? Corporate media? Mainstream media? Top-down media? Something else? Which term do you think best describes the national media in America that is not overtly partisan, but has been sucked into the vortex of the right-wing noise machine? For example, what term best describes CNN and the Washington Post (ostensibly neutral), but not Fox News and the Washington Times (overtly right-wing partisan).

Whew... if the media is right wing, where does that put me?

For the record, my vote is "clueless media."

But jk thinks:

Definitely "Corporate Media" Chris. The ability to share risk and rewards of enterprise through legal contracts is the root of all evil. Don't ever be afraid to use "Corporate" as a pejorative!

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2006 1:25 PM

The Case Against Campaign Finance Reform

If there was ever a study of the corrosive effects of money on the political system, it's the 30th Senate District in Pennsylvania.

    State Sen. Robert Jubelirer didn’t retain his 30th District seat, but he won the race to raise money by a landslide.

    In the pursuit of the Republican nomination for the seat, Jubelirer by far spent the most: about $1.4 million.

    About a half-million of that was spent in the last weeks of the race, according to his post-primary campaign finance report.

    John H. Eichelberger Jr. — who won the May 16 primary and faces Democrat Greg Morris in November — spent $254,509. Jubelirer spent about that much in newspaper, radio and television advertising in the post-primary period.

    Eichelberger paid about $88,000 for advertising out of about $145,000 spent during the post-primary period.

    Of note in Jubelirer’s most recent report is support from more than two dozen attorneys. Out of 59 contributions of $250 or more, 28 came from people listed as attorneys. Jubelirer is an attorney, although he has said he stopped practicing law about 25 years ago.


The challenger, Blair County Comissioner John Eichelberger was outspent nearly 6 to 1 and still beat the incumbent Senate President Pro-Tem Robert Jubelirer in a three way race 44% to 36%.

Pennsylvania Posted by AlexC at 12:49 PM

Review Corner

As proprietor of the dogsforbush.com site (though AlexC, JohnGalt and I are all represented), I don't have to push my bona fides as a dog lover. So I grabbed Disney's "Eight Below" about the Antarctic sled dog team requiring rescue.

Move over, Bambi and Dumbo, Disney has a new film to mentally scar another generation of youngsters. I weathered Bambi's mother's death alright as a youngster and have been able to see Dumbo leave his mom in the cage without having to be on Oprah or anything. Eight Below is very sad for a long time. I confess I wanted it to end through much of it "Okay, heartwarming rescue time, watching these dogs' hardships is getting to me..." This may be too much for little kids even if they're over 40. jk gives it two and a half stars.

Next was "Annapolis." The part of Louis Gossett, Jr. is played this time by Tyrese Gibson. The movie is good but we've seen it before: scrappy kid barely makes it into officer training. Tough sergeant is tough because he has to be. Scrappy kid is gonna quit the academy...

Since I had seen this plot (Where's Debra Winger?) I focused on the Zeitgeist. That's a pretentious term even for me, but TNR was discussing the Superman Z-geist, so I felt entitled. We spend two hours in the Naval Academy and encounter no patriotism whatsoever. There is a joke in one scene:

"Why are you here?"
"To fight for my country"
"Hahahahaha, no really..."

I paraphrase but the only mention of patriotism is to disavow it as a motive. While I don't remember Richard Gere delivering a lot of speeches on American exceptionalism, it seemed to be missing here.

For all my complaints, It's not a bad two hours; jk gives it two-point-five.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:15 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

I saw 'Eight Below' too. Other than thinking there was no way I'd get on that plane without the dogs in the first place, I thought it was entertaining and moving. Yes, there was plenty of sadness, but the real story the movie was based on has been "Disneyfied" substantially. The actual number of dogs that survived was a fraction of those depicted in 'Eight Below.'

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nankyoku_Monogatari


As for 'Annapolis' I will just say that we shouldn't be surprised that leftist directors making movies for leftist producers in leftist Hollywood would proselytize their "America Sucks" ideology in movies. The good that comes from this is how much less desire I have to drop 9.50 on a movie ticket since 9/11.

Posted by: johngalt at July 3, 2006 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought that I would elect to stay as well. I'm not really on track for a long peaceful old age to begin with, a last stand with my baby girl would be in order.

I'm glad you responded, I was thinking that such a thought was pretty non-Randian. The primacy of human life is pretty easy to establish, is it not? Willfully endangering it for animal life would be philosophically wrong. Have I got it wrong?

RE: Annapolis, it wasn't anti-American so much as completely neutral. It seemed odd that you would not encounter a lot of patriotism at an academy.

Posted by: jk at July 3, 2006 8:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, you've got it wrong.

Risking one's life to defend a value is inherently selfish, even if that value is the love of and for an animal.

You've added an example though of how Objectivism is commonly misunderstood. The idea is that individuals are free to make their own choices in life based upon reason and objective knowledge. The notion that one's actions should always be dictated in advance by the tenets of some belief system or another is the very definition of "non-Randian."

Posted by: johngalt at July 5, 2006 3:09 PM

July 1, 2006

Beleated Birthday Wishes

Not too late to celebrate two important birthdays. Thanks to Perry at Eidelblog

Blogantine reminded me that today is [Frederic] Bastiat's birthday. It's also shared by Thomas Sowell.

Happy birthday to two of the finest economic minds of all time. Their belief in the power of free markets is also a belief in the power of individual people, of individual freedom. What else can you call "freedom" but the ability to control your own life so long as you do not harm others?

I was thinking this morning that no collectivist society has ever approached the prosperity, let alone freedom, of free markets. The "poor" in a free market society have far more opportunity than the wealthiest members of a collectivist one. Except, of course, for the corrupt few at the top of the collectivist pyramid. Ironically, they are always more "elite" (higher than the typical person) and fewer in number than the so-called "bourgeoisie." Even at the Soviet Empire's height, breadlines were still the norm, yet no high official faced starvation. Execution, yes, if he didn't pull the Party's line, but survival (at everyone else's expense) was no danger.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM

Secrets

So if (for whatever reason) you wanted to know where the Vice President's wife shops, what would you do?

1) Stalk her?
2) Hang around the Naval Observatory?
3) Read the New York Times.

It's not a top secret, obviously, but c'mon.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 1:37 AM

Don't click this. Comments (2)