December 31, 2006

Now they can finally come home, right?

What would the US military do without authoritative websites? From Australia's 'The Age:' US troop deaths in Iraq reach 3,000:

The number of US military deaths in Iraq has reached 3,000 since the 2003 US-led invasion, an authoritative website tracking war deaths says.

Authoritative? Here's what they say about themselves:

This site is maintained by amateurs. We have no affiliation with the government, think tanks, or news organizations. The site is maintained during the early morning hours, late at night, and during lunch breaks.

This site is provided as a free service and is self financed with cost off set by user donations.

On the bright side, it's good to see a blog outfit recognized as a news source. Just wait 'til Three Sources hits the Mainstream!

US Army Specialist Dustin R. Donica of Spring, Texas, rest in peace. Your actions in life were part of something far greater than a macabre, anti-Bush milestone.

But AlexC thinks:

I don't understand this morbid fascination with round numbers and death counts.

Did 2,998 not count?

Did 1,733 not count?

Posted by: AlexC at December 31, 2006 4:39 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

We lost 2500 on the first day storming Iwo Jima. We lost a total of over 7500 during the same campaign.

The Dems are pinning their hopes on this slow, drip-drip-drip of deaths to increase the sheeps' (um,..populace's)unease and fatigue with the GWOT in general.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at January 1, 2007 1:03 PM


Why write your own? We have an Internet and there will be some out there that are better. Me, I'll take Greg Mankiw's even though they're last year's.

#7: This year I will be modest about what government can do. I know that economic prosperity comes not from government programs but from entrepreneurial inspiration. Adam Smith was right when he said, "Little else is required to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice." As a government official, I am not going to promise more than I can deliver. I am going to focus my attention on these three goals -- peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice -- and I am going to trust the creativity of the American people to do the rest.

They're all good; he even comes down on my side of the penny controversy. "When people start leaving a monetary unit at the cash register for the next customer, the unit is too small to be useful."

Maligayang at manigong bagong taon, y'all.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:30 PM

December 30, 2006

[sic] Semper Tyrannis

Wow. The AP is on hand to tell you all you need to know about the late Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. In U.S. tolerated, then villified [sic] Saddam you learn from one Calvin Woodward that Saddam wasn't such a bad guy (well, apart from those atrocities) but that America just has a need to personify its struggles -- especially one with a moustache.

WASHINGTON - When U.S. leaders decided it was time to despise Saddam Hussein, he made the perfect villain.

He was cocky and cunning. He looked dangerous and deranged standing at rallies firing a gun into the air, conduct unbecoming a head of government.

He was Hitler Lite, or as the first President Bush put it, "Hitler revisited," lacking the endless armies, but close enough for U.S. purposes. He had a history of atrocities. His black mustache heightened the aura of menace.

Had Hitler shaved, I'm sure we'd have left him alone. (George Carlin had a great routine: "Stalin had a beard. Teddy Roosevelt had 'whiskers.'")

It just gets worse. The death of a ruthless dictator who has put hundreds of thousands of his countryman to death is such a grand occasion to do a little America bashing. Don't make fun of the AP mispelling in a headline though, you'll anger Joseph Rago and expose yourself as one of those petty bloggers.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 4:00 PM

Fractals, Weather, and Climate

I'll stop boring my Keystone state friends with Colorado weather reports, though I'll give a quiet shout out to a Nebraska reader who may be seeing our storm today.

That last foot we were supposed to get today is now predicted to be 2-4" and I doubt we'll get that (always look at the first differential of the forecast -- if they're backing off grab the swim trunks, if they're increasing, fill the car with gas). It seems a puff of air from out West will keep the storm from the mountains and prevent the "upslope" pattern where a storm gets pushed against the hills and drops its load. My toy car will be beached a few more days, but what the TV newscasters call "The Blizzard of 2006: II" has moved out to the eastern plains.

I will aggravate the climate change faithful with this observation, but hear me out. Being a math geek, I remember James Gleick's Chaos. Of the three pop math books I can think of, Chaos was the biggest seller. It introduced much of America to fractals, chaos theory, and the butterfly effect.

Old Chris what's-his-name on Fox31 weather is a smart fellow with a lot of shiny equipment. He was convinced that we were in store for another foot-plus today. One little breeze from the West and it's not to be. The fact is there are too many variables to predict weather. This is obvious to anybody who lives in front of the mountains. They create a chaotic interstice for moving weather that precludes prediction.

"But that is weather, jk. Weather is capricious. Climate is not," the dissenter points out. This is fair although the next sentence about "You #%$^%^ink stupid Republicans!" goes too far.

But what if climate is just as capricious? The really interesting thing about fractals is their repeatability at different scales. Trace a foot of coastline and a mile of coastline and they look the same. A friend had a record of nature sounds which sounded exactly the same at 16, 33 1/3, or 45 RPM. I could never figure that out until I read the Gleick book.

I posit that climate is equally and similarly capricious to weather, if you change the scale of the graph from days to millennia. A moth only lives for a day -- don't you figure the VP Al Gore moths worry about "global darking" when night falls?

But johngalt thinks:

I came back to comment here that it seemed like more fun when we had liberals, err, "centrists" who would take on positions such as these. "We've driven them all off with our brilliant and unassailable counterarguments," thought I.

No, JK had just inadvertently disabled comments!

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2006 10:11 PM
But jk thinks:

I aggressively recruit Democrat-leaning bloggers because they don't last very long. I know Silence has a new job and hope he'll wander back when time permits. I might mail him this post.

I hate to post uncharitable thoughts on New Year's Day, but I find it extremely difficult to engage with interested and intelligent folks who do not vote like me. I know they're out there, but the ones I know have little interest in discussion.

Let me know when there are comment problems. The standard ThreeSources comment policy is:

-- You have to type in the dopey password that shows on the comment page. It changes every day.

-- I run a SQL script to close comments on posts that are more than seven days old. I run that when I feel like it. You might find old legal posts around but you can count on seven days of commenting.

-- A Spam filter holds a comment with three or more links until an administrator publishes it. I think AlexC, JohnGalt and I all have rights to approve.

All of these exist -- not to stifle dissent -- but to avoid porn merchants and Viagra peddlers who "Spam-bot" blog comments to increase their search engine ranking.

Mail jk [at] threesources [dot] com if you encounter something outside these rules and I will look at it.

Posted by: jk at January 1, 2007 12:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Mea maxima culpa. I used evil Microsoft T-SQL on a Linux MySQL database and closed comments on the wrong wrong set of posts. Lucky I didn't destroy the entire fabric of space-time...

Posted by: jk at January 2, 2007 1:09 PM

Albums of the Year

Only two days to pick the ThreeSources Album of the Year. Get your nominations in.

ThreeSources friend SugarChuck sends his picks:

  • Marty Stuart's Soul's Chapel. This is an all gospel record featuring our old pal Kenny Vaughn, who I believe is the greatest guitarist I've ever seen. There are no pyrotechnics, just great singing, archetypal tones and an infusion of the spirit of Pop Staples. This is what happens when people that love country music, blues, and gospel make records. No Cashville Gnats here...
  • Roy Clark & Joe Pass Play Hank Williams It might be more of a guitarists only record, but what a great record it is. The simplicity of the Hank tunes demonstrates the genius of Joe Pass in a way that covers of Monk wouldn't, though I would love a Joe Pass plays covers of Monk. [ed: this is hard to get in CD format but iTunes has it.]
  • I am going to throw one more out there and then call it a day. Larry Carlton Sapphire Blue. Amazing. Like Pass playing Hank, Larry playing straight up blues without the west coast syrup dripping all over everything is a gift. He also did a rock record that was darned interesting but the blues one goes to the island.

I will add a few to that list that make a trend:
  • The Little Willies. I have a theory that twice in a decade, a good musician hits the pop charts and, likewise, there are two good TV shows each decade. That theory was based on Norah Jones. The Little Willies features her vocals, great guitar work from Jim Campilongo, and a great take on non-pop country sound. This is a must buy, but if the country genre scares you, buy "Lou Reed" on iTunes and check it out.

  • Van Morrison Pay the Devil. A friend called Van "the only white guy with soul." I don't want to start a flamewar but you can make a good case for that. This is "Van the Man"'s rendition of country and it is haunting.

  • The trend is people playing outside of genre, and specifically taking the country mantle. Many folks are scared off of country by all the bad stuff that comes out on Nashville. My last pick is pop artist Michelle Branch's foray into Country: The Wreckers Stand Still, Look Pretty. This has more of the contemporary Nashville sound and if you "hate country" give one of the others a try. I, naturally, discovered Branch when she did a live performance of "Goodbye to You" at the Bronze on Buffy. She has a haunting voice and style that she brings to the Wreckers.

I know we all agree on music, religion and politics around here. Anybody else see one we've missed?

Happy New Year.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:28 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

How about this: "Southern Born Killers" by Stuck Mojo. The nomination is primarily for the tracks For The Cause of Allah and Open Season, although Yoko deserves mention.

Caution - explicit lyrics in the 3rd verse of Open Season and the 2nd verse of Yoko.

Audio tracks are here.

Video here.

The lyrics are difficult to follow, at least in the video. They are readable here for Open Season and here for Yoko.

This self-marketed album is also an example of JK's "long tail" since they gave up on trying to earn a living through record labels. (read the story)

Hat tip: Infidel Bloggers Alliance (via Cyrano) who has a remastered version of the video, which includes captioning and other goodies.

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2006 10:48 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

A positive vote for The Wreckers here. The only other CDs I bought this year were The Mosquitos "III", Chris Botti's "December" and RHCP's "Stadium Arcadium."

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at January 1, 2007 1:07 PM

December 29, 2006

Ding, Dong, Dead

Reports: Saddam Executed in Baghdad

The New York Times calls this a "rush" to execute the former national leader. By American standards, perhaps. The crimes his neck was stretched for were committed in 1982. He was arrested by US troops on December 13, 2003. It took three years for an Iraqi court to be established and to find him guilty. The Times' real problem here is not the time it took, but the finality of the verdict. "Surely there must be some doubt."

This execution marks a definitive end for the Saddam era. It is a good day for Iraq (and for America, whose finest delivered the tyrant to justice). It is not, however, the turning point for peace and harmony and goodness in the world, nor does it even "automatically create a new and better Iraq." But then, who ever said it would?

Iraq Posted by JohnGalt at 10:40 PM | What do you think? [4]
But AlexC thinks:

I had a number of guests over tonight, Fox was on in the background... nobody cheered, but nobody felt bad either.

It just was.

F that monster.

Posted by: AlexC at December 29, 2006 11:41 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Does YouTube's policy prevent execution video for being posted?

Posted by: AlexC at December 29, 2006 11:42 PM
But jk thinks:

A sovereign Iraqi court tried him -- I believe fairly -- and chose the punishment.

I laughed at the NYTimes "rush" as well. In their defense, the appeal seemed very perfunctory. After the trial had drug on, with many unusual events, a closer look at the procedure might have been warranted.

I will cheer inside. After Nuremburg, Nazism was thoroughly discredited and only a few fringe groups(man, I hate Illinois Nazis) keep it alive. Communism never had the formal purge and persists. I'd like to see Baathism as practiced by Hussein expunged.

Besides, South Park fans know he now enjoys eternal life with his soulmate, Satan.

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2006 11:23 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Most likely, someone will try to get the execution on YouTube. You can guarantee the handlers will be looking for it. If nothing else, someone may download it before it gets dumped and they'll pass it around some other way.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 30, 2006 11:32 AM

Welcome to the Blogroll

Two I have been visiting everyday:

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Becker-Posner Blog

Posted by John Kranz at 4:47 PM

JK Questions Their Patriotism

A terrible thought occurred to me a few weeks ago. It's not necessarily original but I think it deserves a hard look. And, today, I got the perfect segue to discuss it thanks to Perfesser Reynolds.

A strain of CW says that support for the war in Iraq has dropped because the struggle has been more difficult than anticipated. I have certainly believed this, and I have admitted to war opponents that I thought it would be easier.

But what has changed for the war opponents? We're not rationing gas, holding blackout drills, or conscripting their family.

War opponents are Bush opponents and they are merely being opportunistic. They count the casualties and await macabre, invented benchmarks: "more people have died in Iraq than have hit over .250 in the major leagues!” The problem is not lack of will, the problem is a lack of belief in American exceptionalism.

Instapundit links today to a Dave Kopel piece about long standing tribal conflict between "the Anuak, Nuer, Majangir, Opo and Komo." It's another lugubrious tale of tribal conflict than has gone on for n years, and you cannot help but glaze over, because the story is as common as it is sad. Reynolds links, and closes with this- startling yet true statement:

Nobody has cared, but now that Ethiopia is opposing the Islamists in Somalia with U.S. assistance, we'll no doubt see a sudden surge of "human rights" advocacy on the subject, though the whole disarmament thing might make it politically tricky . . . .

Nobody cares that people are killing each other, until the United States should have a strategic interest in siding with one tribe over another. To oppose the interests of the US, we will suddenly face education on the perfidy of the Ethiopians and the gentle goodness of the Anuak.

I remain in the shrinking population that supports the war because I think we have a far better life to offer and that we will ultimately reap security rewards for our efforts. Aside from the occasional Cindy Sheehan, it strikes me that the people who are doing the sacrificing, as a general rule, are prepared to continue sacrificing to achieve the mission. Those who have "grown weary" will not and never did sacrifice, they just do not believe in what America has to offer.

But johngalt thinks:

What has happened is that by failing to win the war, Bush has given the looney left every opportunity they could hope for to persuade the wishy washy "centrists" that the cost is not worth the reward.

(The only good part of this is that reward is being judged in terms of "American interests" and not "world security." Of course it would have been better for both had the war been conducted by warriors rather than diplomats.)

The looney left is not only uninvested, but counter-interested in American power projection in the mideast and around the globe. The centrists, on the other hand, ARE invested by way of taxpayer funding of the military mission.

Posted by: johngalt at December 29, 2006 10:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Obviously you're right on the tax issue and it seems out of character of me to downplay it. Considering the fungibility, lack of clear accounting and debt structure of the Federal Gub'mint, I question whether this is felt as a sacrifice.

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2006 12:21 PM

December 28, 2006

The Caffeine Curve


Hat-tip: Club for Growth

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:07 PM | What do you think? [6]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

This is why the TrekMedic drinks tea,,...Earl Grey,...make it so.!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 28, 2006 10:11 PM
But dagny thinks:

Captain Picard,

Earl Grey contains plenty of caffeine as well. Not that I should talk, as I drink Chai.

Posted by: dagny at December 29, 2006 12:38 AM
But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

The problem with me: I start my first cup at about 0445... so I'd need a wider curve.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at December 29, 2006 10:36 AM
But jk thinks:

So does that shift the whole curve to the left or increase its amplitude?

Posted by: jk at December 29, 2006 1:38 PM
But AlexC thinks:

you people and your chemical dependancies.

the government needs to be involved.

Posted by: AlexC at December 29, 2006 3:11 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Dagny,..chai on a cold morning works for me, too!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 30, 2006 11:33 AM

Latest Global Warming Strategy: Endangered Species Act

Having heretofore failed to impose a new national global warming tax through all prior strategies, anti-progress envinronmental extremists are turning to an old friend for help: the Endangered Species Act.

Kassie Siegel is the lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, a group based in Arizona that took the lead in the lawsuit calling on the department to list the polar bear. She said, “I don't see how even this administration can write this proposal without acknowledging that the primary threat to polar bears is global warming and without acknowledging the science of global warming.”

Translation: "Even the Bush administration now admits that human induced global warming is real science and is the primary threat to polar bears and all the earth's creatures."

Hat tip: NPR radio two nights ago

But jk thinks:

I fear much will ride on the upcoming SCOTUS decision whether CO2 is a pollutant (and you thought Bastiat was being rhetorical when he said you couldn't outlaw breathing).

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2006 4:05 PM

About Giving Money Away

I wince when I hear a politician giving money away. But I am trying to consider, seriously, some policy ideas that may be the best we could expect.

First was Senator Jeff Sessions's $1000 to newborns. He was on Larry Kudlow's TV show early this week pitching this idea. He has been pushing it for sometime but believes it may be more conducive to the 110th Senate.

The idea is to create a government savings account fir every child born after the bill is signed, to fund that account with $1000, paid now not on debt. Then to mandate employers' contributions of 1% of wages to the account and to have the government match it under a certain income level.

"Oh my God!' yells I at the TV. "This is Republicanism in the 21st Century?"

But Mr. Kudlow is -- not only deferential -- supportive. He sees it as a step toward private accounts and an introduction to savings and investing to some lower on the income scale.

Today The Everyday Economist links to an article in the NYTimes by George Mason U. Professor Tyler Cowen. Cowen suggests Universal 401(k) Accounts Would Bring the Poor Into the Ownership Society

The core idea is simple. The federal government creates tax-free retirement accounts for lower-income Americans, supplementing private accounts where they already exist, and matching personal contributions to those accounts. The amount of the match would depend on the income of the family and how much they save.

Cowen wants to fund it by removing $1 from Medicare or Social Security for each dollar applied to matching 401K contributions.

Once you admit that we're not going back to the 19th Century, these giveaways look pretty good. There will be a huge government component in retirement, why not create a viable funding mechanism and wrap it in a positive incentive structure?

Milton Friedman appreciated the efficiency and incentive of the EITC. I'd love lasseiz faire but this is a good model to settle for.

But dagny thinks:

Sorry JK,

You can't get me on board for this one. First of all it does not appear to be, "universal," 401(k) but low-income only 401(k) paid for by my tax dollars. Suddenly wealth re-distribution is OK as long as it is properly incentivised wealth re-distribution. It will only create yet another giant and inefficient government bureaucracy. I would be on-board for the privatization of social security where some portion of the taxes I pay get saved in my name. I note that the EITC is held up as a similar program with a positive incentive structure. Did you know that EITC fraud has become one of the IRS's largest issues?

Posted by: dagny at December 29, 2006 12:32 AM
But jk thinks:

I really was not expecting to find you on board.

Yes, I have given up on wealth redistribution. It is popular with the electorate and we will have it to some level with certain mechanisms. I will choose to fight the scope and the scale of it and to choose the best mechanisms.

The alternative to this is not lassiez faire, everybody gets to keep their money -- the alternative is a huge tax increase bundled as a raise in the Social Security cap. Said tax increase will prop up the existing defined-benefit plan for a few more years. While the SS budget is still in surplus, it will also give our New Democratic Overlords an injection into general revenue that they can use to do more things you and I won't like.

This is less government intensive than the existing plan, it shifts incentive to saving, and it replaces outmoded defined benefit plans with defined contribution. Not a bad day’s work.

Posted by: jk at December 29, 2006 11:01 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Let's explore some practical realities then:

1. Why are the impoverished poor so lousy at earning money? As 'half sigma' said in comments on the Universal 401K post, "Either (1) instead of working towards acquiring job skills they do drugs and have sex (lack of future time orientation); and/or (2) they just born stupid.

People with the above traits aren't going to be able to effectively manage their retirement savings."

2. Government "management" of "retirement" (how do you retire from the government dole?) savings for these people will work about as well as government management of snowplows, i.e. not as well as private self-interested management.

3. Adding a new entitlement does nothing to limit or restrict existing entitlements, regardless of what line of crap were given at the time of inception.

4. Whatever good may be done by the "positive incentive structure" of an "introduction to savings and investing to some lower on the income scale" is totally dwarfed by the harm of unearned income. (Why work for money when the government gives it away?)

5. No amount of creativity, novelty and charm will alter the fact that entitlement programs don't eliminate poverty, they perpetuate it. Always.

JK abandons the line in the redistribution debate because such is inevitable in our "modern" world. No, it is not. Taxes are inevitable but giving money away is a disease that CAN be cured. It will not be done democratically, but by visionaries. "One man with courage makes a majority."-Andrew Jackson

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2006 12:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I expected healthy and intelligent debate from you two on this one and you do not disappoint.

The idea of my giving up when you have not is an interesting point that can be explored but I doubt resolved. Pragmatism vs. purity is a pretty fundamental difference between us. As far as this proposal is concerned, I think it's a good example of pragmatism. I'll address each of your points.

1) The article mentions that some strict rules will be required to prevent withdrawals. This is the safeguard for the hopelessly inept money managers. More important to me, however, is repairing behavior at the margins. Welfare reform did not fix poverty, but it did allow millions to escape the slavery of public repentance and discover the benefits of work and freedom. This could likewise grab millions who don't save now but might discover the benefits with a little nudge from incentives.

2) My street was plowed quite nicely by a government plow. I'm sure it cost more, but the street is plowed. I'll look for something of Sen. Shelby's proposal. The idea is based on the Government workers’ Thrift Plan that provides a menu of choices. It is restricted but includes a personal component.

3) This is a great argument and difficult to counter. My brother-in-law always ends up here on immigration (he's in your camp there). "They'll promise what we want to get what they want but they won't deliver." I reply to both of you that that is legislation. Write it in the damn bill that they have to cut an even amount from other programs. Our New Democratic Overlords believe in PayGo, here it is.

4) You're at McDonalds and foie gras is not on the menu. You can give people a defined benefit when they are old and poor, or you can match their savings and encourage thrift thorough their life, Lassiez faire is not a choice. Sorry sir, we don't have pheasant either, but the Big Mac is quite filling...

5) My point #1: I am not going to fix poverty. Jesus said that couldn't be done (although that was 2000 years before Milton Friedman). But I can improve a lot of lives around the margins.

Won't be done democratically? Put in a good word for me when your people take over, jg. Tell them I was just misguided, make them go easy on me...

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2006 1:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps your suburban street was plowed but many a Denver mayor has lost his job because 70% of Denver streets were not. Want better service? Privatize it. Want your investment accounts to perform to your advantage? Don't hire your congressman to manage it for you. Want another man to do something he doesn't want to because "it's good for him?" Go piss up a rope. (Apologies for crudeness. It was the best metaphor I could remember.)

My point #3 (as well as #4, #5, and tangentially #2) is best addressed in your response to #1: "Welfare reform did not fix poverty, but it did allow millions to escape the slavery of public repentance and discover the benefits of work and freedom."

3) This success was the result of reducing an entitlement, not creating a new one.

4) "Money for nothing" is a cancer on the financial well being of the underclass.

5) How many years did this social experiment in the "war on poverty" last before it was finally reformed?

2) Welfare is a perfect example of government management: It can't make decisions and adapt to maximize results. It just goes on in whatever direction it was imprecisely pointed by congress until things get bad enough that congress makes "reforms."

Which brings us to where I think we agree. We both want to improve financial self-reliance for those who lack it and we both want (I think) to reduce the magnitude of wealth redistribution at every opportunity. The obvious answer is reform and restructuring of Social Security. Privatize it. Self-direct it (mutual funds only). Give nominal federal matching or seed contributions even, if you must, but DON'T let it stand as is, separate from your shiny new entitlement.

Finally, what I meant was that great ideas are not arrived at and embarked upon democratically. Naturally one must have the votes to make it happen. My point was that if you abandon the position that wealth redistribution is wrong in principle then you have virtually no basis on which to prevent its future growth.

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2006 12:30 PM
But jk thinks:

I think Welfare Reform is a good model. To make it palatable, it bundled a pile of job training and child-care subsidies. Sadly, we've been reduced to having to buy freedom with sops to socialists. And yet, I think you'll agree it was a huge net plus.

I don't see replacing your private 401K with this. Hence, it is not replacing private management with public management. You'd have to keep a small section of your portfolio in an approved vehicle, but a small T-Bill position isn't going to kill anybody.

You dysphemize it by calling it "a new entitlement." But I say that we have a de facto entitlement of a public pension through Social Security and Medicare. Getting me on board requires Cowan's idea of a dollar-for-dollar reduction from current entitlements to fund this. Same cost, different incentive structure.

I hate to go too far down an icy side road, but the demand for snow removal that cost Mayor McNichols his job ushered in Federico Pena and an era of big government in Denver. Mayors now know that a lot of services are required to keep their job. I don’t see that it has resulted in much private incentive.

Posted by: jk at December 31, 2006 3:58 PM

The Religious Test

I "joined" the New Republic so I could see the blue-on-blue violence of Martin Peretz vs Daily Kos. But now I get their emails every couple of days.

Here's the latest.

    When Massachusetts Mitt Romney announces his bid for the Republican nomination, the race for the White House will suddenly include a Mormon. Romney's presence has led the political theorist Damon Linker to ponder the political implications of Mormonism. Is there any reason to fear a Mormon commander in chief? How should religion enter our calculus for selecting presidents? Linker takes a view that might not seem very politically correct. He argues for taking religion--and its stated beliefs--with the utmost seriousness. Such seriousness would lead a voter to reject an orthodox Mormon presidential candidate. If Romney enters the race, he'll be forced to answer the important questions that Linker poses.

Ugh. Really, haven't we as a country grown beyond this?

Clearly some on the left haven't.

But jk thinks:

I promise you heartbreak and consternation every week from TNR. But it's a fair trade for items like Peretz's Audacity of Hope, Arkansas where he speculates about Senator Clinton's perspective in facing Sen. Obama:

Hillary and Co. prepared for Mark Warner and John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Joe Biden, Tom Vilsack and the really impossible--no, deluded--dreamer John Kerry. She probably had a strategy against Gore, too. She was confident and contemptuous. And then, suddenly, she found herself running against a latter-day Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2006 2:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

More relevantly, why not take the stated beliefs of ALL candidates "with the utmost seriousness?" Why should such an approach be limited only to religious candidates in general, or conservative religious candidates in particular?

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2006 2:49 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

First, I hear ya, John.

Second, the Pope didn't take over after JFK,..why should we expect Coke, Pepsi, coffee and tea (there goes that graph, jk!)to be banned if Romney wins?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 28, 2006 10:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The real issue here for the progressives who ponder this religion factor is not that religion is contrary to their beliefs, per se. What worries them is that religion endorses values that are more or less invariable. Modify God's law with a healthy dose of "it depends" and you'll find much less hostility from the progressives.

Posted by: johngalt at December 29, 2006 10:34 PM
But dagny thinks:

JG brings up an interesting contrast here. He is correct to point out that the progressives problem with religious politicians is that religion provides more or less invariable values and a system of right and wrong.

I don't have a problem with this as I believe in a value system of right and wrong. However, the problem with, "God's Laws," being the basis for such a system is that God's laws are only available to us on earth as interpreted by some man or other. Here I find I have some sympathy with the progressives. We clearly do not wish to be governed by God's Laws as interpreted by the islamofascists. So tell me, Mr. Romney, what government actions are taken in regards to God's laws as interpreted by a Mormon?

This seems a legitimate question to ask any political candidate.

Posted by: dagny at December 30, 2006 1:00 AM

Holy Precipitation, Batman

Get ready for some more blizzard blogging:

Today: Scattered snow showers with snow becoming steadier and heavier late. Cold. High 33F. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 80%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.

Tonight: Periods of snow. Low 21F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 80%. 5 to 8 inches of snow expected.

Tomorrow: Windy. Snow during the morning followed by a few snow showers during the afternoon. Cold. High around 25F. Winds N at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of snow 70%. Snow accumulating 2 to 4 inches.

Tomorrow night: Snow along with gusty winds at times. Low 17F. Winds NNW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of snow 70%. Significant snow accumulation possible.

Saturday: Snow. Highs in the upper 20s and lows in the upper teens.

Again, troops, I am safe and well provisioned. But I have not been out of the house in a week and a half. They plowed my street yesterday, so now I have a foot of solid ice right at the bottom of the driveway. I actually like it, but this will get old before it goes away.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

Damn. I'd like some snow. It's 51 today. I almost feel like mowing the lawn.

Posted by: AlexC at December 28, 2006 1:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

We're getting snow now but we got NO rain from May through September.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2006 2:45 PM

December 27, 2006

48 Hours of Wii

It's been, well more than two days, since Christmas morning, and Santa brought us a Nintendo Wii, Rayman Raving Rabbids and an extra controller. (I picked up Madden 07 and another nunchuck controller yesterday).

My wife and I have discovered that we are sadly out of shape as our arms are burning with soreness.

But it's fun.

Easily the best game system I've ever purchased.

Swinging the controller like a tennis racket, baseball bat, bowling ball or boxing gloves adds a dimension to gaming heretofore unexplored. My soon-to-be four year old daughter can really box well.

Rayman makes use of the motion detecting sensors in pretty clever ways. Milking cows, those old-fashioned tilting marble games, shooting plungers, whack-a-mole etc.

Madden Football '07 is pretty sweet. Throwing touchdown passes or kicking fieldgoals is pretty straightforward, though the tackling is a bit more complicated.


But jk thinks:

Surely there will be some new, named malady for overuse of the controller. Maybe John Edwards will have a class action suit -- keep your receipts.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2006 4:11 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Well, Breckboy is busy running for President and making the lame walk again.

Speaking of which, an overzealous at-bat in a home run contest caused me to kick the coffeetable.

With only a sock protecting my toes from the wood.

Posted by: AlexC at December 27, 2006 6:06 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at December 27, 2006 6:46 PM

Soft Landing in Housing?

Larry Kudlow keeps praising the "Goldilocks" economy (not inflationarily hot nor contractionally cool). He attributes it to the 2003 Bush tax cuts and called it "the greatest story never told" through the election cycle.

The only credible data that naysayers can use to contradict is "the burst of the housing bubble." There is always something that will take us back to "Grapes of Wrath" American refugeeism and soup lines. Now it's housing.

So it was good to see better than expected housing numbers. (Paid link, sorry!)

WASHINGTON -- New-home sales bounced back in November, rising more than expected, while inventories fell and the median price climbed.
Sales of single-family homes increased by 3.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.047 million, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. October sales fell 3.8% to 1.013 million, revised from a previously estimated 3.2% retreat to 1.004 million.
The sales numbers Wednesday were better than Wall Street was looking for. Economists expected a 1.6% increase to an annual rate of 1.020 million in November. The advance in November was the third in six months; sales were up 3.1% in September, up 4.3% in August, down 9.2% in July and down 2.1% during June.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM

Wage Subsidies

Must read post from Greg Mankiw

But jk thinks:

Larry Kudlow was trying to convince a couple of lefties that the way to help low wage workers is to reduce corporate tax rates.

He is absolutely right, but it is a tough sell to those who think governments set wages. Sen. Kennedy says minimum wage workers have been waiting ten years for a raise. That statement is wrong on so many levels, one doesn't know where to begin.

I'm a big fan of the President, but I will admit here to being tired of "compassionate conservatism." It is classic Bush to come out for a fait accompli minimum wage increase and then try to get some pro growth riders on the bill. Unfortunately, it supports and cements the idea that government has a role in setting wages.

Speaking of Kudlow, Steve Forbes was on last night. Steve in 2008, anybody? We're sorry we didn't listen before.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2006 11:38 AM

December 26, 2006

The Booming Economy You Don't Hear About

Nope, not here. As Larry Kudlow has been mentioning, a boom in Iraq.

Larry links to an Amir Taheri piece in The New York Post

Four years ago, this was a jumble of rusting quays, abandoned houses and gutted buildings. By the spring of 2003, its population had dwindled to a few dozen, along with hundreds of stray dogs. There was even talk of abandoning it altogether.

Today, however, Um Qasr is back in business as a port with commercial and military functions. Hundreds of families that had left after the first Gulf War in 1991 have returned - joining many more who have come from all over Iraq.

The boom in Um Qasr is part of a broader picture that also includes Basra (the sprawling metropolis of southern Iraq), the Shi'ite "holy" cities of Najaf and Karbala, Mandali on the Iranian border and much of Baghdad.

When the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank reported two years ago that the Iraqi economy was heading for a boom, skeptics dismissed it as misplaced optimism. Now, however, even some of those who opposed the toppling of Saddam Hussein admit that many Iraqis share that optimism.

Newsweek has just hailed the emergence of a booming market economy in Iraq as "the mother of all surprises," noting that "Iraqis are more optimistic about the future than most Americans are."

Of course they're more optimistic. The New York Times doesn't deliver that far.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 5:57 PM

The D in DAWG

The 2006 Census Estimates are out (It's like Christmas!) and they offer some hints at reapportionment after the 2010 Census.

Club for Growth linked to it because most of the states that stand to gain seats are friendlier to pro-growth economic policy than the states that are losing seats. That seems fair, although I have watched Colorado shift from Red to Purple as it gained seats, so it is difficult to extrapolate. All the same, one must agree that any loss of political power in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would be a good thing for the republic.

Hurting for blogworthy material in a slow news week, I was struck by the tale it tells of migration to warmer climes: The six states listed as certain to gain seats are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Texas and Utah. A few ski areas notwithstanding, that strikes me as a sunshine list. Certain to lose? Iowa, Pennsylvania (sorry friends), New York, Ohio -- only Louisiana and Missouri buck the trend.

Polidata’s Clark Bensen also observes that Florida (currently with 25 seats) is now poised to replace New York (29 seats) as the third most populous state – and that both states might end up with 27-member delegations when the dust settles after reapportionment.

Sixty years ago, no one would have believed that Florida and New York might one day have House delegations of equal size. In the 1940s, the New York delegation was a 45-member congressional powerhouse while Florida was a puny 6-seat weakling. But between 1942 and 2002, Florida gained 19 seats while New York lost 16.

Back to my tendentious acronymical invention. If Global Warming exists and is Anthropogenic, is it Deleterious? A shift of 20-something house seats shows that warmth has a value. It's been seven days since I left my house, you can call me interested.

But johngalt thinks:

I think you're on to something. My first guess was differential state and local tax burden but a perusal here shows Utah is 9th and Arizona is 21st highest.

Also, if you need to get out and can't please let me know. Zoe and I will swing by with the Power Wagon and get you where you need to go.

Posted by: johngalt at December 26, 2006 3:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind offer. I could get out if I had to and we are well provisioned. Granola-mobile or not, I missed the old Subaru this week.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2006 3:28 PM
But AlexC thinks:

So if temperatures are rising, we'd expect to pay less for heating fuel right?

Posted by: AlexC at December 26, 2006 11:17 PM
But jk thinks:

After you move to Florida, ac, your heating oil bills will be negligible.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2006 12:40 PM

December 25, 2006

RIP, Godfather


    James Brown, the undeniable "Godfather of Soul," told friends from his hospital bed that he was looking forward to performing on New Year's Eve, even though he was ill with pneumonia. His heart gave out a few hours later, on Christmas morning.

    The pompadoured dynamo whose classic singles include "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" and "I Got You (I Feel Good)" died Monday of heart failure, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. He was 73.

    "People already know his history, but I would like for them to know he was a man who preached love from the stage," said friend Charles Bobbit, who was with Brown at the hospital. "His thing was 'I never saw a person that I didn't love.' He was a true humanitarian who loved his country."

Music Posted by AlexC at 9:23 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Extreme Mortman salutes Brown at Nixon's Inauguration party in Say It Loud (I’m Republican And Proud)

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2006 12:14 PM

Merry Christmas

... in Philadelphia it's 42 and raining.

I blame global warming.

    In 1902, the Los Angeles Times reported that the great glaciers were undergoing "their final annihilation" due to rising temperatures. But by 1923, it was the ice that was doing the annihilating: "Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada," the Chicago Tribune declared on Page 1.

    So it was curtains for the Canadians? Uh, not quite. In 1953, The New York Times announced that "nearly all the great ice sheets are in retreat." Yet no sooner did our neighbors to the north breathe a sigh of relief than it turned out they weren't off the hook after all: "The rapid advance of some glaciers," wrote Lowell Ponte in "The Cooling," his 1976 bestseller, "has threatened human settlements in Alaska, Iceland, Canada, China, and the Soviet Union." And now? "Arctic Ice Is Melting at Record Level, Scientists Say," the Times reported in 2002.

    Over the years, the alarmists have veered from an obsession with lethal global cooling around the turn of the 20th century to lethal global warming a generation later, back to cooling in the 1970s and now to warming once again. You don't have to be a scientist to realize that all these competing narratives of doom can't be true. Or to wonder whether any of them are.

Environment Posted by AlexC at 9:00 PM

Merry Christmas From Dubai


Now don't you wish we'd let them buy the ports?

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM

December 24, 2006

Go for Two?

I'm glad my beloved Broncos won the game today. They did many things to deserve the victory.

I've got to ask why Cincinnati did not go fir a two point conversion. I was surprised to see the kicker line up for the PAT. They had run at will against eh Broncos all day, and have the most explosive offense in football. Would not a two point try by statistically preferential to kicking the PAT and scoring a field goal before the other team? Snowy field conditions, if anything, would lean me toward a two pint attempt, where the weather favors the offense.

'M I whacked?

Posted by John Kranz at 8:22 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

An emailer says "U R whacked. Play for the overtime win."

I remain intrigued with James Surowecki's claim in "The Wisdom of Crowds" that a more aggressive offensive style of play would be supported by statistics.

The same e-mail suggests that the 99 yard drive might be the start of something historic. I agree and hereby retract my impertinent question of Coach Shanahan when he switched QBs.

If Chuck Norris has a movie role, AlexC, you might consider Shanahan on the Ditka ticket. Coach Shanahan was present at all the big GOP rallies I have attended in the last decade.

Posted by: jk at December 25, 2006 12:50 PM

Defending the Blogosphere

One more wade into l'Affaire Rago. I mentioned that I thought Rago misses the point in his anti-blogging screed (you remember, "Written by fools to be read by imbeciles.")

For the most part, Methinks that the blogosphere hath protested too much. Taranto makes a case that the surfeit of vituperative attacks has done more to prove Rago's point than refute it.

I remain a fan of blogging, although no doubt much of my writing could be used to inculpate Rago's thesis, this sentence included. However, I am a Hayekian at heart and champion the competition of ideas in the free market. I'm also an Army-of-Davidser and a Long-Tailer. I celebrate the removal of barriers to entry in media production and distribution.

Rago fails to recognize the amount of superb writing out there. Dean Barnett offers many counter examples. Some of the best bloggers are professional journalists: Lileks, The Corner, Galley Slaves, and Rago's online editor and defender, James Taranto.

I offer a blog I just discovered: The Becker-Posner Blog maintained by Gary S. Becker, University Professor Department of Economics and Sociology Professor Graduate School of Business The University of Chicago and another intellectual lightweight, Judge Richard Posner, Senior Lecturer in Law at the Chicago School of Law.

I discovered this blog through The Everyday Economist. Josh linked to a discussion on the New York City ban of trans-fats. Posner starts by declaring the information cost of a person educating himself on trans-fats as being too high. Becker rebuts, not only with a freedom and choice argument, but also with suggestions that younger consumers expect pharmaceutical advances to help them before adverse effects materialize, and this gem:

If they value the taste of trans fats in their foods only by 35 cents per meal, the taste cost to consumers of the ban would be $70 million per year. Then the total cost of the ban would equal the benefits from the ban.

I ruin both pieces by paraphrasing. They are intelligent, well thought, and well written. (The Chicago Manual of style suggests the comma after thought, I use it in deference to the two Chicago academics). The comments, like Samizdata's are penetrating and well written. The two pieces and the comments combine to make a more serious and probing discussion of the issue than was presented anywhere by MSM.

Rago has seen some bad writing in the blogosphere. I'm shocked. He conveniently neglects the volume of serious thought and good discussion.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM

December 23, 2006

Git a Mac?

After bad mouthing the Mac commercials, my trusty old laptop that I use as a personal computer has died and I suspect a virus. It got real slow a week ago, and now will not boot: ntfs.sys is corrupted.

The OS disks are an image, so I cannot recover my existing files on a repair. As it is truly a personal machine, there is no great loss if I just wipe it clean, but it will take me a day or two to rebuild and reload the applications I like. And there are always a handful of things that are truly lost.

Rats ass. Any email sent after yesterday afternoon is likely lost to the aether.

I develop in the Microsoft world so a Mac would really not be an option. But I won't bad mouth them again -- I'm sure that's what got me last time. "I, for one, welcome our new Cupertino overlords..."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:28 PM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

You can always dual boot the new Intel Macs...

or with Parallels you can run both simultaneously.


Posted by: AlexC at December 23, 2006 7:22 PM
But Ian Hamet thinks:

Linux, man.

Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux, Linux.

And did I happen to mention Linux?

You can run dual-boot with Windows (or treble(?)-boot, or more if you want), you can launch from a LiveCD or a bootable flash disk... Linux gives you options, man! And it won't hose your personal data.

Posted by: Ian Hamet at December 24, 2006 8:42 AM
But jk thinks:

OS chatter always brings out more passion than religion or politics. Too bad Ian doesn't have an opinion...

I might think about this. I have an old machine I can use while I ponder. I develop on two company provided WIntel boxes, so I could use Linux or Mac as my tertiary platform (a fancy name for the machine I goof off and blog on). If I give up the idea of recovering data from the dead machine, I might load Linux on it.

I have RedHat9 install media lying about. Anybody have kernel recommendations? If my accountant should say new hardware is an option, the Mac would dual boot (and you can break out to a BSD shell as well, right?) Kind of a compromise candidate for all three...A Baker/Hamilton OS... I dunno...

Posted by: jk at December 24, 2006 12:01 PM
But AlexC thinks:

As evidenced above, Linux is the Unix-like OS for fanboys who hate Microsoft. FreeBSD is the Unix-like OS for people who like Unix.

Of course, MacOS is generally underpinned by FreeBSD, but it's only there if you want it.

Coincidentally, I saw this article this morning on Digg.

More PC Buyers Will Be Going Mac in 2007

Posted by: AlexC at December 24, 2006 12:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Fanning the flamewars, brother ac, playing with matches.

I think your link is correct. Several people have asked me about Macs lately. I think they all expected me to try and talk them out of it, fill their heads with cool reason. I disappointed.

At the same time. I was looking at sub-$600 desktops on That gets a feller a gig of memory and a 200GB or so hard drive, which would rock for my purposes. The Mac in that price range is 600-800 and only gets you 512MB and an 80GB drive. Add to that some software that I own in Win32 format.

I know the high-end PowerBooks and multi-processor boxes are sweet, I just question how well they complete in the low-mid sector, which is all I need right now.

Posted by: jk at December 24, 2006 2:05 PM

Christmas Extremists


    A man used flammable liquid to light himself on fire, apparently to protest a San Joaquin Valley school district's decision to change the names of winter and spring breaks to Christmas and Easter vacation.

    The man, who was not immediately identified, on Friday also set fire to a Christmas tree, an American flag and a revolutionary flag replica, said Fire Captain Garth Milam.

    Seeing the flames, Sheriff's Deputy Lance Ferguson grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran to the man.

    Flames were devouring a Christmas tree next to the Liberty Bell, where public events and demonstrations are common.

    Beside the tree the man stood with an American flag draped around his shoulders and a red gas can over his head.

    Seeing the deputy, the man poured the liquid over his head. He quickly burst into flames when the fumes from the gas met the flames from the tree.

Call me crazy, but I'm sure that the loss of "winter fest" and "spring fest" didn't put him over the top.

But jk thinks:

There's a war on winter fest, ac. You may not notice it out East, but out here some people look nervously at their shoes when I wish them a "Happy Winter Fest." Like I've broken some taboo.


Posted by: jk at December 23, 2006 5:27 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Sounds to me like another case of Darwinism!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 23, 2006 9:52 PM

Greetings of the Season

From my brother, via email:

For My Democratic Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

For My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Posted by John Kranz at 12:42 PM | What do you think? [1]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

LOL,...I passed that along to both my liberal and conservative friends!

BTW - Merry CHRISTmas to AlexC, JK, and John Galt from the TrekSanta!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 23, 2006 9:57 PM

December 22, 2006

Senator Backbone

I thought my hero, Larry Kudlow, was writing an article on oxymorons: "Senator?" "Backbone?"

He writes, instead, on Senator John McCain's courage to push for victory in Iraq against the polls, the CW, and the Baker Surrender Group.

McCain clearly would rather do the right thing in our nation’s interest than the politically correct thing. He is about leadership and character and decisiveness. He seems to have the ability to assess American national-security needs, not just for the next few weeks, but the next few decades. And he is almost single-handedly lifting our war policy towards strength rather than weakness.

McCain is standing tall against the tides of wartime fatigue, the polls, and the conventional Beltway wisdom. Whatever the outcome of the Iraq debate, and even the 2008 presidential election, the senator is behaving in a remarkably brave and steadfast manner at a time when so many of our leaders are shrinking from those crucial public duties.

Kudlow has been hitting the pro-McCain theme hard on his TV show for a couple of weeks. McCain's stand on the war is admirable, and none of the other candidates are wowing me (I'd give Mayor Giuliani a chance).

War is the issue. McCain is likely the candidate. My on again, off again endorsement is now on again.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM

Now a Word Against Enforcement

Full of Christmas Spirit, I thought I mightn't start a squabble about immigration on December 22. Naaah:

The lead editorial (free link) questions the cost benefit ratio of the immigration raids on the Swift meatpacking plants.

Immigration restrictionists would have us believe that harassing businesses like Swift, the world's second-largest beef and pork processor, helps make America safer. But so far the Swift raids haven't uncovered any al Qaeda cells, merely a bunch of hard-working people trying to feed their families. The operation involved more than 1,000 federal agents in six states. And of Swift's 15,000 or so employees, a grand total of 144 have been charged to date with misidentifying themselves to get hired.

Put another way, 1,000 federal agents that could have been focused on potential terrorists or other dangerous threats were instead focused on a meatpacking company that hires thousands of willing unskilled workers and pays them more than twice the minimum wage with full health benefits after six months. How's that for government efficiency?

I suppose that enforcing the law is its own good and I do not post this to criticize. I post this to rebut those who say that it should be the responsibility of employers to enforce our immigration laws. It seems that Swift tried.
There's a common notion that businesses seek out illegal aliens to employ. So it's also worth noting that since 1997 Swift has voluntarily participated in a government program for vetting new hires known as Basic Pilot. Under this system, the names and Social Security numbers of all job applicants are checked against a federal database. Which is to say that the presence of illegal workers at Swift is not the result of a company's indifference to the rule of law. It's the result of a flawed government system for determining who's eligible to work here. A few years ago Swift's management attempted to go even further than Basic Pilot to screen job applicants, only to be sued by the Justice Department for employment discrimination in 2001.

Full of hope for the season (that's twice he's said "full of it..."), this might be a big plus for having a Democratic 110th Congress.

On Wednesday, Mr. Bush reiterated his position that the most "humane" way to deal with illegal immigration is to combine enforcement with a guest worker program that would address the country's obvious labor shortage. "I want to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get a comprehensive bill to my desk," said the President. "It's in our interest that we do this."

Merry Christmas ThreeSourcers!

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 4:02 PM

December 21, 2006

Patents Are Killing You

So say the would-be thieves.

    A report by the General Accounting Office concludes that current patent law discourages drug companies from developing new drugs by allowing them to make excessive profits through minor changes to existing pharmaceuticals. While pharmaceutical research and development expenses have increased by 147% since 1993, applications for approval of "new molecular entity" (NME) drugs, or drugs which differ significantly from others already on the market, have risen only 7%. According to the report, the majority of newly developed medicines are so-called "me-too" drugs, which are substantially similar to existing drugs, are less risky than NMEs drugs to develop, and which "offer little in the way of therapeutic breakthroughs."

But jk thinks:

I have read very intelligent commentary on both sides of this issue and I am torn. I've long railed on these pages to allow pharmaceutical firms to make profits. Yet a compelling and nuanced case can be made that Patents ultimately hamper discovery.

Of course, you'll hear no such nuance from Senator Dick Durban, who cannot wait to wave his new gavel at drug companies:

"Commenting on the report, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that existing patent law allows drug companies to drive up their profits at the expense of patients needing innovative treatments. 'The findings in this new GAO report,' said Senator Durbin, 'raise serious questions about the pharmaceutical industry claims that there is a connection between new drug development and the soaring price of drugs already on the market. Most troubling is the notion that pharmaceutical industry profits are coming at the expense of consumers in the form of higher prices and fewer new drugs.'"

I fear for the Republic and its inhabitants...

Posted by: jk at December 21, 2006 5:36 PM

Blizzard Blogging

The last numbers I heard were 33" for boulder and 25" at DIA.

The snow has stopped where I live and it is bright but overcast. My niece was on a plane on the tarmac at SFO yesterday when they stopped the flight (good thing, I'd say). She will be in Saturday night, our Friday Night Christmas plans have been rescheduled for the night of the 25th. All is calm, all is bright.

I have a few more photos I'd like to post but my card reader is not recognizing memory cards.

UPDATE: The skies are blue. That's why you live here -- when you get one of these it does not last too long. By the time I dig out the convertible, it'll be nice enough to take the top down.

UPDATE: (jg) OK, we need some more pictures here.

There is one drift bigger than this one but I didn't get down to it until later when the road was plowed. This one, however, is taller than dagny.


The snow drifts were not limited to outside the buildings.



Of course, there are rewards. Like watching our two year old have the time of her life.


Then it was time to plow the driveway. After pushing the pile for about 5 feet it started cascading over the bucket and into my lap.


Time to get a bigger tractor!


As you can see, utility is much more important than fashion out on the farm. At least that's what I tell myself everytime I put on that chocolate brown snowmobile suit and that goofy stocking cap.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:38 PM | What do you think? [3]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Send some of it here to Philly, dammit!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 21, 2006 10:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Well done, thanks for the pix!

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2006 12:00 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

As much as I joke about snow,..please be careful!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 23, 2006 9:58 PM

Equal Treatment Under Law

John Fund, writing in the OpinionJournal Political Diary, says "Life's a Beach" for Sandy Berger.

Yesterday's report by the Inspector General for the National Archives makes it more obvious than ever that Sandy Berger, President Clinton's former National Security Adviser, got off easily in his document-filching case. Mr. Berger pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of improperly removing classified material from the Archives. As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors asked him to pay a fine of only $10,000; an outraged judge bumped that up to a $50,000 fine.

It's now clear Mr. Berger is lucky to have stayed out of jail. The Inspector General's report found that the paper he stole outlined the government's knowledge of terrorist threats in the U.S. in the final months of the Clinton administration -- documents of some interest to the 9/11 Commission that Mr. Berger was preparing to testify before. He admitted to investigators that he later retrieved the documents from their hiding place and brought them to his office, where he tore some up and placed them in the trash.

Mr. Berger originally maintained his actions were "an honest mistake" rather than an attempt to cover up aspects of the Clinton administration's counterterrorism efforts. But Rep. Tom Davis, the outgoing chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, told C-SPAN this morning that Mr. Berger may have taken working documents for which no copies exist. "There is absolutely no way to determine if Berger swiped any of these original documents. Consequently, there is no way to ever know if the 9/11 Commission received all required materials," Mr. Davis said. Mr. Davis ended with this tantalizing hint: "More is coming on this, and the committee will be issuing its own findings in this soon."

Scooter Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Cheney who is now facing felony counts for supposedly lying to federal investigators in the Valerie Plame non-case, must be bemused at how the worm turns in Washington. Sometimes the tale of who is vigorously prosecuted and who is dealt with leniently is the most perplexing Beltway ethics story of all.

Yesterday's report by the Inspector General for the National Archives makes it more obvious than ever that Sandy Berger, President Clinton's former National Security Adviser, got off easily in his document-filching case. Mr. Berger pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of improperly removing classified material from the Archives. As part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors asked him to pay a fine of only $10,000; an outraged judge bumped that up to a $50,000 fine.

It's now clear Mr. Berger is lucky to have stayed out of jail. The Inspector General's report found that the paper he stole outlined the government's knowledge of terrorist threats in the U.S. in the final months of the Clinton administration -- documents of some interest to the 9/11 Commission that Mr. Berger was preparing to testify before. He admitted to investigators that he later retrieved the documents from their hiding place and brought them to his office, where he tore some up and placed them in the trash.

Mr. Berger originally maintained his actions were "an honest mistake" rather than an attempt to cover up aspects of the Clinton administration's counterterrorism efforts. But Rep. Tom Davis, the outgoing chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, told C-SPAN this morning that Mr. Berger may have taken working documents for which no copies exist. "There is absolutely no way to determine if Berger swiped any of these original documents. Consequently, there is no way to ever know if the 9/11 Commission received all required materials," Mr. Davis said. Mr. Davis ended with this tantalizing hint: "More is coming on this, and the committee will be issuing its own findings in this soon."

Scooter Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Cheney who is now facing felony counts for supposedly lying to federal investigators in the Valerie Plame non-case, must be bemused at how the worm turns in Washington. Sometimes the tale of who is vigorously prosecuted and who is dealt with leniently is the most perplexing Beltway ethics story of all.

Prosecutorial discretion vs. prosecutorial overreach. It's been said before, but imagine the uproar if Condi Rice has been caught stealing and destroying documents. President Clinton was said to have laughed when he heard about this. And some think he did not take security seriously...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:30 PM

December 20, 2006

The Sartre Cookbook

This is the funniest thing I have seen on the Internet in, umm, forever.

The Jean Paul Sartre Cookbook.

I would have nothing kind to say about Sartre, except that he inspired Joss Whedon to create my favorite TV villain of all time. Jubal Early, the existentialist bounty hunter in the Firefly episode "Objects in Space" comes from Whedon's love of the Sartre book "Nausea." I think that's one of two that I have read. Sadly, it inspired nothing so grandiose.

Hat-tip: Insty.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 4:13 PM

VP Gore Must be holding a rally

We are expecting 10" of global warming and it looks like we are most of the way there.

My place of employment has officially closed down for the day. I have worked there on and off for 18 years and cannot remember ever "officially" closing. They just sent people home and locked the doors.

‘Course, that’s a warm day at Sugarchuck’s…

The view is out my home offiice window. The streelight is the corner of my driveway, and the shadow is a house across a plain old suburban street.

UPDATE: a couple more pix...

UPDATE: Fights cancelled, roads closed...

UPDATE: (jg) Did I hear somebody say glacier?

I have no idea how much snow we've received so far. Do I measure it here?


Or here?


Or maybe here, next to the hay baling machine. We'll just call it a "Goregasmic" amount.


(Apologies for the grainy pics. I'll take more tomorrow in the daylight. It took me over 9 hours to get home from work today.)

Posted by John Kranz at 3:27 PM | What do you think? [3]
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

It's the dunred Great (White) Conservative Conspiracy trying to make Gore look stupid (like he needs the help) by starting a mini-ice age with their Haliburton Weather Machine.

I'm kinda hoping that we get some glaciers in NYC.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 20, 2006 11:01 PM
But jk thinks:

33" in Boulder last I heard.

Posted by: jk at December 21, 2006 10:29 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Holy crap! Tell me you have a snowblower.

Posted by: AlexC at December 21, 2006 4:38 PM

Chris Matthews

Hugh Hewitt blasted Matt Damon's performance on Hardball last night.

I expect nothing but vapid blather from another celebrity, I was struck by Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Do you think guys like Cheney—I love to pronounce his name correctly, by the way. Do you think guys like—it‘s like a Dickensian name, Cheney. Do you think he knew he was saying stuff that wouldn‘t turn out to be true, or was he just mad dogged to fight the war?

DAMON: I‘d like to see him under oath.

MATTHEWS: I would, too. I‘d like to see him with you.


MATTHEWS: Do you think if you waterboarded Cheney, like in the movie, that you‘d get a different truth out of him?

Wow. Torturing the Vice President. Even worse, pronouncing his name in a nefarious manner. I'll bet the Vice President is distraught.

I was the world's biggest Hardball Fan, I bought two of his books, and, in case it comes up in a Trivia game, I was the first caller when he debuted "You Play Hardball," soliciting viewer statements (Tucker Carlson tried this as well).

But Matthew's, pari passu Andrew Sullivan, dropped from the top to the bottom by letting bad ideas take over his emotions.

UPDATE: ALa at Blonde Sagacity has video. Left out of the transcript: Matthews's calling DeNiro "ballsy" for taking on the CIA in a film. Oooh ya, that's pretty brave. Rodeo Drive is littered with the carcasses of big film directors who dared to take on the establishment.

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

jk,..I take it the movie doesn't paint the CIA in a very favorable light?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 21, 2006 10:20 PM

Fool to Imbeciles: Get a Life

I sometimes have to look hard for something on the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page with which I disagree.

Sometimes, it's easy. Assistant Features Editor Joseph Rago lets loose at bloggers today.

Every conceivable belief is on the scene, but the collective prose, by and large, is homogeneous: A tone of careless informality prevails; posts oscillate between the uselessly brief and the uselessly logorrheic; complexity and complication are eschewed; the humor is cringe-making, with irony present only in its conspicuous absence; arguments are solipsistic; writers traffic more in pronouncement than persuasion . . .

And those would be the nice bits.

Blogs are a long-tail phenomenon, and Rago misses it. There are n million blogs out there and n - 0.05 are bad. Finding a circle of interesting blogs widens your worldview considerably.

I read Rago's employer's page second thing every day, subscribe to four print magazines and a couple digital-only. I agree that blogs should respect the foundation and infrastructure that the MSM provides. Yet I cannot imagine a day without hitting at least half of the blogroll.

Rago will be vilified by the blogosphere for this. I mentioned I read the WSJ second thing every day. First is DayByDay, and today Chris takes a whack at Rago.

But Chris Muir thinks:

I need a Life! I need a Life!

Posted by: Chris Muir at December 20, 2006 2:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Much better than life, you are a star my friend!

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2006 3:50 PM

Your Problem

Now he's your problem, Denver.

Sports Posted by AlexC at 12:01 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Actually, the Nuggets have a reputation for not being all choirboys. I imagine he will fit in when the rest of the team gets back from suspension.

I'll confess I don't follow basketball but it seems that a big name player might do the franchise good.

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2006 10:30 AM

December 19, 2006

Peace in Our Time (Again)


(tip to HotAir)

But TrekMedic251 thinks:

That'll be cross-posted by the end of the week!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 19, 2006 9:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is far too close to the truth to be funny. "50 million dead" may be a slight exaggeration, but only slight.

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2006 12:47 AM

A Blogger in Need


But jk thinks:

Well, I'm too far away, and i cannot imagine AlexC mackin' on a fruitcake eater.

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2006 3:03 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Accentuate the positives, my friend.

Posted by: AlexC at December 20, 2006 12:03 AM

Fruitcake ...

... or vomit?

What's your preference?

I'm more partial to the vomit, myself.

On the web Posted by AlexC at 12:05 PM

Person of the Year

Some people are upset about my selection as Times' Person of the Year

    For Time's Man of the Year, now Person of the Year, is the figure who, for good or evil, dominates the news. Yet this year Time could not bring itself to name the obvious choice. Instead, it chose you and me, all of us citizens of the digital democracy who create on the Worldwide Web. Why the copout?

    Perhaps it was Ahmadinejad's hosting of a conference of Holocaust skeptics, including David Duke, that caused Time to recoil. Perhaps it was fear that the face of the Iranian president on the cover of Time would repel the American people and be death for sales.

    Surely that was the reasoning behind Time's refusal to name Osama bin Laden in 2001, choosing Rudy Giuliani instead, though history is unlikely to conclude that Rudy, his crowded hour notwithstanding, was the central figure of that annus horribilis.

    Richard Stengel, editor of Time, as much as concedes he could not bring himself to choose by the traditional standard, if that meant choosing Ahmadinejad: "It just felt to me a little off selecting him."

    Understandably. But the refusal to select Ahmadinejad reveals an unwillingness to confront hard truths. For putting his face on Time's cover would have done a useful service, jolting America to a painful realization. Not only George Bush, but the United States, its Arab allies and Israel, had a dreadful year, as Iran emerged as first beneficiary of a war fought by this country at a cost of 25,000 dead and wounded.

Iran Posted by AlexC at 12:54 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Richard Stengel will never be featured on Stephen Colbert's "Profiles in Balls."

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2006 3:03 PM

December 18, 2006

Air Quality

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    More than a dozen states sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today to lower soot levels from smokestacks and exhaust pipes, a move the state officials argue would save thousands of lives.

    The states argue that the Bush administration is ignoring science and its own experts in refusing to slightly reduce the allowed threshold for soot. The "fine particulate matter" in soot contributes to premature death, chronic respiratory disease and asthma attacks, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The pollution also leads to more hospital admissions and other public health costs, he said.

    Officials from Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia joined New York in the action filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.

    "It is unfortunate that this coalition of states must resort to legal action to get the EPA to do its job — protect the environment and the public health," said Spitzer, the Democratic governor-elect.

EPA lied, people died.
    The states want to reduce the current limit of 15 micrograms of soot allowed per cubic foot of air. States say even a reduction of 1 microgram would save as many as 11,000 lives. They don't agree on a specific amount to cut the limit.

It's not clear how much the states want to lower it. But if one is good enough, why not five?

I mean there's lives at stake here.

How about 10?

But johngalt thinks:

Do I hear 15? I read that John Kerry promised that, if elected president, he will reduce the allowable level of soot in industrial air emissions by TWENTY MICROGRAMS per cubic foot from its current level.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2006 3:09 PM

That Horrible Economy

Breaking news from the Wall Street Journal: "Oracle reported its profit rose 21% and sales climbed 26% to $4.16 billion as the software giant continued to reap the benefits of its acquisition spree. License sales of its flagship database software rose 9% to $867 million, while license sales of Oracle's applications unit jumped 28% to $340 million."

Who owns tech shares? Everybody's all in Gold to weather the coming depression. The housing bubble's gonna burst any day now, and those guys who are long Oracle are going to be crying in their (domestic) beer.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM

Immigration Counters

Wow. JohnGalt almost had me. He provided a link to

Man, that's mighty damn official looking.

But then, I came across this page -- and I still think I'm right.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:07 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

Clever and creative, but it's just a start. You still need to add a link to your data sources. Be sure to include authoritative sounding outlets like the Pew Hispanic center, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Government Accounting Office... stuff like that.

I assume that "Teachers Salaries" refers to salaries of only the new teachers hired. They must be illegal (err, "undocumented) immigrants too since they're working for just under $4K per year.

These numbers can be argued to make some sort of economic sense as long as one ignores WHOSE money is spent on those teacher's salaries. (And social services, and prison costs, and bankrupt hospitals, and ...)

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2006 3:22 PM
But jk thinks:

If they are renting a house, they are paying property taxes and paying those teachers' salaries.

I estimated the per annum remuneration of a teacher based on the complaints of my relatives in the profession, do they indeed make more?

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2006 4:07 PM

Coming to Review Corner in 2008

The woodcut artists at the Wall Street Journal get lucky every seven years and get to do Angelina Jolie instead of an incoming cabinet secretary or septuagenarian senator.

In OpinionJournal Political Diary, John Fund reports that the Atlas Shrugged movie is coming along: He titles the piece "Porn for College Republicans."

It was published almost 50 years ago, and has sold millions of copies. But only now is Ayn Rand's controversial individualist novel "Atlas Shrugged" about to become a movie starring Angelina Jolie.

Ed Hudgins, editor of the New Individualist, tells me that the screenplay adapting the 1,100-page epic novel is only a couple weeks away from completion. Production is set to begin next year with the release of the film in 2008.

Mr. Hudgins says fans of Atlas should be pleased that the adaptation is being authored by Randall Wallace, the scriptwriter for "Braveheart," Mel Gibson's epic tale of Scottish freedom fighters. "I was fascinated by Rand's book. It was original and provocative," Mr. Wallace told Daily Variety.

For her part, Ms. Jolie has told friends that she finds the character of Dagny Taggart the most powerful female role she can imagine playing. While Ms. Jolie adheres to conventional liberal politics, she is nonetheless a big fan of Rand's sweeping story-telling abilities.

Originally, the plan of producers Howard and Karen Baldwin was to follow the example of the makers of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," and adapt Rand's sprawling work into a three-part movie. But they were finally convinced that the story should be seen at one sitting, albeit at great length. I guess that means that the speech by anti-collectivist hero John Galt -- which runs to 72 pages in the novel -- will have to be trimmed just a bit.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:55 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Glad to hear they abandoned the three-part approach. As for my speech, its essence can be presented in two minutes of monologue, but I suggest it be drawn out to three to give it the weight it deserves.

There are many other critical scenes that must be included: Street corner encounters, cafeteria conversations, idle trains on empty tracks, steam locos in tunnels designed for diesels, dollar signs, exploits of Francisco and Ragnar, lectures by retired professors, flaming oil wells, deserted industrial towns, neglected machine tools, racous worker meetings, aircraft chase scenes, jackbooted thugs and smarmy politicians. High hopes, friend. High hopes.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2006 3:36 PM

An Underutilized Business Model

Hugh Hewitt links to a publishers' site that carries an article How Magazines Can Survive

The cable TV business combines a multitude of huge and small media aggregators together in a solo purchased package to the consumer. My suggestion is to mirror the package deals of this medium. This will work excellently for both print and online. It uses the power and accountability of the online digital business with flexibility and creativity. And it can offer many creative business models within the plan.

In the new model, we offer our customers a choice at all times. There's a "basic plan" publishing package offers the local newspaper and two magazines of your choice to be received in either digital format, printed format or both. The next step up offers the local newspaper and four magazines of your choice from a comprehensive list of offerings. We keep offering tiers of participation up until you get to the "platinum plan" that delivers the customer everything ever printed.

I think this is a perfect model for magazines and online content. The idea of including print versions in interesting, but more interesting to me is the idea of supporting an aggregation of online media and commentary on a subscription model.

I remain intrigued as well by employing this model in digital delivery of TV shows. Instead of 99 cents a show, sell a bundle that encourages a user to fork over 12.99 a month but to get more shows than he or she wants (like cable).

This brings the long tail to TV shows and will someday provide a market for a Firefly to circumvent network idiocy and be supported by its fan base.

Media and Blogging Posted by John Kranz at 1:52 PM

A Sharanskyite Approach to North Korea

There's no reason to believe that North Korea would not fall as the Soviet Bloc nations did. The country is poor and isolated and should be susceptible to internal pressure.

To atone for my downbeat post yesterday, I offer the story of Pastor Buck, who rescues people from NK Communism.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article

Pastor Buck is a rescuer. It's a job title that applies to a courageous few--mostly Americans and South Koreans and predominantly Christians--who operate the underground railroad that ferries North Korean refugees out of China to South Korea, and now, thanks to 2004 legislation, to the U.S. Mr. Buck, an American from Seattle, says he has rescued more than 100 refugees and helped support another 1,000 who are still on the run. For this "crime"--China's policy is to hunt down and repatriate North Koreans--he spent 15 months in a Chinese prison. He was released in August.

The plight of the tens of thousands of North Korean refugees in China is a humanitarian crisis that has received scant world attention. It won't be on the agenda of the six-party talks, which are scheduled to restart today in Beijing. But the experience of Pastor Buck and other rescuers is worth noting as negotiators sit down with Kim Jong Il's emissaries. North Korea won't change, they believe, so long as Kim remains in power. Follow that logic, and regime change is the proper goal.

The refugees, Pastor Buck argues, are the key to regime change in North Korea and, by inference, the key to halting the North's nuclear and missile programs. Help one man or woman escape, he says, and that person will get word to his family back home about the freedom that awaits them on the outside. Others will follow, and the regime will implode. This is what happened in 1989, when Hungary refused to turn back East Germans fleeing to the West, thereby hastening the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

North Korea Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM

December 17, 2006

The World With a Weak America

It's the holiday season and if you want cheerful reading I'd suggest that you skip this post. It contains pessimism and wringing of hands.

I see the commercials on TV for and I understand that it is bad. I understand, furthermore, that the world said "never again." In spite of words, the worst seems to be happening.

The web page in question offers a chance to sign a petition to President Bush. It highlights the severity of the situation and suggests that the president:

* Strengthen the understaffed and overwhelmed African Union peacekeeping force already in Darfur.
* Push for the deployment of a strong UN peacekeeping force.
* Increase humanitarian aid and ensure access for aid delivery.
* Establish a no-fly zone.

Yesterday in TCS, Peter Pham and Michael I. Krauss suggest that it would not be hard to make a difference in Darfur.
Ideally, the UN Security Council, noting the impact on Chad that the Darfur crisis has already had, would invoke its Chapter VII authority to deploy international peacekeepers without Khartoum's leave—rescuing the world body's tattered credibility in the process. Failing that, a "coalition of the willing" or one courageous nation should speak up for our common humanity in what is apparently the only language Omar al-Bashir and his colleagues understand, that of force. Given the primitive nature of the Sudan regime's military forces, it would not require much to degrade its genocidal capacity at minimal risk through an escalating campaign aimed at airfields, military bases, armaments factories, and ultimately the ports through which it ships its only significant foreign exchange earner, oil. Such steps may violate Sudan's notional national sovereignty, and would therefore offend "experts" wedded to state stability—even when it means accommodating undeniably evil regimes—at all costs. But what is that in contrast to the blazing firestorm of genocide?

Pham and Krauss are serious people and I have no doubt that the forces behind the TV commercials are well intentioned. Yet I have no doubt that most of the people demanding action in Darfur strenuously oppose the war in Iraq.

I have no polling data or empirical proof. But I live in Boulder County. Pray-ins for Tibet and a candlelight vigil for Darfur will find a home in the People's Republic. But actually doing anything that will effectively alleviate human suffering, such as landing US Marines, is viewed skeptically. The only way to effect change in Darfur is to land ground troops. Why is it okay to invade a Muslim nation in Africa that exports oil but not okay to use the military in Iraq?

Who thinks it would be any different? Suicide bombers would pick off Coalition troops a few at a time until the US had an election and the troops would be brought home. I think the ruling thugs in Sudan understand this, even if the dot-org folks do not.

An emailer suggested that I "sounded like a redneck" when I came down harshly on the Fabulous Minneapolis Flying Imam Brothers. I'll double down here: This is the world you get when you let Cindy Sheehan and Rep. Murtha make policy. The Sudanese know we will not try to spread human rights and freedom outside of Iraq. They can act with impunity. Read the polls.

A stronger America would be a credible force against these thugs. Sadly, when much of America thinks that we are the problem, evil can have its day. I for one would be all for rolling the Marines into Sudan (Osama Bin Laden's long time base). But I wish the petition signers (don't you just feel great when you sign an internet petition? Saving the world on click at a time) I wish the petition signers would be honest and realize that only the United States could or would fix this and that only a full scale military presence would do it.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:25 PM


A new item for my resume.

Time Person of the Year.


It was an honor to be nominated, let alone win. ... and on my birthday to boot. What a gift!

Posted by AlexC at 11:23 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I think you earned it, man.

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2006 2:40 PM

December 16, 2006

Christmas Music

A blog brother had downloaded "It's a Berkeley Square Christmas '02" mp3s and inquired whether I have posted any new ones.

Sadly, my MS has kept me from releasing anything after "A Nightingale Sang" in 2004. But in lieu of something new, I dug up some old things. I have ripped and posted Christmas recordings from 1999 and 2000. Back then, we were "The Errand Boys for Rhythm." The 1999 release is just Brooke and I from our duo days. In 2000, we started adding the folks who would be Berkeley Square.

MP3s here. Merry Christmas!

Posted by John Kranz at 4:09 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

Perfect! Thanks! I also highly recommend "A Nightingale Sang"

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2006 4:53 PM

Ditka-Norris '08

I'm really disappointed with the current crop of Republican candidates.

So I'm proposing, Ditka-Norris '08.

Ditka is a self-described ultra-ultra-ultra conservative. We're not represented in the currently announced candidates.

In Mr Norris' corner:

  • When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

  • Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.

  • Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

Ditka vs Hillary: Ditka by 48 states.
Ditka vs Obama: 52 states, Guam and Puerto Rico join the union.
Ditka vs Indianapolis Colts: Ditka by 3 touchdowns.
Ditka vs a Hurricane: Unless the hurricane is Hurricane Ditka, it’s a blowout, no pun intended.

With Chuck Norris as his VP candidate, the electoral votes from British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatechwan are a lock.


The UN will vote on a resolution of surrender in January of 2009.

But jk thinks:

Best reason: at press conferences, David Gregory will have to call him "Coach."

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2006 3:36 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Ha! ... and David Gregory, will apologize to HIM!

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2006 4:17 PM

One more immigration defeat

It's December, and the GOP losses from immigration populism are still stacking up. Robert Novak thinks it was a negative factor for Rep. Harry Bonilla in the newly mapped TX-23 district.

The loss Tuesday of the 30th Republican House seat, representing a U.S.-Mexican border district in Texas, marked another political failure of hard-line immigration policies.

Immigration was not the central issue when Democratic former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez upset seven-term Rep. Henry Bonilla, a rare Latino Republican in Congress. Bonilla, who supported a border fence while Rodriguez did not, lost border counties he previously had carried. He won Maverick County, 95 percent Hispanic, with 59 percent in 2004 but lost it with just 14 percent Tuesday.

A footnote: Six-term Rep. J.D. Hayworth lost in Arizona after stressing immigration. Randy Graf lost an Arizona border district where he made immigration his major issue. Six-term Rep. John Hostettler, chairman of a House immigration subcommittee, lost his Indiana district despite stressing his opponent's softness on the issue.

Except in safe Republican seats, hard-line, enforcement only Republicans are all footnotes now. To be fair, Novak himself says in his e-mail report that the loss was complex but was hurt more than helped by his immigration stance.
Texas-23: Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) was crushed in the special election runoff after receiving 49 percent in the first round on November 7. The reasons are complicated, and they go back to a controversial Supreme Court decision earlier this year demanding a re-map of his district.

For one thing, Bonilla was at fault in many ways. He did not spend enough money to get himself over the 50 percent mark on Election Day, leaving $1.4 million in his campaign account on November 8. Bonilla had harbored ideas of running for statewide office -- possibly a Senate seat if one opened up. The saving of money that could have gotten him the few thousand extra votes he needed to pass the stake on November 7 proved costly. He only turned out 60,000 voters in the first round, just half of what 50 percent equals in many districts in a midterm election. Part of this is because of the number of illegal immigrants in the district, but there were enough votes in the district to put him over the top in the first round.
Democrats also acted cleverly in the first round with a calculated strategy. They fielded three semi-credible candidates in the race in order to appeal to different parts of the newly constituted district, knowing that none of those Democrats would have a serious chance of a first round victory. This would force a second round race with just two candidates by law and no chance that Bonilla could win with a plurality.

There was little reason to believe that yesterday's victor, former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D), could come out on top after taking just 20 percent in the first round. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee carried Rodriguez, a poor candidate in his own right, over the finish line, driving a powerful early-voting operation in advance of the election. The Hispanic group LULAC pressed for three extra days of early voting, which helped Democrats. Many Republicans did not think Bonilla could lose and, therefore, failed to help.

Bonilla, meanwhile, continued running positive ads for too long after November 7, but then suddenly launched a series of ads that overreached in their extreme negativity, asserting that Rodriguez had ties to Islamic terrorists. Bonilla also focused his entire voter turnout operation on Bexar County, his home base of voters that had saved him from a strong challenge in 2000. But there just weren't enough votes there -- his vote total on December 12 was just half of what it had been a month earlier, and he lost by almost 10 points.

Bonilla was also slightly harmed, and certainly not helped, by his embrace of the conservative position on the border security and immigration issue. Once again, it proved woefully ineffective in bringing out white voters, and whatever-sized effect it had among Hispanic voters -- who make up more than 60 percent of the new district -- it was a negative effect. Bonilla lost counties in the second round that he had never lost in any previous election.

Hat-tip: ThreeSources friend Sugarchuck, who used to be thought highly of by JohnGalt.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 12:21 PM | What do you think? [5]
But sugarchuck thinks:

Just passing it along... not agreeing with it.

Posted by: sugarchuck at December 16, 2006 1:59 PM
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at December 16, 2006 3:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Since securing the border is (supposedly) unpopular with voters, it should be abandoned?

There's a point where pragmatism compels one to slit his own throat.

Just to get the fires burning again,

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2006 3:08 PM
But jk thinks:

No. I think enforcement only is wrong economically, morally and politically. I have made all three points.

It's difficult to prove the economic argument. There are many many variables and I have referenced both Bastiat's Seen vs. the Unseen (your link captures and magnifies the "seen" half) and the wealth effects of comparative advantage.

Morally, I have made the case that, while crossing the border is illegal, I can't bring the whole Jovert down on one who crosses to feed his family. The torture and loss of life visited on simple workers by coyotes is not in keeping with a welcoming America.

The reason I brought it all up again is that it is so clear that this issue was a political loser fir the GOP in 2006. Pretend you cannot see if you must but if you examine who lost where, this issue is not a winner.

Posted by: jk at December 18, 2006 5:06 PM
But johngalt thinks:

...while you continue to pretend that war issues were not the single dominant electoral factor.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2006 3:27 PM

The Bush Economy

Pittsburgh's Tribune-Review says "Mission Accomplished."

    When the good news about America's robust economy seemed too good to be true, the skyrocketing upward revisions of job growth by the Bureau of Labor Statistics made it better.
    The U.S. Department of Labor reported that 132,000 new jobs were created in November. There also were 139,000 more jobs since August than initially had been reported. The 4.4 percent unemployment rate is at a five-year low, and 2.3 million new jobs have been created in the last 12 months. It gets better.

    Wages for most Americans have risen much faster than the 1.3 percent rate of inflation from October 2005 to October 2006. The workers' buying power is now rising at the fastest rate since the economic boom of the late 1990s, according to The New York Times. These results are that much more impressive considering this republic is still dealing with the aftermath of Katrina and the bloodbath in Iraq.

Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 12:01 PM

December 15, 2006

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Folks still clamor for public finance of elections. I always ask "who decides who gets to run?" There are only two reasons to oppose public finance of elections: those who run and those who don't.

It doesn't seem right that a long shot would have to compete with a publicly financed candidate, and if Senator McCain gets his way, anybody who spends more than $300 would be thrown in jail.

We need to seriously rethink the amount of money we currently provide. It's not enough for legitimate candidates, all of whom eschew the funds to avoid the attached strings. So, who is getting this money? The Charleston Daily Mail lists a few:

EVERYONE who laughed when the elfin Dennis Kucinich threw his hat in the ring to run for president in 2004 should realize why he smiles.

He had 2,955,963 reasons to smile. That is how many bucks federal taxpayers gave his ridiculous campaign for president.

Kucinich had no chance.

Yet under the bizarre federal election rules, taxpayers had to give this fool $2,955,963 just to humor his vanity.

Ralph Nader took $798,827 from taxpayers in 2004 to indulge his fantasy of being elected president. Consumers beware. I look for this demagogue to run again.

Lyndon LaRouche is another likely candidate. Last time, he squeezed $1,456,019 from taxpayers.

In 2000, Pat Buchanan hit the jackpot, drawing $16,635,624 in federal matching funds. He drew just 0.4 percent of the popular vote.

Do you want $3 of your taxes to go to ending this travesty? Why, yes.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Remember, it's the price of five weeks of Wii sales, and one-twentieth what we spend on potato chips.

But AlexC thinks:

I was going to bring this up on the watercooler, regarding Pa's laws. (there are no limits)

But that doesn't mean Philadelphia doesn't want to do it's own thing.

Here's an opinion from the other side.

Naturally there's no discussion of how the money gets distributed or in what amounts.

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2006 12:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Color me unswayed.

Are we free of not? There was a discussion on Samizdata of the French belief that freedom is within natural boundaries. Who gets to choose and define these interstices? You're free or you're not.

Good for Philadelphia, cradle of freedom, to allow free speech. I'd love to know what Rep. Chaka Fattah does to extort -- I mean raise -- huge contributions, but the solution is not to limit them.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2006 12:42 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Of course we're not free. That's why one of the commenters had the guts to write:

"Public financing is the solution. (Mandatory low-cost tv advertisements on cable would help too, if only by reducing the cost of public financing. But it is not enough.)"

When more government is the answer to every problem, you're a slave to it.

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2006 2:25 PM

Thank You Mr. Taranto

I know most of you read Best of the Web everyday, so I have not linked. But if you have missed any of the eight "Responding to Rangel" letters he ran during his vacation, Click on over and read every one.

I wrote a brief letter to Taranto to thank him. I always knew that the folks who wore our nation’s uniform were courageous, honorable, patriotic. But it is good for this Vietnam era brat to be reminded just how wrong Sen. Kerry and Rep. Rangel are to disparage their intelligence and capacity to compete in the private sector.

Mr. Taranto:

Though I missed BOTW, my wife and I read the letters every day this week. I suspect we both cried every time.

What a gift to share a country with such people. What a Christmas gift to be reminded.

I gave little thought to a military career, although in Junior High I wanted to be like Capt./Maj. Nelson in "I Dream of Jeannie." I'm not one for regrets, but if I had it to do over again, I would have served.

Hope your vacation was enjoyable -- thanks again for the letters.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM

Holiday Reading

Well, The Weekly Standard did it...

I bought myself a couple of Christmas presents this week from Amazon. I'll send a thank you card after the new year.

Today: PJ O'Rourke writes about Adam Smith. I discovered O'Rourke's "Parliament of Whores" a little late and read all of his books in a row. After "Eat the Rich," he and I lost touch, but a friend at work just lent me "Peace Kills" which was good. I can't put him in the pantheon with Mark Steyn and Jonah Goldberg, but he gets honorable mention as funny and insightful.

I just saw on Samizdata that he has this new book out. The Samizdata link is "Reading about a wise Scot by a funny American." I just ordered it this morning. Amazon intrigues me that I can follow a link from a UK site and be routed to Brits can click on my link and see The simple wonders, really.

Maybe less fun but potentially more interesting is Alan Reynolds's "Income and Wealth." This was reviewed on TCS and looks great. Reynolds is dynamite and the review offers it as an antidote to the Krazed Krugman Keynesians who think we are all getting poorer. Reynolds is quite convinced that we are all getting wealthier. To prove it, he wants FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS for his damn book. Let me know if you want it when I'm done; for $55, I should pass it around.

Sadly, Amazon informs me that none will arrive in time for Christmas. I guess they can figure out my continent more easily than they can box up a book. Oh well...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

"Eat The Rich" was one of the first economics books I read.

I wondered what he was up to lately.

Posted by: AlexC at December 15, 2006 12:48 PM

Children Dying


(not to make light of tragedy)

Music Posted by AlexC at 11:36 AM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:


Posted by: jk at December 15, 2006 12:25 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Well,..what did you expect? He IS in Scotland, after all!


(NB - Having been there twice, I can get away with that statement!)

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 15, 2006 9:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Having been there myself, I can imagine the heckler's having a rich brogue: "fookin' stop, then!"

I gave Bono props for digging deeper than most activist-entertainers but I fear he has jumped the shark into pomposity. He wants governments to do more coerced charity, yet he moves his Corporation offshore and buys his hat a first class plane ticket.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2006 12:15 PM

December 14, 2006

Cool Tech

Here's a cool way to manage multiple desktops on the new MacBook Pros.

Speaking of cool software, here's a really cool desktop wallpaper program. I'm looking for a Windows equivalent.

The Outer Ring

My comparison of "Angel" Season Five with the 109th Congress didn't generate the positive feedback I was expecting. All the same, it did not elicit howls of outrage either. I am thusly emboldened to make another pop culture reference.

In a comment below, I picked the Starbucks drive-through as a proposed location for the ThreeSources Blogger Bash should we ever all end up in Colorado (Silence, JohnGalt, Latte Sipper and I start here). They have seating as well, but the blogger bash might be best served if we rented a Hummer and sat in it while parked.

I have been thinking about this majestic little island of liberty in reference to Joss Whedon's "Firefly." Boulder would be an Alliance central planet. They "meddle," as young River Tam says in "Serenity." The good people on the Boulder City Council have decided that drive-thru coffee will not be permitted in the city limits. I had scouted a perfect location for such a venue and was surprised when my buddy the roaster said it was illegal.

They have a public to protect. Folks would be slurping Frappacinos in their SUVs and that just would not do in the People's Republic. They have some small huts in Denver that vend coffee inside a parking lot, My work used to take me frequently to Austin, TX (about as Blue a city as Boulder) where I first discovered Drive Through Starbucks. It's like being in heaven without the Birkenstocks.

I'm not quite far enough from Boulder to be free. My exurb is seeking to have the city take over recycling because the poor in our town cannot afford $2 a month for curbside. Likewise, the good city mothers and fathers of Lafayette would not allow the convenience of drive through coffee.

But about seven miles East, toward the lawless frontier of the outer planets where JohnGalt lives, the emerald jewel sits in a new Giganto-Mall. I'm sure the council would cite energy use as a factor in disallowing them, but (disabled) jk drives 14 miles round -trip to get hooked up. That's conservation for you.

Of course, the browncoats have lost here as well, and I fear that civilization is spreading out and freedom is in retreat. I'm getting thirsty, where are my car keys?

Posted by John Kranz at 4:15 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Wow, you discovered that Starbucks FAST brother. Hasn't it only been open a month or so? It's at exit 229 on I-25. There's another one at exit 240 that I drive past twice daily. It's been there about 6 months or so. It has a serpentine drive to accomodate about two dozen cars. (And it has curbs on both sides so you can't change your mind.) I love drive thrus, but waiting in line to get a coffee seems even more inane than doing so for a bag of Krispy Kremes. A drive-in layout might be better, like a Sonic.

Don't get me started on drive thrus in Boulder. Even while I still lived there they outlawed any new ones being built. Existing ones were grandfathered. Although I never quite figured out how Noodles & Company got one since the building they occupied was previously a 7-Eleven. (Some franchises are more equal than others it would seem.)

Yes, things are different out here, east of the Boulder county line. Developers are free to build what they reckon the free market will embrace, without city council members having a seat at the drawing board. I can't tell you the last time I saw a speed bump. Farther east, on the farm roads, bicycles actually have to share the road with autos (and tractors). We can burn actual wood in an actual fireplace, on odd AND even numbered days, no matter what color the little man on TV says has been chosen for the day. Most egregious of all, however... we can license our cars without first having a tailpipe emissions rectal exam.

How we all don't choke to death in our own pollution I'll never know.

Posted by: johngalt at December 15, 2006 1:56 AM
But jk thinks:

We were camped out waiting for it to open weeks before.

Explain this thing to me: changing your mind about coffee while in line? I do not understand. I'm sure if you order a Grande at the speaker, they can make that a Venti at the window.

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2006 10:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I meant "change your mind" about staying in line instead of bailing out because the wait is so long. I've never been in a coffee shop drive thru, but I can imagine the precious seconds ticking by as each driver recites his personal list of individual ingredients, with precise measurements.

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2006 2:47 PM

Ambulance still cooling down

My brother emailed me an MSNBC "Breaking News" piece under the subject line: Senate back to 50/50 - maybe..." I knew what he was referring to, having heard the news of Senator Tim Johnson's apparent stroke. "Good NED, man" I thought, "have you no compassion for a man taken seriously ill? At least let the ambulance cool down after taking him to the hospital before you contemplate his replacement!"

Then I read the article. (Click "continue reading" to see a reprint, as it has since been revised.) After a two-sentence first paragraph stating the Senator had been hospitalized came these two paragraphs:

In addition to concern about Johnson's immediate health, his illness draws political concern in that the Democrats currently hold a 51-49 advantage in seats, giving them control of the Senate.

The governor of South Dakota is Republican Mike Rounds. Should there be a vacancy as a consequence of Johnson's illness and Rounds appoints a Republican to fill the term, that would make the count 50 Demorats [sic] and 50 Republicans. Under the rules of the Senate, ties votes are settled by the vote of the vice president - currently Republican Dick Cheney - effectively giving control of the Senate to the Republicans.

So the unseemly rush to the political angle was not by my brother, who would like to see the GOP maintain control, but by MSNBC, which arguably recoils at the idea. They end on a reassuring note, however, noting that "the Senate Historian's office cites several examples of a senator being incapacitated for years and remaining in office."

Whew. That was close!

(And yes, the spelling "Demorats" WAS in the original text.)

S. Dakota's Sen. Johnson has possible stroke
Takes ill in Capitol Hill office, hospitalized for evaluation


NBC, MSNBC and news services
Updated: 5:16 p.m. ET Dec. 13, 2006
NEW YORK - Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S. D., has been hospitalized with symptoms described as stroke-like. The seriousness of his illness has not been disclosed.

In addition to concern about Johnson's immediate health, his illness draws political concern in that the Democrats currently hold a 51-49 advantage in seats, giving them control of the Senate.

The governor of South Dakota is Republican Mike Rounds. Should there be a vacancy as a consequence of Johnson's illness and Rounds appoints a Republican to fill the term, that would make the count 50 Demorats and 50 Republicans. Under the rules of the Senate, ties votes are settled by the vote of the vice president - currently Republican Dick Cheney - effectively giving control of the Senate to the Republicans.

Story continues below ↓

Related content
Quiz: Are you at risk for a stroke?
Interactive: What causes strokes?
Stroke Q&A

Disorientation and stuttering
Johnson became disoriented during a call with reporters at midday, stuttering in response to a question. He appeared to recover, asking if there were any additional questions before ending the call.

Johnson spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said he had walked back to his Capitol office after the call with reporters but appeared to not be feeling well. The Capitol physician was called and Johnson was taken by ambulance to the George Washington Univeristy Hospital in D.C. for evaluation.

A statement released by Johnson's office said, "Senator Tim Johnson was taken to George Washington University Hospital this afternoon suffering from a possible stroke. As this stage, he is undergoing a comprehensive evaluation by the stroke team. Further details will be forthcoming when more is known."

Filling a vacated Senate seat
Should the 59 year old Johnson's health problem be serious enough to force him to resign from the Senate, according to the South Dakota secretary of state, the governor of South Dakota may appoint a replacement. The appointment would last until the next general election -- in this case, 2008. Johnson's term happens to expire in 2008.

The 17th amendment of the U.S. Constitution says state legislatures can give their governors the power to appoint someone else to take over, but only in the case of "vacancies."

What's a vacancy? Clearly death or resignation, but history suggests not much else. Serious illness doesn't count.

The Senate Historian's office cites several examples of a senator being incapacitated for years and remaining in office.

Most recently, Sen. Karl Mundt (ironically, also from South Dakota) suffered a stroke in 1969 and was incapacitated, but he refused to step down. He remained in office until Jan. 1973 when his term expired. Mundt was pressured repeatedly to step down during his illness, but he demanded that the governor promise to appoint his wife. The governor refused, and Mundt remained in office.

Another example was Sen. Carter Glass, D-VA. Sen. Glass had a heart condition that prevented him from working for most of his last term after his re-election in 1942. Yet Glass refused to resign, and finally passed away from congestive heart failure in his apartment at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC in May of 1946.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

But sugarchuck thinks:

I think that if the good people of South Dakota elect a Republican governor then he should do what Republican governors do in these situations and appoint a Republican. Do you think Jon Corzine would appoint a Republican if the positions were switched? I hope Tim Johnson turns out ok, but if he has to resign and Harry Reid and Patrick Leahy have to return the drapes the agonized over, then so be it.

Posted by: sugarchuck at December 14, 2006 1:12 PM
But jk thinks:

We can aspire to be better than Governor Corzine, sc...

Having said that, you are right. I made the same case about Florida Sec of State Katherine Harris in 2000. Elections matter, and I would retract my loopy suggestion if I could.

Interesting precedent from John Fund:

"Sometimes the threat of another party taking control of a Senate seat has caused painful and awkward stalemates. In late 1969, Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota suffered a debilitating stroke and was unable to cast votes. But the four-term Republican refused to step down even after a year of therapy failed to improve his condition. By then, South Dakota's governor was Richard Kniep, a Democrat, and Mr. Mundt refused to resign unless the governor agreed to appoint his wife as a caretaker. Mr. Kniep refused and Mr. Mundt remained in office for two more years, eventually prompting his GOP colleagues to remove him from his committee assignments because he was unable to show up for votes."

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2006 2:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You know, jk, if there's ever an opportunity for me to meet sugarchuck I sure hope you'll let me know. I think a lot of high fives would accompany any discussion of current events between us.

Posted by: johngalt at December 14, 2006 2:57 PM
But jk thinks:

We must try for a ThreeSources blog bash someday. Maybe AlexC can work a layover in Denver someday as he flies between Alaska and Pennsylvania. We can fly Sugarchuck in as well. He's an old Colorado boy and knows the way. There's a drive-thru Starbucks halfway between my house and JG's and some high-dollar toll road connects it to the airport. I'll buy.

I'd expect a lot of high fives all around yet I can't call any of us alike. I know everybody but AlexC, and his writing is fluid enough that I think I know him.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2006 3:46 PM
But AlexC thinks:

You think you know me? We'll see.

Aren't you guys over due for an American Revolution history field-trip anyway?

Posted by: AlexC at December 14, 2006 11:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Figured you'd be out for the 2008 Democratic Convention if nothing else...

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2006 10:38 AM

December 13, 2006

Academic Freedom

"Here's more evidence that 'academic freedom' doesn't apply to anyone actually on or near a campus" opens an OpinionJournal Political Diary item by Holman Jenkins, Jr.

The chancellor of British Columbia's Thompson Rivers University has become a public enemy after uttering judicious words on global warming on a Canadian Broadcasting breakfast show last week. Chancellor Nancy Greene Raine, previously an Olympic skiing champion and national heroine as Canada's official "female athlete of the century," told listeners: "In science, there's almost never black and white. We don't know what next week's weather is going to be. To say in 50 or 100 years, the temperature is going to do this, is a bit of a stretch for me."

The result was a "furor on campus," reports the local Kamloops Daily News. Professors have demanded Ms. Greene Raine's ouster from the ceremonial post. A Canadian government meteorologist "questioned why Greene Raine would offer comment about something on which she is not versed. He noted that no one comes to him for advice on skiing."

In fact, poor Ms. Greene Raine was making exactly the judgment that all citizens and politicians are called upon to make in the global warming debate: How reliable are long-range climate predictions? How should we weigh the costs and benefits of various policy prescriptions? Nor is she alone. Freeman Dyson, the legendary physicist and mathematician, offered similar views in a commencement address at the University of Michigan last year. For that matter, Ms. Greene Raine was kicked off a film of Canadian celebrities talking about global warming in 2005 when the producers discovered she thought spending money on poverty and disease was more urgent than spending money on climate change.

Questions of whether to adapt to climate change or try to prevent it, of how much to spend on CO2 reduction and the like, are questions the public is apparently supposed to shut up about. Message to Ms. Greene Raine and anyone else: Your job is merely to register support for "good" environmentalists versus "bad" skeptics, then submit to whatever policies the Al Gores of the world prescribe for our salvation.

The email version curiously features a picture of Vice President Gore. That may be a stretch, but it is not a stretch to point out that soi disant free academic thinkers will tolerate no questioning of their conclusions.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 2:05 PM

A Lefty Peacenik Responds

JohnGalt scared me off the link in his thoughtful post when he mentioned it was 18 pages. Like many, I read and blog when I am compiling code or waiting for something to load. Long articles and magazines are weekend work. I got to it last night and it is very good.

In "No Substitute for Victory," John Lewis calls for America to match the aggressiveness shown its enemies in WWII. He compares the responses (we did nuke Japan) and the efficacy of those responses. Germany and Japan are peaceful democratic allies today, while the MidEast seems to be slipping away after our less aggressive involvement there.

It's a smart piece and well worth the read (if you don't print it, it's not 18 pages). There is certainly much to agree with. A more muscular approach would serve American interests and both hasten the arrival and increase the probability of lasting stability in the region. Lewis is also interesting in his comparison of Japanese Shintoism as a religion vs. a government to Islam as a religion and Islamic states. Lastly, he is right to target Iran as focus in the fomenting and distribution of terror and Islamic Statism.

Yet, the article's main premise is a call to dismiss the "hearts and minds" approach entirely and to use overwhelming force to produce fear and unconditional surrender. The reference to A-bomb success in Japan (not to mention JohnGalt's bold type "burn that regime to the ground") clearly call for nuclear weapons (which our C-in-C cannot even pronounce) to be used.

Lewis claims this would happen if not for the Objectivist bete-noirs: pragmatists and altruists. I'll not take the flag for the altruists, but I will voice pragmatic concerns to Lewis's approach.

We were fortunate in enemies in WWII. There were Japanese, Italian, and German states to attack and there were also leaders of those states who could execute enforceable surrenders. There are a billion Muslims in the world in the MidEast, across Asia to the pacific rim, Europe, Boulder, everywhere. I want to ask Mr. Lewis whom you nuke after 9/11. He has his sights squarely on Iran now, but post 9/11 you have the Wahabbist wackos in Saudi Arabia, Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Yassir Arafat in the Palestinian controlled areas. The phrase “target rich” comes to mind. You still leave the most populous Muslim nation in the world, Indonesia, where clerics – as Lewis describes – seek to impose an Islamic State.

That’s where a little pragmatism comes in handy. I think that the President was right to topple the Taliban and I number myself among the shrinking minority who still support toppling Hussein’s Baathist fear society in Iraq.

I highly highly recommend that every American read “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright. It is a sober look at the enemy we face, its history, and the reason that drives them. I used the word reason carefully. These folks build their arguments on a faulty premise, but they are rational actors.

I’m fine with the idea of big force. I think that both wars in Iraq needed Sherman’s drive to the sea. I just don’t agree that we have a target we can scare sufficiently to make us safe.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:14 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

The quote was not "scare the regime to the ground."

I'm afraid you have largely missed the point of the article. In WWII we did not "nuke" every Shintoist, or even every enemy soldier. Instead we publicly stated "You are our enemy. We have the power, and we have the will, to destroy your armed forces and, if necessary, your homeland. Abandon your ambitions of world conquest, OR ELSE." Naturally the enemy did not believe us. He did not think we had the POWER to destroy him. When we showed him we did, he surrendered.

Today, the enemy does not think we have the WILL to destroy him. And he is right.

Your observation that Mr. Lewis is only now advocating the destruction of the Iranian regime is a fair criticism. I too only recently came to the realization that 9/11, like every other Islamist attack on the west, is primarily in furtherance of the purposes of the Iranian regime. But here's someone who knew this fact less than a month after 9/11:

But he wasn't necessarily advocating nuclear war against Iran. "Eliminating Iran's terrorist sanctuaries and military capability is not enough. We must do the equivalent of de-Nazifying the country, by expelling every official and bringing down every branch of its government. This goal cannot be achieved painlessly, by weaponry alone. It requires invasion by ground troops, who will be at serious risk, and perhaps a period of occupation. But nothing less will "end the state" that most cries out to be ended."

Posted by: johngalt at December 14, 2006 1:09 AM
But jk thinks:

No, but my point was that we were fighting an enemy with a centralized command structure and a well known geographic base. I guess my inner Hayekian wants us to be distributed and our enemies centralized.

I remember hearing Dr. Peikoff call to nuke Iran right after 9/11. I think we would have had to occupy Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, leaving Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom to plan Jihad against us.

We agree on a more muscular approach. I disagree that we have the means to subjugate a billion people that circumnavigate the globe. Not with our present arsenal.

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2006 10:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I think I can safely say you remember hearing Dr. Peikoff "call to nuke Iran right after 9/11" from the essay I linked to in my previous quote. I know this because it is the same essay he purchased an entire page of the WSJ to print on October 2, 2001, and because I posted that page on my office door.

In reality, Dr. Peikoff mentions nuclear weapons twice in the essay:

"A proper war in self-defense is one fought without self-crippling restrictions placed on our commanders in the field. It must be fought with the most effective weapons we possess (a few weeks ago, Rumsfeld refused, correctly, to rule out nuclear weapons)."


"When should we act, if not now? If our appeasement has led to an escalation of disasters in the past, can it do otherwise in the future? Do we wait until our enemies master nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare?"

I remembered the "Nuke Iran" flavor as well, but upon reflection he clearly advocates conventional warfare, though in the manner used by George Smith Patton Jr. and not in the manner we've witnessed since.

I see that I've been lax in identifying who "the enemy" is, so allow me to quote Peikoff once more:

"Many nations work to fill our body bags. But Iran, according to a State Department report of 1999, is "the most active state sponsor of terrorism," training and arming groups from all over the Mideast, including Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hezbollah. Nor is Iran's government now "moderating." Five months ago, the world's leading terrorist groups resolved to unite in a holy war against the U.S., which they called "a second Israel"; their meeting was held in Teheran. (Fox News 9/16/01)"

Posted by: johngalt at December 14, 2006 3:25 PM

December 12, 2006

Cover Those Apple Shorts

My shuffle is fixed!

The iPod shuffle Reset Utility has restored my little shuffle to its former glory.

The iPod shuffle Reset Utility restores the original iPod shuffle. The restore process completely erases all music and data on iPod shuffle and reinstalls software version 1.1.4.

Note: iPod shuffle Reset Utility is only for First Generation 512 MB and 1 GB iPod shuffle. Any other iPod, including iPod shuffle (Second Generation), is not supported. If you are not sure which iPod you have, see Apple Support document 61688: Identifying different iPod models.

First thing when I plugged it in? Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, of course (not Newlywed, science be praised!). But the second tune was Frank Sinatra "Time After Time." Happy Birthday, Frank.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:50 PM

I Think I'm In Love

It's bad enough that she won't wear the hijab. New South Wales's Young Australian of the Year is in trouble for drinking alcohol.
Iktimal Hage-Ali, 22, has been targeted on Muslim websites for drinking alcohol and declining to wear the traditional hijab.

Her anonymous attackers condemned her after she drank the champagne to toast her award at the NSW Art Gallery last Thursday.

"It's true, I was celebrating. Bloody hell, I had a glass of champagne in my hand – so what?" Ms Hage-Ali told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

Bloody hell. My wife has given me special dispensation to appreciate this young woman. Bloody hell.

Hat-tip: blog brother AlexC, who asks "What does it say about a culture that wants to put [Hage-Ali] in a burka?"

Posted by John Kranz at 4:37 PM | What do you think? [5]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Guys, a search for "Haifa Wehbe."

Anyone that would put THAT woman in a burkha has serious issues.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 12, 2006 7:46 PM
But jk thinks:

I guess we're a Muslim babe site now. I think I'll make sure all my insurance is paid up.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2006 7:54 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK.. smoking babes are the vanguard of freedom.

Don't you know anything? ;)

Trekmedic, thanks for the tip. Just click here.

Haifa Wehbe


Posted by: AlexC at December 12, 2006 9:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I see from the wikipedia link that Wehbe had a hit single entitled 'I want to live.' More than one reason for Islamists to fatwa her (beautiful) ass.

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2006 12:54 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

IMPUDENT HUSSY! Immoral heretic! How dare she uncover the meat! The dogs in the street are not to blame, it is those who show the ... (slurpppp) ... umm ... yes. meat ... mmm. Where was I? Ahem, excuse me. I need to use the bathroom.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 13, 2006 11:48 AM

PA Watercooler

I'd like to take the time to announce a new project of mine.

It's a NRO Corner style blog focusing on Pennsylvania politics.

I'll still be posting here, naturally, but I've put together a team of bloggers from all over Pa to write about Pa centered goings on.



But jk thinks:

Looks great, brother AC! Now -- of course -- available from the ThreeSources blogroll.

Don't be a stranger 'round here. You're just going to have to spend twice as much time on your computer...

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2006 2:07 PM
But AlexC thinks:

thanks, but there aren't 37 hours in a day!

Posted by: AlexC at December 12, 2006 2:45 PM

Happy Birthday, Francis Albert

Powerline has a great post about one of the greats.

For the longest time (50 years actually), Philly area DJ Sid Mark would host "Fridays with Frank" and "Sundays with Sinatra" on various Philly radio stations. I remember driving home from church with my parents listening to it, but it wasn't until I started delivering pizzas that I willingly tuned in.

Awesome. Hearing his voice takes me back to those days in the 40s, 50s and 60s (that i missed) when things were "classy" and men wore hats. Not to mention the whole Rat Pack scene. Despite Frank's personal shortcomings, his sound hearkens back to simpler times. Kind of like hearing Glenn Miller. It evokes a specific period of time.

By the time I got listening to him, Mr Sinatra was advanced in age, and I don't think was on the road, if at all. I still remember the day I heard he died. WWDB, the radio station was playing Sid Mark's show at the time, switched to all-Sinatra that day. Sid Mark's broadcast was memorable, as he relived his own experiences with the legend. It was a sad day.

If you're interested, the Sounds of Sinatra is Sid Mark's current show, and it's syndicated around the country. Highly recommended.

Me? I'm listening to my iPod's Frank Sinatra playlists.

Happy Birthday, Frank.

Music Posted by AlexC at 1:24 PM

The Audacity of Hype

Ten points to my hero, Larry Kudlow, for that headline.

Kudlow had this list on his TV show last night and I was happy to find it on his blog today.

Behind the Obama story is a very liberal left voting record. Here are the key votes and positions of the possible presidential contender:

• Voted against extending the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends.
• Voted against permanently repealing the Death Tax. (Called the cuts a "Paris Hilton” tax break for "billionaire heirs and heiresses”)
• Voted against CAFTA.
• Voted YES on raising the minimum wage to $7.25 rather than $6.25.
• Opposed the lifting of $0.54 per gallon tariff on cheaper Brazilian ethanol. Said, "ethanol imports are neither necessary nor a practical response to current gasoline prices."
• Voted against the bankruptcy abuse bill.
• Opposes privatizing Social Security
• Voted against drilling in ANWR.
• Voted against confirmation of Sam Alito AND John Roberts as chief justice.
• Voted against extending the PATRIOT Act's wiretap provision.
• Opposed any bans on partial birth abortions.

Is this the liberal left direction Dems really want to go in 2008?

I had suggested that Senator Obama was a tabula rasa that moderates and lefties could both claim. His voting record tells a different story.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

His middle name is Hussein. Can that be right?

and "Audacity of Hype" is a great headline.

Posted by: AlexC at December 12, 2006 1:56 PM
But jk thinks:

He doesn't really seem to push that middle name thing, does he?

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2006 2:04 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I heard he's a smoker too.

Posted by: AlexC at December 12, 2006 3:02 PM

The Capital Surplus is Shrinking!

Now that the trade deficit is falling, I want to see if the doom-and-gloomers and Krugmanites will start calling it the capital surplus and embrace it as a sign of a fast growing economy. The Wall Street Journal reports today:
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply during October, taking its biggest tumble in nearly five years as oil prices kept falling and exports managed a modest gain.

The U.S. deficit in international trade of goods and services decreased by 8.4% to $58.87 billion from $64.26 billion in September, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. September's shortfall was previously estimated at $64.30 billion.

But AlexC thinks:

Trade deficits falls. Millions of Chinese live in poverty.

Posted by: AlexC at December 12, 2006 12:26 PM
But Sam thinks:

I think in the long run the US trade decicit will continue to go up and I beleive that america is heading for an economic crisis that will make the great depression look like a walk in the park...

Posted by: Sam at December 12, 2006 1:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Looking over your site, Sam, maybe there's a bright side, if the US will stop the War on Drugs.

Sunny optimism at

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2006 1:58 PM


I always thought Larry Miller was a liberal.

But I don't think so anymore.

    [Greta Van Sustren's] guests were (INSERT INDISTINGUISHABLE ARAB NAME), from Hamas, and their attorney, Stanley Cohen. No, that's not a joke. Would that it were. Stanley Cohen, the attorney for Hamas. Check that handle again: Stanley Cohen. I mean, if you tried to make up a better name than that, you couldn't do it. Let's give it a shot, though, shall we? Irving Lefkowitz. Nah, too obvious. Lew Fishman. No, no, sounds like a carpet salesman. Isaac Bashevis Singer? Now I'm reaching. Nope, you just can't beat good ol' Stan Cohen. Yes, Stanley Cohen, folks, a hard-left, righteously indignant true-believer, an honors graduate from the William Kunstler School of Just-Not-Getting-It-And-Never-Will, who had flown all the way from New York to sit next to his wonderful client over there in not the land of milk and honey. Stanley Cohen. A man who, if he listened very carefully, would no doubt hear voices in the next room planning to blow the eyes out of more of his nieces and nephews. Stanley Cohen, and even typing that name right now and remembering this horrible man damning his own people again and again and again, I crack a nervous smile, because they're my people, too, and, God help me, if I didn't laugh, I think I might cry.

Israel Posted by AlexC at 12:29 AM | What do you think? [2]
But jk thinks:

Yup. Actually Larry has been writing for the Weekly Standard online off and on for quite a while.

Rich Lowry once confused Dennis and Larry Miller in The Corner, causing Jonah Goldberg feign confusing (then Solicitor General) Ted Olsen with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Both Millers, Mark Steyn, and Goldberg have an incredible gift of being able to serve up harsh, razor sharp clarity with humor and deft wordplay. They can say things a "serious" column cannot and can make their points stick with humor. Each is a valuable resource in the arsenal of freedom.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2006 10:25 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Both Larry Miller ( ) and Dennis Miller ( ) came from gestation Tank 25-Q on Planet Haliburton. They are are honored sons and Patriots. We are putting that Tank into overdrive to re-take LeftyWood.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 12, 2006 11:55 AM

December 11, 2006

Can We Reimport These?

Hyper-regulatory Europe speeds in front of the United States again. Dr. Gilbert Ross writes in TCS Daily.

There are two new COX-2 inhibitors on the market in Europe and many other regions, offering possible help against both arthritis and cancer but not in the United States: Novartis' Prexige and Merck's Arcoxia. Will our drug agency fairly evaluate them on the standard benefits and risks scale?

Not only can a firm open its shares to public purchase without premeasuring its officers for prison garb, but a person with arthritis can fill a prescription for the newest COX2 inhibitors.
Now Merck is testing the COX-2 waters again. Its Arcoxia has been available worldwide for some time, but the application it first submitted to the FDA in 2003 has been on hold ever since. A newly released study shows that the drug is relatively safe for the stomach and has no excess cardiovascular risk. These data came from a study involving over 34,000 patients and were reported by researchers from the Harvard Medical School. Merck expects the FDA to have its re-evaluation completed by April 2007.

The Swiss company Novartis recently received EU approval to market Prexige. A new study showed that this drug was associated with far fewer gastrointestinal side effects than two older NSAIDs, ibuprofen and naproxen. And, as with Arcoxia, there was no increase in cardiovascular adverse effects. The FDA will also get to consider Prexige early in 2007, according to Novartis.

Doctors and patients will be keeping close track of the FDA deliberations on these drugs. Will the new members of the suspect COX-2 class get a fair hearing from the chronically risk-averse FDA? Experience has shown that the FDA is not immune to unscientific pressures. In the case of the COX-2 drugs, trying to avoid all risk is, in fact, a bigger risk than allowing them on the market. The newer COX-2's have been shown to be as effective as, and safer than, the older arthritis drugs. The scientists at the FDA know that all drugs have risks. As a former practicing rheumatologist, I can bear witness to the suffering caused by arthritis, and I hope the regulators see fit to allow patients access to new treatment options and do not hesitate because of baggage from "the Vioxx taint."

Too much government power has been given to the FDA. People and their doctors should be able to choose these medicines where they're appropriate.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 7:26 PM

Then & Now

As a companion piece to the previous post 'RESOLVE' I give you this Cox & Forkum cartoon, "Then & Now."


What made them the Greatest Generation? When they were compelled to go to war, the weren't afraid to kill the enemy, sack his capital, and WIN.

But jk thinks:

Can I light the flamethrower?

I think that those who attack the President as being not aggressive enough on pursuing the war should be very careful not to overstep their bounds. The choice in 2006/7 is NOT Bush vs. Macarthur but rather Bush vs. Murtha-Kerry-Pelosi-Rangel.

Responsible critiques from those who want a more vigorous prosecution of the war are, of course, legitimate. (Dissent is patriotic and all). This cartoon, humiliates the President and undermines his ability to pursue his policies.

Destroy his credibility and more GOP Senators will fly out of orbit and give advantage to the Sens. Dodd-Levin axis.

I don't think that will make Misters C&F much happier.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2006 6:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fret not, fellow Bush fan. This cartoon does not humiliate the president so much as it derides the state of American popular opinion. (See "RESOLVE" below.)

As I said, the 'Bush Doctrine' was brilliant. Even if he didn't write it, he said it, and I believe at the time he meant it. The problem is that the intelligentsia was given too much time (and too few military accomplishments in exemplary rebuttal) to make their postmodern case that "war is never the answer." (For the too few accomplishments failure I blame Colin Powell and the State Department apparatchik.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 12, 2006 1:19 AM
But jk thinks:

Okay, but "the state of popular American opinion" is not shown with its ears shaped to match Tojo's and Ahmadinijad's.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2006 10:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Well, I didn't say the cartoon doesn't humiliate Bush AT ALL, did I? For failing to stand up for the policy he articulated, he's earned this portrayal.

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2006 1:00 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And not a single word of comment about the ideas behind this cartoon, expressed in the RESOLVE post. And I even put "burn that regime to the ground" and "The Islamic State" in boldface.

Where're them lefty peaceniks when you wanna pick a fight?

Posted by: johngalt at December 13, 2006 1:04 AM


The "Bush Doctrine" was a brilliant moral statement by the president. Unfortunately, it's become a glittering jewel of squandered opportunities. What the world needs now is... Harry S. Truman in the White House. From The Potsdam Declaration, July 26, 1945, adapted to remove references to Japan:

The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the enemy armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the enemy homeland. . . .

The time has come for the enemy nation to decide whether she will continue to be controlled by those self-willed militaristic advisers whose unintelligent calculations have brought them to the threshold of annihilation, or whether she will follow the path of reason. . . .

Following are our terms. We will not deviate from them. There are no alternatives. We shall brook no delay. . . .

There must be eliminated for all time the authority and influence of those who have deceived and misled the people into embarking on world conquest, for we insist that a new order of peace, security and justice will be impossible until irresponsible militarism is driven from the world. . . .

Freedom of speech, of religion, and of thought, as well as respect for the fundamental human rights shall be established. . . .

We call upon the enemy to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative is prompt and utter destruction.

These words, delivered to the Japanese Empire in 1945 by America and Great Britain with the endorsement of Chinese President Chiang Kai-shek, are equally relevant to the budding Islamist Empire whose center of power and influence is Teheran, Iran.

As the Declaration states, "The full application of our military power, backed by our resolve, will mean the inevitable and complete destruction of the enemy armed forces and just as inevitably the utter devastation of the enemy homeland..." If anything, our military power is only greater in strength and capability. What has suffered since the departure of President Truman is "our resolve." We no longer believe, as a people [evidenced by who we elect to represent us] that the only thing more terrible than fighting in a war is failure to win it.

John Lewis, the author of the excerpt above as part of a brilliant piece entitled “No Substitute for Victory” The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism ends with this:

The best thing Americans did for themselves (and, incidentally, the kindest thing for the Japanese) was to burn that regime to the ground. So it is today. The Islamic State—Totalitarian Islam—must go. And it is the moral responsibility of every American to demand it.

As I said, it is brilliant. Read the whole thing! (18 pages when printed) You'll be glad you did.

It's worth recognizing at this point that then, as now, the USSR (nee Russia) makes noises about solidarity with the free world and does... nothing (at best.)

War on Terror Posted by JohnGalt at 2:45 PM

I Really Don't Get It

Speaker-designate Pelosi has another caucus member for her "most ethical Congress in history." Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson won a runoff election, so that his expected indictment for bribery can be delivered to his House office. John Fund wonders, in OpinionJournal's Political Diary:

How did Democratic Rep. William Jefferson win re-election in New Orleans on Saturday despite allegations by the FBI that he'd been caught with $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer? To make matters worse, two of his associates have already pleaded guilty to giving him $400,000 in bribes as part of a scheme to land lucrative contracts in Nigeria. The congressman himself dodged most questions, telling reporters: "I'll not talk about this issue in this campaign."

In the first round of voting last month in Louisiana's unique two-part election process, Mr. Jefferson won only 30%, normally a political death sentence for an incumbent. But his challenger, state Rep. Karen Carter, proved to have serious liabilities in a runoff where voter turnout was barely half that of the first round. Mr. Jefferson was able to portray her as a wild-eyed liberal on social issues, pointing out that she was endorsed by the left-wing Emily's List. He also ran a TV ad pointing out that Ms. Carter had voted in favor of gay marriage and late-term abortions as well as against making human cloning a crime.

These stances helped him battle Ms. Carter to a virtual tie in the portion of his district that includes the largely black city of New Orleans. In the adjacent suburban and largely white Jefferson Parish, Mr. Jefferson scored a coup when popular Sheriff Henry Lee, who is of Chinese descent, bitterly attacked Ms. Carter for comments accusing Jefferson Parish officials of racism for refusing to let New Orleans residents cross a bridge into the parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Sheriff Lee responded angrily that police had blocked the incoming crowds in order to protect empty homes and businesses in the evacuated parish. "She makes us look like a bunch of yahoos down here, a bunch of racists," fumed Mr. Lee.

Ms. Carter chose not to engage the sheriff, saying he was "entitled to his opinions." But Mr. Lee paid for a mailing urging voters to "Just Say No" to Ms. Carter, while making it clear he wasn't endorsing Mr. Jefferson. In the end, Mr. Jefferson won Jefferson Parish with more than two-thirds of the vote, ensuring his return to Congress.

But his triumph may yet prove the ultimate hollow victory. Mr. Jefferson has obliquely acknowledged that he expects to be indicted next year, and given the evidence against him, few would bet on his chances before a jury. Then again, almost no one predicted his amazing comeback in Saturday's election.

I love the great state of Louisiana, even though I was badly beaten outside of Shreveport when our band attracted too much attention at a truck stop. But these people returned Ray Nagin to the NO Mayor's office, now Jefferson. One hates to say that fellow Americans get the government they deserve, but I’m gonna.

110th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM

I Don't Get It


    Hampshire yesterday as Sen. Barack Obama introduced himself to Democratic voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

    The junior senator from Illinois made a whirlwind debut that included a book signing in Portsmouth and an afternoon speech before a crowd of 1,500 at the Radisson hotel in downtown Manchester. In between, he stopped for a moment of traditional Granite State retail politicking at the Breaking New Grounds coffee shop in Portsmouth's Market Square.

    His visit had most of the markings of a presidential campaign stop, though Obama assured reporters he has not yet decided whether he will enter the race. The senator has said he plans to announce his decision around the start of the new year.

I'm sorry, am I the only one who doesn't have Obamamania? I heard some kool-aid drinker this morning compare the energy around this guy to Bobby Kennedy in 1968.


But jk thinks:

I've had my disagreements with George Will, but he nails this one:

"Democrats, given control of Congress because of Iraq, vowed to raise the minimum wage. Nimble and graceful Barack Obama became the Democrats' Fred Astaire, adored because of, well, perhaps the way he wears his hat, the way he sips his tea. And the way he isn't Hillary"

Hat-tip: OpinionJournal Political Diary.

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

The best explanation I've yet seen for "Obamamania" comes from, I think, James Taranto though I can't find the reference:

Vice presidential candidates have much more weight when they've first been a presidential candidate. The Clinton's are puppeteering the Obama candidacy to magnify his eventual addition to Hillary's campaign - as the bottom half of the ticket.

And no, AC, you AREN'T the only one.

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2006 2:38 PM
But jk thinks:

Obama is a tabula rasa. Moderates think: at last a moderate voice who isn't Hillary; lefties think he is one of them. It will be hard for him to delineate positions without reducing h8is base.

On the other hand, he is a charismatic figure with a compelling biography and preternatural oratorical skills: more President Clinton than Senator Clinton.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2006 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, you said a COMPELLING biography, not an impressive one. Fair enough. I was about to ignite the flamethrower.


Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2006 6:08 PM
But jk thinks:

No, not impressive at all. In fact, a humorous part of Obamamania is the lack of realization that he has enjoyed a life of privilege. Poor, young, African American -- growing up in Hawaii as the son of two PhDs. One's heart bleeds.


He was very impressive at the 2004 Democratic Convention. After 1992, I have learned not to underestimate dark horse Democratic Presidential candidates.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2006 6:29 PM

December 10, 2006

Out Of The Closet

ALa at blonde sagacity has come clean, admitting that she feels the love that dare not speak its name during the holidays.

Encouraged by her coming-out I feel the courage to admit it as well. I actually like fruitcake.

Tony Snow, however, is still in denial.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:08 PM | What do you think? [1]
But AlexC thinks:

I guess if you soak anything in enough rum ...

Posted by: AlexC at December 11, 2006 12:03 AM

December 9, 2006

Big Damn Heroes

More celebrity news! This is a great story. A Firefly convention is cancelled, but the actors show up at the hotel bar to sign autographs, pose for pictures and give away items from their personal collections.

Whedonesque blog.

She Was There.

Photo page

Hat-tip: Insty

UPDATE: I always used the term "trifecta" for Jonathan Woodward's appearing in Buffy, Angel and Firefly. But I like "Hat Trick" better.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:06 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Pretty cool stuff, though I don't have any Serenity comic books that I could ask to have autographed.

While in San Diego for Thanksgiving my LAPD sargeant brother-in-law shared his experiences at a recent LA Police-Fire celebrity poker tournament for charity. One highlight was when he and his wife met... Adam Baldwin. (I was jealous.) He recognized Adam as a character from Full Metal Jacket, which means I need to send him some Firefly DVDs. I think they took a picture with him but I haven't seen it. Clint said Adam was very unassuming and considered the cops and firefighters to be bigger heroes than actors are. Adam was tasting all the wines and offering thumbnail vignettes of each of them.

The closest I've come recently to such a cool encounter is a conversation with a marine sargeant collecting Toys for Tots at my wife's Christmas party last night - but that's another story.

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2006 1:35 PM

Today's Celebrity News

Perhaps ThreeSources has not achieved the popularity I had originally envisioned because of a lack of celebrity news. I can't go all aflutter every time Jennifer Anniston marries or divorces, but here is some celebrity news worth sharing:

E! News - Twins for Costello and Krall

The musically inclined couple welcomed their first children together Wednesday in New York, twin sons Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James.

"We are ecstatic," [Elvis] Costello, 52, and [Dianna] Krall, 42, said in a statement, adding that "mother and sons are doing splendidly."

The happy occasion also happened to fall on their third wedding anniversary. The Grammy-nominated artists tied the knot at Elton John's castle in London, eight months after meeting each other at the 2003 Grammy Awards.

Ms. Krall is a deity in our home. My affection for her husband has waxed and waned over the years, but I cannot call him anything less than supremely talented. "My Aim is True" remains one of the best rock'n'roll records of all time. "The Juliet Letters" with the Brodsky Quartet is an outstanding, avant-garde classical-rock fusion work. Good stuff but I'll take his wife's first CD over the entire collection.

Love those names, too. Mazel tov!

Hat-tip: my charming bride, via email.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:34 PM

December 8, 2006

How much is that peace treaty in the window?

Why hasn't Ned Lamont thought of this? Or George Soros?

Israeli gambling billionaire makes bid for peace

"Avi Shaked is offering the Palestinian prime minister US$1 billion, if he and his Israeli counterpart agree to sit down and reach a peace agreement."

If this works then I nominate Bill Gates for emperor of the world. He can just buy tranquility for every feuding tribe on the planet!

Seriously though, consider why it is that if Haniyeh and Olmert "just sit down to talk" Haniyeh gets 100 grand. Olmert? zip. And if they "reach a peace agreement" then Haniyeh gets another 900 grand. Olmert? zip.

What is this if not tacit admission that it is NOT IN THE INTEREST OF [gang of thugs calling themselves "the Palestinians"] to achieve peace?

Israel Posted by JohnGalt at 7:22 PM

Light A Match

Not on a plane. Not to cover smell. Do it to save the planet.

Russell Seitz writes in OpininJournal Political Diary:

The Pollution Solution

When it comes to climate change, not much is new under the sun. In 1751 Ben Franklin spied civilization altering the balance of solar energy "by clearing America of woods and so making this side of our globe reflect a brighter light." When the first Earth Day dawned ten generations later, it led to America's Clean Air Act, which has since cut sulfur dioxide emissions by ten million tons a year and -- incidentally -- contributed to global warming by letting more light penetrate the atmosphere.

One fact of natural history is that a relatively small mass can cast a great deal of shade. Combusting just a few tons of jet fuel can transiently cast a mile-wide sun-reflecting contrail from coast to coast. Now Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen and global warming whistleblower Tom Wigley have floated the notion of having aircraft generate stratospheric sulfur aerosols to stop global warming cold. "It was meant to startle the policymakers," says Prof. Crutzen. "If they don't take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this."

Mr. Crutzen's attempt to pry open the narrow orthodoxies of the global warming crowd comes not a moment too soon. Daring yet affordable ideas don't figure in Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe's dogma-enforcing attack on ExxonMobil (see above). Al Gore excluded them from "An Inconvenient Truth" too. But Prof. Crutzen is not alone. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson soberly observes that it's unwise to regard global warming as "a moral crusade when it's really an engineering problem. The inconvenient truth is that if we don't solve the engineering problem, we're helpless."

If the same atmospheric computer models the global warming worriers invoke are to be believed, a few pounds of sulfur per capita per year globally -- in some decades, major volcanic eruptions naturally inject far more -- might be enough to arrest the melting of the polar ice caps. Such an aerosol arctic sunbonnet might cost roughly as much as the power bill for running the Internet. Little wonder, then, that Mr. Gore and his communitarian cohort are aghast. Such modest post-modern proposals threaten to cut their fantasies of Deep Green societal control -- and moral superiority -- down to economic size.

Or we could just stop the growth of the entire world economy.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 6:54 PM

Hey, Campaign Finance Reformers

Andrew Roth, at Club for Growth links to a Cato report. which compares the estimated cost of the 2008 elections with Nintendo's revenue estimates for the next five weeks of its Wii consoles. Roth asks:

Nintendo sales in the next 5 weeks are expected to top the cost of the 2008 presidential election. And while there is often a lot of simulated mayhem in video games, no video game "has the power to bomb people, invade countries . . . and strongly influence policy on issues ranging from abortion to youth unemployment — all of which might cause opinionated citizens to contribute money to political campaigns.

I recall that women's cosmetics sales are about $5 billion annually, and potato/snack chips about eight.

Spending one billion every four years to choose whether Senator Clinton or Senator McCain run the Executive Brach seems a bargain.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:14 PM

Online Browncoats

Wired News: Firefly Reborn as Online Universe

Now that's shiny.

Multiverse, maker of a free MMO-creation platform, plans to announce Friday morning that it's struck a deal with Fox Licensing to turn the show into an MMORPG in the fashion of Star Wars Galaxies or Eve Online.

The "Browncoats," as Firefly's most devoted fans are known, have been campaigning to bring the show back almost since the moment it was canceled in late 2002. Now they'll get their wish, albeit in a new form.

Hat-tip: Insty.

Not sure I'm the MMORPG type. (r-tard!) Without a large dose of Joss Whedon input, I can't see this being too interesting.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 1:33 PM | What do you think? [2]
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Sorry,..if it isn't the original show (or new eps) I'm not interested. Fix shot itself in the foot on this one.

BTW - check you instapundit link.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 9, 2006 12:11 PM
But jk thinks:

No question you're right; this is miles down the excitement scale from new eps or another movie.

Ever the optimist, I'll point to the precedent of Douglas Adams, who personally became very involved in the crafting of the infocom game version of "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy." That was a blast, to a level where reading the books after was a disappointment. (The book of his to read is "Dirk Gentry's Holistic Detective Agency."

Were Whedon to see it as a new palette and craft some of his genius into it, it might be something.

Posted by: jk at December 9, 2006 12:43 PM

Big Apple Benefits

I don't think the Alan Reynolds vs. Nomi Prins show will come to Lafayette.

Perry at Eidelblog saw them debate last night. He promises details later, but I had to link to the headline: Blessed is he who comes in the name of Arthur Laffer

I really enjoyed it for how it illustrated the two polar opposites: the side that fears anybody possessing more wealth than others, and the side that knows any increase in wealth is good for everybody.

Amen to that.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM

More Apple Woes

I whined about Apple's iTunes Software a few weeks ago. Suddenly, I have a problem that seems sw/firmware to me, but Apple is trying to tell its users that the problem is hardware, and that the best solution is to go buy a new one.

Yup, the little shuffle flashed amber/green this morning after charging all night. I connected it and was told to restore. "Wow, it's really scrambled," thinks I. Then it would not restore. Error 1418.

Do a quick search for iPod Unknown Error 1418. Uh-oh.

iPodNN | Shuffle owners protest "1418 hell"

Hundreds of first-generation iPod shuffle owners are crying out to Apple for resolution after upgrading to iTunes 7 and trying to update their iPods. Many of these users report that updating the iPod renders it unusable with an "Unknown Error (1418)," effectively corrupting the iPods with no way to restore them. Some posts on Apple's own support forum suggest that owners of newly-replaced iPod shuffles are also experiencing the issue, and Apple has yet to respond. Users have already posted at least three Web pages to protest the problem, petitioning Apple to remedy the situation and demanding a fix. Such sites already include "shuf2006 Petition online," "Error 1418 - Fix Our iPods!," and "Shufflers Unite."

I've gotten a good year and a half of unconditional love from this device. If it is toast I cannot complain. But two things cause me to force the issue. One, it is a gift of sentimental value. My wife bought it for me before her stroke and it arrived as a surprise after. I blogged about it in May 2005.

Secondly, the current Mac advertising blitz has a smarmy smug side. You can highlight the legitimate differences in the Apple approach vs. PC. But the implication that Macs don't break, or that you'll have no problems if you buy one are well belied by web forums and pages. Technology will fail. The Apple/Linux/Mozilla claims that they are not the target of viruses points more to market failure on their part than technological success.

I'm no Apple hater by any means, I just haven't completely drunk the Kool-Aid(r).

UPDATE: It's fixed! The Apple Restore Utility to the rescue!

Technology Posted by John Kranz at 11:58 AM | What do you think? [5]
But AlexC thinks:

I've been meaning to blog about my new MacBook Pro laptop. It's a work of art. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at December 8, 2006 12:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Yup, they are. I'm a Virginia Postrel guy and Apple has every right to highlight its superior aesthetics, inviting design, and its long held ties with creative communities and workers.

I was out to dinner with some relatives and they were all looking to buy pre-Intel Macs because "they didn't break." I sat quietly as they talked another family member into this belief. I think that this is a step too far.

Full disclosure: I have actually purchased C++ GUI Programming Guides.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2006 12:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do [or say] nothing." :)

These family members clearly never heard of the "Apple drop." That was the official factory fix for memory socket problems in the old Apple IIe. "Pick it up off the table about 6 inches, and drop it." It did the trick but ... really.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2006 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

This is the Socialist wing of the family and one has to pick one's battles.

Dell should do some commercials "I'm a PC and I'm a Mac" The Mac could be played by George Carlin and they could drop him on the table to fix his memory. Might be a fun series...

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2006 3:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Dell's answer to the smarmy Mac commercials was a spot where a voiceover guy orders his customized PC over the phone, talking to a nice young voiceover woman who suggested options, and then "my" PC arrived and "I" opened it. When we see the buyer he is at least as "hip" looking as our buddy "Mac."

Smarmy quotient: zero.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2006 7:21 PM

December 7, 2006

Medal of Freedom Recipients

    President George W. Bush today announced the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation's highest civil award. Established by Executive Order 11085 in 1963, the Medal may be awarded by the President "to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." President Bush will honor these recipients at a White House ceremony on Friday, December 15, 2006.

Among the 10 on the list?

Natan Sharansky

    Natan Sharansky was imprisoned in the gulag by the Soviet regime for his work to advance religious liberty and human rights. He remained steadfast in his defiance of tyranny and has continued to champion the principles that all people deserve to live in freedom and that the advance of liberty is critical to peace and security around the world.

and BB King

    Riley "B.B." King is one of the greatest blues singers and guitarists of all time. For more than half a century, the "King of the Blues" and his guitar "Lucille" have thrilled audiences, influenced generations of guitarists, and helped give the blues its special place in the American musical tradition.

There are eight others, but it's at least a ThreeSources two-fer.

But jk thinks:

How can anybody not like this guy? Awesome picks!

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2006 7:26 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Someone's Freudian Slip is showing at the White House:

BB King for a Medal of Freedom? What's he gonna sing, "The Thrill is Gone?"


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 7, 2006 8:05 PM
But jk thinks:

David McCullough and Buck O'Neil are top notch choices as well. I would have passed on William Safire and "Underperformin'" Norman Mineta, but it could have been worse.

I would have given Secretary Mineta's to NYSE Chairman Dick Grasso. He did a lot more to get us back after 9/11.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2006 4:23 PM

Iraq "Surrender" Group Report

" . . . more than six people cannot agree on anything, three is better -- and one is perfect for a job that one can do. This is why parliamentary bodies all through history, when they accomplished anything, owed it to a few strong men who dominated the rest. Never fear, son, this Ad-Hoc Congress will do nothing . . . or if they do pass something through sheer fatigue, it will be so loaded with contradictions that it will have to be thrown out." --Bernardo de la Paz, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, pg 162 [Robert A. Heinlein]

I've been waiting all week for someone to blog the celebrated Iraq Study Group report, for I have a comment I'd like to make about it. Alas, nobody has obliged on these pages. But with each passing day I've come to realize that the real blogging is taking place on the front pages of the major dailies. They took the slap dash 97 page report as their kernel and proceeded to concoct every sort of meaning from it in their headlines. Every one, that is, except for making the world safe for liberty. Well, here goes.

Let's start with part I, subpart D: Achieving Our Goals:

We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq, as stated by the President: an Iraq that can “govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.” In our view, this definition entails an Iraq with a broadly representative government that maintains its territorial integrity, is at peace with its neighbors, denies terrorism a sanctuary, and doesn’t brutalize its own people. Given the current situation in Iraq, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the Iraqi people.

It is critically important to understand that, with Saddam gone, Iraq matters little in the present war between civilization and archaic totalitarianism. Re-read the passage above and replace "Iraq" with "America." An America that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. [...] Given the current situation in America, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the American people."

And where America represents civilization in this war, the seat of archaic totalitarianism today is... anyone? anyone? Bueller? That's right: Iran. Now re-read the passage above replacing "Iraq" with "Iran." In our view, this definition entails an Iran with a broadly representative government that maintains its territorial integrity, is at peace with its neighbors, denies terrorism a sanctuary, and doesn’t brutalize its own people.

Now, what actions of the American people can do anything to help Iraq "govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself?"

But jk thinks:

Speaking for myself, I was so happy that the report wasn't worse. I think it significantly undercuts the cut and run crowd and can be used more to the President’s favor than his detractors.

The idea of using Iran and Syria seems tedious but there is an interesting context. I don't know if you saw Brit Hume's panel discussion on this (you get kicked out of the VRWC if you don't watch 4x a week) but Secretary Baker believes that Syria might be incentivized to help us and the Sunnis. "Flip Syria" he said to Brit as they were packing up their cameras.

It's a long shot and I hate to think of the price but it is not necessarily "nuts."

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2006 7:33 PM
But AlexC thinks:

They want peace in the middle east. That's a bold vision.

How much did we pay for this, again?

Posted by: AlexC at December 7, 2006 11:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And now, my long awaited comment. With respect to diplomacy with Iran, or even Syria:

"Do steers sign treaties with meat packers?" -Robert A. Heinlein

I agree with John Murtha. It is time to redeploy coalition forces to "another region in the Middle East." TEHRAN

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2006 8:51 AM
But jk thinks:

I also resent the implication that ThreeSources was behind in commenting on the ISF. We hit the idea of Syria help on November 21.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2006 11:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Credit duly noted. And that post also reminded us what we get whenever we employ "realpolitik" when killing people and breaking things is in order.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2006 3:09 PM

Laffer's Curve

A lesson.


Economics and Markets Posted by AlexC at 1:53 PM

December 7th

Victor Davis Hanson reminds us of today's significance 65 years ago.

... and of it's connections to today.

Little Green Footballs links to a WWII poster (govt produced too) you would never see today.

Current Events Posted by AlexC at 12:39 PM

Open Markets

I'm really digging the blog, Open Market.

A sample post today: Let them use Solar!

    It’s a heart-warming ad, literally. A poverty-striken mother and daughter sit freezing in their unheated home in the dead of winter, trying to warm themselves with a small cooking stove. But then a fuel truck pulls up and a band of smiling deliverymen pile out and fill up the family’s oil tank. Now they’ll be warm.

    The tagline, if I remember it correctly from when I saw the tv spot earlier this week, is “low-cost oil for those in need, brought to you by the good people of Venezuela and Citizens Energy.”

Read the rest.

Open Market is a blog of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

But jk thinks:

CEI could not buy the publicity they've received from the Rockefeller-Snowe letter. I trip across something of theirs once a day now.

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2006 4:21 PM

Paper Strike

Mutually assured destruction may happen tomorrow at midnight.

    Philadelphia's two biggest newspapers could face their first strike since 1985 after talks between management and the newspapers' largest union stalled over the issue of pensions.

    In a story posted on the newspapers' Web site Wednesday night, the president of The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia was quoted as saying that strike could be authorized by the national union, the Communications Workers of America, "anytime after tonight."

    The threatening tone was struck just hours after the sides finished 5 1/2 unproductive hours of negotiations.

    The insistence by owner Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC that it freeze the Guild workers' pension caused the talks to grind to a halt, the union said. Two days earlier, after marathon talks over the weekend, the sides reached a tentative agreement on a sticky seniority issue.

Naturally neither side wants to strike.

In terms of the alternatives to the Inquirer/Daily News, there's a heck of a lot more of it out there than existed during the last paper strike in the 80s.

The Philadelphia Metro, a free paper, seems to be at every SEPTA train station and bus stop, so commuters are OK. The Evening Bulletin is on newsstands around the city and in the suburbs; and the suburban counties all have their own papers as well.

Morning news shows abound on broadcast TV, and where only CNN existed on cable, there's now MSNBC, Fox and Headline News.... speaking of which, Philly was late in the game to actually get wired for cable. I bet CNN wasn't even available in the city during the last strike.

KYW newsradio is already the top rated morning radio station.

Oh, and that internet thing is hanging around. Between picking up KYW podcasts, or loading up on news with your morning coffee in front of the computer, there are many many choices available to the media interested public.

In terms of the morning constitutional, it would probably require a stop to the printer, unless you have wireless internet.

At this point, a newspaper strike would be like the turnpike strike a few years ago.

People realized they can do without the toll collectors. Now they'll say, "hey, I don't need my paper."

But jk thinks:

There are so many other sources for biased untruths now...

I get such schadenfreude when the papers lose subscribers. I've thought that it was unjustified and that bloggers were stupid to bite the hand that feeds them. But the dailies have done such a bad job, I'm enjoying the show.

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2006 12:47 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Well,..circulation is down on both papers (actually, IMN-SHO, they're they same paper, just marketed to different socio-economic groups) because they've gotten away with BS-ing the public for years without any competition.

Many people in Philly forget that the Inkwaster's editorial page pushed Kerry for President in 2004 for 21 STRAIGHT DAYS! Liberal bias? Not here, apparently.

Since no paper exists, absent the suburban papers and their provincial coverage, to challenge this, the Inkwaster and Birdcage Liner thought they could do it in perpetuity.

Ah,..but along came Fox News, and another side of the story emerged. Now, Tierney, a long-time Republican bulldog, is regretting not taking the reigns of the editorial board when he had the chance.

As for me,..I'm sticking with the Evening Bulletin (at 25 cents a bargain for the truth).

**That's My Opinion and You're Entitled to It!**

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 7, 2006 8:13 PM

December 6, 2006

Black Hole-y Crap

The language and decorum is taking a tumble around here.

I thought this was interesting: NASA telescope sees black hole gulping remote star

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A giant black hole displaying horrifying table manners has been caught in the act of guzzling a star in a galaxy 4 billion light-years away, scientists using an orbiting NASA telescope said on Tuesday.

I know some folks are depressed about the elections, but a Democratic 110th is still better than being swallowed by a black hole. I guess we'll see.

Hat-tip: my lovely bride, by email.

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:16 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

The corrected headline should read, "NASA astronomers see star "gulped" by black hole 4 billion years ago." First, because telescopes don't see things, people do. Second, because light seen today that originated 4 billion light years from here, necessarily began its journey to us 4 billion years ago. (Now we need to figure out how to capitalize on the advance notice with respect to those rubes 1 billion light years downstream from us.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 7, 2006 2:55 PM

Hole-y Crap

Chicago Tribune

    More than a mile below the Earth's surface, South African police are waging a battle against a new breed of pirate: wildcat gold miners who live underground for months at a time in unused mine shafts, smuggling out ore worth millions and defending their turf with homemade grenades and booby traps.

    In the past six months, in response to pleas from outgunned private mine-security squads, South African police have created a task force to ambush the thieves. The force has arrested 60 of the pirates in six perilous underground raids.

    "It's very, very dangerous," said Mike Fryer, an assistant police commissioner who helped create the new mine unit for the South African Police Service. Police teams, equipped with explosives experts and Special Task Force officers, have dodged shotgun-wielding miners, defused bombs and managed to wrestle out the invaders so far without any loss of life, Fryer said.

Naturally, the cops are afraid to fire guns in the mines, a problem the illegal miners don't seem to have. But they did allude to some "alternative weapons" that they don't want to reveal.

I bet it's water. Flood 'em out.

(tip to Ace)

On the web Posted by AlexC at 1:19 PM

Remembering King Greenspan

Ten years ago today, FOMC Chairman Alan Greenspan gave his "irrational exuberance" speech at the American Enterprise Institute. At the time, the DJIA was at 6437.

"How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values? . . . We should not underestimate . . . the interactions of asset markets and the economy. Asset prices, particularly, must be an integral part of the development of monetary policy."

This leads Jeremy Siegel to look back and realize that the market was not overvalued at the time.
So what happened to the stock bubble? In fact, the data show it did not start until late 1998, two years after Mr. Greenspan's warning of "irrational exuberance." And the exuberance was entirely concentrated in the technology sector, represented by the Nasdaq Composite Index. Tech stocks soared in 1999 and early 2000 in wake of the Internet mania and the surge in IT spending associated with the Y2K computer scare. This was the stock bubble that I and many others warned investors about.

The evidence also shows that non-tech stocks were never in a bubble, neither in 1996 nor when the S&P 500 Index reached its peak in March 2000. If one takes tech and the tech-related telecom stocks out of the S&P 500, the remaining stocks were actually depressed when the tech stocks hit their peak. From March 10, 2000, when the S&P 500 hit its all-time high, through the end of November this year, an index of all non-tech stocks experienced a very healthy annual return of 8.2%, indicating no overvaluation whatsoever when the popular averages, bloated by the tech bubble, reached their peak.

It's just economic growth and wealth creation, kids. It's non-linear but not irrational.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 12:19 PM

Prepare To Be Angry

I've kept a cool head and cautioned others to not succumb to hatred of Muslims. I have a few Muslim friends, one very devout, one regular guy who goes to Mosque now and then, and one who'll share his ham sandwich with you. None would hurt a fly I keep all three in mind when my fellow travelers claim it is us against them.

I've paid moderate attention to the Minneapolis Airport contretemps. I thought the behavior of the imams was shameful and the obligatory media lizarding from the folks at CAIR was typically reprehensible. I considered that this was a softening blow to relax rules and set up another attack. Disconcerting, but life goes on.

Debra Burlingame lost her brother, Chic Burlingame III on 9/11; he was the pilot of AA 77 which was crashed into the Pentagon. She has a guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal (free link) today. Her piece tells the unvarnished truth and is beautifully written.

Here's what the flying public needs to know about airplanes and civil rights: Once your foot traverses the entranceway of a commercial airliner, you are no longer in a democracy in which everyone gets a vote and minority rights are affirmatively protected in furtherance of fuzzy, ever-shifting social policy. Ultimately, the responsibility for your personal safety and security rests on the shoulders of one person, the pilot in command. His primary job is to safely transport you and your belongings from one place to another. Period.

This is the doctrine of "captain's authority." It has a longstanding history and a statutory mandate, further strengthened after 9/11, which recognizes that flight crews are our last line of defense between the kernel of a terrorist plot and its lethal execution. The day we tell the captain of a commercial airliner that he cannot remove a problem passenger unless he divines beyond question what is in that passenger's head and heart is the day our commercial aviation system begins to crumble. When a passenger's conduct is so disturbing and disruptive that reasonable, ordinary people fear for their lives, the captain must have the discretionary authority to respond without having to consider equal protection or First Amendment standards about which even trained lawyers with the clarity of hindsight might strongly disagree. The pilot in command can't get it wrong. At 35,000 feet, when multiple events are rapidly unfolding in real time, there is no room for error.

It is clear we must have the stomach to turn off our "Minnesota Nice" for the likes of these people. Me, I'm about ready for internment camps. Korematsu vs. United States is still on the books.

Byurhan, Mohammed and Hossein. Good guys. Calm down.

Jihad Posted by John Kranz at 11:30 AM | What do you think? [8]
But johngalt thinks:

One last thing: Internment camps? What's that about?

Posted by: johngalt at December 6, 2006 2:46 PM
But jk thinks:

I saw that C&F cartoon yesterday -- great stuff!

I was suggesting that the Burlingame piece made me mad enough to suggest repeating one of our nation's darkest moments when Japanese Americans were rounded up and forced into internment camps during WWII.

In Korematsu, the Supreme Court basically said that was okay. We could test Senator Specter's commitment to long held precedent if a challenge case came up.

Posted by: jk at December 6, 2006 4:04 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I'm going to wade into this mess and say "Maybe we oughta start thinking about interment camps,..."


You put a part of it square on the head, JK: some Muslims are the nicest people in the world. And yes, I worked with a Muslim paramedic from Chad many years ago - nicest medic I've known in years, great empathy w/ patients.

Unfortunately, while a majority of Muslims seem to be of the benevolent, peaceful type apparently espoused by Mohammed, they're also the quietest.

If you think fascists are perverting your religion, speak up! If not, get lumped in with the rest and deal with the consequences (such as interment camps).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 6, 2006 8:04 PM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

BTW - cross-posted for effect!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 6, 2006 8:15 PM
But jk thinks:

I must admit I was using it more as a rhetorical device to show how angry I was after reading the editorial. Not sure I want to go too far down this road.

It strikes me that every time a CAIR representative goes on TV, probably ten people who were ambivalent turn against Muslims. I'm not sure that organization is achieving its stated cause.

While we're beating up, though, it alarms me that these people are Islamic religious leaders. It's one thing to have wackos who claim religious grounds -- this is like a bishop blowing up an abortion center.

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2006 10:14 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Ah,..JK,..once again, you and I are thinking the same thing, just from different angles!


Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 7, 2006 8:14 PM

December 5, 2006

Econ 101

Supply and Demand can be grasped intuitively, although I appreciate a graphical representation to demonstrate why price controls cause shortages. Comparative Advantage is less obvious and I must agree with P.J. O'Rourke. In his book "East the Rich," he describes comparative advantage as the most important economics fact in the textbook worth learning.

George Mason professor Russell Roberts has a great and brief pair of essays on it in the Library of Economics and Liberty

I'll not excerpt it. Take a few minutes and read both parts. He uses the example of two shipwrecked families on a desert island to show how both are wealthier through trade.

The Fishers are Americans. They can design TVs and write software and manufacture cars better than anybody else on the island. They would be great at picking lettuce and would be the best fast food workers that a restaurant could hire.

The Palmers are illegal immigrants. They do not fish or fetch water as well as the Fishers, but having the Fishers around to trade makes them wealthier as they pursue their comparative advantage in fishing.

There is not much time for populist politics on this island, but it would be easy to claim that the Palmers are not carrying their weight. Yet everybody eats and drinks better when both couples specialize. Hail, Ricardo!

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:05 PM

Better or Worse

Available for sale....


Stick it to the nanny state!

On the web Posted by AlexC at 8:25 PM

Christmas Poem

Hat tip: Samizdata

Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me,and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.,
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said
"Its really all right, I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed,
"That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son.
"Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

"PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let us try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment OIC,
Logistics Cell One Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Posted by John Kranz at 6:06 PM


Give Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute props for writing a provocative headline: A new progressive manifesto: Ayn Rand meets Howard Dean (TNR link $$$) [UPDATE: looks like that's the TNR editor's headline. It's on Cato's website as "Liberaltarians." free link]

I gave copies of Ryan Sager's The Elephant in the Room to two good Democrat friends with the suggestion that it included the keys to a permanent Democratic majority. If the Democrats could peel off a large majority of the little-l libertarian vote, they would be unstoppable.

My friends didn't come back with a new fusionism, but Lindsey tries exactly that. The Cato Institute is sufficient bona fides for me to listen, and he makes some good points. One I wish the progressive movement would pick up is the importance of prosperity to its goals:

Furthermore, it has become increasingly clear that capitalism's relentless dynamism and wealth-creation--the institutional safeguarding of which lies at the heart of libertarian concerns--have been pushing U.S. society in a decidedly progressive direction. The civil rights movement was made possible by the mechanization of agriculture, which pushed blacks off the farm and out of the South with immense consequences. Likewise, feminism was encouraged by the mechanization of housework. Greater sexual openness, as well as heightened interest in the natural environment, are among the luxury goods that mass affluence has purchased. So, too, are secularization and the general decline in reverence for authority, as rising education levels (prompted by the economy's growing demand for knowledge workers) have promoted increasing independence of mind.

Yet progressives remain stubbornly resistant to embracing capitalism, their great natural ally. In particular, they are unable to make their peace with the more competitive, more entrepreneurial, more globalized U.S. economy that emerged out of the stagflationary mess of the 1970s. Knee-jerk antipathy to markets and the creative destruction they bring continues to be widespread, and bitter denunciations of the unfairness of the system, mixed with nostalgia for the good old days of the Big Government/Big Labor/Big Business triumvirate, too often substitute for clear thinking about realistic policy options.

The partisan hack that lives not so deep down inside me finds much in the article to question. In case the article is not free, I will excerpt heavily. Click "Continue reading" to, umm, continue reading.

Can a new, progressive fusionism break out of the current rut? Liberals and libertarians already share considerable common ground, if they could just see past their differences to recognize it. Both generally support a more open immigration policy. Both reject the religious right's homophobia and blastocystophilia. Both are open to rethinking the country's draconian drug policies. Both seek to protect the United States from terrorism without gratuitous encroachments on civil liberties or extensions of executive power. And underlying all these policy positions is a shared philosophical commitment to individual autonomy as a core political value.

The central challenge in cementing a new fusionist alliance--and, make no mistake, it is a daunting one--is to elaborate a vision of economic policy, and policy reform, that both liberals and libertarians can support. Here, again, both sides seek to promote individual autonomy; but their conceptions differ as to the chief threats to that autonomy. Libertarians worry primarily about constraints imposed by government, while liberals worry most about constraints imposed by birth and the play of economic forces.

The basic outlines of a viable compromise are clear enough. On the one hand, restrictions on competition and burdens on private initiative would be lifted to encourage vigorous economic growth and development. At the same time, some of the resulting wealth-creation would be used to improve safety-net policies that help those at the bottom and ameliorate the hardships inflicted by economic change. Translating such abstractions into workable policy doubtlessly would be contentious. But the most difficult thing here is not working out details--it is agreeing to try. And, as part of that, agreeing on how to make the attempt: namely, by treating economic policy issues as technical, empirical questions about what does and doesn't work, rather than as tests of ideological commitment.

Allow me to hazard a few more specific suggestions about what a liberal-libertarian entente on economics might look like. Let's start with the comparatively easy stuff: farm subsidies and other corporate welfare. Progressive organizations like Oxfam and the Environmental Working Group have already joined with free-market groups in pushing for ag-policy reform. And it's no wonder, since the current subsidy programs act as a regressive tax on low-income families here at home while depressing prices for exporters in poor countries abroad--and, to top it off, the lion's share of the loot goes to big agribusiness, not family farmers. Meanwhile, the president of Cato and the executive director of the Sierra Club have come out together in favor of a zero-subsidy energy policy. A nascent fusionism on these issues already exists; it merely needs encouragement and emphasis.

Tax reform also offers the possibility of win-win bargains. The basic idea is simple: Shift taxes away from things we want more of and onto things we want less of. Specifically, cut taxes on savings and investment, cut payroll taxes on labor, and make up the shortfall with increased taxation of consumption. Go ahead, tax the rich, but don't do it when they're being productive. Tax them instead when they're splurging--by capping the deductibility of home-mortgage interest and tax incentives for purchasing health insurance. And tax everybody's energy consumption. All taxes impose costs on the economy, but at least energy taxes carry the silver lining of encouraging conservation--plus, because such taxes exert downward pressure on world oil prices, foreign oil monopolies would wind up getting stuck with part of the bill. Here again, fusionism is already in the air. Gore has proposed a straight-up swap of payroll taxes for carbon taxes, while Harvard economist (and former chairman of George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers) Greg Mankiw has been pushing for an increase in the gasoline tax.

I don't want to poop the party here, but the social-engineering aspect of government revenue falls harshly upon these ears. On one hand, taxing Carbon makes about as much sense as taxing profit or employment, yet there is a facade of fairness in taxing people what you believe they can pay. If my jazz band produces more CO2 than revenue (which it does), I may be hit with taxes I cannot pay.

Lindsey then gets into the admittedly tougher arena of entitlement reform. It's a good article, but in the middle, I wake up and say "no way are the Deaniacs and Kos Kids gonna go for any of this.' Frank Meyers's fusionism makes sense on a more fundamental level: that both conservatives and libertarians have an interest in smaller government. Lindsey's fusionism. or Kos's LibertarianDemocratism have the tougher task of alliance crafting between those who want to shrink and to grow government.

I'll keep my GOP card until I hear back.

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM


Thomas Sowell takes on The Economically Illiterate in Hollywood. A spate of new documentaries is coming out to castigate Wal*Mart and Starbucks. For, ummm, giving people jobs that they not only accept freely but line up for in this country -- and provide bribes for in third world countries.

The real comparison is not between what people are paid in Third World countries compared to what people are paid in the United States. The comparison that affects outcomes is what Third World people are paid by multinational corporations compared to what they can earn otherwise. By and large, multinational corporations pay about double the local pay in Third World countries.

Third World workers line up for these jobs and even bribe insiders to get them such jobs. If economically illiterate Hollywood busybodies and other mindless crusaders succeed in establishing more costly pay scales without regard to productivity, that will undoubtedly lead to fewer jobs, just as similar policies do in other countries.

Great stuff! Hat-tip: Larry Kudlow.

Economics and Markets Posted by John Kranz at 10:45 AM

December 4, 2006


Wikipedia tells us that Claude Allegre is a "French geochemist and politician" and "member of the French Socialist Party." Google news search tells us... nothing. (Well, nearly nothing. There's a letter to the editor of the BYU paper mentioning what I'm about to mention.) The French (tabloid? newsmagazine?) L' printed an editorial by Msr. Allegre stating, in part, "So, the question that arises is whether there is climate warming or not? [...] Greenhouse effect plays no significant role in these processes." (English translation here.)

Fox News Channel told me, and the Majority members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works corroborates, that Allegre's skepticism is "newfound" and that "one of the most decorated French geophysicists has converted from a believer in manmade catastrophic global warming to a climate skeptic."

The Senators write:

Allegre's conversion to a climate skeptic comes at a time when global warming alarmists have insisted that there is a “consensus” about manmade global warming. Proponents of global warming have ratcheted up the level of rhetoric on climate skeptics recently. An environmental magazine in September called for Nuremberg-style trials for global warming skeptics and CBS News “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley compared skeptics to “Holocaust deniers.” See: & In addition, former Vice President Al Gore has repeatedly referred to skeptics as "global warming deniers."

This increase in rhetorical flourish comes at a time when new climate science research continues to unravel the global warming alarmists’ computer model predictions of future climatic doom and vindicate skeptics.

Allegre concludes:

Glaciers’ chronicles or historical archives point to the fact that climate is a capricious phenomena. This fact is confirmed by mathematical meteorological theories. So, let us be cautious. But the exposure of man’s responsibility as regards global warming allows us to sit idly by (the effect of the measures advocated will be felt only in half a century!). On the other hand, the crusade against extreme theories can be led with tangible results! However, as this is not fashionable, we choose to remain passive. In the meanwhile, the ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people!

Which is more incredulous: That a long-time DAWG might actually recant, and, become active for a "not fashionable" cause, or that the only source for this news in America is a bunch of Republicans on a senate subcommittee? Wait - don't answer that.

But jk thinks:

Dammit, jg! If you keep supporting this "Obfuscation agenda," the US Senate is going to shut ThreeSources down.

"Glaciers’ chronicles or historical archives point to the fact that climate is a capricious phenomena."

Writing your own Taranto headline is left as an exercise to the reader.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2006 3:58 PM


Two United States Senators have declared not only that the science is settled but also that dissent will not be tolerated. Sens. Olympia Snowe (RINO-ME) and Jay Rockefeller (!RCB-WV) have sent a letter to Exxon Mobil telling them -- as the WSJ ED Page paraphrases, "Start toeing the Senators' line on climate change, or else."

The letter is so over-the-top that we also wonder if Mr. Rockefeller in particular has even read it. (He and Ms. Snowe didn't return our call.) The Senator hails from coal-producing West Virginia, where people know something about carbon emissions. Come to think of it, Mr. Rockefeller owes his own vast wealth to something other then non-carbon energy. But perhaps it's easier to be carbon free when your fortune comes from a trust fund.

The letter is of a piece with what has become a campaign of intimidation against any global warming dissent. Not only is everyone supposed to concede that the planet has been warming -- as it has -- but we are all supposed to salute and agree that human beings are the definitive cause, that the magnitude of the warming will be disastrous and its effects catastrophic, that such problems as AIDS and poverty are less urgent, and that economic planners must therefore impose vast new regulatory burdens on everyone around the world. Exxon is being targeted in this letter and other ways because it is one of the few companies that still thinks some debate on these questions is valuable.

Every dogma has its day, and we've lived long enough to see more than one "consensus" blown apart within a few years of "everyone knowing" it was true. In recent decades environmentalists have been wrong about almost every other apocalyptic claim they've made: global famine, overpopulation, natural resource exhaustion, the evils of pesticides, global cooling, and so on. Perhaps it's useful to have a few folks outside the "consensus" asking questions before we commit several trillion dollars to any problem.

At issue is Exxon-Mobil’s funding of research which contradicts the beliefs of two members of the world's most deliberative body. The Impudence!

When the media, or NCAR, or the Sierra Club try to shut down their opposition, it's one thing. But the Senate, as the editorial points out, wields great coercive power over the firm and its shareholders.

Imagine if this letter had been sent by someone in the Bush Administration trying to enforce the opposite conclusion? The left would be howling about "censorship." That's exactly what did happen earlier this year after James Hansen, the NASA scientist and global warming evangelist, complained that a lowly 24-year-old press aide had tried to limit his media access. The entire episode was preposterous because Mr. Hansen is one of the most publicized scientists in the world, but the press aide was nonetheless sacked.

The Senators' letter is far more serious because they have enormous power to punish Exxon if it doesn't kowtow to them. A windfall profits tax is in the air, and we've seen what happens to other companies that dare to resist Congressional intimidation.

Environment Posted by John Kranz at 3:00 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

It seems that these two senators are threatening to challenge the judiciary for chutzpah.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2006 3:53 PM

Rep Tancredo

I know my blog brothers hold immigration views that are closer to Rep. Tom Tancredo's than mine. I would ask how much they like his bombastic style. I think he frequently goes over the top and sets not only his party but his cause back. Add Florida Governor Jeb Bush to his lengthy Republican enemies list. John Fund in the OpinionJournal Political Diary:

Take Tom Tancredo - Please!

Republicans don't know what Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, the nation's leading anti-immigration spokesman, plans to do in 2008. Some think he will launch a Pat Buchanan-like run for president while others point to the likely retirement of GOP Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado, creating an open seat for Mr. Tancredo to run for.

In any event, controversy is sure to dog the publicity-savvy Mr. Tancredo. He recently stirred the pot when he said ethnically-diverse Miami resembled a "Third World country" and that "you would never know you were in the United States of America." That prompted Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who lived in Miami before his election, to defend the city. Mr. Tancredo promptly accused Mr. Bush of being "naive" and said he was trying to "create the illusion of Miami as a multiethnic 'All American' city."

The Florida governor then called a halt to the exchange. "What a nut," the president's brother told reporters. "I'm just disappointed that he's a Republican. He doesn't represent my views." What worries Republicans, including many who believe that secure borders are important, is that Mr. Tancredo's in-your-face approach to immigration could either overshadow other candidates in the early 2008 primaries or lead to the loss of yet another Colorado Senate seat.

Immigration Posted by John Kranz at 1:59 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

Brother, can you not smell spin by the likes of Bush (Jeb) and John Fund? I know it doesn't help that they're spinning in your direction but please, we're objective here right?

From Tancredo's response to Governor Bush:

" is neither naive nor insulting to call attention to a real problem that cannot be easily dismissed through politically correct happy talk."

"...Miami-Dade School District's 45% graduation rate tells us that the majority of Miami's new arrivals have not yet assimilated this culture of academic excellence."

"Unfortunately, fewer and fewer Miamians think of themselves as Americans."

"By the way, you should also pick up a copy of this week's TIME in which Miami is described as a "corrupt, exorbitant mess" where locals are fleeing in droves."

"Governor with all due respect, I have simply said something most people -- even in Florida if our calls and emails are a measurement of sentiment -- belive is true. I have no doubt that people of wealth can still lead a comfortable and pleasant life in Miami, but ask yourself why ordinary middle class citizens are leaving in such high numbers."

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2006 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

I see. The Governor and John Fund are "spinning," yet Rep. Tancredo is being objective. No doubt he quotes Time magazine's editorial positions all the time and not just when it serves a narrow purpose.

My point, and I think Fund's, was that Rep. Tancredo's style of politicking may be good in a safe House seat, or as a panelist on Bill O'Reilly's or Lou Dobbs's show, but might not translate well to statewide or national ambitions.

A serious presidential contender might not be well served by insulting a large American city in a swing state which happens to be populated with many Republican-leaning Cuban-Americans. I could be wrong; I won't know for sure until I read it in Time.

Rep. Tancredo has alienated Republicans such as Paul Gigot, John Fund, Larry Kudlow, William Kristol, John McCain, President Bush, Governor Bush, Fred Barnes, and me. That seems to be a problem. Should he run for Allard's seat, I will cast my first non-Republican vote since 1980. (I spent the summer of 1980 just north of Miami, but I digress.)

Discounting the Bush-Miami-contretemps, there are many other examples of his bombastic style. His move to deport the high school valedictorian is one of my favorites, I'm sure we'll relive many of his hits should he seek larger office.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2006 5:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And you illustrate once more MY point: You attack Tom for his "bombastic" style of politics, yet it only sounds bombastic when related by a third party such as "Paul Gigot, John Fund, Larry Kudlow, William Kristol, John McCain, President Bush, Governor Bush, Fred Barnes, and" JK.

Ad hominem doesn't persuade me that a 45% graduation rate (that's 55% dropout rate, folks) and an urban populace that increasingly feels "no pressure to be an American" is just peachy.

Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2006 3:40 PM
But jk thinks:

I guess I don't my own strength, jg. I accuse Rep. Tancredo of having a bombastic style. I'd be surprised if he himself would run from that label.

You answered my question. You clearly do not think Rep Tancredo to be too bombastic or impolitic to receive your continued support. That's great, I like a guy who speaks his mind -- I just happen to disagree drastically with Tancredo.

Politics is about addition, however, and I would call his enemies list worrisome. Except for that jk fellow, I'd call most of the Republicans on my Tommy's enemies list pretty cool heads.

Add one more: Arthur Laffer. On Kudlow & Company last night, he said that the loss of Congress to the Democrats is worth it because of the defeat handed to the naturalist wing of the GOP. Dr. Laffer seeks lower tax rates that prove his famous curve but he fears the Tancredo wing more than he fears Reps. Dingell, Rangel and Pelosi holding gavels.

As to the troubles facing Miami, when I was there in 1980 a popular bumper sticker said “Will the last American leaving Miami please bring the flag?” Time Magazine’s opinion of assimilation ambitions of its populace do not interest me. The dropout rate is bad but I find it disingenuous to blame immigrants for failures of the public schools. Public schools are broken because of an incorrect incentive structure and the inflated political power of their public service unions.

Perhaps Rep. Tancredo’s wall can be extended through the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean Sea. Then we can fill the Miami public schools with good ‘mericans and get those test scores up.

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2006 5:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, you're right! It says right here on his very own "About Tom" page that he's a "bombastic nut."

Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2006 5:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Okay, you win that one. I don't really consider "bombastic" to be too pejorative. Were I the Rep's press secretary I'd say " The Congressman just believes in clear honest speech. If some blogger nobody's ever heard of wants to call it 'bombast' he can."

Then I'd day "JK -- do those initials sound Mexican to you? Jose Something..."

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2006 7:07 PM

Great Days For Senator Edwards

Eighty two people have died in a Pfizer drug trial. Not only will that provide 82 clients for Edwards's supporters in the trial bar, but it has caused Pfizer to suspend development of a promising new blockbuster drug for cholesterol management.

The announcement raises new questions about one of the pharmaceutical industry's most anticipated new ideas. Several companies have made investments in this area in the hunt for badly needed sales and profit growth.

Just two days earlier, in an upbeat presentation to analysts, Pfizer research chief John LaMattina reiterated the company's backing for the compound. "We believe this is the most important new development in cardiovascular medicine in years," he said.

Senator Edwards swore in 2004 that he would "fight the drug companies." He must be happy to see one of the sector's leaders imperiled. The WSJ News page (paid link sorry) says:
[CEO Jeffrey] Kindler, a lawyer whose nearly five years at Pfizer account for his entire résumé in the pharmaceutical industry, now faces a daunting challenge. He was tapped only this past July over two longtime Pfizer executives to become chief executive officer of the languishing giant. He will have to move even more aggressively to cut costs and restock the company's medicine chest, possibly through acquisitions.

Building the pipeline through M&A instead of R&D is a good move but it will save far fewer lives.

There is no government angle here, I'm not castigating the FDA. I'm just reminding the Pharma-haters of the biggest natural predator to pharmaceutical development: plain old experimental failure. Two days takes a pipeline drug from rescuing your company to a tax write off.

To continue with research we will need to continue to reward those who are successful. Another CEO, Eli Lilly's Sidney Taurel, is interviewed by Rob Pollack of the WSJ Ed Page. His editorial was promoted to the free site yesterday. He says in a single column what I have been beating the drum about since I started blogging: research's access to capital is severely threatened by government policy.

"I've seen the bad effects that government policies of price controls and overregulation can have," Mr. Taurel tells me. "When you look at Europe 30 years ago, that was where most of the innovation in pharmaceuticals used to take place. When I joined the industry, the No. 1 was Roche, and then it was Hoechst and Bayer and all these companies, which today are not as big. What 30 years of price controls have done is more and more of the research has come here. I think only about 25% of the total research in the whole industry is done in Europe."

But this is no reason for complacency, Mr. Taurel stresses. We are at a "crossroads" in the U.S., he says, "between people who want a government-run system and those of who want a free market" in health care.

Read that one coast to coast. Please.

UPDATE: Fixed the first link (ThreeSources apologizes for any inconvenience). Here is a (free) link to a CNBC video.

Pharmaceuticals Posted by John Kranz at 10:40 AM | What do you think? [3]
But AlexC thinks:

An amazing figure from this story. The development of this drug cost $800 million dollars.

This drug, which won't make it to market, is an $800 million dollar loss for the company.

Posted by: AlexC at December 4, 2006 11:04 AM
But jk thinks:

It's okay because that $800,000,000 came from stockholders and capital markets. As we know, real medical research is funded by bake sales, pledge walks, Federal programs and colored bracelets.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2006 11:46 AM
But Everyday Economist thinks:

This is a prime example of how R&D costs increase the price of drugs. Those who favor negotiated prices often claim that pharma firms are price gouging. They claim that these firms shouldn't be able to charge high prices for pills that cost the company very little to produce. While it is true that the second pill may cost very little to produce, that first pill cost millions.

Where would you like me to set the brownies?

Posted by: Everyday Economist at December 4, 2006 11:56 AM

Bolton to Resign


    Unable to win Senate confirmation, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton will step down when his temporary appointment expires within weeks, the White House said Monday.

    Bolton's nomination has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a moderate Republican who lost in the midterm elections Nov. 7 that swept Democrats to power in both houses of Congress, was adamantly opposed to Bolton.

    Critics have questioned Bolton's brusque style and whether he could be an effective bureaucrat who could force reform at the U.N.

    President Bush gave Bolton the job temporarily in August 2005, while Congress was in recess. Under that process, the appointment expires when Congress formally adjourns, no later than early January.

Here's an idea.

Don't fill the seat.

Let it languish empty.

Make the Democrats beg for a nomination.

Then send Bolton.

In anycase, what will the difference between an empty American seat and a filled American seat be? The UN is a mess and no one is serious about anything over there.

John Miller says how 'bout Rick?

    How about Rick Santorum for the UN job? Yeah, there'd probably be a confirmation fight. And he may want to take a breather after 16 years in elected office. But it's worth thinking over.

That's a great idea.

On foreign policy, he's like Bolton without the mustache.

Surely the Senator can cash in some of his bi-partisan chips.

But jk thinks:

Santorum would be a great pick. There is usually enough comity between Senators that he could be confirmed.

Could he grow a moustache?

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2006 10:44 AM
But johngalt thinks:

There are MANY things that UN Ambassadors are serious about. Let us make a list:

1. Amassing personal wealth.
2. Institution of a "world tax" via the Anthropogenic Global Warming Hoax.
3. Amassing personal wealth.
4. Advancing statism through gun control.
5. Helping cronies amass personal wealth (although this is really just a prerequisite to numbers 1 and 3).
6. ...

I can't think about this any more. It's too sickening.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2006 3:08 PM

Making Republicans


Posted by AlexC at 12:53 AM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

I'll not defend the 39th ex-President on many items. But I felt the caller should have been more respectful in his words and tone. I also thought that President Carter defended himself with aplomb, getting the better of his caller. This video would be welcome on a Kos-kids blog.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2006 11:42 AM

December 2, 2006

Held the Fort Nicely

(Where is Ft. Nicely?) I had an all day training session yesterday and was cut off completely from the blogosphere. Catching up today, it appears that the forces of collectivism did not gain substantive ground in my absence. Thanks for holding the fort.

How about Senator-elect Jim Webb, huh? I never thought I would miss Senator Allen. It seems odd that the new House Democratic freshmen class tend to be moderate Blue Dogs, but that the new Senate Ds are a rather more caustic and partisan lot. Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Sherrod Brown in Ohio and Webb strike me as three prickly personalities. Not that they won’t have company in the U.S. Senate, but I wonder if those three might even stick out.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:28 PM

Force Be With Y'all

I think AlexC has started something.

I watched Star Wars IV last night. I bought a box set of IV,V,VI some time ago but I am not sure I watched them all. Unlike AlexC, I am going to watch them in the order they came out. I'll have to rent I,II,III or break down and buy them.

Thie first came out when I was in high school and I was very impressed at how well it holds up. The story is very good. The effects seem a bit dated but I feared they would have that hokey, trying-too-hard look about them and they don't. What does seem dated is because they set the standard and created so much of the genre. Criticizing the jump to hyperspace is like calling Chuck Berry's guitar playing "dated."

Tonight is "The Empire Strikes Back" which was always my favorite. Blog like Yoda will I tomorrow. Out of order putting words.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:09 PM | What do you think? [2]
But AlexC thinks:

ESB is the best.

But you have to watch them in order. That way you can watch Anakin go from little kid to bastard to dead bastard.

Posted by: AlexC at December 2, 2006 5:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Point taken. But I had the first (last) three lying around and we were somewhat snowed in (DAWG indeed). Watching Buffy and Angel in every conceivable order, I've become a big fan of reverse time to see things that are foreshadowed and resolved.

We watched V and VI last night. Next weekend, I will try to procure I, II and III and watch with an open mind.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2006 11:19 AM

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