August 31, 2006

The Sky is Falling! Not

Someone I respect greatly and love dearly has been spreading MSM-like "end times" stories about the state of GOP leadership in Congress come November. And who can blame him, with polls like these on the "Generic Congressional Vote" showing Democrats leading Republicans 50 points to 38. But we don't elect legislators that way, kids. We send folks to Washington from distinct geographical areas that must be considered individually and specifically. Type in house races 2006 polling map on Google and click I'm Feeling Lucky. You'll get Election Projection - 2006 Edition, an admitted GOP leaning site that breaks them all down using objective data. The result? GOP loses 4 in the Senate and Dems gain 8 in the house. Still Republican control all around.

And this doesn't even count my, "Oh crap, Democrats really DO want to lose the war" bounce on election eve.

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 7:48 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

I don't know who your sagacious friend is, but he has some unfortunately good company. Michael Barone, Fred Barnes, and William Kristol have all admitted an extreme likelihood of losing the House, and all three live and die by the kind of district-by-district evaluation you champion. (Barone's claim is that he has visited all 435).

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2006 8:03 PM
But jk thinks:

To be fair, Hugh Hewitt is with you and points to GOP advantages in fundraising: http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/g/db79ec5f-9196-4616-86c3-8dc9e5fe0e82

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2006 5:46 PM

CEOs Hate Me!

I'm obviously bored in the morning, as I've taken to listening to the local Air America affiliate on my morning commute. (This station cracks me up. It's called "Progressive Talk" and they also have "Progressive News, Progressive Weather, and Progressive Traffic." Just what is "Progressive Traffic" for people who hate cars? Traffic jams everywhere?) Anyway, this morning Jay Marvin interviewed Barbara Ehrenreich, author of 'Bait and Switch - The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream' (Amazon sales rank #5,347). The premise of the book is that unemployed white collar workers can't get jobs because of the "magisterial indifference of the corporate world" which is a euphemism for "nobody worries about me." The line that tingled my spine this morning was when Barbara said, "It really is criminal the way corporations use and abuse their employees." Apparently the unemployment rate is low only because white collar workers take "survival jobs" with low pay and no "benefits" (read: full-boat health insurance). Barbara was describing how what is needed is for white collar workers to organize for collective bargaining with corporations. Well, I thought, at least she's offering a plan. That's more than the "anybody but Bush" anti-war crowd (of which she's clearly a member) has done in the 5 years since 9/11.

As I considered whether to blog this I imagined how enjoyable it would be to read what JK does with Ehrenreich's hanging curve ball that "corporations don't care about their employees." It'll be much more enjoyable than watching what the Mets did to (Colorado Rockies') Josh Fogg's pitching at home last night!

But jk thinks:

Rrrr! I tuned in and it was 0-7 in the second. I'll be glad when the Mets go home.

I don't think I can tell the choir anything they don't know: we have a strange idea of coercion in this country. "I have to work at XYZ Corp because I have a big mortgage on my 3500 square foot house." Not really gulag tales.

Milton Friedman (I hope everybody's watching "Free To Choose" over at The Everyday Economist) asked a union leader if he thought they could go to an impoverished country, set a high minimum wage and make everyone wealthy. He said it's preposterous. I'd have to put collective bargaining for the corporate crowd in the same dustbin.

Wages are set by global markets and as such are probably as truly fair as they have ever been.

Jeez, we're not playing the Mets again tonight are we?

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2006 7:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If I blog every hairbrained thing I hear on "Progressive Radio" we'll run out of storage on the blog's server, but this morning Jay Marvin wanted to ask "people who consider themselves conservative" if they are "proud of poverty." Swell Jay is willing to give up his tax refund to make sure the children of deadbeat dads have good healthcare, but those who aren't willing to be their brother's keeper are obviously "proud" of what they "created." Nice.

The good news is we sent those east coast city slickers home with a fat lip last night as the Rockies beat the Mets 8-4. I hope the National League wins the World Series (for only the 3rd time in the last 9 years) and the Mets are odds-on favorite to be the senior circuit's representative. The Rockies had an excellent year, proving that they can win in Coors field with pitching and defense instead of scoring runs by the dozen. If they can shore up the bullpen next season they'll have a real chance at postseason again. But for the here and now, Go Mets!

Posted by: johngalt at September 1, 2006 10:08 AM
But jk thinks:

Oh yeah, I wanted them to leave 'cause they're dammned good. I always pull for the NL and this Mets team deserves a shot.

The designated hitter smacks of collectivism, and I can't abide by it. AL indeed.

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2006 10:30 AM

Quite the Pair

It's official. Sens. Byrd and Stevens both had holds on the earmark-transparency database.

Confirming what we already knew, Senator Robert Byrd admitted today that he's the other secret holder.

What are the odds it would be those two? I'm going with 94%

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

What if we offer them amnesty: The database will NOT document the pork barrel projects of the past, only future wasteful spending. Think it'd make a difference to the two senior senators?

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2006 7:00 PM

Recycling as Gris-Gris

Penn and Teller crush the myth of recycling. Funny stuff (salty language, if that disturbs you).

Hat-tip: White Lighting Axiom: Redux

Posted by John Kranz at 1:37 PM

A Democratic 110th

I'm not going to excerpt. It's free, read it all. The Wall Street Journal highlights the luminaries that will likely chair committees in a Dem 110th.

Scared yet?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | What do you think? [5]
But jk thinks:

Via email. I disagree, but it is too good not to post:

Maybe the conversation should look like this next time our boys and girls are in the recumbent class cloakroom...

"Remember '06 when they tossed us out on our ass for spending too much and betraying the principles of the folks that elected us, and remember how hard it was to get our jobs back. Maybe we better vote no on this spending bill so that doesn't happen to us." This is like Iran, or raising kids... if there are no consequences for bad behavior, you are going to continue to get bad behavior. So if it takes Speaker Pelosi to remind Republicans what Republicans are supposed to do, then so be it.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2006 1:01 PM
But dagny thinks:

I usually leave the political wrangling around here to the experts and focus on philosophy but here goes anyway. I believe the, “government by gridlock,” argument holds some merit especially as neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are successfully representing the individual rights that are the cornerstone of our nation.

The last paragraph of the WSJ article goes like this:

The House is only one half of Capitol Hill, and Republicans stand a better chance of holding the Senate, albeit with some losses there too. Mr. Bush will also retain his veto power, and he would finally have to use it. So the amount of liberal legislation that actually became law might not be all that extensive. But the national debate would nonetheless shift notably left. Voters looking to send a message to Republicans this fall may be surprised at their return mail from Washington.

Better to let the socialists get control of the house now while serious damage can still be prevented by the means listed in the article then to maybe lose any hope of smaller government in 2008. Perhaps if voters are, “surprised at their return mail from Washington,” we can get a presidential candidate to really support in 2008.

Posted by: dagny at August 31, 2006 4:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Were we not at war, I might join you and my emailer. But Rep Alcee Hastings is in line to chair the Intelligence Committee. That would be one of six impeached Federal judges in our nation’s history.

W will likely face Impeachment from Conyers and Hastings. This will be deleterious to the war effort.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2006 6:13 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Not to mention that a Dem 110th would use the FCC to stifle any debate/dissent on talk radio under the "fairness" doctrine (I may have that wrong, feel free to correct me!)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 1, 2006 10:11 AM
But jk thinks:

It's hard to enumerate the damage they could pursue. The FCC is an Executive function and, as the tough love crowd points out, legislative victories would be tough to come by with a slim majority in one chamber.

My concern is the mischief they could cause, procedurally, that would damage the war effort. I certainly hope JohnGalt is right on this one.

Posted by: jk at September 1, 2006 10:24 AM

August 30, 2006

Saturday Was Climate Change

Yet nobody told Samizdata. Or maybe it's the time difference.

In The Church of Global Warming Robert Clayton Dean offers some fun for the skeptics:

How can you tell who someone's god is? You look to see whose name they invoke as the cause of all things, good or bad. By that standard, the god of the devout Left is Global Warming; here is the Psalm of Al, from which the faithful constantly quote (King James Version):

1. Great storms ravage our cities, and the wise man saith: Global Warming hath done this.

2. Drought keepeth all storms at bay, and the wise man saith: This also hath Global Warming done.

3. Global Warming maketh the oceans rise; it maketh deep snow to fall;

4. Flood and fire, feast and famine, typhoon and tornado, hail and lightning, all things good and bad that come from sky or sea, Global Warming hath made them all.

5. And when our homes are beneath the waves, we shall know that Global Warming in its wrath hath seen our sins.

6. For our vehicles that glut themselves on oil, for the trees we cut and land we clear,

7. For the cooling and heating of our houses, for the plowing and harvesting of our fields, we are punished.

8. Whenever we burn carbon and release it into the air, we shall know that Global Warming seeth it, and is wroth.

9. O man! Thou hast flouted the great god of the sky, and by three degrees of temperature we shall be burned,

10. For Global Warming is a jealous god, and small and annoying is man.


In the comments, one Perry E. Metzger, offers a thoughtful libertarian view of global warming that brother Silence might enjoy:
I'm about as radical a libertarian as one can find, but I'm also educated in the sciences, and so far as I can tell, global warming is not a myth.

I don't see how the usual batch of knee jerk socialist responses are going to fix the issue. I'm also not exactly a fan of the "everyone drive less and use more efficient lightbulbs!" pabulum.

However, it is stupid to deny scientific facts. Yes, you can find plenty of web sites that will cite very biased information and claim global warming is a myth, just as you can find web sites that claim that evolution is a myth and provide "evidence" for it, but at this point, there is a mountain of reproducable studies that say the issue is real.

What do I think should be done about it? "Leave the market alone."

Let the market switch us to solar and nuclear power as the price of fossil fuels goes up and as the price of other technologies go down. My biggest worry is that insane greens who have a completely irrational hatred of nuclear power (burning coal pollutes the world far worse) will block it.

Libertarians should not be denying scientific fact. We should instead spend our time combating the religious impulse of people to think the modern world is evil and that we must repent for our sins by living cruddy lives and waiting for (in their minds) our inevitable and justified doom at the hands of a wronged Gaia.


I'm a bit more skeptical than Metzger, but his words are consistent with the new jk manifesto: believe or don’t, but don't use it to stop modernity.

UPDATE: The comments, as usual in the Samizdata post are superb. They run heavily skeptical, but they are bright and informed.

UPDATE II: Except for mine, I tried to bring Dr. Popper inito it, as his "Open Society and its Enemies" appears in their logo. But I muffed the html. Harrumph.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 3:43 PM | What do you think? [3]
But rick tennesen thinks:

global warming liberals who smoke...how much do you think the net smoking of people in the world contributes to this phenomenon?

they will quickly pass on this as it can only the the fault of big business.

Posted by: rick tennesen at August 30, 2006 9:39 PM
But silence dogood thinks:

Good post on Samizdata for sure, good to see the debate reaching a higher level.

You mentioned the yellow sphere in the sky and how can we humans have more influence that the sun? Space may be the answer, we're 93 million odd miles closer.

Posted by: silence dogood at August 30, 2006 11:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I must quote the famed astrophysicist Eric Idle here: "Orbiting at 19 miles per second, so it's reckoned, the Sun which is the source of all our power."

As the Sun is recognized to be the sole source of heat, the proximity argument fails to move me. I once saw a comparison of solar activity to temperature which correlated quite closely.

Thanks for the comment, Rick, and welcome to the blogroll. The Keystone Staters continue to dominate...

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2006 10:02 AM

I'm a Cat-4!

My wife has been keeping an eye on hurricane John in the Pacific, and informs me that I am a Category Four now. I don't know how I feel about my eponymous storm, but I had this idea a few days before I knew about it.

Let's create a national auction site for hurricane names. What do you buy the guy who has everything? Why, bid up his name (or his worst enemy's) on eyeBay! Unlike eBay, multiple people can bid on a single entry on eyeBay. Give the money to hurricane relief, it's all in good fun. A side benefit is that it gets the racial lobbies out. If you want Hurricane Shaniqua, Rep Waters, get out your Visa card.

Hurricane John, out!

Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM

The Shame of General Powell

Just when you thought l'Affaire Plame could not get any stranger, Michael "Spikey" Isikoff and The Nation's David Corn release a book with the miscreants finally identified. Whodunit? The State Department.

Thankfully, Christopher Hitchens and the Wall Street Journal have read the book so you don't have to. Hitch casually mentions that

What does emerge from Hubris is further confirmation of what we knew all along: the extraordinary venom of the interdepartmental rivalry that has characterized this administration. In particular, the bureaucracy at the State Department and the CIA appear to have used the indiscretion of Armitage to revenge themselves on the "neoconservatives" who had been advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein. Armitage identified himself to Colin Powell as Novak's source before the Fitzgerald inquiry had even been set on foot. The whole thing could—and should—have ended right there. But now read this and rub your eyes: William Howard Taft, the State Department's lawyer who had been told about Armitage (and who had passed on the name to the Justice Department)
also felt obligated to inform White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. But Powell and his aides feared the White House would then leak that Armitage had been Novak's source—possibly to embarrass State Department officials who had been unenthusiastic about Bush's Iraq policy. So Taft told Gonzales the bare minimum: that the State Department had passed some information about the case to Justice. He didn't mention Armitage. Taft asked if Gonzales wanted to know the details. The president's lawyer, playing the case by the book, said no, and Taft told him nothing more.

Corn himself, Hitch reminds us, had portrayed the affair a little differently:
The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.

The Wall Street Journal Ed page, even less a friend to the Powell State Department points out the mendacity and insubordination of the President's cabinet.
At a minimum, there appears to be a serious question of disloyalty here. By keeping silent, Messrs. Powell and Armitage let the President take political heat for the case, while also letting Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby and other White House officials twist in the wind for more than two years. We also know that it was the folks in Mr. Powell's shop--including his former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson and intelligence officer Carl Ford Jr.--who did so much to trash John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the U.N. in 2005. The State Department clique that Mr. Bush tolerated for so long did tremendous damage to his Administration.

As for Justice, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case in an act of political abdication. That left then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey in charge, and he also presumably knew about Mr. Armitage's role as the leaker who started it all. Yet if the book's account is correct, he too misled the White House with his silence. Mr. Comey is also the official who let Mr. Fitzgerald alter his mandate from its initial find-the-leaker charge to the obstruction and perjury raps against Mr. Libby that are all this case has come down to. Remind us never to get in a foxhole with either Mr. Comey or the Powell crowd.


I enjoyed Colin Powell's autobiography and have total respect for his service to country. I've always considered him a McCain-type guy who appreciates accolades from Washington society a little more than his principles.

This episode, however, places him in a different light. He sat back and watched the administration suffer a PR nightmare and key staff be subjected to expensive and grueling legal troubles. Secretary Powell was clearly out of line here. My respect has held up through many things, but not this. He is just another unprincipled politician walking the streets of our nation's capital. More disappointing that he knows the importance of freedom yet will not fight for it.

UPDATE: Investors Business Daily (Hat-tip: Insty) has some harsh words for Prosecutor Fitzgerald:

But it's hard to see anything but politics as the motivation for Fitzgerald's handling of the Plame affair. The facts indicate that Fitzgerald knew early on that the original leaker was State Department official Richard Armitage. So why did Fitzgerald let a cloud hang over White House adviser Karl Rove's head for so long? And why is Fitzgerald continuing to hound Libby, the former vice presidential chief of staff?

The answer seems to be that Armitage, who is charged with nothing and brags that he hasn't even consulted a lawyer, was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's right-hand man and a critic of pre-emptive war in Iraq. Libby, on the other hand, was an architect of that war strategy. Do doves get a pass in Fitzgerald's book, while hawks get an indictment?


President Bush Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM

Where's Bono?

The U2 star made points with me when he befriended Senator Jesse Helms and President Bush as allies in his quest to help Africa. He showed a far greater understanding than most, looking at debt and trade, instead of just aid.

Lately, he seems to fallen right back in the celebrity pit. We have a bracelet now (two guys in my band wear them) but bracelets are not going to fix Africa. Freedom is required to fix Africa and trade is an important component of freedom.

The Wall Street Journal asks (paid site, sorry) if helping isn't all talk.

Senator Bill Frist is trying to renew part of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which since 2000 has provided duty-free access to the U.S. market for substantially all products from most sub-Saharan countries. The full act doesn't expire until 2015 but its textile provisions are set to expire in 2007. These let sub-Saharan-assembled clothing that uses fabric purchased from any third country enter the American market duty-free. If this provision lapses, Africa could lose 150,000 jobs.

Mr. Frist has said he wants to extend the third-country textile provision so that goods sown in Africa will retain their duty-free access to the U.S. But to do that, he'll need Democratic support. Incredibly, it's not a sure thing.


Rep. Rangel has not signaled that he will support this bill, and without support, it won't get done in a short session.

Better than bracelets, guys. Better than bracelets.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM

August 29, 2006

Colorado sheep dip

A few weeks back I celebrated Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's (R-CO) position on Club for Growth's legislative pork scorecard. She voted fifteen times in nineteen chances to kill a pork bill in Congress. So imagine my surprise when my wife receives a political mailing that claims Musgrave "never saw a pork barrel project she didn't like." A prior mailing also charged, essentially, that Marilyn Musgrave and Tom Delay are the same person!

So who is making these charges? A Republican group! They're called "Coloradoans for Life." Yeah, they're Republicans. Right? Aren't they? Well, it's hard to tell with this shadowy bunch but it ain't bloody likely. In addition to slamming Musgrave they've also mailed us to say what a louse Bob Beauprez (R for CO governor) is, and run radio spots to say just how peachy Angie Paccione (D for Musgrave's seat) is. But they've chosen "Coloradoans for Life" as their official name. Why? Because rural Coloradoans and country radio listeners are predominantly Republican and will ignore every word CFL says if they know who is saying it. And CFL sure isn't saying who they are anywhere on their web site.

Ah, politics. Reminds me of the feed lot down the road.

Colorado Posted by JohnGalt at 3:18 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Trekmedic - I think this qualifies as a "Red November Initiative" post, but I'm no blog techie. Your post said, "Email me and I'll send you the blogroll" or something like that. I don't know what I'd do with a blogroll unless it had cinnamon and frosting. (Starbucks French Roast - straight up.)

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2006 4:54 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

(Sigh) Yeah, John, I'll add this story to my Red November Initiative!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 1, 2006 10:00 AM

Wage Disparity

The Good people at the Economic Policy Institute have written a report on The State of Working America. Thankfully, Tim Worstall at TCS has read it so you don't have to.

Of the EPI, Worstall says "They are, as you may know, the people who urge that the USA become more like the European countries, most especially the Scandinavian ones. Less income inequality, more leisure time, stronger unions and so on."

Worstall points out that they have manipulated the data in a way that favors the EU economies in the chart, to get this damning chart:

wage_gap.gif

Now don't you feel bad living here! Look at that chart -- something must be done!

How we're supposed to read this is that the USA has a very uneven income distribution, that the poorest 10% only get 39% of the median income, that the richest 10% get 210%. Compare and contrast that with the most egalitarian society amongst those studied, Finland, where the rich get 111% and the poor get 38%. Shown this undoubted fact we are therefore to don sackcloth and ashes, promise to do better and tax the heck out of everybody to rectify this appalling situation.

But hang on a minute, that's not quite what is being shown. In the USA the poor get 39% of the US median income and in Finland (and Sweden) the poor get 38% of the US median income. It's not worth quibbling over 1% so let's take it as read that the poor in America have exactly the same standard of living as the poor in Finland (and Sweden). Which is really a rather revealing number don't you think? All those punitive tax rates, all that redistribution, that blessed egalitarianism, the flatter distribution of income, leads to a change in the living standards of the poor of precisely ... nothing.


After they manipulate the data so it does not show how badly we are kicking EU asses, the disparity the find is that we have richer people.

But AlexC thinks:

The big difference is blonde Scandinavian babes. There's immigration I support 110%. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at August 29, 2006 1:42 PM
But jk thinks:

You vill help dem vit the inglish, ya?

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2006 1:49 PM
But AlexC thinks:

One on one... two on one... three on one.... I'm doing it for our nation, JK. For America!

Posted by: AlexC at August 29, 2006 5:39 PM

Political Abduction

The son of a lawmaker was recently kidnapped from a city street and his mother and sister were shot the following day.

Iraq is a terrible place.

Too bad it happened in Philadelphia.

    The adult son of a state lawmaker was abducted from a Philadelphia street at gunpoint, and his mother and sister were shot by intruders a day later, officials said Monday.

    Shamari Taylor, 26, remained missing for the second day Monday, while his 56-year-old mother remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition after being shot in the head. The sister, 21, had been treated and released Sunday evening.

    Taylor is the son of Rep. John Myers, a Philadelphia Democrat who has been a vocal advocate for gun-control legislation.


The motive is unclear.

But jk thinks:

We need a timetable to pull out of Philadelphia. This administration has no plan. General Washington didn't have enough troops...

Good luck to the family -- get better, get found.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2006 1:47 PM

Unfinished in New Orleans

Kim Strassel was on Kudlow & Company last night and made several valid points on post Katrina New Orleans. The first is that the major lesson is to distrust government. Wal*Mart had generators, FedEx and UPS were there before USPS -- private enterprise outperformed government at every level.

Sadly, she also reminded viewers of the missed opportunities to harness the private sector in rebuilding. There was much hope on her employer's editorial page of enterprise zones, tax incentives, repeal of Davis-Bacon, and the President's promised urban homestead plan to privatize some government land.

Her employers are just a bit kinder in the lead editorial today (free site).

The post-Katrina spend-fest in Louisiana will be remembered as one of the greatest taxpayer wastes in U.S. history. First came the FEMA $2,000 debit-cards fiasco intended to pay for necessities that were used for things like flat-panel TVs and tattoos. Then came the purchase of thousands of mobile homes that cost as much as $400,000 per family housed; the $200 million for renting the Carnival Cruise Ship; millions more in payments that went for season football tickets, luxury vacation resorts, even divorce lawyers. Federal flood insurance policies surely will encourage many to rebuild in the same flood plains and at the same height as before.

They do document some successes but try not to get too excited out there:
Some of the tax incentives were enacted and have spurred more business investment. And charter schools will serve thousands of the kids still residing in New Orleans this fall. But Congress and Louisiana's pols have ignored most of the promising free-market reforms, opting instead for red tape as usual.

Even Bush 41 suspended Davis Bacon in the Andrew cleanup. The Democrats are in full dudgeon that only $125 Billion has been allocated. At the risk of piling on, I am disgusted that no conservative leadership or political courage was shown. "Just shovel money so we look compassionate" is not a Republican value.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM

August 28, 2006

Internecine -- The Home Game

I had a spirited discussion with my brother-in-law yesterday. He and I agree on much, but not on immigration. I got a little cranky and thought I should share it with all of you.

We have argued the merits and the economics around here but the politics are now becoming clear. I'd like to ask my more restrictionist blog brothers if they have buyer’s remorse on their intransigence, which is a rhetorical device for me to suggest that they should.

Congress will come back from an August recess for a short session before heading home to campaign for the midterms. My nine months of optimism are coming to a close. The idea of a conference committee hammering out a bill of this size and divergence in a month -- two months before an election -- is preposterous. Ain't gonna happen. That, my brother-in-law and I can agree on.

A few months ago, Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard asked the House GOP members if they were going to follow [Rep.] Tom Tancredo over a cliff by insisting on an enforcement-only solution, against the wishes of business, free-traders,, minority groups, and high-ranking party politicians. The answer, many weeks later is a resounding "well, gee, I guess so...the water down at the bottom of those rocks looks pretty warm."

By refusing to compromise, the Tancredo wing of the party has prevented an immigration bill and helped make the party look feckless right before a six-year midterm which is historically difficult for the President's party. So my questions to the Tancredoites around here are:

  • By preventing any bill, you have kept the status quo on immigration for at least another year, more likely many depending on the vicissitudes of elections and public opinion. Do you believe the status quo is better than a compromise security + guest worker + citizenship path that might have some elements you don't like? Are your interests better served with no bill?

  • Failure and intransigence will clearly hurt the GOP in the November elections and contribute to the severe risk of losing at least the House. Do you believe you'll get a better bill out of a Democratic -- or at least less Republican -- House?

  • Chances are slim, but perhaps not yet none. Seeing the real danger, would any of you get behind the Pence compromise (which includes much we both hate) just to get something done to give the GOP an achievement to run on and not wait for the Democratic 110th to write?

Rep Tancredo is one of 535 legislators. Let him influence a compromise but don't let him derail the train.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM | What do you think? [9]
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the candor. But I will not join you in choosing the status quo. The border is lawless and porous, we have no idea who or how many are coming across and for what purpose; honest people who just want to work must pay coyotes and risk their lives in crossing; it seems foolish to enumerate all the problems. Yet you and my friend Rep Tancredo will not compromise anything away to get additional security. I just don't see who is served.

We differ on election predictions and I hope you are right. My point, however, is that under no serious scenario will you have a 100th that is more devoted to border security than the 109th, so your intransigence will cost you two years of status quo lawless immigration or result in a worse bill.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2006 4:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ummm, that's the ROYAL you, right? If it was up to me you can bet there would have been a bill!

As for 2 more years of "lawless" immigration, by my estimation that's been going on in earnest for closer to 80 years.

Reagan compromised in '86 and it took 20 years for the issue to regain traction. I'd rather keep it on the front burner.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2006 4:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I always consider you noble, yet never monarchic, jg.

My point was that the failure to compromise did not do any of the enforcement-only people any good. They could have achieved great gains in border security.

They all are presumably grownups who know legislation is about compromise and deal-making. That’s Madisonian Democracy. I want to teach Iraqi Imams and Mullahs that it's worth it to give up something to get something sometimes -- and I cannot even convince a Congressman of my party from my home state.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2006 10:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Major Garrett reported on 'Special Report' last night that both houses are expected to put $270 million for additional border fencing into security bills before the end of the session. And we didn't even have to agree to give 12 million more dubious votes to the DNC!

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2006 10:59 AM
But jk thinks:

As a dues paying mmeber of the VRWC I saw it too. Two hundred seventy whole million, huh? Then the problem is fixed! Now all I need is a new gardener.

Posted by: jk at August 31, 2006 12:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That's right, because your old gardener Ernesto can now earn more per hour building fence by the mile near Tijuana! Skip and Buffy finally have the opportunity that's been denied them lo these many years by unfair competition from "those who will do the jobs Amer'cans won't."

If we're going to throw money at a problem then hiring illegals to do federal work is the most efficacious. I recently heard Senator Allard talking about the cost estimate for the Senate plan: $210Bn, if I remember correctly.

Posted by: johngalt at August 31, 2006 6:50 PM

August 27, 2006

Capabilities vs Rights

al Reuters

    Iran's president launched a new phase in the Arak heavy-water reactor project on Saturday, saying Tehran would not give up its right to nuclear technology despite Western fears it aims to make atomic bombs.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was speaking just days before an August 31 deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for Iran to halt uranium enrichment -- the West's biggest worry in Iran's atomic program -- or face possible sanctions.

    "No one can deprive a nation of its rights based on its capabilities," Ahmadinejad said in his speech to inaugurate the heavy water project.


I did not know that rights were capability based. I'll make sure to remember that next time Israel retaliates (invoking it's right of self-defense) in a way which makes the liberal comentariat complain that there is no proportionality.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 6:01 PM

August 26, 2006

Good WaPo Research

Samuel H. Preston and Emily Buzzell at the Washington Post answer a question that has been in the back of my mind but that I have been too lazy to research.

In short, there are a lot of young men and women serving our nation in Iraq. Every death is regrettable, but how many would die if they stayed home or went on spring break in Aruba?

Kudos to Preston and Buzzell for a nifty piece.

Between March 21, 2003, when the first military death was recorded in Iraq, and March 31, 2006, there were 2,321 deaths among American troops in Iraq. Seventy-nine percent were a result of action by hostile forces. Troops spent a total of 592,002 "person-years" in Iraq during this period. The ratio of deaths to person-years, .00392, or 3.92 deaths per 1,000 person-years, is the death rate of military personnel in Iraq.

To give away the ending, that’s half the US average. But wait, that includes 95 year olds and people not in the good health of our men and women in uniform.

U.S. men 18-39 only face 39% of the risk, which seems closer to an intuitive estimate. But -- insert your own W.C. Fields joke here -- on the whole, it's better to be in Iraq than be an African-American in Philadelphia; the latter is 11% more risky.

"The death rate of American troops in Vietnam was 5.6 times that observed in Iraq. " (I blogged that we lost well over twice as many in a short while in WWII fighting for eight square miles of Iwo Jima).

In short, to post the number dead is specious. Kudos to Professor Preston and Ms. Buzzell for the perspective, and to the WaPo for printing it.

Hat-tip: Insty

But johngalt thinks:

I'll wager that civilian deaths in Iraq are a similar fraction of those in Vietnam and WWII. Despite the aggressive efforts of subversive elements to create humanitarian crisis there, far more "innocent" women and children died as a result of thousand-plane raids and B-52 carpet bombing missions. War is still hell, and should be waged as a last resort, but western ingenuity, skill and respect for life has dramatically reduced the scope of collateral damage. (To the point that Hezbollah had to STAGE atrocity scenes in their recent "stab the sleeping tiger" war with Israel.

Islamic terrorists claim to "love death like we love life." We love life so much we try to spare those of the wives, daughters and children of even these murderous bastards.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2006 12:29 PM

Warmer... Cooler.... etc.

Saturday has apparently degenerated into global warming climate change day here at ThreeSources.com

UPI

    Abdusamatov and his colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences astronomical observatory said the prediction is based on measurement of solar emissions, Novosti reported. They expect the cooling to begin within a few years and to reach its peak between 2055 and 2060.

    "The Kyoto initiatives to save the planet from the greenhouse effect should be put off until better times," he said. "The global temperature maximum has been reached on Earth, and Earth's global temperature will decline to a climatic minimum even without the Kyoto protocol."


Can we settle on a direction here?

But johngalt thinks:

But it's clear there is "no debate amongst serious scientists" that global warming is real and poses a threat to Earth.

Posted by: johngalt at August 27, 2006 12:10 PM
But silence dogood thinks:

So with published articles running thousands to one supporting versus refuting global warming you figure it's about a draw? I know I am alone around here, but to review the facts, there are multiple independent sources of data showing warming of the earth and lower atmosphere, lab tests that show the IR absorbing capability of CO2, and fairly simple chemical equations showing CO2 as a byproduct of combustion. Can we completely and irrefutably connect the dots? No. Will we ever? Perhaps not, when your "system" is basically the entire world we live in with all of the variables that suggests. Valid discussion still exists on the topic, but the amount of BS hoisted out there by the "refuters" borders on the ridiculous. To be clear, recent and current models do predict actual measurements we are seeing, the global cooling JK often refers to from the '70's was a very short lived prediction at the very beginning of the study of climate change, and water vapor is part of all of these studies, in fact there are wavelengths of IR that pass through water vapor but are absorbed by CO2 so while the concentration of these gases relate to each other, their affects can still be additive.

So while I agree with JK that more research is needed I disagree with the notion that no policy decision should be made at this time. I don't see it as a leap of faith to accept the theory that we have the capability to upset the balance of nature, small scale evidence of that is all around. The points of discussion should be more about what the opportunities are for greener energy, for economic as well as environmental reasons. Even taking the most cynical attitude that this global warming is a liberal myth and nothing more than environmental marketing, good marketing is a proven money maker and investing some of our energy dollars away from oil and gas exploration and toward "greener" sources seems like a very good bet.

Posted by: silence dogood at August 28, 2006 2:51 PM
But jk thinks:

You just wanted to comment 'cause we have your favorite password today.

The reasons that you describe support Global Warming as a theory. I just think it ignores two small things: the amount of plant life on this planet and that hot, round thingy in the sky. These variables make computer modeling difficult at best.

I've seen zero studies where predictions matched future data but many results where they shoehorned exigencies to fit theory. That is one step above "making stuff up."

In the post below, I point to serous flaws in the theory vs. data sphere, by two people who believe in man-made global warming. To defer to Dr. Popper again, science is not a democracy. You probably had 1000-to-one scientists believing Aristotelian dynamics. But they didn't settle it by election, Signori Galileo apocryphally dropped some stones off a tower.

No, it would not hurt to invest some money in other technologies; private firms likely should. But that is NOT what the climate change lobby is calling for. A large contingent are anti-moderns who want to impede progress and punish prosperity. When they will come out and admit the Kyoto treaty is one of the stupidest ideas of all time and seek -- like the folks in my post below -- some realistic solutions based on science and not politics, I might just surprise you and climb aboard.

Posted by: jk at August 28, 2006 4:32 PM
But silence dogood thinks:

Guess I better get another one in before my favorite password expires!

Point taken concerning Mr. Galileo, but if I had quoted a UP article from the Russian Academy of Sciences would you have rushed to support me? My point was that you can find hundreds of papers that make the opposite case and yet this is the one you cling to.

So, you know greenhouse gases exist, it is this effect of our atmosphere that keeps us from looking like Mars. You know that the primary two are water vapor and CO2 and it is easy to measure the increase in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Further it is proven that CO2 absorbs IR and we see evidence of warming from melting ice and shrinking glaciers. From here however you are not willing to even entertain the concept that we could be changing our environment as a whole? Maybe the dots aren't all connected, but there sure are a lot of dots.

I can't speak for this climate change lobby but I do know that there is lots of discussion of alternative energy. This is not no energy, but alternate sources and systems. I think you demonize too much the whole topic based upon the shoutings of a few fringe elements.

Posted by: silence dogood at August 29, 2006 12:29 AM
But jk thinks:

Go Blue Devils!

Back to Popper. A thousand articles supporting a theory are not as important as one refuting it. Thousands supported Aristotelian, then Newtonian mechanics, the final word was Mr. Einstein's Special Relativity in 1905.

I'm not saying the Russian paper is somehow dispositive of Global Warming. To be fair, this is Alex's post and JohnGalt's comment. I will say that it reinforces my opinion in the post below that we do not know enough to affect policy.

I might demonize the environmental movement -- they give me a lot of material. I'm cool with alternative energy sources and continued research. overturn Raich v Gonzales and let the hemp people power our cities. But the Sierra Club and other K Street environmental groups want us to all live in Manhattan densities and return everything else to the wild. There is a huge anti-modernity base in that movement. Were it expunged, I would probably sign up.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2006 10:04 AM
But johngalt thinks:

My intent was to transparently bait Silence on this post. He's been absent far too long 'round here.

But my comment is valid: Silence has said before that there is "no debate amongst serious scientists" that man-made global warming is real, and he apparently continues to do so.

JK and Karl Popper's excellent points about science and democracy address the veracity of the theory. My point regarded the claim that the debate was settled at all, without regard for whether that "consensus" is (or was) wrong.

I'll certainly give a little credit to the scientific wherewithall of the Russian Academy of Sciences astronomical observatory. After all, it's not the "astrological" observatory.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2006 2:59 PM

Global Cooling

Blog brother AlexC sends me a link to a Q and O blog post on global warming.

Written by Dale Franks (neither a Q nor and O), the post captures my position very well. Silence and I have talked past each other on these pages about whether global warming exists. While I remain skeptical, I am going to change my pattern. The point is not to argue against its existence, the point is to argue that we don't know enough to make policy decisions.

Franks nails this:

The Argo data on ocean cooling over the past few years merely highlights that problem. Over the past few years, about 20% of the warming of the past 50 years has simply disappeared. Apparently, it just radiated away back into space, since we can't seem to find any of that heat down here.

Why did the cooling occur?

By what mechanism was the heat transported away?

Will this current cooling trend continue, or reverse itself?

What are the global climate implications if the cooling continues, or conversely, the implications if it reverses itself, and begins warming again?

Aren't these questions important? Or should we dismiss them because they don't conform to the orthodoxy?


Franks, as it happens, does indeed believe in global warming and he believes that it is to some extent man-made.

I'm skeptical of both those assertions but agree with Franks that until we can codify and quantify what is happening and what causes it, we cannot "fix" it. If we are causing global warming by using so much battery power, those damn hybrid drivers will have to answer up.

I'm a big fan (I know I've bored you before) on the epistemology of Dr. Karl Popper. I don't know how much he created and how much he documented, but he defines the procedures where scientific theory progresses to acceptance or is discarded.

The first step is predictive power. Einstein’s Special Relativity made several predictions that were not testable at the time of its creation. Over time, experiments have been done, and they all support the predictions of Special Relativity. Ergo, it is commonly accepted (though Popper points out theories can only be disproven, never really proven).

The original global warming theorists made predictions based on computer modeling. It would start at the poles, reduce the length of the cold season in the cold climes, and proceed at a steady rate. Facts have not supported this prediction at all. warming has started at higher elevations, warmer climes, and has not been steady: CSU climate scientists point out two years of ocean cooling.

This is a very important observational study of changes in climate system heat content. While the models predict a general montonic increase in ocean heat content (e.g. see (Figure 1) ), the new observations in Lyman et al 2006 show an important decrease. The explanation of this temporal change in the radiative imbalance of the Earth’s climate system is a challenge to the climate science community. It does indicate that we know less about natural- and human-climate forcings and feedbacks than concluded in the IPCC Reports.

More research. We are all in agreement.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM

August 25, 2006

He Stole My Headline

Dan Henninger has a superb column today on l'affaire Cruise:

Depending on where you're standing, August has not been a good month.

If you're Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, it has not been a good month. If you were feeling worn down by a world overstocked with Islamic bombers, the news out of unmerry olde England did not make for a good month. And if you are a Boston Red Sox fan and have just witnessed a statistically improbable five-game sweep at home by your mortal enemy, it has assuredly not been a good month.

Then, of a sudden, the clouds parted and delivered unto us, courtesy of a scoop on this paper's front page, Paramount's Sumner Redstone firing Tom Cruise. It doesn't get any better than this, and this deserves some elaboration.


Now if we could just get rid of the Dixie Chicks...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:46 PM | What do you think? [11]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Despite all of Cruise's failings he has a valid point regarding anti-psychotic drugs: A huge proportion of people that have psychological problems have them because of unrealistic and inconsistent beliefs. No amount of pharmaceuticals will correct this. They only sedate the confused mind.

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree, especially in light of Cruise's alternatives: vitamins and exercise!

I've been in the medical field for 25 years and I've seen consistent improvement in the way mental health issues have been handled.

People who take SSRIs like Zoloft and Lexapro are not sedated "zombies!"

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at August 27, 2006 10:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

From my original comment, "I'm not saying that Cruise's beliefs are any more realistic or consistent, however." That applies to his medical advice too.

My hatred of anti-depressants is a result of the case of my grandfather. The local small-town, hot shot young M.D. prescribed Xanax for garden variety feelings of despair that can afflict a man of 80 some years. His energy and ambition were reduced from already low levels, and he passed within a year or so. (This is mostly the recollection of a twenty something with no direct knowledge of what had been going on.) At the family gathering after his funeral, that same hot shot M.D. appeared on the scene and said to my grandmother, "I'm here if you need anything." Remember this is an M.D., not a pastor. You KNOW what he meant by "anything."

The one consolation we have is that this pill pushing threat to public safety died himself within a couple years. Word is he was using too.

So when it comes to Tom Cruise criticizing Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants, I'm going to agree with Cruise. Earth to Brooke: Get a life.

Posted by: johngalt at August 29, 2006 6:26 PM
But dagny thinks:

Earth to everyone, get a consistent, rational philosophy. A happy life will naturally follow.

Posted by: dagny at August 29, 2006 7:33 PM
But jk thinks:

jk to Dagny: do you believe that their is zero physical clinical depression, which can be alleviated with pharmaceuticals?

I’d wager they're 100 times over-prescribed (doctors keep offering them to my wife and me) but I still believe there are many cases where it is more appropriate than a copy of "Dianetics."

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2006 10:36 AM
But dagny thinks:

To answer your question, No I do not believe appropriate use of anti-depressive drugs is zero.

However, you state that Dr’s keep offering them to you. Sort of like the heroin dealer on the corner and for many of the same reasons. I believe the current over-prescription craze is more part of the problem than the solution. Also, I am not completely without experience in the area. I was on such drugs and even hospitalized once (ever been in a mental hospital? those people are crazy) in my suicidal teenage years.

I am a big fan of modern medicine and pharmaceuticals. I have been through 2 knee surgeries and childbirth with the help of epidural anesthetics.

However, I believe that far too many people these days are looking for someone else to solve their problems be it with a medication or a government program and those that prescribe the medications are contributing to the problem. Don’t get me started on medications for kids with, “ADHD.”

I am also not promoting Cruise’s ideas. His religion is as irrational as the rest.

Posted by: dagny at August 30, 2006 3:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Methinks we agree on this one.

Posted by: jk at August 30, 2006 4:12 PM

Even Christopher Shays

It seems likely that we won't have Senator Lincoln Chafee to kick around any more. If he survives his primary bid, there is a good chance the deeply azure Ocean State will turn him out for a real Democrat.

Of course, we might still have Rep Christopher Shays next door in Connecticut. I think it was Peggy Noonan who said that his first name should be "even" because Democrats would say "Even Christopher Shays said..."

Well, today the WaPo reports that Even Christopher "Urges Iraq Withdrawal."

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), once an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq, said yesterday that the Bush administration should set a time frame for withdrawing U.S. troops. He added that most of the withdrawal could take place next year.

Shays, who faces a tough reelection campaign because of his previous support for President Bush's war policies, made his comments after completing his 14th trip to Iraq this week.


Even Christopher Shays. It's not a partisan thing. He's a Republican.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:22 AM

August 24, 2006

Amazon Recommends

I have teased the good folks at Amazon for some recommendations which I thought missed the mark. I am still a Long-tailer and Amazon recommendations are a part of that. How can you find new stuff you’ll like on an infinite shelf?

One of their recommendations caught my eye last week. "We've found that folks who purchase Diana Krall also purchase Tommy Emmanuel." So pony up, bud, it's $13 for his DVD Live at Her Majesty's Theatre.

I read some reviews and consulted Sugarchuck who knows every guitar player ever. Found out that this guy is known for instruction books. The reviews intrigued me just enough. I bought one for me and one for SC

I'll give it some serious stars. Tommy is an Aussie, he comes onstage in a small theater with a few battered acoustic guitars. He is a brilliant player, playing different styles but his foundation is the Chet Atkins/Merle Travis style. We have different tastes around here, but I can't imagine anybody's not liking this on some level. The honesty of the music and the virtuosity are something to see.

I'll share Sugarchuck's review (without his permission) "Remember the old arguments about flatpicking vs. fingerpicking and the incompatibility of the two. I guess that guy settled that for all time. Great, great stuff."

I have no idea what that means, but I think he liked it too.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:04 AM

August 23, 2006

Be Good Back There!

or I'm turning this plane around!

    Dutch police arrested 12 passengers on a U.S. Northwest Airlines plane bound for India which was forced to turn back to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Wednesday, news agency ANP reported.

    ANP said a police spokesman said 12 were arrested, but declined to give further details due to the ongoing investigation. Dutch police were not immediately available to comment on the report.

    The Dutch defense ministry said earlier the pilot decided to turn back after the crew said several of the 149 passengers on flight 42 to Mumbai were behaving suspiciously.


No indication is given of any of the passengers' description or behaviour.

Which means they can only be ________________.

But jk thinks:

Really scary Dutch prostitutes!

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2006 3:27 PM
But dagny thinks:

Grandmothers with crochet hooks and shampoo bottles?

Posted by: dagny at August 23, 2006 3:29 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm sure they could be both in Amsterdam. A city to give even the most devout libertarian pause...

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2006 8:22 PM

Buyers' Regret

As many has predicted, Ned Lamont's narrow victory over Joe Lieberman in Connecticut is causing liberals and Democrats some heartburn.

Especially when Republican candidates take advantage of it.

From Rick Santorum's campaign...

    Bob Casey, Jr. has traveled across the Commonwealth claiming that he is independent and stands outside of Democrat party lines on important issues. He also continues to criticize Senator Santorum for working with President Bush on important issues -- issues like protecting Israel and efforts to stabilize the Middle East.

    Recently, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a well-known supporter of Israel and the Jewish community, lost a narrow Democratic primary election in Connecticut against challenger Ned Lamont. As you may know, Lieberman has decided to run as an Independent in the upcoming general election. You may not be shocked to find out that Bobby Casey, Jr. DOES NOT SUPPORT Senator Lieberman in the upcoming election.


LamontBlog responds....
    This is just part of Newhouse's likely expansive efforts to use Lieberman in races throughout the country to try to keep Republicans in control of Congress. Newhouse is also working for Gov. Rell (R) and Rep. Simmons (R) in Connecticut. Anything he does for Lieberman will be to help out his other clients.

    Democrats, wake up.


Neil Newhouse is the Republican pollster now shared by both Senators Santorum and Lieberman.

Senate Posted by AlexC at 1:31 PM

Rudderless FDA

Y'all think I make this stuff up. Our government is endangering lives by bureaucratically keeping pharmaceutical innovation down. Dr. Henry Miller, a physician and former FDA official, points out in TCS today that the agency has had a confirmed commissioner for only 20 months of the Bush presidency ( I gave kudos to Dr. McClellan in May of 2003).

The acting head is facing a tough challenge in Senate hearings because all of government is really about abortion, and two Democratic Senators have a hold on his nomination. Even if Emily's list is placated, Miller is not excited that nominee Andrew von Eschenbach will champion the necessary reforms.

The lack of leadership makes the agency more risk averse than usual. And Miller reports that the innovation-suppressing is taking its toll.

In spite of increasingly more powerful and precise technologies for drug discovery, purification and production, during the past twenty years development costs have skyrocketed, with direct and indirect expenses now exceeding $800 million to bring an average drug to market. And the trends are ominous: the length of clinical testing for the average drug is increasing, fewer drugs are being approved, and the number of applications to FDA by industry for marketing approval has been decreasing for a decade.

FDA is largely responsible for these worrisome trends. Regulators keep raising the bar for approval, especially for innovative, high-tech products. Human gene therapy and other treatments tailored to individual patients have been hit especially hard, and the agency has made it more difficult for badly needed new antibiotics to be licensed. FDA's demands for post-marketing clinical trials have proliferated wildly, and "risk management" plans for newly approved drugs have been punitive and designed more to protect regulators' derrieres than patients.


Nope. Nobody sick out here and in need of new medications. Take your time.

The country -- and ThreeSources -- has focused much attention on whether or not the Federal government should subsidize Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research, and it is a valid, political question. At the same time, I wish that half of the effort directed at promoting more Federal $$ to ESC could be directed at the things which truly prevent miracle drugs: FDA bureaucracy and a rapacious tort bar.

Read the whole thing. It seems Europe has a largely private sector system for drug and device approvals. Oh well, they always lead the way in freedom...

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:30 PM

Risky Business

A Hollywood celebrity is actually, financially punished for moonbatism. Mirabile dictu!

The Wall Street Journal (Kind of like E!, but with a conservative editorial page) reports Sumner Redstone Gives Tom Cruise His Walking Papers

In an unusually public rebuke, Viacom Inc. Chairman Sumner Redstone said that his company's movie studio, Paramount Pictures, plans to end its 14-year relationship with the 44-year-old Mr. Cruise and his film-production company. In an interview, Mr. Redstone, who is 83, was clear about the reason: Mr. Cruise's public antics and incessant stumping for personal causes, notably Scientology, have become intolerable and have been a drag on ticket sales for films like "Mission: Impossible III."

"It's nothing to do with his acting ability, he's a terrific actor," said Mr. Redstone. "But we don't think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot."

As a consequence, Paramount will not renew the expensive deal that has made the studio home to Cruise/Wagner Productions, the company Mr. Cruise owns with partner Paula Wagner. That deal in recent years paid Mr. Cruise and Ms. Wagner up to $10 million a year to develop films and operate an office on the Paramount lot. Mr. Cruise's representatives had indicated in recent weeks that the star might be willing to discuss a less-lucrative deal to stay at the studio. But now they are parting ways.


It seems "His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount."

You can take on the US Military, Christians, and the concept of freedom. But don't -- DON'T -- mess with South Park.

But AlexC thinks:

I believe the proper term is "moon-battery."

Moon-battery.

Posted by: AlexC at August 23, 2006 1:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Surprised MS Word didn't suggest that, thanks.

Posted by: jk at August 23, 2006 3:27 PM

August 22, 2006

A Day for Headlines

I was ready to give Professor Reynolds the prize for "Ham on Pork"

...then, I saw TNR's story on the masturbating judge: "The Long Arm of the Law."

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 4:58 PM

Sharansky Lives!

I rarely link to Taranto, because I assume that every ThreeSources reader reads Best Of The Web everyday.

But an item today is so perfect, I have to highlight it. He links to a Thomas Friedman column about Iranians who are displeased that their government is giving 500 million to Hezbollah, when their nation is still damaged by war and earthquakes. Taranto adds:

This is one reason why democratizing the Middle East is such an important goal. It's very unlikely that a democratic Iran would be waging war on Lebanon. Democracy is a check on unnecessary war. Indeed, a drawback of democracy is that it's sometimes a check on necessary war; just look at Old Europe and its approach to Iraq, Hezbollah, etc.

My idealism has been bruised and beaten these days. Republicans are distancing themselves from the President on Iraq, the Israel/Hezbollah war in Lebanon did not end as well as it could (that understates but captures ThreeSources opinion).

I turned in my neo-Wilsonian merit badge awhile back, but Mr. Taranto has put a little fight back in my Sharansky side. Why we fight. What's at stake. Thanks to ALL who serve!

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM

Blood for Oil

Bloomberg

    Iran attacked and seized control of a Romanian oil rig working in its Persian Gulf waters this morning one week after the Iranian government accused the European drilling company of ``hijacking'' another rig.

    An Iranian naval vessel fired on the rig owned by Romania's Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) in the Salman field and took control of its radio room at about 7:00 a.m. local time, Lulu Tabanesku, Grup's representative in the United Arab Emirates said in a phone interview from Dubai today.

    ``The Iranians fired at the rig's crane with machine guns,'' Tabanesku said. ``They are in control now and we can't contact the rig.'' The Romanian company has 26 workers on the platform, he said.

    Iran, which holds the world's second-largest oil and gas reserves, is due to respond today to a European Union-led offer of incentives aimed at persuading it to halt uranium enrichment activities that are crucial to its nuclear program.


Wonderful. Let's continue diplomacy.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 2:34 PM

The Dark Side of Valuing Life

Okay, I've written my provocative headline for the year.

We do value life. People complain that we live in a "disposable society" because we replace instead of repair things."We value human labor and thought more than a television set!" retorts I, "This is a good thing."

Kids wearing bicycle helmets strikes old- schoolers as "wussification." I'm concerned that we pamper youth, but much of it is valuing life highly. The same can be said for lawsuits. Life is not cheap anymore.

The dark side is that the investment in war and freedom is now much more costly. Edward Luttwak of the Jerusalem Post (hat-tip Mickey, via Insty) compares eight IDF forces lost to WWII:

When an IDF company attacked the mountain town of Bint Jbail, losing eight men in one night, that number was perceived in Israel - and broadcast around the world - as a disastrous loss.

Many a surviving veteran of the 1943-1945 Italian campaign must have been amazed by this reaction. There too it was one stone-built village and hilltop town after another, and though the Germans were outnumbered, outgunned and poorly supplied, a company that went against them would consider the loss of only eight men as very fortunate, because attacking forces could suffer a 150% or even 300% casualty rates - that mathematical impossibility being explained by the need for a second, third or fourth assault wave to take a small village.

Even that was not much as compared to the 6,821 Americans who died to conquer the eight square miles of Iwo Jima.


As Patton said "thank God that such men lived." They still live. Is not Iraq worth as much as eight square miles?

But silence dogood thinks:

Can we leave Iraq as we did Iwo Jima, desolate and unihabited?

Posted by: silence dogood at August 25, 2006 3:43 AM
But silence dogood thinks:

I wonder if more lives have not been lost in the 8 square miles around Jerusalem than anywhere else on the planet.

Posted by: silence dogood at August 25, 2006 4:14 AM

Ambassador Young's Gaffe

I teased Ambassador Andrew Young, in a post last week, for his racial slurs. It's always fun to hear a civil rights icon blasting other minorities.

I got to thinking, however, that Wal*Mart really comes out well in this. Michael Kinsley said "A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth," and there is a bit of truth in Yong's comments. The small urban grocers, irrespective of race, did not provide good prices or service to their customers. There is also verisimilitude in Young's assertion that differences in race exacerbated this tension.

The WSJ Ed Page defends these shopkeepers.

To his credit, Mr. Young has distinguished himself from much of the black left by not siding with Big Labor, environmentalists and other liberals who would happily deny minorities the jobs and low-price goods that big-box stores have to offer. Which makes it all the more unfortunate that Mr. Young's economic analysis is so off-base.

Businesses charge more in low-income, high-crime areas in part because it costs more to deliver goods and services in those areas. Inner-city grocery stores have higher operating costs and tend to be smaller than their big-box suburban counterparts. Taking advantage of economies of scale, the latter are able to offer more brands and sizes at lower prices. Urban supermarkets also typically have less competition, which allows them to charge more than they otherwise could. Wal-Mart's ability to offer more selection and lower prices is due to scale and efficiency, not virtue.


Fair enough. But a Wal*Mart would provide far more to the community. Young essentially made a point that Wal*Mart never could have, and highlighted the fact a Wal*Mart would do a lot more for a community that the beloved mom and pop shop.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Here is a horrible thought: Big Box stores are easier to rob. You will less likely end up with a shot-gun blast to your back when lifting product from a store that is set up to survive that sort of thing. A corner store Owner may just get fed up enough to let you know that robbery will not be tolerated. Likewise, a big-box store is NOT run by people with a vested interest of tracking every penny of inventory. Shrinkage happens in large stores by the hands of employees and customers. Little store cannot handle it.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 22, 2006 2:14 PM
But jk thinks:

On the other hand, Wal*Mart has the resources to install sophisticated surveillance equipment and inventory control items.

When I was a starving 19 year old musician, I worked a Christmas stint at Target. They'd lock us in the store all night to stock toys. They tolerated breakage, horseplay (bicycle races down the main aisles were my favorite) and much questionable behavior. Yet I was accosted in the parking lot by Security when they suspected I had not paid for a box of day-old doughnuts (I had).

I think a big-box, depending on its culture can be very sensitive to theft. Target was never afraid to let me know how serious an offense that was.

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2006 3:33 PM

August 21, 2006

Freedom On Retreat

I will agree with The Wall Street Journal (free link) that the United States, Israel, and the cause of freedom have suffered a serious setback in Lebanon. The French have sandbagged us, the U.N. itself has shown its indifference to freedom, and the Bush/Rice promise that the region will not return to "the status quo ante" has been broken.

On Thursday, Jacques Chirac confirmed a Le Monde report that his government was prepared to offer only some 200 combat engineers (in addition to the 200 French troops already in Lebanon) to what is supposed to be the resolution's centerpiece: A 15,000-man U.N. force that will help the Lebanese army patrol their southern border and ensure that Hezbollah will no longer use the area as a staging ground for future attacks against Israel.

Given that the French contingent was supposed to be at the vanguard of this enhanced force, it's unclear whether other nations will be willing to chip in with troops of their own. All of this after the French used the promise of a robust, French-led international force to get the U.S. and Israel to agree to a cease-fire and withdrawal. Even less reassuring is the insistence by French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie that her troops will remain in the lead only until February, after which, apparently, it's salaam and adieu.


I will not join them in ascribing blame to the Secretary of State.
The person who should really be furious here is Secretary of State Rice. She midwifed this cease-fire in the name of Lebanese democracy and as a way to use diplomacy, and the U.N., to tame Hezbollah and frustrate its patrons. She also believed French promises, so it'd be good to know if she now feels she was lied to. If this U.N. exercise turns out to be as feckless as it increasingly appears, U.S. credibility will also be a loser.

As I commented before, I think the Secretary has been charged by the President to pursue the diplomatic tack. I don't think French perfidy is a surprise to her nor is the lesson is hers. The lesson here should be for the "multilateralists who believe that Kofi Annan's crew can solve problems in a difficult and dangerous world. Ned Lamont says we should negotiate with Iran and Syria. Sadly, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) agrees.

Yet another failure of diplomacy, as Iran tests ten missiles and continues development of nuclear weapons. And the lesson remains unlearned.

But johngalt thinks:

Like Brit Hume, I don't think it's as bad as it looks. This is not so much a serious setback as a gigantic missed opportunity. That opportunity belonged not to the U.S., or even Israel, but to France and the U.N. Bush/Rice said, "OK Jacques, we'll be your huckleberry," and gave them the helm of the international diplomacy garbage scow. In apparent admission that diplomacy can't dissuade RFMO (religious fanatics with military ordnance) they surrendered even before their mission began. (Surrender being the ONE thing you can count on from the French.)

But there is a setback. Despite this massive failure on the part of the UN, greater even than the "oil for food" debacle, supposed serious American statesmen like Lamont and Hagel (and many more in the US Senate) still believe we should "talk" to Iran and Syria. And say what? "That's it, young men. You're in time out!"

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2006 3:06 PM

August 20, 2006

Damn the Torpedoes

Why do we bother with these people? They're a perfect example of why diplomacy without muscle to back it up, is worthless.

    Iran said on Sunday it would not suspend uranium enrichment, ruling out the main demand in a nuclear package backed by six world powers that aims to allay Western fears Tehran is seeking to build atomic bombs.

    Iran says it will formally respond by Tuesday to proposals made by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. The six have offered incentives for Iran to suspend enrichment, a process that has both military and civilian uses.

    Tehran, which insists its nuclear aims are purely civilian, shows no sign of accepting the package.

    "We are not going to suspend (enrichment). The issue was that everything should come out of negotiations, but suspension of uranium enrichment is not on our agenda," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.


They're not going to stop.

At that point, why don't the diplomats hang it up?

Iran Posted by AlexC at 9:01 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

At what point will the United States refuse to be sandbagged again? The UN solution in Lebanon is an insult to the IDF forces.

The diplomats have no incentive to hang it up. However badly they screw up the world, they can stay in New York and eat at fine restaurants, and not pay parking tickets. Who'd hang up that gig?

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2006 9:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I propose it's time for the United States to become a "rogue state." Iran and North Korea can do whatever they want and all they get is, "stop that or we'll sanction you" from the western world. Fine. Let's fire 10 missiles of our own, but ours have MIRV nuclear warheads. It's well beyond time for the tyrants of the world to know that we WILL defend our lives and our property. Dozens of mushroom clouds visible from every square inch of Iran and North Korea should effect a new cooperation from these heretofore unaccountable bullies.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2006 3:15 PM
But silence dogood thinks:

"Dozens of mushroom clouds visible from every square inch of Iran and North Korea should effect a new cooperation from these heretofore unaccountable bullies." In the land of the martyr? Care to place a wager on that?

Posted by: silence dogood at August 25, 2006 4:10 AM

Free Market Airline Security

UK's Daily Mail

    The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic.

    Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it.

    The incident fuels the row over airport security following the arrest of more than 20 people [what kind of "people"? -AlexC] allegedly planning the suicide-bombing of transatlantic jets from the UK to America. It comes amid growing demands for passenger-profiling and selective security checks.

    It also raised fears that more travellers will take the law into their own hands - effectively conducting their own 'passenger profiles'.


Here's a crazy idea. TSA and airport security do their job (ie not-profiling), and encourage the passengers do the final round of security. Like this flight.

These two passengers raised enough concern (right or wrong) that the other passengers held the plane up. The passengers (and the crew, natch) have their own safety intimately in mind. Let them make the call.

The logistics of it might be tricky. (Does each seat have a "protest a passenger" button?)

Thoughts?

But jk thinks:

It's free market, but it is not really grounded in rule-of-law. It appears that these folks were guilty only of looking Asian, speaking Arabic, and wearing Jumpers on a hot day.

I've no problem with further empowering of the security crew. (Here's a blogger scoop, how many pilots are armed now? What institutions are holding them up?) But this is a little too unstructured for my tastes.

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2006 7:53 PM
But AlexC thinks:

The "Survivor(tm)-method" of passenger screening would be at the discretion of the airline.

If you're shopping for safe (non hijacked/terrorized) flights, and you know that one airline allows passengers to vote other passengers off "for whatever reason", and you're looking to fly safe, that's a good reason to fly those "friendly" skies.

On the flip side, if you're looking to cause trouble, you might steer clear of that airline.

It'd be safer, wouldn't it? Army of Davids theory, perhaps.

Posted by: AlexC at August 20, 2006 8:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Airlines slowly, gradually, grudgingly, but ultimately universally, banned smoking on aircraft. Banning middle-eastern males aged 18-40 from aircraft would increase market share for every airline with the balls to do it.

Posted by: johngalt at August 21, 2006 3:29 PM

Sunday Morning Fare

For bloggers in one of those square states out west, the fifth Rocky Mountain Bloggers bash is nigh.

Friday, August 25th

A ThreeSources favorite, BlondeSagacity is this week's Powerline blog of the week.
Woo-hoo!

Posted by AlexC at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Well done, ALa!

Posted by: jk at August 20, 2006 12:52 PM

August 19, 2006

Bumper Sticker

Spotted by an alert ThreeSources reader in the great State of Nebraska:

George W. Bush... saving your ass whether you like it or not!

UPDATE: I'm corrected, it is a hat-tip to Jay Nordliner at NRO. I like the Nebraska story better, but we are all about the truth here at ThreeSources.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:44 PM | What do you think? [1]
But zombyboy thinks:

I think there's a hell of a lot of truth to that, which might explain while I feel so much disdain for a huge portions of the left.

Posted by: zombyboy at August 20, 2006 1:42 PM

August 18, 2006

The Carter Years

My post yesterday was meant to remind people that the effects of elected bodies last longer than their terms.

President Carter served one term between 1977 and 1981. I trace a lot of terrorism back to his decision to not seriously pursue the Iranians who took American hostages.

Is it me, or are the Carter Years back? Grab your 8-tracks and start up the Pacer. Our 39th President himself made news yesterday with Arabist prattle and partisan attacks on the current Administration.

Jimmy Carter says he's concerned that Arab hatred of the United States will only continue to grow given the Bush administration's support for what he calls Israel's "unjustified attack" on Lebanese civilians.

Carter tells Germany's Der Spiegel: "I don't think Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon."

Then Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, whom he appointed, made what appears to be a patently political rebuke of the NSA surveillance program (Carter's people have a freakin' gift for timing, don't they?)

Now Andrew Young, Carter's UN Ambassador and civil rights icon is stepping down from a position because he made racial remarks. The Wall Street Journal News Page reports that "Civil-rights leader Andrew Young, who was hired to help Wal-Mart Stores Inc. improve its public image, said early Friday he was stepping down from his position as head of an outside support group amid criticism for remarks seen as racially offensive."

When asked about whether Wal*Mart should be faulted for pushing local retailers out, Young had a reply which does not come from the Wal*Mart PR playbook:

"Well, I think they should; they ran the 'mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood," the paper quoted Mr. Young as saying. "But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."

I don't think he's out of a gig for long. The DNC will hire him to come up to Sausalito, Westchester county and the Hamptons to blast Wal*Mart. He'll probably get a raise.

All this from a single term. Just say no to a Democratic 110th.

UPDATE: I changed the link on the Judge Taylor Item to a free WSJ Editorial that better captures my accusation of partisanship. The editorial makes the point I've been crying to hear somebody else say about the NSA surveillance:

Judge Taylor sees an analogy here, but she manages to forget or overlook that no one is being denied his liberty and no evidence is being brought in criminal proceedings based on what the NSA might learn through listening to al Qaeda communications. The wiretapping program is an intelligence operation, not a law-enforcement proceeding.

That's the biggest argument in favor of the program (well, until 8/10).

But jk thinks:

I have a dream in which every American, without regard to the color of his skin, can overcharge his brothers and sisters and sell stale bread, bad meat, and wilted vegetables!

Posted by: jk at August 18, 2006 8:31 PM

August 17, 2006

Freedom Lovers in Hollywood

I completely missed this. Insty had a link yesterday, I am still reeling. It seems Nicole Kidman and some high-profile pals took out an ad in the LATimes to -- mirabile dictu -- oppose terrorism.

The actress, joined by 84 other high-profile Hollywood stars, directors, studio bosses and media moguls, has taken out a powerfully-worded full page advertisement in today's Los Angeles Times newspaper.

It specifically targets "terrorist organisations" such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"We the undersigned are pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," the ad reads.

"If we do not succeed in stopping terrorism around the world, chaos will rule and innocent people will continue to die.

"We need to support democratic societies and stop terrorism at all costs."

Posted by John Kranz at 8:23 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Whodathunkit?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at August 17, 2006 8:43 PM

The Flaw in "Give Them Two Years"

An emailer today suggests that Democrats' taking charge in 2006 would force them to get serious about the war or show the country that they are not. A lot of Republicans (I'm pretty sure this guy would call himself one) are saying that. "Show the country what fools they are" I hear from less thoughtful people than my emailer.

No. And here's why. I'll recommend a great book: It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP by Peter Robinson. He has this great riff in there about "If they don't win, they don't eat." He claims that Republican candidates can more frequently return to the private sector and make more than they would had they won (cf. Pete Coors). Democratic candidates may be wealthy but their staff members need the gig, and activists need victorious Democrats to give them work.

Two years of Pelosi-Reid rule will rejuvenate and reactivate the base of Democratic staffers. The WaPo reports Democrats' Stock Is Rising on K Street

Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections.

In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so.


Two years will cause much harm on K Street, remove any chance of another excellent SCOTUS nomination from President Bush, and will set back the war on terror. All of this lasts longer than two years.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:23 PM

Bring Back The Poll Tax

Noooooooooooo!

An Arizona Democrat is pursuing, by referendum, an initiative to give one lucky voter $1,000,000 [Insert your pinky in your mouth and use you Dr. Evil voice, if it helps] to increase voter turnout.

A WSL guest ed (free link) explains the ballot initiative and some past measures by its champion, including public funding of elections (boo!) and anti-gerrymandering (yay!). He addresses my complaint but misses:

One complaint that earns a scowl from the twinkle-eyed Mr. Osterloh is that "bad voters" will jam into polling places. "Bad voters?" he harrumphs, claiming just the opposite: that voters who stand to win $1 million will at long last take a personal interest in upcoming elections.

Certainly Mr. Osterloh's past measures have not always turned out as advertised. The effort to stop gerrymandering, although bringing sanity to the process, has not created very many politically mixed voting districts, nor ended "safe seats" for incumbents. Likewise, the Clean Elections law hasn't ended gridlock or stopped lobbyists from ghost-writing legislation. Arizona's post-reform statehouse is mostly business as usual.

While all of that is true, there's something exhilarating about the idea of dramatically shaking things up. Arizonans have jumped on fresh reform ideas like "clean elections" that are now spreading to other states. If the state launches another trend, it could catch on and lead to sweeping changes in U.S. elections. And with the odds of getting rich just for voting said to be about one in two million--long odds, but far better than most lotteries--Arizona elections might become more riveting even than Powerball.


I wouldn't use the term "bad voters" but the Bush v. Gore decision referenced a quote suggesting voters act with "the solemnity the occasion deserves." My trouble is that the million bucks will not make anybody more informed. Increasing the body count is important to some, but not me.

To not vote is a vote. In an economic light, you say that you have more valuable uses for your time. Maybe things are fine, or you don't like the candidates, or don't think they differ, whatever. It is your choice.

This will dent the "none of the above" vote that stays home and also increase fraud.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | What do you think? [1]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

twinkle-eyed Mr. Osterloh

Where are the 8 tiny reindeer? Who is doing this kind of writing today ... some sort of Ayn Rand protaginist?

As for turning the voting process into a lottery, well, we all know that the lottery is a sucker's bet. The ones who show up for the "vottery" will probably have the same attitude towards selecting the candidates as they do with selecting their powerball numbers.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 17, 2006 12:19 PM

Mideast Conflict

I have been having a long email discussion with a close relative who votes Republican and supports the War on Terror, yet thinks Israel has no right to exist, that it never should have been put there, and that her citizens should apologize and leave.

This relative is blessed with great humor and sends this today as a denoment to our discussion:

A fleeing al-Qaida guerrilla, desperate for water, was plodding through the desert when he saw something far off in the distance.

Hoping to find water, he walked toward the object, only to find a little old Jewish man at a small stand selling neckties.
.
The Arab asked, "Do you have water?"
.
The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only 5 shekels."
.
The Arab shouted, "Idiot Jew! Israel should not exist! I do not need an overpriced tie. I need water! I should kill you, BUT I must find water first."
.
"OK," said the old Jew, "it does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about five kilometers, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the water you need. Shalom."
.
Muttering, the Arab staggered away over the hill. Several hours later he staggered back, near collapse -
.
"Your brother won't let me in without a tie."


Posted by John Kranz at 9:47 AM

August 16, 2006

I'll have another cup

Who says there's no good news? Or that the NYTimes cannot be trusted?

A comprehensive, demonstrably true, well-reasoned and unbiased article sums up the positive effects of coffee. Studies suggest that coffee "reduces the risk of several serious ailments, including diabetes, heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver"

Nobody knows why, but it is suggested that:

Coffee contains antioxidants that help control the cell damage that can contribute to the development of the disease. It is also a source of chlorogenic acid, which has been shown in animal experiments to reduce glucose concentrations.

The more you drink, the better, although after six cups per day, the effects level off. I'm a big guy, I better have eight just to be safe.

I might sign up for TimesSelect, and Home delivery. The yuppies on the TV commercials look kinda wired.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:46 PM

XM vs Sirius

The Washington Post weighs in.

And the answer?

"Depends what you're looking for."

Myself, I got Sirius with a car I bought in 2004. Never really planned on getting either, since most of my (admittedly little) car time was spent listening to CDs or talk radio. But I gave it a shot and quickly discovered "First Wave" ... a station which plays New Wave bands of the late 70s and 80s. Perfect.

And "Hairnation"... 80's hair bands..... but my latest love. "Super Shuffle"

It plays random music from a variety of genres.... Hank Williams to Weezer and everything in between.

I thought I'd be listening to Howard Stern more, but I'm not exactly a morning person, either.

JK, your thoughts on XM?

But jk thinks:

I cancelled XM after they removed my favorite station. "Luna." The article mentions both have cut eclectic stations to make room for other fare. Luna played latin jazz, and they had a few other jazz stations if I wanted variety.

I miss it a lot, but without Luna, there just wasn't enough I could count on.

Lesson one: The Long Tail has to be really long to work. 150 radio channels are not enough. Luna still broadcasts online and on DirecTV (I have DISHNetwork, which has Sirius). They spent all this money and they made the pipe too small. Sad.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2006 11:26 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm not sure the long tail can work on a radio like it can on the internet. The bandwidth that a satellite has is much more limited than the tubes here on earth.

Part of the allure of satellite is the high quality sound. (I never knew FM was so lousy sounding)

In the end, we're all limited to about 12 presets... and I'm damned sure they know what we listen to. That's how they tune their programming.

Posted by: AlexC at August 17, 2006 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

It seems cable started out with around 100 channels and really took off when they went digital and put it closer to 500.

Your right that they know "The short Head" what most people will listen to, but without selection, they are missing a market.

The solution is easy. Merge Sirius and XM, offer 250 channels.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2006 3:36 PM

One Trick Pony

People who have come to ThreeSources for reasoned debate and rational political dialogue might want to click on the blogroll or scroll down quickly. I've just read a disingenuous piece and I cannot guarantee politeness.

In the past week, my victory in the Connecticut Senate primary has been labeled everything from the death knell of the Democratic Party to the signal of our party's rebirth. Beneath all of this punditry is a question that I want to face directly: how the experience I will bring to the U.S. Senate will help Connecticut and the Democratic Party during this time of testing for our country.

So opens Democratic Senate Nominee for Connecticut (and daring of the left) Ned Lamont, in his guest editorial (free site) in the Wall Street Journal today.

Lamont is going to bring the entrepreneurial traits that worked for him in business (how do you think he can afford a Senate seat?) to government. He's not just an anti-war candidate, he's a businessman!

First, entrepreneurs are frugal beasts, because the bottom line means everything. In Connecticut, voters are convinced that Washington has utterly lost touch with fiscal reality. We talked about irresponsible budget policies that have driven the annual federal deficit above $300 billion and the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Meanwhile, the government is spending $250 million a day on an unprovoked war in Iraq while starving needed social investment at home. I am a fiscal conservative and our people want their government to be sparing and sensible with their tax dollars.

Not anti-war per se, he just objects to the money! Democrats who claim to be "fiscally responsible" and worried about the deficit want to raise taxes. Mr. Lamont will NOT present any spending cuts between now and November except the big savings from our hurried and unconditional surrender in Iraq. Withdrawal -- it's just good business!
Second, entrepreneurs invest in human resources. Our business strives to pay good wages and provide good health benefits so that we can attract employees that give us an edge in a competitive marketplace. Well-trained and well-cared-for people are essential for every business these days, particularly in a global economy. It's getting harder and harder for American businesses to compete on price, but we innovate and change better than any economy on the planet. The quality of our work force is one of America's competitive advantages--if our education system fails our children and our employers, we'll lose the future.

Can anybody parse this into something remotely policy oriented? He is for good wages, and well cared for people and is against bad education. This will differentiate him from his pro-bad education opponents. Senator Lieberman was lobbying for bad wages.
That's why I believe in an employer-based health-care system that covers everyone, and providing tax benefits to small businesses so they can provide insurance without risking bankruptcy.

Taranto makes a little hay here, quoting Lamont blasting this idea of Sen. Lieberman:” When it comes to universal health care for everybody in this country as a basic right, that's a principle of the Democratic Party that Sen. Lieberman has never quite embraced. He's come up with tax incentives for businesses to see if they might be a little more inclined to insure their people." Accept only Ned Lamont super-effective tax incentives!
Third, in a market-driven economy, entrepreneurs can never lose touch with what customers, suppliers and workers are saying. A great strength of our campaign is that we embraced the grassroots and netroots, suburbs and inner cities, and used the most advanced technology to empower our door-knockers and activists. We listened hard and respectfully to what voters told us, and gave them the confidence to trust someone new.

Elect someone with good activists and door-knockers!
Finally, entrepreneurs are pragmatic. Unlike some politicians, we don't draw a false strength from closed minds, and we don't step on the accelerator when the car is headed off the cliff.

Did I mention cut-and-run?

The line on Lamont was that he was just a single issue candidate. I cannot say that he has dispelled that with this less-than-stunning-exegesis. He claims he has presented alternatives to standardized tests and No Child Left Behind, but he didn't really have room to elaborate.

Take four seconds and read the whole thing. There are no serious ideas or detailed policy to trip over.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 6:12 PM | What do you think? [4]
But dagny thinks:

There is a much larger problem with Ned's "less-than-stunning-exegesis," than, "no serious ideas or detailed policy." He states that his policy is based on his business experience and explains which aspects of business government ought to model.

The premise that governments are like businesses is never questioned. This insidious little assumption neglects the fact that businesses spend their own money, earned by trading something of value to their customers. Their employees earn what they are paid in trade for their effort. Governments spend other people's money taken by force. Funds given out by the government rarely require any return.

The appropriate task of government is the regulation of the use of force to protect individual rights. Businesses should not be using force and governments should not be, "giving," health care, or anything else to non-employees.

Posted by: dagny at August 17, 2006 7:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said. The parallels should receive greater scrutiny. Is it just me or are others amazed that the likes of Ned Lamont and Maria Cantwell did so well in business yet seem, if I may be critical, to be "complete dim bulbs?"

I will confess that I have always liked the idea of using business efficiencies in government, and I have been complimentary of President Bush's "CEO Presidency."

Ned is trying to show off his bona fides to appeal to WSJ's business readership and I cannot believe he succeeded.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2006 7:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good grief, JK. You warn us to scroll on by if we're looking for "reasonable" and "rational" and then I've got to read deep into the comments to find any vitreol. And even then it's just, "complete dim bulb."

OK, I'll provide the invective with some help from my friend Stephen Colbert: "I like to refer to him as 'Ned-sama bin-Lamont-in.'

Posted by: johngalt at August 17, 2006 8:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I used four exclamation marks and my tone was very snide in several places.

Posted by: jk at August 17, 2006 8:27 PM

TSA Snooping

When TSA searches your checked luggage they used to put a note in saying "Hey we opened your bag."

When did this policy end? Was there any official notice? Is it something that the TSA in Philadelphia decided to do on it's own?

Yesterday I checked a bag with some clothes and some fly fishing gear. The fishing gear included a hemostat (looks like scissors, but used like pliers), flies, hooks, and fly floatant. For those who don't know, fly floatant is a liquid/gel product that you put on the fly to keep it afloat. All of the fly fishing gear was stored in a glorified fanny pack, which was velcroed shut.

When I unpacked, I noticed that the fly floatant wasn't in the pouch anymore. There's no way it could have flopped out of the pouch. It was laying loose in the suitcase, and the pouch was still velcroed shut.

I'm amazed that they found the floatant. I suspect that the hemostat showed up on an x-ray and figured that they opened it up then. But where's my note? ... and why not put it back where it belongs?

For what it's worth, a month ago, I carried the same setup on the plane. No problems... I wish they would profile frequent fliers and let us be.

But johngalt thinks:

We are supposed to be frightened by al Qaida's recent addition of "women and children" to the ranks of their homi-suci-cide squads. "Now ANYONE could be a terrorist," the media wails. But what is the big deal when our big, fancy, (bloated and bureaucratically hamstrung also go without saying) new federal agency created expressly for preventing terror attacks on airplanes vehemently REFUSES to profile terrorists?

TSA - "Thousands Standing Around"

Posted by: johngalt at August 16, 2006 2:49 PM

Peace in Our Time

What Would Chamberlain Do?

    HISTORIANS will look back at this weekend's cease-fire agreement in Lebanon as a pivotal moment in the war on terror. It is pivotal in the same sense that the Munich agreement between Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain was pivotal in an earlier battle against the enemies of freedom. The accord in October 1938 revealed to the world that the solidarity of the Western allies was a sham, and that the balance of power had shifted to the fascist dictators.
    Resolution 1701 shows that, for the time being at least, the balance has likewise shifted to the terrorists and their state sponsors. Like Munich, it marks the triumph of the principle of putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. Like Munich, it will mean not peace in our time, but a bigger war in our future.

Read It All

But jk thinks:

Sadly, every word may be true.

I'm not sure they are correct in portraying it as weak alliances. Free nations want to pursue prosperity and frequently ignore important chores. It's a good, if deadly, shortcoming.

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2006 12:38 PM

12 Planets

Back in my day, we only had NINE PLANETS! .... and that's how we liked it!

    Astronomers, hold on to your telescopes.

    The solar system has 12 planets, not nine.

    That's the earthshaking conclusion of an influential international committee, which on Wednesday will recommend a new definition of what qualifies as a planet.

    The change is necessary, experts say, because of discoveries in the past decade that have revealed a glut of Pluto-sized bodies beyond the orbit of Pluto - until now considered the furthest planet from the sun.

But jk thinks:

Kids today, with their iPods and Internet. They don't know what it was like out in the cold, watching Uranus through binoculars in the snow...

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2006 12:35 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Barefoot and shivering is the only way astronomy should be performed.

Posted by: AlexC at August 16, 2006 1:24 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

These guys are bozos. Most people can name 3 planets TOTAL. Earth, Mars and Saturn. And that is because Saturn is a car and Mars Needs Women.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 16, 2006 2:24 PM
But dagny thinks:

On a related note, I heard on the radio the other morning that some large percentage of Americans can name the planet that Superman is from while only a much smaller percentage can name the planet closest to the sun in our own solar system.

Are they trying to make it even more difficult on our poor ignorant populace? It must be a Karl Rove plot to damage the egos of minority students.

Posted by: dagny at August 16, 2006 5:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Name the planets after famous civil rights leaders! All the children will know the orbital period and distance to the sun of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Planet Al Sharpton!

(The sound you hear is jk's last hope of holding electoral office glugging down the toilet of Google cache...)

Posted by: jk at August 16, 2006 6:21 PM

Governments Don't Set Wages

But they can sure screw things up. A Wall Street Journal editorial reports that Chicago's new minimum wage had the effect an economist would predict, rather than a liberal alderman's "immanentizing the eschaton."

Target was the first big chain to react, recently cancelling plans to open a new superstore in a run-down area on the city's North side. Only a few months ago the project was hailed by city leaders as an anchor for redeveloping that depressed neighborhood. Now it gets to stay depressed. Wal-Mart has also announced that its plans to build 20 new stores in the city over the next five years are "on hold" until the wage issue is resolved.

This isn't what the politicians said would happen when they mandated that certain mostly non-union "big-box" retailers pay a minimum of $13 in wage and health benefits by 2010, or more than two-and-a-half times the national minimum wage. "This is a great day for working men and women of Chicago," said Alderman Joseph Moore, who sponsored the ordinance but clearly doesn't think very far ahead, if he thinks at all. The Council was warned that stores would flee to the suburbs or not be built. But instead it heeded such activists as Annette Bernhardt, chief economist at New York University Law School, who claimed that "We're very confident that retailers want and need to be in Chicago." Whoops.


Governments don't set wages. The market does. All government can do is to make low wage work illegal. Is that what Chicago needs?

But AlexC thinks:

Why in the world would they listen to an economist at a New York law school?

It's not like the University of Chicago's economics department sucks.

Posted by: AlexC at August 16, 2006 11:41 AM

August 15, 2006

Good dog!

A video for you caninephiles.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:24 PM

Medical Day

Doggies, it has been one year since I started my clinical trial. (That's 416 shots, but who's counting?).

That meant a day of doctor's visits and MRIs. Maybe socialized medicine would be better, they would not have had time to see me. Go Hillary!

Back to blogging and Republicanism tomorrow…

Posted by John Kranz at 7:10 PM

August 14, 2006

Good Software

What makes good software?

Click Here

Technology Posted by AlexC at 10:05 PM

Monday Blues

The WaPo leads their email with For GOP, Bad Gets Worse in Northeast

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. -- When it comes to President Bush and the Republican Congress, Rep. Jim Gerlach says voters in his suburban Philadelphia district are in a "sour mood."
That's why when it comes to his reelection, the two-term incumbent says "the name of the game" is to convince those same voters that he can be independent of his own party. He has turned his standard line about Bush -- "When I think he's wrong, I let him know" -- into a virtual campaign slogan, repeated in interviews and TV ads.
[...]
Last week's defeat of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut moderate who has supported the Iraq war, in the Democratic primary gave Republicans a vivid look at some of the same angry currents likely to buffet them this fall. A Washington-Post ABC News poll this month found Bush's approval rating at 28 percent in the Northeast -- 12 points below his national average. The Republican Congress fared no better.

Republican losses in the region could echo well beyond the 2006 campaign. Because much of the region is tilting Democratic, history suggests Republicans would find it hard to recapture seats once lost.

That is why GOP operatives in Washington are alarmed not just about Gerlach's predicament, but about that of two congressional neighbors in suburban Philadelphia: Reps. Michael G. Fitzpatrick and Curt Weldon, both in tough districts.


In a way, it is dog-bites-man that the Northeast is tougher on President Bush and the GOP, but the House is up for grabs this year. If popular Republicans cannot hold seats in blue districts, it will be nearly impossible to hold majorities.

I can take some bad news, but soon after reading that, I read Michael Rosen's piece in TCS. It questions Jewish predilection for the Democratic party but contains this reminder of what is at stake:

Take the vote in the House of Representatives for the Stand With Israel resolution introduced on July 21 by Republican leader John Boehner in which the House "reaffirm[ed] its steadfast support for the State of Israel; condemn[ed] Hamas and Hezbollah;...and support[ed] Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself."

Yet Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi -- who would be Speaker if the Democrats retake the House in November -- refused to co-sponsor the bill (although she voted for it).

Even more surprisingly, seven Democrats voted against the resolution and four voted "present." Several of these Democrats would become chairmen of powerful committees such as Judiciary, Energy and Commerce, and Resources, as well as one of the Armed Services subcommittees.

These naysayers aren't backbenchers but popular Democratic leaders who declined to stand with Israel. One of them, Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, added that "I don't take sides for or against Hezbollah; I don't take sides for or against Israel."


As bad as "Speaker Pelosi" sounds, "Chairman Dingell," "Chairman Rangel..."

I'm going back to bed.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:36 PM | What do you think? [5]
But David Wayne thinks:

I'm a Dem that has always stood with Israel. I've never understood why we just didn't let them take care of the Middle East with with a little weapons help from us. They don't care who they offend and that is fine with me.

Posted by: David Wayne at August 14, 2006 2:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Not to put too fine a point on it, David, but has your support for Israel ever caused you to rethink your party affiliation? You can say a lot of nasty things about my beloved GOP, but we have been a much better friend to Israel over the last decade.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2006 3:39 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Help make things better for the Republicans in the fall! Join my "Red November Initiative!" Click on my name for directions!

(sorry if I'm beating my own drum, but SOMEONE has to stop the DNC in '06!)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at August 14, 2006 8:25 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Jim Gerlach is my Congressman. He's on the "40 yard line" of the political gridiron.

I'd like him to be a little closer to the goal line, but our district is as about down the middle as they come.

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

I thought so -- GO GERLACH!!

If he votes for Speaker Hastert instead of Pelosi, he's my boy right now. Let him call for nationalized oil. TrekMedic and I have an election to win.

Posted by: jk at August 15, 2006 7:10 PM

Condi '08

Not after these foreign policy wins.

But jk thinks:

Et tu, AC?

I do not blame the Secretary for those failures. Those rest entirely on the president. And I'd like to know which president they think could have handled all these crises to National Review's satisfaction, while still fighting Ned Lamont Democrats and leakers and The New York Times.

Fine, give up on Secretary Rice. Do you prefer the candidate that rescinded the First Amendment or the one who enshrined health care mandates in his home state. Are you going to like Mayor Giuliani’s SCOTUS picks? Is NR?

Sorry, I am still on board. Now if we can just get the candidate...

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2006 10:18 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I don't think any of the 08 candidates excite me. Perhaps there's a governor out there that might.

But so far? It looks like I'll be voting against Hillary. Sadly.

Posted by: AlexC at August 14, 2006 11:01 AM
But jk thinks:

It's funny, I have never been more keen on Secretary Rice. She is on the Sunday morning shows almost every week and she makes the case for freedom with firmness and style. She FLATTENED a Tim Russert who was trying to make the case for appeasement in Lebanon.

President Bush and the nation clearly want to take the diplomacy tract more than you and I. As I see it, she has been given the charge to work the UN (I'd rather go to Alaska when it's 60 below myself) and she is actually advancing freedom's interest there.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2006 11:17 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hmmm, who is the Governor of Utah? You know, Mormons are not classified as 'Christians', but rather, as splinter sect ... the ACLU should love that.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 14, 2006 11:38 AM
But jk thinks:

Almanac of American Politics sez:

"Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican, was elected governor of Utah in 2004. He was born in Palo Alto, California, the oldest of nine children, spent time in California and in Washington, D.C., where his father worked in the Nixon administration, then moved to Utah. He dropped out of high school to play keyboards in rock-and-roll bands; he attended the University of Utah briefly before leaving on a two-year Mormon mission to Taiwan. There he learned to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese. When he returned, he transferred to and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the son of billionaire philanthropist and industrialist Jon Huntsman, the wealthiest man in Utah (his company invented McDonald's Big Mac clamshell packaging), and the family owns a controlling interest in the Huntsman Corporation, a multinational petrochemical corporation headquartered in Salt Lake City."

A Keyboard player? I dunno, maybe a bass player or something...

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2006 12:07 PM

An Army of Game Programmers

Glenn Reynolds's "An Army of Davids" chronicles the movement from passive enjoyment of a beer, or music, or political punditry to active participation in its creation. Chris Andersen's "The Long Tail" identifies technologies that enable this as well as technologies that allows users to find and enjoy this new content.

The Wall Street Journal reports (paid link, sorry!) that Microsoft is introducing software to enable this trend on Xbox games.

Peter Moore, the Microsoft corporate vice president who leads the company's game efforts, said Microsoft's goal is to make creation of Xbox 360 game as easy as "drag and drop," using simple mouse and menu commands familiar to average users of a Windows PC. Mr. Moore said his objective is to engage Xbox 360 users in the creation of games the way sites like YouTube have given rise to countless amateur movie makers. "We're seeing a desire for rawer content, where you can put your hand up and say, 'I made this,'" Mr. Moore said in an interview.

He said Microsoft also wants its new game creation software to help stimulate more interest in the games business as a career path for young people. "We're projecting huge growth going forward [for the games business], but I'm not seeing the pipeline of talent," he said.


I'm still surprised at the number of people dismissing these trends. Just because everybody hasn't given up "American Idol" for YouTube and just because Eminem still sells millions, they think it is not happening.

I started in advertising just as desktop publishing was taking hold. We sent our type to a typesetter and pasted ads up on a drafting table. My first album was mastered in Nashville and (don't laugh) released on Vinyl. Doubters don't seem to be looking too closely.

But AlexC thinks:

The problem with "roll your own" sites, is that people generally have no talent.

How many myspace pages are actually worth looking at?

Are any of these games going to be playable? Never mind fun. Playable.

I'm guessing, very very very very very few.

Posted by: AlexC at August 14, 2006 10:02 AM
But jk thinks:

That's a huge point in "The Long Tail." The key is to provide tools to help gamers find the diamonds among the, er, crap. Yeah, most of the games will be bad, but you will have some "regional" hits and specialty stuff that will be good.

Besides, I started programming 'cause I wanted to program games (6502 assembler, my fossilhood is on display today!) I'd say the same talent that makes you a good gamer might make you a good programmer. If the tools are good, I think the content will have some sparks.

Posted by: jk at August 14, 2006 10:09 AM

August 13, 2006

Review Corner

Public service time: Do not rent or purchase “C.S.A.”

I had my concerns but I love counterfactuals. I consider them a lively way to learn history's consequences as well as facts. I highly recommend the What If? books. They give insightful and intelligent commentary on how different the world could look with a small change of historical facts.

Last week's review corner included British actor Stephen Fry, who has also written some very good books. One, Making History, is a counterfactual of sorts where a young Physicist uses time travel to prevent Adolf Hitler's birth. This book, like What If, has some nuance. Actions have reactions and the removal of one figure does not supersede the unfairness at Versailles or economic forces of post-Weimar Germany.

"C.S.A" displays exactly zero nuance. Like good counterfactuals, it exploits a tipping point. Washington almost lost a huge percentage of Continental forces at Brooklyn. If not for fog and quick thinking, the war could have been lost early. Fry's setup is a little more far-fetched, but his is a novel. The Confederacy was close to bringing in Europe on her side, and in this mock-British-documentary, that is exactly what happened. Grant surrendered to Lee. Lincoln flees to Canada (using the Underground Railway) and dies in relative obscurity. So far, so good...

Most of the film is then devoted to the idea of a modern slave-owning and drawl-speaking continental power. Chattel slavery of Africans was so good, it was spread to include Asians on the west coast, and a caste system in Latin America. The Ken Burns style look at the War is interrupted by commercials for "The Shackle" to keep your property in line, "Black Sambo" racing oil, and a sequence of minstrel spots for restaurants and foodstuffs.

There is a great line in "The Simpsons." Apu is applying for U.S. Citizenship. During an oral history exam, he is asked " What was the cause of the Civil War?" He responds, "Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists, there were economic factors, both domestic and inter--" He is interrupted: "Wait, wait... just say slavery" and he confirms: "Slavery it is, sir."

I wouldn't call myself a Southern sympathizer. Most of my kin dressed in Gray and I am very glad they lost. Slavery outweighed any beneficent aspects of their cause. Yet I am aggravated when people cannot see any other factors. It's lazy thought.

And lazy thought carries on for two hours here. One star. Skip it.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:54 AM

August 12, 2006

WOO-HOO!

My friend Chris Lilik is going to be blogging for the Club for Growth!

    Chris is a veteran blogger who cut his teeth with the ground-breaking Toomey Blog back in 2003-04 during the Toomey/Specter primary race. We joke that Chris is a machine, who seems to always be doing something to advance pro-growth policies, especially in Pennsylvania.

    Remember when fiscal conservatives were successful at voting a couple of big-spending Republicans out of office during the PA primaries earlier this year? Chris did a lot behind the scenes to make that happen.

Posted by AlexC at 6:11 PM

France Sandbags US Another Time

Taranto would put that in his "Bottom Headlines of the Day." Dog bites Man. A week ago, France and the US were together Mon Dieu! on a cease fire resolution. But when we got to Turtle Bay -- stop me if you've heard this story -- France had been persuaded by Arab diplomats to pull support and demand more concessions from the forces of freedom

The WaPo has the lugubrious details.

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 11 -- The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday that calls for a halt to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and authorizes the deployment of 15,000 foreign troops to help the Lebanese army take control of southern Lebanon.
The resolution calls on Israel to begin withdrawing all its forces from Lebanon "in parallel" with the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers and 15,000 additional Lebanese troops. It gives the international force the mandate to use firepower but no explicit role in disarming Hezbollah, leaving the fate of the Lebanese militia to a future political settlement.

I am amazed that PM Olmert is buying into this. Charles Krauthammer pointed out that diplomacy doesn't get you things that your army doesn't win on the ground. It is perhaps a military defeat for Israel.

But I wish we had fought with France for another week and let the IDF waste a few hundred more rockets.

Israel Posted by John Kranz at 11:13 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

How does the United Nations have any authority over Hezbollah? They're not a nation. They're not a party to any sort of international treaty.

Color me ridiculously skeptical.

Posted by: AlexC at August 12, 2006 4:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

While I'd prefer a bold, self-confident policy supporting Israel's right to anhillate Hezbollah and everyone and everything in their way, I'm largely supportive of the administration's handling of this "international crisis." They've taken the diplomatic and multilateral route so the Dems can't bash Bush with the "cowboy" argument, and the only impediment to further IDF progress is, another UN resolution! Hah!

Israel says, "We'll stop shooting on Monday." The Hezbos say, "We'll stop shooting when the Israelis are out of Lebanon." Israel says, "We'll leave Lebanon when someone else gets here to either kill or be killed by the Hezbos." Final answer: Israelis get to continue killing Hezbos.

Don't misunderestimate my analysis. I'm not saying this is some kind of picnic for Israel. Their kidnapped soldiers are still unaccounted for, and they're losing 7 soldiers per day on average in this campaign. But they have no alternative but to allow 7 or more civilian deaths per day until the end of time if they take the Democrat's prescription of "capitugotiation." Instead, the IAF is racing to occupy all the territory from the border to the Latani river. Whether held themselves or by Frenchmen with blue helmets, they'll not retreat hastily again to allow Hezbo weeds to regerminate unabated.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2006 6:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm hoping for the best and am heartened by recent incursions.

I cannot help but feel that it is a huge victory for Nasrallah, and a reminder that Islamicists can misbehave, maim and kill innocents -- then run to France and the U.N. for protection. Strong Horse, Weak Horse.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2006 1:01 PM

August 11, 2006

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

I quit smoking about 15 years ago. Unlike poor President Johnson, I lost the cravings over the course of several years. I could even have an occasional one (in Ireland, everybody smokes) but I am a cured man. That is, until I read Clay Risen's column in TNR online.

Now I think it may be my duty to take it up. Risen is upset at people who call themselves liberal and advance a liberal agenda (We're talking Humphrey liberals here, not von Mises), yet, gasp-cough-cough, smoke! Not only do they contribute to pollution and give their money to evil tobacco companies, but they express solidarity with bete noir Ayn Rand!

Among Ayn Rand's stranger quirks was her insistence that smoking was not just a right, but a moral obligation. To her, the burning cigarette was nothing less than the physical embodiment of the individual spirit: "When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind--and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression," she wrote in her propaganda tract-cum-novel Atlas Shrugged.

Such quasi-mysticism may sound strange coming from the self-appointed doyenne of reason (or not, given Rand's hard-core nicotine addiction). But, especially in light of the health and environmental evidence against smoking, Rand's position makes a certain amount of sense: What better way to give the world the finger than to light one up? What better way to assert your complete independence from society--and your utter disdain for people who assert otherwise--than to sacrifice your own long-term health and that of your neighbors for a moment of self-gratification?

This is why it is striking to find so many liberals who smoke. Is there anything more hypocritical than someone who avers a commitment to the public good, who values personal sacrifice in service of society, who declaims the noxious influence of big business in America, who preaches environmental protection--all while puffing away?


These people are such scolds. They decry Puritanism, but they want to bring back the stocks for smokers, and SUV drivers, and Wal*Mart shoppers, and people who don't listen to NPR.
For Rand, while the personal consequences of smoking proved ultimately compelling (she gave up once she developed lung cancer), it's highly unlikely that the environmental or public health arguments would have mattered much; after all, under her philosophy of radical selfishness, her desires were absolute trumps over any construction of the "greater good."

One would expect a liberal to see things much differently. A liberal would hold that the public good is a compelling, though rarely absolute, interest against his own needs and wants--less against his needs, more so against his wants. The less urgent the need or want, the more compelling the public good. For example, a liberal would recognize that he needs to get from home to work, and may likely have no other choice but to drive. Given that driving a car puts strain on the environment, this is a necessary compromise of a public good in favor of a personal need. But he would also recognize that he has several options in meeting that need--should he drive the hybrid he knows emits less pollution or the SUV he really wants? Should he carpool, even though he'd rather spend time in the car alone? In each case the former is better for the public good, while the latter meets his wants at the expense of the public good. The more willing he is to make these sorts of concessions to the public good, the more in line he is with liberal principles.


This says a lot more about Mr. Risen than it says about Ms. Rand.

But johngalt thinks:

This Risen is an angry young man, isn't he? The contemporary resurgence of Rand's ideas must really be getting under his skin.

Though the Atlas Shrugged quote is accurate, Rand considered smoking emblematic of man's dominion over nature, not a "moral obligation." This was in 1957 mind you, long before objective scientific evidence of smoking's health consequences was known. "Lung cancer?" What's he smoking? Rand died of heart failure. (I know, I know, not enough tofu.) http://www.nndb.com/people/097/000030007/

Here's the real outrage, though: Attributing her mere "desires" as absolute trumps over the "greater good" evidencing her philosophy of "radical selfishness." What RATIONAL selfishness holds is that every man is an end in himself and is morally free to choose his own course in life so long as he refrains from the initiation of force against other men. (What could be more liberal, Clay?)

This essay is black and white proof that Ann Coulter is right: These people are religious followers of the deity called "public good." Rand and I? Atheists.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2006 6:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

P.S. Thanks for the hanging curveball, JK.

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2006 6:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Wasn't sure you'd swing. I remember your being very anti-smoking.

The Ayn Rand Biographical FAQ says "A few authors, apparently careless with their research, have stated that Rand died of lung cancer. Rand was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974, but she underwent surgery, which she reported to be "a complete success." She also stopped smoking at this time. There is no evidence that she experienced any recurrence of the cancer or that it was directly involved in her death, which did not come until 1982."
http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/bio/biofaq.html#Q6.10

I was a smoker when I read Atlas Shrugged and I remember that quote vividly. I completely agree with your interpretation. It's about having such complete control of fire that you carry it in your hand when uncontrolled fire had bedeviled man for millennia.

Posted by: jk at August 13, 2006 1:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Kudos for the research, friend. I could find nothing about it in my brief attempt.

As for my opposition to smoking, your memory is correct. I still revulse at the smell of cigarette smoke (cigars are a different matter) but I've learned that the right of private property trumps my personal preferences. As long as I'm free to avoid an establishment, 'tis the owner's right to choose smoking or non.

So there you have it: Two deeply held and principled beliefs coexisting. Ain't it a beautiful thing this consistent, integrated philosophy!

Posted by: johngalt at August 13, 2006 1:41 PM

Surveillance

More details on as mentioned yesterday...

    The plot was foiled because a large number of people were under surveillance concerning their spending, travel and communications. Which leads us to wonder if Scotland Yard would have succeeded if the ACLU or the New York Times had first learned the details of such surveillance programs.

    And almost on political cue yesterday, Members of the Congressional Democratic leadership were using the occasion to suggest that the U.S. is actually more vulnerable today despite this antiterror success. Harry Reid, who's bidding to run the Senate as Majority Leader, saw it as one more opportunity to insist that "the Iraq war has diverted our focus and more than $300 billion in resources from the war on terrorism and has created a rallying cry for international terrorists."


Sad, but true.

(tip to the professor)

But jk thinks:

I usually don't use "magnanimity" and "Sen. Ried" in the same sentence, but has he none? I am stunned by the lack of appreciation for Scotland Yard.

Dan Henninger pointed out the bad timing of declaring yourself as the anti-war party on Tuesday, and this on Thursday, but why couldn't Ried have thanked those foiled the plot and said "this shows the importance of international alliances that are being squandered by this..." or some equally vacuous Riedspeak.

I hope everybody reads the whole editorial, regardless of party affiliation. It is damning to the Democratic party but they deserve it.

Posted by: jk at August 11, 2006 12:14 PM

August 10, 2006

Terrorists Foiled

The NYTimes Europe reports

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 — American intelligence officials said today that they and their British counterparts had been tracking terrorists for months before the schemers were rounded up in Britain, and that they could not say positively that all the plotters had yet been caught.

Am I the only one around here who is worried that some of their civil rights may have been violated in this surveillance? Why didn't the New York Times alert these poor people in time?

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

I too, have concern for the terrorists. I mean, did we intercept their phone calls? Library withdrawls?

Posted by: AlexC at August 10, 2006 10:56 PM

The Real Loser in Connecticut: TNR

I get distressed that there are so few free traders and libertarians in the GOP. Imagine being a center-left type in the Democratic party after Tuesday's CT Senate primary.

The head of the non-loony left is certainly The New Republic. (Kos calls it a neocon book!) Today, Thomas Edsall asks Does Joe Lieberman's defeat spell doom for Democrats in 2008? Edsall says "Yes."

In a quick and dirty analysis of the difference between the Lamont and Lieberman voters based on income, education, and other demographic data from across Connecticut, Ken Strasma of Strategic Telemetry found that Lamont's strongest support came from areas with high housing values, voters with college or graduate degrees, and parents with children in private schools. Lieberman's votes, in contrast, came from the cities, renters, blue-collar and service-sector workers, and those receiving Social Security benefits.

There is nothing wrong with upscale liberals or downscale renters; a vote is a vote. The problem for the Democrats is (and has been for more than a quarter century) that liberal elites are disproportionately powerful in primaries--where they turn out in much higher numbers--and in the operations of the party itself. In presidential campaigns, these voters have nominated a succession of losers, including George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry. The power of this wing of the party is easy to see in battles against Republican Supreme Court nominees, when Democratic opposition concentrates on such issues as abortion and sexual privacy to the virtual exclusion of questions of business versus labor, tort law, and the power of the state to regulate corporate activity.


The 2008 hopefuls are already falling into line:
Already, a number of prospective Democratic 2008 candidates have begun to adjust to the early leverage of the upscale, antiwar wing of the party. John Kerry, a Democratic weather vane, has tacked left on the war, renounced his past vote for the military action in Iraq, and sought to the support in the antiwar blogosphere.

Michael Barone makes the exact same point in a guest editorial in today's WSJ (paid link, sorry)
The Connecticut primary reveals that the center of gravity in the Democratic Party has moved, from the lunch-bucket working class that was the dominant constituency up through the 1960s to the secular transnational professional class that was the dominant constituency in the 2004 presidential cycle. You can see the results on the map. Joe Lieberman carried by and large the same cities and towns that John F. Kennedy carried in the 1960 presidential general election.

Ned Lamont carried most of the cities and towns that were carried by Richard Nixon. In Stamford, where Joe Lieberman grew up the son of a liquor-store owner, and where there are still sizeable blue-collar and black communities, Mr. Lieberman won with 55% of the vote. In next-door Greenwich, where Ned Lamont (like former President George H.W. Bush) grew up as the scion of an investment banker family, and where the housing values are now among the highest in the nation, Mr. Lamont won with 68% of the vote. If Mr. Lamont wins in November, he will be just one of several members of a Democratic caucus who have made, inherited or married big money.


I think Mr. Edsall is more disturbed by this trend than Mr. Barone.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM

Ned-renaline or McCain Feingold?

We can all take what we will from Ned Lamont's victory in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary last night. Like many, I see it as the moonbat left flexing its muscle in a blue state, but telling the whole nation that pro-war politicians will not be welcome in the national party.

Ed Crane at Cato has an interesting angle. He notes that Campaign Finance Reform was highly protective of incumbents, but the only "loophole" was for self-financed candidates. Crane thinks we may be seeing a lot more.

More than 60 percent of Ned’s campaign expenditures came from Ned. Without Ned, Ned loses. In fact, no political observer thought any candidate dependent on a $2000 contribution limit had any kind of chance of ousting Lieberman. Ned was a very poor candidate. Inarticulate with zero charisma. But by spending his own money he enfranchised the Democrats of Connecticut who otherwise, given the contribution limits, were disenfranchised. The Democrats in Connecticut hate the war in Iraq, Lieberman has rather energetically endorsed it. Yet the federal election laws would have assured Lieberman reelection were it not for the “loophole.”

Hat-tip: Insty

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

It's not Ned-renaline OR McCain Feingold, but Ned-renaline in SPITE of, McCain Feingold, right? The author argues that constituents are better able to unseat incumbents absent McCain Feingold, which can be circumvented by self-financing. McCain Feingold didn't enable the spoiler victory but merely failed to interfere with it. It's hard to think of this as an "aid" to victory in this case.

And for the record, it wasn't Ned-renaline either, but an overwhelming urge on the part of Bush-hating Democrats to cut of the nose of their party to spite its face. Polls showed Joe would beat "Ned" (what the hell kind of name is Ned? What is Ned short for, besides "non-existent deity?") in the general even before the primary had been held.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2006 12:15 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah. I was up late, you're right (the sun was in my eyes, my dog ate my good post...) The problem is more that nobody but a self-financed candidate could have played, that reforms of 1974 and 2002 have been so successful that now only rich people can run. Good job, guys.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2006 10:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Not sure any of this gives you the right to insult all the ThreeSources readers named "Ned." Harsh, dude. Harsh.

Posted by: jk at August 10, 2006 10:48 AM
But Ned thinks:

I'm never reading this damn site again.

Posted by: Ned at August 11, 2006 11:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey "Ned." What is your full name? Nedward? Nedthan? Nedermier? Neddick? Alfned? Nedmeister? Nederino? Nederland? Neddy? Nedspicoli? Really, I just wanna know!

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2006 5:39 PM

August 8, 2006

Let Go of My Car!

Ha!

A fancy new garage controlled by a robot that inserts cars into slots stopped working.

    In the course of a contract dispute, the city of Hoboken had police escort the Robotic employees from the premises just a few days before the contract between both parties was set to expire. What the city didn't understand or perhaps concern itself with, is that they sent the company packing with its manuals and the intellectual property rights to the software that made the giant robotic parking structure work.

    The Hoboken garage is one of a handful of fully automated parking structures that make more efficient use of space by eliminating ramps and driving lanes, lifting and sliding automobiles into slots and shuffling them as needed. If the robot shuts down, there is no practical way to manually remove parked vehicles.


The city began licensing the software month by month, and whoops... eventually the software expired.

It's funny, but I think that's kind of weak. They own the garage, they should have paid for the software and all should have moved on. I don't know how advanced garage automation is, so maybe there'd be a small maintenance fee yearly. A lot of very high end software is sold that way. But it shouldn't stop the garage.

In the 80s, there was a company selling compressor and turbine control software to third world nations.... and companies within them. Obviously on big equipment, it gets installed, running and then the payments get completed. After a run of "non-payments" the controls company began installing code with a month or two "startup grace", and then after a while, it would stop. If you're using turbines to make electricity, you can imagine what kind of a bind that put the theives in.

But johngalt thinks:

Well, maybe you can beat city hall after all!

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2006 1:13 PM
But jk thinks:

Am I the only storage veteran around here who sees a huge tape library for cars? Hey, I used to write software for those, maybe I can help out.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2006 11:26 PM

The WSJ Imitates AlexC

The Prudhoe Principle


Opponents of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling have long argued that the supply wouldn't make a difference to prices. Well, that claim took a spill yesterday with BP's announcement that it is shutting down its operations at Prudhoe Bay due to a damaged pipeline that could take months to patch.

U.S. crude soared $2.25 on the news, taking oil to nearly $77 a barrel, with experts predicting another five- or 10-cent a gallon price increase at the retail gasoline pump -- possibly to a new high. This market reaction came as some surprise to various newspaper scribes and politicians, given that Prudhoe Bay "only" supplies about 400,000 barrels a day, or less than 2% of daily U.S. oil consumption.

These are the same folks who've delighted in informing Americans in recent years that opening up nearby ANWR to drilling would "only" result in an extra one million barrels a day. This argument -- that ANWR isn't worth the effort -- might have some currency if oil were plentiful and gas prices were still "only" $1.50 a gallon. But with the margin between global oil supply and demand so thin, any supply counts. ANWR is exactly the sort of home-grown oil cushion that would help smooth out supply disruptions from the likes of Katrina or the BP leak, if "only" Congress could get a clue.

As it happens, House Republicans are mounting yet another effort to get ANWR legislation past John Kerry and his fellow Senate filibusterers. A majority of the Senate supports it. The latest bill promises to devote federal ANWR revenues to "alternative energy" programs, an enticement that has already gathered some Democratic support. If Congress really wanted to impress voters when it got back from its August recess, it'd use the BP mess as an excellent reason to increase U.S. energy supplies.


I may have to turn in my ThreeSources Optimist badge, but I see this as a net loss for ANWR. This will contravene the assertions that the work will be environmentally friendly and the environmentalists will use it to play up the dangers.

But AlexC thinks:

I disagree.

It's an example of them catching the problem AHEAD of time. It's no secret that things will degrade in a 30 year-old field.

They were watching.

Posted by: AlexC at August 8, 2006 6:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I hope you and Mr. Gigot are right. Once again, though, I find myself in the position of hoping the voter is paying attention and being rational. While the anti-ANWR folks can just show pictures of oil covered birds from the Valdez spill.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2006 4:41 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It's no secret to anyone who's mechanically inclined that pipelines require maintenance. Voters, on the other hand...

But what I wonder is, why didn't it occur to BP? How many times do we hear about pipelines being shut down for repair? Don't most pipeline operators have plans in place to minimize downtime? The fact that this one is operated by BP, the oil company that apologizes for being an oil company, makes me wonder if they have any idea what they're doing up there.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2006 12:33 AM

Political Opportunists

I've come to the conclusion that Democrats simply don't stand for anything outside of bashing big business.

Now some are calling for Congressional investigations. Congressman John Dingell, the House Energy and Commerce Committee top Democrat.

    "This sudden loss of [400,000 bbls of] production will dramatically increase oil prices and the American people will be footing the bill for this combined failure of DOT's regulatory oversight and BP's corporate responsibility," he said.

    Congress is now out for its month-long summer recess, and any hearings on the shutdown would not take place until lawmakers return in early September.

These Democrats are the same ones that argue that ANWR's additional oil production will only be a drop in the bucket.

Especially when the Energy Information Administrations thinks that there might be anywhere from 600,000 to 1.9 Million bbls per day available from ANWR.

Either an additional 1,000,000 bbls is important to our nation, or 400,000 isn't.... and based on the doomsday rhetoric from the media regarding the Prudhoe Bay shutdown, it sounds like it is.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I heard that nearly 5 barrels of oil spilled ... where is the Sierra club when you need them! Greenpeace? Hello?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 8, 2006 12:43 PM
But AlexC thinks:

No no no.... Despite oil only being measured in barrels, you have to say 5*42 = 210 gallons!

Posted by: AlexC at August 8, 2006 6:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

795 liters! (pardon me, "litres")
3,360 cups!
161,280 teaspoons!
Wait... 795 million microliters!!

Posted by: johngalt at August 9, 2006 1:19 PM

August 7, 2006

Definitions

Greg Gutfield defines fear from the left

    Fear that you hate the right for the same reason you hate your dad because you know that he is right and that you are a loser and you will always be a loser and that you are sabotaging your life and those of everyone around you because that makes you that angry.

Awesome.

It's a good mix of seriousness and levity... but they're mostly serious. Like the above example.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 10:30 PM

Socialized Medicine

Saw this over at Club for Growth's Blog.

UK Telegraph

    After years of Government targets pushing them to cut waiting lists, staff are now being warned against "over-performing" by treating patients too quickly. The Sunday Telegraph has learned that at least six trusts have imposed the minimum times.

    In March, Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health, offered her apparent blessing for the minimum waiting times by announcing they would be "appropriate" in some cases. Amid fears about £1.27 billion of NHS debts, she expressed concern that some hospitals were so productive "they actually got ahead of what the NHS could afford".


The lesson here? In the United Kingdom, if you do your job quickly, seeing more patients, you're going to be kneecapped.

Nice. Let's take two helpings of that here.

UPDATE: jk busting in on another's post, here. I wanted to give a link to a thoughful post on this topic from Perry at Eidelblog.


Back to Internecine Strife

The serious situation in the Middle East has brought the freedom lovers of ThreeSources together. Allow me to fire a rhetorical Katyusha somewhere into the comity.

Virginia University professor Larry Sabato is a pretty serious guy in reading and interpreting polls. While he is not expressly partisan, he is obviously sympathetic to conservatives and Republicans.

Friday night on Larry Kudlow's show, Sabato said if the election were held today, Republicans would lose the house by a wide margin and would lose five Senate seats, keeping the Dick Cheney majority unless the Democrats found a lucky sixth. Rep. Harold Ford was on the same show. He's not one of the five, and he is a very impressive candidate whom the party will back to the hilt.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn was on as well. She is convinced the answer is border security. Her constituents in Tennessee are swamped (really?)

I like Rep Blackburn, but I have to go with the Wall Street Journal Ed page. Today they wonder if Rep. Pence and Sen. Hutchinson will be able to "talk the party down from the ledge."

GOP Representative Mike Pence of Indiana has been pushing an immigration compromise that he hopes will end the stand-off between the House, which has passed a bill focusing entirely on enforcement, and the Senate, whose bill combines more security with a guest-worker program.

This is compromise sausage, the editorial and I find much to dislike about it Yet Rep Ford presaged the campaigns to come, accusing his GOP colleague of "getting nothing done on Immigration, even though you control both houses of Congress and the White House.”

The Tancredo wing is still convinced that obstructionism is a winner.

These objections aside, we'd consider it progress if the House and Senate ever reached the point of discussing these details. And thanks to Representative Pence and Senator Hutchison, there's still a chance that might happen. First, however, they must convince their GOP colleagues that voters would prefer a solution to divisive rhetoric. That will be a tough sell, especially without the help of Democrats who are only too happy to use the stalemate as a campaign issue in November.

Meanwhile, Republican House leaders have announced that they'll spend the rest of the summer holding more immigration "hearings" like the one last month titled, "Should We Embrace the Senate's Grant of Amnesty to Millions of Illegal Aliens and Repeat the Mistakes of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986?" That sounds more like a Lou Dobbs ratings ploy than a GOP interested in compromise.


Sounds like "Speaker Pelosi" and "Majority Leader Reid" to me...

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

No need to worry, JK. The Dems thought they had the '04 races all locked up even as late as just before the actual votes were counted. If D candidates get more votes we'll just place a call to the CEO of Diebold to dial in a few more R's. (snicker)

Seriously though, I doubt that the same security voters who've kept the Republicans in power since 9/11 will vote Democrat because Congress can't engineer yet another grand compromise. (Most voters know that the mechanics of legislation are stacked in favor of stalemate anyway.)

A genuine threat is voters deciding that the Democrat way is worth a try in the Terror War, but that's not bloody likely either.

I don't know what Sabato is thinking but I suspect he's influenced by the polls that show Dems stronger than usual on defense issues, but as I believe I said earlier... voters talk a good game until it's time to vote. Then they pull the "R" lever.

Posted by: johngalt at August 7, 2006 10:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Whistle past that graveyard, friend. Even Taranto is admitting that the once-thought-safe Senate is in Jeopardy:

"In this year's Senate races, things are looking up for the Democrats. Republicans failed to field serious candidates against several incumbents from red states (Florida, North Dakota, West Virginia). Most observers give the Dems a better than even chance of holding seats in Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey and Washington against serious challenges. Only in Minnesota does the GOP have an even chance of picking up a Democratic seat.

"Meanwhile, the Democrats have a reasonable shot at beating five GOP incumbents--in Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island--and an open GOP seat in Tennessee isn't completely out of reach. If everything falls the Democrats' way, their current 45-seat minority will become a 51-seat majority."

Scary times. I expect the 1994 Democrats thought that in the privacy of the booth, people would certainly pull the D.

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2006 5:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're taking Taranto out of context. He made that case as the best possible scenario for the Dems, as an argument for Harry Reid not acting immediately to marginalize (and burn bridges with) Lieberman.

And after witnessing the Lamont-Lieberman primary, do you really believe voters in MO, MT, OH, PA, RI and TN are going to punish Republicans for failing to "do something" on immigration? Hate to say this, but Lebanon has put illegal immigration back onto its usual back-burner position.

Posted by: johngalt at August 10, 2006 12:47 AM

August 6, 2006

Spending Database

One of the best political stimulants, is shame.

    U.S. Senator Tom Coburn has an innovative idea that will cost the federal government virtually nothing and provide the public with a depth of knowledge on government operations unparalleled in American History.

    The Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommmittee on Federal Financial Management has introduced a bipartisan bill to create a Google-like online searchable database of all federal spending. Currently, said Coburn, there is no way for taxpayers to find out what the federal government is paying individuals, groups, localities, and contractors. "This bill will empower citizens investigators to root out waste, fraud, and abuse," the Oklahoma Republican, a leading opponent of pork, told U.S. News.

    He has earned a bipartisan group of co-sponsors including Republicans John McCain and Rick Santorum and Democrat Barack Obama. Since most of the information is already online or in digital data records that could be easily posted, the cost would be comparatively small.


This is a good thing. There's plenty of shame to go around.

Hopefully you can group it by Senator / Congressman and see what they've introduced... and give you a dollar total.

But jk thinks:

Yes! Transparency is the key, much better than creating some arcane "reform" rules that members will quickly find ways around.

Bloggers can play an active part in the shaming. Not that anybody around here would take pleasure in such a thing...

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2006 11:46 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Devil's Advocacy time.

Why should we wait for government to fill this need? Why hasn't there been anyone in the think-tank/political agitator segment of society doing this?

Yes, Porkbusters et al is a start.

... my fear is that the government will find a way to make it suck.

Posted by: AlexC at August 7, 2006 2:03 PM
But jk thinks:

That was actually my first thought: fund a government program to see why government spends so much...

But I believe you might need their access to produce them with accuracy and timeliness. Go government!

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2006 3:16 PM

CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave, "Pork Slayer"

JK blogged a couple weeks ago about Club for Growth's legislative pork scorecard. Poor JK's representative, Mark Udall in CO's 2nd district, rarely saw a pork bill he would kill. Mine on the other hand, Marilyn Musgrave of CO-04, is a veritable "pork slayer" by comparison. Her score: 15 of 19. Who can say exactly why she failed to oppose four of the earmarks without in depth research (or maybe calling her office to ask) but who has time for that? A cursory analysis shows that three of them were agricultural earmarks (and hers is a heavily ag district) and a $4M "education research" sop. (I guess nobody is willing to take on the NEA.)

Despite the heavy rural component in CO-04 it also includes the heavily liberal Larimer county, home of Colorado State University and the usual "progressive" suspects. In '04 Musgrave beat an established state Democrat, Stan Matsunaka, 51% to 45%. It's not a 'gimme' district for the GOP so it attracts national attention from the DNC. This year appears to be no different.

There's already been no shortage of radio spots for Paccione, criticizing the "Bush/Musgrave" agenda on Iraq and illegal immigration. This weekend, Marliyn started shooting back. Her first radio spot cites Paccione's votes in the CO legislature for state tuition subsidies to illegal immigrant students, then informs us that ol' Angie defaulted on her very own student loans! The CO student loan board apparently took her to court and her solution was to declare bankruptcy. Ouch, that's gonna hurt!

Colorado Posted by JohnGalt at 2:59 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I thought you were in CO-07. Well done either way, but you have to leave a few of us moles back in Boulder County to see what they're up to...

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2006 5:31 PM

Identity Politics

Salena Zito looks at who the two parties think they are.

    Democrats face a struggle for identity -- witness the Joe Lieberman-Ned Lamont U.S. Senate primary in Connecticut, where the race is all about Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq.
    Republicans, on the other hand, face not so much a struggle for identity, but a battle.

    Fifteen years ago, Republicans confronted their identity crisis with Newt Gingrich and the "Contract with America." That revolution was designed to reunite everyone under one big tent.

    It is considered to have been successful because it has sustained a congressional majority based on reform, responsible government and a strong defense.

    It's also kept Republicans united, minimizing the inside-party battles that are consuming Democrats.

    The struggle now for Republicans is not about where the party stands as much as who is doing the standing on the soapbox.


Regarding the Democrats, I think the only thing unifying them is "we're not them." Them being Bush, their opponent (see Pa's Bob Casey) and Republicans in general.

A dubious electoral strategy at best. What are they for?

It depends who you ask. The Republicans, I believe, haven't had that problem.

But Sidney thinks:

Will Casey Strike out?

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Protected/Articles/000/000/012/486msupo.asp?pg=1

Posted by: Sidney at August 6, 2006 10:41 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Speaking of Gingrich, he is fast becoming my preference for the GOP 2008 presidential candidate. One gets the impression that his hand at the foreign policy rudder would lead to a clearer implementation of the Bush Doctrine than has Bush's.

As far as the Democrats are concerned, their strength in the coming elections is to focus on domestic issues. Not that they have better ideas, or even a decided advantage there politically, but on foreign policy they've proven in the last 2 elections to be woefully insufficient.

Opinion polls routinely show Ds doing well against Rs in "approval rating" but when all the chips are actually on the table and the voters have to decide, a plurality understands that one party is serious about defending the nation while the other lives in dreamland.

The article Sidney links doesn't mention this, focusing more on PA "inside baseball" but it's another factor lined up in Santorum's column.

Posted by: johngalt at August 6, 2006 1:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I'd like to think Zito's right. Her points about the Democrats' troubles are certainly accurate (the fact that Donna Brazille is now a party moderate is a symptom).

The GOP's troubles are glossed over -- nay, ignored -- The Contract with America did unify the 104th Congress but the 109th has lost its way. We have Rep. Jerry Lewis and Sen. Ted Stevens shoveling money to their district, state, and supports as fast as they can. If it is "all about personality" than it's because nobody is left with any conservative ideology.

I'm a big fan of Speaker Gingrich, jg, but fear he brings too much baggage and too much history to lead the party in 2008. We could -- and probably will -- do much worse, but I don't see him winning in '08. He'd be a good choice for a principled loss a'la Dole in '96. But that's not what I want.

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

I'm taking a 'wait and see' attitude about the '08 prez run. There are several political lifetimes between now and then.

As for baggage, how much more could one have that the current Oval Office holder did in 2000?

Posted by: johngalt at August 6, 2006 2:47 PM

August 5, 2006

R for Review Corner

Warner Brothers made a movie for ThreeSourcers. They created a testament to the power of ideas, the danger of collectivism, the importance for retaining a Sharansky free society instead of a fear society. They lined up superb acting, great writing and incomparable cinematography The movie would be called V For Vendetta.

Then, the politically-correct multiculturalism police got hold of the script. "Are you Different-reality-enabled?" they asked the studio. "This contravenes everything we stand for." A last minute deal allowed them to make their choice of three script changes. Production continued.

The movie suffers from the last minute changes but remains a great film. The changes are so obvious and transparent that they can be easily ignored. Let's cover these flaws first:

1) Make the evil leader conservative and Christian! or "I wish I was in a land Orwell-sotten, Irony there ain't forgotten..."
The film is set in a futuristic dystopia in Britain. Rather than chose the obvious villains of British Socialism or the ID-card issuing, weapon-confiscating, liberty-truncating Labour government, we create a Spode/Mussolini "High Chancellor" who came from the Conservative party and is overtly Christian. Because, y'know, the UK has a such a terrible record for falling for those guys.

2) Gay characters risk their life to keep a copy of the Koran.
Bon vivant and very-out-gay actor Stephen Fry plays (very well) a TV elite who keeps contraband art objects in a secret room. The highlight -- and most dangerous item -- is a 14th Century copy of the Koran. "I'm not Muslim," he explains, "but I don't have to be to enjoy its imagery or poetry." The character is gay as well, but must invite Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) over to hide his sexuality. I wonder if his favorite "poetic imagery" in the holy book is perhaps the part about burying homosexuals up to their necks a toppling a wall on them.

3) The ultimate villain will, of course, have controlling interest in a pharmaceutical company.
Natch. They probably didn't fight this one.

Plus a few gratuitous swipes at "the former United States" and its problems, but who's counting?

Educated viewers who realize that the bad guys are collectivist socialists, that the serious contraband is anti-government artwork, and that the over-controlling state remains the real enemy, can make the translation in their heads real time, and enjoy one of the great movies of this year (or most others).

The look, the dialogue, the pace and the acting of this film are perfect in every way. Portman is lovely and credible without being glamorous. Several individual performances could be highlighted. I'm not a comic book guy and I had no prior knowledge of the characters or plot (I know a bit about Guy Fawkes!) I saw the movie because of the tag line "People should not be afraid of the Government. Government should be afraid of the people." On that sentiment it did not disappoint.

The film was released in DVD last Tuesday. If you have not seen it drop the mouse and go rent it. 4.5 Stars.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that the ideological flaws are more serious than I allow; I will back my rating down to four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 3:22 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Dagny and I are grateful for the thorough review, JK. It prompted us to buy a copy last night and watch it ourselves. Unfortunately, the viewing consumed substantially more than the 132 minute running time as we had to continually pause the film for urgent trips to the kitchen to refill our Kool-Aid glasses. (We still have red moustaches this morning!)

Your description of "three script changes" fooled me into expecting no other blatant "different-reality" messages. Here are a couple you didn't mention: (spoilers follow but hey, it's on DVD already)

Terrorist. That's the name given, in the film, to anyone who uses violence to achieve political change. It matters not if he targets state criminals instead of civilians of a free society. Clearly, [sarcasm alert] if anyone employs such tactics against a state it is proof that the state is corrupt and tyrannical.

St. Mary's mass poisoning, Three Waters chemical attack, subway killings. These three cinematic disasters, ultimately revealed to us as the work of the totalitarian state, are obvious metaphors for 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7. It is left to viewers to make the extremely short journey to the conclusion that Bush (et al) orchestrated these real-world mass killings for the same purpose as Sutler's: To manipulate vox populi in support of the "regime."

You gave the impression that the studio required the script changes, but the actors interviewed in the "making of" bonus material are clearly the "different-reality-enabled" ones:

"I've never seen a Hollywood script that addresses the issues we're talking about today...you know, whether the threat, or the perceived threat, of terrorism or disease or anything else, justifies a diminution in civil liberties," says Stephen Fry. Rupert Graves follows with, "The fear that everybody has about terrorist attacks, and the laws being brought into effect to counter that, sometimes quite oppressive laws, it doesn't take a great leap to understand why and how a state might want a lot more control." Fry ends with, "It's obviously not about America now, or even Britain now, but nonetheless it is about those very issues and it's a marvelous thing to think that Hollywood is, again, able to do that." Let's ask the citizens of northern Israel if the terrorist threat is merely a "perception."

"V is the hero but he's not always good, and he sometimes does things that you can't possibly like because he's vengeful. Because of that it sort of taints his political idealism," says the otherwise delightful Ms. Portman. I suppose she's referring to his campaign to kill all the individuals complicit in his imprisonment and torture, and the murders of countless other victims of medical experiments. Even the ones who "didn't mean it."

"We all know that one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter," Stephen Fry says. ["If 'everyone knows' such-and-such then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one." - Robert A. Heinlein]

I was intrigued by the movie prior to its release, when I saw a theater poster with the quote you cited: "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people." "How can they screw that up," I thought? Then I noticed it was by the Wachowski brothers, they of 'red pill, blue pill' epistemology. "They should get it right." After release, my sister-in-law saw the movie before us. She thought it would make us mad because, "It is portrayed in such a way that whoever's watching it can see what they want to see." Consequently we declined to contribute 20 bucks to it's creators. (Instead we gave them $16.87 for the DVD. Sigh.)

Give the film credit for being intelligent and thoughtful. It does understand that fear societies are bad. Trouble is, it sees evil in the mirror far more clearly than in, say, religious fanatics with military ordnance.

Three stars.

Posted by: johngalt at August 6, 2006 2:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Obviously my review was not thoughtful or comprehensive enough to save you $16.87. I owe you lunch.

I was hoping others saw it and I cannot feign surprise that you saw what you described. Your sister-in-law is right. I realized that moonbats would also get support from the film. Watching it a second time before returning it, a few things did make me nervous.

I'm a BIG Stephen Fry fan from his Jeeves & Wooster and Blackadder days. I like his partner Hugh Laurie on “House.” But I know he's a British lefty -- no doubt he'd think the movie was about Bush. I didn't watch any of the bonus features or commentary, but yeah, Hollywood, whatever.

That it was set in Britain and that there was such homage to Orwell, made me think of the land that, under a Labour government, has disarmed its populace and is creating ID cards as we speak.

And to a certain extent, both the left and right need to be vigilant against excessive government, and know that they have the power to stop it. I see no reason, why gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot.

Posted by: jk at August 6, 2006 5:13 PM
But jk thinks:

One quibble: the state powers use "terrorist" indiscriminately and to their advantage -- perhaps they are accusing Bush and Blair of this. But the film's hero is continually called the T-word when he is obviously not.

The other movie I saw this weekend was Disney's "The Shaggy Dog." Tim Allen was good but the politics in this soi disant "children's" movie is 100X worse than V. The hero is Allen's daughter's animal-rights-terrorist Social studies teacher. It made V seem like reading "The Weekly Standard" by comparison.

And the dog movie lacked the startling cinematography of V For Vendetta.


Posted by: jk at August 6, 2006 5:45 PM
But dagny thinks:

JK states, "But the film's hero is continually called the T-word when he is obviously not."

That V is not a terrorist is the clear conclusion that you reached and we reached. However, I found it frightening in watching the bonus material that most if not all of the people working on the film thought he WAS a terrorist. They all intended for V's morality to appear ambiguous and for his behavior to be that of a terrorist.

We'd be happy to have lunch JK, but you don't owe it to us. We wanted to see the movie even if you had panned it.

Posted by: dagny at August 6, 2006 11:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, that's another thing V had going - it was fantastically entertaining to watch and the dialog was excellent for an action film.

But when is Hollywood going to make a movie about a violently discriminatory ideological movement that fails to die with the Nazis of WWII, resurrecting itself decades later to threaten the world with death and destruction on a massive scale, only to be ignored, appeased and denied by the so-called "enlightened" classes who could have stopped them at any point right up until the giant mushroom cloud appeared. Nah, Hollywood hates documentaries.

Posted by: johngalt at August 6, 2006 11:18 PM
But jk thinks:

I think, jg, that's slated to come out right after the films celebrating the heroism of American troops in Iraq.

You both are making me glad I skipped the bonus material. But I might put it in the Harrison Bergeron camp, where an artist who believes in one thing ends up producing a work which perfectly undermines it.

Lastly, the film had two ideals we can share with the worst of moonbats: mistrust of government and the power of ideas.

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2006 10:23 AM

News You Can Use

In celebration of Three Sources Firearm Safety Week 2006, I bought a small safe. Not having kids, and living in a pretty safe neighborhood, I have been able to blow off the important responsibility of storage. A blog post last week made me feel guilty, and I found this little jewel on the Internet for $98.00.

The gun-control forces cannot hide their feelings of intellectual superiority to the bucolic hayseeds who choose to take an active role in their personal protection. I have always attributed it to elitism, but now I wonder if they don't have a point.


keyinsafe.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 3:19 PM

Turtle Bay Two-Step

"Countries Near Agreement on Resolution" the headline reads. In the matter of open warfare between Israel and hateful religious zealots armed with military ordnance by the hateful religious regime in Iran, an agreement to resolve the situation has nearly been reached between: Paris and Washington.

Dagny wonders, "Who is going to deliver that message to Hezbollah?" "I think it may have to be delivered to Iran on their behalf... via B-52," I quipped.

Seriously though, I think Israel should tell all the meddling busybodies in foreign capitals who seek to end Israel's vigorous self-defense that they will stop trying to kill Hezbollah fighters and destroy their weapons "just as soon as you get your ass over here and make us."

Israel Posted by JohnGalt at 1:15 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

I also heard an insinuation that a "multi-national force" is in the works for deployment in southern Lebanon. The idea is, supposedly, that neither Israel or the religious fanatics with military ordnance will be threatened by the other and, therefore, fire upon them. The problem with this strategy is that the RFwMO are threatened (ideologically) by the mere EXISTENCE of Israel. Don't expect the soldiers of some other nation(s) interspersed between them to change that reality.

If a militarily capable force is placed in southern Lebanon I fear that, one day, they will be faced with a choice between shooting back (at Hizbollah) or running away. Since this "multi-national" force is purportedly intended to be led by France, we all know which option they will choose. (Will the US Army come to France's rescue - again?)

Posted by: johngalt at August 5, 2006 12:15 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Oddly enough, the French won't participate in any UNtied Nations force (although leading the charge) until Israel and Hezbollah stop shooting at each other!

Will the Litani River become the next Maginot line?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at August 5, 2006 12:35 PM
But jk thinks:

The Wall Street Journal did a great piece on the multinational force: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008746

It's a quick solution, and everybody loves those, but for the points you mention -- and general UN inefficacy -- it remains a bad idea.

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2006 4:02 PM

Multiculturalism Shrugs II

Two days ago I blogged about Tony Blair's newfound respect for the western cultural values of freedom, tolerance, and respect for the rights of others. Today I was reminded of a radio interview around the same time as Blair's comments, wherein former Colorado governor Richard Lamm proclaimed black and hispanic cultural values as inferior to white and asian values. The message was documented in a Denver Post op ed by the former gov:

"How do we lovingly, yet honestly, diagnose the large economic, education and success gap between black/Hispanic America and white/Asian America?

[...]

We need to think about these problems with a new sophistication. Increasingly, scholars are saying "culture matters."

[...]

I suggest that those groups whose culture and values stress education, hard work and success are those groups that succeed in America - regardless of discrimination. I further suggest that, even if discrimination was removed, other groups would still have massive problems until they developed the traits that lead to success."

The sentiment Lamm attributes to scholars that "culture matters" is in direct conflict with the prevailing multiculturalist status quo in academia that says there are no "right" or "wrong" cultural values. Serious academics, few though there may be, are slowly recognizing that the emperor has no clothes.

But dagny thinks:

What jg neglects to add is that ex-governor Lamm was thoroughly excoriated in the media for daring to make such suggestions.

Posted by: dagny at August 5, 2006 12:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Huzzah! I've had many disagreements with "the man who walked the state but couldn't run it" most notably his Malthusian population concerns. But this is good.

Earlier today, in contrast, I read an essay about how the character Charles Gunn in "Angel" lost his authenticity and "became white" as the show progressed, losing his street lingo and ultimately (gasp!) becoming an educated lawyer!

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2006 4:44 PM

August 4, 2006

The Master Plan

Rovian.

    A massive, 91-page memo to Senate Republicans outlining strategies for "homestretch" campaigning during the August recess, has been acquired by RAW STORY.

    The document, signed by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), reveals plans to focus Republican Senatorial campaigns on three themes.

    Next week, Republicans will tout efforts to "secure America's prosperity" through a variety of programs. Plans for small business health insurance pooling, spending reductions, increased domestic oil drilling, and "permanent death tax reform" are all to be pushed at the state level.

    Mid-month, Republicans are expected to shift gears, focusing voter's attention instead on a variety of values-based initiatives. "Democrats oppose preserving a clear definition of marriage, are blocking child custody protections, and have obstructed the confirmation of fair judges," the document reads. "Republicans are committed to protecting these traditional values by fostering a culture of life, protecting children, banning internet gambling and upholding the rule of law."


Let's just hope for Raw Story's sake, there wasn't a break-in involved in getting these plans.

Some people still haven't gotten over that thing.

But jk thinks:

What did RawSory know, and when did it know it?

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2006 4:47 PM

AFL-CIO Petitions

I got a knock on the door this afternoon.

"Would you like to sign a petition to help prevent outsourcing?"

Huh?

Some guy wearing a shirt which I think said "Working Together" or something. I was distracted by the AFL-CIO text, personally.

I'm wondering, however, what in the world will a petition do for outsourcing?

Nothing, I'm sure, other than get me on a union mailing list.

What was weirdest about the door-knocker guy, was that he was an Indian immigrant! Very strong accent. He's trying to screw the compatriots he left behind.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 10:24 PM

One for The Other Side

I've posted before about MIT Professors, Bjorn Lamborg, and other scientists who are concerned that outrageous Global Warming claims are unfounded.

It's only right that I offer a "fair and balanced" link to a Reuters Story about a new convert.

"We really need to address the burning of fossil fuels. It is getting hotter, and the icecaps are melting and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air."

This week the heat index, the perceived temperature based on both air temperatures and humidity, reached 115 Fahrenheit in some regions of the U.S. East Coast.[providing] "the most convincing evidence I've seen on global warming in a long time."


This from 700 Club Atmospheric Physicist Pat Robertson. Okay, I'm convinced.

Hat-tip: Taranto

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 4:37 PM

Prosecute Nasrallah

I have called America's European Allies and some domestic Democrats "unserious." You may accuse me of name calling, think I don't go far enough, whatever.

An article in TCS today supports my case.

Authors J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss wonder when the human rights organizations will hold up MidEastern war criminals to the scrutiny applied to, say, Don Rumsfeld (my example, not theirs).

Accordingly, groups like Human Rights Watch, which issues press releases accusing Israel of war crimes following the death of civilians in Qana, mentions Hezbollah's offenses (which of course include using the Qana residents as unwilling pawns) only as an afterthought. In so doing they knowingly sacrifice consistency and integrity for "relevance" (ephemeral publicity) and "solidarity" (political correctness).

What happens when we apply the standards of the recent jurisprudence of international criminal tribunals to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah? Our conclusion is that he could easily be indicted under at least nine broad indictments -- with potentially thousands of individual counts -- of crimes against humanity, violations of "common Article 3" (of the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II), and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Herewith, then, our indictment of Mr. Nasrallah:


The article then lists eight infractions which are war crimes, violations of the Geneva Convention, or crimes against humanity. Nasrallah is clearly guilty of every one.
In short, the case for prosecuting Hassan Nasrallah as an international criminal is open-and-shut. However, we are not holding our breath for the usual international justice advocates and NGOs to protest audibly -- or even to be vexed -- when the eventual United Nations-mandated "resolution" does not include any provision for proceedings against Nasrallah. Those who hope for an accounting may have to rely on a more elemental -- though no less righteous -- justice, such as the targeting mechanism of an Israeli missile system.

It is unserious of Israel's critics to ignore this. Yet they will.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 3:11 PM

Et Tu, WSJ?

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page is a bastion of free enterprise, classical liberal values, and support for meritocracy.

They frequently publish guest editorials that may not celebrate these values, but it was still a shock to read Judith Dobrznski's Cherchez la Femme. The former NYTimes, Business Week and CNBC Editor was displeased that a qualified woman was passed over for the new top job at Pfizer.

I cannot, and would not, make the case that Ms. Katen should have bested Mr. Kindler. Maybe the reasons being bandied about are true -- that he has better leadership skills, that directors valued his outside experience (he ran units at McDonald's Corp. for a very short time), that she is too close to Mr. McKinnell. Pfizer's stock barely reacted to the choice, however, losing a little ground on Monday.

But it would be one thing if Pfizer were an isolated case. It's not. Several women have become CEOs-in-waiting, only to be passed over at the last minute. Among them are Lois Juliber, once of Colgate; Christina A. Gold, once of Avon; Dina Dublon, once of J.P. Morgan Chase; Rebecca Mark, once of Enron; Judy C. Lewent (two times), still at Merck.


Dobrzynski makes some good statistical points. Women constitute one third of MBA grads, and have had time to "fill the pipeline" of executive aspirants, yet remain under-represented.

My problem is that her goal is quota based and ignores market forces. Shareholders and boards are either making the right decisions when they promote individual men, or are making mistakes. If they're making mistakes, some firms will get these qualified but spurned female executives at a discount, and those firms will prosper.

Unless top executives and corporate directors start taking a few more risks -- and, after all, calculated risks are what business is all about -- who knows how long it will be before parity could be achieved in the corner office?

Corner office parity is not the goal. Shareholder value is. And the market will fix it if it is a problem.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:22 PM

August 3, 2006

The New Marxism?

We haven't really got rid of the old Marxism yet. But Josh at Everyday Economist declares protectionism to be The New Marxism. He wonders if we'll choose to isolate ourselves as the communists did in the previous century.

Nonetheless, support for protectionism remains strong. Unfortunately, many would rather accept the belief that the Chinese are stealing “our” jobs because of low wages than subscribe to the fact that it is advantageous for the United States to focus on areas where it has a comparative advantage. Much like the communists of the 20th-century, a great many wish to isolate themselves from the rest of the world. If the U.S. were to do so, however, it would not only prevent the country from losing jobs, but also it would prevent businesses from growing into ever emerging markets. The United States would fail to attract any investment. Thus, just like communism, growth would deteriorate and the “wall” put up by the protectionists would do more harm than good for those within.

Protectionism is very much becoming the “Marxism” of the 21st-century. International trade is not a zero-sum game. We can all benefit from free trade. If nothing is done to curb this xenophobia, the United States will fall victim to the latest example of the “us vs. them” mentality.


I never say this, but, read the whole thing.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 2:12 PM

jk 5, Erin Brokovitch 3

I appreciate the sagacious counsel I have received on the Vioxx matter. But I can still root for Merck. And the Wall Street Journal reports:

A California jury cleared Merck & Co. of responsibility for the heart attack of Stewart Grossberg, a 71-year-old retired construction manager who took the painkiller Vioxx for about two years.

The 12-person jury deliberated for 4½ hours before finding Merck wasn't negligent. The jury said Vioxx did have risks that were knowable but that the risks didn't present a substantial danger to users.

The verdict, in Los Angeles Superior Court, widens Merck's slight edge on the Vioxx trial score card, with the drug maker winning five trials and losing three. The Whitehouse Station, N.J., drug maker faces some 14,200 suits over Vioxx, roughly 490 of which have been filed in California. "Today's outcome demonstrates, again, why we will defend these cases on a case-by-case basis," Kenneth Frazier, Merck's general counsel, said in a statement.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM

Multiculturalism Shrugs

I'm an optimist, but this still surprised me: The king mac-daddy pragmatist of world politics, Tony Blair, officially pronounced the death of multiculturalism as a guiding geopolitical principle. Mark the date, kids: August 1, 2006.

"9/11 in the US, 7/7 in the UK, 11/3 in Madrid, the countless terrorist attacks in countries as disparate as Indonesia or Algeria, what is now happening in Afghanistan and in Indonesia, the continuing conflict in Lebanon and Palestine, it is all part of the same thing. What are the values that govern the future of the world? Are they those of tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity or those of reaction, division and hatred? My point is that this war can't be won in a conventional way. It can only be won by showing that our values are stronger, better and more just, more fair than the alternative." (emphasis mine)

In a paragraph where a European head-of-state admits that Israel's life and death battles with Islamists in Lebanon and "Palestine" (and the implicit inclusion of the Iraq war later in the speech) are "all part of the same thing" as 9/11, what can overshadow such a monumental confession? One word: Better.

The hallmark of multiculturalism is an absolute prohibition on such value judgements. "No culture's ideas are 'better' or 'worse' than any other's, they are merely different. Each is best for the culture that holds it," the multiculturalists say. But here we see Prime Minister Blair not only publicly admit his heretofore unacknowledged belief that western values and ideas are better than the Islamist's (without even the excuse of intoxication) but declare that propagation of this value judgement is the "only" way that this war can be won! Congratulations Mr. Blair. The first step to the cure is to admit that you have a disease.

The rest of the speech goes downhill from here, but believe me... this is a watershed moment in postmodern western civilization.

UPDATE-04AUG2006:

In the wake of PM Blair's concise and reasoned analysis of the war between western modernity and Islamic extremism, the British press shows its mettle in cutting him back down to size. (As explained in this David Aaronovitch editorial, 'If you're so clever, then why is it that they all hate you?')

What was clear was that no one in the room was prepared to be sidetracked by anything as arcane as the PM’s account of his contacts with Bush and Siniora. Nor were they interested in Mr Blair’s condemnation of the latest comments from the President of Iran about the need to eliminate Israel. They were far more concerned to remind him how everyone hated him.

[...]

The question that summed the morning up went something like this: “If your opinions are so moderate and sensible, how come everyone thinks they’re crap, whatever they are?”

But jk thinks:

My Favorite Socialist! PM Blair can be very eloquent on the war and it's hard to imagine getting this far without his brave leadership -- a true Profile In Courage, considering the chattering classes over there that he needs to mollify.

In spite of this admiration, I read your excerpt as going a little too far. He compares liberal values favourably [sic] to terrorist values but I don't think you'd get him to stand tall for the supremacy of "Western" values.

Not sure we're there yet.

Posted by: jk at August 3, 2006 1:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Your judgement that my analysis of this excerpt overreaches is fair, but only in that Blair's model of "Western values" is distinctly different from yours and mine. As I said, "The rest of the speech goes downhill from here." Muslims of the world will not be convinced of the superiority of western civilization by American adoption of the Kyoto Protocol.

But the sole object of my sweeping pronunciation was a postmodern principle that has confounded mankind for at least sixty years. I maintain it is no exaggeration to say that Blair's judgement of "tolerance, freedom, respect for difference and diversity" as "better," BETTER, than "reaction, division and hatred" - this unambiguous value judgement - constitutes a mortal wound to the status quo in geopolitics. Not because of which values he listed as superior to what others, but for the very fact that some values ARE better than others.

The 'status quo ante' was multiculturalism, as evidenced by such insanity as the President of Iran being granted a visa to enter the US and address the General Assembly of the UN. (The president of a nation with whom America terminated relations when they invaded our embassy and took our nationals hostage for over a year - a man who was personally involved in that invasion of sovereign American soil - is given a free pass to stroll the streets of a nation that, in a sane world, would throw the bastard in jail and keep him there for 66 consecutive sentences for kidnapping.)

Now that Blair has allowed the word "better" back into the international lexicon it will be more difficult for the likes of Kofi Annan and Jacques Chirac to defend the indefensible.

Posted by: johngalt at August 4, 2006 1:43 AM

August 2, 2006

Faith

Five-Pillars-of-the-Liberal-Faith.gif

But johngalt thinks:

True enough, but as the information age advances the strength of these pillars is compromised. Even today I suggest that most of these five are severely cracked.

Posted by: johngalt at August 3, 2006 1:35 AM
But jk thinks:

Name calling seems pretty robust...

Posted by: jk at August 3, 2006 1:44 PM

Minimum Wage

It inspired a great Bus Boys song and is the centerpiece of Leader Pelosi's "New Direction for America." The GOP offered to raise it in a deal to end the estate tax and to diffuse it as an issue for the Democrats.

Many have offered eloquent and well reasoned objections. Everyday Economist links to a WSJ Guest Editorial by David Henderson, which opens with this amusing tidbit:

"The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00." So read an editorial headline in one of the most respected newspapers in America. The editorial stated: "There's a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market." Can you guess the newspaper? The Wall Street Journal, perhaps? Right city; wrong paper. This editorial appeared on Jan. 14, 1987, in the New York Times.

Ahh, the halcyon days when Professor Krugman believed in economics and Enron. The article makes excellent points about the consequences of a minimum wage.
Second, because the minimum wage does not make employees automatically more productive, employers who must pay higher wages will look for other ways to compensate: by cutting non-wage benefits, by working the labor force harder, or by cutting training. Interestingly, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a union-funded organization in Washington that pushes for higher minimum wages, implicitly admits the last two of these three. On its Web site, EPI states, "employers may be able to absorb some of the costs of a wage increase through higher productivity, lower recruiting and training costs, decreased absenteeism, and increased worker morale."

Thomas Sowell remains the best detractor. He calls the law racist, in that minority groups have been able to sidestep racism by undercutting other workers' price. Sowell suggests a $100,000 per annum minimum would allow companies to hire exactly and only the people with which they were most comfortable.

I will leave the economics to the more skilled, but I suggest that we evaluate the minimum wage as contrary to freedom. Congress does not set wages for workers in the private sector, that is set by skill sets, supply and demand. All Congress can do is to make certain transactions illegal.

The worker is not getting a "raise," the lower skilled worker is simply told that work at his/her level is against the law.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 3:41 PM

August 1, 2006

Dems Coalesce Around Cut-and-run

WaPo

After months of struggling to forge a unified stance on the Iraq war, top congressional Democrats joined voices yesterday to call on President Bush to begin withdrawing U.S. troops by the end of the year and to "transition to a more limited mission" in the war-torn nation.

With the midterm elections three months away, and Democrats seeing public discontent over Iraq as their best chance for retaking the House or Senate, a dozen key lawmakers told Bush in a letter: "In the interests of American national security, our troops and our taxpayers, the open-ended commitment in Iraq that you have embraced cannot and should not be sustained. . . . We need to take a new direction."


Ahh yes, mid-term elections coming -- a humiliating American defeat and MidEast chaos would be great to run on...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:09 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

It's more than just a desire to encourage defeat and chaos, which they certainly have. Pelosi et al are trying to spin any success in the Iraq war as their doing. Here's how it works:

1. Dems refer to Bush's policy on Iraq, i.e. we'll leave when we've won, as "open ended."

2. At every new news cycle, Dems make demands that the president "bring home the troops."

3. Eventually, someday, US soldiers help Iraqis defeat the Baathist criminal gang that still operates in Iraq and are redeployed elsewhere, via home bases in the U.S. When that happens it will be, coincidentally, shortly after the most recent Dem demand to "bring home the troops."

4. Dems call press conferences to announce that "The president has finally bowed to reality and, just as they predicted all along, things are much better now that our troops are gone."

And it doesn't hurt that the Iraqi PM claims they'll be ready for complete self-policing by the end of the year.

Posted by: johngalt at August 2, 2006 9:18 PM

Big Box Stores

I always knew the Costco shoppers were bigger snobs.

    Even Target, Wal-Mart's nearest competitor, doesn't serve lower-income customers to the same extent Wal-Mart does. Target's customers boast an average family income of $50,000, compared to $35,000 for Wal-Mart shoppers. Although Wal-Mart's detractors point to Costco as a role model, since the discount club offers starting salaries as high as $10, there's little comparison. Costco caters to wealthier shoppers — average annual family income of $74,000 — and deals in discounted higher-end, higher-margin products. Those margins allow Costco to pay more to attract the more experienced sales force its well-heeled customers expect.

The whole article is pretty good... I like this graf..
    Wal-Mart uses its purchasing power to slice additional pennies off prices of basic, low-margin merchandise while offering employment to less experienced workers. Not that this assuages Wal-Mart's critics. They point to the number of Wal-Mart workers receiving Medicaid assistance as evidence that Wal-Mart benefits from some sort of "corporate welfare." As Mr. Furman notes, that's an illogical argument.The best way for Wal-Mart to pay its "fair share" would be to start firing workers and folding their former salaries into corporate profits that would be taxed at a higher rate than individual incomes. As it is, Wal-Mart is one of the few large discount retailers to make health coverage available to most of its workers.

(tip to Club for Growth)

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 11:37 AM

Castro's Demise?

So, it would seem that Cuba's Fidel Castro is berry berry ill.

    The Cuban leader said he had suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, apparently due to stress from recent public appearances in Argentina and Cuba, according to a letter read live on television by his secretary, Carlos Valenciaga.

    "The operation obligates me to undertake several weeks of rest," said the letter. Extreme stress "had provoked in me a sharp intestinal crisis with sustained bleeding that obligated me to undergo a complicated surgical procedure."

    Castro said he was temporarily relinquishing the presidency to his younger brother and successor Raul, the defense minister, but said the move was of "a provisional character." There was no immediate appearance or statement by Raul Castro.


With that world quality socialized health-care we've been hearing about, he's bound to live another decade or two.

However, should he meet his maker in the coming days or weeks, a big question remains unanswered. How will Cuba look without him?

The conventional wisdom is that Cuba will go democratic in someway. Perhaps dissident Floridians providing the seed money, if not human capital.

But what if Venezuela's Hugo Chavez decides to get involved? He's pretty interested in sticking to the United States in anyway possible. Being right off shore with his own puppet, would be an excellent way. He's been influencing or attempting to influence Latin American politics lately. Why would Cuba be any different?

Let's not forget China either. China is interested in Cuban oil reserves in the Gulf... and already has some leases purchased. Wouldn't a Democratic Cuba perhaps want to entertain other offers for their oil?

Could oil politics get in the way of a free Cuba?

Cuba Posted by AlexC at 12:32 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Sadly, the Communist machine he leaves behind will cling to power -- it's never been a gimme that his death will move the country forward. You're spot on that Venezuela or possibly China could come in and prop up Cuba's economy to keep leftists in power.

I'm reading Michael Novak's "Spirit of Democratic Capitalism." A Catholic theologian, Novak recognizes the Church’s complicity in inculcating Socialism in Latin America. He encourages clergy to embrace more classically liberal economies and polities. Review Corner coming, but it is germane to this discussion as he enumerates the predilections toward collectivism in those societies.

I wish we had no embargo, it would give us far more power to assert democracy in a post-El-Jefe Cuba. Plus we could get their coffee, which is very good.

Posted by: jk at August 1, 2006 11:38 AM

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