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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.)
September 29, 2006
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."
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.
Social Security Statement
I got my statement today in the mail.
age 70, your payment would be $2,701.
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.
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.
September 28, 2006
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.
THEN, FoxNews Newsstands open up in the Minneapolis St Paul Airport.
Now, the RNC convention in 2008.
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.
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.
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.
Denver, huh, maybe I can change my name and get selected as a delegate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
September 27, 2006
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.
Bill CLinton targets Santa
Brit Hume closed his show last night with this video from the Tonight Show. Funny stuff.
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."
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.
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.
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."
September 26, 2006
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.
Posted by John Kranz at 3:07 PM
Rams vs. Buffaloes
The words "global warming" provoke a sharp retort from Colorado State University meteorology professor emeritus William Gray: "It's a big scam."
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."
Lynn Swann and Pa Governor Ed Rendell had their first debate yesterday.
Rendell supporter John Baer, of the Philly tabloid Daily News, conceded that Swann batted and rattled Ed, but taunted that the governor's race was over anyway so it doesn't matter.
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.
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.
Robert Tracinski is mad at the Washington GOPers.
But he can't vote for Democrats.
Naturally, he spells out the reasons, so read it all.
The Caucus of Corruption
Republicans, they're all evil.
No, just kidding.
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.
In case anybody around here follows Pennsylvania politics.
UPDATE: Here's the TV ad (thanks, AlexC!)
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 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.
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.
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...."
(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.
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.
September 22, 2006
Chavez: Buy Berkeley Square CD!
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.
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?
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!"
Chavez Offers US Foreign Aid
"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
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?
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:
"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:
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.
September 21, 2006
Easy to be Hard
I think I can be a climate scientist.
It's easy to be always right.
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.
$61.92 a barrel, if you haven't noticed.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Again, I don't claim that the problem is somehow solved, but this shows the power of a free market solution.
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.
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.
And impeachment talk was listed as a large issue against Democrats. Keep those gas prices low, Republicans, we're riding the wave to victory!
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.
Full disclosure I drive a Toyota.
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.
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.
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?
September 18, 2006
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.')
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?
How about admire? Moses. Jesus. Ben Franklin. Ronald Reagan. (chronological order)
Favorite type of candy?
Favorite foreign country?
Fish or chicken?
Do you have your own perfume line?
Have you ever written a children's book?
It was posted here at ThreeSources!
It's a childrens book about government.
Have you been in a movie based on a book?
Ever posed nude for a photo?
Your best nonguilty pleasure, then?
What are you allergic to?
Worst pickup line you've heard?
I heard it senior year in High School. Yes, it worked. No, it wasn't me.
Have you ever cried during a TV interview?
If they made a movie of your life, who would play you?
If you weren't doing what you do, what job would you like to have?
Place you will never be found?
Like a dog marking his territory, I'm going to add a question.
I guess now I have to tag someone.
The Left's Breeding Problem
"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..
No! How much less likely?
Finally, there's this.... and it sounds like natural selection at work.
Darwin would be proud.
Perhaps Marc Steyn is right. Demographics is destiny.... and the Democrats demographics are on the downturn.
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
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
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!
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.
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."
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.
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.
Salena Zito thinks Al Gore is the guy to watch in 2008.
More than Hillary.
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.
September 16, 2006
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.
Posted by John Kranz at 12:51 PM
September 15, 2006
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.
"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.
Blaming Bush, Again
MyDD's Chris Bowers looks at George Bush's approval ratings vs the price of gasoline.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Robbing the Bank
The fires keep getting stoked in Pa. Especially as more people start digesting the 100 page Supreme Court decision.
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.
The History of Appeasement
John Hawkins writes about one of Dr Seuss' gigs.
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.
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?
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.
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."
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.
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
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court just threw a gallon of diesel on a simmering Pennsylvania flame.
Yes, the pay raise.
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.
Today, every post has begun with the letter L.
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?
And don't forget the inevitable "Oh crap, Democrats really DO want to lose the war" bounce!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
September 13, 2006
The Invisible Hand Works Again
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!
I think it was Chip Diller (Kevin Bacon's first role) in Animal House who said it best.
"Remain calm! All is well!"
Rhode Island Post-Game
MyDD's Matt Stoller.
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.
But I can't help thinking that the Club for Growth's guns are just not as loaded as they once were.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amazing. Read it all.
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.
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...
September 12, 2006
The One & Only Lileks
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!
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.
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.
Firearms Refresher Course
1. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.
September 11, 2006
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.
(tip to Extreme Mortman)
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.
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.
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.
Rhode Island Preemption
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.
Dean Barnett has a must read post on the events of five years ago.
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.
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.
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.
September 10, 2006
Forget about the media being on the Democrat's side.
Some are plain on the other side.
Abu-Graib BACK to Iraqi Control
... and wouldn't you know, they want the Americans back in charge.
"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.
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.
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...
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.
September 9, 2006
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.
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.
September 7, 2006
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.
Wait for it...
SLOWING economy? Where do they get this?
Living in trees, and now Terminator style retro-active infanticide/assassination and suicide.
She's the voice we need guiding our foreign policy.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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:
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...
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.)
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.
September 5, 2006
Black gold, that is.
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.
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.
Some lady who is on her twenty-seventh minute of fame get interviewed by the Waco Tribune.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They even have a free interactive map.
September 4, 2006
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
(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
Redstate provides a list of things to remember this Labor Day, comrades.
Happy Labor Day
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!"
US and Iraqi forces have arrested the second most senior figure of al-Qaida in Iraq and killed 20 fellow militants.
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.
September 2, 2006
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.
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.
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:
Complacency does not suit the partisan in an even numbered year.
4.7% Jobless Rate
... unemployed hardest hit.
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.
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."
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.