November 30, 2006

Tax Free Christmas

Though not a done deal, this might be your last Christmas to stick it to the man.

    Last year, Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., and Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., introduced similar bills that would require online and catalog merchants (or at least bigger ones) to collect sales taxes for any states that met standards set by the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA). The Enzi-Dorgan proposal stood no chance with taxophobic Republicans in control of the House.

    Next year, with Democrats in charge? "The stars are lined up better," says Harley Duncan, executive director of the Federation of Tax Administrators, which represents state tax officials.

    It's not just the change in partisan control that has raised the states' hopes. They also believe they can make a stronger case for new collection authority now that the SSUTA, which is designed to harmonize and simplify sales tax laws, is finally operating. As of Jan. 1, 15 states will be full participants in SSUTA, meaning they've adopted the required changes to their own laws. State officials spent years haggling over such issues as whether bakery bagels should be considered groceries, which few states tax, or prepared food, which is widely taxed. (The conclusion: If a bakery provides a utensil with your bagel or heats it for you, it counts as prepared food.)

On the web Posted by AlexC at 7:14 PM

Doubting the DAWG

Deleterious Anthropogenic Warming of the Globe (DAWG). That's my addition to the global warming debate. Like the famed dyslexic agnostic, I question the existence of DAWG.

In four somewhat amusing letters, this captures three things that I think the climate change lobby has to prove. Let's go back to front:

  • G. (Globe) The world is round, we all agree. I'm a uniter, not a divider.

  • W. (Warming) It seems likely that the planet is warming. I'm not sure this has been incontrovertibly proven, but I'll go along.

  • A. (Anthropogenic) If the world is indeed round and indeed warming, is it a natural cycle as we have seen for millennia? Or is Sugarchuck's very large SUV responsible? I go with natural cycles here. The models have not predicted the shape and scope of this warming. Karl Popper would tell us to discount this theory.

  • D. (Deleterious) As New Yorkers run to the sunny climes of Florida and Colorado folk migrate to the warmer mountains of Arizona, is it all bad? Longer growing seasons, less cold?

Bjorn Lomborg is interviewed in TCS Daily today. He has a new book coming out. Mr. Lomborg believes in the G, the W, and the A. But he feels, at worst, this is the third potential cause of death behind non-potable water and indoor air pollution.

Only a very distant third comes climate change, which the WHO puts at 150,000 to die right now.
This of course ignores those people that are no longer dying from cold-related deaths. For some inexcusable reasons, I would argue, they have the idea that they will only look at things that are going to be bad and don't have to look at will be good from climate change.

One of the top climate change economists has modeled - and several papers that came out a couple of weeks ago essentially point out - that climate change will probably mean fewer deaths, not more deaths. It is estimated that climate change by about 2050 will mean about 800,000 fewer deaths.

Of course, Lomborg is unusual in that he is an environmentalist that likes humans.

If DAWG is real, we must then decide the most efficient remedy. I'm a fan of iron seeding in the ocean to promote plant growth to convert CO2 to O2. Kyoto style caps would be investigated, mirrors in space has been suggested. But first:

Do you believe in DAWG?

Changing the Narrative

President Bush's opposition, both in politics and in the Press, has successfully undermined the Iraq liberation with a constant focus on WMds. They are very good at this kind of myopic focus. I would cite the defense of President Clinton "It's all about sex" and the press redemption of Anita Hill, who went from discredited witness to feminist hero in a couple years of NYTimes and WaPo puff pieces.

That's all old hash (dude, did he say something about hash?) but they are being just as successful today advertising that the war was based on a lie and that the reasons crumbled when no WMD stockpiles were found.

A realistic look at the reasons for war must include the sanctions. And any discussion of the sanctions should include the widespread corruption unearthed by the Volcker report.

Nobody seems to be looking for either WMDs or Oil for food corruption anymore. But the WSJ Ed Page reports that Australia is proceeding with prosecution of an Aussie firm that paid bribes.

The Australian government started to act once Mr. Volcker's probe began turning over the rocks. Apart from the U.S., no other nation has launched a full-scale, independent criminal investigation into the crimes committed as part of Oil for Food. Mr. Cole's thoroughly readable report is available at He has recommended 11 AWB employees, plus a BHP Billiton executive, for criminal prosecution.

Meanwhile, most other countries have done little or nothing to come clean. France, which was given preferential oil allocations, has only a lone prosecutor moving ahead, with little support from the Elysée Palace. Russia, which facilitated the oil allocations and blocked moves on the Security Council to investigate kickbacks, refused to assist Mr. Volcker, much less prosecute anyone. Ditto for China, which received huge oil allocations, and Vietnam, whose state-owned food companies paid kickbacks in exchange for business contracts.

Regarding the U.N., Mr. Cole notes that "The United Nations knew that Iraq was breaching sanctions by requiring payment of inland transport fees and surcharges or after-sales-service fees. It knew this between 1999 and 2003. . . It took no steps to publicize or warn member states of the Iraqi practices, and it took no steps to stop the practices." Mark it down as another coda to Kofi Annan's disastrous legacy as Secretary General.

Count me in the 40% who still support the war. The status quo was not an idyllic kite-flying paradise portrayed in "Fahrenheit 9/11" but an untenable dystopian fear-society where a corrupt leader was skirting sanctions to become a more dominant player in the politics of an important region..

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 10:26 AM

The Speed of Meme

Ian at Banana Oil! is playing, I guess I will too:


Most memes, I'd wager, are only superficially organic: beginning small, they acquire minor prominence among low-traffic blogs before being picked up by a high-traffic one, from which many more low-traffic blogs snatch them. Contra blog-triumphal models of memetic bootstrapping, I believe most memes are—to borrow a term from Daniel Dennett's rebuttal of punctuated equilibrium—"skyhooked" into prominence by high-traffic blogs.

For my talk at the MLA, I'd prefer being able to quantify this triumphalism with hard numbers. Had I paid attention when "DISADVENTURE" and "My Morning" made the rounds, I could've completed this little experiment without revealing its existence. Since I lack foresight, I'm stuck announcing my intentions and begging participation. Here's what I need you to do:

1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I'm one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
3. Ping Technorati.

Acephalous suggests that the word "meme" is popular with bloggers because "it has 'me' in it twice."

Posted by John Kranz at 9:33 AM

November 29, 2006


I don't know what to say.


But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at November 29, 2006 1:33 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:


Makes you wonder why any women bother to blog at all. It must be like decaf coffee and near-beer to them.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 29, 2006 10:16 PM

Thanks For Your Service

Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will not seek the Presidency in 2008. The Wall Street Journal reports

WASHINGTON—Leaving behind a Republican void in the South, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he has put aside plans to run for the White House in 2008 and instead will return to medicine and the health-care field that helped launch his political career 12 years ago.

In an interview, the Tennessee Republican said he wanted a "sabbatical from public life," suggesting he could very well return to politics in the future. But the 54-year-old heart surgeon-turned-politician said he needs time now to reconnect with himself before plunging into the presidential race.

Having pledged to serve just two terms in the Senate, Mr. Frist long ago planned to leave Washington this year and had begun building a presidential campaign structure in key states such as South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa. But after early successes in the Senate, he has taken a beating in the press in recent years, and in the interview, seemed to acknowledge he had lost some of his own identity.

"Starting fund-raising for a presidential race in January really doesn't leave time to re-energize and be myself, a self stripped away a little by being majority leader. I really do need to re-energize in terms of who Bill Frist is," he said.

I had zero intentions of supporting Senator Frist's presidential ambitions. He suffers from Senatitus as a candidate and never struck me as a man of strong conviction and ideas.

And yet, I must say some kind words in parting. Frist honored his term-limit pledge which is rare in itself. I think he made the right decision in not running in 2008. I'd love to see more people keep their pledges and accurately assess their fortunes.

I longed for a more combatitive leader during his tenure, but he was a man of good character and integrity. I thank him for his service. I hope he will make gazillions lobbying for big Pharma.

Lastly, I have to laugh at the lede: "Leaving a void in the South..." I think that Democrats need a Southern candidate to counter their Northeastern views. I don't think Dixie will abandon the GOP if they don't run a candidate with twang.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM

Oil, That Is

In case you were wondering...

    About half the oil and more than a quarter of the natural gas beneath 99 million acres of federal land is off-limits to drilling, the Bush administration says in a report that had been sought by industry to highlight environmental and other hurdles to development.

    Just 3 percent of the oil and 13 percent of the gas under federal land is accessible under standard lease terms that require only basic protections for the environment and cultural resources, according to the survey, which was ordered last year by Congress.

    An additional 46 percent of the oil and 60 percent of the gas "may be developed subject to additional restrictions" such as bans to protect animals and sensitive terrain during parts of the year.

Another example of government being the primary obstacle to lower gas prices. They're in the way, as usual.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hey, the fact we buy oil abroad which funds terrorists is a good thing. I mean, when was the last time a terrorist tried to blow up a rock that the seven toed blind newt was using as a breeding créche. Now, if we could get Al Kookda to declare a fatwa against the flora and fauna of America as well ... oh, boy. The Nature freaks would ... well, freak.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 29, 2006 11:12 AM

November 28, 2006

Wells Fargo

They still using that covered wagon?

I logged in to make an online payment of $16.50 before I got a $40 fee, and was greeted with:

Upgrade Your Browser

Browser Requirements

We support the following browsers. If your browser does not meet Wells Fargo's security standards, please follow the download instructions below. Otherwise, your experience may vary, or you may not be able to sign on to Wells Fargo Financial Bank Online Payment System.

If you have the required minimum browser version, it must also have at least 128-bit encryption. This is a very strong, secure form of encryption. This will allow you to make your payments online securely.

Note: We strongly recommend that your computer be running one of the operating systems listed below, and be connected to the internet using one of the browser versions indicated.
Netscape® 6.XX and 7.XX

* Netscape Navigator/Communicator Upgrade for Windows
* Netscape Upgrade for Macintosh

Microsoft® Internet Explorer (MSIE) 5.X - 6.XX

* MSIE Upgrade for Windows

America Online® 4.0 - AOL 8.0 for Windows; use with MSIE 5.X - 6.0

* America Online Browser Upgrade

Yeah, I think I have an old 386 with one of those browsers on it.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:55 PM

Poll: People Don't Like Kerry

They had a poll a couple Novembers ago, and Senator Kerry came in second. Now, Reuters reports Likability poll bad news for Kerry.It seems the Junior Senator from Massachusetts finished 20th. Out of 20.

In the current poll, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, ranked first with a mean score of 64.2, followed by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, 58.8, and McCain, 57.7. All three are potential presidential candidates.

While Obama received a high score, 41 percent said they had not heard enough about the first-term senator to offer an opinion.

Bush finished 15th with 43.8, behind former Vice President Al Gore, a Democrat who lost the 2000 White House race to Bush, who was 14th with 44.9.

Kerry was last with a rating of 39.6. In three earlier polls this year, he never scored above 46.3.

Were he as likeable as Rep "Old Chollie" Rangel, he could say whatever he wanted.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:30 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

A rich haughty giglo, twice marrying into money is not liked by American Joe Sixpack?

I didn't see that one coming.

Posted by: AlexC at November 28, 2006 4:56 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Alex,..check your e-mail

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 28, 2006 11:04 PM

November 27, 2006

The School Year

Charlie on the Pa Turnpike looks at his kids' school calendar and it leaves him with a few questions.

    Why are these "essential" Staff Development Days always at the beginning or end of a weekend?

    Why do teachers routinely complain about their work schedule, when they are typically scheduled to work just 185 (or so) days per year? And they are paid a full years salary!

    Why is the national holiday of Labor Day recognized, but not the national holiday for Veteran's Day?

... among others.

But jk thinks:

Many many teachers in my and my wife's family. They all seem genuinely surprised every year that I don't get two weeks off for Christmas.

Say what you want about teachers' salaries (I think they're way too low because of a lack of merit pay), but any look that does not take 15+ weeks of vacation into account is not valid.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2006 4:34 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Hear hear, a good teacher making $100K wouldn't break my heart.

Posted by: AlexC at November 28, 2006 4:57 PM

Socialized Health Care


    A Canadian man who could not figure out how to deal with his girlfriend's feverish 10-month-old daughter put the baby into a freezer to cool her down, a local newspaper reported on Friday.

    Derrick Hardy faces charges of criminal negligence and assaulting the infant, who was rescued when her mother came home, the Charlottetown Guardian said.

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said the mother found the girl crammed into the freezer alongside ice cubes and hamburger meat. Hardy said he had left the door ajar but the mother said it had been closed when she returned.

    He told a court in the eastern province of Prince Edward Island on Thursday the child had only been in the freezer for about 40 seconds.

Surely he should have known that he could go to his friendly local health clinic (free you know), and they would have dealt with the child promptly and efficiently.

(tip to Ace)

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Hey, it's Canada ... just open the friggen window!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 28, 2006 12:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Socialism, Schmocialism, he speaks the truth (LOL).

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2006 5:38 PM

Kerry Without The Humor

I watched Rep. Rangel yesterday on Fox News Sunday and my jaw dropped to the floor. He said the exact same thing Senator Kerry did in his "botched joke." Nobody made too big a deal of it and my mind went on to other things.

Taranto hit it today; Hot-air has the video up; and Instapundit linked to the Hot-Air post. I don't know, does anybody care that an incoming committee chair said this:

If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq.

No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits.

I hope that's true, Congressman. The ones I have had the privilege of meeting do it for far more important reasons, and it frightens me that you do not understand.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

The last humorous thing Kerry did was order a cheesesteak w/ Swiss Cheese at Pat's Steaks in '04!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 28, 2006 11:06 PM

Hope for Free Trade

With protectionist populism sweeping the GOP, and protectionist Democrats taking over in the 110th Congress, the outlook for free trade is bleak.

One ray of sunshine is a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today by U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. These guys get it.

Over the last 30 years, world trade has grown twice as fast as output -- and the economies that have grown fastest have been those that trade most. Nothing is more important to global economic growth than trade. Far from being a zero-sum game, expansion in trade benefits all countries -- big and small, rich and poor.

Citizens of nations that reform their economies and open themselves to trade and competition have better jobs, improved living standards and greater opportunities. At the same time, nations that try to close themselves off from competition, hinder free markets and fail to invest in their people simply get left behind. Indeed, no country has escaped from poverty without opening up to trade.

Brown will soon be Prime Minister and he is known to be far to the left of my favorite socialist, Tony Blair. I am glad to see the words come off his pen. Trade still has a tough road, but two important people understand its benefits.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:18 AM

November 26, 2006


JK wonders where I've been.

I'll tell you.

Watching the entire set of Star Wars movies, beginning to end.

It was an epic adventure, and a real family values thing. I must say.

My daughter can quote Yoda's best line ("Do or do not, there is no try."), but cannot pronounce R2-D2. "Artie Doo Too," or some such. "Dark Vader" is apparently her favorite. (I need to keep my eye on her.)

But seriously, the empire's best engineers suck. Why in the world would anyone include tubes to the heart of the Death Star, not once, but TWICE? The first I could maybe understand. It was a vent.... at the end of a well defended trench. (wtf?)

The second time around, these tubes were big enough for the Millenium Falcon AND chasing X-Wing and Tie-Fighters to fly around in and fight in. Jeez. Talk about not learning your lesson. Don't tell me that the Death Star was under construction.

Indeed, it was, but the targeted generator at the core of the Death Star was in a fully enclosed hollow chamber hanging from some sort of a gigantic metal stalactite.

Why? Yes, it looks good.

It goes without saying that if it wasn't for superfluous tube technology, Emporer Palpataine would not have fallen to his death.

Like any construction site, the second Death Star must have been teeming with designers and engineers. My heart goes out to the regular construction crews and their families (nod to Clerks), but the D&E group got what they deserved.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Watching them all in order and within two days leaves me with the sense that the newer movies over did the special effects. Episodes IV, V and VI (1977 through 1985) used advanced special effects (for the time), but not at the expense of the story. I think the effects in the first three episodes were done just for their own sake. Overdone, much like the dialog; and Yoda was too silly to be a Jedi. Nevermind the entire character of Jar Jar.

Early stuff, embarassing. Later stuff, quality pulp.

But jk thinks:

Always curious: when you say "in order," do you mean I, II, III... or the order they were made? IV, V, and VI were among my favorite movies of all time, I found I and II to be tedious and still haven't seen III.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2006 10:55 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Yes, I, II -> V, VI.

Watching Anakin morph into Darth and regain his humanity at the end.

III was better than I, II. Plus you get to see Darth Vader for the first time.

Posted by: AlexC at November 27, 2006 11:16 AM
But jk thinks:

I'll certainly catch it in DVD.

I'd refer you to my post on free market health care, ac. The empire engineers were no doubt working in a top-down bureaucracy and were unable to pursue radical ideas like not having an enemy-fighter-sized vent leading to the most vulnerable area of the ship.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2006 11:23 AM

They Wuz Robbed!

Rove's operatives at Diebold were unable to steal a Congressional majority, but a Democratic Club in Pennsylvania (where else?) felt the stinging bite of crime last week. Dr. Rick at The American Check-Up reports:

According to Bethlehem police, thieves ransacked the Edgeboro Democratic Club, 1427 Marvine St., after kicking a hole in a side door between 4 p.m. Thursday and 6 p.m. Monday. Once inside, police said, they stole a round beer clock, 12 to 14 whiskey bottles, two cases of assorted beer, two speakers, a stereo, a touch-screen video game, 11/2 kegs of beer, a case of malt liquor and 500 packs of cigarettes.

Malt Liquor and cigarettes, No wonder we lost. Doctor Rick wonders "what else would you expect the local Dems to have? Hookers?" I wonder what might have been taken that they perhaps did not mention to the police.

In related news, I am considering changing parties.

But AlexC thinks:

Why in the world would the Dems need 10,000 cigarettes on hand? It's not like any one or 10 people could smoke those quickly.

Were they buying votes? Crazier things have happened.

Posted by: AlexC at November 26, 2006 11:17 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

If I know the dems, I'd think they were trying to influence the Native American vote. Not that I'm saying that Native Americans drink and smoke alot. Maybe it was the Italian vote ....

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 27, 2006 1:06 PM

Welcome to the NAPTDC

Mary Katherine Ham calls it the "New Age of Prosperity in a Time of Democratic Control TM"

She links to coverage of "Black Friday" sales last year, where "reluctant shoppers were lured by big discounts." This year, conversely, she finds the coverage more like this:

Thousands of lights were twinkling. No fewer than 178 banners festooned the streets. The 60-foot white fir trucked in from Northern California was anchored fast. Santa was in his log cabin. And before dawn the shoppers began streaming in.

All day Friday they came in throngs to the sprawling Victoria Gardens open-air town center in Rancho Cucamonga. "Thanksgiving is over, cooking is done and now we're on to Christmas," Darla Steffen said.

This is what the other side means by "elections matter."

Hat-tip: AlexC, by email. I am guessing he is still in a tryptophan coma and cannot blog yet.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:18 AM | What do you think? [1]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Democrat control of Republican policy ... sheesh!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 27, 2006 1:09 PM

November 25, 2006

Lileks 3, Edwards 0

James Lileks has a column that would be worthwhile just as a merciless takedown of Senator John Edwards. But it is so much more.

He opens with the PlayStation 3 kerfuffle.

While ordinary working-class people across America were queuing for the new PlayStation 3, one fellow had a bright idea — dropping his boss's name at Wal-Mart to get the next-gen console sent over on the QT for the boss's family.

Unfortunately, the boss was former Sen. John Edwards, John Kerry's would-be veep and famous nemesis of Wal-Mart's evil dominion over the Earth. The hypocrisy was delicious: It was on the same day Edwards was talking to union activists about Wal-Mart's labor policies.

He starts there, but he's Lileks, so he goes further and funnier than others. "Edwards is a historical footnote with admirable hair..." He picks up on Edwards's place in the anti Wal*Mart coterie and remind readers of the chain's virtues. But the best part, well, I'll let him tell it:
But that's not the interesting part of the story. Nor is the fact that the person who made the call was a volunteer — you mean Edwards doesn't pay his staffers a living wage with full medical/dental and a $200 deductible for eyeglasses? Must have been a hangup in the paperwork. No, the telling part was in Edwards' conference call statement to the union activists. Said the AP story:

"Edwards ... repeated a story about his son Jack disapproving of a classmate buying sneakers at Wal-Mart.

"If a 6-year-old can figure it out, America can definitely figure this out,' Edwards said."

Young Master Jack needs better manners. It's possible the kid didn't have access to a Bruno Magli outlet store, and his folks shopped at Wal-Mart because it fit their budget — in which case being lectured by the scion of a millionaire trial lawyer is a little like scolding classmates for drinking Tang instead of having Alfred hand-squeeze a dozen Valencias.

But never mind that. What the story reveals, in the end, is the tiresome fashion in which our betters insist on politicizing not just every aspect of adult life, but every detail of their children's world.

Everything is fraught with fashionable morality. Reasonable stewardship of the world turns into solemn denunciations of people who don't recycle; reasonable lessons on staying healthy end up stigmatizing people who enjoy a puff or a snoot as ethical degenerates.

A six year old could figure it out.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:23 PM | What do you think? [2]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I wonder if I can get the Pope to beautify James as the Patron Saint of Common Sense Conservatives. I'd hate to have to wait for My Minnesota brethren to have to die first, but it seem that is the only way we can get anyone to listen these days.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 25, 2006 11:07 PM
But jk thinks:

St. Lileks. I'm in. I don't have a lot of pull in the Holy See these days but you can tell them jk is on board.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2006 10:44 AM

Free Market Medical Research

Glenn Reynolds links to an interesting article on stem cell research. It interested the writer from the Globe and Mail because some plucky Canadian scientists have bested their better funded peers below the border. It interested Professor Reynolds because a better understanding of the cells that can produce and sustain tumors augurs well for innovation in treatment and prevention.

It interested me because it speaks of a Hayekian mechanism that works in so many arenas as being important in scientific research. The so called "bad news" of this recent discovery is that it discredits the foundation of the most popular research of the last decade.

The implications are staggering. Billions of dollars and decades of research may have targeted the wrong cells to cure the disease. No current treatment has been designed to kill them and they appear to be naturally resistant to the gold-standard therapies.

The work has whipped new optimism into cancer research, but Dr. Dick is loath to take too much credit. “It's rare in science you find something that is completely novel,” said Dr. Dick, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology. “Science is like laying a brick wall, one piece is laid over another.”

Science, like any other human endeavour, can be a slave to fashion. From 1975 to 1995, the research world was captivated by the wonder of genes and molecular biology, Dr. Dick said. “Cell biology had fallen by the wayside, and stem-cell research was carried on by a fairly small club of people.”

This is exactly how the market works. Let the herd chase the conventional and the fad while a small group rewrite the rules and leap to the top in a redefined game.

The Hayekian mechanism is allowing a large group to pursue a large number of ideas and using market forces to pick a winner. The antithesis is the top down, command and control method where experts choose the fields of study.

I posit that Billions of government jack's being "invested" in stem cells short circuits this process. We have allowed Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox to select the most promising areas of research, now politicians are mad to shovel more and more money into it.

Private research, or smaller scale academic projects have a better chance of finding the most effective areas of study over the most popular. Pharmaceutical companies are paying taxes they could be using for R&D to chase technology that has been selected by Senators and actors.

I have no objection to stem-cell research based on the destruction of embryos, (though I can respect the position of those who do. I do object to this herd mentality of allowing people to pick winners instead of allowing science to pick winners.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Sorry, your consideration is not to be included in the 10 year economic plan for scientific advancement. Check back next decade and we will see if the soviet board will consider your application. Provided there is not an islamic coup by then.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 25, 2006 11:11 PM

Immigration Politics

The holidays. It was nice to take a break from arguing about immigration with my blog brothers and spend some time arguing about immigration with my real brothers.

To be fair, the food was better. And, actually, it was my brother-in-law, whom I will call "Alejandro" to protect his privacy. Alejandro and I kept quiet cool on Thanksgiving Day, but we ended up going to lunch together on the day after. Al is a reliable Republican vote these days, but, like my blog brothers, has been seduced by the enforcement only camp. "'Dro" as we sometimes call him, contributed to Randy Graf's campaign in Arizona.

I suggested, as I did here, that the enforcement-only wing deserves some of the blame for the GOP losses in 2006.It was a tough climate in a historically difficult six-year midterm. I'm not saying that the GOP would be popping the corks on great gains, but I have great company in the belief that convincing the electorate we had a national emergency and then doing nothing to solve it hurt the party's chances.

Alejandro asked me to read Mark Krikorian's column in the December 4, 2006 issue of National Review. If the Wall Street Journal Ed page has led the charge for comprehensive immigration reform, I think it is fair to say that NR has led the enforcement-only wing.

Krikorian wonders if "Amnesty" is so popular, why the Democrats didn’t come out for it as a campaign issue. He makes arguments that ThreeSources own JohnGalt made: that many Democratic victors were tough on immigration and that some tough GOP pols did win. Alejandro asked me to specifically address the Krikorian column as it seemed to him to contradict our friendly discussion at Chilis. I never turn down a request:

First of all, I don't think Krikorian contradicts me. The thesis of his article is that there is no electoral mandate for amnesty. I do not claim there is. I claim that the GOP looked feckless after creating a crisis and not solving it, and that compromise is popular. Sometimes compromise means watered down mush that makes nobody happy. In this instance, it is good policy and good politics.

I abhor his use of the word amnesty. I never once heard any of the most liberal proponents of comprehensive immigration come out for amnesty. I suspect that Krikorian considers anything less than shooting border crossers on sight amnesty. He calls his opponents by name: Tamar Jacoby, Fareed Zakaria, Fred Barnes and Linda Chavez. He snarkily calls them "the smart set" and their movement the pro-amnesty side. I don't expect that any of the people listed would call themselves pro-amnesty. Also, while I respect Zakaria immensely, he does not belong in that group. There are many principled conservatives who have lined up squarely on the comprehensive side (Paul Gigot, Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman). Without saying he did it on purpose, his shopping basket is not representative of his opposition.

Krikorian also cherry-picks some statistics. He points out that only seven percent of the members of Rep. Tancredo’s Immigration Reform Caucus lost, against 11% of the GOP caucus. I would suspect that members of the IRC might be more likely to be in safe seats. The Weekly Standard and WSJ Ed page pointed this out before the election, suggesting that those in more competitive districts not “follow the Yahoos off the cliff.” It’s hard to slice and dice reasons in a thunderous loss, but the loss of Rep J.D. Hayworth in AZ-05 (Hayworth won by 21% in a district that went 54-45 for President Bush in 2004) and Randy Graf’s loss in AZ-08 (53-46% Bush) offer the clearest data. If they can’t make it there, they can’t make it anywhere.

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

I guess I missed all the TV commercials and mass mailings from the enforcement "only" candidates that championed "shooting border crossers on sight." There's no longer any wonder why I thought the GOP lost over it's holding pattern strategy in Iraq, multiple congressmen indicted for fraud, and an eleventh hour MSM orgy over a pedophile congressman from Florida.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2006 2:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah. J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf lost because the members of their heavily GOP districts wanted Rep. Murtha to prevail on Iraq and were so concerned about Mark Foley's IMs.

Maybe we could iron out terminology. If you'll provide a good name for Tancredoite, IRC-type Republicans I will use it. What sticks out in my mind is that they want enforcement which is half of comprehensive reform but not any of the other elements. So I call them enforcement only.

In return, I'd like the likes of Krikorian to not call anything else "amnesty." In the article (it's not online, sorry) he claims his opponents use "comprehensive" as a euphemism for amnesty. He uses amnesty as a dysphemism for anything on site.

Posted by: jk at November 25, 2006 2:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Name calling isn't helpful on either side of the debate. Technically, however, it is amnesty to forgive individuals for their criminal acts. There is mitigation when the law in question is as questionable as was prohibition.

In fairness I think you have to concede that the Tancredoite Republicans rejected only the non-enforcment solution that was actually proposed. One would expect them to propose an alternative they DID approve of, but that's not exactly how things work in the Senate. Leadership writes it the way they want it and, voila, it's a "compromise."

My holiday was spent with in-laws in San Diego, on the "front lines" of the illegal immigration crisis. They certainly didn't consider the situation to have been created by the GOP talking about it. Their hospitals were going out of business before it became a fashionable topic in D.C. But another of them said, "I'd be doing exactly the same thing if I were them [illegals]."

Expanded legal immigration alternatives are the moral answer. The extra entitlement burden on US citizens is the impediment that must first be removed.

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2006 1:40 AM

November 24, 2006

Friedman Was Right, Part MLXVIII

Professor Henry Manne, from George Mason University, has a great guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal today entitled Milton Friedman Was Right

It seems the two tangled on the execution of "socially responsible" corporate behavior. And that Penne has now come around to the Friedmanite position:

Milton Friedman famously declared that the sole business of the managers of a publicly held corporation was to maximize the value of its outstanding shares. Any effort to use corporate resources for purely altruistic purposes he equated to socialism. He proposed that corporation law should prevent managers from straying off the reservation to join the altruists, a power now almost universally granted them by state legislation.

It's a great article. While it is directed more at public utilities and altruistic behavior in the consumer staples, retail, and utilities sectors, I choose to hide behind Friedman in one of my old assertions: That Google should represent its shareholders' fiduciary interests -- even at the expense of standing up to Chinese Communists censors.

The blogosphere had a little boomlet of Google-bashing last January when Google capitulated to ChiCom pressure to censor truly dangerous concepts like freedom, democracy, and falun gong from its searches.

I had few assenters when I suggested that they should worry about shareholder value.

Friedman's points extrapolate well to cover this interest. If Google exists to serve the public good, we the people can make any demands of it we like. Maybe a quota to link to more minority and women owned businesses.

Google made the decision it did and its share price is up more than 25% in ten months. Let the Marines spread Democracy, let Google create wealth for its shareholders.

Now I realize (I should have known) he was absolutely correct about the significance of proposals for socially responsible corporate behavior, whether they emanated from within or outside the corporation. These proposals reflect, as well as anything else happening today, the inability of many commentators to distinguish between private and public property -- in other words, between a free enterprise system and socialism. Somehow large-scale business success, usually resulting in a publicly held company, seems mysteriously to transform the nature of numerous individuals' private investments into assets affected with a public interest. And once these corporate behemoths are "affected with a public interest," they must either be regulated by the state or they must act as though they are owned by the public, and are therefore inferentially a part of the state. This attitude is reflected not merely by corporate activists, but by many "modern" corporate managers.

Google Posted by John Kranz at 4:10 PM

Defending The Snake

Just because there are holidays doesn't mean that the serious issues go away. We covered iTunes randomization before Thanksgiving, now if the Pennsylvanians would talk among themselves, I'd like to discuss Broncos football.

I love the meritocracy of sports but I think that Jake Plummer is getting some undeserved scapegoating. Watching the game last night reminded me of two things. One, Bryant Gumbel is really annoying. Two, the 2006/7 Broncos are not a championship team. Dropping in a top caliber QB would not change that. Jake's numbers look great and I'll listen to leadership arguments, but remember John Elway's receiver corps: the three Amigos, McCaffrey, many years of Shannon Sharpe and a younger Rod Smith. Elway also had the likes of Clinton Portis and Terrell Davis to sell the play action.

Mr. Plummer has Smith, who has lost a couple steps and Jevon Walker who is world class. After that? Who's he gonna throw to? The Portis trade got us Champ Bailey and I will not say a bad word. But the idea that you can just drop anybody behind the line and have a 1000 yard rusher is withering under empirical testing. A small halfback and a green fullback are not likely to deliver championships under a Shanahan offense.

The vaulted Defense has earned its respect for keeping points off the board. All the same, they have not been able to shut down ball control offenses. Opponents have controlled the clock and the pace of the game all year. The D has delivered turnovers and a stingy red zone that keeps the games close.

I do not agree that Jake Plummer is the reason that the close games do not land in the win column.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:50 AM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

grumble grumble grumble
be thankful you still have a football seasons to follow.
grumble grumble.

Posted by: AlexC at November 24, 2006 1:51 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

I am not on the current dump Jake bandwagon. I have had my own dump Jake bandwagon going for several years now. I know about his winning record and his quarterback ratings but he has not ever been, nor will he ever be the guy to get it done. This year the one stat that matters is third down conversions and he has been Mr. three and out. You can't play Peyton Manning and LT and leave those guys on the field for most of the game. It doesn't matter how good your defense is, they can't stay on the field quarter after quarter and deliver a win. Jake had some dropped balls but he had far more overthrown, underthrown and picked off balls. He left too many guys wide open only to throw into coverage. I think he's got Chuck Knoblauch disease. Chuck was the gold glove, world series winning Twin who left for Yankee jack and wound up unable to throw from second to first. Pulling Jake means the end of the season, but it's hard to believe that leaving him in doens't mean the end of the season too. Go Jay!

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 24, 2006 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Make both you guys happy: ship Jake to the Eagles.

I hear you on the third down conversions, sc, but if he had a running threat and it wasn't always third and nine...

Maybe it is just as well to move to Cutler. I don't see Mr. Plummer as the champion, but I hear a lot of delusion around here (you moved far away) that this is a super bowl team with the wrong QB. Huh-uh, this is the weakest offense the Broncos have fielded in many years. John Elway himself couldn't take this group past the wild card game.

Posted by: jk at November 24, 2006 3:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There are many reasons to dislike Jake but there is another huge factor that is rarely mentioned: That small matter of Gary Kubiak's departure, and the predictable growing pains of a new offensive coordinator in the saddle. Bowlen and Shanahan understand the division of blame and if we don't see Jay replace Jake soon I'll take it as confirmation of Rick Dennison's complicity in the team's offensive woes.

Rick Dennison? I thought the OC was Mike Heimerdinger! Shows what I know.

Either way, it stands to reason that replacing a veteran OC with a reputation for creative, flexible and customized game plans and a proven ability to call the right play at the right time is going to put your offense on the defensive.

Condolences to Iggles fans who lost their franchise QB for the season - again. My in-laws share your pain.

Posted by: johngalt at November 24, 2006 8:54 PM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

I must agree that Gumbel was not the "fresh voice" that I had hoped for from the NFL Network.

Also, the Denver running game has strayed from their formula. Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis, and Mike Anderson have one thing that Mike and Tatum Bell simply do not have: power running ability.

However, even with that being said, Denver cannot and will not win a championship with Jake Plummer. It is clear that the coaching staff knew this prior to the start of the season considering that they picked Jay Cutler in the first round of the draft.

Perhaps I am still bitter from Elway and Davis torching my Packers in the Super Bowl.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at November 27, 2006 10:22 AM

November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving


Cool Thanksgiving e-cards.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM

November 22, 2006

A (gasp!) bad word about iTunes

My ancestors worried about keeping wild animals out of their caves, my Grandmother was born into a Willa Cather existence in the late Nineteenth Century, my Dad lived through the depression. My problem? iTunes does not shuffle my music library to my expectations.

Let me get my bona fides out first. I'm a long-tail guy, and I was celebrating the legal distribution of MP3s in July of 2003 (In a comment, Silence points out that Apple has a "new" service to sell MP3s). Furthermore, I'll call the iPod the singularly coolest product of my lifetime. Great hardware, cool design, form, function -- it has earned its success.

Software-wise, I have never been completely sold. Lileks considers himself part of the iPod army and last week cheered on criticism of Microsoft's stumbles with the Zune. At the risk of starting a flame war, I think some competition for Apple is long overdue. I'd like to see the company fix its software to be, say, 1/100th as good as its hardware.

Lileks mentions later, "I took a small amount of flak yesterday for linking to the Zune-installation page. I should have noted that it wasn’t so much the problems encountered, but the overall sense of Lame that flowed off those screengrabs." Sorry, James, the graphics on the installation screens is not up to your aesthetic standards? Did I mention the part about the cave and the wild animals, and our ancestors working 365 days a year?

I can't say how "cool" the iTunes install was, but years later, I am extremely disappointed in its look and feel. Maybe it's better on a Mac, but I run iTunes on a PC, with my library mounted on a shared network drive. I'll confess that I have probably brought on some performance problems with this setup, but it -- if I may borrow a word from Lileks's buddy’s review of the Zune install -- sucks.

iTunes takes a long time to load. If I plug in my shuffle to have it automatically launch, it's about a minute before I see a screen. I trust that it is doing something because the CPU and IO drain take the system down to glue and molasses.. Hey -- there's the friendly iTunes window, let's get to work.

If the network drive is unavailable, it will first delete every song on the shuffle, then try to load it full of new songs, then generate an error for each song. That, Mr. Lileks, is lame. I do this for a living and that is unacceptable for a general use consumer product. Whatever. Get the drive mapped, we've got tunes to load.

With the drive connected, the performance is so bad, and the feedback so ill-planned, that I have to open the shuffle, then click very deliberately the "Autofill" button. Very deliberately, because it will be minutes before the program acknowledges that I pressed a button. It just sits there. Now that I expect it, I go make coffee or work on another machine for a while. In a minute, it will start loading. and I can tell by the progress bar that it's working. Cool. (Hint to Apple programmers: it's called a "thread." Let the user know that you know he clicked the button and offer some indication that you are working on something that might take some time.)

Waaah, I know. But this seems too clunky to me for a consumer product. And WAY too clunky for a product that everybody loves. But once it's done it's done and my cool little shuffle is loaded with a random selection of tunes from library, life is good.

Life is sort of good. I have about 40 GB of tunes (a decent sized collection, but I know a lot of folks with much more). I get the same artists and the same songs almost all the time. When I reload the large iPod, the shuffle feature vends the same songs it did last time I loaded music. And the same songs it "randomly" puts on the shuffle. Out of 8000+ songs, there are some that show to have been played more than ten times, while thousands of tunes have never been played.

As a statistical arbitrary math problem, I know it is extremely difficult to write a true randomization algorithm. But that iTunes has not bothered to write an even decent one, when it detracts from the iPod experience, is shameful.

Let the flame fly. AM I nuts? I'm keeping the iPod, but I will not pay homage to the mighty Apple engineers until they produce software in the same league as the iPod.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Point taken, mdmh, but if I hear that ****in' theme song to "The Newlywed Game" one more time, my head might explode!

A hazard of having any Herb Albert on your hard disk, but if it chose them in proportion to their volume, I'd be okay. Da nuh na nuh, na na na nuuuuuuh...

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2006 2:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Not hitting any nerves here, I guess. An emailer informs me that the software rocks for him but that the family has replaced each of their five iPods once or twice. We've had four, each a different model, all have performed flawlessly.

I'm thinking I might see if I can get Bill O'Reilly wound up -- "Dammit, the FOLKS are not getting their tunes shuffled fairly! This is an outrage!"

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2006 2:52 PM
But lattesipper thinks:

I'm sure you can get O'Reilly wound up on this ... it's every bit as important as the War on Christmas. Seriously, I agree with you. I may not be as energized about the topic, but I agree that the mediocre Apple software is nowhere near being on par with the device. This may only be true for those of us who dock to a PC, but last time I checked, that's what most of us use.

Posted by: lattesipper at November 22, 2006 4:22 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm an iTunes fan, but I've never tried running the library over a network connection. That's really just a very slow HD... even a wired network isn't going to compete with your library on the hard drive in your machine.

In terms of the randomness, you're not the first person with that problem.

I've got one of the early iPod Photos, and have had it going for almost two years now. I've formatted it FAT32 so I can use it on both Windows and MacOS, and it's ok with that. My wife's got a newer iPod Video with no probs.

Like all hardware, your mileage will vary.

Posted by: AlexC at November 22, 2006 5:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Both machines are on a wired 100Gb connection, it shouldn't be crawling. The slow and clunky I can work around -- the lack of randomness is ruining my life.

I'm most intrigued that this is some of sort of Gold Standard (forgive me Milton, I'm justing using a phrase) for software quality, when I find it to be one of the worst commercial apps I work with.

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2006 7:32 PM
But jk thinks:

LS -- much more important than the war, but not quite up there with O.J.'s book deal. When that dies down, I'll make my move.

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2006 7:33 PM

November 21, 2006

Syrian Help

Gov. Dean, Senators Kerry and Levin and quite a large hunk of the WashDC Conventional Wisdom brigades are pretty hot on the idea of working with Iran and Syria to extricate ourselves from Iraq.

If our President were not so bellicose, we're told, we'd talk with Iraq's neighbors, certainly sign a piece of paper someday, and use diplomacy to end the violence.

At the risk of shading my sunny optimism, might I suggest that these folks might not share our ambitions for the region?

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- Pierre Gemayel, an anti-Syrian politician and scion of Lebanon's most prominent Christian family, was gunned down Tuesday in a carefully orchestrated assassination that heightened tensions between the U.S.-backed government and the militant Hezbollah.

Anti-Syrian politicians quickly accused Damascus, as they have in previous assassinations of Lebanese opponents of its larger neighbor. Gemayel, 34, an outspoken opponent of the Syrian-allied Hezbollah, was the fifth anti-Syrian figure killed in the past two years and the first member of the government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora to be slain.

The assassination, in Gemayel's mainly Christian constituency of Jdeideh, threatens further instability in Lebanon at a time when Hezbollah and other parties allied with Syria are planning street protests unless Saniora gives them more power.

The United States denounced the killing, calling it ''an act of terrorism.'' The U.N. Security Council said it ''unequivocally condemns'' the assassination as well as any attempt to destabilize Lebanon.

On an equally pessimistic note, I can find no fault with Christopher Hitchens's suggestion that Sec. Baker is the wrong choice to lead Iraq policy. Hitch starts with a warning about Lebanon that looks pretty prescient:
The summa of wisdom in these circles is the need for consultation with Iraq's immediate neighbors in Syria and Iran. Given that these two regimes have recently succeeded in destroying the other most hopeful democratic experiment in the region—the brief emergence of a self-determined Lebanon that was free of foreign occupation—and are busily engaged in promoting their own version of sectarian mayhem there, through the trusty medium of Hezbollah, it looks as if a distinctly unsentimental process is under way.

Worse, he reminds the country of some 15-yaear old history.
n 1991, for those who keep insisting on the importance of sending enough troops, there were half a million already-triumphant Allied soldiers on the scene. Iraq was stuffed with weapons of mass destruction, just waiting to be discovered by the inspectors of UNSCOM. The mass graves were fresh. The strength of sectarian militias was slight. The influence of Iran, still recovering from the devastating aggression of Saddam Hussein, was limited. Syria was—let's give Baker his due—"on side." The Iraqi Baathists were demoralized by the sheer speed and ignominy of their eviction from Kuwait and completely isolated even from their usual protectors in Moscow, Paris, and Beijing. There would never have been a better opportunity to "address the root cause" and to remove a dictator who was a permanent menace to his subjects, his neighbors, and the world beyond. Instead, he was shamefully confirmed in power and a miserable 12-year period of sanctions helped him to enrich himself and to create the immiserated, uneducated, unemployed underclass that is now one of the "root causes" of a new social breakdown in Iraq. It seems a bit much that the man principally responsible for all this should be so pleased with himself and that he should be hailed on all sides as the very model of the statesmanship we now need.

I don't fault President GHW Bush for not deposing Hussein. He clearly lacked a mandate. While it would have been a benefit to us today, I throw no fault for not rolling into Baghdad. Sitting still while Hussein massacred the Shia and Kurds right after the war, however, was a failure of catastrophic proportion, and Sec. Baker's hands are still dirty on that account.

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 5:47 PM

Dell Profit up 12%

They are still too chicken to release financials (did somebody say something about SarBox?) but the Wall Street Journal reports:

Dell's profit increased 12% from a year ago, when it took a hefty restructuring charge, as revenue reached $14.4 billion. The computer giant provided preliminary results but few details in its delayed earnings release, citing an accounting review. Shares surged more than 10% in late trading.

I see these gloom-and-dooomers on Kudlow & Company, and I wonder what planet they live on. This is an anecdote, but a large business and personal electronics manufacturer should carry some bellwether status.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM

Interesting Site

I clicked on blog ad link somewhere last week, and signed up for a free account on BackPack. Working from home on many different machines, I am finding this site pretty handy.

For nothin', you get a few web pages that function as to do lists, virtual whiteboards, even collaborative work areas. You can email a page to have an item appear and you can also schedule reminders to be sent to your email or cell phone.

Paid accounts get you a calendar, storage, more pages, yadda. I'm not sure their pricing points are right, but the free service is priced right and does some cool things.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM

SarBoxo Delenda Est!

Rep. Barney Frank's proposed "Grand Bargain" with business sounded like a positive step to me. Taranto likens it to a protection racket today, but -- ever the optimist -- I see it as a chance for the most onerous business regulations to be lifted.

In exchange for minimum-wage hikes, health care guarantees, and a lot of other crap that we can just expect from a Democrat controlled House, Rep Frank offers some streamlining, consolidation or reduction of regulations. I'd trade Sarbanes-Oxley in for a higher minimum wage in a second. The minimum wage will hurt poor minority teenagers, but business will be fine. I know I sound like the heartless man on the Monopoly(r) box, but it's not my team that is pushing this.

On the other hand, SarBox is destroying the US Capital Markets. The WSJEdPage is concerned but measured in an editorial today (Paid site, sorry!)

We've argued that the Occam's razor explanation for this trend is that overregulation and lawsuits have tipped the balance in favor of private management for many investors. Managers who want to spend more time taking risks, and less time talking to lawyers, are increasingly turning to private equity to reduce their hassles and improve their returns. Money will flow to where the returns are, and these days more and more investors seem to think that more money can be made outside the hyper-regulated public equity markets.

As a political matter, this should worry anyone who believes that the development of a broad investor class is good for the preservation of capitalism. But as an economic matter, it is largely irrelevant whether the shares are publicly traded or not. We doubt the employees of such profitable closely held concerns as Cargill or Koch Industries fret much that their shares aren't listed on any public exchange. What they care about is that their companies are successful.

They don't byline their editorials, but I can guarantee Stephen Moore didn't write that. On Kudlow & Company last night, he was much harsher on SarBox. He said that the private LBO buyoiuts are a disturbing trend and that London Stock Exchange refused the NASDAQ takeover in large part because they were worried that it might import SarBox in the UK capital markets -- and they're too smart for that.

I, for one, welcome our Democratic Overlords. If Frank, who is actually one of the smart and serious members of the caucus in line for a gavel will make that trade, we're in business. The S&P 500 is right to be less worried than ThreeSourcers.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:03 PM

November 20, 2006


I came across this great ad from 1976 the other day, I wish I knew the complete context behind the it.


It struck me as interesting in two ways.

First, it's an ad in National Geographic by an oil company taking an unapologetic look at the state of it's industry. It's actually pretty aggressive in it's own defense.

    You're looking at some of the brands and names of companies that sell gasoline. Some people say oil companies are a monopoly. If so, it's the world's most inept monopoly.

    This "monopoly" is so inept, it offers the world's richest country some of the world's most inexpensive gasoline.

    This "monopoly" is so inept that it lets everybody and his brother horn in on the action. Did you know that of the thousands of American oil companies, none has larger than 8.5% share of the national gasoline market?

    In fact, this "monopoly" is so inept, that you probably wouldn't recognize that it is a monopoly, because it looks so much like a competitive marketing system.

    People who call us a monopoly don't know what they're talking about.

Self-defense from a company or industry is always fascinating. The American Petroleum Institute did this a year ago when they compared their profit rates with other industries. Oil came in in the middle of the pack at about 7.5 cents on the dollar. Banking was at 20%.

There's also a great defensive cartoon from the 50's.

Secondly, thirty years later, some things have changed.

ExxonMobil, the largest American oil company now controls something like 15% of American gasoline refining, Roughly double the "largest" block in 1976. By contrast Coke and Pepsi are at 41% and 31% of the soft drink market, respectively.

Of course that's comparing apples to oranges. Coke and Pepsi compete globally. There is no OPEC of dyed sugar-water. XOM's market is artificially manipulated.

Looking the companies shown, you have ask yourself, how many of these are still around? Most have been merged into other brands. Perhaps only Sunoco, Shell and Tesoro are the only companies still existing in the same sense as 30 years ago.

Of the large oil companies listed above, Gulf, Sohio, Texaco, Conoco, Amoco, Getty, Chevron, Union, Arco, Union, Exxon, Mobil, Phillips 66, Hess and Citgo have all been acquired by another or merged with each other in some way... and that's without counting up the minors and regional players.

Overall, pretty neat stuff.

(graphic from

Update: An email from a friend of mine who really should be blogging.

    In 1976 the oil companies a.k.a. "big oil", were under attack not only for their usual evilness but also for the companies' operations known as "vertical integration". (A term that came and went like so much political wind.) Which meant they held ownership of upstream and downstream companies; the entire oil delivery mechanism. There was political talk about breaking that "monopoly" up.

    As ever, it was a politically motivated extortion threat generated out of the heat for Congress to "do something" after one or more of the '70s oil shocks. The McCain-Feingold act of the time, sorry, I can't remember its name, forbade the companies from donating directly to politicians. Political Action Committees (PAC)s were the result. I suspect the ad that you show - and a zillion others of the time - was financed by one of the oil company PACs.

    PACs probably still exist but have probably morphed into a "Section 1701" or some similar techno-lawyer rubbish term for the same thing.

Oil and Energy Posted by AlexC at 2:25 PM

While Time Magazine Slept

A ThreeSources reader sent me a link to Time Magazine's article on Pope Benedict XVI over the weekend. The suggestion was that BXVI might be as important an ally in the War on Terror as JPII was for Reagan in the Cold War.

The article was good and I hope my friend is right. I took the time to complete an online survey at, where I gave them a harsh assessment of their product and a stark evaluation of how frequently I visit their site (Never, unless somebody sends me a link).

sisu does a much better post on the article than I would have, under the title While Time Magazine slept.

The blog post points out that somebody paying more attention would not have been quite as surprised as Time, that then Cardinal Ratzinger had shown definite proclivities, and that perhaps a real news organization should have paid more attention.

But AlexC thinks:

Before Pope John Paul II died, there was discussions of the next Pope being from a country that has a "Islamic" problem, must like JPII was from a country that had a "Communist" problem.

The front runner was a Cardinal from Nigeria, some Catholics (myself included) were surprised that a German was picked. Though after reading Marc Steyn's "America Alone," it's easy to see how prescient the Pope's selection was.

It's obvious that Pope Benedict is willing to take on Islamicfascism head on. Witness his speech from a few month ago.

He's going to keep doing it, too.

Posted by: AlexC at November 20, 2006 3:24 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Alex, Germany has a sizeable Turkish population. Turkey straddles the divide between East and West and therefore Christain and Muslim (as well as secular and religious).

Makes sense to me.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 20, 2006 8:57 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Trekmedic, I know... that's the thrust of my 2nd paragraph. Europe is slowly evoling into Eurabia, and Germany near the head of the pack.

Posted by: AlexC at November 21, 2006 12:39 AM


UN Ambassador John Bolton, not long for the UN, lashes out publically against it.


    "Many of the sponsors of that resolution are notorious abusers of human rights themselves, and were seeking to deflect criticism of their own policies," he said.

    "This type of resolution serves only to exacerbate tensions by serving the interests of elements hostile to Israel's inalienable and recognized right to exist."

    "This deepens suspicions about the United Nations that will lead many to conclude that the organization is incapable of playing a helpful role in the region," Bolton continued.

    "In a larger sense, the United Nations must confront a more significant question, that of its relevance and utility in confronting the challenges of the 21st century. We believe that the United Nations is ill served when its members seek to transform the organization into a forum that is a little more than a self-serving and a polemical attack against Israel or the United States," he said.

    "The Human Rights Council has quickly fallen into the same trap and de-legitimized itself by focusing attention exclusively on Israel. Meanwhile, it has failed to address real human rights abuses in Burma, Darfur, the DPRK, and other countries," Bolton charged.

    "The problem of anti-Israel bias is not unique to the Human Rights Council. It is endemic to the culture of the United Nations. It is a decades-old, systematic problem that transcends the whole panoply of the UN organizations and agencies," he continued.

More please.

But jk thinks:

I wonder that this could not be a good political issue for the GOP: we need a tough advocate at the UN and Ambassador Bolton has shown himself to be tough and effective. The Democrats out of pure partisan spite, will not allow him to keep the job.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2006 2:31 PM
But AlexC thinks:

So what's Lincoln Chaffee's excuse? ;)

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

I think the technical term is "asshat."

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2006 3:59 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Squeaker of the Mouse Pelosi and her attack chihuahuas want what every good, Socialist-leaning Democrat in Congress wants: a yes man at the UNtied Nations. Bolton doesn't fit that bill, so he's out (for now). The Republicans would indeed do well to stick this in their back pocket for 2008.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 20, 2006 9:01 PM


I know, it's Monday, you're trying to get some work done. But Josh at Everyday Economist posts video of a 30-minute interview with Milton Friedman that will cause you to yell and cheer.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:30 PM

More Breast Banter

Must be my week for promotion and publicity at ThreeSources, I've hit breast implants twice in as many days.

The Wall Street Journal Ed Page hails the FDA for finally putting science over politics and lifting the 14 year ban on silicone implants.

The news is good for freedom lovers, but the editorial warns that the forces of darkness are still arrayed:

One of the ugliest aspects of the breast-implant controversy has been the irresponsibility of the feminist movement, whose championship of a woman's right to "choose" doesn't extend to breast implants. It's all the more outrageous given the tens of thousands of breast-cancer victims seeking reconstructive surgery each year. Silicone-gel implants tend to feel and look more natural than the saline alternative.

It would be nice to think that the FDA's move closes the chapter on this nasty episode, but given the anti-implant crowd's reaction to Friday's announcement, that's probably too much to hope for. Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, called it a "reckless decision" and promises to seek reversal "when the new Congress takes office." Sidney Wolfe, head of Public Citizen's Health Research Group -- the Naderite outlet that spearheaded the campaign against silicone in the 1980s and is a front for the trial bar -- called breast implants "the most defective medical device ever approved by the FDA." He also vowed to seek Congressional action.

While we're glad the FDA has overturned 14 years of politicized medicine by approving silicone breast implants, it's worth remembering the enormous price that has been paid: to the credibility of the legal system, in jobs lost, and in public health. And it's worth asking what is more toxic: the silicone implants preferred by thousands of women, or the trial bar that purports to "protect" them.

In case you missed my post yesterday, I'd call your attention to a piece by Lance at A Second Hand Conjecture. This is one of the great blog essays I have ever encountered. He ties in freedom, innovation and choice.

UPDATE: Welcome to the Blogroll: A Second Hand Conjecture

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM

November 19, 2006

Draft '07

Are the Democrats going to cut and run?

Not if some want a draft.

    Americans would have to sign up for a new military draft after turning 18 if the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has his way.

    Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars and to bolster U.S. troop levels insufficient to cover potential future action in Iran, North Korea and Iraq.

    "There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said.

    Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription in the past, said he will propose a measure early next year.

    In 2003, he proposed a measure covering people age 18 to 26. This year, he offered a plan to mandate military service for men and women between age 18 and 42; it went nowhere in the Republican-led Congress.

    Democrats will control the House and Senate come January because of their victories in the Nov. 7 election.

    At a time when some lawmakers are urging the military to send more troops to Iraq, "I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft," said Rangel, who also proposed a draft in January 2003, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

110th Congress Posted by AlexC at 2:09 PM

Let's tralk about breasts.

I've been whining about the FDA' s supra constitutional intrusion into our lives for many years. I hear you tuning out already. Were I discussing women's breasts, you'd stick around, right?

Lance, at A Second Hand Conjecture looks at the FDA's role regarding Dow Corning's silicone implants. Not just the FDA, but also the whole gamut of elite opinion makers and organizations bent on taking care of us by removing our birthright liberty.

Okay, so the breast discussion is strangely un-titillating. But he looks at the issue in light of Virginia Postrel's "The Future and its Enemies:"

Technocracy is by nature hostile to diversity and freedom. Its goal is control–a uniform future shaped by experts. It recognizes only one best way. So it overrides the judgments and desires of individuals, curbing choice, experimentation, and learning in the name of “scientific” wisdom. Now, however, our technocrats aren’t keeping their side of the bargain. They’re destroying not only choice but progress, attacking not only liberty but truth. They have joined forces with those who seek to quash technology, innovation, and “unnatural” inventions–to create a static society by defamation and decree. By attacking the innocent and emboldening the malevolent, spreading rumors and defying their own experts, they have betrayed the public trust.

He contextualizes it in reference to the drug war and do-gooder feminists, everybody who wants to make our decisions for us. Comparing it to the drug war, he finds that black market implants go for $1800 a pair (that would be $900 apiece) and tells the story of an unfortunate man busted --and jailed -- for smuggling. (Anything to declare?)

It's a long piece and sadly there are no pictures. But he does keep his composure better than I. My friend Sugarchuck does a great riff on the Supreme Court using Major League Baseball's antitrust exemption. This is the strongest freedom in medicine piece I have read and I collect them.

The implications however go further still. In previous essays I have argued that the recent outrage about our civil liberties being eroded are misplaced. I do not mean to imply that issues such as the warrantless wiretapping are unimportant, or worthy of serious debate. I do mean to say that they are not the largest or most prevalent threat to us as a free people. It is the very size and reach of the government. The story of how bogus science, zealous litigators and activist groups acting “on our behalf” limited our freedom, destroyed careers and fortunes is alarming, but it is part and parcel of the technocratic regulatory vision which animates the drug war, invades our privacy, and the privacy of how we chose to live our lives.

Hat-tip: Instapundit and I'll steal his line: Read The Whole Thing.

But johngalt thinks:

I was most interested in this passage from Lance's piece:

"We have to give a “good reason” for our choices. For those of us concerned about the ongoing drug war, such as the recently deceased Milton Friedman, this is a key point. I have a close friend who often used to justify (despite ample evidence) his vote for Democrats on the Republican drug war. I argued that neither party was serious about doing anything about it, and that the most vocal opponents of it were certain Republicans and libertarians."

Voting for Democrats will give no more satisfactory resolution to the "war on drugs" than it will to the "culture of corruption" in government. Sadly, voting for Republicans is rarely better, but only the best of two bad alternatives.

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2006 5:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen. I would even ask gay marriage supporters if the Democrats' tepid non-opposition is worth their vote.

The heart of this piece is its assurance that we quibble about crumbs of liberty on the edges while ceding swaths of control without a quibble. (Sorry about the high metaphor density of that last paragraph). Have hearings on terrorist surveillance -- but allow the FDA to deny 30,000 terminal colon cancer patients access to Erbitux.

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2006 5:36 PM

Dems to Raise Gas Prices

Apparently the latest drops in fuel prices have really sent the Dems into a titter.

To rectify this problem, it's time (yet again) to stick it to the oil companies.

    House Democrats are targeting billions of dollars in oil company tax breaks for quick repeal next year. A broader energy proposal that would boost alternative energy sources and conservation is expected to be put off until later.

    Hot-button issues such as a tax on the oil industry's windfall profits or sharp increases in automobile fuel economy probably will not gain much ground given the narrow Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

    Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in an outline of priorities over the first 100 hours of the next Congress in January, promises to begin a move toward greater energy independence "by rolling back the multibillion dollar subsidies for Big Oil."

So which subsidies are they going to do in?
    -Tax breaks for refinery expansion and for geological studies to help oil exploration.

    -A measure passed two years ago primarily to promote domestic manufacturing. It allows oil companies to take a tax credit if they chose to drill in this country instead of going abroad.

That's the top of their list.

Say hello to three dollar gas soon, and a screeching halt to the current boom in oil field projects and workers.

But jk thinks:

I'm a big fan of big oil, ac, please don't take my question the wring way, but: "Is it wrong to end subsidies in such a profitable industry?"

Precisely for the reasons that I would argue forcefully against windfall profits tax, the subsidies you mention seem anti-market. It seems if you craft some way to get government the hell out of the way, refinery capacity would skyrocket without tax breaks. Ditto for domestic drilling.

If gas costs three dollars without government subsidies, that's what it costs. Now a coffee subsidy...

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2006 1:36 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I don't think it should be anyone but the shareholders business what the profits of a company are, and "are they enough?"

I think the fact that a "subsidy" like this exists is a symptom of the fact that some government inspired imbalance in the free-market exists.

Rather than asking "Should be cancel tax breaks?" the question should be, "What has government done that we need to do tax breaks?"

In that sense, we agree. But it's government "solving" a problem of it's own creation.

In the end, we don't know what gas costs. It's being meddled with innumerable ways.

Posted by: AlexC at November 20, 2006 2:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I absolutely agree with AlexC, although it took his reply to jk's comment before I realized we'd both been snookered by NoCal Nancy's misleading terminology.

When is a subsidy not a subsidy? When the money at issue was looted from the beneficiary in the first place! Nancy nearly persuaded us of her delusion that those "multibillions" belong to "the people."

JK even referenced this in his comment: "...if you craft some way to get government the hell out of the way, refinery capacity would skyrocket without tax breaks, [i.e. getting government the hell out of the way.] By the time you include regulatory limitations, some of which are defensible but most are not, the burden upon "big oil" is disproportionate in the same way as the burden on individuals - those with a "greater ability to pay" are compelled to do so.

Posted by: johngalt at November 20, 2006 5:40 PM

November 18, 2006

Weekend Fun

Attila at Pillage Idiot brings tales of internecine strife in the new Democratic House Leadership.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:11 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

So much for "Let the Healing Begin,.."

The next two years will be "interesting times," for sure!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 18, 2006 9:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, I'm not much into "healing." Like Larry Kudlow, I like full contact partisanship. I don't quote Ann Coulter very much, but she had a riff I really liked. President Bush (41) said "I know you didn't send us here to bicker." And Ms. Coulter said "yes we did, we sent you there to out-bicker the other guys."

Not only the Democratic Party gains, but also many of the referenda and ballot issues make me think this nation is poised to take a left turn toward European style, mixed economy socialism. I'm certainly not looking to get along and I doubt many ThreeSources, Pillage Idiots or Is This Lifers are. Interesting times indeed.

Posted by: jk at November 19, 2006 11:56 AM

One More for Milton

Thomas Sowell has a great column on OpinionJournal today (free link). He reminisces about studying under Milton Friedman, and the significant impact of Friedman's work:

Ironically, Friedman began his career as a believer in both Keynesian economics and in the liberals’ vision of the world with which it was so compatible. Yet, in the end, no one did more to dethrone both. It is doubtful whether Ronald Reagan could have been elected president in 1980 without the changes in public opinion produced by Friedman’s work in the previous decades.

The Keynesians’ belief that government policy could wisely make trade-offs between rates of inflation and rates of unemployment was epitomized in the Phillips Curve, which seemed to lend empirical support to that belief. Friedman dealt that analysis a body blow when he argued that it was not the rate of inflation which reduced unemployment but the fact that inflation exceeded expectations.

In other words, even a high rate of inflation would not reduce unemployment if inflationary policies became so common as to be expected. The "stagflation" of the 1970s--with simultaneous double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment--validated what Friedman had said, in a way that no one could ignore.

Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Hat-tip: Everyday Economist.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 7:01 PM

Review Corner

I have to call attention to a series of book. Stars must be given to the "Eminent Lives" series of biography from Harper Collins.

At ~200 pages, with no footnotes or bibliography, these books probably send serious historical scholars screaming for the exits (though should really serious historians be running around screaming?) Yet I think they provide a great opportunity to catch up on a historical figure. I may or may not have read a full length treatment of President Ulysses S. Grant, but Michael Korda's was great. I'm certain I would have passed on 550 pages about Ludwig von Beethoven but I enjoyed the Edmund Morris book. I might look a little more deeply at both of these.

Also offered by the series is a little analysis and opinion. Jefferson's Presidency is by far my favorite period in American history. I wouldn't call myself a scholar, but I've read many books about the time, the man, and his contemporaries. Christopher Hitchens's take on our third president was an interesting addition to the field and if you're looking for one in the series, start there.

I just finished "Democracy's Guide," Joseph Epstein's take on Alexis de Tocqueville. I've been enthralled by "Democracy in America" but didn't know anything about the author's life. Epstein does a great job capturing Tocqueville's life, thought, and current relevance. Epstein and Tocqueville remind us of the important differences between the French Revolution and America's Independence (Tocqueville considers "revolutionary spirit" pejorative and claims America's separation from Britain was not the class struggle associated with the R-word).

Epstein closely examines Toqueville's faith. Though he left the Church philosophically in his teens, he uses religion to great effect in "Democracy In America" and Epstein riffs that he could not come to terms later in life to turn back, declare himself atheist, or even declare himself agnostic. Epstein discusses the controversy of whether he made a deathbed conversion.

This is an example of the freedom of the series. The authors provide a general biography but each is free to explore his or her own specific interests. jk gives four stars to the books on Washington, Jefferson, Grant, Beethoven, and Tocqueville. My wife the Psych major wants the Freud book. I have to confess I don't know who the hell Caravaggio is, but for twenty bucks and an afternoon's effort, I could be a scholar.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:34 PM

November 17, 2006

Heinlien and Friedman

Two great tidbits in a single Instapundit post. (That guy's gonna be big someday, mark my words...)

1. An emailer's father had "a detailed discussion" of "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" with his professor Friedman.

2. Tim Minear of Firefly/Angel/Wonderfalls fame is working on a film version of TMIAHM. Says Glenn: “Efforts to translate Heinlein to film haven't generally been very successful, but if anyone can do it, it'll be him.”

Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM

Amendment 28

Josh Poulson offers an amendment to the Constitution in the name of the late Milton Friedman.

    Amendment XXVIII—Limiting Taxation and Voting to Specific Dates

    1. Each year all Federal, State, and local government shall hold two elections for public offices: a primary election the first Tuesday in May and a general election the first Tuesday in November.

    2. All taxes and set-asides, except the collection of sales taxes by sellers from direct consumers, shall be paid twice annually, due two weeks before the primary and general elections.

    3. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Government Posted by AlexC at 4:50 PM

Big Advertising

KFC has a new logo, and you can see it from space.

    The company unveiled a new brand logo Tuesday that includes bolder colors and a more well-defined visage of the late Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, who will keep his classic black bow tie, glasses and goatee.

    As part of publicity for the new logo, KFC commissioned a giant, 87,000-square foot version of it that can be seen from space. The massive logo consists of 65,000 1-foot square painted tiles that were laid out in the Nevada desert over 24 days.


I was never one for the Colonel, but that's pretty damned cool.

I can't wait for the day when someone gets a) the money b) the guts to project an ad onto the full moon.

With a sufficiently strong laser beam (or multiples) I bet you could do it.

Imagine the round red Coke Classic logo or the old fashioned blue AT&T logo up there. Everyone would see it. It'd be a sensation.

(tip to HotAir)

But jk thinks:

Please don't let them blast the Barry Manilow KFC jingle loud enough to be heard in space.

Yes, itchy-fingered engineers, I know, no air no sound, but the idea of trying is too horrible to contemplate.

"Get a bucket of Chicken, finger lickin' good Goodbye ho-hums..."

Posted by: jk at November 17, 2006 5:13 PM

Keep Friedman Spirit Alive

Stephen Moore relates a recent lunch with the late, great, economist Milton Friedman in today’s WSJ Political Diary.

I had lunch not long ago with Milton Friedman, the most influential economist of the past half-century or more, who died yesterday at 94. I asked him the three economic policy changes he would recommend to President Bush to achieve a high rate of economic growth. His first prescription was free trade: "I think that free trade is the most important single way to promote growth. The Bush administration has protected three industries: steel, timber, and agriculture. Those should all be repealed," he advised.

No. 2 was cutting government spending "as much as you possibly can." Friedman long maintained that resources contribute more to human betterment and happiness in private hands than government hands.

But it was on school vouchers, a cause he had championed for 50 years, that his passion for improving the lot of humanity through sound economics shined most brightly. "The third policy, which really should be the first, is to move however quickly you can to get to a competitive educational system. One of the most negative features in our society is the national educational system. There is no other branch of government, no other branch of the economy, let alone the government, which is so technologically backward. We teach kids the way we did two centuries ago. That's because 90% of our kids go to government schools. And most of the other 10% go to privately subsidized non-profit, mostly religious, schools. All should go to a form of free market school. There would be a revolution in schooling if you could get a competitive educational system with parents deciding where their children should go, with parents paying for them either from their own pocket or through a government subsidy which they right now get but cannot control."

The civil rights issue of our time: rescue poor, inner-city kids from union-ruined public education. Continuing to fight will keep Milton & Rose's dream alive.

Education Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM

Senator Edwards and the PS3

I was gonna link to this, but I didn't have the right hook.

Wal-Mart issued a press release this afternoon saying that an aide to John Edwards, the former Democratic vice presidential candidate and North Carolina senator, contacted a Wal-Mart store in Raleigh, N.C., in search of a Sony PlayStation3 “on behalf of the senator’s family.” The coveted game console, available in limited quantities, goes on sale at midnight tonight.

The giant retailer noted the irony, given Edwards’s participation Wednesday in a conference call organized by Wal-Mart critic During the call, Edwards criticized Wal-Mart’s employment practices and recounted how his son had taken to task another student for buying shoes at Wal-Mart. and other union-backed groups have pilloried the retailer’s employment practices at several events recently.

ThreeSources friend Sugarchuck rides to my rescue. "Two Americas," says sc in an email, "the one where people wait their turn in line and play by the rules and the second where fat cat trial lawyers try to use influence and power to jump to the front of the line and get theirs while the regular guy waits."

From the other side Posted by John Kranz at 12:13 PM

My Kind of Diesel Mechanic reports on a beauty queen who is giving up her title to serve our nation and the cause of freedom.

Jessica Gaulke is trading in life as Minnesota's queen of the lakes for a year in the Iraqi desert.

"There's obviously preconceived notions about beauty queens," said Gaulke, who was chosen as Minneapolis Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes in July.

Gaulke is giving up her title because her National Guard unit has been activated for duty in Iraq. The 22-year-old Augsburg College sociology student will be going to the Mideast as a diesel generator mechanic.

Senator Kerry could not be reached for comment. ThreeSources wondered if he would retract his famous comment: “You work on your poise, you get your lipstick right, you find an evening gown that fits, you can do well. If not, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Hat-tip: My lovely wife.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 11:38 AM

Economics and Freedom

The WSJ Ed Page has two mist reads for freedom and economics today. Indeed, that has been their beat since Bob Bartley sat in Mr. Gigot's chair. Both are available on the free site today.

Dan Henninger celebrates 25 years of President Reagan's tax cuts and celebrates their architect, Dr. Arthur Laffer.

It was entirely appropriate that as its keynote speaker to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1981 Reagan tax cut, the Heritage Foundation in Washington this week should assign the job to Art Laffer. Mr. Laffer is surely the most irrepressibly ebullient practitioner of the dismal science of economics alive today, maybe ever. It is no surprise that more than a quarter century ago, then California Gov. Ronald Reagan, another genuinely cheerful soul in a dismal profession, would have found common cause with the young economist’s view that cutting taxes would produce a wealth of benefits for the American people.

Now, 25 years later and with the post-Reagan Republican Party in tatters over a confused political agenda, Mr. Laffer stood beaming at the Heritage podium to inform its audience that “illegal immigrants are the lifeblood of our society.” This produced a boo-burst from a distant corner, which Mr. Laffer seemed not to notice. When so informed over a nightcap at the Willard Hotel, he said with the famous smile, “What do I care? I’ve been booed at all my life.”

I know, Dr. L. That's how they treat me around here. Internecine dig aside, it's a comprehensive encapsulation of the benefits of free economics.
Communism had been running what might be called a 40-year demonstration study in life at one end of the Laffer Curve—what happens to economies when you tax away pretty much everything. Freed of this utopia, the peoples of Eastern Europe now had to devise new tax regimes appropriate to nations eager—for want of a better phase—to work, save and invest.

The first former Iron Curtain country to cut its taxes was Estonia in 1994, led by Prime Minister Mart Laar, who claimed then the only economics book he’d ever read was Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose.” Estonia established a flat rate on personal incomes of 26%; two years earlier it had abolished all import tariffs. Estonia grew.

After Estonia, flat-tax regimes coursed across Eastern Europe, as listed below (bear in mind that the top rate in the U.S. is 35%): Lithuania, 33%; Latvia, 25%; Slovakia, 19% (the former sad sack of the region, Slovakia’s growing economy has become its envy); Romania, 16%; Ukraine, 13%; Russia, 13%; and Georgia, 12%.

The second is a thoughtful tribute to Milton Friedman.
There are some public figures whose obituaries can be written years in advance. Milton Friedman was not one of them.

Arguably the greatest economist of the 20th century, he won his Nobel Prize 30 years ago. His classic “Capitalism and Freedom” was published 44 years ago. He died yesterday at the age of 94, but as the op-ed running nearby attests, he was active in writing about, thinking about and explaining how economics affects our world until the end.

Those lucky souls who fill the Dow Jones coffers can then read a recent article by Friedman on monetary policy vs. technical innovation at reversing contractions. Life is good.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM

November 16, 2006

Some More Milton Friedman

Government Bytes (ha!) reminds us of one of Milton Friedman's best quotations.

    There are four ways in which you can spend money.

    You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.

    Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.

    Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!

    Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.


RedState links to this video.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 5:32 PM

Degenerate Journalism

I think Sheldon Alberts of CanWest News Service really meant to say, "Iraq denigrated into a rat's nest" as the resemblence of the Iraq we see in western media spins further and further from the actual place where thousands of brave and patriotic Americans try mightily to separate the killers from the killees. Instead he wrote, as the headline no less, "Iraq denigrating into a rat's nest, general testifies." If the general actually said that we've no way of knowing since there's nothing approaching such a quote in Sheldon's piece carried on

Instead it's a stream of encouragements such as, "the situation could be bleak" and "I would not say we've turned the corner." Don't increase the number of soldiers deployed there, nor send them elsewhere before Iraqi forces are available to replace them. Instead, the general suggests, we should (ahem) stay the course.

(...) Abizaid said it was his ''professional opinion'' that Iraqis could restore calm if the U.S. rapidly accelerates training of the country's military forces.

Far be it for me to degenerate dear mister Alberts, however. That is his editor's job, is it not? (Or perhaps, his high school grammar teacher's.)

Iraq Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM

Freedom - Economic and Political

As JK would doubtless and justifiably say, "Giants have walked the earth." From "Milton Friedman, one of the best-known American economists and the winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize, has died at the age of 94."

During his life, Friedman argued that free markets should be allowed to function without being overly burdened by the government, and he was a believer in the idea that economic and political freedom are intertwined.

His death was attributed to heart failure.

But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Time to climb on the crazy train. I think the Democrats did it!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 16, 2006 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

A giant, ideed. Requiescat in Pace.

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2006 3:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Insty has a great collection of links to DVDs and interviews.

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2006 6:24 PM

Speaker Pelosi, oh for One!

The Fix -- Chris Cillizza's Politics Blog on Hoyer Win a Blow to Pelosi

In a blow to incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) beat out her chosen pick -- Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) -- for House Majority Leader.
Hoyer's victory was considered a certainty as recently as Sunday but Pelosi's decision to publicly back Murtha, and work her colleagues on his behalf, left observers wondering whether it was a tighter race than it at first seemed.
Apparently not. Hoyer won 149 votes to just 86 for Murtha -- a stunningly large margin given Pelosi's heavy involvement.
Expect Pelosi and Hoyer -- along with new Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (S.C.) and Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) -- to put on a happy face about the results in the coming hours and days, but the reality is that Pelosi gambled and lost this morning and now has an adversary rather than an advocate in the Majority Leader spot.

Ouch. Sorry Rep Pelosi, sorry Rep. Murtha.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 1:16 PM

Take a Deep Breath

Senator Trent Lott is going to be Minority Whip. I was dejected when I first heard the news, but after a few reminders of his skills (Pedro for Conference Committee Vice Chair), I have calmed down. Reading John McIntyre’s entry in OpinionJournal Political Diary today, I'm downright sanguine.

Tactically, Mr. Lott's choice is a smart move by the Senate GOP as it strengthens incoming Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's hand in dealing not only with a Democratic Congress but also a White House that may be willing to pass Democratic legislation in an attempt to stay relevant. Senator Lott's return to the leadership signals a break from the White House within the GOP caucus and is a clear sign the Republican minority is moving on from the Bush years and has its eyes squarely on 2008 and a return to the majority.

Both President Bush and the Democratic Congress are going to have to deal with perhaps the most powerful Senate minority ever and Republicans are signaling they want their best general marshalling the troops irrespective of his past gaffes or baggage. Anyone who thinks the partisan fighting will decrease in Washington is mistaken: Senate Republicans are preparing for battle not accommodation.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM

Quotable Joe

No, not Senator Biden. Those quotes on the side of Starbucks cups. Conor Clarke in TNR ants to know How the hell did David Frum get on your morning coffee cup?

Jonah Goldberg was one of the original people selected to pontificate in green on white. Mirabile dictu, the Seattle-based chain was accused of selecting more liberals, leaving poor Jonah to hold up the right.

There goes the neighborhood. After fielding complaints "the conservatives couldn't hop on the bandwagon fast enough. 'Coffee is such an important part of my life that I could not say no,' says a dangerously caffeine-addicted [David] Frum.

The result: As the series expanded, so did the conservative presence. And, while the company would never admit that it's doing diversity outreach, it drops all the right code words. It seeks, according to Pucik, a "balance of viewpoints and experiences when evaluating contributions to the program." The contributors "include a wide range of people with varying points of view, experiences, and priorities." And so on. As Goldberg puts it, you would think you had stumbled into an admissions department meeting at Brown

Now they've got more righties but not enough women. Clarke chides "Concerned Women of America" for being more "concerned" about homosexual activism than quotas. I may have to side with Clarke in the end, because of his nicely penned ending:
There's something to be said for a place free of politics and diversity picks. Coffee doesn't need a Clarence Thomas. It just needs to be reasonably priced, consistently drinkable, and only mildly in the thrall of the homosexual agenda.

Grande decaf cappuccino, dry, please.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:46 PM

NYTimes: Don't Cut and Run.

The News Pages at the New York Times give favorable coverage to the generals urging against imposing a timetable.

Michael R. Gordon, in a bylined article titled "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say" points out that even some retired generals who have been critical of Secretary Rumsfeld are not signing up for a timetable for troop withdrawal.

This is the case now being argued by many Democrats, most notably Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who asserts that the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq should begin within four to six months.

But this argument is being challenged by a number of military officers, experts and former generals, including some who have been among the most vehement critics of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies.

Zinni goes on to say “Well, you can’t put pressure on a wounded guy. There is a premise that the Iraqis are not doing enough now, that there is a capability that they have not employed or used. I am not so sure they are capable of stopping sectarian violence.”

The article is thoughtful and well balanced, which made Josh @ EverydayEconomist wonder (he sent the link in an email) why they didn't provide this information before the election. I'd call that a fair question.

Even the Brooking Institution is not on the Murtha track:

Kenneth M. Pollack, an expert at the Brookings Institution who served on the staff of the National Security Council during the Clinton administration, also argued that a push for troop reductions would backfire by contributing to the disorder in Iraq.

“If we start pulling out troops and the violence gets worse and the control of the militias increases and people become confirmed in their suspicion that the United States is not going to be there to prevent civil war, they are to going to start making decisions today to prepare for the eventuality of civil war tomorrow,” he said. “That is how civil wars start.”

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus asks the same question: "Now they tell us, Part XXVIII"

War on Terror Posted by John Kranz at 10:11 AM

November 15, 2006

Sarcasm Done Right

Dean Barnett, at

Trent Lott has won the number two job among Republicans in the Senate! Whoopee! If there’s one message that the electorate sent the Republican Party last week, it’s that we hadn’t given them enough of Trent Lott. I cannot adequately express my delight that Senate Republicans have moved with such expediency to right this egregious wrong.

I guess Sen. Ted Stevens would have been a slightly worse choice, so they got the second worst GOP senator for the #2 spot. Worst of all, they ruin the joy for me as my favorite Senator gets the #1 spot. Congrats to Leader McConnell.

Trent Freakin' Lott.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:14 PM

The Fun Continues

The WaPo fires two at Speaker Presumptive Pelosi today. Howard Kurtz wonders in Targeting Murtha why we didn't all know about Rep Murtha's ethics challenges, say, before the election

Nancy Pelosi pushes the guy for majority leader and suddenly--boom!--he's on the front page of The Washington Post as being ethically challenged. The New York Times mentions it as well.

And I'm wondering why, if this is a valid news story--the peg is some watchdog groups criticizing the Pennsylvania congressman on the eve of the House leadership vote--I didn't get to read about it earlier. Instead, the stories were written in an "everyone knows this" tone.

I know, because I've been around for awhile, that Murtha was caught up in Abscam, but that was 26 years ago, and besides, he was never charged. (Though it was kind of creepy to see the grainy videotape again on "NBC Nightly News," with Murtha saying to a bribe offer: "I'm not interested--at this point. We do business for awhile, maybe I'll be interested, maybe I won't.")

And that's the WaPo media critic (to be fair, Kurtz’s news beat has generated many thoughtful articles suspicious of bias).

Over on the Editorial Page, Ruth Marcus takes off the gloves (I expect it makes it easier to type).

"The Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history," Pelosi pledged on election night. Five days later she wrote Murtha a letter endorsing his bid to become her No. 2.

Not the most promising start.

For years Murtha has relied on the Abscam bottom line to argue that the case is not a problem for him: He wasn't indicted. But he was named a co-conspirator in the bribery scheme. The feckless House ethics committee didn't take action against him, though the outside investigator it hired quit in disgust after the panel rejected his recommendation to file misconduct charges.

A portentous start to the "most ethical Congress in history."

But AlexC thinks:

Diana Irey, Republican that ran against him, knew. In fact part of her campaign was surrounding that fact.

The voters of the district knew too.

He still is in office, after all.

We all knew about it, so did the House Dems. The question is not, "why didn't we know?" it a statement.

"The Dems knew too."

Posted by: AlexC at November 15, 2006 5:10 PM
But jk thinks:

We who care about such things knew, I wonder how many of the good voters of PA-12 knew. Kurtz compliments the New York Times (SWIFTBOATERS!!) for some coverage but notes;

But that was about it--until now. A Nexis search doesn't even turn up anything in the Philly Inquirer or Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Posted by: jk at November 15, 2006 5:35 PM

November 14, 2006

Fait Accompli

We've all taken Speaker Pelosi as a given. Brendan Minter has an interesting angle from WSJ Political Diary:

Each party elects its own congressional leaders but the Speaker is elected by the entire House. That means if Republicans cross the aisle and hand their votes to respected Democratic moderate Steny Hoyer, he would be just a small number of votes shy of being elected speaker. There are still several congressional races underway through recounts so it's not clear yet precisely how many Republicans there will be in the next Congress. Mr. Hoyer would likely need roughly 15 Democratic votes for speaker in order to beat Ms. Pelosi.

When we put the question to a senior staffer for a Republican leader yesterday, he responded only: "You aren't the first person to bring this up today."

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 2:57 PM

Hugh on Immigration

A friend of ThreeSources sends this link to Hugh Hewitt.

As soon as the House and Senate GOP have their leadership teams in place, and soon after the lame duck session ends, the 250 House and Senate members should repair to a conference center somewhere for a long conversation on illegal immigration leading to a consensus position. Certainly there will be outliers, but an ongoing bloodletting over the issue is the only major obstacle in the path to return to majority status. An ongoing focus on the issue is found at Powerline, and though I am unwilling to simply credit Tamar Jacoby's take on the subject, she is generally correct that the issue of illegal immigration did not deliver a wave of support for GOP candidates who thought it would.

It's a thoughtful piece as I would expect from Hewitt. The link arrived without comment from one of my many detractors.

I sense that even Hewitt is humbled by the loss. He admits, in this piece, that he was never certain it was a winner and now concedes to being close to Tamar Jacoby's position.

I was very disappointed when Hewitt changed his "12 words" from his excellent book, Painting The Map Red, to "15 words" by adding "seal the border." The original twelve:

Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.

Those would have galvanized all the GOP-leaning ThreeSourcers, WSJ, Weekly Standard, National Review, maybe even George Will and David Brooks on a good day.

When Hewitt released a T-Shirt, it was up to 15 and I feared the next week would be 18 with the addition of "Queers Cain't Marry!." I will credit Hugh with learning from the vote totals. But I sense he is ducking the complicity of the talk radio movement in fueling the border hysteria.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 1:11 PM | What do you think? [3]
But sugarchuck thinks:

JK, it seems to me that we are all in agreement that we want this to remain the land of opportunity for those who wish to come here and abide by our laws, work hard and contribute. We also seem to be in agreement, at least for the sake of argument, over JGVII. So what is left to argue about but "seal the border?" You said in an earlier post that you want a "lawful and regulated" border. Fair enough. To me that means a closed border with a combination of concrete fencing and electronic surveillance. It also means a military presence. What would you do differently to provide for " a lawful and regulated" border.
I would also add that I know we are vulnerable in other places, but twelve million plus came into this country illegally across our southern border so I think that is a good place to start placing limited resources.

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 14, 2006 2:04 PM
But jk thinks:

I want to change the situation from being illegal and chaotic to being legal, moderatable, and auditable. That will make it more fair and humane, and make America more secure. I think we really do agree there.

I don't think that we either can or want to do it by enforcement only. Hugh (I think) says Let's close that baby down, tight as a drum. Then we can talk about how many to let in and how. I think the ThreeSources naitivist wing is pretty close to that and I say "No, baby, not gonna work!"

I really see it as an engineering problem. Put up the fence, yes, but without a guest worker program or increased visas, the pressure will be too great for the fence to contain. Companies, citizens and farmers up here want labor That's a vacuum on the North half. Workers down there want employment, that's pressure on the South wall. If you don't provide a valve to moderate that pressure differential, the wall is going to blow over. I've tortured that analogy but I mean every word of it.

The part of the status quo I do like is the generous amount of labor it has made available. A fix that breaks this does not appeal to me. I'm not being evasive on purpose. I want to fix it, but I don't want to spoil the economy. I get the sense Bill Kristol is in my camp there. The status quo sucks but is better than a bad solution. My mind is drawn to Sarbanes-Oxley here...

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2006 2:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Stop Swift Boating me!

Posted by: jk at November 15, 2006 4:05 PM

The Fun Begins

TNR is not going to go easy on the new Speaker. They've waited longer than most for a Democratic chance at power and they're not going to sit quietly and watch her squander it.

Nancy Pelosi's unintelligent decision

In one of her first important acts since Democrats recaptured Congress, Nancy Pelosi is about to make a decision that is both substantively foolish and politically tone-deaf. The decision involves the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee. For obvious reasons, that post has serious implications for national security--as well as the image of a Democratic Party seeking to convince the public it can be trusted to govern. But it appears alarmingly likely that Pelosi will spurn both with a decision based on petty personal and identity politics.

They may lose the war and ruin the economy, but I still predict fun for the opposition press and punditry.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM

November 13, 2006

Internecine Grudge Match, Round 4 (or so)

Last week, in JK's latest installment of "border security is a political loser" he appears to remain convinced that campaigning on border control hurt the GOP candidates who did so. Or perhaps he's only suggesting that it didn't help them. Either way, it appears the same is also true for the new Democrat majority.

WaPo reports today in Democrats May Proceed With Caution on Immigration:

But when it comes to immigration, things are never easy. In the days after the election, Democratic leaders surprised pro-immigration groups by not including the issue on their list of immediate priorities. Experts said the issue is so complicated, so sensitive and so explosive that it could easily blow up in the Democrats' faces and give control of Congress back to Republicans in the next election two years from now. And a number of Democrats who took a hard line on illegal immigration were also elected to Congress.

Hat tip: Rush.

JK also applauded the "JG seven points" [7th comment] for immigration policy reform but added, "You think Tommy Tancredo would go for it? Wait let me answer that -- no way in hell!"

Well, here's the latest from "Tommy:"

Anti-immigration Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who was distraught after the election, believing a guest worker program was inevitable under the Democrats, now says he's changed his mind.

"It seemed to me that it was not going to be as easy for them as I had anticipated or feared," Tancredo said. "They're not putting it out there as their number one, out-of-the-box issue."

The more he thought about the issue, the more cloudy the future seemed.

"I don't know," he said. A temporary guest worker program "could certainly happen. I may be just skipping past the graveyard."

But jk thinks:

1. I should not refer to an elected representative of the US Congress by first name, certainly not a diminutive. I apologize, Johnny, for calling Rep. Tancredo "Tommy." That was bad form and I will not repeat it.

2. It most definitely hurt the GOP as a whole to head into elections without a solution to the emergency they had concocted. This was underscored nicely on the Journal Editorial Report this weekend. (scroll to bottom) Some individual races were won in spite of candidates' embracing enforcement-only, but I've yet to read a convincing case of one who won because of it and there are many examples of candidates' losing with that as a chief or high priority.

3. That Rep. Tancredo has himself tossed in the towel on his signature issue after last week's drubbing indicates that he realizes what a loser issue it is. Saying the future is cloudy and that it might happen someday does not strike me as a ringing endorsement of the JGVII.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2006 3:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, sorry about the scare quotes around Tommy. I didn't mean to imply that it was disrespectful. I think Tommy is a fine name for him! Don't know what I was thinkin'.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2006 1:07 AM
But sugarchuck thinks:

As to point two, the crisis on the border was not concocted; it is real. The emergency is the failure to do anything about it. If JK is correct about a majority of people opposing a border fence and a muscular security presence and voting on their opposition,then so be it. The "folks" are wrong and all the situational populism in the world won't make them right. The southern border needs to be controlled, period. The rest of it, amnesty, worker programs, etc..., is another topic.

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 14, 2006 9:55 AM
But jk thinks:

Tommy is a very fine name. I try to always address every member of legitimately elected office by his or her title. The most difficult two for me are Vice President Gore and Rep. Tancredo. Al and Tommy just slip through.

We perhaps need to fly everybody out and hash this out over beers or cappuccinos. I don't feel my points are getting across and I feel frustration on your parts.

We all want law and order. We all want to know who is crossing the border. I think that addresses the emergency.

I think my blog brothers and the Tancredoites and the Bill O'Reilly brigades are wrong to seek enforcement only. It would require a level of militarization and aesthetics that would be unpalatable to most people.

I also believe that enforcement-only would damage the economy. I started with economic arguments. Bastiat's "Seen and Unseen" hold the day: these people contribute far more to our economy than they take out. Even with the illegal chaotic nature, the influx has made us wealthier.

Since I want to fix it and do not believe enforcement-only works, I champion "comprehensive" reform. I said a November ago that enforcement and increased immigration are complimentary, not exclusive. For this reason, I thought a compromise House-Enforcement/Senate-Guest Worker could be done in conference.

All hail the seven points! Science be praised!

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2006 10:17 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I haven't heard any blog brothers argue for enforcement ONLY. We ask for enforcement FIRST.

It can be argued that this amounts to enforcement only for the period until immigration reform passes but don't forget about the 12 million already here. They'll keep their jobs and any negative effect on the supply of labor will be gradual and discernable. This will apply the proper market pressure for the political solution you earnestly seek.

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2006 3:53 PM
But jk thinks:

We're talking compromise, committee legislation. Congress cannot legally bind another Congress and intra-congressional staging requires more trust than 535 legislators can generate or sustain.

You have to bargain: "Tommy," says Senator McCain(he can use first names) "you approve guest workers and a path to citizenship, we'll add 200 miles to your fence." The whole thing gets sausaged up and placed on the President's desk for a signing. No first, no later.

As far as the current residents sustaining the labor pool, I seek a plan that will allow them to leave and come back legally.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2006 4:30 PM

Nothing to See Here

Iranian President Ahmadinejad:

    “The western powers created the Zionist regime in order to expand their control of the area. This regime massacres Palestinians everyday, but since this regime is against nature, we will soon witness its disappearance and destruction,”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
    "We will not tolerate the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran," Olmert told NBC television's "Today Show" program, ahead of talks with President George W. Bush on Iran's nuclear ambitions and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Asked whether his country was considering a preemptive strike targeting Tehran's nuclear facilities, Olmert answered: "I hope we don't have to reach that stage."

    But the Israel leader said his first choice is a negotiated resolution.

    "Every compromise that will stop Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities, which will be acceptable to President Bush, would be acceptable to me."

Ahmadinejad isn't bluffing. When he pulls the trigger, some will say "I told you so," and some will say "we didn't think he was serious."

Unfortunately, there are too many of the latter in power around the world.

Olmert and Israel are in no position to bluff.

Expect this to flare up in the spring during another Israel / Lebanon / Hezbollah flare up.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 11:45 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I don't think they'll admit "we didn't think he was serious." Instead I expect it will be Bush's fault, even if he's left office. "The Iranians would not have felt such an action was necessary if the Chimpmeister hadn't invaded their neighbor for no good reason." Yeah.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2006 2:52 PM


This story scares me more than handing gavels to Reps. Conyers, Dingell, Rangel and Waxman. I cannot swear it is true but it is an interesting theory and has some verisimilitude.

Rusty Shackleford at compares Jon Stewart's influence in 2006 with Rush Limbaugh's in 1994.

But one phenomenon has been overlooked. One which I believe was a key if not the key to a Democratic victory. That is the phenomenon of faux news. And Jon Stewart is its banner bearer.

Jon Stewart is an unlikely player in national politics. He's not a pundit, he's a comedian. As unlikely a candidate for Democratic kingmaker as he may be, he's a force to be reckoned with.

Ratings for The Daily Show's coverage of the '06 elections were second only to The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News. 2.0 million Americans tuned into Comedy Central on Tuesday to follow election results. That's right, more people were watching a comedian talk about the news than an anchor on CNN.

And just who is it that is tuning into The Daily Show? Young people. Lot's of them.

In fact, in the 2004 election nearly as many young people cited The Daily Show as a source of news as any other source. And Jon Stewart's Daily Show audience has only grown since then.

I'm deeply disturbed by the faux news movement because, ultimately, it means people will get their news from Hollywood. I don't see that as a positive step.

I know we have some Colbert fans around here. I've laughed at some of his stuff but can't subscribe to this shift toward faux news. As a side, he did an impressive two-part a capella version of the national anthem with one of the incoming Democratic Congressmen -- did anybody see that? I turned on the TV and it was on. It was very good.

Read the Shackleford piece. Be very afraid.

But AlexC thinks:

Faux News? Ha! We on the right have been getting it 24/7 for years from the cable news network that dare not say it's name.

Actually, I would have thought that Colbert and Stewart would have numbed or jaded their viewers to politics in general.

Maybe they'll turn around and bash the Dems now that they're in charge.

Posted by: AlexC at November 13, 2006 12:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup, it is very hard to present accurate news without bias and it is hard to say that many have succeeded. To try and make it funny as well does not help.

As Shackleford points out, Stewart tries to skewer the Democrats as well but his heart is clearly not in it. I'm concerned because it shifts the news axis from Washington/NY (bad enough) to Hollywood. Yeah, both sides will get skewered but the stats will not favor free markets.

Posted by: jk at November 13, 2006 12:47 PM

100 Hours of Bad Economics

Rep. Pelosi has won an apparent Speakership -- fair and square, mind you -- based on "the first 100 hours." A nice play on the Contractor With America in '94, Pelosi promised 100 hours of bad economics and rode it to victory.

I'll not belabor the bad economics of increasing the minimum wage. Thomas Sowell owns that one lock, stock and barrel. He has shown it is ineffective, rife with unintended consequences, and racist in nature as it removes a new minority's ability to break into a labor market with advantageous pricing.

The next snap of the gavel will be to "fix Medicare" by allowing the government to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. "Use their bargaining power like Wal*Mart," claim the Democrats. Trouble is, Wal*Mart has market power but not coercive power. Like the minimum wage, this plan is both unfair and rife with unintended consequences.

Stanford Professor Emeritus Alain Enthoven and grad student Kyna Fong. point out the difficulties in a guest editorial in the WSJ today.

In fact, the government negotiating on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries may lead to some unintended adverse consequences. Since direct-to-consumer advertising is legal in the U.S., there is nothing preventing pharmaceutical companies from funding a torrent of advertisements for the "latest and greatest" drug, thereby creating a strong demand within the Medicare population for coverage of the drug. How firm can the government stand when negotiating for a drug being clamored for? This is not the sort of bargaining power that will lead to lower prices.

Secondly, by acting as one large buyer, the government will cause price discounts to become more expensive for pharmaceutical companies. In other words, the minimum price that the pharmaceutical company is able to accept increases. All else equal, this will lead to higher, not lower, prices. When private drug plans are negotiating individually with pharmaceutical companies, those companies have the power to "price discriminate," meaning they can charge lower prices to some drug plans and higher prices to others. This ability allows for large discounts. If Pfizer is able to give a deep discount to Kaiser without giving a similar discount to United, then it is less costly for Pfizer to give Kaiser that discount. If, however, Pfizer can give a deep discount to Kaiser only if the same discount is granted to all other Medicare drug plans, then the discount becomes very expensive.

Some may pay attention to the fact that it might backfire and raise drug prices for everybody, I was more interested in their closing point:
Finally, there is the familiar economic argument that the market-determined price is the only fair price. How can the government determine what price is "fair," what price appropriately reimburses pharmaceutical companies for all their research and development efforts? How can the government determine what prices will encourage the right levels of future innovation? The government negotiating prices only leaves room for additional gains through political lobbying and campaigning, activities at which pharmaceutical companies have proven themselves rather adept.

No wonder pharma stock prices are tumbling. Hope you don't get sick, kids, the government’s taking over.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 10:06 AM

November 12, 2006

Name Calling

Josh at The Everyday Economist defends his economic ideas with typical aplomb when globalization again comes under attack from a reader,

I recommend the entire post, but was struck by a sidebar:

First, you attack me as a latte-drinking economist detached from reality. This is an ad hominem attack. It is irrelevant to the debate and ineffective at making your point.

Second, since I support cheap labor and slavery is the cheapest of all labor I must therefore support slavery. The is the deductive fallacy. I have never advocated slavery and under no circumstances would I support it.

Third, you insinuate that only business owners have the knowledge to answer this question. Not only is this a red herring, but it is also false.

Now let’s revisit the facts.

Just as I'm getting along so well will ThreeSources eponymous latte sipper, the name calling breaks out elsewhere. Maybe I've been in Boulder County too long, but I didn't get it when ls picked his handle. I'm a (dry) cappuccino man myself, but I didn't see the point in arguing about milk content. I'm starting to get it now.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 7:39 PM

November 11, 2006

How Do You Sound?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
North Central
The South
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes
I've moved around enough to no longer ask for "a glass of wooder".... though "egg" never rhymed with "vague" in my vocabulary.

(tip to PhillyFuture)

UPDATE: Sorry to bust in on another's post but this is a particular interest of mine. Pretty impressive that the quiz seems to nail us both. Reckon it's my western accent, but I'd think "The Midlands" is somewhere in England.

But AlexC thinks:

I wonder if it would pick up the "Yinzer" Pittsburghese accent.

Posted by: AlexC at November 12, 2006 4:50 PM
But Charlie on the PA Turnpike thinks:

I was born and raised in NYC, and moved to PA some 12 years ago.

In my career, I've spoken in front of hundreds of people from all parts of the country and world.

Whenever they asked if I had a 'New Yawk' accent, I simply replied 'People from New York City do not have an accent; EVERYONE else does!'

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at November 13, 2006 9:12 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Seen at the Wawa, advertising their bastardization of a Philly Cheesesteak:

"Jeet yet?"

THAT'S Philly for ya!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 13, 2006 9:09 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I haven't seen that yet, but the proper answer for "Jeet yet? is "No, Jew?"

Posted by: AlexC at November 16, 2006 1:48 AM
But jk thinks:

Our Brooklyn-raised Physics teacher taught us:

Posted by: jk at November 16, 2006 9:57 AM

Review Corner

The hurly-burly of politics has kept Review Corner from completing the Arts segment of ThreeSources (Uh-oh, he's talking about himself in the third person now...)

But Friday is still movie night, and I still attempt to appreciate Hollywood through an Interferon-induced haze. I'll do the lightning round to catch up:

NACHO LIBRE - iSi! This film has the quirky deracinated feel of "Napoleon Dynamite," but has a plotline that keeps you plugged in. I heard rave reviews for Napoleon; I liked it okay but didn't see what all the fuss was about. Nacho was a lot of fun. I also think it owes a bit to my favorite episode of Angel: "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco." Perhaps they are just tied by the common subject of Mexican wrestling, but it helped drag me along for the ride. Cuatro Estrellas.

THE BREAKUP -- Review corner is not a connoisseur of Romantic Comedy but this one missed. I'm neither a connoisseur of leading men, but I found this to be incongruous casting. If you've seen the Vonage commercial where the computer nerd is dumping the hot chick in the red convertible, this is the feature-length version. Overweight, dumpy, unsophisticated, poorly dressed loser Gary (Vince Vaughn) will not do anything to save a relationship with Brooke (played by Jennifer Aniston!) I thought that unrealistic until my wife informs that the actors dated in real life, much to the same end. Chick -flick perhaps but Review Corner's wife was similarly unimpressed. Two stars for some clever supporting roles (rent the DVD, the alternate ending is the best five minutes of the film).

MONSTER HOUSE -- They can't all be Joss Whedon, but I have come to expect animated kids movies to have more grown-up themes interwoven. This has nothing for anybody over twelve. One point five for good technical animation. Cars was rented last night but will be watched later -- I'm hoping for much better.

POSEIDON -- Stick with Ernest Borgnine and Carol Lynley...Two stars for effects

GOAL! -- Clever and inspirational. Young Mexican illegal immigrant (Tancredo alert!) is discovered in LA for his soccer skills and gets a shot at English Premier play with Newcastle United. Four stars easy

UPDATE: CARS -- That's what I mean, there's great dialog for older viewers. I don't know that it is Pixar's best story but the animation is incredible and the story line is pretty fun. I'd've altered parts of the ending for political reasons, but it's Disney and it, sadly, captures the zeitgeist. I'll go four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 1:58 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

"Deracinated" ???

Did you score an 800 on the SATs?

Posted by: AlexC at November 11, 2006 3:03 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I've been desparetly looking for the "Polish" shirt, Vince Vaughn wears in the Breakup.

If you have any leads, shoot me an email!

Posted by: AlexC at November 11, 2006 3:04 PM
But jk thinks:

I see. Ms. Aniston was won over by the T-Shirt. I missed that the first time. I'll keep my eye out.

I know the word deracinated because I am, brother ac.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2006 1:29 PM


Today, November the 11th, used to be called Armistice Day. Celebrating the allied victory in WWI. In 1954, President Eisenhower renamed it to Veterans Day.

Wikipedia Link

Thank you all for your service and sacrifice.

But jk thinks:

Amen to that.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2006 12:59 PM

November 10, 2006

One I Called Right

My electoral predictions, errr, sucked.

My prescient warnings of electoral failure on the immigration issue are disputed by many at ThreeSources

The Broncos did not get blown out in Indianapolis

But, Michael J Fox notwithstanding, the election of Democrats will have an adverse effect on medical innovation by chasing capital out of the pharmaceutical sector.

Greg Mankiw

Yesterday, as the market was processing all the political news, the stock market was up slightly ( 0.2%), but pharmaceutical companies took a hit.

My interpretation: The Dems will likely give us lower drug prices and less research into new drugs. Good news if you plan to be sick soon. Bad news if you plan to be sick in the more distant future.

Told you so. People who'll cheer a bake sale for MDA or go nuts over an AIDS walk don't see this chart as denoting the real funding prospects for research.

Hat-tip: Josh at Everyday Economist

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 2:25 PM

Living in the Promised Land

The song Sugarchuck recommended is not available on iTunes. I suspect Bill O'Reilly had it removed, but that is sheer conjecture on my part.

My ideological immigration soulmates on the WSJ Ed Page are hitting it hard today. I don't want to beat this to death, but I would like to convince my blog brethren that it is indeed bad politics, even if I cannot convince them it is bad economics, or bad policy.

Republicans can't say they weren't warned. Like trade protectionism, the immigration issue is the fool's gold of American politics. Voters like to sound off to pollsters about immigrants, yet they pull the lever with other matters foremost in mind. Elections seldom if ever turn on immigration, and the GOP restrictionist message so adored by talk radio, cable news and the nativist blogosphere once again failed to deliver the goods.
I suggested that Wednesday's results obviously underscored this issue as an electoral loser. JohnGalt pointed out that some tough immigration enforcement candidates on both sides won. I'm glad Marilyn Musgrave won in CO-04. But it is worth noting that the district went 58-41 for George Bush in 2004. Rep Musgrave won in a squeaker that wasn't decided when I went to bed -- in a 17-point GOP district.

The WSJEdPage does the research on the other races.

These Democratic gains came in solidly Republican districts that President Bush won easily two years ago. Mr. Graf was seeking to fill the slot now held by Representative Jim Kolbe, an 11-term Republican who's retiring. Mr. Kolbe is a supporter of the comprehensive approach to immigration reform favored by the President but spurned by GOP restrictionists. It would combine more border security with a guest-worker program for newcomers and a path to legal status for undocumented workers already here. Mr. Kolbe won 60% of the vote in 2004. Mr. Graf was trounced, 54%-42%, on Tuesday, after having won a primary against a Republican with views similar to Mr. Kolbe's who could have held the seat.

Indiana incumbent John Hostettler, who chairs a House subcommittee on immigration and is one of his party's most outspoken restrictionists, managed to win just 39% of the vote in his losing bid for a seventh term. Mr. Hostettler's district is so Republican that John Kerry won only 38% of the vote there in 2004.

Colorado Congressman Bob Beauprez made opposition to illegal aliens the centerpiece of his gubernatorial bid. He lost to his Democratic opponent by 15 percentage points. The GOP candidate who ran to replace Mr. Beauprez in the House and appropriated much of his anti-immigration rhetoric also lost by nearly as much.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:55 PM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

I linked to the Willie lyrics in the original post, right below sc's mention.

Using Musgrave as a data point in the illegal immigration "loser" analysis is specious since her opponent also claimed to be "tough on immigration." The reason that Musgrave's margins have narrowed in the last 2 elections is the "purplification" of Colorado. She won handily in all but two counties: Boulder and Larimer. See:

J.D. Hayworth, whom you didn't mention, was tainted by Abramoff money. The other R rep in AZ who lost was bested by a Democrat who campaigned harder on immigration than he did. I'm just saying there's a huge correlation/causation problem here.

Additionally, if voters "pull the lever with other matters [than immigrants] in mind, why are we (you) so quick to conclude that they pulled the OTHER lever with THIS matter in mind?

Posted by: johngalt at November 10, 2006 3:42 PM
But jk thinks:

The Tancredo wing thought opposition to the President and Senate Republicans was a winner.

I'm not saying people pulled the other lever. I claim a legislative accomplishment would have been nice to run on: look, we created and passed a significant reform bill. We're Republicans and we're getting important things done.

Instead they split troops, alienated a large hunk of the base, and allowed the Democrats to run against their lack of accomplishment.

There are a thousand policies I believe in that I know would be electoral losers. I want the natavists/populists to see that this is not a winner. Ummm, before 2008 would be nice.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2006 4:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Looking back I think the House and Senate leadership who brought the immigration issue to the floor truly believed there WOULD be a legislative accomplishment. The problem was that in its supposed "compromise" plan the Senate was unwilling to compromise with the House on some of the important elements. An "accomplishment" like the Senate plan would have been as much an electoral loser as legislative earmarks.

I think we both have to admit that the nativists/populists are not convinced in the wake of Gray Tuesday. Winner or loser politically, principled Americans know it is wrong for property owners in CA, AZ and NM to be costantly invaded and injured by economic refugees on the "aboveground railroad."

One group that was clearly repudiated, however, was the "compassionate conservatives" or whatever you want to call the cut taxes/increase spending Republicans. I've seen no post election punditry claiming any support for that GWB policy.

Also on the defensive will be the neocons who apply that same government handout policy to foreign affairs by allowing nation building to be placed at the same priority as defeating America's enemies.

Posted by: johngalt at November 11, 2006 12:29 PM
But jk thinks:

And how is the weather on Planet JohnGalt today? (I guess the honeymoon spirit of bipartisanship really is over).

The SENATE was unwilling to compromise? No way. The Senate pushed a business and immigrant friendly bill and expected the House to add security. The House slipped into a Bill O'Rielly-Lou Dobbs whirlpool and claimed that it had to be enforcement only. I never heard a single Republican Senator say that he/she would not accept increased security with a guest worker program or path to citizenship.

I will credit you with the individualism you prize: you're the only guy I ever heard say that a deal was undone by Senate intransigence.

Sorry for the name calling, but I thought we had agreement. I have accepted the JG seven points. They create law and order, rescue border owners from blight, humanely accept foreign workers, and provide sufficient labor for the American economy. Man, I thought this was settled.

Posted by: jk at November 11, 2006 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

What is it our parents told us? "It takes two to tangle." Because the Senate calls their bill a "compromise" then failure to work out differences with the House is completely the House's fault? Where are the statesmen?

It's settled 'twixt you and I, but not on Capitol Hill.

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2006 2:43 PM

All Coming Together

ThreeSources own LatteSipper forwarded an email petition to create a new license plate style for Colorado.

"Share the Road" plates will save lives, end Global Warming, ensure a lasting peace in Israel...The petition page is pretty optimistic. All the same, it celebrates the state's affection for cycling. I was an avid cyclist before MS sidelined me. I have signed the petition and encourage other Colorado residents to do the same.

I remarked to Trip the rarity of our being on the same side, He reminded me:

Oh Jk, didn’t you realize that everything has changed in this new era of bipartisan love and cooperation? Borrowing the warm words of our president, "We won't agree on every issue, but we do agree that we love America equally, that we're concerned about the future of this country, and that we will do our very best to address big problems."

I hereby take back what I said about a vote for JK being a vote for hit-n-run motorists.

Comity. It's a wonderful thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

This is quite a turnabout from "I've got some political capital and I intend to spend it" two years ago, eh?

Much is being made about how much the President has changed his tune, but what about dem Dems? Pelosi and Reed (and eventually Kerry) were in "an undisclosed secure location" on election eve while Rahm Emmanuel's hand-picked "blue dog" Democrats took on the aimless and weary Republicans. This certainly doesn't give Reed a mandate to yank funding from the Iraq police action, ala Vietnam, or any of the other angry left demands.

Posted by: johngalt at November 11, 2006 1:11 PM

November 9, 2006


I know I will miss the SecDef's pres conferences, and I suspect that the troops will miss the SecDef. I won't comment of the President's decision to change. His cabinet serves at his discretion.

I will not stand still for the Senator Durbin's of the world to imply that he leaves as a failure. I could not remember where I read this. When I went back to blog it, I couldn't find it:

"The Military cannot change itself, no organization can do that. Imagine your company or organization suddenly saying that it needs to change to meet business challenges because that's what the CEO read in a magazine over the weekend. How's that work? You spend months on 'Mission statements' and going on useless employee retreats and in the end, the same lame-o fatass managers run the same asininely redundant departments only with different titles and cost centers. How do you get a company to change? You don't change because you want to, you change because the competition forces you to change. You get creamed in a quarterly result, or you get merged with the competition. So what happens to us if our Military gets creamed in combat or 'Merged'? In that respect, Rumsfelds transformation doest seem so bad now does it?

It was in a letter to Glenn Reynolds that was published on Instapundit. It is now revived in a TCS Daily column by Josh Manchester.

I tell people I like capitalism because of tortilla packages with ZipLock(r) closures built in (now you know why I'm so pro-Immigration). I tell people that no company would go through the difficult and expensive process of changing to more expensive packaging -- except, if they thought they could increase sales. Or if they were losing sales to a competitor who did.

Change sucks. Mr. Schumpeter. It's difficult and we kind of like the way things are now. Rumsfeld turned the Schumpeterian fans on full blast and pointed the breeze at some comfortable Generals.

He wears the antipathy as a badge of honor. He should. Good luck to Mr. Gates, but Secretary Rumsfeld, you leave Washington as hero.

UPDATE: Treat yourself to reading his excellent speech at Kansas State University.

In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, spoke to the nation for the last time as President. He warned of a long struggle ahead. He said:
“We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope…ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method… to meet it successfully we must carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake.”
As we look back on those critical years during the Cold War, so too our grandchildren will one day look back on this time as a defining moment in America’s history. History will judge whether we did all we could to defeat a vicious extremist enemy that threatened our security, our freedom, our very way of life. Or, if we left it to the next generations to try to fight an enemy strengthened by our weakness, and emboldened by our lack of resolve.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

But AlexC thinks:

Bummer about Rumsfeld.

He was a master of plain spoken English.

Posted by: AlexC at November 10, 2006 12:39 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup. He was great as a panelist on Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose" as well. A great American.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2006 11:21 AM
But LatteSipper thinks:

Yes, Mr. Rumsfeld was the master of plain spokenness. Here are some fine examples:

"I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said." (Donald Rumsfeld Quotes)

"If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone." (Donald Rumsfeld Quotes)

"I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know." (Donald Rumsfeld Quotes)

Posted by: LatteSipper at November 10, 2006 3:04 PM
But jk thinks:

I guess the bipartisan honeymoon is waning...

It is not fair to cherry pick sentences out of transcriptions of extemporaneous speech. I know it gave Jake Tapper a gig for years of "Bushisms," but that doesn't make it right.

You can say what you want about the retiring SecDef, and I'd be unsurprised if you're not a fan, but I'd be surprised if you would not admit to his being one of the clearest speakers in politics in a long time.

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2006 4:20 PM

Yeah, Death Camps!

Ted Rall

    In January 2006 HomeSec awarded a $385 million contract to Kellogg, Brown and Root, the subsidiary of Halliburton Co., to build "temporary detention and processing capabilities"--internment camps--"in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

    The question, asks Progressive magazine editor Ruth Conniff, "is what is the government planning to do with mass roundups of people?" After all, Bush and other Republican leaders have spent five years calling Democrats and others who disagree with them traitors and terrorists. Following so much hateful rhetoric, you can't blame liberals for wondering whether they too are about to be declared "enemy combatants." They're not paranoid; they're just paying attention.

    And Now, Martial Law

    About a week ago some left-wing bloggers began circulating rumors that Bush had secretly signed something called the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" that "allows the president to declare a 'public emergency' and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to 'suppress public disorder.'" I couldn't find the text of the law at the time, formerly H.R. 5122, or a reliable media account, so I decided not to report on it.

    I can now confirm the bloggers' account. Bush signed the JWDAA hours after the MCA, in a furtive closed-door White House ceremony. There is, buried deep down in Title V, Subtitle B, Part II, Section 525(a) of the JWDAA, a coup. The Bush Administration has quietly stolen the National Guard away from the states.

Just a reminder that winning an election doesn't make the undo the insanity.

From the other side Posted by AlexC at 4:48 PM

Immigration jockeying

While pragmatic immigration reformers like our own JK and Gregory Siskind of Immigration Daily portray Tuesday's GOP defeat as evidence that immigration enforcement is "a loser" that "hurt the Republicans" there's also another way to read the tea leaves on this complex issue. Federation for American Immigration Reform claims that "Many victorious Democrats ran on a platform of support for immigration enforcement.

“When candidates promised that they would ‘get tough on illegal immigration,’ voters understood this to mean that they would enforce our borders, crackdown on employers, and create real deterrents to illegal immigration. If there was a single newly elected Democratic legislator who ran on a platform of amnesty for illegal aliens and massive new foreign guest worker programs, we are not aware of it,” said Stein. [Dan Stein, FAIR president]

This is just as clearly an oversimplification as the pro-amnesty view, but illustrates how the election outcome is no mandate for any position. For my own position, see the 7th comment on JK's latest internecine escapade here.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:26 PM | What do you think? [4]
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the Siskind link. That's a smart piece and I'm honored to share a clause with him.

The second link, provided to bolster your position opens: "The Democratic Party was swept to victory in yesterday’s election by voters who were fed up with President Bush’s inability to address issues of greatest concern to the mainstream of the American public:"

That was my point (and the Wall Street Journal's, and William Kristol's, and Larry Kudlow's...) get on TV everyday and declare "We have an emergency!" and do nothing about it. Kinda contributes to the incompetence angle.

Sure some Democrats promised tough immigration. Remember, even I'm for that. I did not hear of a Democrat pushing enforcement only, celebrating the Minutemen, or deporting a class valedictorian (I could have missed it).

I see nothing to object to in your seventh comment, except your unfortunate decision to side with Sugarchuck. He's a nice guy and all but he'll flat the third and play in the relative minor of the written key.

The JohnGalt plan would be acceptable to jk. You think Tommy Tancredo would go for it? Wait let me answer that -- no way in hell! Unlimited, simplified legal immigration from Mexico? I don't think you can even sign up Sugarchuck for that. What about the good people waiting patiently in line in the Philippines and Estonia?

If you can sell that to the Tancredoites (which will be easier since most of them lost), you got me sold.

BTW, your suggestion to enforce minimum wage irrespective of status is a very good idea that I have not heard. I expect most make above minimum wage but less than a citizen for hard or semi-skilled work, but it's a good idea.

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2006 5:30 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

At the risk of being called a flattener of thirds or worse, may I suggest that all ya'll dig up Willie Nelson's "Living In The Promised Land." I think this was a minor hit in the early 80's amd it features a wonderfull Grady Martin guitar solo. It is a reminder of what country music has been and could be again if those idiots would climb down from the CMT tower and spend some time on Lower Broadway. It is also a reminder of what this country has been to so many coming here with nothing but a dream.

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 10, 2006 7:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Here are the lyrics. (The music is unrelated.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 10, 2006 3:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This thread is getting a little stale but I'm still hoping to hear from sc on that "unlimited, simplified legal immigration from Mexico" question.

I'm taken aback somewhat since hearing the poll of Mexican adults where 70% said they would come to America if they could. Even so... sc?

Posted by: johngalt at November 13, 2006 3:23 PM

Speaking Of Chafee

Remember John Bolton? That man who's mustache intimidates the third-world?

    On Thursday the White House resubmitted Bolton's nomination to the Senate, where the appointment has languished for more than a year. Bush appointed him to the job temporarily in August 2005 while Congress was in recess, an appointment that will expire in January.

    Sen. Lincoln Chafee (news, bio, voting record), R-R.I., who was defeated by Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse on Tuesday, told reporters in Rhode Island on Thursday that he would continue opposing Bolton. That would deny Republicans the votes they would need to move Bolton's nomination from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the full Senate.


Only hope is getting Joe Lieberman to caucus with the GOP.

But jk thinks:

I hope that a Democratic 110th Senate might confirm Ambassador Bolton as a quick, introductory olive branch before they close down the entire legislative branch -- naive?

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2006 4:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Look! A pig flying, right outside. See it?

Posted by: jk at November 10, 2006 12:16 PM

HTML Comments

A Democratic Party controlled Congress might engender more and more robust comments around here. It's as good a time as any to play with the security settings.

I have allowed HTML comments. If you want to provide a link, it will be clickable if it is recognized as a url http://blablabla. Thems wantin' fancier can use basic HTML like this:

<a href="" title="Hugo's Tunes" target="_blank">Presidente Chavez's bonitos conciones</a>

That will provide a link that:
  • Says "Presidente Chavez's bonitos conciones." (because that is between the <a> and </a>)
  • When a user's cursor is over it, the box will say "Hugo's Faves" (cause that's the title="")
  • On a click, the user will get the page pointed to by the url in the href="")
  • In a new window, because of the target="_blank"

By comparison, just putting the url as text would create a link that would say and would overwrite the blog page (no new window)

Lastly, if you include too many links, it suspects you are spamming. This has caught Perry at Eidelblog and just caught JohnGalt today. I think the dopey password I make you type should keep most spam out and have loosened that a little, we'll see how it goes.

Happy HyperTextMarkuping!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:56 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Allow me to be the first to say, JK is cool.

Posted by: AlexC at November 9, 2006 3:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at November 9, 2006 3:58 PM

FDA: One Step Forward?

Some good news in the Wall Street Journal today: "Election a bad dream, GOP keeps both houses." Well, no. The actual headline was FDA May Broaden Access To Experimental Drugs. Life and political battles go on. And the story starts out promising.

The Food and Drug Administration is moving to broaden access to experimental drugs for people with serious illnesses, with efforts that would represent a middle ground in the emotional debate over when unproven treatments should be available to patients with no other options.

Great news: some people will be allowed to buy drugs that will help them. If, they can prove that they will die. And there's nothing else. And they fill out the right form. And if their form is approved.

Two sides to a controversy, and the article points out the other side.

The FDA is preparing a proposal that would clarify how doctors and drug companies can make certain drugs, not yet FDA-approved, available to small groups and individual patients with dangerous diseases and no other treatment options, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Agency officials have also drafted a proposal that would lay out more situations in which companies could charge patients for access to experimental drugs, though not for a profit, these people said.

Both proposals are subject to approval by the White House's Office of Management and Budget and could change before they are released.

The FDA proposals, which wouldn't represent a major revamping of the current system, don't go as far as the most aggressive patient activists wish. On the other side, some doctors warn that the agency needs to make sure there is reason to believe a drug could work before patients start taking something that may not help.

With apologies to James Taranto, "what would we do without 'some doctors?'" Where in the Constitution is government given the right to prevent the sale of treatment? People are suffering. If they know the risks, the government should not have the right to preclude access to treatment.

Better to let 99 snake oil shysters bilk some unfortunate people out of money for ineffective treatment than to let one person die because some bureaucrat thought the form was filled out incorrectly. 30,000 people died of colon cancer while Erbitux was forced to perform 24 more months of trials. Many though it was because Dr. Sam Waksal was "arrogant."

I’m happy for the small step, but still reject Government's having any authority in this ambit. Free markets could do better.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM

November 8, 2006


The Associated Press knows why the Senate changed hands.

Jim Webb's squeaker win over incumbent Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting record) gave Democrats their 51st seat in the Senate, an astonishing turnabout at the hands of voters unhappy with Republican scandal and unabated violence in Iraq.

That may or may not be correct, but it strikes me as conjecture, opinion in a news piece, and an oversimplification. How can you describe the Webb victory without using the word "macaca?"

But johngalt thinks:

I believe that exit polls showed these to be the two most important issues with voters. I searched the AP site looking for documentation and found a story entitled, "

">Exit Polls: Scandals and Iraq Hurt GOP.


Surprisingly, I found no tabluation of polling data anywhere in the story. There are a few references to random findings, including this one:

"Middle-class voters who defected to the GOP in 1994 came back to the Democrats this year." Huh? The Democrat party is the traditional home of "middle-class" voters? Since when?

I agree with you JK. AP sucks.

In fairness though, I see no prohibition on editorializing in news stories in the "AP Statement of News Values and Principles."

Posted by: johngalt at November 9, 2006 2:06 PM
But jk thinks:

The leap from "corruption" and "Iraq" as important issues to "unhappy with Republican scandal and unabated violence in Iraq" hit my sensitive ears a little coarsely. I picture a middle-aged couple saying "Dammit, we're so unhappy with Republican scandal and unabated violence in Iraq, I think we'll vote Democrat this year."

No doubt there will be many more and worse abuses

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2006 2:51 PM


The joke:

A: Aren't you Jaykayskoveczki, the great comedian?
B: Yes, timing!
A: What is the secret to your success?

I displayed my gift for timing yesterday, expounding on the great gift of democracy, the wisdom of crowds, and Hayekian ideals. I was responding to a post by Josh at Everyday Economist about irrationality in voting.

Josh emails me today (I hope he doesn't mind my sharing this) with a reminder that I may not have picked the most precipitous occasion to highlight voter rationality:

I saw that your state was one of the states to pass the inflation- pegged minimum wage increase. There's nothing like a tax on small businesses! The voting on the issue in several states has convinced me that Bryan Caplan is right about voter rationality. This increase is essentially a transfer payment from small business owners and consumers to teenagers and college kids. But what do I know?

Also, I agree that no one should have more than one vote or that we should limit voting. However, I am not inclined to believe the wisdom of crowds hypothesis for voting. In a market, you have something to gain and something to lose based on your decisions. How many people had something to lose by voting for a continuous increase in the minimum wage? Constitutional amendments and generic proposals should not be left to the general public to decide because those without the knowledge of the issues only add random noise to the result.

Enjoy the new Speaker!

Yes. Timing!

Posted by John Kranz at 2:22 PM

Pickin' at Scabs

I respectfully suggest that the populist wing of ThreeSources -- well, everybody not named "jk' -- takes the opportunity to do a little immigration soul-searching today.

First, I would direct you to the news pages (not those crazies on the Ed page) Hispanic Voters Shift Allegiance to Democrats

In fact, just months after House Republicans used a crackdown on illegal immigrants to energize their party's conservative base, Hispanic voters responded yesterday at the voting booth, shifting decisively toward Democrats.

Exit polls showed more than seven in 10 Hispanics voted Democratic in races for House seats. Meanwhile, some 27% voted Republican -- an 11-percentage-point drop from the prior midterm election in 2002.

This is a loser guys. Besides Hispanics, it offends the business community, free-marketeers, and damages religious vote. The same article points out that that GOP advantage among religious voters is reduced.

My uber-liberal niece is working for Catholic Charities in California. She's about as religious as JohnGalt but told me that she has found one thing to agree with the Church on: California Catholics have taken an anti-Tancredo position as a moral issue (of course, they're right).

Exhibit B is TCS Daily's Walls Are For Losers. Nathan Smith remembers the Ming Dynasty's Great Wall, The Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall, and points out:

Republicans had held the House of Representatives for twelve years. After the fence bill was signed, they lasted just twelve days before the voters gave them the boot. Of course immigration wasn't the only, or the main, issue; Iraq was. Nonetheless, the "walls are for losers" pattern has claimed another scalp. Meanwhile, even the Republican Senate, which, before the fence bill, hardly anyone thought was even in play, looks at present writing like it may have fallen to the Democrats.

Can we chase away the fastest growing minority group, the business community, an important swing constituency, and ideological fellow travelers? Yes. But can we replace them with Pat Buchanan/Lou Dobbs/Bill O'Reilly angry pitchfork warriors? I say that 's a bad trade.

UPDATE: Okay, I'll add something from those crazies on the WSJ Ed Page. Here's John Fund in Political Diary:

This summer, as polls showed GOP House incumbents increasingly in trouble, the talk in closed-door meetings of GOP members was that the party needed to use opposition to illegal immigration to deflect voter anger on other issues. "The issue is a magic carpet to victory for us," was the memorable way one anti-immigration member put it. Later that same month, the House GOP pushed through a bill that authorized the building of a massive border fence without adding a sensible guest-worker program to provide a legal means for needed workers to enter the country.

Well, the returns are in and the strategy was a clear failure. GOP candidates who ran almost exclusively on the immigration issue lost in districts that President Bush easily carried in 2004. The most surprising loser was Rep. J.D. Hayworth of Arizona, who wrote a book on immigration called "Whatever It Takes" and yet managed to lose a district Mr. Bush won with 54% of the vote two years ago. Another Arizona GOP candidate, former state legislator Randy Graf, did ride the immigration issue to a plurality win in the GOP primary only to lose badly in a Tucson district last night that Mr. Bush had won with 53%.

The biggest bellyflop on the immigration issue came in Indiana, where Rep. John Hostettler, the hardline chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, lost by a stunning 22 points in a district that gave John Kerry only 38% of its votes just two years ago. "Immigration has never been an issue that brings people to the polls in single-minded desire to vote on that one issue," says political analyst Michael Barone, co-author of the Almanac of American Politics. "Voters end up having other concerns, and anti-illegal immigration polling numbers are more often than not political fools' gold."

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 12:37 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

I absolutely want a lawful and regulated border.

I don't think that enforcement-only will work without a level of spending, aesthetic disturbance, and human rights infringements with which few in our country would be comfortable. Thirty foot barbed wire fences and shoot-em-on-sight will not fly; much less extreme measures will not be effective.

What would be effective is to provide legal means and improve border security at the same time. Like an engineering problem, reduce the pressure and reinforce the barrier. I am open to any combination of guest-worker, path-to-citizenship, and increase in Visas that will accomplish this. I'll let the politicians decide.

We could have HAD SOMETHING JUST LIKE THIS THIS YEAR and celebrated it as a legislative win. That would have helped in Minnesota, where good people want to see other people treated well and in Arizona where people want to see laws enforced. Instead, the Tancredoites said "no deals, no compromise!" and the Republicans ran on one more unsolved problem.

We haven't looked too much at morality of immigration around here. Bastiat says just law must be avoidable and understandable. I don't think it is avoidable to watch your family starve in squalor when you can go 100 miles north, sneak under a fence, and make a living wage from somebody who wants to employ you. I think this "lawbreaking" is akin to stealing a loaf of bread for your starving family -- only you're buying it from somebody who wants to sell it!
I'm not trumpeting the status quo at all. I think we would have something more economic, more humane, and 1000 times safer if the Tancredoites had followed the lead of the President and created compromise comprehensive immigration reform in a Senate-House conference.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2006 4:25 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Won't fly with who? OK, I am not suggesting any kind of shoot em on sight policy but if it takes a thirty foot fence with barbed wire, or some other combination of bricks, mortar and cyberfencing, then so be it. It's not just the guy looking for a loaf of bread I'm worried about, it's the guy coming in after him who is looking to cause us harm. The very meager efforts at border control now in place have cut illegal entry dramatically. We should follow up on this. When the fence is up and solid we can let those looking for better lives walk through the gate.

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 8, 2006 4:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Invoking terrorism prevention to prevent the crossing of Mexican workers is specious. We've apprehended much scarier people coming over the Canadian border, yet the good people of Minnesota still don't see a thirty foot barbed wire fence in International Falls as an election issue.

The half-measures you suggest that make it harder will increase the price, profit, and danger of a coyote-aided crossing for the bread customer. You can fly in from the EU, get a visa at the Saudi Embassy, or drive across from Canada.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2006 4:52 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

Again, I am not sure what it is, exactly, that you want. You say you want a lawful and regulated border, yet it must be porous enough to allow enough coyote activity to keep human trafficking safe and affordable and unguarded enough to allow those in dire economic circumstances to walk across in search of work. This doesn't sound lawful and regulated to me. This sounds like what we have now. Going back to Reagan we have had laws on immigration and policy galore and those laws have been breached some 12,000,000 times. This time we should enforce the laws we have, place a very muscular emphasis on border security and then create the policy to allow for legal immigration. I might add that if 12,000,000 illegal aliens had come through Minnesota from Canada I'd be all for putting a fence up there too.
I'd add that I am not invoking terrorism to prevent the crossing of Mexican workers. I am invoking terrorism to prevent the crossing of... terrorists. That we have other holes in the system is no reason not to close this one. As long as we can't control our border there is no hope of a guest worker program or any type of workable amnesty. People will enter illegally and wait for the next amnesty to roll around. I very much believe in the words on the statue of liberty. I want us to be the shining city on the hill. I just want those who come to obey the laws, use the front door and sign the guestbook.

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 8, 2006 7:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I want the same things as you, sc. I think the way to get there is to have a legal program of guest workers or heightened immigration that supplies enough workers to fill available jobs. By enough, I suspect I mean about as many as come today, just making them sign the guest book.

If you give somebody a legal, rational way to register and come legally, nobody will use coyotes at all. This will also give us the economic and moral reason to pursue strict enforcement. Institute a guest worker and you can build all the fences you want.

Without a legal way to come here and work, stricter enforcement will just make it costlier and less humane for those who will continue to cross to feed their families.

Then, the border is controlled, the economy keeps humming, and border authorities can pursue terrorists instead of agriculture workers.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2006 9:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Go Sugarchuck! You've done a good job carrying the flag for we "populists" is it? But JK makes a rational case for whatever it is he's making a case for as well. (I say "whatever it is" because he's willing to "let the politicians decide." This reminds me of the famous scientific proof with reams of complicated mathematical equations followed by the phrase, "then a miracle occurs" immediately prior to the answer.)

No, JK, we are not "populists." For one thing, if our position is so popular then how can you claim it cost the GOP their jobs? The positions we've taken on individual immigration related topics are based upon principle, not populism. Immigrants should be subject to our nation's laws just as citizens are, and immigrants must not disenfranchise citizens by voting in our elections without first becoming citizens.

And then there are the entitlements. I think I can speak for all of us (the principled wing) in saying government enabled handouts to citizens are as wrong as those to immigrants, but the existence of the former makes it impossible to eliminate the latter - not operationally, but politically.

So the people who support mass immigration into our welfare state are those who are not harmed by the added burden: Democrat politicians and business interests already accustomed to a workforce partially supported by the state. The strange bedfellows we know so well.

I am on record supporting elimination of quotas for legal immigration, yet I opposed the Senate "compromise." I did so because of it's emphasis on a path to citizenship (i.e. enfranchisement) for ALL of them, it's seemingly endless list of new government expenditures, and the absence of truly innovative solutions to the entitlement question. I saw nothing in the compromise that would create a new paradigm for immigration and equal justice under law in this country.

What do I want? Any plan I conceive is hampered by the social welfare state in which we live, but here are some key points.

- Unlimited immigration for identifiable non-criminals.

- Social Security numbers and Green Cards issued at no cost at border crossing centers, linked to individuals biometrically.

- No limit on time of stay in country.

- Issuance of the same documents to illegals already here on demand, subject to the same identification and criminal requirements.

- Immediate deportation of undocumented aliens after a grace period following implementation of the new system. Say, 12-18 months.

- Immediate deportation of documented aliens upon conviction of a crime (or other sentence appropriate for the act) said crimes to include false identification or multiple identities, said deportation to be irrespective of minor children of the offender. (If the kid must be yanked out of school because mom screwed up then so be it. "Objective and avoidable" laws must also be inescapable.

- Minimum wage laws applied (or abolished) equally for citizen and non-citizen workers.

- Biometric voter ID cards required to vote. (This is a debate in itself and I reserve the right to flop around on it for a while.) The crux here is, "only citizens vote."

- An objective and lengthy "path to citizenship" for all documented immigrants willing to learn English, renounce all other citizenships, and swear allegiance to the flag and the constitution.

That ought to about do it.

Posted by: johngalt at November 9, 2006 1:37 PM

Post Mortem Toasties

JohnGalt's lunch bet hangs in the balance as I type this (no, I'm not the party of the second part) but many other things have become painfully clear.

1. Immigration populism didn't work. Rep. Tancredo held his safe seat, but the immigration extremists did not fare so well. When you can't win a border district in Arizona, I don't think you have a winning national strategy. I am not a military strategist but I understand you don't divide your armies before the battle. So much of the defeat was wrong track/right track. Ginning up another crisis did not electorally support the current party in power.

2. I'll march into Hell on the man's command, but I have to apportion a little blame to our President's inability to articulate his positions, policies, and successes. Saddam is on Death Row, the DJIA is at record heights, unemployment is at record lows. I cannot believe that a more skilled communicator could not have made his party profit. President Bush barnstormed red districts to fire up the base but was an anchor in other districts. Even in used-to-be-Red Colorado, Ed Perlmutter's commercials made no more rude claim than to tie Rick O'Donnell to the President. O’Donnell lost badly. As I said, I'm still on his team, but maybe if he could pronounce nuclear...

3. Lastly, Kudos to Governor Dean (uncommon for these pages). The 50-state strategy was the right one. Senator Schumer and Rep. Emmanuel recruited great candidates for each district and the atmosphere.

I could not be more disappointed but the silver lining will be: blogging will be twice as enjoyable.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 9:51 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

All this and you didn't even mention what polled far and away as the number one issue in this election: Iraq.

Painfully clear point number 4 is that amongst the groups around the world celebrating these Democrat victories is... the Islamists.

Pick your reason for the current situation there, but Americans don't like it and want something done about it NOW.

I still won't concede that "immigration extremism" as you characterize enforcement of long-standing Federal statues on the matter, was a negative for the GOP. Musgrave (R, CO-4) campaigned on that issue and she held off a strong challenge amid a blue tidal wave. Colorado's Referendum K passed 56-44, directing the state government to join a lawsuit against the Feds for failure to enforce immigration laws.

Though all the Republicans under indictment didn't help, this race came down to one primary issue: "It's the nation-building quagmire, stupid!"

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2006 10:55 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And another thing... Colorado's Ref. H passed as well, though by a narrower margin. This is the one that eliminates a business tax deduction for employees who are illegal aliens. Despite the misleading language that called it first and foremost a "tax increase."

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2006 10:57 AM
But jk thinks:

Iraq is squarely in point #2. Listen to PM Tony Blair or PM John Howard express the reasons and importance for Iraq (to far less sympathetic audiences), then listen to President Bush. Love the man but he can't close the sale outside of guys like us who are all in.

I left out Foley, Ney and DeLay on purpose. Each of those cost one seat and Foley truncated a shift of momentum, but I don't know that they affected a lot of marginal seats.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2006 11:06 AM
But jk thinks:

The referenda vote is indeed interesting and I don't mean to discount it. It shows that immigration is important; I don't think we ever disagreed about that.

The failures I cite are: a) to whip up concern and not address it; b) to engage in internecine strife before an important, and already difficult, election; c) to chase out the key GOP constituency of business owners who vote pocketbook over ideology. Why support a GOP that is going to be protectionist and populist.

The referenda you cite offer specific and targeted solutions without obvious consequences. "Sure, sue the Fed for more Fed Jack." "Sure, tax businesses that hire illegals." Tancredoism, as a religion, harms humans and threatens the economy. Don't get me wrong, I voted against both, but they are pretty harmless in the end.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2006 11:36 AM
But LatteSipper thinks:

Regarding point #2, I won't argue that Bush is a poor communicator. I would argue, however, that the marketing of the Iraq war is not the problem. It doesn't matter if it's Bush, Condoleezza Rice, William Kristol or Richard Perle pitching it, continuing to sacrifice blood and treasure for a problem we can't fix doesn't make sense. The electorate, which supported the Iraq war for quite a while, has come to the conclusion that Iraq is a lost cause not because of how the information is being presented, but because of the facts on the ground.

Posted by: LatteSipper at November 10, 2006 3:46 PM

November 7, 2006


Well, I guess we'll see more vetos now.

Oh, and forget about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Dems control the House.

No spending means no killing of terrorists.

Oh yeah. Impeachment too.

But johngalt thinks:

It's all over now but the counting... and the re-counting... and the legal challenges. Of course I'm hoping that the Republican Senate majority will hold if for no other reason than to avoid losing a lunch bet (that both houses would switch).

There will be much to watch in the next few months. Will the Democrat caucus moderate? Will Pelosi lose the speakership in a coup by party heavies who only let her lead during the minority years? Will the president now, finally, as AlexC alluded, veto a fracking spending bill? Time will tell.

Remember this friends - it may be a bad time to be a Republican but it's never a bad time to be an American.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2006 2:18 AM
But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

We did our best, but when the candidates we support performed, as a whole, like so many of their opponents, what can we expect?

So we eat our crow, for now. 2008 is coming; the Conservative values will be back.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at November 8, 2006 4:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I agree. I can't say I'm sorry to see Lincoln Chaffee hit the bricks. If he had switched party affiliation he'd probably have won re-election without the R albatross around his squirmy, narrow, nanny-state neck.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2006 11:01 AM
But jk thinks:

I was thinking of bringing that up first. Any buyer's remorse about Chaffee? Had he won -- which might have happened without a primary struggle -- my favorite Senator in the whole wide world would be majority leader in January.

Charlie wins the prize for being first to whistle past the next graveyard. The Democrats will be rejuvenated with power, money, influence, public platforms, incumbency, and control of a majority of governorships.

They will be formidable in 2008 and we have no serious candidate. Conservative tide or undertow?

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2006 11:14 AM
But AlexC thinks:

No buyers remorse on Chaffee. I seen to recall we decided that if we needed Chafee to maintain the majority, the GOP is in bigger trouble than just Chafee.

... and so it is.

Posted by: AlexC at November 9, 2006 3:50 PM

DNC Plan: Extend voting in urban centers?

On the heels of reports out of Indiana that voting hours there were extended by court order "because of technical problems this morning that resulted in delayed openings" came word that Democrat party officials in Denver had filed suit to do the same thing here.

Other reports indicated Democrat operatives were attempting identical legal action in other major urban areas, apparently in an effort to tip the balance of close races by adding the votes of procrastinating voters in predominantly Democrat areas.

Late breaking reports are comforting, however, as Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport ruled just after 3 pm MST that she "does not have authority to extend voting hours." One wonders what the difference is between Denver judges and Indianapolis ones.

UPDATE: 1:30 am EST (This update is actually about 5 hours old but I'm only now getting to the computer.)

Fox News reports polling hours have been extended by Democrats in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and two other states I can't remember. This was a radio report I heard on the way home and still can't corroborate on the FNC site.

In all, 6 instances doesn't constitute a national strategy to tip an election. Either it isn't a concerted strategy or, perhaps, there weren't any cases of voting machine SNAFU in the other cities they targeted.

Politics Posted by JohnGalt at 6:12 PM

Skype Rocks

Have I mentioned that?

I ditched my land line over a year ago and moved the number to my cell. It has worked well, but I hate to burn cell minutes in a long dull teleconference or on hold for tech support. I had used Skype for overseas calls with my old company, and I signed up for SkypeIn and SkypeOut. SkypeIn gives you a telephone number that rings on your computer, SkypeOut gives you dial out connection from your computer to phone lines at fractions of cents per minute. I have used two dollars in months of use.

The big payoff: GOTV calls. I am calling Ohio, Missouri, and Arizona today. My balance has not gone down a cent. Karl should buy it from eBay (you can also copy phone numbers from the call list and paste them in).

Most cool.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:14 PM

Hands Off Tiger's Money!

I've seen the sternest free-market believers wince at the salaries of professional athletes. I take such flinches as betraying the presenter’s bona fides. John Elway, A-Rod, even his T-O-ness have not coerced anybody to upgrade their contracts. And that money does not come out of teachers' salaries. Sadly. most teachers don't get that.

But I digress. Perry at Eidelblog delivers a wince free defense for Tiger Woods and his contributions to the economy.

What a player, and what a businessman. He knows how to market himself, and he deserves every penny. It's completely immoral that the government takes so much from him, especially when he provides jobs regardless of whether he saves it or spends it. On the other hand, when the government taxes him to redistribute the money, it passes it through its bureaucracy (the very epitome of deadweight loss), then spends it as unwisely as possible. Remember: bureaucrats measure success not by efficiency, but by raw numbers served. That's like McDonalds aiming for twice as many served, even if their Big Macs are of terribly quality and cause food poisoning. At least McDonalds doesn't forcibly compel you to eat there -- try refusing to be a "customer" of the IRS.
So getting back to Tiger Woods, let's modernize the economy and include him. If he earns a million-plus dollars from winning a tournament, does that deprive you or me of my income? Not in the least. Tiger earns his money courtesy of tournament sponsors, who produce products that you and I buy. True to Say's Law, we work to buy those, and then more if we overtime or obtain better employment. And what does Tiger do with his money? He buys whatever he wants, which creates employment for people who build things like luxury houses and yachts (very well-paying jobs), then saves the rest. However he saves (stocks, bonds or a savings account), it's all returned to circulation in the economy. Not one dollar is lost. Based on Bastiat's description of the "broken window" fallacy and how money circulates, I term this "Bastiat's Law of the Conservation of Money."

Now Tiger Woods is lending his phenomenal skills to the construction of new golf courses, which will create even more jobs for those with suitable skills, and again not depriving anyone of a single dollar. Well, there are those who will lose: those who are uncompetitive and now won't sell as much, and who will not be lent as much. Tough luck, eh?

But johngalt thinks:

"Who loses? The environment loses. The poor defenseless earth that asked nothing but to be left alone is denuded, gouged, raked, twisted and over-irrigated from what it was to something it was never intended to be: a golf course."

"Intelligence is a curse! Life can never be good!"

"Nothing should be artificially changed from what it is and was meant to be into something else just becuase we want to (except for gender identification on NYC birth certificates)."


And now, back to election blogs.

Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2006 3:24 PM

WSJ Election Guide

Shading the edges by stealing this from the good folks at Dow Jones, but it is pretty cool. An hour-by-hour look at the contested races when the polls close (PDF file).

The good news about this election is that so many races are in the East, it won't be a late night before we get a sense of just how awful things are going to be...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:31 AM

November 6, 2006

Election Predictions I

My call in Pa.

Governor Unfortunately Ed Rendell. Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann never caught on with the state, pardon the pun. 10 pts.

Senate Rick Santorum in a squeaker. If it's 2 pts, it's alot.


PA-06: Jim Gerlach, my congressman will be re-elected by 3 pts over liberal Lois Murphy.

PA-07: Curt Weldon, done in by scandal to pride of the nutroots, Joe Sestak.

PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick beats Patrick Murphy about a handful... 4-ish.

House and Senate remain Republican, which means the Democrats lose.

But jk thinks:

Brave man. You doing a final House and Senate tally?

I'll go along with Santorum as the surprise of the night. My head says no, my heart says yes. I also like Steele's chances in MD to pick up a Senate seat. I think Ford is a goner in TN. GOP keeps one of Talent in MO, or Burns in MT. We may not even be rid of Sen. Chafee.

Feeling good about the Senate but not the house: 220(D+I) - 215R. The Blue Dog Democrats will keep the Pelosi-Conyers-Rangel axis in line and the troops will not be defunded. Extending the tax cuts becomes a huge issue in 2008.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2006 11:18 AM
But AlexC thinks:

My score?

Gov: Right on winner, wrong on score (20 pts)

Senate: Wrong on winner, wrong on score (18 pts), this one hurts the most.

PA-6: Right on winner, Gerlach's lead now is 0.4%, about 700 votes out of 204,000 cast.

PA-7: Right on winner

PA-8: Wrong on winner, wrong on score. Dem Murphy leades Fitzpatrick 0.6%, 1,500 out of 251,000 votes.

Posted by: AlexC at November 8, 2006 10:50 AM
But AlexC thinks:

oh, the House falls, and the Senate is on the brink.

Not a good day for Alex.

Posted by: AlexC at November 8, 2006 10:52 AM

Politics? No. Climate

Holy mackeral.

Don't believe the hype.

    The Royal Society says there's a worldwide scientific consensus. It brands Apocalypse-deniers as paid lackeys of coal and oil corporations. I declare my interest: I once took the taxpayer's shilling and advised Margaret Thatcher, FRS, on scientific scams and scares. Alas, not a red cent from Exxon.

    In 1988, James Hansen, a climatologist, told the US Congress that temperature would rise 0.3C by the end of the century (it rose 0.1C), and that sea level would rise several feet (no, one inch). The UN set up a transnational bureaucracy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UK taxpayer unwittingly meets the entire cost of its scientific team, which, in 2001, produced the Third Assessment Report, a Bible-length document presenting apocalyptic conclusions well beyond previous reports.

    This week, I'll show how the UN undervalued the sun's effects on historical and contemporary climate, slashed the natural greenhouse effect, overstated the past century's temperature increase, repealed a fundamental law of physics and tripled the man-made greenhouse effect.

    Next week, I'll demonstrate the atrocious economic, political and environmental cost of the high-tax, zero-freedom, bureaucratic centralism implicit in Stern's report; I'll compare the global-warming scare with previous sci-fi alarums; and I'll show how the environmentalists' "precautionary principle" (get the state to interfere now, just in case) is killing people.

Read it all.

But sushil_yadav thinks:

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.





To read the complete article please follow either of these links :


Posted by: sushil_yadav at November 6, 2006 11:37 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot improve on what sushil says, I don't think I'll even try.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2006 11:24 AM
But johngalt thinks:

The people you attract by posting cartoons of chocolate bunnies!

I followed the vociferous incongruous one's link to earthnewswire and found that he also claims, "Intelligence is a curse" and "Life can never be good."

If intelligence is a curse, sushil is clearly blessed.

As for that "life sucks" thing, a Heinlein quote comes to mind:

"The man who says something cannot be done should not interfere with the man who is doing it."

Posted by: johngalt at November 7, 2006 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Actually got me with "Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet." Glad to see sushil doing his/her part.

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2006 4:25 PM

Most Popular ThreeSources Post

Our biting commentary, witty political insights, and stunning exegeses have attracted a small cadre of devoted readers -- and we appreciate every one.

But I was looking at the web stats and found that we have a runaway hit on out hands:


When they were all coming for NATALEE HOLLOWAY PICTURES, I feared they all went away disgruntled and empty-handed. Folks coming for CHOCOLATE BUNNY CARTOONS, however, are at least sighting their quarry.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:22 PM

Anti-Chavez Blend

I've had kind words for Contra Cafe. The coffee is good and the implicit inappropriate hand gesture toward Kris Kristofferson and Senator Chris Dodd is even more satisfying.

Now I see they have a new Contra Café Venezuela Freedom Blend

We started roasting this new blend after reading about Hugo Chavez’s authoritarian intervention into Venezuela’s coffee industry. In January 2006, Chavez doubled the price that Venezuela’s roasters pay for coffee while refusing to allow the roasters to raise their prices to consumers. Faced with certain loss, the roasters shut down their facilities. Chavez responded by sending in the military to confiscate the roasters’ stocks. “The army has the authority to confiscate the coffee,” he said on his weekly TV show. “We will sell the coffee at prices set by us.”

This blend is our protest against Chavez’s tyranny. While we wanted to use Venezuelan beans, Chavez’s trade restrictions have made that impossible. Instead, we’re using a mix of high grown Central and South American Arabica coffee. 2.5% of every sale goes to the non-profit Freedom House organization to fund programs that promote democracy in Venezuela. Drink up with hope for freedom in Venezuela.

Hat-tip: Publius

Posted by John Kranz at 7:05 PM

110th Leadership

Larry Kudlow notes a momentum shift, attributes it to Senator Kerry, and reiterates a message he has pushed on his show: a narrow Democratic house mightn't acquiesce to a speaker as liberal as Rep Pelosi.

But even if the Democrats capture the House, they will have done so with many pro-life, pro-business, pro-national-security “Blue Dogs” -- conservative Democrats who may deliver a 2006 post-election surprise.

Just as Ronald Reagan relied on conservative House Democrats to pass his key legislation on lower taxes, reduced domestic spending, and a stronger defense -- thereby overthrowing the Tip O’Neill liberal Democrats with a functional majority that included 35 to 50 “Boll Weevil” votes -- George W. Bush should be able to reach across the aisle for Blue Dog support in the next two years. These Blue Dogs are not Pelosi Democrats.

Another post-election surprise just might come from the House Republicans: Mike Pence and his allies in the conservative Republican Study Group -- John Shadegg, Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, Marsha Blackburn, and others -- could stage a leadership revolt that will get House Republicans back on the messages of limited domestic spending, earmark reform, broad-based tax reform, expanded investor tax-free savings accounts, and Social Security reform.

Put simply, while the Democrats may get a Pyrrhic victory in a six-year-itch close House win, in effect they will have suffered another substantial defeat. A lost opportunity with a losing message.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 5:10 PM

if a Republican Said This

Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.; Sen. Barak Obama; and God

Looks like Mr. Corker has his hands full.

The fact that they are still in the race despite the odds, Ford told an African American crowd at Mount Zion Baptist Church here, was evidence that "we got something else at work."

"I think the congressman said something wise -- we got another manager in this race," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told the group.

Hat-tip: Insty

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 3:26 PM

GOP Momentum

When my GOP spam boasted of a big late GOP break, I was skeptical. Now the WaPo leads its daily email with it.

A Pew Research Center poll showed a significant narrowing in the partisan advantage in House races that the Democrats have enjoyed for much of the year, findings that echoed those of a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Saturday showing the Democrats with a six-point edge.

The Pew poll showed that the Democratic advantage had dropped to 47 percent to Republicans' 43 percent among likely voters, down from 50 percent to 39 percent two weeks ago. The poll found a drop in Democratic support among independents, but Pew Director Andrew Kohut said the most significant change over the past two weeks is that Republicans now outnumber Democrats among likely voters.

Of course, It could be Karl's WaPo plants cranking out the propaganda.

Elsewhere on the web, Fred Barnes assigns blame before the results are in. I cannot say that I disagree. Barnes wonders what the landscape would have looked like after serious attempts to pass tax reform, social security reform or comprehensive immigration.

In the end, Republicans raised the immigration issue, touted it as a national crisis, stirred the nation's interest, then failed to come to grips with it. But imagine if Republicans had agreed on a compromise and enacted a "comprehensive" -- Mr. Bush's word -- immigration bill, dealing with both legal and illegal immigrants. They'd be justifiably basking in their accomplishment. The American public, except for nativist diehards, would be thrilled.

Tax reform could have had a similar effect. It may be hard to achieve, but it's both important and favored by the vast majority of Americans. Here again, however, Republicans were anything but bold. A tax panel commissioned by Mr. Bush concentrated on easing the burden imposed by the Alternative Minimum Tax at the expense of fundamental tax reform. Not surprisingly, the panel's timid recommendations produced little enthusiasm. And the tax issue quickly faded away.

The White House didn't have to acquiesce. It could have pressured the tax commission to come up with a sweeping reform plan. Or it could have proposed its own blueprint for reform. There's no secret about what's needed: lower rates, fewer deductions, a broader tax base, simplification of the tax code, elimination of double taxation of dividends, and a lot more. Instead, the White House let the moment pass.

Not to break the big momentum shift or anything...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 11:12 AM


I think globalization is here to stay. How's this WSJ lede

FOUR SEASONS HOTELS RECEIVED a $3.7 billion offer to take the luxury hotel and resort company private from investors that include its current chief executive, Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal and Microsoft's Bill Gates.

Free movement of labor, goods and capital, baby!

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 9:38 AM

November 5, 2006

Happy Guy Fawkes Night

Our friends at remind us:

It is often said that Guy Fawkes was the only man to ever enter Parliament with honest intentions...

And The Rhyme:
Remember, remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, twas his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow.

By God's mercy he was catched
With a dark lantern and lighted match.
Holler boys, holler boys, let the bells ring
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the King.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:09 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

And "V for Vendetta" kicked ass!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 6, 2006 8:50 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought so, but some of my blog brothers disagreed:

Posted by: jk at November 7, 2006 12:43 PM


Ms. Ham is more persuasive.

Hat-tip: Insty.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 1:34 PM

Saddam Found Guilty

Sun rises in east.

Sentenced to be hanged.

Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
I Think I see my friends coming, Riding a many mile.
Friends, you get some silver?
Did you get a little gold?
What did you bring me, my dear friends? Keep me from the Gallows Pole.
What did you bring me to keep me from the Gallows Pole?

I couldn't get no silver, I couldn't get no gold,
You know that we're too damn poor to keep you from the Gallows Pole.
Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
I think I see my brother coming, riding many a mile.
Brother, you get me some silver?
Did you get a little gold?
What did you bring me, my brother, to keep me from the Gallows Pole?

Brother, I brought you some silver, yeah.
I brought a little gold, I brought a little of everything
To keep you from the Gallows Pole.
Yes, I brought you to keep you from the Gallows Pole.

Hangman, hangman, turn your head awhile,
I think I see my sister coming, riding many mile, mile, mile.
Sister, I implore you, take him by the hand,
Take him to some shady bower, save me from the wrath of this man,
Please take him, save me from the wrath of this man, man.

Hangman, hangman, upon your face a smile,
Tell me that I'm free to ride,
Ride for many mile, mile, mile.

Oh yes, you got a fine sister, She warmed my blood from cold,
She warmed my blood to boiling hot to keep you from the Gallows Pole,
Your brother brought me silver, Your sister warmed my soul,
But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging from the Gallows Pole

But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging from the Gallows Pole
Swingin' on the gallows pole!

Iraq Posted by AlexC at 8:35 AM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Led Zep rules!

BTW - Ain't it amazing what happens when you ignore the UNtied Nations and do things your way?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 5, 2006 1:14 PM

November 4, 2006


Here's how not to write a get out the vote letter.

First, advice to blog readers.

    I attach a letter I have distributed to the voters in my division. Feel free to duplicate it.

With that in mind, let's get to the letter.
    Election Day is Tuesday, November 7, 2008. Voting in our division will be at the Fleisher Art Memorial located at 719 Catharine Street. Polls are open from 7:00am- 8:00 pm.

    This is an extremely important election and it is crucial that we all come out and vote. Ed Rendell, Bob Brady and Babbette Joseph are all running for reelection and deserve our support.

Voting date. Check. Sort of.

Voting Place. Check.

Candidates. Check. Well... except her name is Babette Josephs.

Office they're running for? I have no idea.

Oh, we forgot Bob Casey, he's running for something.

Well, Bob Casey is mentioned twice. That's a lot right?


Because Rick Santorum is mentioned 11 times.

After saying vote for Bob Casey, they enumerate the reasons for voting AGAINST Rick Santorum. Apparently, they are legion.

The post is titled "Vote Against Hate", but I fail to see anything but for Santorum.

Anyway... this is not the best part.

That's this part.

    Santorum is a right wing zealot who will be defeated but only if we all turn out and vote on November 8, 2006.


Emphasis added.

This blogger distributed the letter to voters in his precinct. Let's hope he got them all. ;)

If the Democrats lose in Philadelphia, it's 'cause they did it to themselves.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I got the EXACT same letter for my voting poll location.

Except I'm up in the 34th Ward and they want me to vote for Bob Brady, (PA-01).

Why bother? He ran unopposed in the primary and he's unopposed now. That means he already has the job.


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 5, 2006 1:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Wow. I can't believe that you have come out as pro-hate.

Posted by: jk at November 5, 2006 1:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The real question here is, who's dumber: Democrat voters or Democrat candidates and their operatives? It looks like a dead heat from Palm Beach county.

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2006 2:57 PM


What is it with those damned bluetooth cellphone earpieces?

No one is that important.

I watched an episode of "Flip This House", where a woman was remodeling her house and having interviews with the hosts with one of those things in her ear.

She can't be that important, and she looked like an idiot.

If I remembered her name, I'd put it here just she could google herself and see that I called her a knucklehead.

You are not Lt Uhura from Star Trek. Get over yourself.

But johngalt thinks:

Could be she has an endorsement contract.

Posted by: johngalt at November 6, 2006 2:59 PM

Army / Navy


Seen at Army / Navy game.

Speaking of which, I've seen fish flop around less than John Kerry.

The latest.

America, F*ck Yeah! Posted by AlexC at 9:54 PM


JK's GOTV phone calling inspired me to get to call my list of voters. I'm actually a committeeperson here in scenic and historical Montgomery County. So I'm supposed to be plugged into the local pulse, so to speak.

I'm not fond of cold calling people, but it was fun. Naturally all will be coming out to vote, as well as rocking the vote on their own. My list didn't have email addresses (it's just the raw registration db + phone numbers from somewhere), so I got to update it as well. Not sure where they got the phone numbers from, naturally there were some wrong ones.

I did ask the local voters if they wanted some phone numbers to call as well. As you can imagine, they all declined!

Like JK, I highly recommend it.

Politics Posted by AlexC at 9:29 PM

Y'all Think I'm Negative

Weekly Standard writers have posted their predictions. And Mr. Kristol is not seeing the sunny side:

William Kristol

Senate: 48 (R), 52 (D)
House: 192 (R), 243 (D)

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 2:34 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Everyday Economist thinks:

Yes, but remember Kristol has openly said that he wants the Dems to take control because otherwise the Republicans cannot win the White House in 2008. When you have a horse in the race, it is hard to make accurate predictions.

Posted by: Everyday Economist at November 5, 2006 4:33 PM


I was wrong. I thought I would not be able to participate in Get Out The Vote this cycle. In 2004, I did poll watching and my condition has worsened since then to the point where I could not comfortably do that.

But, I can sit at home and make calls. You could too.

UPDATE: First list done. You wouldn't know it from my bombast around here, but I am very shy and this is difficult work for me. But if Uncle Karl says it helps...

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM

Don't Don't Ask

Christopher Hitchens has an interesting piece in OpinionJournal today (free link).

He cites the Kerry contretemps as evidence of class division in America and in the military. Not the "poor, black, uneducated" tripe we've heard since Vietnam -- Hitch decries the lack of elite, Ivy-league, patrician members of the military. Fewer John Kerrys and George Bushes serve today.

The troops are impressive in education and skills; Hitchens confirms this. It is a missing class element that concerns him. And he offers a compromise.

Sen. Kerry and his party should publicly demand that the U.S. military be allowed to recruit openly on elite campuses. And the supposed reason for the ban on ROTC--the continuing refusal of the armed services to admit known homosexuals--should be dispelled at a stroke by a presidential order rescinding the Clintonian nonsense of "don't ask/don't tell." It is already outrageous that the CIA, for example, has been firing Arabic and Persian translators because of their supposed private sexual lives. That policy certainly could have come from bin Laden himself.

This is going to be a long war, and not just in Iraq, and we have learned something this week about the perceived inequality with which it is shared and experienced. It would be good if a sideshow spat in a rather mediocre election season could have the effect of making two self-evident wrongs into a right.

That would be a Sister Souljah moment for the record books to have President Bush rescind "Don't Ask Don't Tell." But it would be good for the war effort and would call the bluff on the Ivies.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM

November 3, 2006



    The Rev. Ted Haggard said Friday he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a male prostitute. But the influential Christian evangelist insisted he threw the drugs away and never had sex with the man.

    Haggard, who as president of the National Association of Evangelicals wielded influence on Capitol Hill and condemned both gay marriage and homosexuality, resigned on Thursday after a Denver man named Mike Jones claimed that he had many drug-fueled trysts with Haggard.

I'm not an evangelical, but I thought I was pretty plugged into "Christianist" circle.

I've never heard of this guy.

But jk thinks:

I'm not the first to rush to defend the "Christianists," but something seems odd.

A Christian evangelist who fails to live up to his principles is chided as a hypocrite, whereas an ex-vice-president or a film star flying around in a learjet to raise awareness of global warming is okay.

I'd live and let live on both accounts, mind you, but it almost seems that the media might be biased or something.

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2006 10:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Keep in mind JK that this story has been brewing at KUSA for at least 2 months but Paula Woodward never pulled the trigger. Until, that is, your old buddy Peter Boyles forced her hand.

As for Haggard, he's not a household name in Colorado either (unless I guess you're in the evangelical circle.) Both parties (Haggard and his accuser) appear to be shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly. Haggard steps down, then the gay escort fails a polygraph, then Haggard admits "some indescretions." In all the talk about "what should be done" to Haggard I keep asking myself, what law has he broken? Show me a judge on this continent who will lock a man up because he used dope.

The only people who have any judgement to pass are his parishoners.

Posted by: johngalt at November 4, 2006 11:19 AM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, funny you say that, because Haggard is a global warming fellow traveller.

Posted by: AlexC at November 4, 2006 6:47 PM

GOP Health Care

I've been the lone voice in the wilderness the last couple years: a sure sign of individual vision and perspective, or complete madness.

I think that the GOP should celebrate its record of protection of quality health care. The Democrats claim education and health care as their issues, when many of their policy ideas would weaken the system.

Some guy named AlexC at SantorumBlog prints a letter of support for Senator Santorum signed by more than 50 MDs and several more health care professionals.

As a leader in the Senate, Rick Santorum has been a champion for safety, quality, research, and access to care for every Pennsylvanian and every American. Sen. Santorum has earned the respect of health care professionals throughout the nation, and for good reason.

In addition to the health care leaders listed at the end of this letter, Rick Santorum has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Medical Society Political Action Committee (PAC), Ob/Gyns for Women’s Health PAC, Pennsylvania Orthopaedic PAC and the Pennsylvania Physicians for the Protection of Specialty Care (3PSC). And because he wants to ensure that patients continue to have timely access to quality health care, Rick Santorum is also supported by The American Association of Neurological Surgeons PAC. His opponent has received little or no support from the medical community, also for good reason.

I think you can make a good case for protecting that which works in our system. Americans rejected HillaryCare pretty soundly.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM

Quote of the Day

"This guy can lose elections he's not even in" -- David Letterman, speaking on CBS about John Kerry's comments to college students about the war in Iraq.

Hat-tip: OpinionJournal Political Diary

Posted by John Kranz at 2:44 PM

Roll dem Bones?

Dan Henninger Wonders (free link) whether the electorate will "roll the dice" to give the Democrats a chance at governance.

Like most right-of-center commentators, Henninger doesn't spend a lot of time trumpeting GOP successes. Instead he makes one more warning about giving such an unserious bunch more influence in pursuing the war.

Washington state's Eighth Congressional District is typical. Democratic challenger Darcy Burner, a Microsoft executive, is running in a close race against GOP incumbent Dave Reichert with this: "He supported Bush's plan to invade Iraq. Supported Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld even when they weren't telling us the truth with a failed strategy and no plan to finish the mission. . . . If we stay the course, won't we get more of the same?"

Being the off-year default option may not matter much when the subject is health care or immigration. A party's seriousness of purpose matters a lot, though, when the task is the accumulating terrorist threat described in detail in the 9/11 Commission Report, proven by the London airliner plot and made imminent by the arriving nuclear capability of two rogue states, Iran and North Korea.

What have the Democrats done to prove their seriousness or credibility in addressing such a world? One may ask whether invading Iraq made the threat of terror worse, but the programs the Bush administration put in place to fight the broader war after Sept. 11 were, on balance, good--aggressive electronic and financial surveillance, the Patriot Act, the pursuit, capture and interrogation of terrorists. Progressive Democrats and press exposés opposed all of this, and when the political going got tough for the administration, senior Democrats piled on, went silent and let the president's authority go into a free-fall merely to achieve the result hoped for this Tuesday.

I early voted the other day in a busy Boulder County complex (that can't be good news for Republicans!) I don't think my health will allow me to participate in GOTV this year. I'll watch the news on Tuesday night and see what happens.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | What do you think? [2]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

More like russian roulette.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 3, 2006 9:25 PM
But jk thinks:

;) With five bullets and one empty chamber, I fear.

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2006 2:11 PM

New Directions

Five Year Low

    The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in more than five years in October, the government reported Friday, a sign of unexpected strength in the job market.

    The jobless rate sank to 4.4 percent from 4.6 percent in September, the Labor Department said. It was the lowest since May 2001. Economists had forecast the rate would hold steady.

    The department also said that employers added 92,000 jobs in October, down from a revised 148,000 in September, and short of Wall Street forecasts for a gain of 125,000.

Since Jan 2001, after tax take home pay is up $2,660, a gain of 9.8%.

More of the same? Faster please.

But jk thinks:

Productivity growth iz ZERO! Flat! Things are real bad, ac, you're just not reading the headlines.

Posted by: jk at November 3, 2006 12:06 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

You know, if you add in the 11 million illegal immigrants who are working under the table ... man, talk about LOW unemployment.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 3, 2006 9:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Sorry, mdmh, you have hit a nerve. Unemployment is low BECAUSE of the high numbers of immigrants, not in spite of them. They fuel the economy on both the demand side and the supply side.

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2006 11:41 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Oh, you misunderstand me. If we could count the illegals in the pool and then apply their numbers to the whole, I would think that the actual rate of unemployment would be lower. BTW: Immigrants are counted, the illegal variety are not. My Great Grandparents came over from a cold, miserable place filled with snow and suffering ... and moved to Minnesota. No place like home.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 4, 2006 6:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Sorry, I get pretty sensitive around here. I am left alone to hold up the WSJ-Kristol-Kudlow line on immigration. My blog brethren are populist in that area and I've learned to expect the worst.

My great grandpa ended up in Minnesota as well. "Jeepers."

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2006 7:03 PM

Academia and Halloween


From the Ivory Towers.

    University of Pennsylvania president Amy Gutmann threw her annual Halloween costume party at her home Tuesday night. Among the guests was Saad Saadi, who came dressed as a suicide bomber, complete with plastic dynamite strapped to his chest and a toy automatic rifle. Worse, Gutmann posed with Saadi!

    An obvious question: would Gutmann have posed with a guest--or even allowed him into her house--if he'd dressed as Adolf Hitler or a Nazi SS officer? A KKK member?

Follow the link for pictures.

But jk thinks:

I dunno, maybe it’s my turn to defend the tower inhabitants. The guy has MidEastern features. He's in college. He came dressed as a terrorist. All the things wrong with academia, I have to say this doesn't bother me very much.

I'll concede the point of a double standard but the terrorist is topical and relevant. A Nazi or a Klansman or a Senior Senator from West Virginia would be importune but irrelevant.

Posted by: jk at November 3, 2006 12:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

JK has a point that the costumes (there was more than one) were topical, but they were certainly in bad taste. The interesting observation being made is that they're not in bad taste to ALL Americans, only to those who think the enemy is a danger to us. Not coincidentally, a vast majority of people on college campii are not in that camp.

Last week's episode of the CBS (of all places) soldier drama "The Unit" included some scenes of an army wife interacting with war protesters. I'll blog it shortly, but the relevant passage was when she was asked by a dirty hippie, "What side are you on?" She replied, "I'm on the American side."

Posted by: johngalt at November 4, 2006 12:15 PM

November 2, 2006

Research Request

An emailer would like to pile on Senator Kerry, feeling that he does not have enough trouble.

> JK help me out here... isn't George Allen's Webb, the same Webb who
> as sec. of the navy signed off on an honorable discharge for John
> Kerry years after the fact without being able to explain how his
> signature wound up on the document?

A little Googling has reminded me of the questionable nature of the document, but I have yet to stumble across the signature. Anybody?

Posted by John Kranz at 10:55 AM

Bobby Casey - Answering the Tough Questions

Steven Morse of the Daily Pennsylvanian tries to get some answers from Bob Casey and his spokesman Larry Smar on the John Kerry situtation.

    While other journalists were inside the event watching Gov. Rendell get the crowd pumped, I chose to wait outside for Mr. Casey's arrival. As he entered, I tried to ask a couple of questions about the now-infamous John Kerry comments. Casey rebuffed me, saying he would address this issue later. Because Casey is a politician, I was skeptical. So I decided to ask a Casey aide about the matter. He said that the only person authorized to speak on the record was the Casey campaign's Communications Director, Larry Smar.

    Larry Smar is a man that I have left phone calls and e-mails for in the past. He has never returned my messages. Nor has he returned the repeated voice mails and e-mails of other Daily Pennsylvanian staff members. Since the beginning of this campaign, the Casey strategy has been to shy away from the media, as they are up significantly in the polls and have little to gain from speaking with us.

    Once again, Smar refused to answer my questions. Even as a member of the media, I never had a problem dealing with communications directors until yesterday.

The glare that Smar gives Mr Morse is priceless... then there's the "using a file folder to block the camera." Niiiiiiiiice.

Then he accuses the University of Pennsylvania student of working for Viriginia Davis, spokeswoman for Rick Santorum.

Stephen Morse asked the toughest question of all. "Who cancelled Kerry's appearance? Kerry or Casey."

Watch the video to find out.

But jk thinks:

He looks too young to have had the word "smarmy" coined after him, but he is keeping the dream alive.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2006 12:30 PM

November 1, 2006

Revenge of Guys in Tweed

Business Week

    The radio wars are escalating. In a one-two punch aimed at enlisting regulators to their cause, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and National Public Radio want the Federal Communications Commission to investigate alleged misdeeds by satellite radio companies XM (XMSR) and Sirius (SIRI).

    On Oct. 12, National Public Radio CEO Ken Stern wrote to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin alleging that the satellite broadcasters' devices interfere with NPR broadcasts. And last week, David Rehr, president and CEO of the powerful NAB, fired off two letters to Martin alleging several regulatory violations.

Technology Posted by AlexC at 11:55 PM

Cartoon Contest Winner!

In case you missed it, the Iran-government sponsored "Anti-Semitic" cartoon contest winner was decided.

    Meant to be a response to the Danish cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad that sparked rage among Muslims around the world, the exhibit appeared inspired by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tirades calling for Israel to be destroyed.

    Teheran has several times announced plans to host a conference to examine the scientific evidence supporting the Holocaust, dismissing it as exaggerated. Its most recent announcement came in September during Annan's visit to the Iranian capital, where he said he discussed the cartoon show with officials.

Just in case anyone ever tells you Iran isn't going to be a problem.

(tip to HotAir)

Iran Posted by AlexC at 10:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

If this is the winner, I think we can call the Cartoon Wars safely won by the Danes.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2006 10:18 AM

Now, a word from the troops

Via e-maiL


Well done! Full-rez version.

UPDATE: I guess this has been around the blogosphere once already. First version I found was here.

Update By AlexC: Identified! They're Minnesnowtans!

Posted by John Kranz at 6:08 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

You ought to see the press John Kerry is getting the Philly area. The first segments are all about him.

Best part? They lump in Bobby Casey, and his clumsy cowardly responses. 1) botched joke, like santorum & bush botched iraq 2) santorum is desparate.

Posted by: AlexC at November 1, 2006 10:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

These are eight magnificent heart-breakers and life-takers that make me proud to be American.

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2006 11:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Kerry cancelled a fundraising visit to Philadelphia; I hope you weren't too heartbroken.

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2006 11:17 PM
But AlexC thinks:

More grist for the mill.

Bob Casey didn't have the guts to tell Kerry to stay away. Kerry decided to keep out.

... and I'm all over it at SantorumBlog. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at November 1, 2006 11:30 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

C'mon, Alex, Kerry didn't come to Philly because he knows no proper steak shop is EVER gonna serve him another cheesesteak with Swiss!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 2, 2006 10:25 PM

John Kerry Jokes

The compendium.

    Knock, knock.

    -- Who's there?

    Our soldiers are terrorizing women and children.

    -- Our soldiers are terrorizing women and children who?

    Our soldiers are terrorizing women and children and dragging them out of their homes in the dead of night.

    -- I don't get it.

    Don't question my patriotism. I served, reluctantly, in Vietnam.

UPDATE (by jg): This url from the comment by mdmhvonpa below is a MUST SEE! It deserved a hyperlink, here. Thanks mdmh. LMAOBT

But mdmhvonpa thinks:


Posted by: mdmhvonpa at November 1, 2006 2:46 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

OMG! I'm splitting my sides here!


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 2, 2006 10:28 PM

Don't click this. Comments (2)