September 30, 2006

The Sky is Falling!

For my record, first time ever, fitfh consecutive blog post I'm going to talk about ... alternative energy. You know, the alternative you can buy at any street corner for less than the cost of Perrier - gasoline. Some of what I'm about to say is based on this article in India's Rediff.com. Much of the rest is pulled straight from a dark place so fact checking by AlexC is encouraged.

Gasoline comes from oil. Oil comes from geologic deposits underground. The entire earth has been surveyed and all existing oil reserves have been located, mapped and accounted for on a gigantic spreadsheet at Iranian Oil Company. In fact, A M S Bakhtiari there says "peak oil" (the day when oil production reaches its maximum and begins a steady decline until it is gone in 40-50 years) will occur in 2006-2007. Shell oil experts disagree. They posit that the date will actually be in 2025 or later.

So who is right? Probably neither. Energy economist C M Lynch says there is "no visible peak."

All of this is reminiscent of the "population explosion" hysteria in the seventies. That fallacious prediction was based on extrapolation of then current birth rates, ignoring the reality that birthrates change over time. Similarly, the "peak oil" and "no more oil" predictions are based on current KNOWN reserves and historical rates of discovering new reserves (like Chevron's recent find in the Gulf of Extralegalalienville). But rates of discovery, like rates of baby making, are not constant over time. Large areas of the US remain untapped because the oil deposits are relatively small. Technology now exists to pinpoint these pockets and they are becoming economically viable to collect. And the prospect of actually running out of oil will cause monumental efforts to locate more and more oil in the coming decades.

These and other factors make the fossil fuel "alternative" a very attractive one. Not the least of these factors is that many currently vogue fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel have an EROEI factor (energy returned on energy invested) of less than 1. Like bin Ladin's, the reports of fossil fuel's death have been greatly exagerated.

But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm, no commentary by AlexC yet. Either my "dark place" punditry is spot-on or he's commuting to or from the 49th state again.

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2006 5:19 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

An Iranian talking about Peak Oil? I'd sooner believe Ted Kennedy talking about how alcohol makes one a better swimmer. Hmm, wonder why Iranians would be talking about this. Could it be because we're finding new deposits all the time, depressing prices and thus rendering Madman Mahmoud's "oil as a weapon" as effective as spitballs?

I call the Peak Oil doomsayers, the ones who genuinely believe we're running out as opposed to those trying to create a false panic to drive up market prices, Malthus' philosophical descendants." I look to much earlier than the 1970s, John, for the first instances of "population explosion" Chicken Littles: we're all living proof that Malthus' 1798 prediction of mass starvation was pretty boneheaded. Similarly, the oil doomsayers are being proved wrong as we speak.

http://eidelblog.blogspot.com/2005/05/malthus-philosophical-descendants.html

Last year I wrote about John Tierney's bet with oil doomsayer Matthew Simmons. The latter thinks we'll have such a scarcity that by 2010 the price per barrel will be over $200 (in 2005 chained dollars). In hindsight, I think they shouldn't have bet an absolute number of dollars ($5000), because what if the price is $199? It would have been better to negotiate some sort of option, where Tierney can make his own prediction of oil's future price. That way the winner's profit would increase with how correct he was.

http://eidelblog.blogspot.com/2005/08/call-it-dumb-call-it-clever-ah-but-you.html

Let's say Tierney thinks oil will average $60 per barrel for 2010, so they contract that Simmons will buy 100 barrels from Tierney at $130 each (the midpoint). If oil averages $60 per barrel, then Tierney will profit $70 per (less broker fees). If oil averages $200 per barrel, then Simmons will profit $70 (again less broker fees). And the more the winner is correct, the more he'll profit.

Anyway, in that entry, I noted Don Luskin pointing out how our *proven* oil reserves are constantly increasing. As you guys noted last month, U.S. reserves are now up by an estimated 50%, 15 billion barrels. That's on top of the Chinese buying PetroKazakhstan (owned by Canada -- will the wonders of globalization never cease?) so they can explore tar sands in Alberta, and OPEC nations developing their own reserves. The latter for years have *already* been pumping (pun intended) profits back into exploration and development.

Strictly speaking, I won't say "we" should be going nuclear. There are lots of us who are content with fossil fuels for specific reasons, although I think nuclear reactors are great for household electricity. All I ask is that you don't have to subsidize my choices, that I don't have to subsidize yours, and that you don't force me to trade in my gas-powered car before I'm ready. The new nuclear pellets are very promising indeed, but the Department of Energy subsidized the project, while Congress still has environmental regulations that keep nuclear power too expensive, or entirely restricted in a lot of jurisdictions. Sigh.

Indian Point, which is pretty antiquated, and I are on opposite sides of Westchester County. There are two radii for determining evacuation, depending on the severity of any problems. I'm inside the second, I think, but I don't worry about it. The biggest problems are the perpetual ones keeping the damned warning sirens working. The occasional reactor problem is far less dangerous to me than the idiot drivers along I-684 and Route 22.

The environmentalist nutjobs are always trying to shut down the reactor. They know they can't, but their lawsuits make IP much more expensive to operate. Thus its electrical output is much more expensive than it should be, in addition to all the environmental restrictions. Some putz years ago tried telling me that nuclear energy is the most expensive kind, and I had to educate him on why.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 1, 2006 9:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I actually think we're all in agreement here (mirabile freakin' dictu!)

Sorry for the side road. I certainly don't want to take away anybody's gasoline or subsidize any alternative. I believe that nuclear power is economically feasible without subsidy if we could protect the utilities from excessive regulatory burdens.

Posted by: jk at October 2, 2006 10:27 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hmmmm, if all the parties agree, does that mean that 3Src has jumped the shark? All here in favor of building Nukes and stop buring oil for electric say Yeah! All against? (crickets...)

Ok, next order of business is that confounded wormhole technology allowing us to suck matter from the core of a black-hole and convert it directly into energy. If that damned Enron Front company had not failed, we could have kept it under wraps until our Alien Associates gave us the key-codes to unlock the regulator. When is Karl getting back from Plantet Halliburton?

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at October 2, 2006 11:38 AM
But AlexC thinks:

I disagree. Not all of the earth's surface has been surveyed for oil. I'd venture to say that most of the oceans have NOT been completely surveyed.

In fact, known oil fields are re-surveyed as seismic technology improves.

Not to mention improved methods of production.

Let's conserve (it's good to be efficient), and let's explore (it's good to provide what people want). But let's quit with the hysteria.

Posted by: AlexC at October 2, 2006 7:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for sharing your thoroughly enjoyable prose on these here pages, MDM. (This is just a glimpse of his greatness, folks. For more see http://www.mdmhvonpa.blogspot.com/)

And yes, we are still all in agreement as my assertion "all existing oil reserves have been located, mapped and accounted for..." was said with tongue in cheek. I was counting on the "gigantic spreadsheet at Iranian Oil Company" for the proper context. (Poorly written, I know.)

Excellent conclusion AlexC: Quit with the hysteria. (But how else for the environmentalist nutjobs to change what "people want?")

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2006 11:33 AM

Apologies to Neil Diamond

An emailer shares a parody of Neil Diamond's 'Coming to America' that has been customized for, ahem, "extralegal" immigrants. It's called "Snuck into America." Enjoy.

Immigration Posted by JohnGalt at 11:44 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Mdmhvonpa is right. The comity and agreement on the oil peak (no) and noocyoolar power (yes) post was getting out of hand.

I think this parody supports my side of the immigration argument: good people coming here to work and add to our culture. Just that they "didn't fill out a form."

And here I thought Neil Diamond was somehow beyond parody. These Internets prove you wrong everyday.

Posted by: jk at October 2, 2006 1:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yeah, I noticed that. It clearly highlights the best and brightest of the illegal immigrant "swarm."

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2006 2:38 PM

School Shootings

First I want to draw attention to an unexcusable gaffe on the part of CNN. While watching the network this morning, as I've taken to in the weeks leading up to Red November, I saw their report on the Wisconsin school principal who was shot to death by a disgruntled 15-year old "special needs student." But the stunner was the on-screen graphic, which read, "Colorado principal killed." Huh? Are school shootings so prevalent now that a major "news" outlet can't keep them sorted out?

The answer of course is no. But in the case of the Colorado shooting, within an hour's drive of Littleton's Columbine High School where the nation's worst ever school shooting occurred, one might well wonder if Colorado's "shall issue" concealed carry law has anything to do with it. Not because any of the killers involved had carry permits, but because the law specifically excludes guns from a number of "safe zones" that include, yes, school property. A debate has broken out on Colorado talk radio whether school teachers should be armed, and whether that would be safer or more dangerous. But this is the wrong question. What should be debated is whether school teachers should continue to be DIS-armed.

The answer is not to place guns in the hands of every teacher, but when criminals know that theirs will be the only gun on a school campus it gives them a warm fuzzy feeling about terrorizing, traumatizing and even slaughtering our children. The time has clearly come to eliminate schools from the so-called "safe zone" list (if not abolish it altogether) - for the children.

Gun Rights Posted by JohnGalt at 11:47 AM

Red November, CO-4

The race is heating up in Colorado 4 and state wide for the governor's mansion. Ads are multiplying on TV and radio and in our mailboxes. Current status according to realclearpolitics.com is Republican pork slayer Marilyn Musgrave leading tax dodging, student loan defaulting, bankruptcy filing, tax hiking liberal democrat Angie Paccione by single digits. (It shouldn't be this close.) The governor's race is even more frightening with gun-grabbing, plea bargaining DA Bill Ritter leading congressman Bob Beauprez by double digits. (Maybe they're only polling in urban centers?) The actual election should be a nail biter.

Additional kudos go to Musgrave for being one of only 39 US Representatives (9% of the House) with a 100% rating from Americans for Tax Reform. Hat tip: Bob Beauprez campaign website.

Colorado Posted by JohnGalt at 11:29 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I hope it’s a Red November. Colorado lost both state houses to Democrats in 2004 and the gubernatorial race is looking pretty frightening.

I hate to whack our beloved outgoing guv, but this underscores the folly of his supporting the “temporary” roll back of TABOR (TAxpayers Bill Of Rights). If Colorado goes all-Democrat, the limitations on taxation will blow away like a tumbleweed in Kit Carson County.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2006 12:57 PM

"Cawwy the Wun"

I recently commented that American adults are poor citizens, poor parents and poor teachers. This is a geometric problem since their children will one day have those same responsibilities and, like their parents, will be ill prepared to exercise them, making their own children even less capable. I posited that this cycle has been playing out for at least 20 or 30 years and perhaps longer. (It's genesis likely coincides with the advent of the Dewey Decimal System - not because that system is bad, but because the rest of Dewey's educational ideas were bad: New Math, Creative Spelling and Esteem-based teaching plans all derived from Dewey.)

Now there's a positive, if not altogether flattering to the American psyche, trend in American education. Reuters - 'U.S. homework outsourced as "e-tutoring" grows.'

"I like to tell people I did private tutoring every day for the cost of a fast-food meal or a Starbucks' coffee," Robison said. "We did our own form of summer school all summer."

The outsourcing trend that fueled a boom in Asian call centers staffed by educated, low-paid workers manning phones around the clock for U.S. banks and other industries is moving fast into an area at the heart of U.S. culture: education.

It comes at a difficult time for the U.S. education system: only two-thirds of teenagers graduate from high school, a proportion that slides to 50 percent for black Americans and Hispanics, according to government statistics.

China and India, meanwhile, are producing the world's largest number of science and engineering graduates -- at least five times as many as in the United States, where the number has fallen since the early 1980s.

Parents using schools like Taylor's say they are doing whatever they can to give children an edge that can lead to better marks, better colleges and a better future, even if it comes with an Indian accent about 9,000 miles away.

Yes, it is truly embarrasing that Americans can't help their own children learn, but the positives are many: Parents investing in their children's future on the free market, technological enabling of a new paradigm, and most importantly, smarter kids. (Well, within the limitations of the public schools to challenge them.)

One way to judge the worth of an educational initiative is by the reaction to it by the NEA:

A New Delhi tutoring company, Educomp Solutions Ltd., estimates the U.S. tutoring market at $8 billion and growing. Online companies, both from the United States and India, are looking to tap millions of dollars available to firms under the U.S. No Child Left Behind Act for remedial tutoring.

Teachers unions hope to stop that from happening.

"Tutoring providers must keep in frequent touch with not only parents but classroom teachers and we believe there is greater difficulty in an offshore tutor doing that," said Nancy Van Meter, a director at the American Federation of Teachers.

But No Child Left Behind, a signature Bush administration policy, encourages competition among tutoring agencies and leaves the door open for offshore tutors, said Diane Stark Rentner of the Center on Education Policy in Washington.

UPDATE: I should have given a hat-tip on this one... to dagny's "article of the day" email on Friday. (It's a private subscription service with a membership of one.)

Education Posted by JohnGalt at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [3]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Shameful.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 30, 2006 10:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Shameful yes, that parents are incapable of understanding the school work of 13 year olds (or too "busy" to help them.) But those who engage tutors to help their children exhibit the classic American desire for their children to achieve as much or more as themselves. For this they are to be commended.

And remember their educational shortfalls resulted from that same attitude by their parents. Educational "innovations" were sold to parents as improvements upon outdated "brute-force" methods. That these parents were sold a bill of goods brings shame primarily to those who championed the "innovations."

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2006 11:22 AM
But jk thinks:

Wait a minute. What is shameful?

1) Parents want the best for their kids, check.
2) Parents see education as important, check.
3) Parents see benefits in private tutoring which results seem to certify, check.
4) Parents look for the best value for their money, check.
5) Comparative advantage in a global free economy creates the best value in the Democratic nation of India, an ally of the United States, check.

I liked your post and agreed with all of your assessments, jg. I cannot say that I grasped the path from "parents cannot" to "parents choose another option." Perhaps a parent would rather work or spend family time in other pursuits, or simply feels an outside source would be most effective.

India does not equal "bad." Protectionism and foolishly parochial capitalism is bad. This is great in every way. I'm going to write a song about it...

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2006 2:53 PM

September 29, 2006

Sustainability

I have to call a swing-and-a-miss for Peggy Noonan's OpinionJournal column today.

She appreciates the variety of new media and the freedom from liberal media oligopoly but she credits the competition with increased partisanship and lack of tone.

I spoke with a network producer a few weeks ago, an old warhorse who was trying to explain his frustration at the current ratings race. He wrestled around the subject, and I cut with rude words to what I thought he was saying. "You mean it's gone from the dictatorship of a liberal elite to the dictatorship of the retarded."

Yes, he said. And it's not progress.

When liberals miss something in the media, that's what they should be missing. Not a unity that never existed but standards that were high. When conservatives say there's nothing to miss, they're wrong. We lost some bias, but we lost some standards, too.


An emailer inquires whether one of my favorite writers is dissing the long tail. Read closely, she's against truth, justice and the American way.

You encounter these pockets of excellence and quality in any media or artistic endeavor. Rather than looking back at Uncle Walter, I always wonder about the superb runs from NPR, PBS and the BBC. Were these supra-market phenomena high quality because they were outside the market?

Sting certainly thinks so. While I usually don't just take the bass player's word on anything, he is a serious fellow. BBC America used to run a PSA with the former Policeman saying that the view of the BBC news would not be jaundiced to appeal to a Corporation or Oil company. He hoped, the spot poignantly closed. He hoped.

I'm a market fan and I'll toe the line here. Yes the BBC delivered awesome TV programs for decades on microscopic budgets. Before I saw "Buffy," I held "Red Dwarf" to be the best show ever. Joss Whedon, studying over there, likely absorbed some of that quality. In the end, however, these organizations do great work because they have great people. They can sustain it only as long as they can attract and fund similar talent.

This is an opinion post but I have no compunction saying that BBC, PBS and NPR are all in a state of decline. And that without a market component, there is no mechanism to rectify their slide. The BBCAmerica satellite channel has some good programming, but it is usually ten or 20 years old.

NPR keeps the standards up but they have attracted a generation of activist listeners to take over and I think the inbreeding weakens. PBS? Oh man, is that still on? I watch every fourth of July...

Noonan misses the integrity and quality from Newsmen (pretty much all men) who cared about their craft. I think with 500 channels and the Internet, you get just as much quality and integrity, you just have to look a little harder sometimes. Yes, that's part of the Long Tail.

But johngalt thinks:

Many many things from 20 or 30 years ago are better than their counterparts today. O'Reilly reminded of Rowan and Martin's 'Laugh In' TV program last night. Compared to political humor today, it was much more intelligent and less vitreolic.

An important factor in modern civic and cultural decline is the inescapable fact that one thing the parent's of today's parents did NOT do well is educate their children. Now, those parents are poor citizens, poor parents and poor teachers. Evidence the popularity of tutoring web sites and phone centers, some even in India! (Blog post forthcoming.) Maybe this actually goes back more than one or two generations, but parents should be able to help their kids with any primary school subject.

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2006 10:00 AM

Social Security Statement

Happy Days.

I got my statement today in the mail.

    If you continue working until your full retirement age (67 years), your payment would be about $2,178/month.
    age 70, your payment would be $2,701.

Wonderful!

The only thing this stupid document for is to make me realize how much of my money has been pissed away ($61,534) thanks to our government.

That and I made $187 dollars in 1994.

But jk thinks:

That's when the nanny state is most pernicious. Get EVERYBODY on the dole and entitlements are popular.

That's the failing with President Bush's Medicare drug benefit. It is cheaper and has more market incentives than a Democratic plan would have, but it was a mistake to put everybody on it. Means testing. If everybody’s collecting, we turn into France pretty quickly.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2006 5:57 PM

Quotes, not Votes

The OpinionJournal Political Diary has an interesting "quote of the day" today:

"How, then, are we reading about [Lindsey Graham of South Carolina] -- just another first-term conservative Southern senator -- in such choice venues as The New York Times' front page and David Broder's column? Yes, Graham has spoken out against the administration's prosecution of the war in Iraq and its approach to terrorist detainees. But the operative word is 'spoken.' Graham has mastered the art of being a rhetorical rebel -- not unlike the late great Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, whose blunt pronouncements delighted reporters and provided ample fodder for Republicans. Like Moynihan, though, Graham says much to arouse anger within his own party but casts predictable votes when the roll is called; his transgressions come in the form of quotes, not votes" -- Jonathan Martin, a staff writer for National Journal's Hotline, writing in The New Republic.

We spend a lot of time discussing Senator Lincoln Chafee and the Northeaster RINOs (you never find a RINO in a square state) who vote with Senator Kennedy but caucus with the GOP.

What do you make of Sens. Graham, and McCain, and Chuck Hagel (WTF-Neb.) who have solid voting records but are on the news every night bashing the President and the Party? I once was crafting a nasty post about Senator Hagel, and I looked up his voting record, thinking I would find things to cudgel him with.

Hagel's voting record is clean as a whistle. McCain touts his conservative bona fides and his percentage of votes with the President. Does this not come, somehow, under "aid and comfort to the enemy?" By appearing on the nightly news or New York Times every day questioning the party position, these folks give a lot of cover to Democrats and prevent the GOP from drawing clear distinctions.

Okay, ThreeSourcers -- we need a pejorative name for these folks. Republicans In Vote Only doesn't sound nefarious enough.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Drive-by Republicans.

Posted by: AlexC at September 29, 2006 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

:)

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2006 6:00 PM

September 28, 2006

Phillies Bandwagon

I'm definately on the Phillies bandwagon of late... 58 home run hitter Ryan Howard (au natural) AND a wild-card race.

I watched last night's 8-7 14 inning victory until the end, and now I feel like I need to watch tonight's 4 1/2 hour rain delayed game. (An 11:30 pm start)

They're a game and a half back behind the Dodgers and some baseball team from one of those square states out west keeps dropping the ball.

Update: 12:30 am, fourth inning, 1-0 Washington. Highlight so far? Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln running down the first base line. They're guys in regular suits, except for the 8 foot tall heads. I guess that's so you can see them from the upper deck..

Jefferson takes a face plant in the dirt. Ha! He gets up, and shakes his enormous head.

I guess we'd never know if his face turned red.

Update: 1:46 AM. Ken Mandell was the guy playing Jefferson.

Update: That's all she wrote. 3-1 Nationals. Phils now two games back of the Dodgers in the wildcard race. Only the Giants sweeping the Dodgers can help them now.

Sports Posted by AlexC at 11:02 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Wild card berth or not, I'm jealous of your Phillies. At least they're in the hunt! Sorry about the Rocks. A team that pounds out 11 runs shouldn't lose a game by 8. Starting pitching awesome, relievers woesome - that's the story for the Rockies this season.

Better luck next year when they replace Jose Mesa and a few more underachievers.

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2006 10:10 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Give the Phillies a few more seasons. Gillick's so-called "fire sale" that was ballyhooed as the team's white flag for 2006 actually HELPED a team that sinking fast.

Addition by subtraction?

Next on the block: Pat "Bat Glued to My Shoulder" Burrell.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 30, 2006 12:30 PM

Minneapolis

First, Republicans kill Senator Paul Wellstone.

THEN, FoxNews Newsstands open up in the Minneapolis St Paul Airport.

Now, the RNC convention in 2008.

What's next?

Posted by AlexC at 11:00 PM

DJIA Hits High

Don't tell Paul Krugman, but Andrew Roth reports that the Dow passed its previous closing high.

dow_high060928.gif
It closed a bit under, so keep that Dom on ice...

Posted by John Kranz at 6:38 PM | What do you think? [6]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Oh my God! Whatever shall the Dems cry about now?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 28, 2006 8:50 PM
But AlexC thinks:

TrekMedic. "Stocks soar to new highs. 'Undocumented Investors' hardest hit."

Posted by: AlexC at September 29, 2006 1:48 AM
But jk thinks:

Women and Minority Short Sellers Devastated.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2006 4:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

How about "5 plus years later, Dow finally recovers from Bush election theft?"

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2006 10:12 AM
But tofubo thinks:

6 years of essentially zero growth minus 6 years of inflation, let's throw a party

for we are that far behind (even @ 5% annual growth, not accounting for inflation, the dow 'should' be @ 16000, 10% growth would be 21250)

Posted by: tofubo at October 1, 2006 9:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Au contrere, tofubo. The previous market peak of 11,834 occurred on January 18, 2000. The market fell to 10,037 the following March (bursting the infamous "tech bubble" nearly a year before the Bush-Cheney Inaugural.) It then moved sideways and bottomed at 9,565 a year later, and rebounded to 10,053 just before 9/11. That horrific event plunged the Dow to 8,766 within weeks. Subsequent war fears led to a new 5-year low of 7,588 in October 2002. These events describe a nearly 3-year period of "essentially zero growth" as the market corrected the "irrational exuberance" of the tech bubble.

But what has happened in the subsequent four years? Just a steadily growing market that is 55% higher today. The market is now flirting with the peak valuation during the tech bubble, only this time nobody is talking about when it will fall off a cliff. The valuation today is sober and cautious, tempered by the realities of a global economy during war time.

Inflation? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics "Inflation Calculator" inflation from 2000 to 2006 was 18%, or 3% per year. (Want it lower? Talk to the Federal Reserve Board.)

http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

So, in a nutshell, four years of double-digit growth following a major correction, a series of major corporate corruption scandals, 3000 people murdered by terrorists in the heart of the world's financial district, and a semi-vigorous (though plenty expensive) war effort against those same terrorists ... sounds good to me. Let's throw a party!

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2006 1:47 AM

Looking Through Western Eyes

If you read one thing today, make it Fouad Ajami's Featured Article on OpinionJournal.com.

Ajami stresses that we must look at Western and coalition actions as they are seen by the residents in the MidEast. Read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

But this brutal drawn-out struggle between American power and the furies of the Arab-Islamic world was never a Western war. Our enemies were full of cunning and expert at dissimulation, hunkering down when needed. No one in the coffeehouses of the Arab world (let alone in the safe houses of the terrorists) would be led astray by that distinction between "secular" and "religious" movements emphasized by the Senate Intelligence Committee. They live in a world where the enemies of order move with remarkable ease from outward religious piety to the most secular of appearances. It is no mystery to them that Saddam, once the most secular of despots, fell back on religious symbols after the first Gulf War, added Allahu Akbar (God is great) to Iraq's flag, and launched a mosque-building campaign whose remnants--half-finished mosques all over Baghdad--now stand mute.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 4:22 PM

Regional politics for 2008

I could never be a football coach. They can never look past this week's game to the next (or so they tell sportscasters). I don't want to downplay the midterms, but the quadrennials are always a little more fun.

John McIntyre has a segment in the OpinionJournal Political Diary today. As the Democrats follow Ryan Sagar's advice and look to the Rocky Mountain West, the GOP might counter with appreciating influence in the Midwest:

In picking the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to host the 2008 Republican National Convention, GOP leaders signaled the importance of the upper Midwest to their '08 electoral strategy.

The electorally important trio of Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin combine for a not insignificant 27 electoral votes. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman carried all three states in 2000, but with margins unusually small for Democrats. In 2004 President Bush flipped Iowa into the Republican column for a crucial seven electoral votes. Wisconsin was close but Mr. Bush came up short for the second straight time by a little more than 10,000 votes. With the red-blue divide well entrenched in more than half of the 50 states, each party is already strategizing over such key battlegrounds in hopes of reaching the magical 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidency.

Iowa's seven electoral votes were huge in 2004, providing the Bush-Cheney ticket with a margin in case Republicans did worse than expected in three western battlegrounds of Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. Even if he lost two of these states, Iowa would have preserved President Bush's victory. If Republicans in their third shot could finally take Wisconsin from the Democrats, this would provide a cushion against even the loss of the "big" battleground of Ohio. That's why just holding Iowa and flipping Wisconsin into the GOP column would severely complicate Democratic strategy to get to 270 electoral votes.

But the big enchilada for the GOP is Minnesota. The Bush-Cheney ticket won 46% in Minnesota in 2000 and 48% in 2004. Governor Tim Pawlenty faces a tough reelection battle this year, but he's generally believed to have a slight edge. Assuming Mr. Pawlenty can take care of business this fall and remain reasonably popular through the summer of 2008, the 45-year old-will almost certainly be near the top of the short list for the eventual GOP Veep nominee.

Republican wins in the Midwest trio of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa would leave Democrats little hope of winning the presidency unless they can flip both of the crucial battleground states of Florida and Ohio. Otherwise, Democrats would have to make unexpectedly strong inroads in the southwest quartet of Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona (with 29 electoral votes) to offset the loss of either Florida or Ohio.

Don't be surprised to see the Democrats settle on Denver for their convention (Denver and New York are the finalists) and also take a long, hard look hard at New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for VP and maybe Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano if Senator Hillary Clinton is not the Democratic nominee.


Denver, huh, maybe I can change my name and get selected as a delegate.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM

Majority Leader Reid?

Breathing a sigh of relief that the House is suddenly looking safer, is the Senate slipping away?

I never, ever, once counted out Harold Ford, Jr. in Tennessee. That guy is the best candidate the Democrats have. I read the other day that his opponent, Mr. Corker, is flailing. Add "Felix Allen Macaca, Jr.'s" troubles in increasingly purple Virginia, and I think we will have to bank our hopes on Tom Kean, Jr. (no political dynasties in this country, no).

The NYTimes may be wishful thinking, but they see New Hope for Democrats in Bid for Senate

In Virginia, a state that few expected to be seriously competitive, Senator George Allen looks newly vulnerable after a series of controversies over charges of racial insensitivity, strategists in both parties say. In Tennessee, another Southern state long considered safely red, Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democrat, has run a strong campaign that has kept that state in contention.

Elsewhere, Democratic challengers are either ahead or close in races in five states held by the Republicans: Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, according to political strategists in both parties and the latest polls.

All of these races could shift direction in a matter of days, let alone six weeks, and Republicans are counting on their superior finances and large blocks of television advertising to hold the line. Democrats also have their own vulnerabilities, particularly in New Jersey, where Senator Robert Menendez is in a tight race with his Republican challenger, State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., according to recent polls.


Perhaps the good people of the Garden State will not elect a corrupt pol because he has a 'D' after his name, but history portends poorly. The states in play are pretty blue or feature a pretty weak GOP candidate.

How about Minnesota? Can Sugarchuck pull one out for us? I sure like Steele in Maryland as well, though he must swim against a very blue tide.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:28 AM | What do you think? [4]
But sugarchuck thinks:

Don't count on Minnesota. Even our Republican is a Democrat.

Posted by: sugarchuck at September 28, 2006 10:35 AM
But jk thinks:

Hey, I'm the pragmatist. I just want them to vote for GOP leadership, then they can go out drinking with Linc Chafee and plan Soviet Communism together.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2006 1:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"All of these races could shift direction in a matter of days, let alone six weeks..." Is this a news story or a Nostradamus interpretation? Aren't the papers supposed to report occurences instead of possibilities?

Next well see, "Fire May Engulf Home in Days, Weeks; Developing."

I blame quantum mechanics. "Physicist's Cat May be Dead." "Photon in Slot A? Slot B? Both?"

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2006 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

They have a weather page as well.

Obviously some folks like me get too worked up over polls and predictions but it is significant that Corker is running a lackluster campaign and leaving Tennessee up fro grabs and that Senator Allen has stumbled badly in Virginia. Tennessee was in the hail mary camp for the Democrats and Virginia wasn't even in consideration.

To be fair, New Jersey and Maryland look a lot better to the GOP than one would have thought but six doesn't seem impossible somehow.

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2006 6:27 PM

Just call me Cassandra...

Here's a rare (first ever, actually) guest blog from dagny:

A few days ago in a comment I noted that:

"When the smoking is all banned, next they will decide that bacon is a crappy habit and I will not be so happy waiting in that restaurant since I will not be able to get an avocado, bacon burger to go with my fries. Maybe no fries either and the burger won’t be beef!"

As if on cue, New York and Chicago legislators are discussing ideas to ban the use of trans fats in restaurants.

From the NY Times:

The aldermen voted in April to forbid restaurants to sell foie gras. They have weighed a proposal to force cabbies to dress better. And there is talk of an ordinance to outlaw smoking at the beach.

Even Mayor Richard M. Daley, who often promotes bicycle riding and who not long ago appointed a city health commissioner who announced he was creating health “report cards” for the mayor and the aldermen, has balked at a trans-fat prohibition as one rule too many.

“Is the City Council going to plan our menus?” Mayor Daley asked.

And, from Scientific American:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's Health Department on Tuesday proposed a near ban on the use of artificial trans fat at restaurants, likening its health danger to that of lead paint.

The proposal would limit the use of the artery-clogging fat, which is often used in fast foods, to 0.5 grams per serving. The proposal comes after a year-long city campaign to educate restaurants on the effects of such fats and encourage them to stop their use.

The city said the voluntary campaign failed and while some of New York's more than 20,000 restaurants reduced or stopped using artificial trans fat, overall use did not decline at all.

This falls into my official category of, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH PEOPLE?” I would really like to know what happened to the concepts of individual rights and personal responsibility in this country.

"Then they will start on whatever YOUR crappy habit is so watch out!"


But jk thinks:

Welcome aboard, Dagny. Let me know if you'd like a login.

It causes one to tremble for the idea of self-rule. If we're going to vote these little tin-pot dictators into office, we might as well be slaves or subjects.

My hometown of Lafayette, CO is trying to take over recycling. We have two vibrant firms who do trash collection and both offer curbside recycling. But both charge extra (something like $2/month). Our Nazis have decided that is unacceptable, the city will take it over so it is "free."

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2006 10:15 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I wonder what the French Embassy has to say about this. Banning foie gras? How anti-French!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 28, 2006 11:04 AM

September 27, 2006

AGW

Ursula K. Leguin's Earthsea Trilogy posited that to get power over something, you had to know its true name. Joss Whedon and Tim Minear use that in the climax of Season Four of Angel ("Peace Out"), destroying Jasmine (Gina Torres of Firefly fame) by speaking her true name.

Professor Glenn Reynolds gives man made global warming its true name in a TCS column: "anthropogenic global warming."

"Do you believe in Global warming?" Why yes, but I'm skeptical of anthropogenic global warming. The MS-Word spellchecker recognizes it. If it's good enough for Bill Gates and Glenn Reynolds, it's okay by me.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 7:49 PM

Bill CLinton targets Santa

Brit Hume closed his show last night with this video from the Tonight Show. Funny stuff.


On the web Posted by John Kranz at 6:12 PM

Protectionism Doesn't Sell

Interesting historical tidbit from Andrew Roth at The Club For Growth

One other note on Smoot-Hawley is that after 1932 neither one of them was in office. Sen. Smoot (R-UT) was defeated in Nov 1932 and Rep. Willis Hawley (R-OR) was defeated in his bid to be renominated by the GOP in 1932. Not sure if he lost in a primary or a caucus and what the issues were that kept [him] from the nomination.

Roth says "Schumer and Graham should pay heed to history." Perhaps a little homage to Larry Kudlow, who calls them "Smoot Schumer" and "Hawley Graham."

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 2:15 PM

Media Bias

I contend that FOXNews is about equally biased as its competition, just in a different direction. Brit Hume presents both sides but anyone watching can tell what he believes.

FOX is in the headlines after the Clinton-Wallace contretemps. I think Wallace is great and I have squirmed many Sundays as I thought he was being too hard on my favorite Secretary of State or other administration official.

How can you measure bias? I have a thought which you good folks might refine. Last night's Special Report with Brit Hume basically portrayed the declassification of the April NIE report as exonerating the Administration and as a black mark against the New York Times.

Today the WaPo weighs in orthogonally. In another front page bylined story titled "Sobering Conclusions On Why Jihad Has Spread" they claim the exact opposite conclusion.

The overall estimate is bleak, with minor notes of optimism. It depicts a movement that is likely to grow more quickly than the West's ability to counter it over the next five years, as the Iraq war continues to breed "deep resentment" throughout the Muslim world, shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and cultivating new supporters for their ideology.

In describing Iraq as "the 'cause celebre' for jihadists," the document judges that real and perceived insurgent successes there will "inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," while losses would have the opposite effect. It predicts that the elimination of al-Qaeda leaders, particularly Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed after the estimate was completed in April, would probably leave that organization splintered into disparate groups that "for at least a time, pose a less serious threat to U.S. interests" than the current al-Qaeda structure.


As I posted, the WaPo ran with the leaked version last Sunday. This story even claims that the President agreed with the assessment. I saw several clips of the President (on that wicked FOX of course) and he was angry about the leak and stern in denying its assessment.

Get 10 people to read the report and grade each news feature? There seems a rare chance for a clear metric here, it has awakened some deep inner researcher in me. Ideas?

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt comes out on the exoneration side. He recounts a heated discussion with Jonathan Alter about the document before it came out. Alter said that no one had disputed the Times's account.

I hope lefties like Jonathan take the time to let the New York Times' "reporters" know that they don't appreciate being sent out to be embarrassed defending cut-and-paste stories that distort the facts and which, upon revelation of the true facts, support the foreign policy judgments and political positions of the Bush Administration.

The democratic Party and its agenda journalist allies are campaigning for retreat from Iraq, a retreat that would be a decisive victory for the jihadists. Thus any vote for any Congressional Democrat is a vote against victory and a vote for vulnerability.

And that is the conclusion supported by the NIE, touted just 48 hours ago by the left as the key document of this political season.


Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 10:51 AM

Ducking Out on Debates

If you're a candidate for US Senate, wouldn't you think that you ought to show up for debates?

And if you duck them, don't you think your opponent will make hay out of it?

Behold. Bob Casey, running against Rick Santorum, decided he had better things to do than go to two debates on Monday. This despite having "a light schedule."

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Cross-posted as an EXCELLENT Red November Initiative post!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 28, 2006 8:56 PM

September 26, 2006

Macaca, kimosabe.

A plugged-in emailer wonders what is up with the spate of "macaca" references. Here is my version of the story for all who missed it. If you want more, Senator Allen is on the cover of this week's Weekly Standard.

Senator George Allen was teasing an operative of the Webb camp who attended all the Allen events. He called to him on the stage, telling everybody to say hello to "Macaca." Confusing the term, perhaps, with "Mohawk" because of the young man's haircut.

It turns out "Macaca" is a racial slur used by French citizens to North Africans.

Sen. Allen is not French, the young man was not North -- or any kind of -- African. Yet America is America and the Senator was forced to apologize about 53 times.


Posted by John Kranz at 3:07 PM

Rams vs. Buffaloes

An intrastate rivalry is deepening. AlexC sends a link to a DenverPost.com story about a CSU professor (well covered on these pages) and an NCAR scientist in Boulder.

The words "global warming" provoke a sharp retort from Colorado State University meteorology professor emeritus William Gray: "It's a big scam."

And the name of climate researcher Kevin Trenberth elicits a sputtered "opportunist."

At the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where Trenberth works, Gray's name prompts dismay. "Bill Gray is completely unreasonable," Trenberth says. "He has a mind block on this."
Only 55 miles separate NCAR's headquarters, nestled in the Front Range foothills, from CSU in Fort Collins. But when it comes to climate change, the gap is as big as any in the scientific community.


The article is pretty balanced, enumerating what is and is not disputed. The author leans on consensus and majority as favoring the existence of man made global warming. I repeat that science is not democratic, look more to Karl Popper's epistemology and less toward focus groups.

Yet the story is a pretty balanced look at the controversy and worth a read.

I just hope Dr. Gray doesn't call Dr. Trenberth "macaca."

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 12:56 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, careful there. My beloved Buffaloes have nothing to do with NCAR.

As for taking sides in this fight I think you know where I'll be. For 16 years I lived just down the hill from NCAR's envied perch at the base of Boulder's Flatirons. Whenever someone mentions "ivory tower" the NCAR building is my mental image. (See thumbnail photo at: http://www.ucar.edu/org/about-us.shtml)

Comparing the two men, Bill Gray's degrees are in geography, meteorology, and geophysical sciences. Trenberths are in mathematics and meteorology.
http://www.atmos.colostate.edu/dept/facmembers/gray.php
http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/trenbert.html

One of the biggest criticisms of global warming theorists is that their theories are based upon the "predictions" of their mathematical "climate models." Trenberth appears to fit that mold perfectly. Gray, on the other hand, predicted weather in the air force to begin his career and is a research professor at a land grant (read: agricultral) college at the present. Which would you expect to have a firmer grip on reality?

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2006 3:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Yes, you're right; my characterization is inaccurate. I should have lumped it into a Boulder-Ft. Collins rivalry.

However -- comma -- to get a serious, heartfelt apology from me, I'll need a link to a CU professor's taking a stance against anthropogenic global warming.

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2006 7:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

HA! Fat chance there. But I did actually go to the CU website and searched for "anthropogenic." There was a single hit. From 2004: http://www.cu.edu/sg/messages/3652.html

"Some wonder if a long-term increase in carbon dioxide and methane -- greenhouse gases of anthropogenic and natural origin -- are making the clouds more prevalent."

So the scientists at CU proposed to build two instruments to study the wandering polar clouds.

If a CU faculty member opposed "anthropogenic global warming" it would certainly have a chilling effect upon taxpayer financed research grants.

Posted by: johngalt at September 28, 2006 1:18 AM

Swanntorum

Lynn Swann and Pa Governor Ed Rendell had their first debate yesterday.

SwannBlog writes...


There were two opportunities for Senator Rick Santorum and challenger Bob Casey to debate yesterday, Bob Casey skipped both of them.

The first was a US Senator's Forum on PCN TV (our C-SPAN). There was actually an empty chair on hand, quite capably representing the challenger.

The second debate was at the same forum that Swann & Rendell squared off at. Again, there was an empty chair.

    At one point while discussing foreign affairs, Santorum gestured to the empty chair and said, “I’d like to hear what my opponent has to say about this.”

Heh.

Pennsylvania Posted by AlexC at 11:41 AM

NYTimes Gets Tough on Terror

You say they're soft, but my daily email leads off with this:

Qaeda Operative, an Escapee in '05, Is Killed in Iraq By SABRINA TAVERNISE

A good writer and a good shot.

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

Al-Qaida in Iraq? Surely not.

Unless of course our invasion caused them to be there.

Posted by: AlexC at September 26, 2006 11:36 AM

Adding Nothing

Robert Tracinski is mad at the Washington GOPers.

But he can't vote for Democrats.

Why?

    If you want to have a debate over big government versus small government, you'll have to have it within the right. The left contributes nothing of value.

...
    If you want to have a pro-immigration versus anti-immigration debate, you'll have to have it within the right. The left contributes nothing of value.

....
    So if you want to have a debate over how to fight and win the War on Terrorism, you'll have to have it within the right. The left contributes nothing but proposals for surrender, appeasement, and passivity. As far as the war is concerned, that "D" next to a candidate's name on the ballot stands for "defeat."

....
    So this November, let's crush the left. Once the left is safely out of the way, we'll be free to begin the much more serious and important business of splintering the right.

Naturally, he spells out the reasons, so read it all.

But jk thinks:

Yeah, I'm a political millenarian who dreams of such a realignment.

A more likely way to create the same outcome would be for serious Democrats to take back the party and provide some competition for freedom lovers' votes. We're all in the same boat as Tracinski: Can't live with 'em, can't cut 'em up into little pieces and bury them out back.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2006 10:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Man do I love it when someone other than me cites Tracinski. I'm stoked that he now has a regular feature on RCP.

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2006 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

I was glad to see Tracinski in RCP as well. He's a bright guy and I'll look forward to reading him. I never ponied up the money for TIA.

I have to say, however, that this piece shows a flaw in the (can I call him Libertarian?) community.

Just as some other sites I read are starting to return to regular breathing after the panic attack of a Democratic 110th, Tracinski is talking about a "knockout blow." Dealing the left such a decisive loss as to precipitate realignment. Waiter -- I'll have what he's having!

I now believe that the Democrats have fumbled their opportunity to beat a disgruntled GOP base in 2006. But not only will they gain seats and governorships, the far left has flexed some muscles in the primaries. If Ned Lamont and Senator Akaka (not "macaca") win (74% probable), the far left will have victories to claim.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2006 7:13 PM
But dagny thinks:

I believe that Tracinski considers himself an Objectivist (not a Libertarian) and I too was glad to find him on RCP. Here is the related article that I highly recommend.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/08/the_secular_right.html

Posted by: dagny at September 26, 2006 8:10 PM

The Caucus of Corruption

Republicans, they're all evil.

No, just kidding.

Democrats!

Politics Posted by AlexC at 12:08 AM

September 25, 2006

Something Rotten in PA?

Holman Jenkins has an interesting suggestion in today's WSJ Political Diary:

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell frequently has been looked at cross-eyed by other Democrats for his questionable party loyalty -- even when he was party boss. That made it all the more newsworthy when, apparently safe in his own reelection race against former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann, he last week delivered $200,000 in campaign cash to Bob Casey, the state treasurer seeking to unseat GOP Sen. Rick Santorum.

Here's an unsung factor that may explain the previously cool Mr. Rendell's sudden activism on Mr. Casey's behalf. A new Santorum ad, denounced as "misleading" by goo-goo groups, features actors playing unidentified Casey donors discussing their doings -- behind bars. Though the ad takes dramatic license, it alludes to a real, late-breaking problem for Democrats: An FBI investigation of Philadelphia-area developer Robert Feldman, who has raised millions for Messrs. Rendell and Casey as well as for John Street, Mr. Rendell's successor as Philadelphia mayor. The Philadelphia Inquirer last week quoted from an FBI surveillance tape that caught Mr. Feldman complaining about being shut out of a Penn's Landing development deal three years ago: "I've got nothing. I've raised a ton of money for the mayor. I'm raising right now for him. Maybe I should make this my 'big ask.'"

A lingering frost had been perceived between the two Democrats, Mr. Casey and Mr. Rendell, since their nasty fight for the 2002 gubernatorial nomination. The popular Gov. Rendell endorsed his former rival for Senate and, more importantly, worked behind the scenes to secure the nomination for him, but that's not the same thing as fervently advocating his cause in the general election. He hasn't cut any ads for Mr. Casey. Worse, just a few weeks ago, he went out of his way to praise Mr. Santorum in back-to-back interviews as a senator who "delivers" for Pennsylvania. Mr. Santorum has since closed the gap markedly, though Mr. Casey is still favored.

There may be nothing here. It's not clear yet whether the Feldman news has legs. But with Mr. Rendell up by nearly 20 points over Mr. Swann, and Mr. Casey ahead of Sen. Santorum by nearly 10 points, about the only thing that might change the dynamics of both races simultaneously is a party-wide corruption scandal. If Mr. Rendell's goal in donating $200,000 to the Casey campaign was to send a message that his quasi-neutrality has its limits, the reason may be Mr. Santorum's move to highlight a graft issue threatening to both Democrats.


In case anybody around here follows Pennsylvania politics.

UPDATE: Here's the TV ad (thanks, AlexC!)

Pennsylvania Posted by John Kranz at 1:30 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

You can find the behind bars ad here.
http://santorumblog.com/index.php/2006/09/13/new-santorum-ad-2/

Posted by: AlexC at September 25, 2006 2:12 PM

About that Wagging Dog Thing

President Clinton renewed his bona fides as "an unusually good liar" in an interview with Chris Wallace which aired on yesterday's Fox News Sunday.

Jake Tapper at ABC.com compares his assertions to the, er, facts:

In the interview Clinton said that during the 1990s conservatives criticized him for "obsessing" over bin Laden and "they ridiculed me for trying" to kill bin Laden.

This stunned me when I heard this. I remember the events but had forgotten the reaction. Mr. Tapper -- both less lazy than I and also paid for this -- looked it up.
"I think the president did exactly the right thing," said House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said. "By doing this we're sending the signal there are no sanctuaries for terrorists." Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) called the attacks "appropriate and just," and House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) said "the American people stand united in the face of terrorism."

The AP says: "Gingrich dismissed any possibility that Clinton may have ordered the attacks to divert attention from the scandal. Instead, he said, there was an urgent need for a reprisal following the Aug. 7 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. 'Anyone who watched the film of the bombings, anyone who saw the coffins come home knows better than to question this timing,' Gingrich said. 'It was done as early as possible to send a message to terrorists across the globe that killing Americans has a cost. It has no relationship with any other activity of any kind.'


The interview is up on YouTube, you can follow a link from Tapper. If you did not see it, it's a merry, nostalgic romp through the Clinton years. The mendacity and false bonhomie are displayed as clearly as his shins above his socks and below his suit pants (call that a petty complaint but it added to the overall strangeness).

The ugliness of Bush hatred made me rethink my visceral dislike of his predecessor, but I found it rekindled yesterday.

Hat-tip: Insty

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:20 AM

September 24, 2006

Mr. Orwell, call your office

If you like running out of hot sauna into the icy pool, I can recommend a couple of interesting articles.

First, seriously, read Stephen Hayes's How Bad Is the Senate Intelligence Report? This was the cover of last week's issue (Felix Allen Macaca, Jr. has the current week) and is available free on the website.

The Weekly Standard, and Hayes especially, have been slow to lie down and accept the CW that Iraq would never work with al-Qaeda, 'cause Saddam was secular. You can get immediate troglodyte status with any thoughtful NPR listener by expressing the slightest doubt of that.

Hayes demolishes it

As early as 1982, the Iraqi regime was openly supporting, training, and funding the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization opposed to the secular regime of Hafez Assad. For years, Saddam Hussein cultivated warm relations with Hassan al-Turabi, the Islamist who was the de facto leader of the Sudanese terrorist state, and a man Bill Clinton described as "a buddy of [Osama] bin Laden's."

For several pages, Hayes enumerates inconsistencies, errors, and willful misdirection in the Senate Intelligence report which "proves" it.

Grab a large coffee and read that one coast-to-coast. It's cover story length, a little dry, and incredibly repetitive because Hayes finds so many errors to contradict. That's your sauna visit. After reading that article, you will be particularly informed on a topic about which most of the country is purposefully ignorant.

Then read as much as you can stand of the Page A01 bylined story in the WaPo Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Hurting U.S. Terror Fight

"It's a very candid assessment," one intelligence official said yesterday of the estimate, the first formal examination of global terrorist trends written by the National Intelligence Council since the March 2003 invasion. "It's stating the obvious."

Saddam Hussein's Iraq, long before President Bush blundered into the Pottery Barn, operated state sponsored paramilitary training camps for terrorists.
Beginning in 1994, the Fedayeen Saddam opened its own paramilitary training camps for volunteers, graduating more than 7,200 "good men racing full with courage and enthusiasm" in the first year. Beginning in 1998, these camps began hosting "Arab volunteers from Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, 'the Gulf,' and Syria.

Seems like recruitment was doing all right when President Clinton and Speaker Wright were running things.

Now the same "intelligence community" that participated in the Senate Intelligence Report, willfully obstructed the President, missed 9/11, sent the extraordinary Joseph Wilson IV to Niger, and said WMDs were a slam dunk should be believed in toto with a subjective assertion.

Because they're professionals, I suppose. It would be humorous to see the fourth estate so supportive of the veracity of every word from US government spooks. It would be humorous had it not been so successful in hurting the war effort and inculcating opposition in the electorate.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 4:54 PM

The Real Reason

Congresspersons Pelosi and Rangel came out and bashed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez this week, not out of respect for President Bush, but to cover themselves. It's good politics.

When a crazed America hater echos the same commentary of America's political left it makes people stop and say, "hey... there might not be that much difference...."

contrivedmoraloutrage.jpg

But jk thinks:

Okay, write this date down, I am going to leap to the defense of Reps. Pelosi and Rangel. (September 24,2006, it was sunny out, a Sunday as I recall...)

Contra the cartoon, I find it appropriate that opposition party members criticize the president, yet find it admirable that they objected to Chavez's rhetoric. Try agreeing with your friend when he is running down his wife or sister.

I say bravo to Ms. Pelosi (sept 24) and was especially touched by the eloquence of "Old Chollie" with whom I can barely agree on the color of the sky. "You don't come into my Congressional District and insult my President." That's good stuff, baby. Good politics, yeah, but good stuff.

I'll save my disapprobation for Senator Harkin who didn't quite grasp the difference between an American citizen's criticism of a president he/she had the opportunity to vote for or against, and a foreign leader.

Lest the love fest get out of control, “Old Chollie,” who would Chair the Ways and Means committee in a Democratic 110th, has promised that he would roll back ALL the Bush tax cuts. Child credits, lowering the bottom rate from 15 to 10%, cap gains, dividends, they all gotta go.

Sure was great what he said about the president, though.

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2006 3:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, the loyal opposition should criticize the president's POLICIES whenever they'd like. When it comes to personal ad hominems, however, there is no difference between those of Hugo Chavez or Howard Dean. When Hugo Chavez does it we fairly conclude that he hates America. What do we conclude when Dean does it? That he opposes tax cuts and prescription drug benefits?

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2006 3:12 PM

Nickname Fetish

(this is the part where I channel Jerry Seinfeld)

What's the deal with liberals and their nicknaming of people?

How many different variations of George Bush are there?

I think it's evolved into Chimpy McBushburton or something.

But here's a new one.

Felix Allen Macaca, Jr.

Let's break this down.

1) Felix. Some how appealing to the whole Jewish thing. Perhaps some latent anti-semitism. Hard to say.

2) Allen. To make the nickname work, you need the connection to Senator Allen.

3) Macaca. Apparently it's a vicious ethnic slur that can be found in high abundance on liberal blogs. Incredibly no one seems to know what it really is, nevermind using it on a regular basis. Unlike the other vicious ethnic slur that dare not speak it's name.

4) Jr. His father's name was George Allen. A football coach, hall of famer, too. Diminutive, however.

Rant Posted by AlexC at 2:00 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

You may be familiar with the incumbent Republican representative of CO-4, Marilyn Musgrave. I posted a pair of blogs in August about her. Well, I finally heard what the local lefties are calling her when "Progressive Radio's" morning host Jay Marvin referred to her as... "Marilyn Manson Musgrave." Now THAT's a stretch of credulity.

Posted by: johngalt at September 24, 2006 10:59 AM
But jk thinks:

I was wondering when "macaca" was going to find its way onto these pages. I've been waiting for the perfect joke opportunity to say "don't call me Macaca!"

TNR has been all fusillade all the time on Senator Allen. As a southern social conservative, I think he's easy to ridicule and they smell a bit of blood in the water (we're having a sale on metaphors this paragraph).

To be fair, I think the Felix-as-anti-Semitic charge against his detractors may be as risible as the "macaca" accusation against the Senator. Felix is a funny, French moniker (now Neds and Felixes are going to boycott ThreeSources) which is incongruous with the big cowboy booted Allen.

I think the answer, Jerry, is that they think they're being very clever. Now that's scary.

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2006 4:12 PM

September 22, 2006

Chavez: Buy Berkeley Square CD!




Venezuelan collectivist Higo Chavez made headlines at the U.N. for calling President Bush "el Diablo." That's noteworthy, but caused people to miss his message.
At the start of his talk Wednesday, during which Chavez referred to President Bush as "the devil," Chavez held up a jazz CD by Berkeley Square "A Nightingale Sang" and recommended it to everyone in the General Assembly, as well as to the American people.

"The people of the United States should listen to this ... instead of the watching Superman movies," Chavez later told reporters.


Well, actually it was a Noam Chomsky book, but Donald Luskin notes that the endorsement put the book in Amazon's Top Ten. The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid.

Top ten, huh? I wonder how much he charges for such an endorsement?

Hat-tip: The Everyday Economist



On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:39 PM | What do you think? [3]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I'm guessing because The Dixie Chicks would have been too obvious??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 23, 2006 9:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Crimeny! I had this CD on my Christmas wish list until this. There must be some sort of subiminimable messaging in there or something. I hope none of my family members already bought it before I could wipe it off the face of my list!

Posted by: johngalt at September 24, 2006 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I wouild get the backlash...

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2006 3:43 PM

Hugo Chavez, Meet Mayor Daley

Blog brother AlexC just shared an editorial from Alaska which said of Hugo Chavez's fuel oil stunt, "BOTTOM LINE: If you're cold and can't afford fuel oil, who cares about the political motives of the giver?" Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, that's who!

This American Thinker blog posted yesterday contrasts the behavior of what I'll characterize as 'serious' Democrats with that of 'nutjob' Democrats:

Not all Democrats are as craven as Delahunt & Company, though. The Chicago Democrats of Richard M. Daley, who had the wisdom to veto a bill imposing pay scales on Wal-Mart, are also a step ahead when it comes to understanding the energy market.

These actions contrast sharply with those of Chicago Democrats who told Chavez to beat it with his offer of $4 million in cheap transport fuel, and then started probing Chavez’s bid to penetrate their city’s electoral apparatus through voting machine contracts.

IBD has been consistently a leader in covering Chavez. The winning streak continues.

As if Chicago politics isn't smarmy enough without Venezuela pulling the strings. But a Venezuelan "elections contractor" couldn't even get its foot in the door if Jimmy Carter hadn't validated Venezuela's electoral apparatus as having "integrity" and "accuracy." Here's a blast from the past for you:

"We made it clear to them and to the public that this did not imply any doubt by The Carter Center or OAS regarding the integrity of the electoral process or the accuracy of the reported results."

But what's this he said even before the referendum took place?

Excluding the presidents, our group then met with President Chavez for about two hours. He appeared quite confident but pledged to resign immediately if he should lose the referendum vote and said in that case he would rest for a week and then resume campaigning for re-election. Toward the end of our meeting, I called on him to be gracious in victory, to make every effort to reunite the divided country, and to let us help in establishing a forum for dialogue between the government and opposition groups. He did not respond directly but was very quiet while I spoke and then said he had always wanted the nation to be united. Subsequently, he said he needed to spend more time with me and asked if we could have lunch together on Monday.

Hell, why bother with the vote if you already know who won?

Venezuela Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM

I'll preorder a copy

The more I hear about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the more I like her.

She has located in the United States because the Dutch would not protect her from Islamic militants after Theo Van Gogh was murdered. I think she belongs here. George Will pulls himself out of an intellectual batting slump with this incredible column

Slender, elegant, stylish and articulate (in English, Dutch and Swahili), she has found an intellectual home here at the American Enterprise Institute, where she is writing a book that imagines Muhammad meeting, in the New York Public Library, three thinkers -- John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, each a hero of the unending struggle between (to take the title of Popper's 1945 masterpiece) "The Open Society and Its Enemies.'' Islamic extremists -- the sort who were unhinged by some Danish cartoons -- will be enraged. She is unperturbed.

Hat-tip: Instapundit, whom I'll quote "Read the whole thing!"

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 2:38 PM

Chavez Offers US Foreign Aid

Grrr.

    Margaret Williams of Hughes in the Interior said it doesn't matter who's providing the heating fuel, which costs about $6 a gallon in the Koyukuk River village of 69.

    "We sure could welcome it," she said. "As long as we don't have to pay."

    In the Kobuk River village of Ambler, heating fuel is running more than $7 a gallon.

    Residents in the village of 283 and surrounding villages are ecstatic, said tribal administrator Virginia Commack. "It's a miracle," she said.

    Each household will save more than $700 in fuel costs this winter, freeing cash for people to spend on gasoline so they can hunt more caribou and moose, she said.


Ooh. There's a bargain for liberals. They've got to stick it to the caribou so that Chavez can stick it to the President.

An unsigned Anchorage Daily Worker News editorial piles on the snark.

    Alaska has a similar program funded entirely with federal dollars. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program distributes funds to needy Alaskans to help pay the high cost of heating oil. But federal funding is at the same level today as it was 20 years ago, which means it's far short of what is needed. Gov. Frank Murkowski this year asked legislators to appropriate $8.8 million in state cash to supplement the program, but lawmakers gave the governor -- and low-income Alaskans -- the cold shoulder and rejected the request.

    Good thing for those Alaskans that another country is coming to help.

    BOTTOM LINE: If you're cold and can't afford fuel oil, who cares about the political motives of the giver?

But johngalt thinks:

Doesn't the state of Alaska give each and every state resident an annual oil royalty check in the thousands of dollars? How can ANY Alaskan claim to not afford heating oil?

As for Chavez's stunt, even 100 million barrels of free oil given to the proletarians of 18 states is not going to change any votes. How many proletarians vote GOP anyway? It's like paying an eskimo to wear a coat!

Posted by: johngalt at September 22, 2006 1:19 AM

House's "Last Gasp Measures" on Immigration

The WSJ editorial page and a beloved blog brother are deriding the efforts of republicans in the House of Representatives to "do something about this immigration problem about which they've whipped everybody up." FNC's Major Garrett gave a detailed report on events in the legislative body during Thursday's 'Special Report with Brit Hume.'

Here are the highlights -

Republicans "steamrolled" three bills through the House:
Bill 1- Imposes a 20-year prison sentence for anyone constructing or financing the construction of a cross-border smuggling tunnel.
Bill 2- Allows for longer detention and swifter deportation of illegal alien felons or illegals who belong to criminal gangs.
Bill 3- Encourages local and state police to find and apprehend illegal immigrants.

"Democrats say the bills have little chance of becoming law."

Republicans Hastert and Boener presented a chart entitled, "House Republicans' Border Security Now September Agenda" which listed the following bullet points:
- More Border Fencing and Improved Surveillance Technology
- "Catch & Return," not "Catch & Release"
- Detention and Deportation of Alien Gang Members
- Expedited Removal of Alien Criminals
- Increase in Prosecution of Alien Smugglers
- Criminalization of Construction and Financing of Border Tunnels
- Detention of Dangerous Aliens Unable to be Deported
- Reaffirm Authority of State and Local Law Enforcement to Enforce Immigration Laws
- Funding for Secure Border Initiative
- Funding for More Border Patrol Agents

Personally, I fail to see how any of these individual measures are "bad politics, bad economics" or "bad imagery." Better yet, taken as a whole they give the appearance of a "comprehensive" approach.

While detractors share common cause with representatives John Conyers and Sheila Jackson Lee who decry the failure to pass "comprehensive immigration reform," the three house bills passed today with large bipartisan margins, as Democrats hasten to put themselves on the politically popular side of these obvious steps.

Bill 1- Passed unanimously. Bill 2- Passed with 100 democrat "yea" votes. Bill 3- Passed with 62 democrats piling on.

The three bills have no companions in the Senate, but House leadership hopes to roll them into the "must pass" Homeland Security spending bill scheduled for hill action next week.

This is shaping up to be quite a mighty "gasp."

And don't forget the 700-mile border fence the house already approved, which is also scheduled for a Senate vote next week.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

"Democrats say the bills have little chance of becoming law."

The Dems said that,.and YOU believed them???

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 22, 2006 9:53 AM
But jk thinks:

All of these measures would be good politics, good economics, and good imagery were they combined with some legislation which would give American business the labor it requires and provide a way for those honest laborers to cross and take those jobs. Then it would be a sign of a secure America that welcomes workers but not lawbreakers.

I'm proud to stand with Reps. Conyers and Lee but I suspect their motives are different than mine.

The old line is that a House majority can pass a ham sandwich. The key has always been, is, and will remain the flexibility of the House in conference. As they now seem to confuse intransigence with toughness, I am not confident.

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2006 10:14 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

jk,..America has plenty of labor out there. Its up to the Dems to get them off the welfare addiction and the so-called "urban leaders" to stop telling them welfare is better than working for "da man!"

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 22, 2006 12:24 PM

September 21, 2006

Easy to be Hard

I think I can be a climate scientist.

It's easy to be always right.

    Despite the long term warming trend seen around the globe, the oceans have cooled in the last three years, scientists announced today.

    The temperature drop, a small fraction of the total warming seen in the last 48 years, suggests that global warming trends can sometimes take little dips.

    In the last century, Earth's temperature has risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.56 degrees Celsius). Most scientists agree that much of the warming in the past 50 years has been fueled by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.

    "This research suggests global warming isn't always steady, but happens with occasional 'speed bumps,'" said study co-author Josh Willis, a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "This cooling is probably natural climate variability. The oceans today are still warmer than they were during the 1980s, and most scientists expect the oceans will eventually continue to warm in response to human-induced climate change."


Is global-warming, pardom climate change the only branch of science that has never been wrong?

Sheesh. A little introspective, please.

But jk thinks:

Perhaps there was a brief heat bump in the global cooling trend. Worrisome.

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2006 2:18 PM

Oil

$61.92 a barrel, if you haven't noticed.

But johngalt thinks:

Excellent. I'll take three this month. Would you have one of your boy's help me out to the truck with them?

Posted by: johngalt at September 22, 2006 12:25 AM

Smoking bans

ALa at Blonde Sagacity posts about a Philadelphia smoking ban. She quotes a Jonathan Davis Morris who makes an important observation:

This is partly because anti-smoking groups are tenacious, and partly because smoking is a crappy habit. However, neither of these things explain why smoking bans are becoming inevitable. The real reason so many cities have banned smoking in public places is because of the words "public places." Somehow, this phrase has come to describe privately owned bars and restaurants, which, by nature, tend to be privately owned.

Just because you go "out in public" to visit these places doesn't make them public any more than having sex in a park in broad daylight makes the park private. There's an obvious difference between public and private property, and reasonable human beings can spot this difference. Unfortunately, this country is full of something, but it isn't reasonable human beings.

I don't care if it sounds like I'm splitting hairs here. To me, this isn't an issue of mere semantics. If you call privately owned bars and restaurants "public places," it tells me you don't know what you're talking about. And if you don't know what you're talking about, you shouldn't be making — or even so much as influencing — policy. No one should care about your opinion. I'm not even sure you should have the right to vote.


ALa, you want to stay very very far away from the People's Republic of Boulder.

Morris makes a superb point. People really do think they own every institution that lets them in the door.

Pennsylvania Posted by John Kranz at 5:31 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Well, sure... If George Bush can own the whole world then why can't "people" own the corner bar? Works for me and Hugo.

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2006 9:59 PM
But dagny thinks:

This is a great point, one I have been making for years. Johnathan is much more eloquent than I am. Perhaps now it will sink in.

I have never smoked a cigarette or anything else in my entire life. This is a record I am proud of and intend to maintain (and brag to my children about).

Colorado just passed one of those smoking bans and I recently went to lunch with a co-worker and we were able to sit in the bar and wait for our to-go order. Thanks to the new law, it was pleasantly smoke-free and my co-worker remarked that it was, “nice.”

I’m afraid that my politics got the best of me and I had to tell her that despite my personal and life-long avoidance of smoke it was NOT nice. It was a serious infringement of the individual rights of the restaurant owner. I feel it necessary to defend those rights because I am concerned for the day when it is my rights that become the target of the tenacious anti-smoking groups.

When the smoking is all banned, next they will decide that bacon is a crappy habit and I will not be so happy waiting in that restaurant since I will not be able to get an avocado, bacon burger to go with my fries. Maybe no fries either and the burger won’t be beef!

Then they will start on whatever YOUR crappy habit is so watch out!

Posted by: dagny at September 21, 2006 10:03 PM
But jk thinks:

When Avocados are outlawed...

Living in Healthnaziland, I have to admit to my enjoying the smoke-free establishments (ex-smokers can be even more self-righteous than never-smokers). But I agree with you, and JohnGalt, and ALa, and Mr. Morris. It is flat out wrong to dictate terms to private business.

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2006 11:47 AM

No news here...

Instapundit links to a Yourish.com post which questions why 2000 protestors marching against the Iraq war gets covered, but 35,000 pro-Israel/anti Ahmadinejad protesters are ignored.

I checked AP. Nothing. Reuters. Nada. I checked Google News. Nothing. 1010WINS. Nothing. I checked WABC, NY1, all the New York media sites. Gridlock alerts are the only thing you can find about the march. After all, it’s not newsworthy. The fact that 2,000 people marched a day earlier to protest the Iraq war? Oh, yeah, that made the news.

How can this be anything but Bias?


But johngalt thinks:

Since newsmen know, excepting for union members, that only unemployed people participate in street rallies, one would expect them to be curious as to why such a large collection of people who "the economy left behind" are so worked up over the Iranian puppet-president.

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2006 10:21 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Ahhh,..I was looking for that source this morning! Thanx!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 22, 2006 9:54 AM

Mr. Sensenbrenner, Tear Down This Wall

Here we go again. The Wall Street Journal Ed Page wonders about the message and politics of the Congressional GOP's last gasp measure do something about this immigration problem about which they've whipped everybody up.

I hope they'll move it to the free site this weekend. It is a very thoughtful piece. It runs as the lead editorial today, The Great Wall of America, which opens with "It wasn't so long ago, during the Reagan era, that Republicans sought to tear down walls, not erect them."

Now that they've created this frenzy, they have to show how tough they are:

Here's one example of how tough they are. Steve King of Iowa suggested in front of the C-SPAN cameras that at the top of this new fence "we electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it." Then he added: "We do this with livestock all the time." Equating people with cattle: There's an inclusive political message for you.

Nor is a "sealed border" desirable, even if it could be achieved. More than nine of 10 of the three million net new jobs created from 2000-05 have been filled by immigrants, according to Census Bureau data. With many regions of the country now suffering from a shortage of workers, not even Pat Buchanan could argue with a straight face that immigrants are stealing jobs from Americans. The fence itself will probably have to be built by immigrants.


I'm the lone voice 'round these parts, but this is bad politics, bad economics, and as this article reminds, bad imagery.
Republicans cite polls indicating that Americans want a secure border, but the political appeal of walls and fences is exaggerated. Just last week Don Goldwater, the man who held a press conference at the border urging, "Mr. Bush, build this wall now," was defeated in a GOP primary for Governor of Arizona -- in the very border state where these policies were thought to be most popular. The Arizona Republican who won a Congressional primary on immigration in the Tucson district is expected to lose in November.

The only real way to reduce the flow of illegal Mexican immigration is to provide a legal, orderly process to match open American jobs with workers who want to fill them. Mr. Bush is for that, and so is the Senate, but House Republicans have concluded that they're better off building fences. When Ronald Reagan spoke of America being a "shining city on a hill," he wasn't thinking of one surrounded by electrified barbed-wire fences.


Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Fair points, brother, but as Dennis Miller said on "More Heat, Less Light" tonight (Hannity and Colmes), "I don't have anything against Mexican people but for God's sakes, sign the guestbook on the way in."

And where has Sensenbrenner or any House republican ever said the wall should have no gates?

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2006 10:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Well said (you and Dennis). I just hope Committee allows the Senate to put gates in.

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2006 11:55 AM

This Free Market Thing

What to do about runaway drug costs? That's the intractable problem that has animated the Democratic Party for years and forced the GOP to enact the first new entitlement since LBJ lived at 1600 Pennsylvania.

I'm not saying that this is a panacea, but Wal*Mart is testing a new program to offer $4 generic drugs (my co-pay is six). The Wall Street Journal reports (paid link) that the evil giant will use its fearful monopsony powers to, umm, provide inexpensive drugs to people.

Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc., eyeing a long list of brand-name pharmaceuticals about to lose patent protection, announced plans to test a low-price strategy for generic drugs sold at its pharmacies.

The Bentonville, Ark., company said it will cut the price of nearly 300 generic drugs sold at Wal-Mart store pharmacies in Florida's Tampa Bay area to $4. The company plans to expand the program to all Florida stores in January 2007, and in other states next year.

Wal-Mart said the program will be available to customers with insurance as well as the uninsured. It will include medications to treat allergies, cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. The discount giant said some antibiotics, antidepressants, antipsychotics and prescription vitamins will also be included.


Again, I don't claim that the problem is somehow solved, but this shows the power of a free market solution.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 10:35 AM

September 20, 2006

Tax Carbon, Not Jobs

Josh at Everyday Economist has a great riff on global warming. He links to CSU professor Bill Gray's claims that global warming is real but not man-made.

Then he links to Don Luskin discussing a speech by VP Gore that suggested "taxing carbon dioxide emissions instead of employees’ pay."

We've had varied discussions on these pages, but I want to point out the unseriousness of the opposition. Kyoto is obviously not gong to do anything but further impede the economies of its EU signatories. If anybody wants to take the former VP's idea and imbue it with any seriousness, I'll play along but think we'd all agree that it's a bit problematic at best.

An opposing view to Professor Gray makes a curious case:

There are uncertainties. It’s not like you change your light bulbs today, you’re going to have better weather tomorrow,” he said. “It’s even better if those actions you’re taking make sense for other reasons, like getting off Middle Eastern oil or saving money.-- Roger Pielke Jr., director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado

Y'know, sir, if it saved money you wouldn't have to coerce anybody to do it. That 's the thing about proposals which make economic sense. You are asking us to spend more and to forego pleasures to prevent an unproven phenomena.

The warmies want to enact the solution first, then prove the problems. That is unserious.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 7:19 PM

JohnGalt's Prediction Coming True

WSJ's Political Diary says "Happy Days are Here Again" for the GOP. John Fund writes:

Washington is abuzz with polls showing President Bush's approval ratings creeping up to 44% and the GOP closing the gap in generic voter preference. The key to the revival of their fortunes is simple: Republican voters are coming home and engaging again in the political fray. The percentage of Republican "base voters" who say they are "almost certain" to vote is up to 81%. Another 14% say they are "very likely" to vote.

GOP pollster Fred Steeper says his surveys show that the centerpiece of the election among GOP voters is concern for winning the war on terror "and worries that Democrats will abdicate that responsibility." A full 56% of the base reported "extremely strong feelings" against the position of leading Democrats on the war on terror.

Other issues are also playing a role, with over 70% of base Republican voters saying they are extremely motivated to vote by Democratic attempts to derail President Bush's attempts to make his tax cuts permanent. The nominations of John Roberts and Sam Alito to the Supreme Court also scored well among the GOP faithful.


And impeachment talk was listed as a large issue against Democrats. Keep those gas prices low, Republicans, we're riding the wave to victory!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

On the radio this morning a rep from the Oil Price Information Service said there's no reason why the national average gas price shouldn't be 2.25 within a couple months.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2006 3:52 PM
But jk thinks:

I did mean to give you serious props, jg. When everybody was down and Rep Pelosi was practicing her gavel-banging in front of the mirror, you said "Whoa, in a dangerous world, will people really pull the 'D?'" This poll says "no."

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2006 6:45 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

But,..MSM-led reports this morning on MSM-led (s)news showed "W" only at 37%.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 21, 2006 11:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I know you were serious brother JK, but I couldn't acknowledge it because gloating is unseemly.

Posted by: johngalt at September 21, 2006 10:26 PM
But dagny thinks:

That never stopped him before.

Posted by: dagny at September 21, 2006 10:32 PM

Schumpeterian Gales in Action

Yesterday, I linked to a Larry Kudlow post noting that Dr. Art Laffer's theory was looking pretty good. Today, I'd like to take the torch for another Kudlow favorite (and I'm sure one of yours), Joseph Alois Schumpeter.

A year ago, everybody wanted to get government involved in pushing hybrid and hydrogen cars. Thankfully, nothing happened.

But the market spoke. The headlines this week are Ford layoffs and unsold Chrysler inventory. Oh, and WSJ.com - Toyota Lifts Profit Estimate, Aims for 10% Sales Growth (Paid link, sorry!)

Japan's biggest auto maker, based near Nagoya in central Japan, forecast its parent level net income for the half-year period to Sept. 30 would jump 31.6% from its original forecast to ¥500 billion ($4.3 billion). In the same period a year earlier, the company posted a net profit of ¥283.6 billion.

Toyota, which makes the popular Prius hybrid and the Lexus line of luxury cars, also said it was targeting group global sales of 9.8 million vehicles in 2008, up 10.7% from 8.85 million this year, as it speeds toward overtaking General Motors Corp. as the world's biggest auto maker in terms of sales. GM sold 9.2 million vehicles in 2005.


Full disclosure I drive a Toyota.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:48 AM

September 19, 2006

Perry: Unbiased MSM Was a Mirage

Perry at Eidelblog catches the media "making stuff up."

It's lunchtime, I'm catching up on the news, and Yahoo News' headline "Bush Says Stable Mideast Was a Mirage" made me immediately suspicious.

He reads (and reproduces) the entire article. No mention of mirage, no real mention of MidEast stability.

Then Yahoo and AP change the headline to "Bush appeals to Muslims in U.N. speech."

I repeat, we've always been at war with Eurasia!

UPDATE: I watched the speech last night (thank you TiVo) and must admit it was not a complete fabrication. President Bush said to those who thought that the push for democracy destabilized the Middle East that that stability was a mirage. They certainly should have dereferenced this in their story, however.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Orwell's boys have been tapping into your computer again, I see!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 19, 2006 8:42 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I didn't see the speech, but last night I checked the White House website. The speech was finally put up, and I discovered the same thing you did. Yeah, Bush DID use "mirage," just not in the way the headline (not even the story!) implied. I updated my post to say as much.

You just can't believe a [bleep] thing in the MSM anymore. Jefferson once said, "Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we
should soon want bread." Similarly, were we to rely on mainstream media for truth, we would marvel at snow on the ground and wonder why summer was lasting so long.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2006 1:02 PM

Laffer Curve in Action

Larry Kudlow sees proof in the Q3 tax receipts.

Did someone say record tax receipt collections? At lower tax rates? Sounds a lot like the Laffer Curve to me.

The U.S. government just recorded record high tax revenues on the September 15th quarterly deadline date for business tax payments. It turns out that total receipts were a booming $85.8 billion.

Treasury Undersecretary Randal Quarles said Friday’s numbers provided a “continuing demonstration of the strength of the U.S. economy”.

Actually, overall tax revenues for that day, including personal taxes and payroll taxes, were the largest in a single day in the nation’s history.


About the only consistent policy I hear from Democratic candidates is rolling back the Bush tax cuts" Anybody think that that's maybe not a great idea?

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM

September 18, 2006

Awesome Photograph

Legault1_strip.jpg

Look closely and see if you can figure out what it is. When you give up, follow this link to see the full sized image. If you still can't figure it out, go here for the answer. (It's the September 18, 2006 issue.)

Hat tip: Dad

(Here's some other nice work by the same 'artist.')

Technology Posted by JohnGalt at 3:15 PM | What do you think? [7]
But johngalt thinks:

Good, good, but what's that other thing, and what's it doin'?

Posted by: johngalt at September 19, 2006 11:53 AM
But jk thinks:

Teletubbies! I saw this episode! Winky is convincing the nice man that he deserves disability payments for being "a gay color." A classic.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2006 4:35 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Oh,.that little speck shaped like Delaware? That's the shuttle floating back to Earth.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 19, 2006 8:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Senator Biden really pulled some strings to make the shuttle shaped like Delaware. Thnkfully, Senator Allard didn't have as much clout.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2006 10:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

OK, I'm getting what I deserve by trying to be serious around here. Good work JK. What really fascinates me about this, however, is that these images of objects in space were photographed... from EARTH. Stunning.

Excellent recognition skills TrekMedic (like I should be surprised from a guy with Trek in his handle). You got the obvious stuff right but the full sized image will show you that the backdrop is the sun, and the story explains the shuttle is making a 360 survey of the outside of the station.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2006 3:58 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll be serial.

The excitement of space exploration and technology that so excited me as a youth has faded pari passu with NASA's becoming yet another bloated bureaucracy. The International Space Station? U.N. in space? I've completely lost interest.

Now the first female Muslim's buying her own ticket to space with her entrepreneurial fortune. That’s cool.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2006 6:42 PM

The Bloggers Burden

Frequent ThreeSources commenter and fellow Philly area co-blogger Trek Medic has saddled me with another one of those internet memes.

In the spirit of blogger cameraderie, I will bare my soul to you all.

Were you born before the end of the first Gulf war?
Yes. 1977 was a good year.... for polyester, chest hair, ostentatious gold necklaces, and white-fros.

Childhood nickname?
"Al", I suppose. That's when I wasn't being addressed by my friends as any assorted profanity. Neither was my choice.

Historical person you have the biggest crush on?
Odd question. A crush?
Ok.. but any of the classic babes of yesteryear. Ingrid Bergman, Jayne Mansfield, even Marilyn. All babes. Crush worthy.

How about admire? Moses. Jesus. Ben Franklin. Ronald Reagan. (chronological order)

Favorite type of candy?
Goldenberg's Peanut Chews. Before they changed their whole product "gestalt."

Favorite foreign country?
Lately I've been digging Australia. Probably one of America's best friends, ever.

Fish or chicken?
Fish, always.

Do you have your own perfume line?
Sometimes after a hearty meal.

Have you ever written a children's book?
Yes, I have. In 9th grade. ... and one more recently.

It was posted here at ThreeSources!

It's a childrens book about government.

Have you been in a movie based on a book?
Yes. 9th grade (again). Homer's Odyssey. (It was a contemporary adaptation) Once And Future King... we did the might makes right scene. Did it for a slam-dunk extra credit points. It was done so well we didn't get any extra-credit for our effort. ...and a book about Theseus and the Minotaur whose name escapes me. Nothing quite says 9th grade dork English project like standing around in the woods with your friends taping a movie. Those degenerated into impromptu bonfires in the woods. Except for the Odyssey. Because we taped it at the house of a "cool" girl, and setting something on fire there would have been uncool.

Ever posed nude for a photo?
No. But sometimes I wonder if hotel showers have cameras.

Guiltiest pleasure?
My soul weighs heavy because of many things.

Your best nonguilty pleasure, then?
Reading "classic" good books.

What are you allergic to?
Freshly cut grass. I can't even think about it without watery eyes. It makes mowing the lawn a nightmare.

Worst pickup line you've heard?
"I just vomited, can you kiss me to see if I still have the taste in my mouth?"

I heard it senior year in High School. Yes, it worked. No, it wasn't me.

Were you bar mitzvahed?
No. But I've played "coke & pepsi" a number of times.

Have you ever cried during a TV interview?
Not to my recollection. Reagan's funeral was the last thing on TV I cried to.

If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?
It'd be a pretty boring movie. I'd be more interested in who'd actually watch it.

Pet peeve?
People on cell phones in cars. Cell phones in general. Crackberry close second.

If you weren't doing what you do, what job would you like to have?
Political consultant. I've been digging around some campaign finance reports. It pays nicely.

Place you will never be found?
MoveOn.org meeting.

Like a dog marking his territory, I'm going to add a question.
Why did you participate in this tagging?
The peer pressure was staggering.

I guess now I have to tag someone.

I'll share the pain with JK and JohnGalt, also of ThreeSources, Mark AND Blonde Sagacity.

But jk thinks:

Were you born before the end of the first Gulf war?
I was born before the Vietnam war, thanks for asking.

Childhood nickname?
None. You don't have to shorten John. I got jk from work in my late teens and kept it as a stage name and blog d'plume.

Historical person you have the biggest crush on?
Also question crush. FA Hayek is my spiritual and intellectual godfather, but the relationship is strictly professional.

Favorite type of candy?
Choc covered espresso beans.

Favorite foreign country?
Australia is a great ally. My work used to bring me to Ireland and I am quite taken with it.

Fish or chicken?
Fish.

Do you have your own perfume line?
Not since I no longer play hockey.

Have you ever written a children's book?
Nope.

Have you been in a movie based on a book?
World's worst actor. Keep me behind the camera at all times.

Ever posed nude for a photo?
Nope.

Guiltiest pleasure?
Shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. ...no I don't have guilt, I'm a carrier.

Your best nonguilty pleasure, then?
Live music, either side of the proscenium .

What are you allergic to?
Used to be nothing, now I have hay fever in the late summer.

Worst pickup line you've heard?
Knock Knock. (who's there?)
Emerson {Emerson who?)
Emerson beautiful [notable body part]s you have.

Were you bar mitzvahed?
Oy. no.

Have you ever cried during a TV interview?
I think Romo closed that genre.

last thing on TV I cried to.
9/11 recollections.

If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?
Hugh Laurie.

Pet peeve?
People who don't respect your time.

If you weren't doing what you do, what job would you like to have?
Lawyer.

Place you will never be found?
"The Knack" reunion concert.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2006 2:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'll answer only the ones without null answers:

Were you born before the end of the first Gulf war?
Yes, but who wasn't? The damn thing still hasn't ended!

Childhood nickname?
Flash (because I did everything slow and methodically in wood shop.)

Historical person you have the biggest crush on?
A very, very young Ayn Rand.

Favorite type of candy?
Callard & Bowser's 'Treacle Brittle' (thanks mom!)

Favorite foreign country?
Deutschland

Fish or chicken?
Fish. Oh, you mean to EAT? Chicken.

Do you have your own perfume line?
I would if I could bottle it. I'd call it "Achievement."

Have you ever written a children's book?
Wrote a short story as an english class assignment. I found it great fun and would love to write an entire book. One day...

Have you ever been in a movie based on a book?
Only if there was a book called "Skateboard Jungle" with a handful of long-haired punk kids doing tricks in the backyard and filmed in Super8.

Guiltiest pleasure?
Bacon. Other than this, I have no guilt.

Your best nonguilty pleasure?
Fine single malt scotch while stargazing from the hot tub.

What are you allergic to?
Collectivists

Worst pickup line you've heard?
"Ever posed nude for a photo?"

Were you bar mitzvahed?
No, I'm an engineer not a lawyer.

Have you ever cried during a TV interview?
Someone else's interview, right? Sure. Can't remember the last time though.

If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?
Clint Eastwood. He'd have to wear platforms though, and be made up to look tougher.

Pet peeve?
Chain letters.

If you weren't doing what you do, what job would you like to have?
President of the United States. Wanna win the war on terrorists? Swear me in.

Place you will never be found?
San Francisco during a "Smug Alert."

Why did you participate in this tagging?
Because it was Alex's idea and I'm worried that he doesn't like me. :P Sorry though, I'm going to break the chain.

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

The Left's Breeding Problem

San Franscisco Chronicle

    "Liberals have got a big 'baby problem,' and it risks being the death of them," contends Arthur Brooks, professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs. He reckons that unless something gives, Democratic politicians in the future may not have many babies to kiss.

    "When secular-minded Americans decide to have few, or no, children, they unwittingly give a strong evolutionary advantage to the other side of the culture divide," writes Phillip Longman, senior fellow at the New America Foundation. "If 'Metros' don't start having more children, America's future is 'Retro.' "


James Taranto calls part of it "the Roe effect"... Democrats are slowly aborting themselves to smaller numbers, but also factored in are other considerations. Urban liberals vs suburban/rural conservatives and the cost of space.

Religion also makes an appearance as well as this..

    Liberal women are statistically more likely to delay childbirth into later years than are conservative women, and they may also be more open to abortion, although the data is unclear. Gays and lesbians, who vote Democratic by a roughly 4-1 ratio, are much less likely to have children than heterosexuals.

No! How much less likely?

Finally, there's this.... and it sounds like natural selection at work.

    some on the left advocate fewer children as "socially responsible" to lessen the toll on the planet's finite resources.

Darwin would be proud.

Perhaps Marc Steyn is right. Demographics is destiny.... and the Democrats demographics are on the downturn.

But dagny thinks:

On this note, for any of you that have not heard the news, we are working on producing our second little girl, due in January. BWA-HA-HA-HA. Lots of little objectivists running around.

Our first, the pre two-year-old, is busy developing an appropriate acquisitiveness. She clearly states, “Mine, go away.” She does a pretty good job with, “touchdown,” too if only the Broncos could score any. Also, what the heck happened to the Eagles yesterday AlexC?

Posted by: dagny at September 18, 2006 11:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Mazel tov!

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2006 10:23 AM
But jk thinks:

I know you guys are not big on the P-man, but do you ever worry about Plato's "Generation of Opposities:" your children rebelling and looking leftward?

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2006 10:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I've thought about it and I can't imagine what could cause our children to be different than us. We're going to teach them how to think critically, which empowers them, and impose reasonable limits on their freedoms, which gives them security. We won't ask them to believe anything is so because "we (or anyone else) said so" and we won't ever let them believe that life is fair.

In short, we'll teach them how to live happy lives and they won't need pot or hippies or rebellion to search for some kind of false happiness.

To be precise, if our children were to swing opposite of us it would not be to the left, but toward irrationality and collectivism. (That happens to be what the left is right now, but that can change. Our underlying principles will not.) When they find that these things get them nowhere at home, I doubt they'll give them a try when they leave the nest either. And if they do, they'll find those things still get them nowhere, or at least, nowhere they'll want to be.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2006 7:53 PM

Three Insights

Sagacious or Stupid? I rant, you decide.

1. Liberals vs. Liberals.

The difference between Classical Liberals, in whose number I count myself, and Liberals-Liberals (neoliberals?), whom I consider my sworn enemy political opponents can be traced to one, fundamental disagreement. The LLs believe in zero-sum economics. Because I am rich, somebody else is poor. CLs believe that wealth is created ex nihlio by intelligence and effort.

Both seek freedom from overreaching authority when its face is religious. The LLs err in creating an equal, possibly worse, authority to accomplish a fair distribution of what hey see to be a fixed amount of wealth. If their economics were legitimate, their methods might be warranted. If there are only x dollars in the world, you can make a case for not giving Bill Gates so many, no matter how hard he worked. Once the apparatus is in place by the LLs to manage wealth and property, it's a short path to many other illiberal actions. All in the public good, of course. Yet once you have your hands on the machinery, you come to point #2.

2. Angel Season Five vs. GOP Government

Angel spent four seasons trying to destroy the evil law firm, Wolfram & Hart. At the end of season four, he is offered their flagship (on this dimension) L.A. office. How many more people could you help with a huge team and all these resources?

Our plucky team accepts the offer for complicated reasons and season five explores whether Angel (and gang) will be subsumed by the evil or will be able to control it for good.

The 109th Congress has given in to the power the 104th swore to tame. Angel did all right, but it was close.

3. jk vs. Wells Fargo

You will never be groveled for as adeptly as when you try to close a credit card account. There is nothing these people will not offer -- the longer you hold out, the more incredible the offers. Maybe I shouldn't have taken the four super bowl tickets and the ride on the corporate jet, I wonder what the next offer would've been?

Posted by John Kranz at 12:33 PM

Quote of the Day

Mickster

Ponnuru may believe that a few years out of power "would make the Republicans hungrier and sharpen their wits." But it hasn't worked for the Dems!

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:01 PM

UN Does Something Right

Stop the presses! The WSJ Ed Page reports that the World Heath Organization (Who) the World Health Organization has approved the use of DDT in the fight against malaria. An agency under the Untied Nation's aegis has chosen science and human lives over Rachel Carson.

Even if WHO's decision won't change those minds, its stamp of approval on pesticide use matters in the public health world. Other organizations, ranging from the World Bank to Aid for International Development to Doctors Without Borders, look to WHO for guidance and will now likely reassess their own guidelines. The U.S. is typically the largest donor to these international agencies, and the recent efforts of Republican Senators Sam Brownback of Kansas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who have called for DDT intervention and more responsible allocation of aid dollars generally, no doubt played a role in WHO's decision.

One insecticide won't end malaria, and DDT's proponents don't claim it will. But by keeping more people alive and healthy, DDT can help create the conditions for the only lasting solution, which is economic growth and development. It's encouraging that even a U.N. health agency seems to have figured that out.


Now if we can do something about their love of tyrants.

UPDATE: Stephen Moore, in WSJ's Political Diary, gives props to Senator Tom Coburn for his leadersihp.

Mr. Coburn serves as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, a perch he used to press international organizations to recommend DDT once again as a way to fight the mosquito-borne diseases that kill millions of people. Last week, the World Health Organization finally put DDT back in its arsenal. "The new WHO position paper on house spraying for malaria control is a revolutionary document," Sen. Coburn applauded. "The junk science and stigma surrounding DDT -- the cheapest and most effective insecticide on the planet -- have finally been jettisoned."

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

The WHO has apparently read your post on "The Left's Breeding Problem" (today, above). If the collectivists of the world aren't giving birth to more constituents then they'd better do everything they can to prevent their greatest constituent group, i.e. indigents, from dying off. Even if it means crossing their partner in crime, the global environmentalist cult.

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2006 2:34 PM

September 17, 2006

PA GOP Support

Don Quixote had windmills. I try to convince my libertarian buddies at Samizdata that support for the GOP in the US is truly in the best interest of liberty.

I have not made much headway but Dale Amon informs that his absentee ballot (from Belfast) will have the 'R' ticked. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Democrat’s efforts in removing the LP candidate from the ballot.

So for any Democrats who drop by Samizdata, let it be known that instead of voting "none of the above" as I probably would have done, I instead voted straight Republican for just a tiny bit of revenge against this low life by the name of Gergely.

There is a more general issue here. The Pennsylvania laws have totally disenfranchised me. I have no way of being represented. I have no stake in the government or the way it is run because I have been declared outside of it just as surely as if there were men in white peaked hats and shotguns standing outside of the polling stations.

Pennsylvania Posted by John Kranz at 2:17 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Did you see my comment at the bottom of that thread?

Let's not forget the Dems efforts to remove the Green Party candidate from the Senate race either.

Posted by: AlexC at September 17, 2006 2:53 PM

Review Corner

My reading Ryan Sager’s 'The Elephant in the Room:" is the ultimate internecine experience. I agree with almost everything that he says, yet I do not agree with any of his conclusions.

First, the props. The book is very well written. It’s a page-turner; it’s laugh-out-loud funny. It’s insightful. And there are very few things in it that either a libertarian or traditional social conservative can disagree with. [Nor would Sager ever begin a sentence with a conjunction and end it with a preposition, yecch.]

He starts with a nice history of the Conservative movement and its leading lights. Buckley’s separating the wheat of conservatives from the chaff of the John Birchers, Whittaker Chamber’s bold stance against Alger Hiss (and later Ayn Rand), early opposition to the New Deal all get a play. Goldwater’s 1964 certain defeat and its importance in electing the “out of work actor” who spoke at his nomination some 16 years later.

Frank Meyer’s fusionism, however, is the central theme of the book. Can “the marriage” of libertarians and traditionalists that Meyer consecrated be saved? To Sager, the union has not borne fruit for either group in many years. Evangelicals are courted for election cycles and are not represented in legislation – much like the Democratic Party treats African-Americans.

Yet Sager, like me, is in the libertarian wing and his concern is the party’s abandonment of small government principles. These held the fractious elements together but have been turned upside down by the current Congressional leadership

What’s not true? What’s not to like?

He starts to lose me when he tears into President Bush, compassionate conservatism, and the ownership society. He starts with No Child Left Behind and impugns the President’s motives. I agree that Bush got rolled like the DC rookie he was by the Machiavellian Senator Kennedy (I think the Prince was younger than Ted). I’ll grant, furthermore, that Compassionate Conservatism, or as Fred Barnes calls it “Big Government Conservatism,” is fraught with peril and I am skeptical. I much prefer a Reaganesque aversion to government.

Yet Sager is too harsh. He wants to chase all the impure conservatives out of the party. That’s swell but then you’ll have what we call in my country a mi-nor-i-ty party.

I think all ThreeSourcers should read this book. I think that Senator Ted Stevens and Rep. Jerry Lewis should read this book. If the Democrats were smart, they’d read and heed it. There is a serious electoral faction up for grabs, namely Rocky Mountain libertarian GOP voters like me, but I cannot see their making inroads without chasing out some of their long established constituencies.

A fascinating book, completely germane to ThreeSources. Well written. Three stars easy.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM

Gore-gasmic

Salena Zito thinks Al Gore is the guy to watch in 2008.

More than Hillary.

    Why Al Gore?

    Why not? He has already received more votes in a competitive national election than anyone else, including Kerry; he has a legitimate claim to the narrative of the Clinton administration; he has no war baggage.

    Gore is the authentic anti-war candidate, avoiding the whole flip-flop label because he never cast a war vote that he now must run away from.

    Gore has silently become the statesman in the Democratic Party, too, and he has allowed people to see the real him. He is not the tense, awkward, overly handled candidate he was in 2000.

    He represents the current progressive values of the Democratic Party and seems to have found his comfort zone; he is no longer trying to be somebody that he never was.

    In short, Al Gore is the only Democrat to emerge as the anti-Hillary Clinton candidate. He satisfies both skittish Democrats who are wary of a potential Clinton campaign and all the baggage that it brings, and vengeful Republicans who are itching to prove they were right all along in their Florida chad-counting.

    If he can reconnect with his Tennessee roots the way he has with his agenda, he will win the nomination.


Well there is that whole "he BETRAYED this country" thing when regarding Bush and the war.

As Selena writes, it gets the MoveOn'ers excited, but that kind of behavior really turns the rest of us off.

... and then of course, there's the Al Gore toilet.

If that's what passes for statesman in 2008, the Republicans are going to stay in the Whitehouse.

al_gore_flame.jpg

But jk thinks:

He REALLY excites the left wing. The MoveOn.orgers and the Democratic left.

He also has good history with moderates. He was supported by Harriet Miers and Glenn Reynolds in 1988. I'm not sure he can get rapprochement with either of those, but he could likely reconnect with the TNR crowd.

Nixon lost a close (stolen) election in 1960 and won eight years later.

Posted by: jk at September 17, 2006 11:35 AM

September 16, 2006

Avuncular Pride

A quick family story (oh rats, he thinks he's Lileks now...)

My brother-in-law, whom I met on a hockey team when we were 14, called last month and told me "jk, some dads want their kid to be a priest, or the President, but I'm the proudest father ever tonight." It seems his son / my nephew had scored a job driving the Zamboni at the local ice rink. I think Chief Justices of the Supreme Court dream about driving the "Zam."

Last night was his debut and a dozen family members showed up for the public skate. Dad had made T-shirts with my nephew's picture and the headline "Proud Uncle [mutatis mutandis] of the Zamboni driver." We cheered every round. What a blast.

You really can be whatever you want in this country.

UPDATE: Pix!
zam_man.jpg

Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM

September 15, 2006

Rotary Phones

Yahoo

    A widow rented a rotary dial telephone for 42 years, paying what her family calculates as more than $14,000 for a now outdated phone.

    Ester Strogen, 82, of Canton, first leased two black rotary phones — the kind whose round dial is moved manually with your finger — in the 1960s. Back then, the technology was new and owning telephones was unaffordable for most people.


New technology? The 1960s?

or the 1860s?

It's $29.10 / month to have one of their phones. But there are benefits.

    New Jersey-based Lucent Technologies, a spinoff of AT&T that manages the residential leasing service, said customers were given the choice option to opt out of renting in 1985. The number of customers leasing phones dropped from 40 million nationwide to about 750,000 today, he said.

    "We will continue to lease sets as long as there is a demand for them," Skalko said.

    Benefits of leasing include free replacements and the option of switching to newer models, he said.

Technology Posted by AlexC at 5:46 PM

Blaming Bush, Again

MyDD's Chris Bowers looks at George Bush's approval ratings vs the price of gasoline.

    Bush's approval is not up because of his speeches on terrorism, or some other baseless, purely conjectural reason. Bush's approval is up because gas prices are down. This is probably related to releasing part of the strategic reserves this spring, just as in 2004 around election time it was related to making a deal with the Saudis to increase oil production. It didn't stop raining because God stopped peeing. Bush's approval is not up because he is using better talking points in his speeches.

    That gas prices are dropping around election time is no surprise at all. In fact, I predicted it would happen five weeks ago. When a power-mad administration is this marinated in the oil industry, and when it isn't exactly a state secret (except, apparently, for journalists) that Presidential approval has long been tied to the price of gas, of course the Bush administration was going to do something to lower the prices of gas around election time.


I don't think Chris has any idea about the oil supply line and market reaction times.

If releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the spring cuts prices in September, how can Saudi production increases "around election time" have an immediate affect on gas prices? Shouldn't they both be instant? or both delayed?

The post begs the question, why "a power-mad administration this marindated in the oil industry" that has enough control over the price of oil, would allow fuel prices to rise? Why not keep us all fat, dumb and filling our Hummers? It's easier for a President to get his way if he's liked.

But don't sweat the details. According to Mr Bowers, there's no need for concern about the numbers unless the Republicans can gain another three or four points.

He doesn't say what that means, but since we're in conspiracy mode, I think it means that Republicans are in Diebold range.

Update: Incidentally, lest you believe that this is a fringe liberal idea... here's a picture of Chris Bowers meeting with former President Bill Clinton the other day.

But jk thinks:

I disagree AlexC. We're not quite in Diebold range yet and I think we'll have to keep African-Americans from voting.

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2006 3:20 PM

McCain in 2000Never!

I, jk, leapt to Senator McCain's defense on these pages a time or two. Execrable as his signature repeal of the First Amendment was, I thought his potential prowess at Commander-in-Chief might win me over the end.

Consider that retracted.

The great American Hero (I do not mean that facetiously) is playing politics with national security. The Senator is working to ensure that terrorists will be free from interrogation techniques regularly and legally used on U.S. citizens.

Yesterday's WSJ Lead Editorial (free site)

President Bush did a public service last week by finally explaining the importance of interrogation as an intelligence tool against terrorists. But we also wish he would have been more candid with Americans about the restrictions that have been put on interrogating even the very worst terrorists.

A major reason is an amendment pushed through Congress last year by John McCain. The Senator's amendment, which Mr. Bush agreed to over Vice President Dick Cheney's objections, established the Army Field Manual as the first and last word on Defense Department interrogations; it also banned "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." We appreciate Mr. McCain's moral authority on the subject, and this policy may sound innocuous.
[...]
So Iraqi and Afghan insurgents won't even face the prospect of your average good cop/bad cop routine. The manual allows for a watered down version called "Mutt and Jeff" in which interrogators can affect different personalities. But the Manual admonishes strongly that the intelligence "collector must be extremely careful that he does not threaten or coerce a source. Conveying a threat may be a violation of the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice]." We kid you not. "Mutt and Jeff" is the worst that Abu Musab al Zarqawi could have expected from the Pentagon had he been captured alive.


Today the news pages point out (paid link) that McCain is looking likely to win the day on this one.
WASHINGTON -- Over President Bush's opposition, a plan to prosecute enemy combatants advanced in the Senate with bipartisan support, raising the prospect of a messy floor battle among Republicans heading into the midterm elections.

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the proposal on a 15-9 vote, with all the panel's Democrats and four of its Republicans in support. Most Republicans on the committee voted against it, however, saying they preferred Mr. Bush's approach. The debate likely will continue on the Senate floor next week.

Republicans had hoped the vote would be a chance to point out differences with Democrats over national-security issues, but, in fact, it won't be so clear-cut. Democrats spoke little, but tried to counter Republican attempts to paint them as obstructionists. "We must adopt a bill. That's something that should be all our goals," said Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the panel's senior Democrat.


Senators Graham, McCain, Warner and, well, Collins don’t mind lining up with Carl Levin against the Administration. What planet did I wake up on today?

Andrew McCarthy takes up the topic in NRO today (Hat tip to Sugarchuck who emails the link and the line "Another reason to disregard McCain.")

Senator McCain and his entourage, Senators Lindsey Graham and John Warner, are making it ever more difficult to answer that question. They, like the JAG corps they champion, lack the vision to peer beyond familiar standards designed for dated challenges. They are an anachronism. We can admire their moorings in an era of honor — of nation-states and humanity and civilized hostilities. But we can’t afford it if they look at Zarqawi and see Hector.

Nor will this win him the GOP niomination. Third Party run?

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM

Sharansky & Iran

Threesources' favorite Natan Sharansky has a piece up in the La Times discussing non-state actors and their patrons.

It's a "must read the whole thing in it's entirety" kind of commentary.

    The Iranian regime's intentions are clear. It calls for "wiping Israel off the map" and tells its followers to "imagine a world without America." It seeks to dominate the Middle East. By failing to hold Iran accountable for its brazen support of Hezbollah, the free world has undermined a central pillar in the war on terror and given the Iranian regime a huge weapon for achieving its ambitions. Now the mullahs know they can attack a democratic country with impunity.

    Considering the apocalyptic fanaticism of Iran's leader, it is an open question whether the current regime in Tehran is capable of being deterred through the threat of mutually assured destruction. But given how the world has responded to Hezbollah, the point may be academic. For surely Iran would be better served by using proxies to wage a nuclear war against Israel. And if there is no accountability, why stop with Israel?

    The road to a suitcase bomb in Tel Aviv, Paris or New York just got a whole lot shorter.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 11:54 AM

Robbing the Bank

The fires keep getting stoked in Pa. Especially as more people start digesting the 100 page Supreme Court decision.

    Lawmakers violated the state Constitution when they took mid-term pay raises last year in the form of “unvouchered expenses,” the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday, but the court is not ordering the repayment of the illegal raises.

    Instead, the court claims lawmakers who accepted the short-lived pay raise for up to four months during 2005 “acted in good faith reliance on the presumption” that the raise was legal and they could keep the cash.

    The court also ordered reinstatement of pay raises for about 1,200 members of the judiciary, including the justice themselves, saying a measure that repealed those raises was “clearly, palpably and plainly unconstitutional.”


Nice. So if you're smarmy enough to take the "unvouchered expenses" you can keep them. Never mind that they're obviously unconstitutional. Quite a number of legislators took them, some returned the "pre-payment," (likely due to torches and pitchforks).

I wonder if you returned it, if you can reclaim it.

Looks like I"m going to have to update my lists. State House, State Senate.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Some people in PA just never learn! Sounds like a few more incumbents will fall in November!
Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 16, 2006 11:40 AM

The History of Appeasement

John Hawkins writes about one of Dr Seuss' gigs.

Political cartoonist.

    The funny thing about cartoons like this one is that if you change the foe from the Nazis to the terrorists and their backers, these cartoons are every bit as applicable to the Democrats today as they were to the isolationists back then:

    I will say one thing in defense of the isolationists like Charles Lindbergh: after Pearl Harbor, almost all of them changed their minds. In my book, that puts them ahead of the liberals today who still aren't serious about fighting terrorism even after 9/11.

Round after round after round after round of round of "diplomacy" with some of these guys gets you where exactly?

Just look at Iran. They've bought themselves time. Time and again more time. There isn't going to be a lollypop or carrot tasty enough one day.

NewsMax adds...

    The United States and its European partners "should end phony negotiations" with Iran over its nuclear program, an influential U.S. senator up for re-election this November said Thursday.

    Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., who has been trailing his Democratic challenger, Bob Casey, in opinion polls until recently, said the United States should "increase sanctions" on Iran and "fund, promote and support the pro-democracy movement, both inside and outside Iran."

    Speaking with Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and Reza Pahlavi, son of the former shah of Iran, Santorum called for "free and fair elections" in Iran, and blasted the Iranian regime for "continued action against our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."

There's actually a whole collection of Dr Seuss' work at this site.

Imagine if someone drew one like this for Abu-Ghraib or Gitmo?

But jk thinks:

Awesome post! My mom had a book of his cartoons "for grownups" that I liked. Many were anti-tax (a guy tying his shoes with a long moustache to avoid taxes on laces).

Looking at his portrayals of Hitler and Tito, I wondered what he might have done with the Prophet Mohammed?

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2006 11:26 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I agree! Awesome post and new materials sources!

Imagine Dr. Seuss in Muslim countries: Green Eggs and Ham! HAM??? Ahhh! You insult Allah! Death to Seuss! Death to America!!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 16, 2006 11:43 AM
But AlexC thinks:

LMAO!

Posted by: AlexC at September 16, 2006 6:39 PM

September 14, 2006

"Lead-Free" - The International Environmental Boondoggle

In honor of today being the unofficial "L day" I'm posting this item that came to my attention last Monday.

In case you wonder what might have happened if the Kyoto Protocol had been adopted and implemented world wide, consider what happened when the EU unilaterally determined that the lead in solder used to produce electronic devices is a "hazardous substance" and mandated its elimination from all products marketed in Europe by the July 1, 2006.

On Monday a colleague emailed several of us a list of issues related to lead-free electronics manufacturing that was provided to him by our assembly vendor. Before reading the attachment I had no idea just how disruptive this lead-free process business is. Why would we voluntarily evolve into a process that is less reliable, more expensive, fraught with extra hoops to jump through and, by the way, is WORSE for the environment?

This all stems from an EU directive called the "Reduction of Hazardous Substances" directive, or "RoHS" adopted January 27, 2003. Here's what I found when I investigated.

From “The ultimate in fatuity” on EU Referendum blog (based in UK):

According to the authors, "The study presents extensive data that show that heavy metal concentrations in leachate and landfill gas are generally far below the limits that have been established to protect human health and the environment."

By then, it was too late – the "train had left the station" and the momentum for new legislation was too great. But, by 2005, the US Environmental Protection Agency had got its act together and produced a 472-page report, assessing the full, life-cycle environmental impact of banning lead solder.

From this work, it emerged that when the impact of mining and refining substitutes was taken in to account, the higher energy consumption in using the lead-free solders, which require higher temperatures, and all the other issues were factored in, the banning of lead – far from having a positive impact on the environment (and worker health) – actually had a significant negative impact. Amazingly, though, this work had never been done by the EU and the legislation was, by then, already in place.

And then there are the long-term reliability concerns. Also from the EU Referendum blog:

On the basis of this charade, proprietors of firms not obeying this cretinous law can face unlimited fines and imprisonment yet, worryingly, there are still many serious doubts about the reliability and suitability of lead solder substitutes, so much so that military equipment has been exempted.

And this isn’t just some mad right-wing anti-environment rant. In the comments on the blog is a reference to this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoting a Canadian environmental scientist who doesn’t support lead-free:

But not all lead is the same. Lead in paint and gasoline is easily absorbed into human cells. Lead in metallic forms such as solder is not.

In addition, evidence indicates that soldered lead, once inside landfills, does not leach out into drinking water, said Laura Turbini, a materials science faculty member at the University of Toronto.

Turbini has studied and tried to help diminish the impact of industry on the environment since the days of CFCs in refrigerators. Her presentations declare "humanity is off course" environmentally. She also strongly advocates recycling electronics. But she does not support lead-free.

"From cradle to grave," Turbini said, "lead-free soldering is not better for the environment." Replacements for lead solder cost more to mine and require more energy to use and produce.

As for “state mandated deadlines for compliance” are we sure there are, or will be, any? Consider this, also from the news article:

No U.S. firm is legally bound to use lead-free solder. Only California has any restrictions on lead, and no federal laws are pending. But not conforming to European standards means giving up a lucrative market, and potentially that of China and Japan. China is expected to announce a restriction policy soon.

But since our market is exclusively the U.S. and not even Canada, much less Europe or East Asia, it appears that we should do everything possible to avoid lead-free like the plague. The problem with this strategy is that component manufacturers, forced to comply with RoHS by customers who market products in Europe and eager to avoid the added cost of parallel leaded and lead-free product lines, are gradually discontinuing the leaded components.

And so we have a world-wide economic and environmental travesty all because one man, the EU minister of state for energy, Malcolm Wicks, signed the final RoHS document declaring, "I have read the regulatory impact assessment and am satisfied the benefits justify the costs."

And angry-left nutjobs worry that we are sliding into a monarchy!

Take the disruptions, cost increases and environmental unintended consequences of this and multiply them by ten, or even a hundred, and you'll have an idea of what Kyoto could have wrought.

(Click "Continue Reading" to see the list of issues related to lead-free soldering processes.)

Company x’s Lead – Free Process Issues
1. Lead-Free assemblies are less reliable: Company x says we should expect 30% more solder joint failures in a lead-free process.
a. Through-hole joints will not be filled up to IPC-Level 1, but should conform to the IPC Level-2 soldering standard.
b. Our QA group should expect to see less flow and poorer overall solder joints. These joints are more susceptible to mechanical stress and vibration.
c. Tin solder will “grow” thin shards (whiskers) over time. These whiskers can eventually short higher density designs
2. Lead-Free assembly processes cost more: You will see why as you read the issues here.
3. Gold PCBs: Company x prefers Immersion Gold on top of Nickel. Company x is having issues soldering to our Immersion Silver boards:
a. The silver oxidizes fairly quickly, so the PCB shelf life isn’t very long with silver
b. Company x uses a lot of cardboard, which is one of silver’s worst enemies. They try to be careful, but find they still set a lot of bare boards directly on cardboard.
c. The flux isn’t powerful enough to break down the silver oxide when soldered
d. The lead-free solder doesn’t adhere well to silver even when it is not oxidized
Company x prefers 180-200 micro-inches of Nickel over the copper and 3-8 micro-inches of Gold over the Nickel. This finish has a good shelf life, doesn’t react with materials used in handling and storage, and readily adheres to the tin solder.
It may cost us more per board up-front, but Company x is saying due to the soldering issues, it saves us money on the overall assembly.
4. High-Temp FR-4: Most assembly houses request a higher temperature rated FR-4 material for lead-free processing. Company x hasn’t seen any PCB issues due to the higher oven temperatures yet. However, de-laminating and warping may occur, especially on PCB areas with few parts. Data Circuits/Merix hasn’t charged us more for this material in the past, so I suggest we start using it on all of our PCBs.
5. High-Temp Parts: Company x has settled on 245 C as their lead-free oven temperature. Many aluminum electrolytic capacitors and connectors will be destroyed at these temperatures. I have found that many ROHS rated aluminum electrolytic capacitors aren’t specified to handle this temperature and are rated to only 235-240 C, especially the larger caps. All of the parts we want to run through a lead-free reflow process must handle at least 245 C, although 260 C is preferable, but hard to obtain in the larger caps. Due to the higher oven temperatures required for lead-free reflow, we must re-evaluate each part in the assemblies we want to become lead-free.
6. Hand soldering is difficult: Lead-free solder not only requires a higher temperature to flow properly, but it doesn’t wet, flow, or adhere as well as lead based solder. Interestingly, soldering iron tips only last 8-10 hours due to the aggressive tin reaction to the tips themselves. To increase the soldering temperature, the soldering iron tips are larger which makes it more difficult to solder small parts. Company x has asked us to change the following in our designs:
a. Increase annular rings around hand-soldered holes or anything we will want to ever be re-worked. 15-20 mil per side is desirable. Use elliptical holes for finer-pitch parts.
b. Try to always use thermal rings to connect pads (SMT and thru-hole) to ground planes and copper pours. The pads must get hotter for good reflow and direct plane/copper connections pull that heat away.
7. Wave Soldering:
a. Only boards stuffed completely with lead-free parts can run through a lead-free wave soldering process. Otherwise the lead will contaminate the solder, costing upwards of $50K to empty, clean, and refill the wave soldering pot. So we must be absolutely certain all of our parts are lead-free before we request a lead-free wave process. Lead-free wave soldering requires a higher temperature pre-heater for the board, which is not desirable.
b. Due to higher reflow temperatures, Company x does not want to run parts through the wave soldering process for a second reheating. Many parts won’t survive a second re-heating, which is 500C. To prevent damage to SMT parts on the bottom side of the PCBs, they are using “selective wave fixtures” that attach to the boards and only exposes the parts needing wave soldered. These fixtures costs $300-$400 although they may need several to allow them to continue running boards as other fixtures cool enough to be handled. The fixture rules are:
i. No SMT component on the bottom side of the PCB can extend more than 0.125" from the PCB surface. If they are taller, then a more expensive fixture can be built (double layer) or they will have to hand solder the parts. Either way costs us more for assembly.
ii. All SMT parts should be at least 0.100" away from the parts to be wave soldered. This leaves room for the fixture to fit tightly to the PCB. Obviously all of the parts can’t adhere to this rule. In these cases, we should provide build instructions to specify to either glue the intruding part to the PCB and wave solder it (indicating it can handle the heat for a second pass) or to have them hand solder the part to the PCB after the wave process.
8. Pre-Fabrication DFM Review: Company x wants 24 hours to review our PCB artwork before fabrication. This allows them time to review the board and suggest changes for better manufacturability. This also gives them time to look at some of the parts to see if they can handle the lead-free processes and high-pressure post-washing.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I'm fighting with the whole R22 vs R410A refrigerant issue right now with regards to getting a new AC unit. A lot of the seasoned HVAC guys want to eat their eyes over this knowing damn well that the replacement is so much less effective that it takes a lot more energy to gain the same benefits. This creates more damage than it avoids. DDT v2.0

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 14, 2006 11:19 PM
But jk thinks:

...and I got one of those 1.75 gallon Al Gore Toilets. My contractor begged me not to replace the old contraband 3 gal unit but I wanted colored fixtures.

They should put the (then) Senator's picture on a plunger -- it's his fault you have to use it so often.

(Andrew Sullivan blazed the trail in bathroom plumbing blogging, I'm just a copycat.)

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2006 11:30 AM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, you might want to add a little fiber to your diet. ;)

But the Al Gore plunger is a great idea!

Posted by: AlexC at September 15, 2006 11:34 AM

Ludicrous!

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court just threw a gallon of diesel on a simmering Pennsylvania flame.

Yes, the pay raise.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday reinstated pay raises for 1,200 elected judges and district judges in a decision adding new fuel to an issue that has roiled state politics for more than a year.

    The court ordered judges' pay to return to the level it was at in November, before a four-month-old pay-raise law was repealed in the wake of widespread public anger.

    The justices also said the Legislature violated the state Constitution by permitting its members to accept midterm pay raises in the form of "unvouchered expenses."


The "public anger" could account for over thirty retirements, and does account for the defeat of a Supreme Court justice as well as seventeen primary election defeats, including that of House and Senate leaders.

The reason why the judges (including the Supreme Court) can keep their raise is because Pennsylvania law prohibits a judges salary from going down. This is to prevent a scorned legislature from cutting the Judiciary's pay.

Now the issue is back on the front pages as the election draws near. The legislators who survived the May primaries will now worry, as will Governor Ed Rendell who signed the pay raise bill "to kiss a little butt," and State Treasurer Bob Casey (running against Senator Rick Santorum) who was against the pay raise before he was for it.

This will be interesting.

But johngalt thinks:

Is the prohibition on reduction of judicial salaries a constitutional provision? If not, what keeps a scorned legislature from just changing that law along with the salaries?

Jeez, Colorado state politics is childs play compared to PA!

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2006 6:02 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Yes. Constitutional, I will correct that.

Posted by: AlexC at September 14, 2006 8:32 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I suspect the complexity of a states politics is directly proportional to it's border complexity. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at September 14, 2006 8:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Those Hawaiians are some bare-knuckle fighters...

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2006 2:12 PM

L Day

Today, every post has begun with the letter L.

Jus' sayin'.

Posted by AlexC at 4:47 PM | What do you think? [1]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I guess that would explain a few things about Alaska.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 14, 2006 11:23 PM

Losing? Ain't Gonna Happen

Two weeks ago I cited an election prediction blog that showed the GOP holding both houses in November. Since that time the DEM house prediction has gone up by three and the GOP senate forecast is up one, but the end result is the same: GOP holds both.

But updating these data isn't the purpose of this post. Instead it is to cite Jim Pinkerton who says, "GOP has reason for election confidence." Why? Because they're not Democrats!

So while election outcomes will undoubtedly blip back and forth, we might ask: Is there ever going to be a time when Americans are comfortable being governed by the ideologies embodied in Howard Dean, Barbra Streisand, Lawrence Tribe and George Soros? If the answer to that question is "no," the Republicans have good reason to be confident about their electoral future.

Pinkie also argues that boosting government spending is popular. Yes, even with Republicans:

The country, including Republicans, supports a lot of this spending. In wartime, there's a natural instinct to expand the welfare state - to build "a nation fit for heroes." And so let's ask: How many Americans want to repeal the prescription drug program for seniors enacted by GOPers (with plenty of help from Democrats) in 2003?

Republicans in Washington might not be heeding limited-government principles, but they sure are reading polls. So while pork-barrel "bridge to nowhere" earmarks are a clear excess, it's hard to argue that "big government conservatism" is unpopular with the voters.

And don't forget the inevitable "Oh crap, Democrats really DO want to lose the war" bounce!

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 3:27 PM

Losing: a Loser's Guide

Okay, we discussed Ramesh Ponnuru's thoughtful and strategic assessment of a Democratic 110th.

Arnold Kling disappoints in TCSDaily today. I'm a big fan of Kling's work. He is methodical and uses economic principles to further his arguments.

I think, however, he lets emotion overtake him in "November: The Case for Staying Home." For the usual -- and legitimate -- reasons, he is unhappy with either party and not at all keen on returning "big government Republicanism" to power.

I want everyone who agrees with me to stay home, too. I want the headline on Wednesday morning after the election to read, "Mid-year Election Suffers Record Low Turnout." Of course, even if only one vote is cast in each Congressional District, as long as the Democrats win, the mainstream media will report it as "Bush Repudiated! -- Democrats Win Overwhelming Popular Mandate!" But I am thinking that if turnout is particularly low, somebody, somewhere will notice, and maybe some candidates committed to liberty and individual responsibility will emerge next time.

As an economist, I'd expect Kling to be a little more suspicious of a boycott. That trick never works, Bullwinkle. With something as volatile as turnout in a midterm election, it's doubly difficult to be heard by staying home.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:25 AM

Lose?

An emailer directs me to a Dean Barnett post on Hugh Hewitt's site. Barnett appreciates Ramesh Ponnuru as a thinker but is unswayed by the NYTimes column I blogged about yesterday.

At a time of war, we cannot afford to have the party controlling Congress have as its sole mission an unending quest to undermine the Commander-in-Chief. And if anyone has detected anything else in the Democrats’ platform that compares as a unifying theme to their pure partisan hatred, please feel free to make the case.

I happen to agree that the Republican Party deserves to lose the House. The past 12 years have been an epic disappointment. But for the sake of the country, we’d all be a helluva lot better off reforming ourselves under own volition rather than as a result of an electoral repudiation that will weaken the country at a time of war.


That's a good description of my beliefs. I posted the Ponnuru piece to be "Fair and Balanced" and I agree with Sugarchuck that it is a consolation if the fated and feared event should transpire.

After the primaries the other night, I am far more sanguine about this November. The stars did not line up for the Democrats on Tuesday, nor have they delivered a compelling message.

I keep promising a review of Ryan Sager's "The Elephant in the Room." It's not long or inaccessible, I have just had too much work to plow through the end. Sager's ready to split the party in half and start over again. So is Joe Scarborough.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM

Logan's Run, The Home Game

Sanctuary isn't just a myth in some cheesy seventies sci-fi flick.

It's the here and now.

    While other cities in the county aggressively attempt to rid their communities of undocumented immigrants, local activists are planning to turn National City into a “sanctuary city.”

    Such a classification means city funds will not be used to enforce federal immigration laws, which is already the case in National City.

    Mayor Nick Inzunza declared in an interview on National Public Radio last week that he wants National City to be a sanctuary city, a designation being promoted through a grass-roots effort in other parts of California and the country.


I look forward to the day some town out there declares itself a sanctuary city from federal income taxes. There's a sanctuary I can get behind.

But seriously, are there any cases like this? I suppose medical marijuana is sort of like this... or Alaska's repeated attempts at legalization. But in regards to a border / security issue?

Would a city say it's airport is not going to do any X-Ray screening?

I'm down with the Tenth Amendment, but isn't this the wrong direction?

Tip to Allahpundit, who writes, Federalism, baby. It's not just for conservatives anymore.

But jk thinks:

I've spent some time in National City. They have a large enough filipino community to support a food court. Everybody was nice to me but rude to my wife, who didn't speak enough Tagalog for their high standards.

They've used the commerce clause in Raich v Gonzales to enforce national drug laws over state. I think that's overreaching. Grow some weed in Bakersfield and ship it to Tehachapi, where's the interstate commerce?

I don't see National City on nearly so firm ground. A closer parallel would be San Francisco (and Boulder I think) refusing to enforce the Patriot Act.

Nor did I see teenage heartthrob Ms. Jenny Agutter in National City...

Posted by: jk at September 14, 2006 10:16 AM

September 13, 2006

The Invisible Hand Works Again

ThinkProgress.

    Air America Radio will announce a major restructuring on Friday, which is expected to include a bankruptcy filing, three independent sources have told ThinkProgress.

    Air America could remain on the air under the deal, but significant personnel changes are already in the works. Sources say five Air America employees were laid off yesterday and were told there would be no severance without capital infusion or bankruptcy.


But it's not all gloom and doom!
    The right wing is sure to seize on Air America’s financial woes as a sign that progressive talk radio is unpopular. In fact, Air America succeeded at creating something that didn’t exist: the progressive talk radio format. That format is now established and strong and will continue with or without Air America.

I think it was Chip Diller (Kevin Bacon's first role) in Animal House who said it best.

"Remain calm! All is well!"

kevin-bacon.jpg

Posted by AlexC at 4:37 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"...five Air America employees were laid off yesterday..." but what about the other guy?

"...no severance without capital infusion..." What a vicious, heartless corporation this Air America bunch is.

"...or bankruptcy." The bankruptcy judge is going to order the government to pay severance?

"That's OK, the radio format is dead anyway." Right Rush?

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2006 4:54 PM
But jk thinks:

Johngalt is a devoted listener, maybe he'll come up with that "capital infusion..."

Glad they proved it works.

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2006 5:14 PM

Rhode Island Post-Game

MyDD's Matt Stoller.

    I had hoped that Laffey would beat Chafee, but I can sympathize with Steve Clemons who is glad that the far-right candidate lost. The Club for Growth, which is one of the most pernicious forces on the far-right, took a huge hit in terms of prestige last night. Nothing does that to you like losing.

And these guys would know. If it weren't for Ned Lamont, what would their record be? 0-20?

I believe Club for Growth is 8 for 11, or 8 for 12.

No comment on the left blogosphere's prestige.

    Laffey wasn't a foreign policy lunatic so much, he was more in the extreme greedocrats wing of the GOP, so his spanking suggests that this era of antitax fervor is over. I still little of Chafee. He is a puddle of a man, who deserves to lose to Sheldon Whitehouse.

    But I can't help thinking that the Club for Growth's guns are just not as loaded as they once were.


Senate Posted by AlexC at 4:32 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

If the RI GOP primary was not the most perfect example of the "vote your party/vote your principles" dilemma ever then I don't know what is. Some people believe 'tis better to vote your principles even if you have to go third party to do so. This was a case when you had the choice WITHIN your party.

Sorry JK but if I were an Ocean State voter, even if I KNEW that Laffey would lose to a - what would Matt Stoller call him ... a 'generousicrat?' - and I KNEW that Chafee would beat that same collectivist Democrat, I would still vote for Laffey. Then I could drive around with a "Don't Blame Me - I didn't vote for (the D guy) OR Chafee" bumper sticker.

By the way, did anyone else notice Matt's Freudian slip where he called "extreme" Republicans "greedocrats" instead of "greedicans?"

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2006 5:21 PM
But jk thinks:

I would have voted for Laffey as well, but I would probaly not have given him any money. Voting your conscience is swell, but Club for Growth could have better impacted its goals by spending that money in Maryland or Missouri.

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2006 6:27 PM

Preach to the Choir

"Gather 'round everybody, while I testify" -- Johnny Mercer

We're going to be hearing a lot of negative news this campaign season. The Denver Post Headline today is "2007: Recession" (And you guys are stuck with papers that tell you what happened yesterday) We'll certainly need a bunch of programs to help the folks who aren't head of Halliburton through these tough times.

David R. Henderson at TCS dives into the data a little more deeply than his pals at the NYTimes, and draws some different conclusions.

The Times' reporter, Rick Lyman, seems not to have studied the report's findings either.

That's too bad. Because hidden in plain sight in the report are some data that help one understand the household-income picture in the United States. These data show what it takes to be middle class or above. And they show that staying out of, or getting out of, the lowest quintile is not rocket science.


Rocket science is not a bad way to make money, but if it's not your cup of tea, you can avoid poverty by, oh, getting a job, marrying someone with a job -- crazy stuff like that.
In the lowest quintile, 64.2 percent of the heads of household (the Census now calls them "householders") did not work at all and only 14.0 percent worked full-time year-round. By contrast, in the highest quintile only 11.3 percent of heads of households did not work, while 73.0 percent worked full-time year-round. In the middle three quintiles, 26.3 percent of heads of households did not work and 54.7 percent of heads of households worked full-time year-round.

Get older, save money, man there's all kinds of schemes in this country. I have been in all five quintiles at some time in my life (heading down now, but that's part of freedom, too).

The whole piece is good to have around when you must confront gloom-and-doomers.

But AlexC thinks:

I think it was Walter Williams who listed the conditions for "not being poor."

1) Graduate high school.
2) Get married
3) Complete 1 & 2 before having a kid.

Posted by: AlexC at September 13, 2006 4:36 PM

Silver Lining in RI

An emailer this morning expressed appreciation for "silver linings" and we're all about keeping people happy at ThreeSources. Here's one for everybody who is disappointed in last night's Ocean State GOP Senatorial Primary. Conservative Mayor Laffey lost, but the Democrats are not smiling. Here's WSJ Political Diary's Quote of the Day:

"Laffey ran less as the true conservative in the race and more as a populist, outsider candidate.... If he had defeated Chafee, it would have been another sign that voters are in a very anti-incumbent mood, as polls have indicated, which would primarily hurt the GOP as the party in power. The Chafee win also guarantees an even tighter campaign in the fall, which won't help Democrats. Needing to win six seats to capture the Senate, Democrats were rooting for Laffey, which would have meant they could save and concentrate their campaign funds on key races in Tennessee, Virginia and Ohio. Now, Democrats will have to work aggressively and spend heavily to defeat Chafee, who has such a liberal record on issues like the environment that he's almost assured of wooing some Democratic voters" -- Time Magazine's Perry Bacon Jr.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 2:51 PM

Recovering

Miracle?

    For three years, Riaan Bolton has lain motionless, his eyes open but unseeing. After a devastating car crash doctors said he would never again see or speak or hear. Now his mother, Johanna, dissolves a pill in a little water on a teaspoon and forces it gently into his mouth. Within half an hour, as if a switch has been flicked in his brain, Riaan looks around his home in the South African town of Kimberley and says, "Hello." Shortly after his accident, Johanna had turned down the option of letting him die.

    Three hundred miles away, Louis Viljoen, a young man who had once been cruelly described by a doctor as "a cabbage", greets me with a mischievous smile and a streetwise four-move handshake. Until he took the pill, he too was supposed to be in what doctors call a persistent vegetative state.
    Across the Atlantic in the United States, George Melendez, who is also brain-damaged, has lain twitching and moaning as if in agony for years, causing his parents unbearable grief. He, too, is given this little tablet and again, it's as if a light comes on. His father asks him if he is, indeed, in pain. "No," George smiles, and his family burst into tears.


Amazing. Read it all.

But jk thinks:

Interesting. I say we halt all sales of this product until the FDA can do an exhaustive 20 year study, allowing thousands to die on placebos. It's really the only safe way to proceed.

While these are always interesting, there is always a "cold fusion" element to these. Like reading Drudge, you read a hundred of them and occasionally one comes true.

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2006 2:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Unlike "cold fusion" however, something like this is actually more likely than unlikely to one day come to pass. Keep on truckin' private pharmaceutical researchers.

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2006 5:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Nobody holds "big pharma" in higher esteem than me, but I get a few emails a month with somebody who's curing MS in Landgmapalaaka with Diet Coke and Tiddlywinks. One's grain of salt quotient gets pretty high.

Though if The Guardian must be right about something, this would be my choice...

Posted by: jk at September 13, 2006 6:43 PM

Afghani Agriculture

Two days, two interesting ideas for revitalizing Afghanistan's economy.

Yesterday, Greg Pollowitz (surely a blogger-in-law or some relation to me for his affiliation with AlexC) suggested Afghani Ethanol production.

Why not send a little cash toward Afghanistan to allow them to develop an ethanol industry? Farmers in Afghanistan are growing opium because it pays the most. This is one instance where throwing money at the problem will solve it. Pay the Afghan farmers more for a different crop. We're already paying our US farmers to grow crops for ethanol production, why not pay the Afghan farmers as well? Additionally, we could cut any duties on imported ethanol from Afghanistan and make it instantly competitive with US producers.

I imagine opium is a little more lucrative, but as Afghanistan seems to have escaped the curse of petroleum resources, you'd think they could improve their standard of living with a domestic energy source, even without becoming major exporters.

But Andrew Stuttaford at NRO has a better plan: Let them grow opium. They have a competitive advantage, and the world needs it.

My starting point is that there is a worldwide shortage (the estimate comes from the Senlis Council ) of opiates for medical use of roughly 10,000 tonnes of opium equivalent a year. Those numbers have been challenged, but the gist of the objection to them is that the developed world relies too much on opiates for pain relief, itself a dubious assertion, and so I'll stick with the Senlis estimates. Afghanistan produces approximately 4,000 tonnes of opium each year, so if the Senlis numbers are even roughly correct, the entire Afghan crop (and more) could be used to meet the current shortage.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:49 AM

Let's Go Out There and Lose!

ThreeSources friend Sugarchuck sends me a link to the NYTimes this morning.

Ramesh Ponnuru effectively lays down the silver linings, and possible advantages of a bad night in November for the GOP. Ponnuru says the worst thing for conservatives would be to gain seats, thus rewarding a party that thinks pork and incumbency are the keys to victory. A loss of seats would be a lesson, and even:

A straight loss, on the other hand, would make the Republicans hungrier and sharpen their wits. Freed from the obligation of cobbling together thin majorities for watered-down legislation, Republicans would be able to stand for something attractive. Some conservatives worry that Republican officialdom will see defeat as a reason to turn left. But that didn’t happen after the last major Republican defeat in 1992. Then, conservatives were able to persuade the party that it had not lost power because it was too far right. They would make the same case this winter, but with more voices in the news media than they had back then.

SC has held this thought for a while. I am still frightened, but the Sager book and this column are certainly giving me pause. Perhaps the best argument for a loss in '06 is a more important election in '08. Ponnuru points out:
Do Republicans really want to go into 2008 running a unified government? The last time an election maintained unified party control from one presidency to another was in 1928. And the 2008 elections matter more than the 2006 elections, because, again, the president has more say over foreign policy and the courts than the House does. If Democrats win the House now, the next Republican presidential candidate will be able to run against Nancy Pelosi and the liberal committee chairmen who would suddenly be in the headlines.

I just don't want to wait through another party rebuild like 1964 - 1980. Though 16 years for another Reagan...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:12 AM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

The biggest problem I see right now with that is simply this:

Dems are salivating at taking one or both houses in November and using that advantage for simple-minded "revenge" on the most infantile scale.

Allowing losses in 2006 to gain in 2008 won't work because the Republicans won't be mounting on any postives since 2000, but instead spending enormous amounts of time and energy undoing whatever evils Pelosi and Reid will wrought upon us for 2 years.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 13, 2006 11:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm with Medic, and your headline explains why. Losing is never good. Republicans who spend like Democrats are still better than Democrats, who also TAX like Democrats!

Sure, let's go into '08 under GOP control Ramesh. If only a few of the following potential developments occur between now and then, the party in power will have substantial prestige: Capture or kill "The Tall One;" substantial redeployment of GIs out of a self-sufficient and free Iraq; Dow and S&P averages higher than in November '06; employment steady; California abandons 'global warming' boondoggle; Iran's first atom bomb accidentally (or 'accidentally') detonates during assembly; Kim Jong Il dies somehow and the Koreas are reunited in peace, prosperity and harmony like the Germanys were not so long ago; political elites in France realize they're not actually in charge of the entire world.

OK, that last one was just for fun, since it's not feasible, but you can see there's much to be optimistic about in the two years after this November.

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2006 5:43 PM

September 12, 2006

The One & Only Lileks

LILEKS (James) :: the Bleat

I dislike most TV, most modern music, and most movies, but love the big messy hot throbbing blob of Western pop culture, partly because I connect with part of it like a dog biting on a live wire, and partly because the loud rude crass mess spells freedom, and that is the root word at the heart of the American experiment. We can always learn ! from others, but they’ve much to learn from us. Unless they have a 200+ year track record of expanding rights and unimaginable prosperity as well.

So young James enumerates the contradictions that would make an all-political site under his direction bad. Sorry, I am not convinced!

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:15 PM

Who saw it?

I didn't find any discussion of the President's speech. Glenn was busy recording a podcast, even Hugh Hewitt was AWOL.

I loved it. I thought it conveyed a nice balance of tribute for the fallen with resolve to win the War on Terror. Mort Kondracke on FOXNews called it "almost Churchillian" and I'd have to agree. Most notably, the President has not lost his Sharanskyism. He believes that freedom for the MidEast is the answer.

While we've come to a bumpy patch, I'd like to ask his opponents what other choices exist? If we're going to shrink from the hard work of spreading freedom, what else will prevent attacks from Islamofascists? We can hunker down, we can play complete defense, I suppose we could all convert and trade Madisonian Democracy for shar'ia.

The President was clear, resolved, and compassionate. A badly needed home run late in the eighth. I'm just worried that nobody was watching.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I watched. Then I went over to UNN to see what kind of BS they would spew about it.

None.

Just softballer Larry Kane ruminating on the Lights.

Hmm,....did the Dems get caught flatfooted (again)?

Other than party-animal Ted Kennedy, who obviously waited until his hangover disappeared the next day, not many have come out with any commentary (except Santorum, who rules in my book!)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 13, 2006 11:34 AM

The Liberals' War

As I can only provide a paid link, I am going to excerpt heavily. Bret Stephens has an excellent column in the WSJ today. Eloquently saying what I've heard Chrostopher Hitchens explain. The real beneficiaries of a war against Islamofascism are liberals

This may be reading too much into Ms. [Rachel] Newman's essay. Yet after 9/11 at least a few old-time voices on the left -- Christopher Hitchens, Bruce Bawer, Paul Berman and Ron Rosenbaum, among others -- understood that what Islamism most threatened wasn't just America generally, but precisely the values that modern liberalism had done so much to promote and protect for the past 40 years: civil rights, gay rights, feminism, privacy rights, reproductive choice, sexual freedom, the right to worship as one chooses, the right not to worship at all. And so they bid an unsentimental good-bye to their one-time comrades and institutions: the peace movement, the pages of the Nation and the New York Review of Books, "the deluded and pathetic sophistry of postmodernists of the left, who believe their unreadable, jargon-clotted theory somehow helps liberate the wretched of the earth," as Mr. Rosenbaum wrote in the New York Observer in 2002.

Five years on, however, Messrs. Hitchens, Bawer et al. seem less like trendsetters and more like oddball dissenters from a left-liberal orthodoxy that finds less and less to like about the very idea of a war on Islamic extremism, never mind the war in Iraq. In the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows, formerly Jimmy Carter's speechwriter, argues that the smart thing for the U.S. to do is declare victory and give the conflict a rest: "A state of war with no clear end point," he writes, "makes it more likely for a country to overreact in ways that hurt itself." Further to the left, a panoply of "peace" groups is all but in league with Islamists. Consider, for instance, QUIT! -- Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism -- a group that, in its hatred for Israel, curiously fails to notice that Tel Aviv is the only city in the Middle East that annually hosts a gay-pride parade.

An instinct for pacifism surely goes some way toward explaining the left's curious unwillingness to sign up for a war to defend its core values. A suspicion of black-and-white moral distinctions of the kind President Bush is fond of making about terrorism -- a suspicion that easily slides into moral relativism -- is another.

But there are deeper factors at work. One is appeasement: "Many Europeans feel that a confrontation with Islamism will give the Islamists more opportunities to recruit -- that confronting evil is counterproductive," says Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born, former Dutch parliamentarian whose outspoken opposition to Islamism (and to Islam itself) forced her repeatedly into hiding and now into exile in the United States. "They think that by appeasing them -- allowing them their own ghettoes, their own Muslim schools -- they will win their friendship."

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 12:49 PM

Firearms Refresher Course

Via e-mail:

1. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.

2. A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.

3. Glock: The original point and click interface.

4. Gun control is not about guns; it's about control.

5. If guns are outlawed, can we use swords?

6. If guns cause crime, then pencils cause misspelled words.

7. Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.

8. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

9. Those who trade liberty for security have neither.

10. The United States Constitution (c) 1791: All Rights reserved.

11. What part of "... shall not be infringed ..." do you not understand?

12. The Second Amendment is in place in case they ignore the others.

13. 64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.

14. Guns only have two enemies: rust and liberals.

15. Know guns, know peace and safety. No guns, no peace nor safety.

16. You don't shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.

17. 911 - government sponsored Dial-a-Prayer.

18. Assault is a behavior, not a device.

19. Criminals love gun control -- it makes their jobs safer!

20. If guns cause crime, then matches cause arson.

21. Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.

22. You only have the rights you are willing to fight for.

23. Enforce the "gun control laws" we have, don't make more.

24. When you remove the people's right to bear arms, you create slaves.

25. The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control.

26. ".. a government of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE..."

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [7]
But AlexC thinks:

28. Better to be tried by twelve, than carried by six.

Posted by: AlexC at September 12, 2006 7:01 PM
But jk thinks:

29. The 2nd Amendment ain't about duck hunting.

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2006 7:40 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Two words:

Awe,.....some!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 13, 2006 11:35 AM
But johngalt thinks:

From Heinlein:
(Couldn't pick just one)

"There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men."

"Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to let you make your second shot perfect."

"Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors — and miss."

Of those on the original list, my favorite is #11. My future wife and I made this very entry in the "Share your thoughts on the Second Amendment" guestbook at the Concord National Battlefield visitor's center in August, 2001. Little did we know what approached...

Posted by: johngalt at September 13, 2006 5:58 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Was it Heinlein who wrote "An armed society, is a polite one" ?

Posted by: AlexC at September 14, 2006 1:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, you are correct, although neither dagny or I can remember which book it was in. Lazarus Long said in 'Time Enough for Love' that he almost felt naked if he left home without his sidearm, so it could easily have been in that (great) book.

Posted by: johngalt at September 14, 2006 11:51 AM

September 11, 2006

Today's Weather

As I was around town today, I commented to myself, "today's weather is the same as it was on 9/11/2001."

It was a nice September day in the 70s.

I'm not the only one who noticed.

Tony Snow did.

    There’s an interesting little detail which I got at both sites. The people in New York said, the weather has been exactly the same every September 11th since September 11th, 2001; and the people at Shanksville said the same thing, the same kind of weather conditions have prevailed each year since. I don’t know what you make of it, but it’s one thing that people took pains to mention.

(tip to Extreme Mortman)

But jk thinks:

I noticed the exception. It was a little overcast out here, when every other 9/11 had been as perfect as 2001.

I, of course, blame Global Warming...

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2006 11:06 AM

ADA Madness

Perry at Eidelblog wonders why blogs aren't discussing an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit. He even does ThreeSources the honor of calling us out. We have been silent, friend, because I hadn't heard of it until I read about it on your blog.

Few rulings have angered me, and I mean really made my blood boil, as the abominable "eminent domain" ruling against Susette Kelo and other New London residents. Well, this recent ruling has inflamed me just as much. Last Thursday, a dipshit judge in California made a dipshit ruling that some dipshits' lawsuit against Target could go forward (Target hasn't lost, but the lawsuit can proceed). The lawsuit's entire basis is that Target's website isn't very "accommodating" to blind people under the Americans With Disabilities Act and a couple of similar California statutes. That's it.

As an official, state-licensed, handicapped person, I will toss my full moral authority against the ADA. It is as certain an imposition on property rights as Kelo. A good friend had her boutique apparel store shut down because she would not make $25,000 improvements to the small storefront she and her husband were leasing!

I have had Kelo on my mind. Last week's Weekly Standard gave a story on Human Rights Watch the cover, but included a much longer piece on eminent domain abuse in The Garden State. A family in Piscataway, NJ is losing its farm in the middle of town for "Open Space."

I have to admit this case is just as insane, but Kelo v. New London was a SCOTUS decision, this one hopes still has a few chances to be derailed.

Accommodating blind web-surfers, indeed.

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 4:09 PM | What do you think? [1]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Heh ... wouldnt that be a problem with the monitor not producing braile? I'm still upset that the RIAA has not done something to help the deaf consume downloaded music!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 12, 2006 8:55 AM

New TNR Blog

Every time I think "those folks at TNR are getting too crazy, I'm going to stop," I am reminded of the importance of having and paying some attention to a non-moonbat left. I'll miss Beinart (hell, I miss the non-loony Sullivan!) but Martin Peretz is a good man.

He has started a new blog called The Spine at TNR, and his commencing post gives the reason for the name: both to not be spineless and to see the structure of history in current events.

Contemporary journalism is afflicted by sheer amnesia. It is has no grasp of grand history. That is axiomatic. Journalists don't even pretend to know history. They also don't know the sheer facts of yesterday, and this they do purport to know. Which means they interview fools and knaves as if they were wise and good. Every time I see Al Sharpton on television, I wonder why this great and phantasmagorical liar is being put forward as a witness to anything. Has journalism no judgment? Is this what is meant by objectivity?

His second post defends--mirabile freakin dictu--Scooter Libby
The indicted man is Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and he has become MoveOn's designated scapegoat for the entire war. Folk who wouldn't have thought Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs or Philip Agee guilty of treason have been calling him a traitor. This is laughable.

Let me concede: I am a friend of Scooter Libby. But I do not like his boss. And I do not like his boss's wife. I know this gets me no credit with the all-or-nothing crowd. Still, I like Scooter, who is quite brilliant, very honest, and brave. Also funny. I've contributed to The Libby Legal Defense Fund and have joined the fund's advisory committee, which is not large because in Washington old pals dessert when even their college roommate gets into trouble. In a time when self-styled civil libertarians are giving money to defend Muslim terrorists, I am happy to help defend an American patriot, some of whose politics I do not share and some of whose politics I do, from a cynical onslaught of the special prosecutor who put journalists into jail for not telling him what he already knew.


Of course his third post compares Bill O'Reilly to Senator Joe McCarthy for using the "slur" Democrat Party instead of Democratic Party. Not that Bill and Joe don't morph sometimes, but I use that appellation without harmful intent. Jeez, Marty, sorry.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:21 PM

Rhode Island Preemption

NY Times

    In an extraordinary pre-emptive announcement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it will concede Rhode Island to the Democrats should Stephen Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, defeat Mr. Chafee in the primary. Citing poll data, Republican leaders said they saw no way someone as conservative as Mr. Laffey could win in a state as Democratic as this; as it is, they are increasingly worried about Mr. Chafee’s hopes in a general election.

    The result has been the striking sight of the national Republican Party, dominated by conservatives, using resources to save the seat of a Republican who said he voted against Mr. Bush in 2004. He chose instead to write in the name of the first President Bush.

    Mr. Chafee has opposed many centerpiece Republican policies, from the war in Iraq to tax cuts to most restrictions on abortion. This week, he helped force a delay on the confirmation of John R. Bolton as the United States ambassador to the United Nations.

    For all that, Republicans said they expected to spend more than $1.2 million on advertisements attacking Mr. Laffey, saturating the television stations of this state, the nation’s smallest. One advertisement lifts a line Republicans have used in countless attacks against Democrats, mocking the mayor as “tax-and-spend Steve Laffey.”


Wonderful. Pre-emptive surrender.

Senate Posted by AlexC at 10:52 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Lincoln, Lincoln, he's our man!
If he can't do it no one can!

I have done a "Hugh Hewitt" this cycle and given only to individual candidates. The party really does not represent me anymore (and I am the pragmatist around here)

And yet I will stand by my first statement when this topic came up on this blog (Dec 12, 2005) http://www.threesources.com/archives/002170.html
We have the satisfaction of sending Senator Chaffee home, but will replace him with a 9-11 denier who will vote for Harry Reid as leader.

In the meantime, we spent a lot of money and energy we could have used to help Michael Steele in Maryland. Worth it?

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2006 11:44 AM

9/11

Dean Barnett has a must read post on the events of five years ago.

    IT HAS BECOME A TRITE LAMENT that 9/11 brought us together, and it’s a shame that since then we’ve come apart. But 9/11 brought us together because of two transitory emotions – sadness and rage. Once those emotions calmed down, once our open wounds turned into scars, it was inevitable that our differences would resurface.

    When the flags came out in the aftermath of 9/11, they didn’t signify a consensus on where we would go from there. They symbolized a consensus that we were all in pain, all anguished. When the time came to move on, disagreements inevitably (and not improperly) came regarding exactly how we should move on.

    Even though a thorough review of 9/11, including both its lead-up and aftermath, won’t provide an obvious path forward that everyone will agree on, there are some valuable lessons we can draw from that awful day. Looking back, we can clearly see the remorseless murderers that our enemies are – that knowledge is instructive. And we can also see that they are numerous. That, too, is important to take into account.

    But the most important lesson we can take from 9/11 is this: We must take every possible step to ensure never again. Never again will we allow ourselves to feel the way we did that day. Never again will we be so blind to storm clouds as they gather. Never again will we choose to believe comforting lies rather than disquieting truths.

Jihad Posted by AlexC at 10:40 AM

Energy Users Pay Kyoto Cost

I love the idea of a "Chinese Wall" between a newspaper's Editorial and News departments. The New York Times could add a few bricks and touch up the mortar of theirs.

But I wonder if the Wall Street Journal news staff writers ever go out to lunch with -- or read the work of -- their counterparts on the back of the A Section.

Jeffry Ball, in a bylined piece today (paid link) delivers the miraculous news that energy users are paying the costs of Kyoto compliance, while the utilities have played the market disruptions to their advantage.

Because CO2 emissions now carry a cost, Germany's largest utility, RWE AG, is spending to improve the efficiency of its aging coal-fired power plants, including its biggest power station here in the country's industrial heartland.

Carbon dioxide also is padding the profits of RWE and other utilities, because they have been able to raise electricity rates to more than cover the new costs. Manufacturers that use a lot of juice are fuming. "The utilities get a huge amount of windfall profits, and the energy users get windfall costs," complains Markus Weber, a manager responsible for CO2-allowance trading at steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG.


I don't think this caught Gigot & Co by surprise. This is a pretty obvious conclusion and a good reason to not follow the articles suggestion that such controls are headed across the Atlantic.
Although the U.S., the world's biggest emitter of CO2, has rejected the Kyoto Protocol, many U.S. business leaders say it is only a matter of time before the country imposes some sort of carbon constraint. Earlier this year, Congress discussed how such a nationwide cap might be structured. Last month, California passed a law that will impose the U.S.'s first cap on global-warming emissions. Now the state has to figure out how to put that mandate into practice.

I repeat my call. We can debate its existence and causes, but let's agree to not damage the economy while we determine the best course to take.

Oil and Energy Posted by John Kranz at 10:38 AM

September 10, 2006

Unbiased Media

Forget about the media being on the Democrat's side.

Some are plain on the other side.

    Document ISGQ-2005-00026108.pdf dated July 25 2000 is a report from an Iraqi Intelligence officer to different Iraqi Intelligence Directorates talking about information provided to them from a trusted source that works in the Associated Press (AP). The information is about the formation a newly formed UN weapons inspectors team called UNMOVIC

Iraq Posted by AlexC at 5:40 PM

Abu-Graib BACK to Iraqi Control

... and wouldn't you know, they want the Americans back in charge.

    Access to the part of the prison containing terrorism suspects was denied, but from that block came the sound of screaming. The screaming continued for a long time.

    "I am sure someone was being beaten, they were screaming like they were being hit," the witness reported. "I felt scared, I was asking what was happening in the terrorist section.

    "I heard shouting, like someone had a hot iron on their body, screams. The officer said they were just screaming by themselves. I was hearing the screams throughout the visit."

    The witness said that even in the thieves' section prisoners were being treated badly. "Someone was shouting 'Please help us, we want the human rights officers, we want the Americans to come back'," he said.


Reminds me of Gitmo. The prisoners wanted to stay instead of being sent back to their country of origin.

War on Terror Posted by AlexC at 5:34 PM

Book Tip

I can't review it on twenty pages, but I think folks might want to check out Ryan Sagar's "The Elephant in the Room."

I blogged about an RCP synopsis of an Atlantic overview, but the whole book looks well worth it. Sager is funny and insightful, and wonders -- like ThreeSourcers -- what happened to the spirit of '94.

UPDATE: Halfway through, and he is beating up on my pal, W, pretty hard. Deservedly to a point. I hope he will present a solution because electing Senator Clinton because President Bush is not true to conservative principles doesn't grab.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:27 PM

jk More Cheerful About Midterms

After watching my beloved Broncos lose the season opener 10-18 in St. Louis, I have renewed hope about November. I think the Republicans may be able to kick quite a few field goals even if they can't find the end zone -- and the Democrats are immanently capable of committing five turnovers.

About the Broncos season, however...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:21 PM

Blaming Big Oil

A rare earthquake occurred this morning off the coast of Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico.

I blame big oil. I mean, after that super giant oil field they discovered in the Gulf, it's mother earth's way of responding.

Posted by AlexC at 4:15 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Gaia power!

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2006 5:34 PM

September 9, 2006

Review Corner

One year ago, these pages were abuzz with anticipation of Joss Whedon's "Serenity." Sadly, it has not, as I hoped, started a "browncoat revolution" promising more sequels, a return of the TV show, and action figures in McDonalds Happy Meals. That's the vicissitudes of the market and I am a believer in markets.

It interests me that have seen few of the actors in other vehicles. Adam Baldwin had a short run in a Tim Minear TV show called "The Inside," Jewel Staite was the ex-wife in Minear's excellent "Wonderfalls. Apart from that, you don't see them unless, like me, you watch Angel and Buffy. Nathan Fillion lives on as the misogynist evil preacher Caleb, Gina Torres the demon-deity Jasmine, Adam Baldwin as Marcus Hamilton, the suave, un-jaynelike liaison to the senior partners of Wolfram & Hart. Aside from other Minear and Whedon shows, where are these people?

[Trivia break -- anybody catch Summer Glau (River Tam) as the ballerina in "Waiting in the Wings?" (Angel 3:13) I missed that until this latest run through.]

Last night I watched the engrossing "Kinky Boots." I had no idea what it would be from the plot synopsis; “a man turns to a drag queen for help saving the family shoe business.” I expected a campy, silly film and it really isn't. It is more poignant than heavy, but it is not silly. Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) inherits the family shoe business as the fourth "Mr. Price." Charlie is trying to escape the shoe business and flee to London when #3's untimely demise puts him back in Northampton, in a foreman’s frock.

Schumpeterian gales have hit the traditional company hard and sales of top craftsmanship men's oxfords are not able to keep the company viable. The chance encounter with a drag queen provides the idea for a niche market: fetish boots capable of bearing the weight of the men who wear them.

That guy in the dress look kind of familiar? Why, it's Chiwetel Ejiofor, who was in Serenity as the superb villain known only as "The Operative." Kinky Boots is a different role but he is quite good in both. Ejiofor uses his singing background to create the onscreen presence of "Lola," whose "breasts are as supple as the day I bought them." It's funny and entertaining without being campy, as Lola and the crew in Northampton come to terms with each other.

Excellent, jk gives it four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:25 AM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I thought "Serenity" was great,..but they kinda shot themselves in the foot with (SPOILER ALERT!!))


killing Shepard Book and Wash!

Kinda hard to make sequels without all of the cast!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 11, 2006 10:27 AM
But jk thinks:

I thought it was set nicely for a "prequel" that would show how Book got onto that planet and deal with his mysterious past.

Unfortunately, it's kinda hard to sell a sequel to a $40 million film. Sad days.

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2006 11:32 AM

September 8, 2006

Not One Democrat Supports Bolton?

It would be a waste of good bytes for me to share my feelings about Senator Lincoln Chafee's blocking John Bolton's nomination.

WaPo says it's politically motivated

Chafee is fighting for his political life. Next Tuesday, Rhode Island primary voters must decide between Chafee, the Senate's most liberal Republican, and Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey, who is challenging him from the right. If Chafee survives the GOP primary, he must then win reelection in one of the most Democratic states in the country.

A Chafee spokesperson says it's not politics.

I question what the politics are. Whom do the good people of the Ocean State want to represent us in the U.N.? I have a tough time getting even my lefty friends to defend the current UN. They like the idea of the UN but admit that it is corrupt and feckless.

Assuming that the folks that continually send Rep. Patrick Kennedy to congress are mollified by Chafee's brave stance against the mustached one, Chafee has a Republican primary to face. This could certainly energize Laffey voters.

Again, so Sen. Voinovich (Lachrymose - OH) wiffs last year and Chaffee (WTF - RI) cannot face the plate this year. How come zero, nada, zippola of the Democrats on the Committee will say "Bolton may not have been my first pick, but we need a tough guy at the UN." And how come they can continue to call themselves serious on international affairs when not one of them will?

UPDATE: John Fund in the WSJ Political Diary wonders about the timing as well:

The Republican Main Street Partnership is running a 30-second ad basically saying that voters should plump for Mr. Chafee because his opponent can't win in the fall. The ad says a Chafee primary defeat would mean Rhode Island would have two Democratic Senators and thus no one would help President Bush and his agenda. Unfortunately, the ad was afflicted with a bad case of lousy timing. On the same day the commercial began to run, Sen. Chafee personally scuttled an effort by fellow Republicans to confirm John Bolton as U.N. ambassador on grounds that Mr. Chafee "had more questions that needed to be answered," as AP put it.

Mr. Bolton has performed in an exemplary fashion as U.N. ambassador, so much so that his chief GOP critic Ohio Senator George Voinovich has reversed course and announced his support. But Senator Chafee continues to provide more questions than answers about why Rhode Island Republicans should renominate him next week.


Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:56 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

A Democrat supporting the only man who doesn't let the UNtied Nations get away genocide?

What are you thinking??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 9, 2006 1:54 PM

September 7, 2006

Joblessness

Houston Chronicle

    The number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped by a bigger-than-expected amount last week, signaling continuing labor market strength despite a general economic slowdown.

    The government reported that applications for jobless benefits totaled 310,000, down 9,000 from the previous week. It was the biggest decline in seven weeks and was a larger improvement than analysts had been expecting.


Dark cloud?

Wait for it...

    Many businesses, faced with a slowing economy, have reduced their plans to hire new workers but so far have not resorted to large-scale reductions in existing payrolls.

SLOWING economy? Where do they get this?

But jk thinks:

Most economists not named Larry Kudlow expect some softening, perhaps to *only* growing GDP at 2 or 3 percent for a while. Women and Minorities will surely be hardest hit.

Posted by: jk at September 8, 2006 11:33 AM

Minute 28

Wonderful

    The right-wingers who think nothing but the worst of Cindy Sheehan probably won't change their minds after reading Peace Mom. In the book, which hits bookstores September 19, the antiwar icon admits she has fantasized about going back in time and killing the infant George W. Bush, thereby preventing the Iraq War. In fact, she reveals, her son's death in that war almost drove her to take her own life: "Every night I had to restrain myself from taking my entire bottle of sleeping pills instead of just one."

Living in trees, and now Terminator style retro-active infanticide/assassination and suicide.

She's the voice we need guiding our foreign policy.

But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

Didn't I see this story line in an old Quantum Leap episode?

Oh wait, Sam was a rational, good guy...

I used to give Ms. Sheehan a wide berth in my blog, but every time I think she's hit rock bottom, she's reaches new lows.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at September 7, 2006 11:16 PM
But jk thinks:

Don’t recall Quantum Leap, but in Stephen Fry's "Making History," a young physics student gets a small window to push inanimate objects back in time. He puts birth control in Hitler's mom's well to prevent his birth. It doesn’t really turn out as well as he planned…

You're the second person with a Charles-derived sobriquet to give me the wise counsel to ignore Ms. Sheehan. Yet, if she is going to write books and continue holding the stage, I feel we can disagree politely.

I love the juxtaposition of "Peace Mom" (how can you guys dislike "Peace Mom?") and the desire to kill the President. It is also telling that she would use this machine to kill the President and not Saddam Hussein. Telling choice.

Posted by: jk at September 8, 2006 10:00 AM

Time For This Farce To End

So declares Ryan Sager in the New York Post

The Federal Election Commission last week declined to loosen the muzzle. On a proposal to exempt "grass-roots lobbying" (formerly known as "speech" or "petitioning the government for a redress of grievances"), it deadlocked, with all three Democrats voting to leave the restrictions in place.

This, though the grassroots-lobbying proposal was backed by people from the ACLU to the AFL-CIO to the Chamber of Commerce to anti-abortion activists across the country. That such groups should have to come scraping and shuffling to the FEC, begging for permission to speak, is a disgusting spectacle - yet that's where this president and the Arizona senator who presumes to the presidency have left us.


Begging for rights that McCain Feingold took away. I remain a backer of this President, but his worst offense was signing that clearly unconstitutional bill. I'll forgive and forget on steel tariffs, but Sager reminds us that he signed it knowing it was unconstitutional.
In March 2002, when President Bush signed the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance "reform" bill, his signing statement noted, "Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns." So, he said, "The courts will resolve these legitimate legal questions."

But, as Bush should have known, you can't trust those no-good "activist judges" to get anything right. And, in four years since, they haven't: The law's most heinous provision - which in effect bars unions, corporations and nonprofits from criticizing incumbent politicians' votes on controversial bills on TV or radio for 60 days before a general election and 30 days before a primary - still stands.


Club For Growth has an awesome link-fest to angry bloggers (where I saw the link to the Sager piece).

I wonder if the Roberts Court would rule differently on McConnell v FEC. Here's hoping.

The only good news is that Ryan Sager's book, The Elephant in the Room, is on the way.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:03 PM

Profiling and Economics

Josh at The Everyday Economist makes an economic case against profiling. While many call for more scrutiny of, say, young Arab males in the wake of the London thwarting, Josh is not sold.

The dismal science teaches us that individuals respond to incentives. For example, the government allows individuals to deduct mortgage interest from their taxes. This occurs because the government wants to encourage home ownership. Thus they provide an incentive for individuals to take out loans to purchase a house.

Profiling is no different. It provides terrorists with an incentive to change their behavior.

Screening every Arab male that attempts to board a plane will eliminate the aforementioned correlation, but not the endeavor. In other words, a policy of profiling on the basis of race, religion, and sex gives the terrorists a strong incentive to recruit and train individuals that do not fit the profiled description.

Those who argue that the terrorist organizations would not be able to do so have obviously forgotten John Walker Lindh, who certainly did not fit the profile of a Taliban member. Similarly, is there any reason to believe that females are incapable of carrying out attacks? Tell that to the Israelis.


A commenter on the site makes my point that it will at least make it more difficult. Now that "Underperformin'" Norman Mineta is leaving his DOT post, I was hoping that profiling would be added to the toolbox. Josh is correct that it would be dangerous to over-rely on profiling, but I think it is equally foolish to pretend that all those guys on the news the past few years did not have some common physical features.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 12:26 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

And the number of white westerners who've turned Taliban can be counted on one hand, with three fingers tied behind your back. And of those two, neither has committed a suicide attack.

I was actually thinking about this as I drove down the street today, doing some "people watching" and considering the clues to geographic and ethnic origin that can be deduced from a person's appearance. While it's true that all "middle-eastern males aged 18-40" are not terrorists, there's a phenomenal correlation between that group and the smaller group that is willing to kill themselves if they can kill others in the process.

To say that obvious evidence for suspicion must ALWAYS be ignored is a rather simplistic and dogmatic attitude, isn't it?

Posted by: johngalt at September 7, 2006 3:38 PM

September 6, 2006

No Free Speech for Thee

Andrew Roth at Club for Growth blog reminds uswhich GOP Senators and Representatives chose McCain-Feingold over the First Amendment.

Here's the Senate list:

  • Chafee (RI)

  • McCain (AZ)

  • Cochran (MS)

  • Snowe (ME)

  • Collins, S. (ME)

  • Specter (PA)

  • Domenici (NM)

  • Warner (VA)

  • Lugar (IN)

He's a brave guy posting those 60 days before an election. The jackbooted incumbency protection thugs might break down his door. Hmm, now mine...

Posted by John Kranz at 4:45 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Grrr.... Arlen Specter.

Thankfully my man Santorum is not on the list.

Posted by: AlexC at September 6, 2006 10:05 PM
But jk thinks:

You start with the list and think "the usual suspects:" the Northeastern RINOs, Cochran and Lugar will bend with the wind. but Domenici is a big surprise. Warner? What were they thinking?

I will once again tout my favorite Senator, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who fought this on the floor, fought this in the media, and fought this in the Supreme Court.

Posted by: jk at September 7, 2006 10:31 AM

Boorish Benefit

I consider myself a courteous driver. I let people in, keep my composure in almost every situation, and try not to be an ass****.

Yet, like much of life, there are times when attempts at kindness have unintended consequences. I have long felt that one of these was "left lane closed in 2000 feet." The nice guy thing to do is to merge right, the ahem thing to do is to wait until the lane ends, then force yourself into the stream of good decent folk who merged early.

Attila at Pillage Idiot takes this on in Highway game theory.

My question is: Assume you have to comply with all traffic laws. You're on a highway with four lanes in each direction, and traffic is fairly heavy. You see a sign telling you that the two left lanes will be closed in 2000 feet. What's your best strategy to minimize the time you will be delayed? (Using the shoulder isn't a legal answer, because the traffic laws don't permit it.)

Let's call the four lanes 1, 2, 3, and 4, from left to right, where 1 and 2 are the left lanes that are going to be closed, and 3 and 4 are the two right lanes. Which lane or lanes do you drive in?


In spite of doing some time in Mathematics and the AI industry, my game theory is weak. My economics is slightly less weak.

The lane is a scarce resource, by merging early, you are increasing the scarcity -- why not use all 2000 feet? More significant still, all that early merging creates 2000 feet of stoppage. At the end of the lane, there is a natural merge point where everyone can choose the same spot.

Attila claims empirical evidence that it works best for the driver (he uses the nicer work jerk). I claim it's fairer and ultimately faster for everyone.

Objections?

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Attila (Pillage Idiot) thinks:

What I didn't mention is that efficiency is improved even more if, when you see that "lane closed" sign, you move into the lane that's going to be closed -- and use it until the last minute. I say "efficiency" because it seems more like jerk-itude. But I've tried it, and it works.

By the way, thanks for the economic analysis. Now I don't have to feel like such a jerk. I'm avoiding the use of scarce resources.

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at September 6, 2006 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

When you need a buzzword, man, I'm there.

You East Coast guys can move into the empty lane -- that will get you some severe disapprobation in a square state.

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2006 4:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Mathematics, artificial intelligence, economics... how about fluid dynamics?

I agree with Attila if the percentage of closed lanes is less than 50%, as in his example. If only 1 lane is closed on a 3 or 4 lane highway, however, the best place to be is... the lane furthest away. Once lane 1 ends, the traffic from lanes 1 and 2 is now squeezed into lane 2. Traffic will be least affected in lane 3 or, if it exists, lane 4 (since some of the traffic in 2 will move to 3 to escape the merging pressure.)

This analysis presumes that traffic is actually flowing at decent speeds. At very low speeds all the lanes move at about the same rate and Attila's solution works because you're passing parked cars (like his off-ramp example). In that case you are maximizing use of a scarce resource, it is true, but you're also increasing risk that you'll have to risk jerkitude when the scarce resource is exhausted.

Speaking of jerkitude, have you ever needed to merge from an on-ramp but another car was right next to you, blocking your merge? I give cars to the left the right-of-way so unless that traffic is clearly slow and I have a long ramp, I wait for them to pass before merging. Most drivers see this and speed up. Not the jerk I saw this morning. He had what I've dubbed "CCAAC" disease. "Cruise-control at any cost." You see these people in the left lane too, shadowing traffic for miles at a time as they barely, excruciatingly, overtake slower traffic. You know, the cruise control can be temporarily overridden by the accelerator for a reason you sanctimonious self-absorbed public nuisances!

Posted by: johngalt at September 7, 2006 3:30 PM

September 5, 2006

Texas Tea

Black gold, that is.

    A trio of oil companies led by Chevron Corp. have tapped a petroleum pool deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico could boost the nation's reserves by more than 50 percent.

    A test well indicates it could be the biggest new domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay a generation ago. But the vast oil deposit roughly four miles beneath the ocean floor won't significantly reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil and it won't help lower prices at the pump anytime soon, analysts said.


...
    Chevron's well, called "Jack 2," was drilled about 5.3 miles below sea level. Chevron has a 50 percent stake in the field, while partners Statoil ASA of Norway and Devon Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City own 25 percent each.

    During the test, the Jack 2 well sustained a flow rate of more than 6,000 barrels of oil per day, but analysts and executives believe the payoff could be much larger than that.


It's hard to understand how they know they've got a super-mega field based on one well and a few tests... no doubt there is some insider information that we're not privy to, but it's good news for our energy interests.

... but it goes to show that all the easy oil's been had.

Except for that enormous patch in Alaska.

But jk thinks:

Josh at The Everyday Economist reminds that this was caused by high oil prices, i.e. the market working: http://everydayecon.wordpress.com/2006/09/06/oil-discovery/

Not to be a wet blanket, but where are we going to refine this? How about refineries in Mexico?

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2006 11:40 AM
But silence dogood thinks:

Thank you johngalt! Now, if you don't mind me usurping your point, how about applying it to ethanol, wind, solar, nuclear, etc? That being, why is the argument against all these things that in and of themselves and with current technology that they will not single handedly meet all our energy needs? It seems akin to the Wright Brothers looking at their Flyer, concluding that it will never fly passengers across the Atlantic, and thus deciding that it is not worth it.

Posted by: silence dogood at September 8, 2006 3:19 PM
But jk thinks:

May I suggest Federal subsidies as the difference? If Wilb & Orv had cozied up to Senator Thurmond (I think he was there) and got a hunk of US largesse to promote aviation, I think you might have heard complaints.

I love alternatives, I just question funding those that don't seem viable. Ten points for including nuclear though, I bet all ThreeSourcers are in. You're a uniter, not a divider.

Posted by: jk at September 8, 2006 3:28 PM
But silence dogood thinks:

Thanks JK. I too am a nuclear fan. There is waste, yes, but everything is a tradeoff - the manufacture of solar cells and batteries has environmental effects as well. As for funding are you really going to claim that oil exploration is not federally funded? There are some whopper big tax breaks out there which seem to me to be funding by a different name.

Posted by: silence dogood at September 9, 2006 9:30 AM
But silence dogood thinks:

Oh yes, maybe Wilb and Orv didn't get get federal funds, but those confounded flying machines were only up in the air for a little over a decade when Uncle Sam noticed their military application. From then on it has been military spending that has given us every major aviation advancement. It's hard to argue that commercial aviation would not have grown on its own, but I don't think we would have gotton from Kitty Hawk to commercial trans-atlantic service in under 40 years without some Federal funding.

Posted by: silence dogood at September 9, 2006 9:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Stop me if I'm beating this to death but:

I'll join you in cutting subsidies to oil, they're not there to celebrate my beliefs. Yet if I wave my magic wand and remove them, the oil business carries on, barely wobbling in its axis. If I remove Ethanol subsidies the Ethanol industry shrinks to one tenth of its size.

It's also hard for me to take military procurement out of the free market and in with subsidies. Buying fighter aircraft that advance technology seems pretty Hayekian to me.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2006 10:25 AM

Cindy!

Some lady who is on her twenty-seventh minute of fame get interviewed by the Waco Tribune.

    On moving to Crawford

    Q: Last question. Do you plan to come back next year? The president is going to be in office till 2009 and our continued presence in Iraq seems fairly assured.

    A: I hope he’s not in office till 2009, but this (anti-war presence in Crawford) is permanent. We’re going to start building a permanent structure soon. This may sound weird, but I’m going to live here. My residence is going to be a tree house. We’ve got some plans for amazing tree houses! This is a flood plain, so we have to build it. But the first structure we’re going to build is a camphouse with a great room and an industrial-type kitchen and an office and some bathrooms. So we’re planning on being permanent. It’s not just about George Bush, it’s about ending the occupation of Iraq and making sure it never happens again.


A tree house.

And this is someone we should consult for foreign policy decisions.

Iraq Posted by AlexC at 5:17 PM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

And after President Bush leaves office, the media are going to traipse to Crawford Texas every day to get the opinions of a Gold Star mother in a tree house.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 6:22 PM
But jk thinks:

As soon as it's built, I'll go down and file an ADA complaint if it is not a handicapped-accessible treehouse.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 6:24 PM

Santorum Squashes Casey in Debate

I rarely watch "Meet The Press" but had to tune in Sunday night to the CNBC repeat when I heard that Senator Santorum was debating his challenger, Bob Casey, Jr.

I know our Pennsylvania ThreeSourcers are mobilized for the re-election and I appreciate it, we need every seat in both chambers. At the same time, I have found it difficult to conceal my displeasure with Senator Santorum. He is an archetypal social conservative and I've never heard him have a nice word for free trade or lassiez faire policies.

Sunday was my first look at Casey and I was mightily unimpressed. I only knew that he was a pro-life Democrat who was snubbed from speaking in the Presidential Convention for his views. I expected a little different Democrat based on that.

He came off as an empty suit in the debate. Senator Schumer could have just faxed in the Democratic talking points, that’s all I heard. We're going to have a plan in Iraq and we're going to roll back the Bush tax cuts at home. Everything will be milk and honey after that.

SantorumBlog is capturing blog opinions. Here's a choice one from SwannBlog:

Russert lobbed a soft ball question to Casey and as expected, Casey opened his mouth and inserted both feet. No wonder Governor Rendell is voting for Rick Santorum. Casey said, “I don’t think you’re talking about a crisis!” Russert screamed at Casey and said your answer is to just do nothing??? Casey then goes into detail in how he would raise taxes on the private sector in order to grow it more rapidly. Rick Santorum didn’t burst out laughing, but I did.

I remember the exchange vividly and I wasn't laughing.

Let me know what I can do, AlexC this is a must win.

UPDATE: I get a link from SantorumBlog and a correction. I have mistaken Casey, Jr. with his father. The confusion seems to be his best attribute, and for it I have fallen.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:35 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

I have long been saying on SantorumBlog that Bob Casey has nothing to offer but tired liberal talking points and negativity.

It was refreshing to be vindicated on national television.

As to what you can do, just pray we get into "Diebold range" on election day... then all will be well... BWA-HAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!!!

Posted by: AlexC at September 5, 2006 5:13 PM

Will all 150 vote?

Fooled me. I read this article in TNR about the American Hunters and Shooters Association. TNR portrayed the group as serious hinters and shooters who thought that the NRA was too absolutist in defending gun rights, and that the GOP was not protective enough of conservation and habitat for hunters.

It didn't sit right with me, but folks who disagree with me frequently perplex.

Cam Edwards comes up with the goods on this group: "AHSA bills itself as a 'moderate alternative to the NRA', but in reality it’s an organization founded by leaders in the anti-gun movement who have strong ties to the Brady Campaign."

More interesting still, they have 150 members. Three digits!

I realize that for Blanding, AHSA represents a new and exciting attempt to mislead gun owners (we’re talking about a writer who once penned a “Culture of Life Top Ten” wish list for the ultra-lefty Alternet, in which he expressed his desire that Congress would pass Massachusetts-style gun control laws). New or not, AHSA is trying to deceive gun owners into buying into an anti-gun movement and to give anti-gun politicians a bit of pro-gun cover. From the tens of thousands of dollars its leaders have donated to candidates like Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Nancy Pelosi to the fact that the press contact for this supposedly non-partisan organization is also the head of the Fairfax City (Virginia) Democratic Committee, American Hunters and Shooters Association isn’t out to protect your rights. They’re out to deceive you, and Michael Blanding appears happy to help.

I might start a Republican alternative to NARAL and a GOP Teachers Union -- I bet I could get more than 150.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 2:09 PM

GOP Prospects

I love a fight too much. I've allowed my scrapophilia to position me in a more extreme position than I believe. That is, I have not given up on Republicans' keeping the House in the 2006 midterms. I'm a cheery, optimistic guy and I think there is much hope.

I have spoken against complacency, and the WSJ joins me today (free link), suggesting that Republicans use their majority in September to differentiate themselves.

Republicans are already staking their election chances less on their achievements than on the damage Democrats might do if they take over, so perhaps the GOP answer will be to do nothing and say a prayer. But Republicans could still help their prospects, and motivate their own supporters, if they use the next month to advance sound policies that highlight differences between the two parties.

They list several serious suggestions, any of which would fire up the base and highlight Democrat positions. They also list an impressive number of important bills passed in the House which have died in the Senate. I guess "The World's Most Defribulative Body" will be busy with weighty matters like a Rumsfeld-no-confidence bill, but they might be better served calling the other guys' bluff on some of the issues highlighted in the editorial.

Lest I get the comity award for the day, I will close with this:

We'd also mention immigration reform, except that House leaders tell us there is zero chance of that passing before November. Leave it to Republicans to fan national concern about the issue for a year and then say, well, never mind. On the policy merits, this may be for the best because anything that passed in the current environment would only throw more police at the border or further harass employers. But if Republicans lose the House, their demagoguery on immigration will be one reason.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM

Ultimate Authority

The New York Times says the GOP is in peril of losing the House. Surely the science is now settled.

Sixty-five days before the election, the signs of Republican vulnerability are widespread.

Indiana, which President Bush carried by 21 percentage points in 2004, now has three Republican House incumbents in fiercely contested races. Around the country, some of the most senior Republicans are facing their stiffest challenges in years, including Representative E. Clay Shaw Jr. of Florida, the veteran Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee; Representative Nancy L. Johnson of Connecticut, a state increasingly symbolic of this year’s political unrest; and Representative Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the No. 4 Republican in the House.


They even have a free interactive map.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Its the NYTreason telling you this,....I'd look out the window for the sunny if their weather forecast called for showers!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 5, 2006 12:58 PM
But jk thinks:

There's that, and the fact that the type is a little fuzzy from all the people that were dancing as they set it...

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 1:19 PM

September 4, 2006

Amazon Reviews

I mentioned Deepak Lal's "Reviving the Invisible Hand" as a Labor Day labor of love for me. I recommend it highly.

I may or may not get around to a full blown "Review Corner" review. If I do, it will likely get five stars. I have a couple of chapters left, if he calls for nationalization of oil and health care I might have to trim some but it is not likely. Seriously, it is a very comprehensive look at the fundamental principles of classical liberalism and a scholarly review of its advantages where it has been implemented and potential where it has not. Good stuff, go buy it.

I purchased it after reading this review in TCS. At the time, there were only two Amazon customer reviews, and both were clearly written by leftist trolls who run down any book that fails to extol the practical benefits of Communism. I made a mental note to post a review when I was done. Checking the link today, there were a few more, but the Professor's average seemed weighted down with some who had obviously not read the book. My favorite was this one:

This book is dim-witted ideas written with complex vocabulary. It's not elaborate ideas for sure.

If this book has a flaw it is a little too academic and serious (Chapters have appendices!) To dismiss it monosyllabically is high humor. I'm not finished yet, but I read seven more chapters than Mr. For Sure, so I gave him five stars and this:
Sweeping case for Liberalism, September 4, 2006
Lal applies the concepts of Classical Liberalism across historical and cultural boundaries, applying its premises to trade, capital flows, monetary policy and morality. He is certainly an advocate of classical liberalism, but his propositions are presented academically and are backed up with facts and substantive research.

The book can be dry and academic at times, but it remains an interesting and thoughtful read.


(I almost called it a stunning exegesis, but I was afraid you guys would find me out...)

UPDATE: A few more reviews have gone up today and Professor Lal is gaining.

UPDATE II: Oh yeah, five stars. If we start the ThreeSources Book Club, this would be my first recommendation.

UPDATE III: 0 out of 1 found my review helpful. It's war out there, baby.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:54 PM

Labor Day

Redstate provides a list of things to remember this Labor Day, comrades.

  • 1.7 million new jobs have been created over the past year;

  • Employment has increased in 48 of the 50 states;

  • Manufacturing output is at an all-time high and production employment in manufacturing has increased by 117,000 over the past year -- the largest annual increase in over 8 years;

  • The economy has grown at 3.5% over the past year, while productivity has grown at 2.4%;

  • Real per capita disposable income has risen 9.2% since 2001;

  • Real compensation has risen 1.7%.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 11:38 AM

Happy Labor Day

I love an excuse to fly the flag, but to celebrate organized labor?

I plan to spend it reading Deepak Lal's "Reviving the Invisible Hand," not "Grapes of Wrath."

Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM

Another One Bites the Dust!

"And another one's gone, and another one's gone. Doop doop doop da doop!"
Al-Suaidi mug shot.jpg

From Australia's Herald Sun:

US and Iraqi forces have arrested the second most senior figure of al-Qaida in Iraq and killed 20 fellow militants.

{...}

"Hamid al-Suaidi led a group that kidnapped people. He ordered bombings and mortar attacks that killed a number of our armed forces and our citizens. Al-Qaida in Iraq is severely wounded," Rubaie [Iraq's national security advisor] said.

"After his arrest he gave critical and important information and we ended up killing 11 militants of the second tier of leaders and nine of the lower tier," Rubaie said of Suaidi.

I had to scroll through the "all 825 news articles" Google link to find one from Australia in order to avoid liberal media bias in the report. For example, the ITV [Britain] version that I took the photo from waited until the fifth of seven paragraphs before mentioning the captured man's name, and even then did it thusly:

Hours after an "embarrassed" US military again postponed a ceremony to hand command of Iraqi troops to the government, the national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie summoned reporters to a news conference to announce that Hamid Juma Faris al-Suaidi had been seized some days ago.

So after starting the story with, "Security officials [no mention of whose] claim [as it's apparently in dispute] to have arrested the second-in-command of the terror [what, no scare quotes?] group al-Qaeda in Iraq," they morphed this news item into a slanted report on the so-called occupation of Iraq by the US military. In the process they inplicity question Washington's sincerity to "let Americans go home."

If you still wonder why the majority public opinion is that things are going "badly" in Iraq, here's your answer.

But jk thinks:

Al-Qaida in Iraq?

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2006 10:48 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Is it me,..or does that green thingy under his chin look like the bottom of a gallows??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 5, 2006 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

What is that? I've seen that picture a hundred times and never quite got it.

The New Republic today says that this guy wasn't important and that the London explosive guys weren't really dangerous. Even our wins are losses.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 1:14 PM

September 2, 2006

Review Corner

Not much review fodder of late. I enjoyed Spike Lee's "Inside Man" but it cannot be discussed with revealing spoilers. A lot of drivel that I won't waste time panning as I knew what it was when I hit the touchscreen at Redbox. Two good DVDs last night, though.

First was a Starbucks(r) movie, "Akeelah And The Bee." If you spend any time inside any Starbucks (moi?) you've seen promotions for this, including vocabulary/spelling words that have caused me to retract any claims of pedantry. I rented the DVD and it is well worth it. A poor fourth grader from Crenshaw Middle School in South Central Los Angeles takes coaching from a UCLA Prof on sabbatical and parleys her natural talent into a trip to a national spelling bee.

There are a million chances for sophistry and a strong message against racism and poverty, yet this movie lets them all go by. The viewer can draw any conclusions, but they refreshingly fail to spell it out for you. It's nice to see a celebration of learning for learning's sake. jk gives it four stars.

In comparison, the glaring errors in "Take The Lead" show up like something that really shows up on something else. More poverty, potential racism, and ineffective schools in Los Angeles. More channeling of art and thought to escape meaninglessness. Yet "Take The Lead" was far less fulfilling.

Antonio Banderas (my wife did not complain when I grabbed one of his movies) plays Pierre Dulaine, a factual character who founded a program to teach ballroom dancing in inner-city schools. Like the Bee, this film shows kids truly growing to embrace a bigger world that they find through the art of dance. It's well done, well acted, and well worth a look.

The movie focuses much on the tension between the hip-hop music and dance that the children embrace naturally and the more classical, ballroom forms taught by Dulaine. I was disappointed, however, that there was not a nod toward the youths' accepting the traditional forms and the music that supports them. Dulaine and the tight-ass rich white people are all coerced to enjoy the hip hop style and athleticism, but we never see the youth admit "that Nat King Cole stuff is pretty 'fly.'" The multiculturalists demand that the target style is completely and uncritically appreciated, yet the arrangement is not reciprocal.

You'd almost think they made these movies for young people and not me, huh? Still good, 2.75 stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 4:32 PM

September 1, 2006

Times Writers Hardest Hit

Don't tell AlexC, but David Henderson at TCS Daily has accused the NYTimes -- and WaPo -- of, let's say, shading articles to make the economy look less robust than it is.

In the Times piece, "Real Wages Fail to Match a Rise in Productivity," reporters Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt give the impression that workers are somehow doing worse and getting a raw deal from employers. Errors in the Times piece make the reporters' case appear stronger than it really is. But the even bigger problem is that the data are presented in a way that will surely leave an incorrect impression in their readers' minds. Indeed, their article is a model of how to write a news story to mislead your reader or, alternatively, a model of how not to write a news story if you want to inform your reader.

Shocking, I know, and difficult to believe. But Henderson claims a long list of cherry-picking and rounding errors (45.9 = 45 makes sense to the software developer in me, but not my inner economist). All of the errors, make the present economy look worse.

Take the lowest performing stat, wages not including benefits, and subtract the over-estimating CPI value of inflation, round badly and Voila! you have a by-lined NYT or WaPo story. Don’t try this at home kids, these guys are professionals.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 6:08 PM

30 out of 45

Me and some person highly regarded by JohnGalt have expressed a lot of concern about the upcoming midterm elections. We feel that there is a nonzero chance that the Democrats could take a majority in the House, and we both feel that would be bad.

The Wall Street Journal identifies 45 competitive races. If you follow the link to the paid site, you get an interactive version of this map:

congracemap06-map.gif


I'll certainly admit that 30 out of 45 is running the table. But when I look at polls for the President's approval, Iraq sentiment, and add those polls to the torpor expressed on these very blog pages, I think that the historically difficult six year midterm could perhaps be very difficult.

Complacency does not suit the partisan in an even numbered year.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:06 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

So you guys are fretting about a "nonzero" chance of Dems taking the majority? I thought at least one of you argued that "failure and intransigence" of congressional Republicans will contribute to the "severe risk of losing at least the House." Perhaps there's room for a little optimism here that it's now only a "nonzero chance."

I'll certainly agree with this, but not because of the WSJ map. I can't even decipher it without additional information, much less draw conclusions. (Maybe if I had access to the interactive version.)

I'll also agree that complacency is a bad idea. Continue blogging the unacceptable consequence of a Democrat house, continue to debate with friends and family, and above all, remember to vote. But don't lament that congress' "failure" to pass a damaging and expensive immigration bill is a fatal blow to GOP control.

"Always look on the bright, side of life! (whistle, whistle... )"

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2006 10:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Failure to pass immigration legislation when it is a signature bill for the Republican President will contribute heavily to GOP troubles.

Were I a GOP incumbent, I would fear the question "what have you folks done?" more than discontent about Iraq.

I support comprehensive immigration because it is economically sound and morally right. I fear for the Republican House majority based on history, polls, and discontent. While they're related, I don't want to conflate the two.

(The interactive map will show you the exact races, but the dots in each state indicate a competitive race. Red dots are GOP incumbents, Blue are Dems, and white is an open seat whose line color denotes the party of the current holder. The color of the state is its congressional majority.)

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2006 10:29 AM

4.7% Jobless Rate

... unemployed hardest hit.

Al-Reuters

    -U.S. employers added a moderate 128,000 workers to their payrolls in August, in line with expectations, according to a government report on Friday that suggested the Federal Reserve may not need to raise interest rates further.

    The closely watched report on nonfarm payrolls from the Labor Department also showed the unemployment rate dipped to 4.7 percent, after a surprise jump to 4.8 percent in July.

    But many other aspects of the data were soft.


... and here come the dark clouds.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 12:58 PM

Must See Tv

I blogged before about John Stossel's education special, "Stupid in America." Set your TiVo, stay home, do whatever, but don't miss its reprise on 20/20 tonight.

In the show school officials complain they need more money, but that's a myth. American schools spend about $10,000 per student, totaling about $250,000 per class. Think about how many good teachers you could hire for $250,000! Yet the schools say they still need more. I ask South Carolina school official Dolores Wright, "How much money would be right?" Wright answers, "Oooh. Millions. And it would really make it right. ... The more, the better."

The more the better? That's another myth. Most of the countries that outperform us spend less per student than we do. American high school students fizzle in international comparisons, placing well behind much poorer countries, like Poland, the Czech Republic and South Korea. American kids do pretty well when they enter public school. A recent study claimed public school fourth-graders outperform kids in charter schools, but as time goes on, they do worse. By high school, they are well behind.

Why? Foremost, it's because of the government's monopoly over the school system, which gives parents no choice in where to send their children. In other countries, choice fosters competition, and competition improves performance. I question government officials, union leaders, parents and students and show some of the innovations that have occurred when choice is allowed.


They will rerun the original show and update it with the union's reaction and a contretemps with Stossel. They waved signs and beat drums and yelled outside of ABC Headquarters, demanding Stossel try teaching a week so he knows what it's like. When he said "yes," they backed down and could not find him a slot.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

And check out Stossel's column in this month's "Reason" magazine, where he details the "How to fire an Incompetent teacher" flowchart he displays in the TV show.

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2006 5:41 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)