November 30, 2006
Tax Free Christmas
Though not a done deal, this might be your last Christmas to stick it to the man.
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.)
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:
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.
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 www.oilforfoodinquiry.gov.au. He has recommended 11 AWB employees, plus a BHP Billiton executive, for criminal prosecution.
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..
The Speed of Meme
Ian at Banana Oil! is playing, I guess I will too:
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.
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.
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.
Oil, That Is
In case you were wondering...
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.
November 28, 2006
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
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.
Were he as likeable as Rep "Old Chollie" Rangel, he could say whatever he wanted.
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 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.
Socialized Health Care
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A six year old could figure it out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November 23, 2006
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.
November 21, 2006
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 GasSigns.org)
Update: An email from a friend of mine who really should be blogging.
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.
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 Time.com, 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.
UN Ambassador John Bolton, not long for the UN, lashes out publically against it.
"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.
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.
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
November 19, 2006
Are the Democrats going to cut and run?
Not if some want a draft.
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.
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.
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.
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?
-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.
November 18, 2006
Attila at Pillage Idiot brings tales of internecine strife in the new Democratic House Leadership.
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.
Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Hat-tip: Everyday Economist.
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.
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
Josh Poulson offers an amendment to the Constitution in the name of the late Milton Friedman.
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!
KFC has a new logo, and you can see it from space.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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."
My Kind of Diesel Mechanic
WCCO.com 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
November 16, 2006
Some More Milton Friedman
Government Bytes (ha!) reminds us of one of Milton Friedman's best quotations.
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.
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 Canada.com.
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.)
Freedom - Economic and Political
As JK would doubtless and justifiably say, "Giants have walked the earth." From TheStreet.com: "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.
Speaker Pelosi, oh for One!
The Fix -- Chris Cillizza's Politics Blog on washingtonpost.com Hoyer Win a Blow to Pelosi
Ouch. Sorry Rep Pelosi, sorry Rep. Murtha.
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.
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.
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.
UPDATE: Mickey Kaus asks the same question: "Now they tell us, Part XXVIII"
November 15, 2006
Sarcasm Done Right
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 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.
A portentous start to the "most ethical Congress in history."
November 14, 2006
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.
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.
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.
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
They may lose the war and ruin the economy, but I still predict fun for the opposition press and punditry.
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.
Nothing to See Here
Iranian President Ahmadinejad:
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:
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.
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 Townhall.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
November 12, 2006
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.
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.
November 11, 2006
How Do You Sound?
(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.
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.
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.
Thank you all for your service and sacrifice.
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.
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
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.
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."
Comity. It's a wonderful thing.
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:
Yeah, Death Camps!
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.
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.
Speaking Of Chafee
Remember John Bolton? That man who's mustache intimidates the third-world?
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.
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="http://www.berkeleysquarejazz.com/thestore.html" title="Hugo's Tunes" target="_blank">Presidente Chavez's bonitos conciones</a>
By comparison, just putting the url http://www.berkeleysquarejazz.com/thestore.html as text would create a link that would say http://www.berkeleysquarejazz.com/thestore.html 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.
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.
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.
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?"
A: Aren't you Jaykayskoveczki, the great comedian?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Politics? No. Climate
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.
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.
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.”
Posted by John Kranz at 7:05 PM
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.
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."
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.
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.
Not to break the big momentum shift or anything...
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!
November 5, 2006
Happy Guy Fawkes Night
Our friends at Samizdata.net 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
Saddam Found Guilty
Sun rises in east.
Sentenced to be hanged.
Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
I couldn't get no silver, I couldn't get no gold,
Brother, I brought you some silver, yeah.
Hangman, hangman, turn your head awhile,
Hangman, hangman, upon your face a smile,
Oh yes, you got a fine sister, She warmed my blood from cold,
But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging from the Gallows Pole
November 4, 2006
Here's how not to write a get out the vote letter.
First, advice to blog readers.
With that in mind, let's get to the letter.
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.
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.
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.
Army / Navy
Seen at Army / Navy game.
Speaking of which, I've seen fish flop around less than John Kerry.
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.
Y'all Think I'm Negative
Weekly Standard writers have posted their predictions. And Mr. Kristol is not seeing the sunny side:
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. www.gop.com/NeighborToNeighbor/
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...
Don't Don't Ask
Christopher Hitchens has an interesting piece in OpinionJournal today (free link).
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.
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
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.
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.
I think you can make a good case for protecting that which works in our system. Americans rejected HillaryCare pretty soundly.
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?"
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.
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.
Academia and Halloween
From the Ivory Towers.
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.
November 2, 2006
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
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.
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.
November 1, 2006
Revenge of Guys in Tweed
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.
Cartoon Contest Winner!
In case you missed it, the Iran-government sponsored "Anti-Semitic" cartoon contest winner was decided.
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)
Now, a word from the troops
UPDATE: I guess this has been around the blogosphere once already. First version I found was here.
Update By AlexC: Identified! They're Minnesnowtans!
John Kerry Jokes
-- 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